Categories
Sports Strength

The Atlanta Dream Experience And Your 2021 WNBA Playoffs Preview

The WNBA playoffs are finally upon us, and we can’t wait for the action to get started. It’s been a long season⁠—one that also included the Olympic break where Team USA captured the Gold as expected, and now we are officially in the postseason stretch to see who will be crowned the 2021 champions. Before we get into all of that, I first want to rewind to last Thursday when I attended the Atlanta Dream’s final home game of the season against the Los Angeles Sparks.

I really want to encourage you guys to check out a WNBA game if you haven’t already. Of course, if your team was one of the lucky eight to make the playoffs, then you’ll have an immediate opportunity if you’re close by. If not, then please start making plans to do so for next season. This wasn’t my first time checking out a Dream game, but it was the first in a while due to the pandemic situation.

The atmosphere was incredible, the seats were great, the food was delicious, and the DJ was on point. Also—shoutout to Bria Janelle, who has been a fantastic host for the Dream all year. The game last week represented ATL culture to the fullest as usual, and that appears to be the case in every city from what I’ve witnessed on social media and television. Go to a game. You will not be disappointed.

Now let’s get into these playoff deets.

When Do The Playoffs Start?

Ah, the magical question! The 2021 WNBA Playoffs are set to begin this Thursday, September 23rd, with the Finals slated to tip off October 10th.

Where To Watch

All playoff games will be available through either ESPN or ESPN 2.

Which Teams Are In?

For those tuning in for the first time, the top eight teams in the WNBA will qualify for the postseason. How teams are seeded is dependent upon their individual regular-season record. The top two seeds (which in this case are the Connecticut Sun and Las Vegas Aces) will get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and chill out until the semi-finals.

Seeds 3 and 4 (Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm) will get to relax until the second round, and seeds 5 through 8 will have to participate in single-game eliminations to determine who advances to that second round (which is also single elimination). Similar to March Madness, the Wild Card round in the MLB, and the NFL Playoffs, you only get one shot to advance.

Who Goes First?

Thursday officially gets the action started, and it’s going to look a little something like this:

  • No. 7 Dallas Wings at No. 6 Chicago Sky, 8 p.m. EST- ESPN 2
  • No. 8 New York Liberty at No. 5 Phoenix Mercury, 10 p.m. EST- ESPN 2

If last year is any indication, it should be an interesting playoffs. Make sure you keep up with us on our website and socials for more coverage these next few weeks.

Categories
NFT Sports

Campus Legends Partner With the University of Florida for NFT Collection

Paul “Bear” Bryant was one of the greatest coaches ever to walk the sidelines in college football history. When he and his wife moved to Tuscaloosa (home of the Alabama Crimson Tide), a local preacher was visiting. She remarked to him that they seem to take football seriously down here; it’s almost like a religion. The preacher allegedly responded matter of factly, “Oh no, it’s bigger than that.”

College Football is a way of life for millions of Americans. Their entire year dedicated to how will my team look this fall? 

And like it or not, one team is a good chunk of modern football’s foundation.

The University of Florida is a cornerstone of College Football. From the invention of Gatorade to Spurrier’s Fun and Gun offense. And in recent memory, Tim Tebow was the first sophomore ever to win the Heisman Trophy. They have always been innovators changing what afternoons in the fall look like both on and off the field. So it is only natural that they would be one of the first universities to adopt NFTs.

Speaking of Gainesville’s favorite son, Tim Tebow is chomping at the bit for Campus Legends.

Here is his video talking about Campus Legends first NFT drop.

What is Campus Legends?

Campus Legends is a socially driven community that blended two of my favorite things, college football, and NFTs. 

Their first collegiate partnership is with my alma mater, the University Of Florida. Which was announced just last week. The CEO Greg Simon put it best;

“Campus Legends will offer a truly groundbreaking and unique experience for the collector, the athlete, the school, and the college sports fan. We are thrilled that our very first partner is such an iconic brand in the University of Florida. Through this partnership, we will be able to bring the technology of blockchain and digital collectibles to connect Florida’s current and alumni athletes to fans and collectors all around the world. “

They are positioning themselves similar to what DraftKings is doing with their drops for big-name pros like Tom Brady and Tony Hawk. What separates them is they are trying to add a social network experience. So you’ll be able to participate in polls, talk to fans, trade and sell items and create that social connection about a shared passion. 

Right now the current drops are time-sensitive meant to be commemorative with gamedays. For example, just for signing up, I was able to get this gorgeous one for the game that just happened this past Saturday. Users will be able to collect NFTs only if they are users the day of and claim the drop. Fans will be able to have NFTs that act as a flex as they start to collect them in the secondary markets.

Current players can benefit from this platform and the new wave of tech thanks to the new NIL laws.

NIL?

NIL stands for name, image, likeness. For years players have been barred from being paid or earning anything that was tied to their name, image, or likeness.

One former player was famously “kicked” from playing because he had a youtube channel.

He had to choose between earning on Youtube and playing for UCF. Campus Legends has a mission to help players past and present who missed out due to NCAA regulations. 

 Players past and present can now get a share of the revenue from secondary transactions from people on the app. Placing UF at the cutting edge of where technology and culture meet—giving the University a first movers advantage during this new transition period for college football.

This could very well create a domino effect where players can show off their highlights as an NFT.  NBA Top Shot has already shown us there is a market for player highlights packaged together and tradeable.

If you were to combine that with some of the crazy moments from college sports like the “heave to cleve”.

To quote the voice of the gators Mick Hubert. “OH MY”

Categories
Style What To Buy

Work vs Play: Skate and Clothing Brand ICECREAM Reveals Its Fall 2021 Collection

Under the umbrella of Pharrell Williams and his ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ fashion brand, ICECREAM has officially released its apparel collection for the Fall of 2021.

The work vs. play motto of this new drop makes it more than just your everyday streetwear. You’ll be able to treat yourself to classic mid-90’s athletic skate pieces that include jersey t-shirts and nylon shorts with psychedelic designs, as well as a few more pragmatic styled pieces like flight jackets, flannel shirts with elbow patches, and cargo pants.

The Lede Company
Harlem-based Rapper THOTO shows off some the psychedelic designs that are heavily featured in the skate brand’s new Fall collection

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http://www.bbcicecream.com/

Highlighting the fresh collection for the upcoming months of autumn are two new denim pant silhouettes as well. Meant to offer a variety of options that complement style and utility while skating, the ‘Chocolate’ pair offers a slim leg pant fit, while ‘Strawberry’ is more of a straight leg pant fit.

The Lede Company
New York City Fashion Designer Dandy models in a fresh fit from the ICECREAM Fall 2021 collection

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http://www.bbcicecream.com/

A couple of rising influencers featured in the ICECREAM Fall 2021 lookbook include Harlem-based rapper THOTO, who is signed to A$AP Rocky’s ‘A$AP WORLDWIDE’ record label, and New York fashion designer Dandy.

The Lede Company
Fashion Designer Dandy (left) and rapper THOTO (right) model together in the ICECREAM Fall 2021 Collection

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http://www.bbcicecream.com/

The ICECREAM Fall 2021 collection will be available for purchase at the brand’s New York and Miami stores, as well as at their online store.

The Lede Company

There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to this particular ICECREAM FALL 2021 collection—my personal favorite piece from the collection itself happens to be the psychedelic shorts. Definitely stay tuned for more buzz in regards to this drop, as I wouldn’t be surprised if it did really well.

BUY NOW
http://www.bbcicecream.com/

Categories
Sports Strength

Here’s Why You Need to Be Listening to ‘Short Term High Volatility Investments’

For all the sports gamblers out there, picture this scenario: You wake up on a day that’s filled with endless opportunities, aka a day filled with sports to bet on, but you don’t know who to place your wagers on. Thankfully, a podcast like Short Term High Volatility Investments exists.

‘Short Term High Volatility Investments’, presented by ONE37pm and hosted by Geoff Sheasby (@OldManWhoBets) and Anthony Latino (@the_odds_fellow), is dedicated to helping you find the best profits in sports and sports gambling. Every week Geoff and Anthony examine what’s happening in the world of sports while sharing their best analysis and insights when it comes to betting on your favorite games.

Put it this way: They want to do the research and hard work so that all you have to do is count your cash.

The guys are coming off of a six-week hiatus, but they are back and ready to deliver their spiciest gambling, and sports takes. On this first episode back, Geoff and Anthony are diving into their new “DIZZY BAT” segment, in which they cover all of the trending lines, beginning with season totals in the NFC South.

They close out the episode talking baseball and what bets you should keep an eye on this weekend.

Be sure to check out the rest of Short Term High Volatility Investments on Spotify, Apple Music, and wherever you download your podcasts.

Categories
Sports Strength

Which U.S Professional Sports Team Has the Most Championships?

What’s better than being crowned the best at what you do? I’ll tell you. Doing it again, and again, and again. Some American sports franchises have had to struggle for decades to win a single championship, while others have triumphed multiple times. Of all the teams in American sports history, the New York Yankees have won the most championships, with 27 World Series titles.

Major League Baseball: New York Yankees (27 World Series Titles)
Getty Images
26 Oct 1996: Closer John Wetteland of the New York Yankees celebrates with teammates after Game Six of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves at Yankee Stadium in New York City, New York. The Yankees won the game, 3-2.

The Yanks have built a culture that expects to compete for the World Series every season. After their first title in 1923, the Yankees had three notable dynasty teams that would help win 26 more championships. From 1936-1939, the Yankees when won four consecutive titles, and from 1949-1954, they won five in a row. Those teams were managed by Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel and were led by legends like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, and Yogi Berra.

The next dynasty came during the late ’90s, when they won World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Those teams were managed by Joe Torre, and led by Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Bernie Williams.

In 2009, Jeter, C.C Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, and Mark Teixeira helped New York beat the Philadelphia Phillies for their 27th title, a series that I was glued to the television for as a 13-year old Yankees fan.

If you ask me, their most impressive championship came in 1996, when they beat the defending champion Atlanta Braves. Atlanta went up 2-0 in the series but the Yankees battled back and won four straight.

National Hockey League: Montreal Canadiens (25 Stanley Cup Championships
B Bennet / Getty Images
1991: Montreal Candiens head coach Pat Burns looks on from the bench during an NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers circa 1991 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Montreal Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup in 1919, and have been around longer than the NHL itself. Much of Montreal’s success points to its dominance in the 1950s, 1960’s and 1970s. They won six Stanley Cups between 1950-160, including four consecutive from 1956-1960. Those teams were coached primarily by Joe Blake and featured players like Jean Bèliveau, Henri Richard, and Claude Provost.

During the 1960s, they won the cup in 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969 as Richard, Serge Savard, Jacques Lemaire, J.C Tremblay, and Yvan Cournoyer highlighted those teams.

Finally, their most recent dynasty began in 1971, as they’d go on to win six Stanley Cups during the ’70s, including four straight. Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, and Bob Gainey were key players during that era. 

National Basketball Association: Los Angeles Lakers ( 17 NBA Championships)
Bud Symes/AllSport/ Getty Images
Center for the Los Angeles Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the Los Angeles Lakers 1988 Championship Parade

One of the most historic and successful franchises in all of sports are the Los Angles Lakers. George Mikan, who is considered the NBA’s first dominant big man led helped LA win four of the first five NBA titles, marking the first professional basketball dynasty we’ve ever seen. Those teams also featured Jim Pollard and Vern Mikkelsen.

In 1972, NBA logo icon Jerry West, along with Gail Goodrich, Elgin Baylor and Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, led the Lakers to an NBA record 33 -game winning streak and won the championship that same year. In 1979, they drafted Magic Johnson and would soon find its most successful run of form to date. Along with Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy, Magic led the “Showtime” Lakers to five championships during the 1980’s.

During the early 2000’s, head coach Phil Jackson, center Shaquille O’Neal and shooting guard Kobe Bryant started a new era in Lakers dominance when they won three consecutive titles in 2001, 2002 and 2003. After O’Neal was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2004, Bryant became the alpha dog and led the Lakers to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

NBA: Boston Celtics (17 NBA Championships)
NBA.com
Larry Bird and Kevin McHale high-five during the 1986 NBA Finals

Presumably inspired by the dominant run of the Lakers, the Boston Celtics reigned supreme during the latter years of the 1950’s and throughout the 1960’s in the NBA. Led by Bill Russell, , John Havlicek, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy, K.C Jones and Ed Macauley, the Celtics won eight consecutive NBA championships in 1959 and and 1966. Russell, who served as player-coach from 1966 to 1969, would win five MVP’s and set the record for most rebounds in a game with 49.

In 1978, Boston drafted arguably the most popular Celtic of all-time in Larry Bird. Bird, along with Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson, led Boston to title runs in 1981, 1984 and 1986, while stirring up a heated rivalry with Magic Johnson and “The Showtime Lakers.”

Celtics fans waited over 20 years for their next championships, which came in 2008. Head coach Doc Rivers, and a “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen defeated Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games that year.

National Hockey League: Toronto Maple Leafs (13 Stanley Cups)
(Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – MAY 7: Mats Sundin #13, Bryan Berard #34, Dmitri Yushkevich #36 and Lonny Bohonos #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1999 Quarter Finals of the NHL playoff game action at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canad

Like the Celtics-Lakers in the NBA, the Maple Leafs-Canadiens are one of the most historic rivalries in the NHL. Toronto were crowned with their first Stanley Cup in 1918, while their most recent Stanley Cup succession 1967.

In between that time, they had two dominant stretches, one coming in the late 40’s when they won three straight titles, while the other came during the early 60’s, when they won the whole thing in 1962, 1963, and 1964. Mats Sundin is the all-time leading goal-scorer for the franchise.

National Hockey League: Detroit Red Wings (11 Stanley Cups)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings stands next to the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl with Bill Daly, deputy commisioner of the NHL (R) after the Red Wings, after the Red Wings defeated the Stars 4-1 in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 19, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

The Canadiens, Maple Leafs, and Detroit Red Wings are a few of the original six teams that made up the NHL between 1942-1967.

The Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936, and won four consecutive titles between the years 1950-1960. Right winger Gordie Howe, who is considered by some as the greatest NHL player of all-time, partnered with star-studded goalie Terry Sawchuk to help Detroit dominate the 50’s.

In 2008, they would face-off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That Red Wings team won that series in six games, was anchored by defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, and lead on the attack by Henrik Zutterberg , who was the 2008 Stanley Cup MVP.

Major League Baseball: St. Louis Cardinals (11 Championships)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Trevor Rosenthal #26, catcher Yadier Molina #4 and David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after the Cardinals defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 18, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.

When the St. Louis Cardinals won their first championship in 1886, they were actually known as the St. Louis Browns. They became the Cardinals in 1900, and had to wait 26 years until their first World Series Championship triumph in 1926, beating a New York Yankees team led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Right-fielder Billy Southworth, Shortstop Tommy Thevenow, First Baseman Jim Bottomley, and starting pitcher Pete Alexander anchored that team to help defeat the Evil Empire.

The last Cardinals championship came in 2011 when they defeated the Texas Rangers. Lance Berkman, Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter and World Series MVP David Freese played huge roles in that series. 

Major League Baseball: Boston Red Sox (9 World Series Championships
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
The Boston Red Sox celebrate after winning game four of the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2004 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Red Sox defeated the Cardinals 3-0 to win their first World Series in 86 years

From 1903-1918, the Boston Red Sox were a dominant baseball franchise. They won five World Series championships during those years. Those squads were led by The Great Bambino, aka Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, and Cy Young. Their most notable championship run happened during 2004; which is the year they broke their 86-year drought without a World Series. That year, they came back and won from a 3-0 series deficit against arch-rival New York Yankees in the American League Championship series, becoming the first baseball team in the history of the game to do so. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez came up huge for Boston during that title run.

They’d go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that year, but beating my beloved Yankees in seven game is what made that postseason run extra special for the Red Sox.

Yuck, next.

Major League Baseball: Oakland Athletics ( 9 World Series Championships)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Pitcher Dave Stewart #34 of the Oakland Athletics delivers a pitch during a game against the New York Yankees in the 1990 season at Oakland Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, California.

Between the years 1903 and 1954, the Oakland Athletics franchise were residing in the city of brotherly love, and were formally known as the Philadelphia Athletics. They won their first World Series in 1910, and would go on to win titles in two out of the next three seasons during the early 1910’s. The organization has seen an influx of some of the greatest players that the game has ever seen, including Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Mark McGwire, and Tony La Rusa.

The franchises most recent championship came in 1989, when Oakland swept the San Francisco Giants. Henderson, the all-time leader in walks, runs, stolen bases and leadoff home-runs in baseball, was featured on that 1989 championship team, and might be the greatest A’ of all-time.

Starting pitcher Dave Stewart won World Series MVP in 1989 after pitching a complete game shoutout in game 1. In 2005, en-route to winning 103 games, Oakland went on the 5th longest streak in MLB history while winning 20 games in a row.

Major League Baseball: San Francisco Giants (8 World Series Championships)
(Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) raises the 2014 championship banner in left field after mounting a horse on his way to deliver the banner to center centerfield before their home opener against the Colorado Rockies

The Giants were based in New York from 1903-1957, and won their first of five World Series championships as the New York Giants in 1905. Right-hander Christy Mathewson pitched three games during the World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics that year, and did not allow one single run in 27 innings of action. 11 years later, they set the MLB record for most consecutive wins with 26. The Giants most recent World Series championship was a seven-game thriller against the Kansas City Royals in 2014, marking their third title during a 5-year stretch. Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner was electric and won MVP of the series, joining the company of baseball’s elite after clutch performances in Games 1, 5, and 7 on short rest. Bumgarner has a career 0.25 ERA in World Series games, good for the greatest mark in the history of baseball.

Major League Baseball: Los Angeles Dodgers (7 World Series Championships) 
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers holds the Commissioners Trophy after the teams 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Six to win the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 27, 2020 in Arlington, Texas

The Dodgers played in Brooklyn under seven different nicknames before they became the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1958. Their first title was won in 1955 in seven games over the New York Yankees, as the team was carried by Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Johnny Podres, and Carl Furilo. Additionally, 2nd baseman Jackie Robinson is notorious for breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, becoming the first African-American to play in the big leagues in 1947. Additionally, without the the emergence of veteran Negro-league superstars Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson during that time, the young Jackie Robinson might’ve never had his shine.

LA’s latest World Series championship came in 2020, in a series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. All-Star center-fielder Mookie Betts was named MVP of the series. 

National Basketball Association: Chicago Bulls (6 NBA Championships)
Jonathan Daniel /Allsport
Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates after game six of the NBA Final against the Utah Jazz at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-86..

The Chicago Bulls dominated during the 1990’s as their success rested on the laurels of arguably the greatest to ever do it in Michael Jordan. Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and B.J Armstrong, to help win the Bulls their first championship in 1991, but they didn’t stop there.

The Bulls won again in 1992, and 1993. After Jordan took a hiatus from basketball during 1993 and 1994, Chicago three-peated again in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, and Ron Harper were key additions that supported the star-studded duo of Jordan and Pippen during the late 90’s.

I’d say their most impressive finals performance was the 1997 series against Utah. The Jazz, led by John Stockton and Karl Malone, came back from a 2-0 series deficit to force a game 5. That game is remembered as the famous “flu game”; the game in which Jordan was visibly sick and had to be helped off the court by teammates going into timeouts. Nevertheless, Jordan dropped 38 points in a Chicago victory as the Bulls would go on to win the Finals in six games. 

National Basketball Association: Golden State Warriors (6 NBA Championships)
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and MVP Andre Iguodala celebrate after their team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 to win the 2015 NBA Finals on June 16, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Warriors played in Philadelphia from 1951-1962, and won their first championship as the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956. Neil Johnston and Paul Arizin led those teams and are a few of the greatest players in franchise history. During the early 90’s, “Run TMC” a play-on with 80’s Hip-Hop group “Run DMC” was the nickname for the trio of Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond. Although they never won a championship together, they’re one of the most iconic trios in NBA history, and one of my favorite NBA teams ever.

Finally, a new era of bay-area dominance was brewed in 2015 when the 67-win Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala defeated LeBron James and the Cavaliers to win the organization’s 4th NBA championship. That same year, they put up the 2nd best winning streak of all-time when they won 28 straight games.

The emerging backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson quickly became known as “The Splash Bros”. With the addition of Kevin Durant two seasons later, Golden State would go on to win two more championships, back-to-back in 2017 and

National Hockey League: Chicago Blackhawks (6 NHL Championships)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after teammate Patrick Kane #88 scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 and win the Stanley Cup in Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Blackhawks have only won the Stanley Cup six times, but they’ve been dominant over the past 10 years with three Stanley Cups over that time-frame. Their first championship came in 1934 when they beat the Detroit Red Wings, clinching the series during a double-overtime victory in game 4. Their latest championship came in 2015 when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Stan Mikita is probably known as Mr. Blackhawk, and is arguably the greatest Chicago Blackhawks player of all-time. Patrick Kane might be 2nd on the list of all-time greatest Blackhawks, and had that classic game-winning OT goal against the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, which broke my heart as a semi-Flyer fan that only shows up for the playoffs.

National Hockey League: Boston Bruins (6 Stanley Cup Wins)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Rich Peverley #49 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his third period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 23, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup all the way back in 1929 when they swept the New York Rangers in a best-of-three series. Wingers Harry Oliver and Dit Clapper, along with centers Bill Carson and Dutch Gainor scored goals for the Bruins in that series, while 25 -year old goalie Tiny Thompson allowed zero goals in 120 minutes of play. They won their most recent championship when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games during 2011. Brad Marchand , Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder were monsters on the attack in that series and really carried the team. As for other notable Bruins, Defenseman Bobby Orr is not only a great Bruin, but is considered one of the greatest hockey players in NHL history. Fellow Defenseman Eddie Shore, along with centers Patrice Bergeron and Phil Esposito are other great players in Boston’s history on the ice.

National Football League: New England Patriots (6 Super Bowls)
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady embraces Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft (R) after winning 03 Super Bowl XXXVI 03 February, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Over the last two decades, the New England Patriots have been incredibly dominant and vastly hated by opposing fans. At the start of 2002 though, The Patriots had zero Super Bowl Championships and were underdogs, even with Bill Belichick and a young Tom Brady . That year though, the Patriots shocked the world and defeated the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, aka, “The Greatest Show of Turf” in Super Bowl XXXVI. Their victory against Kurt Warner and Co. would spark the greatest dynasty run that the NFL has ever seen. They managed a combined record of 28-4 during the seasons they won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, while going 17 straight seasons with ten wins or more from 2003, to 2019. Even though they lost the 2007 Super Bowl to the New York Giants, they steamrolled the league in route to a 16-0 record. Their latest Super Bowl triumph came in 2018 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but their most impressive Super Bowl win has to be that 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in 2016.

National Football League: Pittsburgh Steelers (6 Super Bowls) 
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 01: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney look on after defeating the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 27-23

As the 7th oldest franchise in the NFL, The Pittsburgh Steelers are known as one of the most historic teams in not just football, but in professional sports. Steelers fans had to wait 42 years until the team won their first Super Bowl in 1975.

After that however, they were able to win four Super Bowls in the next six seasons while putting together arguably the best football team that has ever been assembled. The team was coached by Chuck Noll, and featured numerous halls of famers including quarterback Terry Bradshaw, cornerback Mel Blount, linebackers Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene.

Their most recent Super Bowl victory came at the expense of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009, and was capped off by a game-winning touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes . 

National Basketball Association: San Antonio Spurs (5 NBA Championships)
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Manu Ginobili #20, Tony Parker #9, Patty Mills #8 and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate on the bench in the closing minutes of Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals

After the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan in 1997, they became the epitome of winning, class and consistency in the NBA throughout the 2000’s. They won the 1999 NBA Finals under Head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich, and with a team led by Duncan, David Robinson, and Avery Johnson.

Their true domination started during the early 2000’s though, when they won the NBA Finals in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Those teams were led by Pop, Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. After a seven-year title drought, San Antonio got another chance to add to their trophy case, and did so in defeating the Miami Heat and their “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, while avenging their gut-wrenching loss to Miami in 2013.

National Football League: San Francisco 49ers (5 Super Bowl Championships)
(Photo by Rich Pilling/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana in celebration against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 24 at the Louisiana Superdome.

The San Francisco 49ers have featured some of the most legendary players to play for their franchise. Cornerback Ronnie Lot, quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana, and wide receivers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens are some of the greatest niners of all-time. The pinnacle of their success as a franchise started in the 1981 when they won their first Super Bowl, while their latest Super Bowl win came in 1994. Head coach George Seifert won 98 games and led the franchise to two SuperBowls between 1989 and 1996, while Bill Walsh won 92 games and three Super Bowls between 1979 and 1988. For me, their most memorable championship was Super Bowl XXIII in 1989 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Montana threw a game-winning back touchdown pass to receiver John Taylor in that game, and is one of the greatest plays in NFL history.

National Football League: Dallas Cowboys (5 Super Bowl Championships)
Photo credit should read ROBERT SULLIVAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman signals touchdown 31 Jan during the fourth quarter Super Bowl XXVII. Aikman and the Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills to win the game 52-17.

Famously known around the NFL as “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl in 1972 against the Miami Dolphins. Bob Lily’s sack on Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese is one of the greatest plays in Cowboys history and helped clinch Dallas’ first ever Super Bowl championship. Their latest Super Bowl win came at the expense of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1996, and capped off Dallas winning three Super Bowls in four seasons during the 90’s. Quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman anchored all of the Cowboys Super Bowl triumphs. Other notable Cowboys include Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jason Witten, and of-course their famous president, general manager, and owner since 1989, Jerry Jones. Wade Phillips, Bill Parcels, and Jimmy Johnson are a few notable coaches in Dallas Cowboys history as well.

Categories
Sports Strength

Alabama’s Ga’Quincy ‘Kool-Aid’ McKinstry Signs NIL Deal With Kool-Aid

On paper, this NIL deal makes almost too much sense.

Last Wednesday, it was announced that five-star recruit and freshman defensive back for the Alabama Crimson Tide, Ga’Quincy ‘Kool-Aid’ McKinstry, would be signing a NIL Deal with, you guessed it, Kool-Aid.

Ever since the rules and regulations for the NCAA’s new NIL policy were introduced in July 2021, brands and players have been scrambling for ways to take advantage. McKinstry is just the latest athlete to join the growing movement.

Considered to be one of, if not the best cornerback in the 2021 signing class, Kool-Aid McKinstry hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and like so many that play football in that state, he chose to join the Crimson Tide when they made him a scholarship offer.

Kool-Aid told AL.com in 2019 that he’s had the nickname ever since he was born when, according to his grandmother, he “came out smiling.” He introduces himself as Kool-Aid, he tends to go by Kool-Aid, and, hell, he is even listed on Alabama’s roster as Kool-Aid.

Needless to say that when it came time for Kool-Aid to look into potential branding opportunities, Kool-Aid (the brand) was the perfect match.

To signify the new deal, Kool-Aid temporarily changed their Twitter account’s bio to “In honor of our new partnership, we’ve swapped names with Kool-Aid McKinstry and given him the power of OH YEAH.”

For far too long, college athletes—despite bringing in tons of money for their schools, sports networks, and brands—could never earn financial compensation for their names and likenesses. That has thankfully changed and enabled players like Kool-Aid to be compensated for all their hard work on the field.

While the exact terms of Kool-Aid’s NIL deal were not immediately available, it’s bound to be very advantageous for both sides.

Kool-Aid will be a very exciting player to watch when he suits up for the Crimson Tide this fall, and we can’t wait to see what he can do.

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Sports Strength

Everything You Need To Know About Rugby Positions

To me, there’s a misconceived notion among anyone new to rugby; it’s that the game involves a bunch of players mindlessly running around while trying to rip each other’s heads off. 

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Reddit

While the latter might be true 99% of the time, rugby is far from a sport without structure, part of which hinges on the role of whoever is on the field.

Before we get to that, let’s address that there are multiple types of rugby.

Green and Gold Rugby

The most popular rugby league is Rugby Union, featuring 15 players on the field for each team. Rugby League, a less popular but faster-paced brand of the game, features 13 players on the field per team. Finally, sevens rugby is arguably the most exciting and digestible form of the game for alienated fans. It features seven players on the field per team.

Regardless of the type of rugby you ever find yourself associated with, the positions will always have the same names; they’ll just be minimized, say if you are playing 7 on 7 instead of 15 on 15. Whether it’s a 15’s, 13’s, or 7’s field that you’re stepping on, each team will be split up into the following two groups, backs and forwards.

The Backs
7 Bamboos Rugby

This group of players specializes in passing, kicking, playmaking, open-field tackling, and scoring. They make up the smaller players on a rugby team and rely on their ability to score tries using their speed and dynamic ball-handling skills. 

Backs will generally have special plays that they’ll run during a game, which will help them break down a defense. In practice, they can either develop plays that only adhere to backs or incorporate the other group of players, known as the forwards, in certain plays.

The Forwards
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These are the big boys and girls and are responsible for controlling the game’s pace with manpower and brute strength. The forwards are key in maintaining possession of the ball with ball carries and their effectiveness in “breakdowns,”; where they prevent the other team from trying to steal the ball. 

Line-outs and scrums are two areas in the game of rugby that forwards specialize in. They will likely dedicate hours upon hours in practice, away from the backs, to work on their lineout and scrum structure.

Even though backs are expected to do certain things collectively, there are seven positions within the backs group that each has different responsibilities. 

Scrum Half / Half-back (#9)

The scrum-halves are usually the smallest players on a rugby team, but they carry one of the larger loads of responsibilities during a game. They act as a moderator between the forwards and backs to help dictate the pace of the game. They make passes from breakdowns, scrums, and lineouts out to either the forwards and backs. Scrum-halves need to pass in either direction, have a great vision to see the field, the endurance to arrive at every breakdown, and the ball-handling skills as they will be handling the ball a majority of the time during a match.

South African Faf de Klerk is considered one of the best scrum-halves in today’s game.

Fly-Half / Outside half (#10)
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Dan Carter of New Zealand

The fly-half is the most dynamic playmaker on a rugby team. They are in charge of making sure everyone on the offense knows what play is being run and, like a scrum-half, have a say in whether the forwards or the backs will receive the ball during phase play. They should have great chemistry with their scrum-half to ensure the offense runs smoothly. Fly-halves need to have excellent decision-making skills, passing and kicking. They also need to be great tacklers as they will have a target on their back when on defense.

New Zealanders Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter are a few of the best fly-halves ever to play the position.

Center (#’s 12 and 13)

Centers are typically the strongest runners on a rugby team. When a center gets the ball from the fly-half, they’ll hope to break through defenses with a hardcore ground-and-pound running style. They should also be the best tacklers on the team and strong in rucks, largely considered the heart and soul of a rugby team.

Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi are two of the best centers in the world right now.

Wing (#’s 11 and 14)

Wings are your speedsters on the outside, the fastest players on the field. Their primary objectives are to score tries, chase and field kicks, make their tackles on the outside flank, and put pressure on a defense in any way that they can use their wheels. They also need to have great footwork. Each team will have two wings on the field at once.

South African Cheslin Kolbe and Fijian Semi Radradra are two of the most dynamic wings in the world.

Full-back (15)

The full-back works with the two wings to form what is known as the backline. Additionally, since they are the final safeguard on defense, they need to be great tacklers who communicate directions to forwards and backs to put them in positions to stop an offense. Fullbacks need to always join in on the attack, alongside centers and wings, to add another wrinkle in the offense, so they need plenty of endurance. Fielding kicks, setting up teammates, and being light and quick on their feet are things the full-back needs to do. 

Scottish superstar Stuart Hogg is a top-tier player at the full-back position.

Loosehead and Tighthead Prop (1 and 3)

Props occupy the toughest and most physically punishing positions in rugby. The only difference between the two types is that Loose-head props have their heads in between the opposition while in the scrum, as Tight-head props have their heads in between their hooker, a position we’ll get to later. They are constantly taking short-line balls to draw in multiple defenders who will create attacking space for the backs. They contribute to the rugby scrum by supporting the hooker’s body weight. This allows the hooker to locate the ball once it is placed into the scrum by the scrum-half. They are expected to have the agility to get to rucks and the power to dominate in rucks.

Englishman Mako Vunipola is a great pop to watch in the game today.

Hooker (2)

The hooker is a pillar in the forward pack. They spearhead the timing of the scrum and are responsible for winning possession of the ball once it is in the scrum. In lineouts, they need the crucial skill of throwing the ball accurately so that the team’s lineout jumper can receive it. This also ensures that the other team can’t steal it. In the open field, the hooker will look to carry short balls and control possession in rucks, so they need to have similar props.

Malcolm Marx is a 25-year old South African that has already established himself as one of the best hookers in the world.

Lock and Second Row (4 and 5)

These guys are the heart and soul of the scrum and are the ones who receive the ball in the lineout from the hooker. They need to be strong when binding with the props; otherwise, they will allow the other team to take possession of the ball; the same goes for their lineout jumping. They should be tall and powerful players with the open-field responsibilities of props and hookers. 

Englishmen Maro Itoje and South African Eben Etzebeth are the epitomai of great lock and second-row players.

Blind-side Flanker/ Open-side Flanker (6 and 7)
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England Captain Chris Robshaw

The flankers are unique forwards who find themselves in the center of the action more often than not. The blind-side flanker is known to be physical and powerful, while the openside flanker should be more agile. Nonetheless, both need to have quality endurance, average speed, brute strength, dynamic carrying skills and should be capable of passing. 

Englishman Chris Robshaw is among the upper echelon of elite flankers.

The Eight-man (8)

The eight-man is a part of the tandem known as the back row, including the two flankers. This is the only player among the forwards who can pick the ball up once it is won in the scrum. Therefore, the eight-man needs to be a very effective runner with the ball who can make plays and be an effective ball-carrier and tackler.

Even at the age of 33, South African Duane Vermeulen is still among the great 8-men in the game today.

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Sports Strength

Breaking Down the NIL: The NCAA’s New Name, Image, and Likeness Policy

Over the past two decades, arguably the hottest and most controversial topic regarding the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been the name, image, and likeness of its athletes. 

To fully understand the “NIL”, how it came about, and why it’s such a big deal in the NCAA, we’ll have to take a look back at the year 1991, when five particular freshmen booked their ticket to Ann Arbor.

Detroit Free Press
The starting five of the University of Michigan from 1991-1993

The Fab Five played basketball at the University of Michigan from 1991 to 1993. Consisting of Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Chris Webber, and Juwan Howard, they are widely considered to be the most popular college basketball team of all time.

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(Left) Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, Coach Steve Fisher, Chris Webber and Ray Jackson (Right)

Their swaggy style and attitude intertwined well with the emerging Hip-Hop culture in the ’90s, as they are primarily known for starting the baggy shorts, black socks, and black sneakers trend on the basketball court.

The Fab Five only played together for 2 seasons but certainly made the most of it, posing a 56-12 record and completing back-to-back National Championship appearances. 

The University of Michigan ended up making a boatload of money off the Fab Five’s jerseys, ticket sales, and other merchandise. On the other hand, the players themselves were never allowed to profit financially off of their name, image, or likeness, as the school did. 

Years after the Fab Five graduated from Michigan, the Wolverines were stripped of all the basketball accolades and accomplishments they tallied during the 1991-1993 seasons. This came from the back end of an FBI investigation on Ed Martin, a man who loaned half of a million dollars, in total, to Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, and a few others.

Ann Arbor Local News
Ed Martin in 1992

Martin was from the inner-city of Detroit, like Webber and Rose. He was a man known for making donations to plenty of kids, not just the high-acclaimed athletes. Nonetheless, he was labeled an illegal booster by the NCAA and someone who represented Michigan’s athletic interests. The reality was, he didn’t have any ties to the University at all, which left many scratching their heads.

As a result of this scandal, more and more people began to ask why athletes couldn’t make money off of their name, likeness, and image, especially if they are financial assets for their schools like the Fab Five was for theirs.

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Following in the footsteps of the Fab Five, were Tiger Woods, Reggie Bush, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi, and Zion Williamson. They helped give athletes more ammunition in the conversation, leading to NCAA’s big decision on June 30th, 2021.

A temporary policy was passed on that day, allowing athletes to benefit financially from their name, image, and likeness.

The Daily Illini
Rep. Kam Buckner and Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois pose with the newly enacted name, image and likeness bill at State Farm Center in June of 2021

Each division in the NCAA came to agree that anyone is now allowed to partake in name, image, and likeness activities so long that they follow the laws of the state that the college is in. 

Collegiate athletes will now be able to monetize their social media, make money off of their jersey sales, and even endorsement deals from their favorite brands. 

It’s important to note that athletes will not be compensated for simply playing a collegiate sport, and they will not be able to receive benefits tied to them choosing a specific school. 

Since the laws were passed, we’ve already seen a few college athletes sign deals that will monetize their image. 

Moteefe

Kentucky guard Dontaie Allen teamed up with “The Players Trunk” to create custom merchandise. 

via Arkansas Soul
Trey Knox and his dog “Blue”

Arkansas wide-receiver Trey Knox is partnering with “Petsmart” and will benefit from the social campaign that highlights his love for his dog. 

The Next 24/7/365 Women’s Basketball Coverage
Haley and Hanna Cavinder

Fresno State guards Haley and Hanna Cavinder will start to monetize their Tik-Tok account in September; when California puts their NIL laws into place. Their 3.4 million follower account has exploded over the past year, and they will have unlimited possibilities to monetize their brand come this fall.

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Sports Strength

ONE37pm’s WNBA Friday Preview for July 2nd

We’re back! After a couple of weeks of only having one game on the Friday night deck, we’re back to normal with three entertaining games tonight. There have been a lot of updates since our last WNBA Friday blog. For starters, I was able to interview the Washington Mystics’ Ariel Atkins, which is a really cool interview that any WNBA fan should check out. Atkins ended up being named to the Olympic team on the same day we published the article, which was an awesome coincidence. The WNBA All Star game was also confirmed during that time period (the event will take place in Las Vegas), and the rosters (the WNBA All Stars will battle the USA Basketball Women’s Team) were officially announced two days ago.

It’s important to note that this period of the season is a critical one. We technically have just a little over a week until we break for the Olympics, and it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how everything plays out. We’ll dive more into what to expect during the Olympic break and the last part of the season in next week’s breakdown because we still have a full week’s worth of games before that happens. In the meantime, let’s give you guys a quick preview of the matchups that are on tonight. 

Chicago Sky vs Dallas Wings 8:00pm EST

This is actually the second straight matchup between the two teams, so let’s start with the Sky. First of all congratulations to one of the all time GOATs Candace Parker for making her sixth All Star appearance. Also major congratulations to Kahleah Copper and Courtney Vandersloot for their All Star selections as well. The Sky had a rough start to the season, and their troubles coincided with Parkers’ left ankle sprain that she suffered in an early season matchup against Atlanta.

As soon as she came back, the Sky’s season turned aroundback, their season began to turn around, and they have won eight out of their last nine games. Saturday’s matchup against the Wings saw strong performances from Courtney Vandersloot, Diamond DeShields, Allie Quigley, and Ruthy Hebard, as the Sky continues to march their way up the standings. 

Alright let’s head over to Dallas. Big shoutout to Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally for their All Star selections as well. Currently sitting at 6th in standings, the Wings are having a decent year, but will need to be careful as we approach the midway point as seeds 6 through 9 could very well be interchangeable as the Liberty, Mercury, and Mystics aren’t too far behind them record wise.

As you all know, only the top eight seeds get a spot in the playoffs, and while these next four games aren’t “must wins,” I think it would be nice if they could notch as many wins as they can before the break to give themselves more of a lead in case there is an adjustment period once they return (this is applicable to all teams by the way). Expect for Ogunbowale to have a stellar game as usual, and I think Dallas could get the win this time around if Kayla Thornton can get to double digits, along with Marina Mabrey. We shall see.

Las Vegas Aces vs Los Angeles Sparks 10:00pm EST

Not much has changed with the Aces since our last blog except the fact that they seem to be even more dominant than before. Liz Cambage and Dearica Hamby will be part of the WNBA All-Star team (Cambage will play for the Australian Olympic team), and of course, A’Ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray will be representing team USA in the summer games as well. Standout point guard Kelsey Plum will also be participating in the Summer Olympics as a part of the 3×3 team, which is a new addition to the games, meaning that the Aces will be well represented in Tokyo.

Now as far as the season is concerned, the Aces are ranked 1st, so there isn’t much to worry about, but the margin is slim between seeds 1 through 3, and the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun are on their heels. Ideally the Aces would like to keep their number one spot, so for that reason, I think they would like to close out these games before the break strong. They handled the Sparks pretty easily on Wednesday, so if they have a similar performance tonight, they should be able to get the W again.

Okay let’s move on to the Sparks. Let me first start by commending Nneka Ogwumike for the rare talent she is. It is my hope that we can see her be a part of the Olympic squad one day because she totally deserves it. Also during the Olympic break, Ogwumike will be a part of the highly anticipated Space Jam: A New Legacy movie dropping on July 16th. Fans can expect to see the star as Arachneka, a Tune Squad member who takes on the form of a spider. We’ll talk more about Space Jam later, but as far as the Sparks, I would love to see Los Angeles make the playoffs, and they aren’t too far off from being able to qualify. Their pre-break schedule however is going to be tough as they have the Aces tonight obviously, back to back matchups against the Seattle Storm, and a final game against the Minnesota Lynx. It’s going to be difficult for sure, but one game at a time.

Atlanta Dream vs Seattle Storm 10:00pm EST

Last but not least we have Atlanta vs Seattle. Congrats to Courtney Williams on her All Star appearance, which is well deserved! Atlanta is another team that is going to have to do some fighting to climb in the standings, and similar to the Sparks, they also have a tough pre-break schedule as the Storm, Aces, and Connecticut make up the next three games on their schedule. The Dream will close it out against the Indiana Fever on July 11th, and as far as this matchup goes, we all know the Storm are very tough to battle against, but I really liked their total team effort against the New York Liberty the other night. Everyone got involved in some way, and you definitely need an “all hands on deck” approach when it comes to dealing with the Storm. 

As far as Seattle, they are currently sitting pretty at No. 2, and could end up overtaking the Aces for that top spot. Sue Bird, Jewell Lloyd, and Breanna Stewart are all Olympians, and will head to Tokyo in a few short weeks to compete for Gold, and like the Aces, are in a really good position heading into the interim. In addition to Atlanta, Seattle will close out this final week with back to back matchups against the Sparks and Mercury. The same way the Aces want their top spot, the Storm want it too, and you better believe they want to try to get as many wins as they can during the next several days.

That’s it for this week, be sure to tune to the games tonight!

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Sports Strength

Washington Mystics’ Star Ariel Atkins Talks Hoops and Community Engagement

Ariel Atkins is a young fearless talent who has been given the unique gift of basketball, and a powerful platform to change the world. Through the years we’ve seen her blossom not just as an athlete (Atkins is currently having a career year that is generating All Star Buzz), but we’ve seen her become an activist, and a prominent part of the community, which is something she feels is one of her most valuable contributions. On the court, the Washington Mystics star is a vicious competitor determined to do anything on both ends of the floor to help her team get a win, but off the court she is a fun, family oriented, nature loving girl, who wants to use her opportunities to open doors for others. 

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Ariel Atkins

Atkins’ growth has been a pleasure to watch, as she continues to ascend to superstar heights. While still early in the season, a quick look at her stats will show you her dominance thus far. Just a little over ten games in, Atkins is averaging nearly 18 ppg (up four percent from last year), and her assists, blocks, and rebound percentages have gone up as well. Most importantly, Atkins leadership has become undeniable, accompanied by a commanding presence and confidence on the court. We got the opportunity to catch up with Atkins while she was on the road to talk about the Mystics start to the season, her goals for the future, and who she is outside of the court.

ONE37pm: Okay so we’re a few weeks into the season, and you guys are starting to find a groove and a rhythm. I wanted to ask you about your preparation process because this year was still different than normal.

Atkins: Yes because we had players who went overseas, and players that took the year off. So it was definitely tough for us to find our timing and get back into the groove. We have a new team, so it was a case of everybody trying to get their timing back, and figuring out what everyone likes to do. It was definitely tough, but it has been good for us because it forced us to figure out things very quickly.

ONE37pm: Let’s take it back to last year. We’ll probably never see a season like that again just because of everything that was going on. We saw how progressive the W was, and you used your voice. How important was that for you?

Atkins: I think that is just the nature of this league. The W is made up of 80 percent Black women, and that is the nature of us—we just step up. To have allies of different ethnicities that we had was really rewarding, but it made you realize that this was a much bigger issue. Just because we were in a bubble and didn’t get to experience the outside world, didn’t mean we didn’t wake up each day and feel the same effects of what was happening on the outside. It was definitely an interesting experience to feel disconnected and so connected at the same time. It was a strange feeling, but we knew coming into the season what our focal point was, which was the “Say Her Name” campaign in honor of Breonna Taylor and her family, and different things we could do to help not only empower our community, but spread their stories. 

We had the opportunity to be one of the most watched sports during the pandemic, and I’m thankful to our league for finding a way to put it together. It gave us the opportunity to get a bigger platform, and use that opportunity the best way that we could. There are a lot of WNBA players who speak out about a lot of things, and there was the chance for me to speak. We had already talked about a bunch of different things ahead of time, and the opportunity presented itself to speak up on something that we really believed in. I’m thankful to ESPN for giving us that chance, to speak and say what we felt.

ONE37pm: We’ll bring you back to the present. Each year you get better, so what is your strategy to improve every season?

Atkins: Just to get a little bit better! That’s all I can ask for. Basketball is a game where you can always add to your game. If you can’t shoot, you can learn how to. If you can’t dribble that well, you can learn. You can learn how to become a better passer and communicator. There are tons of things you can do to become a better player, and that is something that I love. For me it’s always about helping my team and organization win championships, and what I can add to my game to throw other people off. It’s really a matter of getting into the gym and figuring out how to get better. Right now my goal is to get to the rack more. That is definitely my focal point this year.

ONE37pm: How many championships do you want to win?

Atkins: I would love to win one every single year! I know that isn’t possible but that is my goal every season. I won’t put a number on it, but as many as I can!

ONE37pm: It’s important for us to see athletes in a human light. What do you like outside of basketball?

Atkins: I’m a big nature person! I love going outside and listening to water. That’s my thing! Also hanging out with my family whenever I get a chance. Those are my two biggest things that I like that are my calm factors. I’m really big on my faith too, and anytime I can sit down, be quiet, try to talk to God, and pray, is another calming factor for me. I’m really big on that because I have to make sure I’m good inside before I ever try to do anything.

ONE37pm: Where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years?

Atkins: Hopefully I’ve got some more rings on my hand, and I would like to figure out ways to help my community. I don’t have a foundation in place, but I would like to work with different foundations in my hometown Dallas, and the DC area to figure out how I can use the resources and people that I know to help those communities. It’s something that I am working on now, and I would like to see things in action over the next five to ten years to where foundations can come to either myself or somebody in my circle to get the resources and access that they need.

ONE37pm: You guys are great, but I feel that those of us in the media and general public could do an even better job supporting you all. What do we need to do on our end to continue to help grow the league because the ultimate goal is expansion!

Atkins: Expansion! Say that again! I would say make it visible. Show people! I think that is the biggest thing because the cliche term “Out of sight, Out of mind” is true. If nobody sees the league, and kids/families don’t know what it is, then they aren’t watching. The W has done a good job at making the league visible by linking with Twitter, Google, and things like that. Also just talk about the W! If you are going to a game, ask your friend if they want to come. Small things like that.

ONE37pm: Final Question. Who is Ariel Atkins?

Atkins: That is a heavy question! Who is Ariel Atkins? She’s a good human that just wants to spread love and joy into the world. I love what I do, I’m thankful to do what I love, but I also know that’s not who I am. The biggest parts of me are making sure I’m being a good human, and that I leave the people who cross my paths better than I found them.

One thing is clear, Ariel has a bright future ahead of her with plenty more accomplishments in store. You can continue to keep up with her on Instagram.