Need some quick odds on the week’s biggest storylines? (“Need” might be an overstatement; kind of want?) You’ve come to the right place. Let’s run through the newsworthiest happenings and transpirings from the world of sports, entertainment, and politics from the last seven days.
I’m a bit biased, but it’s been another fascinating week in sports. Larry Bird is packing it in with the Pacers. Crosby and Ovechkin are starting the latest round of their rivalry. Lio Messi just scored his 500th goal. And, most surprising of all, Roger Goodell came out against marijuana!
I never would have guessed a 58-year-old card-carrying Republican wasn’t down with the ganja.
Enough intro. Let’s set the odds on (some stuff tangentially related to) all of the above.
It’s been reported Larry Bird has is stepping down as president of the Pacers, and that GM Kevin Pritchard will take over, with Bird saying on as a consultant. It’s still pretty unclear what the Pacers’ power structure will be next season, and Bird isn’t expected to talk until Monday, but one thing we do know is that the decision is not related to his health.
During the last year’s off-season, Bird made a lot of changes (like adding Jeff Teague), which led to high expectations for the team. Ultimately, those expectations weren’t met, as the Pacers were swept in the first round of the NBA playoffs. With Paul George set to become a free-agent at the end of the 2017-18 season, there are calls for the Pacers to deal their star so they don’t lose him for nothing next year.
It’s going to be a tough season for all in the Indiana front-office. The team will likely find itself battling for the conference’s final playoff berths once again. They already know the current roster can’t hang with East’s top dogs. Do they blow it up and start from scratch, or try to surround George with more talent in order to take one last stab with the Fresno State product?
As mentioned, George’s contract is up at the end of next season, and it’s no secret he’s interested in playing for the Lakers. The organization can swing Bird’s departure as a positive message to George: we know that the status quo wasn’t working and now we’re headed in a new direction. If they don’t trade him in the offseason, they’ll likely do everything they can to keep him around.
Medical marijuana talk has been front and center as of late, and it’s not something that will go away anytime soon. It’s already legal in Washington and Colorado, two states home to NFL franchises. The matter up for discussion is should NFL players be able to use medical marijuana to manage pain. Some argue it’s a healthier option than painkillers, but commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t agree. He’s concerned about players breathing in smoke, and potentially becoming addicts. However, he did add that the league has advisors studying its effects, and if they decide it could be beneficial, Goodell and his team would consider it.
While it doesn’t look like players will be allowed to smoke up anytime soon, it might be something that will be seriously considered in a few years’ time.
Game 1 between the Penguins and Capitals in the second round of the NHL playoffs is already in the books, with Crosby leading Pittsburgh to a 3-2 win. It’s clear these two decade-old rivals feed off each other. In Thursday’s game, Crosby had two goals, while Ovi scored one. Ovechkin edged Crosby in points in head-to-head battles during the regular season, but Crosby put up more points overall (89 to 69) and is well ahead in the playoffs (9 to 4). This prop is focused on goals, though, and requires your team to win the game. The Pens have the early edge, but this should be Washington’s year, right? Right?? (If not now, when?)
If the Caps are finally going to get over the Penguin-shaped hump in their playoff road, count on Ovi to be the engine.
Luis Suarez, Barcelona/Uruguay (409): 3/2
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Man U/Sweden (454): 5/2
Wayne Rooney, Man U/England (363): 9/2
Neymar, Barcelona/Brazil (242): 10/1
Lionel Messi scored his 500th goal last week, putting him in the top ten for most goals scored in soccer history. And it appears his Barcelona teammates may soon follow in his footsteps. Luis Suarez is nearing the milestone; sitting at just over 400, a few more good seasons with Barca, combined with World Cup and potentially Olympic action, could get him there. Neymar is only at 242. At the tender age of 25, he’ll get there eventually. But he’ll only be next if the likes of Suarez never make it.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest active player. He’s less than 50 goals away, but the 35-year-old just suffered a season-ending injury. It’s very possible he’ll come up a bit short.
Photo credit: joshuak8 (Flickr) [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)].
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