Bad news, BBN. Your weekend is almost over. But thankfully, there’s more sports on the way. The NBA Finals return tonight, there’s championship soccer on TV and Olympic basketball is ramping up. So unlike Conor McGregor last night, it’s time to get up and get your day started. Let’s get right to the news and notes.
Calipari sheds light on mystery text
While news is moving slowly on the UK these days, plenty of hubbub has been coming from the AAU circuit, where John Calipari and company have been hard at work recruiting this week. On Thursday, they were in Alabama for Reed Sheppard’s breakout performance that precipitated his big offer. But perhaps the biggest source of speculation was this snapshot from the Herald Leader’s Ben Roberts, showing Cal peering down at a frightening-looking paragraph on his phone.
John Calipari and Chin Coleman are here to watch top-5 recruit Chris Livingston. pic.twitter.com/fsZDKIwyDU
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) July 8, 2021
Some of the leading theories as to the text’s content included exclusive messages from Jalen Duren and a particularly rough chewing-out from Ellen. But the coach attempted to squash to those rumors yesterday, explaining that it was nothing more than a laundry list of chores for the wife.
Everyone keeps asking me about that long text message.
I’m out recruiting so I had to remind The Princess to take down the garbage, walk the dogs and record @AlaskaTLF for me!
Also, I forgot to pack my pants! LOL
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 10, 2021
Color me skeptical! First of all, he’s wearing pants in the photo. Second, the message isn’t blue or green, so it was clearly sent to him. And third, if I’ve learned anything about the Calipari family dynamics, it’s that Ellen certainly isn’t the one who needs garbage duty reminders. But whatever the text’s true meaning was, we may never know.
As for Sheppard and the other UK targets, the games are scheduled to run through this afternoon down in Birmingham. Sheppard’s Midwest Basketball Club is 5-0 so far. They’re set to face the fittingly named Wildcat Select team at 11:00 central.
Here’s Zack’s in-depth piece on the Reed Sheppard situation from last night, in case you missed it. There’s probably more actually useful information in his first paragraph than you’ve seen in this whole post so far.
Team USA drops stunner in Olympic exhibition opener
The Olympic basketball warmups started with a shock for Bam Adebayo and Team USA, as they lost their first exhibition game to Nigeria 90-87 on Saturday. Despite starting a ridiculous lineup of All-Stars featuring Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Adebayo, they couldn’t get past this group of NBA rookies and journeymen:
good luck, world. pic.twitter.com/2mrUKZuB3U
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) July 11, 2021
Even for a game that didn’t count, it was a pretty ridiculous upset. Team USA held a 54-2 record in exhibitions since they started allowing NBA players to participate in 1992, and they were favored by nearly 30 points in this one. Nine years ago at the London Olympics, the U.S. beat Nigeria by 83 points.
At least Bam had fun?
This angle. This is the one. ? pic.twitter.com/UriPC4L7td
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 11, 2021
In fairness, the American team did just come together for the first time midway through last week, and they were clearly still a bit disjointed. Their next exhibition is Monday night vs. Australia. The team is still waiting on a few players, including Devin Booker, to get done with the Finals. More on that in a sec.
Poirier TKOs McGregor after injury
Anyone who stayed up to watch the UFC 264 main event last night was rewarded with a dud. At the end of the first round, a flurry from Dustin Poirier caused Conor McGregor to stumble backward, and his ankle buckled under him. The fight was ruled an injury TKO as McGregor was unable to continue. While his opponent walked off, he had a few choice words for the crowd — I won’t share it here because it’s a little NSFW, but let’s just say it involved Poirier’s wife and his Instagram DMs. Colorful stuff as always, Conor.
Italy, England square off in EURO championship
For the soccer fans out there, it’s been a big weekend around the globe. Yesterday Lionel Messi and Argentina took home the Copa America cup, one of the biggest international competitions in the sport; today, England and Italy are facing off in the final of the European football championship, which is the second-biggest tournament after the World Cup. The match kicks off at 3:00 E.T. on ESPN.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in international sport, I’m told that the final men’s singles match at Wimbledon is also today. Novak Djokovic is set to face the Italian underdog Matteo Barrettini at 9 a.m. eastern. If tennis is your thing, it should be a good one!
Bucks, Suns face off in pivotal Game 3
Finally, as teased, tonight will see the return of the NBA Finals on ABC after a few days off. The Bucks and Suns are set to tip off in Milwaukee at 8:00 eastern with Phoenix leading 2-0 in the series. If the Suns win, it would put Devin Booker & co. just one win away from the first NBA title in franchise history. That’s a pretty big deal.
Me, Zack, Alex Weber and Kass Stumbo put our big monkey brains together yesterday for a BBNBA Finals Roundtable if you want to check that out. We each shared some of our thoughts, reactions and predictions for the course of the Finals. I invite you to let me know exactly how wrong I am.