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Yahoo Sports AM: Investigating MJ’s DPOY

Yahoo Sports AM: Investigating MJ's DPOY

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🚨 Headlines

🏀 Lakers hire Redick: L.A.'s coaching search is over, with the Lakers bringing in J.J. Redick on a four-year deal. He's the same age as LeBron James (39) and will be his 10th coach.

⚾️ Another walk-off: The Padres beat the Brewers, 7-6, on Jake Cronenworth's walk-off blast, their third straight home game to end in a walk-off homer.

⚽️ Argentina wins opener: Lionel Messi and Argentina kicked off their Copa América title defense with a 2-0 win over Canada.

💍 Surprise proposal: Lilly King qualified for the Olympics in the 200-meter breaststroke — then got engaged minutes later.

🏀 Bulls-Thunder swap: Chicago is sending Alex Caruso to OKC in exchange for Josh Giddey.

🏀 Was MJ's DPOY award a product of homer bias?

(Bruno Rouby/Yahoo Sports)

A closer look at Michael Jordan's 1988 Defensive Player of the Year award raises questions about its validity. Has LeBron James been chasing a ghost?

From Yahoo Sports' Tom Haberstroh:

It may be the most consequential Defensive Player of the Year award in NBA history.

In 1987-88, Michael Jordan became the first player ever to win the scoring title and the DPOY in the same season. To this day, the feat hasn't been duplicated.

The award delivered generational power, with its profound impact being felt even today when debating the legends of the game. The DPOY gave Jordan something that LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson never had: recognition for being the NBA's best defender.

But a closer look at Jordan's 1987-88 season reveals a substantial discrepancy between his home and road statistics, raising questions about the authenticity of his off-the-charts steals and blocks numbers that season — and shining a light on an era that seemed particularly vulnerable to the hidden hand of homer bias.

Considerable evidence — both statistical and corroborating video — suggests that Jordan's Defensive Player of the Year award may not be as valid as we thought.

At a glance:

  • Blowing the whistle: Alex Rucker, a former 76ers executive who was a Grizzlies stat keeper in the 1990s, says inflating certain box-score statistics for the home team was a common practice.

  • Home/road splits: Jordan averaged a mind-boggling 4 steals and 2.1 blocks at home in 1987-88. But on the road, those numbers shrunk to a more normal rate of 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks.

  • Reviewing the tape: Haberstroh analyzed footage from six Bulls games that year and counted 12 steals by Jordan. The box scores for those games credited him with 28, an astounding difference.

Read the full story.

⚾️ In photos: Baseball in Birmingham

Willie Mays’ No. 24 was painted behind home plate. (Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Cardinals beat the Giants, 6-5, on a spectacular night at Birmingham's Rickwood Field, where Negro Leagues legends were honored and Willie Mays' life was celebrated, Jeff writes.

(Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Bill Greason, who at 99 is the oldest living Negro Leaguer, threw out the first pitch. Greason was Mays' teammate on the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948, played for the Cardinals in 1954 and lived an otherwise fascinating life that included being one of the first Black Marines.

(Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds were among those in attendance, and here they greet some of the 60 Negro Leaguers who were honored before the game.

Giants infielders huddle during a pitching change. (Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Both teams wore throwback uniforms, paying tribute to the San Francisco Sea Lions and St. Louis Stars of the Negro Leagues, and the game featured the first all-Black umpire crew in MLB history.

Worth a watch: Reggie Jackson recalls racist treatment in Alabama in stunning interview

👟 Michael Johnson's plan to save track

Michael Johnson poses next to his then-WR setting time in the 200m at the 1996 Olympics. (Mike Powell/Getty Images)

The track world is abuzz not only with the U.S. Olympic trials getting underway today, but with the news that legendary sprinter Michael Johnson is launching a new league to raise the sport's profile — and get athletes paid handsomely in the process, Jeff writes.

Coming soon: Launching in April 2025, "Grand Slam Track" will feature nearly 100 elite runners competing in four meets for a total of $12.6 million in prize money across its inaugural season.

  • Each three-day meet will include 48 athletes who are signed to a contract by the league and another 48 who will be invited on a per-meet basis.

  • Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the 400m hurdles world record holder, is the first confirmed signee.

  • Prize money spans from $100,000 for the winner of each event to $10,000 for eighth place, and each meet will feature 12 events for both men and women.

Why this came to be: Johnson has long lamented the state of elite track, which has an inconsistent schedule outside of the Olympics and world championships.

  • World Athletics' Diamond League sometimes fails to draw big names with its paltry prize money ($30,000 for each event's season-long winner), and NBC will stop broadcasting events next year.

  • GST is designed to lean into marquee matchups and create more rivalries in a sport where the top athletes don't go head-to-head as often as fans would like.

The bottom line: Johnson hopes his aptly-named series will echo the proven blueprint of golf and tennis, whose schedules center around four marquee majors, or "Grand Slams."

📆 June 21, 1997: The WNBA tips off

Future Hall of Famers Lisa Leslie (left) and Rebecca Lobo squared off in the WNBA’s first game. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

27 years ago today, the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks, 67-57, in the first WNBA game ever played, Jeff writes.

Still here: The Sparks and Liberty, who played last night (a 93-80 Liberty win), are two of the four remaining original franchises along with the Las Vegas Aces (originally the Utah Starzz) and Phoenix Mercury.

More on this day:

  • ⚽️ 1970: Pelé scored a goal in his final World Cup game, powering Brazil's 4-1 win over Italy as they became the first nation — and Pelé remains the only player — to win three World Cups*.

  • 🏀 1988: The Lakers beat the Pistons, 108-105, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, giving them back-to-back NBA titles and establishing them as the team of the 1980s.

*Three-time winners: Brazil (5), Germany (4), Italy (4), Argentina (3).

📺 Watchlist: Oilers on the brink

(Elsa/Getty Images)

The Stanley Cup Final returns to Edmonton tonight (8pm ET, ABC), where the Panthers are a win away from their first title and the Oilers hope to force Game 7, Jeff writes.

Comeback attempt: A victory tonight would put the Oilers one win away from joining the 1942 Maple Leafs as the only teams in NHL history to successfully rally from a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final.

More to watch:

  • ⚾️ CWS Final*: Tennessee vs. Texas A&M (Sat. 7:30pm, ESPN; Sun. 2pm, ABC) … Game 3 on Monday if necessary.

  • ⚽️ Copa América: USMNT vs. Bolivia (Sun. 6pm, Fox) … One of five group stage matches this weekend.

  • ⚽️ Euros: France vs. Netherlands (Fri. 3pm, Fox) … One of eight group stage matches this weekend.

  • ⛳️ LPGA: Women's PGA Championship (Fri-Sun, Golf/NBC/Peacock)

  • ⛳️ PGA: Travelers (Fri-Sun, Golf/NBC/ESPN+/Peacock)

  • 🏏 T20 Cricket World Cup: Super 8 round (Fri-Sun, WillowTV) … USA plays the West Indies tonight and England on Sunday.

  • 🇺🇸 Swimming & Diving: U.S. Olympic Trials (Fri-Sun, NBC)

  • 🇺🇸 Track & Field: U.S. Olympic Trials (Fri-Sun, NBC/USA/Peacock)

  • ⚾️ MLB: Braves at Yankees (Fri. 7pm, Apple); Mets at Cubs (Sat. 2:20pm, FS1; Sun. 7pm, ESPN); Diamondbacks at Phillies (Sun. 11:35, Roku)

  • 🏀 WNBA: Fever at Dream (Fri. 7:30pm, ION); Sparks at Liberty (Sat. 3pm, ESPN); Fever at Sky (Sun. 4pm, ESPN)

  • ⚽️ MLS: 14 games (Sat. 7:30-10:30pm, Apple)

  • ⚽️ NWSL: Orlando vs. Utah (Fri. 8pm, Prime); NJ/NY vs. Washington (Sun. 1:30pm, ESPN)

  • 🎾 Tennis: Halle Open (Fri-Sun, Tennis) … Three top-10 players, including No. 1 Jannik Sinner, are in the quarterfinals.

  • 🏁 F1: Spanish GP (Sun. 9am, ESPN)

  • 🏁 NASCAR: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sun. 2:30pm, USA)

  • 🏁 IndyCar: Monterey (Sun. 6pm, USA)

  • ⛳️ LIV: Nashville (Fri-Sun, CW)

  • 🏀 BIG3: Week 2 (Sat. 1pm, CBS)

*SEC dominance: Only one non-SEC team has made the College World Series final in the past four seasons, and that team was Oklahoma… which is about to join the SEC.

🌎 Geography trivia

The Bolivian flag. (Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Bolivia, the USMNT's first Copa América opponent, is one of two land-locked countries in South America.

Question: Can you name the other one?

Answer at the bottom.

⚾️ The most famous Jell-O shots in America

(Rocco’s)

The annual Jell-O shot competition at Rocco's Pizza and Cantina in Omaha has become a staple of the Men's College World Series and a national sensation.

From Yahoo Sports' Jake Mintz:

The contest is simple: Whichever of the eight participating fan bases purchases the most booze-soaked gelatin "wins." Fans, motivated to rep their teams, can't get enough of it.

Figures are updated thrice daily on a makeshift dry-erase board tacked above the bar. And the numbers are staggering. Last year, Rocco's sold 95,030 shots during the 10-day tournament.

At five bucks a pop, that brought in $475,150 on Jell-O alone. The bar donates $1.50 from each shot sold to food banks associated with the eight participating institutions, in addition to a local organization.

The gelatinous schtick capitalizes upon the party-like atmosphere of the MCWS, a tailgate disguised as a baseball tournament. And Rocco's, with its Jell-O shot competition, has become an essential part of the entire Omaha experience.

One cannot watch a day's worth of MCWS coverage on ESPN and not hear mention of Jell-O. Sucking down a cup of congealed sugar and vodka is the Omahan equivalent of kissing the Blarney Stone.

The gelatin-guzzling contest is equal parts inspiring, outrageous, gross and engrossing. It exploits, champions and reinforces the absurdities and essentialities of college sports fandom. It's American capitalism in its rawest, most bizarre, most addictive form.

Keep reading.

Trivia answer: Paraguay

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