▪ On the heels of the just-completed and spell-binding NBA Finals and the eve of the NBA Draft, listen to what new Sports Illustrated editorial director Chris Stone said in an interview with Joseph Lichterman of Nieman Lab:
“I think, and I know a lot of people share this belief, that basketball has the steepest arc going forward of any of the professional sports. It has great leadership right now. It’s a great, great product. It has more stars than it’s ever had, and it’s always been a league driven by stars. I think in many ways now, the NBA right now is where it was in the ’80s, when it wasn’t just the leading edge of sports culture, but it was the leading edge of culture period.”
▪ If the NBA is No. 1 in terms of potential growth, which sport is No. 2? “I would put soccer not far behind it,” Stone said.
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▪ John Calipari is scheduled to be on ESPN’s First Take debating Stephen A. Smith for an hour on Thursday morning (10 a.m., ESPN2), which means my television may explode.
▪ NBA Draft stat to remember: According to the TPG Sports Group of league scouts, coaches and executives, only 22 percent of second-round picks end up making an NBA roster.
▪ LeBron James earned the MVP trophy he received for leading the Cavaliers to the NBA title, but Kyrie Irving deserves a lot of credit as well. Not only did Irving hit the three-pointer that broke the 89-all tie on Sunday, the former Duke guard averaged 30.8 points per game over the last five games of the Finals.
▪ An added bonus to the Cavaliers parade through downtown Cleveland, which drew more than a million people on Wednesday: The Cavs invited Bernie Kosar to participate.
I think in many ways now, the NBA right now is where it was in the ’80s, when it wasn’t just the leading edge of sports culture, but it was the leading edge of culture period.
Sports Illustrated editorial director Chris Stone
▪ LeBron James’ homecoming worked out much better than Derrick Rose’s homecoming.
▪ Congrats to former Georgetown AD and all-around nice guy Ben Oldham on being named the SEC’s Replay Coordinator.
▪ Alabama football gave strength coach Scott Cochran a raise from $420,000 to $525,000 this week. Yes, he’s the strength coach.
▪ Did you see where President Obama remained on Air Force One after it landed in D.C. on Sunday night so he could watch the end of the Warriors-Cavaliers game?
▪ Speaking of politics, one of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters is former UK assistant and current Washington State head football coach Mike Leach.
▪ Unlike last year, I was not bothered by Fox’s coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament, mainly because, unlike last year, I didn’t watch it.
▪ Adam Duvall Watch: Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the Louisville native and Reds outfielder was second to Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the major-league lead in home runs. Arenado had 21, Duvall 20. The two were tied for first in NL slugging percentage at .590.
▪ Duvall’s teammate, Jay Bruce, was third in NL slugging percentage at .588. But how much longer will Bruce be Duvall’s teammate?
▪ Things are looking up for the Reds. In his third start since returning from the disabled list, Anthony DeSclafani pitched well at Texas on Tuesday. Raisel Igelesias and Michael Lorenzen are also back from the DL. Lorenzen should provide much-needed bullpen help. He was a dominant closer at Cal State-Fullerton.
▪ UK transfers Marcus Lee (California) and Charles Matthews (Michigan) appear to have made wise choices for their new schools.
▪ Yes, the U.S. men’s national soccer team looked completely overmatched in its 4-0 loss to Argentina in the Copa America semifinal on Tuesday, but, come on, Lionel Messi is not of this world.
▪ No, the Boston Celtics do not have every other pick in Thursday night’s draft, it will only seem that way. Boston has eight picks, starting with No. 3 overall. Subject to trade, of course.
▪ The SEC has long been considered the best conference in college baseball, just not this year. Florida was the only league member to reach the College World Series, and the No. 1-ranked Gators failed to win a game in Omaha.