Sports-Column Repost #10

On the Mark: Warriors Are Champions Again, Thanks to Curry
By Mark Lorenzana

(Originally posted on June 20 2022, in PNM)

The game was essentially over. Over in the sense that the stunned and dejected Celtics fans that filled the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, were only waiting for the final buzzer to sound so they could watch in agony as the visiting Golden State Warriors celebrated their fourth championship on the night of Thursday, June 16, at the Garden’s famed parquet floor.

The game, however, wasn’t actually over. There was a minute and change to go, and the ball was still in play, but the Warriors’ leader, Stephen Curry, couldn’t care less. He left the court and walked over to his father — former NBA player Dell Curry, a three-point sharpshooter in his own right — who was sitting among the crowd. The younger Curry then hugged his dad, and wept. He had led the Warriors to the promised land, scoring 34 big points that night.

Curry is a baby-faced assassin, and always seems to play with joy — flashing that boyish smile after every dagger three-pointer that feels like an arrow piercing the opponent’s heart. He knows no other way of playing, and it’s one of the reasons why he’s so loved by Warriors fans — both those from the bay area of San Francisco and worldwide, really. But on that night, Curry hugged his father, and wept. He let go of his dad, bent over and seemed to heave a sigh of relief with tears streaming down his face. The Warriors were champs again, and surely fans could cut Curry some slack in this rare moment of vulnerability.

“These last two months of the playoffs, these last three years, this last 48 hours — every bit of it has been an emotional roller coaster on and off the floor,” Curry said after the game. “You’re carrying all of that on a daily basis to try to realize a dream and a goal, like we did tonight. And you get goosebumps just thinking about, you know, all those snapshots and episodes that we went through to get back here, individually, collectively. And that’s why I said I think this championship hits different. That’s why I have so many emotions, and still will, just because of what it took to get back here.”

Curry carried his team in this year’s finals, there is no doubt about that: He has averaged an impressive 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the series, which finally earned him the elusive Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. But make no mistake; he had help too.

Small forward Andrew Wiggins played well throughout the playoffs, not just offensively but also defensively — and made life a living hell in the finals for Celtics star Jason Tatum. Power forward Draymond Green, the motor of the team, finally found his stride in the series-clinching game. Center Kevon Looney — who has been a model of dependability and durability for the Warriors — did all the dirty work, as usual: grabbing rebounds, patrolling the paint and defending the rim. Guard Jordan Poole has been a revelation, Gary Payton II came back just in time from a fractured elbow to help ramp up the team’s defensive intensity and Klay Thompson averaged a solid 17 points per game in the finals series.

Yes, basketball is a team game, and everyone has to pitch in if a team is to reach the pinnacle of the sport. These Warriors have now won four rings together with their big three — Curry, Thompson and Green — which is no small feat. That the core of this team is still intact after winning its first title in 2015 is certainly impressive, but credit is also due to the Warriors’ front office for putting the necessary young pieces around their three superstars to keep on winning.

The Warriors’ success has also been a great example of growing a team organically, through the draft, and developing young players, amid the recent trend of other NBA teams trying to cobble together super teams by throwing money at established superstars and teaming them up together to bypass the time and patience needed to let a team develop chemistry naturally.

Curry, who has played his whole career for the Warriors since being drafted by Golden State in 2009, had been the driving force throughout his team’s success. He has bucked early injury problems, toiled in relative obscurity when the Warriors couldn’t seem to catch a break in his early years with the team, and soldiered on amid the disappointment of the last two years when they were out of the finals after an injury-ravaged version of Curry’s team lost the 2019 championship to the Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors.

After shedding tears on the Celtics’ parquet floor, Curry would be later seen in the locker room with a bottle of champagne, a cigar in hand and that now-familiar smile plastered on his face whenever he’d bury a dagger three-pointer – six triples that night, as he doused the Celtics’ championship hopes in a barrage of long-range shooting that has come to be expected of him.

He isn’t called the baby-faced assassin for nothing.


Closing Marks: Mexico Will Get Three Venues for the 2026 FIFA World Cup

On Wednesday, June 15, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced the 16 North American cities that will host matches for the 2026 World Cup, with 11 venues chosen in the United States, three in Mexico and two in Canada.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament hosted by three nations and also the first that will expand to 48 teams in the competition.

The cities officially selected to host World Cup matches in Mexico and Canada are Guadalajara (Estadio Akron), Monterrey (Estadio BBVA Bancomer), Mexico City (Estadio Azteca), Toronto (BMO Field) and Vancouver (BC Place).

The cities officially chosen to host World Cup matches in the United States are the following: New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium); Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium); Dallas (AT&T Stadium); San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium); Miami (Hard Rock Stadium); Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium); Seattle (Lumen Field); Houston (NRG Stadium); Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field); Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium); and Boston (Gillette Stadium).

Sixty games are set to be played in the United States, while Mexico and Canada will each get 10 matches. Once the tournament reaches the quarterfinal stage, all remaining knockout-round games will be held in the United States.

 
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