Don’t ask why, ask Kawhi not

The GIST: It’s almost time for arguably the most exciting and important game in Canada’s recent sports history. The NBA Finals between the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors and our Toronto Raptors tip off at 9 p.m. ET. Not, not nervous.

  • We gave you #thegist on tonight’s game in Monday’s newsletter. Didn’t read it? No sweat. Catch up here. Today, we’re diving in on the series’ two superstars: Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry.

The Kawhi factor: The Warriors are favoured to win the title; however, the Raptors have something — or shall we say, someone — that the Warriors don’t: Kawhi.

  • Hands down, Kawhi has been the best player in the playoffs. He has literally put the Raps on his back scoring an average of 31.2 points per game — only four players in the history of the NBA have averaged more in a single postseason.

  • When Kawhi was 16 years old, his father, Mark Leonard, was tragically shot dead at a car wash he owned in Compton. Sadly, the shooting was never solved, no suspects were arrested and no answers were provided to Kawhi and his family. Awful.

  • Because of this, Kawhi had to grow up fast which might help to explain his low-key, modest and humble demeanour. And in a league full of outspoken and over-zealous superstars, Kawhi’s introverted persona and pure love of basketball is so refreshing.

The Curry fury: Golden State’s golden boy, Steph Curry, has spent his entire 11-year career with the Warriors, including winning three championships in the last four years. *California dreamin’ plays in the background*

  • He’s been absolutely deadly these playoffs, too. Since teammate and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant went down with a calf strain in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Curry has averaged 35.8 points per game. Damn.

  • And, if you can believe it, Steph was once rooting for the Raps. He played high school ball in Toronto while his dad, Dell Curry, also a pro basketball player, played for the Raptors from 1999-2002. Papa Curry also retired as a Raptor.

  • Even Ayesha Curry, Steph’s wife, was born and raised just outside of Toronto in Markham. Those Canadian connections run real deep, eh?

One more crossover: Kawhi grew up playing ball in California and his high school coach is rooting for the Raptors. Steph’s high school coach in Toronto? He’s rooting for the Warriors. We can’t make this stuff up.

Want more?: Of course you do. Bandwagon fan or longtime GISTer, this guide will have you covered and our very own Ellen is on 98.1 CHFI with Darren and Mo this morning at 8:05 a.m. ET if you want to have a listen.

  • We don’t know about you, but we have never been this excited/nervous/anxious for a basketball game before. #WETHENORTH, BABY!

Are there any other cool facts you’ve seen about the Raptors? Who do you think will be the best player in Game 1? Get in the conversation!



I’m Blue (Da Ba Dee)

The GIST: The Stanley Cup final is all tied up after the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in overtime in Game 2 last night.

Who was the hero?: Blues’ defenceman Carl Gunnarsson scored the game winner. And it just happened to be his first-ever playoff goal. Hey Carl, good to see you.

  • This was also the Blues’ first-ever win in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve made it to the final three times before, but got swept every time. Crazy.

But still…: Boston winning Game 1 on Monday was huge. The winner of the first game goes on to win the Cup 77% of the time. Those are tough odds to beat.

  • And if the Bruins win, it will be the first time in 83 years that a city/metro area has held a championship simultaneously in the NHL, NFL (New England Patriots) and MLB (Boston Red Sox). That’s a lot of parades.

Off the ice: Boston made a bad play before Game 2, handing out rally towels sponsored by sports blog Barstool.

  • Its founder, Dave Portnoy, has a well-documented history of harassment against women, and Barstool itself is known for promoting a toxic culture of sexism and misogyny. Be better, Boston.

How do you feel about Boston? Does what your heart wants line up with who you think will win?


O’ Canada, where art thou?

The GIST: After sneaking through the first round of the French Open, Bianca Andreescu withdrew from play prior to her second-round match due to shoulder pain, leaving no Canadians left in the Grand Slam tournament. O’ Canada? More like No Canada.

What happened to everyone else?: Denis Shapovalov and Genie Bouchard both lost in the first round. And Milos Raonic (pronounced MEE-LOWSH RAU-NITCH) and Felix Auger-Aliassime aren’t in the tournament due to injury. Disappointing.

Who’s making headlines?: Surprisingly, birds are. Yes, birds. From landing on the court, to swooping low between rallies, to interrupting several points, it seems as though these French birds have a desperate need for attention. Watch the highlights of them causing mayhem here.

What’s happening in the women’s tournament?: Queen Serena Williams is serving lewks and serving aces. But, what else is new? She finished off Russian Vitalia Diatchenko on Monday 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 and will try to get by Japan’s Kurumi Nara early this morning in the Round of 64.

  • Meanwhile, defending champ Simona Halep of Romania, and one of our faves and world No. 7 American Sloane Stephens are also still in the mix.

How ‘bout the men?: Unsurprisingly, the “King of Clay” courts world No. 2 Rafael Nadal, world No. 3 Roger Federer and fiery Greek, No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas (pronounced SEE-SEE-PASS) are cruising through the tournament so far.

How do you feel about the Canadians being out? Who do you think will win?



The Girls are Gettin’ Paid

The GIST: For the first time in women’s U.S. Open her-story, the winner of the major will receive $1M in prize money. It’s the biggest single-tournament payout in women’s golf.

Get money, get paid: Earlier this week, the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) announced it has increased the total purse for both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open by $500k, bringing the women’s purse to $5.5M (the largest purse in women’s golf) and the men’s to $12.5M.

  • While the men’s purse also saw an increase, we’re motivated by the fact that both the men’s and women’s tournaments saw a raise of an equal amount.

  • As much as this raise is a step in the right direction for women’s golf, leave it to Tiger Woods’ former swing coach, Hank Haney, to pull golf two steps backward with these racist and sexist comments about the women’s U.S. Open on his radio show yesterday. SMDH.

Give me #thegist on the women’s tournament: The 74th women’s U.S. Open starts today and runs through the weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.

  • Last year, Thai Ariya Jutanugarn took home the title (and the $900k prize). The last player to defend her title was Kerrie Webb, who won all the way back in 2000 and 2001.

  • Five Canadians, including superstar Brooke Henderson (who’s ranked sixth in the world), are playing. Henderson is one of the favourites to win this week so be sure to send her positive vibes.

What are your thoughts on the purse increase? How about Haney’s heinous comments?



What’s Up This Week?

All weekend: The French Open, the women’s U.S Open, and eight WNBA games.

Saturday: The Stanley Cup final shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 with the series all tied up at 1-1. Puck drops at 8 p.m. ET.

Sunday: The Warriors are sticking around in Toronto for Game 2 of the NBA Finals at 8 p.m. ET. Get your sports bar reservations in early.