Over the past two weeks, the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles has promoted the spirit of unity. That harmony was on full display last Friday when the U.S. Division 5 Boys Unified Basketball Team took home gold medals after going undefeated in all four of its games.
The team, which hails from New York, is a unified team. That means five athletes on the squad are Special Olympics athletes and five are “partner” athletes. When the team competes in the Games, there are three Special Olympics athletes playing with two “partner” athletes. The United States started their run for gold by beating Peru, 22-20. They also defeated Kenya, 20-7, and Pakistan 24-10. They played Luxembourg in the final, winning 26-12.
As the Seattle Storm warmed up for their game against the Phoenix Mercury on July 10, one player was always in front of the rest of the team. One player was doing extra stretches and taking extra layups. One player was putting herself in a leadership role. That player was longtime Seattle point guard Sue Bird.
Bird’s 14-year WNBA career, all of which she has spent with the Storm, has been one of the best in the league’s history. She has led the Storm to two championships and has received eight All-Star selections. This past Sunday night she became the first WNBA player to score 5,000 points and reach 2,000 assists.
At 34 years old, however, and after undergoing eight surgeries, all on the lower half of her body, Bird is no longer in her prime. The Storm also have a young, inexperienced roster, which has been evident this season. They have endured two five-game losing streaks on their way to a 3–12 start over their first 15 games.
Back in November, we shared the story of the Black Fives, the all-African-American pro basketball teams that played across the United States before the NBA was integrated in the 1950s. As we wrote in the original story, it's one of sports' great eras — and least remembered.
But that's changing, thanks in part to a deal the Black Fives Foundation struck with '47 Brand. The non-profit and apparel maker are working together to raise awareness of the Black Fives teams and players through hats, shirts, and other gear. The Black Fives line launched in June, and it's pretty cool.
Last August, former WNBA star Becky Hammon made history as the first woman to become a full-time assistant coach in the NBA.
Earlier this month, she was named the first woman to ever coach an NBA summer league team.
And on Monday, Hammon led the summer league San Antonio Spurs to a 93-90 win over Phoenix to capture to the third ever Las Vegas Summer League title.
The win was the first for the Spurs and the first time a women’s coach had led an NBA team to a championship at any level.
“You never know what your journey has in store,” Hammon told Sports Illustrated. “You just work hard and keep your nose to the grind. You do things the right way, you treat people the right way and good things happen.”
The Seattle Supersonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008. Since then, Key Arena has remained without NBA action. And with each passing season, basketball fans in the Pacific Northwest long more and more for the best basketball players in the world to return in the Emerald City.
That hunger is satisfied — at least in part — by the Seattle Pro-Am Basketball League’s opening night, hosted by Los Angeles Clippers guard and Seattle native Jamal Crawford.
Every year, Crawford brings other acclaimed basketball stars from the Pacific Northwest back to Seattle. They compete in a game that acts as a celebration of Seattle basketball history and heritage. All proceeds from the event and the Seattle Pro-Am Basketball League go to the Jamal Crawford Foundation.
The 2015 opener took place last week. Crawford brought many NBA stars to Key Arena, including Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey, Wizards guard Martell Webster, Kelly Olynyk and Isiah Thomas from the Celtics, Justin Holliday from the Hawks, and Spencer Hawes from the Hornets.
As soon as the clock struck midnight on July 1 to signify the beginning of free agency, NBA teams made a flurry of moves, instantly impacting how the rest of the market would shape up.
With 10 free agents, including two-time league MVP Tim Duncan and invaluable sixth man Manu Ginóbili, the San Antonio Spurs knew this would be one of the franchise’s most important off-seasons.
After a wild free agency period, players were officially allowed to sign with new teams last week. As usual, many clubs were able to re-sign their free agents. Most notably, the Clippers retained big man DeAndre Jordan and Chicago held onto shooting guard Jimmy Butler.
But there were a few of moves that could change the entire NBA landscape. Here’s a look at the familiar faces who are now in new places.