Why this is the Lakers\' most special NBA championship yet

Create: 2020-10-12
Update: 2020-10-12
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Monday, October 12, 2020
We start this week with the sad news that the NBA season is over, as the Lakers officially closed down the Disney bubble with an NBA Finals win last night. (We'll obviously get to that here shortly.) Now we're faced with a bit of a good news, bad news, good news situation. 
The good news? The NBA bubble worked! 😊 The bad news? No more NBA this year. 😔 The other good news? NBA offseason chaos is upon us. 😎
I hope you enjoyed your weekend and are ready to get back in the trenches with me this week. We've got A LOT of big news waiting for us this morning so pour that coffee down the hatch and let's get down to business. And don't you dare even think of mentioning the Red River Showdown to me this morning. 
📰 What you need to know
1. The Lakers are NBA Champions 🏆
Well, are you surprised? Because I'm certainly not. 
LeBron James and the Lakers are once again on top of the basketball world after winning Game 6 of the NBA Finals last night, dominating the Heat, 106-93. It wasn't exactly the most competitive or entertaining finale, as Los Angeles was thoroughly in control for most of the night and it never really seemed like there was going to be any other result. 
You can find game takeaways from James Herbert right here but, honestly, all you need to know is that the Lakers played a brilliant defensive game to close out the series -- they allowed just 36 points in the first half -- and that put them on the path to victory.
Here's some more info you should know:
  • LeBron won his fourth ring and fourth Finals MVP (second only to Michael Jordan's six). LeBron becomes the first player in NBA history to win Finals MVP with three different teams
  • The Lakers are now tied with the Celtics for most titles (17) in NBA history
  • Rajon Rondo becomes the second player ever to win a title with both the Celtics and Lakers (the other is Clyde Lovellette)
So, how will these Lakers be remembered? I suppose it depends on who you ask, so let's ask some of our best NBA guys.
  • Our Brad Botkin says the Lakers won the 2020 title largely because they didn't bend to modern convention and were able to defy the popular new brand of NBA basketball
  • Botkin: "Just as no team could replicate the shooting of the Warriors, no team, at least as currently constructed, has a duo the likes of LeBron and [Anthony] Davis. It's important to understand that before we start thinking traditional size is back en vogue or elite 3-point shooting isn't as necessary as we've come to believe. Still, in the most homogenous era in NBA history, with every team basically looking like clones, the way the Lakers built their roster... is uniquely fascinating."   
  • Bill Reiter believes the Lakers' 17th title might be the franchise's most special one yet considering all that this year's squad went through together
  • Colin Ward-Henninger says that LeBron has already emphatically earned his place among Lakers franchise legends with his performance this year
So much for that "Washed King" narrative, huh? LeBron demanded respect and he certainly went out an earned it. I know it can be trendy (and sometimes even easy) to hate on LeBron but it's pretty damn incredible that he's still out here playing elite, dominant basketball 17 years after entering the league. With all the hype that LeBron had as a kid, it seemed like it would be almost impossible for him to live up to the expectations. But he's spent nearly two decades owning the NBA. Last night was another reminder to try and appreciate him while he's still around.
2. Dak Prescott suffers gruesome ankle injury 🏈
There was a bit of a black cloud over yesterday's NFL slate after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a brutal, gut-wrenching injury in Dallas' game against the Giants. It was one of those injuries where it didn't exactly take a medical degree to figure out that we were looking at something potentially devastating. Prescott's right ankle got caught beneath a defender in the turf and turned in a way that ankle's should NOT turn. 
It was pretty awful to watch, especially as Dak left the field on a cart in tears. Unfortunately it'll probably be the last time we see him on the field this season.
  • Prescott suffered a compound fracture as well as a dislocation
  • He underwent successful ankle surgery on Sunday night and is reportedly doing well
  • The procedure was primarily to cleanse the injury and ensure a more clean healing
  • Prescott has never missed a game in his four-year career
Obviously, another unfortunate layer of the Prescott injury is the fact that he's playing this season on a one-year franchise tag tender. Prescott and the Cowboys were engaged in a lengthy negotiation process this offseason but the two sides weren't able to reach a long-term deal before the summer deadline, so he took a one-year bet on himself and was in the process of having a career year.
Now, not only does the injury spoil that great season, it also puts his big payday in jeopardy as well. The brutal nature of the business strikes again.
3. Falcons fire Dan Quinn, GM Thomas Dimitroff after 0-5 start 🏈
The time has come... the Atlanta Falcons are starting to clean house. The organization announced Sunday night that they've fired head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff -- a move that shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering the team's disastrous start to this season.
The Falcons moved to 0-5 after losing to the Carolina Panthers, 23-16, on Sunday. It's not just that the Falcons have been losing games, either -- it's how they've been losing games. The team has blown multiple double-digit leads this season and Quinn was already on a very hot seat heading into Sunday. In fact, he was probably on the hot seat heading into this season.
  • Quinn had been Falcons coach since 2015, compiling a regular season record of 43-31 and playoff record of 3-2
  • Dimitroff had been GM for over 12 seasons 
  • Falcons owner Arthur Blank: "As everyone knows, this is a results business and I owe it to our fans to put the best product we can on the field. We have poured every resource possible into winning and will continue to do so, but the results of late do not meet our standard or what I've promised our fans."
As for what's next, the Falcons have yet to announce an interim coach, though they do have a couple of former head coaches on the payroll in Raheem Morris and Dirk Koetter.
The Falcons just seem really desperate for a fresh start and that could ultimately mean a whole lot more than just the coaching staff and front office. This team seems like it could be heading toward a full-on rebuild at some point in the near future.
4. Why Taylor Hall signing with Sabres makes sense 🏒
The NHL's free agency window opened on Friday afternoon and this year's market has been pretty slow-moving. Normally, most of the action happens right away on Day 1 but this was pretty spread out over the weekend, with some big names (like Alex Pietrangelo) still remaining unsigned this morning. 
One of the biggest names of this year's class signed yesterday and it was a complete stunner. Taylor Hall seemed to be in line for a big, long-term payday and he said that winning was his top priority. That's why it was so shocking to find out that he ended up inking a one-year, $8 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres -- the team with the NHL's longest playoff drought. 
But while nobody really saw it coming, Hall to Buffalo does make sense for a few reasons.
  • He'll get to play top line minutes alongside Jack Eichel, one of the league's best young playmakers, and elevate production in a contract year
  • Hall has previously played under Buffalo coach Ralph Krueger and has shared glowing praise for him
  • The market and long-term offers for the winger may have been underwhelming due to the COVID-influenced NHL cap freeze
  • Though the Sabres want to keep him, Hall could still be traded to a contender at next season's deadline if the plan doesn't work out (though he does have a full no-movement clause in his deal)
Basically, Hall is gambling on himself and betting that Eichel and Krueger will help him look his best this year before he negotiates a bigger deal in a more friendly market next offseason. It's not the worst idea outside of it, you know, being the Buffalo Sabres.
📝 Odds & Ends
  • Rafael Nadal won the French Open and tied Roger Federer's grand slam mark
  • Here's an update on the state of the NFL schedule this week
  • There's a strong expectation that Dwayne Haskins will be traded before the deadline
  • North Carolina has moved into the top five of college football rankings for the first time since 1997
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Astros vs. Rays, 4:07 p.m. | TB -130 | TV: TBS
⚾ Braves vs. Dodgers, 8:08 p.m. | LAD -140 | TV: FOX
🏈 Chargers vs. Saints, 8:15 p.m. | NO -7 | TV: ESPN  
📝 Top scores from last night
🏀 Lakers 106, Heat 93
LeBron James had a triple-double (28-14-10) as the Lakers clinched in Game 6.
💵 Winning Wagers: LAL -5.5, Under (215)
🏈 Raiders 40, Chiefs 32
Derek Carr threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns as the Raiders handed KC its first loss of the season.
💵 Winning Wagers: LV +401, Over (54.5) 
⚾ Rays 2, Astros 1
Randy Arozarena homered again (his fourth HR in six games) to help power Tampa to a Game 1 win.
💵 Winning Wagers: TB -130, Under (8)
 
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