At the season’s midway point, Rudy Gobert is probably the leader frontrunner in the Defensive Player of the Year race. Kawhi Leonard will have a say, and there is a lot of basketball yet to play, but Gobert anchors the NBA’s best defense and he is a force in the paint. Just ask the Phoenix Suns. Down three with 13 seconds left Monday night, the Suns wanted a three to tie, but when that was not easily open Eric Bledsoe decided to drive for two (then the Suns would foul and extend the game), he was cut off so Bledsoe dished to rookie Marquese Chriss, who went in for the layup — and found the long arms of Gobert. Blocked shot and game over. Utah is for real, folks.
In his last words, in his last fancy White House ceremony, in his last week as the commander-in-chief, President Obama chose to spend three minutes articulating why sports matter. Behind him stood the Cubs, from his adopted home town of Chicago, continuing to celebrate their first championship in 108 years. After his eight years of running the country while peeking at athletic highlights, after he honored champion on top of champion and befriended superstar on top of superstar, after he played more golf while in office than any president since Dwight Eisenhower and altered the White House tennis court to include basketball, Obama’s stately relationship with these games had to conclude with a most unlikely visitor: the team that broke the longest, cruelest sports curse. “They said this day would never come,” Obama said Monday to begin his remarks.
A vote of confidence, “absolute confidence” in Detroit Pistons head coach and president Stan Van Gundy in this case, is an actual vote of confidence this time around. “I have absolute confidence in Stan,” Gores said.