Good morning, frents …
From looking ahead to The Last Dance premiere next Sunday to a draft of MLB ballparks I did with some frents, I have a fun week planned for Midway Minute.
Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Allie Quigley stole the show last night
So who had the first sports highlights since the lockdown happening on a small backyard court behind a normal-looking house in Deerfield?
Certainly not me.
But I’ll happily take it. Because watching the Sky’s Allie Quigley take down superstar Chris Paul in Sunday night’s NBA HORSE Challenge turned out to be more fun than I expected. I even got a short rush of that fan adrenaline we’ve been missing as my young daughters sat on my lap cheering for each of Quigley’s shots as she put Paul to the sword on ESPN.
Quigley now moves on to face the Bulls’ Zach LaVine in one of Thursday’s semifinals, so we’ll definitely have some Chicago representation in the final later that night. LaVine swept retired star Paul Pierce earlier on Sunday’s show.
LaVine might have a bigger salary and profile in town, but there was no arguing that Quigley was the bigger star on Sunday night.
Truth be told, the first hour of ESPN’s broadcast was marked with a lot of moaning and groaning on Twitter. Some of it was undeserved. If you tune into a show produced on the fly in the middle of a pandemic, you should probably be fine with some bad Wifi connections and awkward interactions between two players watching each other on iPads.
But some of it was warranted. The first three matchups were kind of snoozy and I was far from the only one who didn’t think it was fair that Tamika Catchings had to shoot on a windy outdoor setup while her competition (Mike Conley) had a nice indoor gym where he could easily sink his shots.
Then Quigley and Paul came on and things got interesting. The two engaged in some good natured back-and-forth as Quigley shot on the kind of hoop your dad might’ve brought home from a Sports Authority in the late ‘90s. Quigley’s wife and Sky teammate, Courtney Vandersloot, could be seen in the background manning a smartphone to provide a second angle for ESPN’s broadcast.
Despite the distance between Quigley and Paul, it actually felt like we were watching a regular HORSE game. All along, Quigley never flinched as she displayed the cold-blooded approach that led her to win the WNBA’s 3-point content in both 2017 and 2018.
If you didn’t bother to watch, check out this sequence where Quigley sinks Pistol Pete Maravich’s famous sitting shot and makes Paul get down on a court where it recently rained.
You’ve got a cold and dark heart if you don’t see at least a bit of fun in this!
Do I want to watch HORSE competitions for the rest of my life? Nope.
Is there a chance that Thursday’s all-Chicago semifinal falls flat? Sure.
But I appreciated — and quite frankly needed — the short bit of competitive entertainment that Allie Quigley and Chris Paul gave us on Sunday night.
Plus, if we’ll need to adapt to a world where we’re playing every baseball game in empty Arizona ballparks while the NBA Finals go down in a high school gym, then a choppy but fun HORSE competition in a Deerfield backyard was a good place to start.
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BreakingT has both sides covered, no matter who you’re rooting for on Thursday.
Glenn Beckert, a longtime fan favorite with the Cubs, died Sunday at age 79. Beckert was a four-time All-Star for the team and played second base for nine straight seasons, hitting .283 for his career and rarely striking out. He might not have made the Hall of Fame like Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams or Ron Santo, but he stands alongside them in the hearts of most Cubs fans of a certain age. Here’s Paul Sullivan on Beckert’s time with the Cubs.
On the opposite end of the circle of life: Kris Bryant and his wife Jessica announced that they welcomed son Kyler Lee into the world last week. What a great time for Bryant to enjoy an extended paternity leave.
New Bulls leader Arturas Karnisovas has a busy week planned. Woj reports that Karnisovas plans to consider several candidates for the team’s GM job including Denver’s Calvin Booth, Philadelphia’s Marc Eversley, the Clippers’ Mark Hughes and Orlando’s Matt Lloyd. The Bulls have already brought in a couple of capologists, hiring New Orleans’ JJ Polk and Denver’s Pat Connelly.
Hawks can breathe a sigh of relief as top d-prospect Ian Mitchell finally signed a contract with the team. Originally drafted in 2017, Mitchell played three seasons at the University of Denver and was considering a return for a senior season before finally agreeing to terms with the Hawks. Here’s Scott Powers on how Mitchell could quickly assume a big spot on the team’s blue line.
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• Steve Greenberg on Billy Williams as he cares for Shirley, his wife of 60 years as she experiences late-stage dementia. (Sun-Times)
• Mike Vaccarro on the great Anthony Causi, a New York Post photographer who lost his battle with COVID-19 on Sunday. (New York Post)
• The restaurateur who put up that sign mocking Mitch Trubisky says he’s actually a big fan of Trubisky. Yeah, I don’t know, either. (Tribune)
• Imagining NFL uniforms as MLB uniforms. Sure, why not? (Uni Watch)
• In honor of Glenn Beckert, here’s a triple play he and Ron Santo helped turn back in the day. Enjoy this one.
That’s it for today. Have a great start to your week and, as always, thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.