The Highlight Truthers Have Come for Steph Curry
After two lopsided games, the NBA Finals have been lacking for much competitive excitement or controversy. Sure, there have been more than a few electrifying plays, but each contest has been settled long before the final whistle. Fans and sportswriters who love to squabble over crunch-time play-calling, referee bias, and “the clutch gene” have been starved of precious take fodder.
But now, like a lone dandelion poking through a crack in the sidewalk, comes hope. In the third quarter of Game 2, Stephen Curry squared up against LeBron James and proceeded to shake and bake the Cavs forward with a merciless sequence of moves. It was the moment of the finals so far. It also maybe illegal.
U.S. Boxer Claressa Shields Is a Gold Medalist Again. Will Her Dominance Ever Pay Off?
On Sunday, Claressa Shields became the first American boxer to defend her Olympic title, winning a unanimous decision against the Netherlands’ Nouchka Fontijn. Shields, a 21-year-old who fights in the women’s middleweight division, is a thrilling, dominant fighter. And she knows it. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, she put her gloves in the air, beckoning Fontijn to do her worst. Fontijn, wary, took a few more swings. Then the fight was over.
Who Did It Better: Olympic Rhythmic Gymnasts or the Harlem Globetrotters?
Rhythmic gymnasts did get the air time or the respect they deserve. They twirl ribbons, toss hoops, throw around clubs, and do things with a ball that few others in the world can match—except maybe the Harlem Globetrotters. In the video above, we compare the best rhythmic gymnastics ball routines from the 2016 Rio Olympics to the Globetrotters’ most-impressive routines. Who did it better? Watch and see if you agree with our assessment.
Watch Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Emerge From a Pipe at the Olympics Dressed as Super Mario
During the Olympics closing ceremony Sunday night, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a guest appearance to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But in what is probably a first for the head of a national government*, Abe showed up dressed as Mario, Nintendo’s iconic video game plumber. And, like Mario in 1985’s Super Mario Bros., Abe arrived at the ceremony by traveling through a giant green pipe.
In light of these developments, hopes are high that the International Olympic Committee will allow Helsinki to put in a late bid for the 2024 Games, so we get to see Finnish President Sauli Niinistö launched from a gigantic slingshot into a castle filled with green pigs.
Correction, August 21, 2016: This piece originally misidentified the Japanese prime minister as the head of state. The emperor is the head of state; the prime minister is the head of government.
The Wrestling Controversy That Led a Mongolian Coach to Remove His Pants
If you somehow missed the bronze-medal men’s freestyle 65-kilogram wrestling match on Sunday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro, then, brother, you missed something really special. The match itself was fine. The aftermath, however, was one of the most memorable and bizarre spectacles of the 2016 Summer Olympics. It involved an early celebration, a penalty point, and two angry coaches stripping half-naked in protest, narrated all the while by two befuddled announcers who couldn’t believe their eyes.
Olympics Jerk Watch: The Alleged Ticket-Scalping, Butt-Showing European Sporteaucrat
Name: Patrick Hickey
Home country: Ireland
Known for: Promoting the virtues of sport worldwide, allegedly scalping tickets, showing his butt to police.
Why he might be a jerk: The 71-year-old Hickey is a member of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee and president of the European Olympic Committees, which makes him a very important person in the world sporting community. On Wednesday, Hickey was arrested in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room and charged with playing a part in a bizarre and lucrative ticket-scalping scheme in which Rio Games tickets allotted to the Olympic Council of Ireland were resold at high prices. Hickey allegedly used his status with Ireland’s Olympic committee to help “transfer tickets to an unauthorized vendor who would set high fees and disguise the transaction as a hospitality package.” According to the Associated Press, the scheme involved “at least nine others” and may have brought in as much as $3 million in profits.
Lochte Takes “Full Responsibility,” Says “My Immature Behavior” Led to Rio Incident
Ryan Lochte acknowledged on Saturday what everyone already knows at this point: He is to blame for turning a late-night incident involving petty vandalism into an international scandal. In an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, the 12-time medalist said he is “taking full responsibility” for the incident.
In an excerpt of the interview broadcast Saturday, Lauer notes how the story changed within a few days. “The first version of the story you told, Ryan, was much more about the mean streets of Rio,” Lauer said. “And the version we're hearing now is much more about a negotiated settlement to cover up some dumb behavior.” That dumb behavior appears to consist of at least urinating in public and damaging a poster. Police have also said they vandalized a gas station restroom but the swimmers dispute that.
Lochte then acknowledged that he “overexaggerated that story and if I never did that, we wouldn't be in this mess.” If he hadn’t told his initial tale “none of this would have happened,” he added. “It was my immature behavior.”
Still, Lochte didn’t walk back completely, defending the way he has described himself and fellow swimmers as victims in the situation. “It’s how you want to make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages,” Lochte said. “All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”
He spoke a day after two of the swimmers who were there Sunday morning issued statements in which they essentially blamed Lochte for instigating the conflict at the gas station.
The Olympics’ Most Entertaining Basketball Showman Plays for Serbia
The U.S. didn’t send its best team. Ben Simmons decided not to play for Australia. Everyone on the Argentina roster is 80 years old. Spain’s pretty meh without Marc Gasol. And Serbia—Serbia has a point guard who’s turned the Rio Olympics into his own hoops mixtape.
On Sunday, Miloš Teodosić will have the chance to win a gold medal against a bunch of Americans who are probably pretty happy that he’s never taken the opportunity to embarrass them in the NBA.
Watch Neymar Score the Winning Penalty As Brazil Wins First-Ever Olympic Soccer Gold
Brazil had won everything else in international soccer, but had never won Olympic gold before Saturday. At home at the Maracanã Stadium, Brazil defeated Germany 5-4 on penalties, with Neymar burying the winning kick. The win for the seleção (kind of) avenges Brazil's famous 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinal.
Oh No, a Rhythmic Gymnast Just Did a Hoop Routine to the Theme from Schindler’s List
While watching the rhythmic gymnastics all-around final this afternoon, I was struck by the music used by Bulgarian gymnast Neviana Vladinova in her hoop routine. The mournful violin seemed very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. As I watched Vladinova twirl her hoop around her body and toss it high in the air, it came to me. Oh, no, I thought. She’s performing to the theme from Schindler’s List. It’s back.