Is Jordan Spieth the new Tiger Woods? Who is and who isn’t a rookie? Will the Penguins win their third straight Stanley Cup? All of that and more — The Pitt News staff is back to round up the week’s best sports stories.
Golf is fun. Golf is exciting. This past Sunday was one of the biggest days on golf’s yearly calendar and a true showcase for Jordan Spieth, who, at the age of 24, is one of the sport’s biggest stars.
At the start of the final round of the Masters, Spieth was five-under and Patrick Reed was 14-under. By the end of his round, Spieth fell just one stroke shy of second place and tied the course record at the Masters, ending the tournament 13-under.
Spieth’s play was reminiscent of the guy that he and many other young players idolized — Tiger Woods. Spieth is already a three-time major winner who grew up watching Tiger gallivant around the course yelling and fist-bumping with dramatic shots. Now, he’s the one bringing the excitement on Sundays.
Fans responded well to the drama of Sunday’s round with an 18 percent increase in viewership from last year’s Masters. They may have been tuning in for Woods — who competed in his first major since 2015 — but they stayed for the guy who may be taking his place — Spieth.
— Stephen Cuddy, Staff Writer
Odell Beckham Jr.’s name has been in the news a lot recently — and for all the wrong reasons. A video leaked in March of Beckham in his hotel room with some questionable substances. He found himself under fire again later in the month for allegedly saying he would not play for the Giants unless he was given the contract extension he felt he deserved. He may not have to worry about that for long, as reports have surfaced that the Giants are fielding trade offers for the superstar wide receiver.
The Giants need to really consider the decision they’re making, though. With Beckham just turning 25 in November, now is not the time to cut bait.
Not only is he the lifeblood of the New York Giants, he is on pace to be one of the greatest wide receivers of all time. After Beckham’s injury last season, the Giants became nearly unwatchable.
This part of Beckham’s career should be a learning experience. Instead of making the water surrounding Beckham even murkier by entertaining trade discussions, the Giants should be working with Beckham through these learning experiences. Simply put, you cannot quit on talent and Beckham has as much talent as anybody in the NFL.
— Adin Link, Staff Writer
What’s a rookie, really?
Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons adamantly stated that he should be the favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year last Saturday. There is no doubt that Simmons has been one of the most impressive players in the league this season, averaging around 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists this season, with 12 triple-doubles — the second most ever by a rookie. But there is still one glaring issue with his Rookie-of-the-Year candidacy — he isn’t actually a rookie.
Simmons is not experiencing the NBA’s schedule for the first time, as he was with the 76ers all of last season. He may have not played due to injury, but he was still able to make the lifestyle adjustments necessary when transitioning from college to the NBA. Now Simmons is balling out on the entire league, paying little attention to minutiae like plane travel, meals and treatment.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, on the other hand, is actually a rookie. As he is constantly learning and conforming to the professional game, Mitchell just so happens to be leading all rookies in scoring at 20.5 points per game and has the Jazz positioned as the No. 3 seed in the vicious Western Conference.
Mitchell has been an important piece of Utah with the absence of Gordon Hayward, and he has them primed to be a contender for years to come. Simmons has been equally as important for the Sixers, but you have to be an actual rookie to win Rookie of the Year.
— Cale Berger, Staff Writer
The NHL season has come to a close, and now the most unpredictable of all playoffs are upon us — the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Well, they’re usually the most unpredictable. In the last two years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have seemingly cracked the code to successful playoff hockey, and they are primed to take home another cup this year.
The Penguins enter this postseason healthier than in the two previous years and riding the red-hot play of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who both finished in the top 10 in scoring for the first time since 2009 — the same year the Penguins won their first cup with Crosby and Malkin.
Pittsburgh has the health, firepower and experience to be the first team to win three in a row since the New York Islanders did in the ’80s. With Crosby and Malkin leading the way, there is no reason they shouldn’t.
— Grant Burgman, Sports Editor
Standing for something
It’s uncommon to see athletes talk about transgender rights in the sports world. But, recently, a video of Pistons guard Reggie Bullock supporting transgender people has gone viral on Twitter.
Bullock started advocating for transgender rights after his sister, who was trans, was murdered in 2014. Originally, Bullock was ashamed when his sister came out and didn’t let her come to see him play in college at UNC. But after her murder, Bullock changed his attitude, educated himself on trans issues, started working with LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and even got a tattoo that reads “LGBTQ” with his sister’s name under it.
Having an athlete like Bullock support trans people is a big deal. Transgender people are heavily discriminated against in the United States and killed at disproportionate rates — a prominent voice like Bullock’s brings attention to that issue.
If more athletes could join him and support transgender rights, it would be a massive boost to the trans community across the world.
— Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer