Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Nathan Chen and Chloe Kim become Olympic legends, plus happy NBA trade deadline day

Happy Thursday, folks, and happy NBA Trade Deadline Day to all who celebrate.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

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NATHAN CHEN…

In 2018, Nathan Chen came into the Olympics as the gold-medal favorite, but a disastrous short program ended those dreams early. This time around, in Beijing, there would be no repeat.

Chen took the lead with the highest-scoring short program in international competition history earlier in the week and brought it home with an outstanding free skate to become just the seventh American man to win gold in figure skating.

Chen had dominated men’s figure skating ever since the shocking Pyeongchang performance, and that carried over to the biggest stage this time around. Chen finished with a combined score of 332.60, far ahead of silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama’s 310.05.

Here’s the full list of American men to win Olympic gold in figure skating:

  • Nathan Chen (2022)
  • Evan Lysacek (2010)
  • Brian Boitano (1988)
  • Scott Hamilton (1984)
  • David Jenkins (1960)
  • Hayes Alan Jenkins (1956)
  • Dick Button (1952, 1948)

… AND ALSO TO CHLOE KIM

According to Chloe Kim, her day at the halfpipe started with “the worst practice of [her] life.” Good thing she knows how to turn it on when it counts.

Kim scored a 94.0 on her first run of the snowboard halfpipe final, a score that held up for her to capture her second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the event. She was more than three points clear of the silver medalist, Spain’s Queralt Castellet.

Kim introduced herself to the Olympic world by winning gold at Pyeongchang 2018 at just 17, becoming the youngest woman snowboarder ever to win gold. Now at 21, she needs no introduction. She is the only woman to win multiple Olympic golds in the halfpipe, and the gap between her and the competition remains sizable.

You can keep track of all the latest Olympic news here and see the medal count here.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

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THE HOUSTON COUGARS AND THE TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Ah, the dangers of being a highly ranked college basketball team on the road on a random Wednesday night. The two top teams playing last night suffered defeats in very different fashions:

  • No. 6 Houston fell in a surprising shootout, 85-83, at SMU
  • No. 9 Texas Tech never got anything going offensively in a 70-55 loss at Oklahoma

Let’s talk about the Cougars first, because any time you see a number like “83” next to their name, you’re going to assume they won. Entering last night, the Cougars had scored at least 80 points 70 times under Kelvin Sampson. Their record in those games was 67-3. But the Mustangs didn’t care about those numbers:

  • Star guard Kendric Davis scored a game-high 22 points.
  • Brothers Marcus and Michael Weathers combined for 37 points.
  • SMU shot 52% from three (12-for-23), the best of any team against Houston in the last three seasons.

One state away, Texas Tech got blown out by an impressive Sooners squad.

  • Oklahoma’s Umoja Gibson poured in 30 points, his most ever against a D-I team, and the second-most by any player vs Texas Tech this season.
  • The Sooners outscored the Red Raiders 45-25 in the second half.
  • It was Texas Tech’s largest loss this season.
  • Texas Tech shot a season-worst 2-17 (12%) from three.

Of course, these are also huge wins for SMU and Oklahoma, both of which are on the bubble. We’ll have an updated Bubble Watch for you here later today.

Follow our coverage of NBA Trade Deadline day 🏀

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USATSI

The NBA could look very different come this afternoon. Or it could look the same. Or something in between.

However the cookie crumbles, 3 p.m. today is the trade deadline, and our NBA team has you covered:

We had two more trades on Wednesday, including a three-team transaction between the Jazz, Trail Blazers and Spurs.

Jazz get:

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  • Juancho Hernangomez

Trail Blazers get:

  • Joe Ingles
  • Elijah Hughes
  • Second-round pick from Jazz

Spurs get:

  • Tomas Satoransky
  • Second-round pick from Jazz

Alexander-Walker and Hernangomez are the most immediately impactful players in this deal, considering Ingles is out for the season with a torn ACL and will be a free agent this offseason. Still, Utah only earned a “C” grade from our NBA expert Sam Quinn, mostly due to the money:

  • Quinn: “The Jazz desperately need to improve their perimeter defense. This trade doesn’t do that, and it also makes it substantially harder for them to do so. Ingles’ expiring salary would have been key to matching the money necessary on any major acquisition, presumably with a future first-round pick attached. Now that Ingles is gone, though, matching money is going to be very difficult.”

The Heat also traded KZ Okpala to the Thunder for a future second-round pick, a sneaky-good, creative deal from Miami, which Quinn expertly breaks down here.


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Shaun White’s final ride comes tonight 🏂

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Getty Images

Tonight marks the last Olympic run for American snowboarding superstar Shaun White.

White, 35, has gold in the halfpipe in 2006, 2010 and 2018. He revolutionized the sport, Here’s our Matt Norlander on White’s final Olympics moment:

  • Norlander: “At the very least, an American audience — and the snowboarding community — gets one final chance to see the greatest in its sport compete. What’s more is that White is still competing at a high level. He’s not who he was at 17 or 22 — or even 30 —  but he’s still Shaun White. He’s the reason halfpipe is an Olympic sport. … On Friday in China, White will try to make history by winning a fourth Olympic medal in snowboarding. No matter how it goes, it will be one of the biggest moments these controversial Games can offer.”

It’s important to cherish Olympic athletes when we can, simply because of the nature of the Games. We only get to see White once every four years. And when we do see him, we see him for just seconds every time.

Could you imagine if we only got to see LeBron James on a single fastbreak every four years? Or Tom Brady leading a two-minute drill with his team trailing once every four years? We certainly wouldn’t want to take it for granted — and those moments are what make or break legacies.

So let’s not take White’s final Olympics for granted. Here’s how you can watch it.

What we’re watching Thursday 📺

🏀 Bucks at Suns (-3.5), 10 p.m. on TNT

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