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SI:AM | The Avalanche Put the Lightning Dynasty on Ice

Plus, looking back at Serena Williams’s career as she prepares for perhaps her final Wimbledon.

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I have no problem admitting I was totally wrong about the Stanley Cup Final.

In today’s SI:AM:

🏆 Avs’ gambles pay off

🐐 Serena’s last Wimbledon?

🏈 NFL offseason recap

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A dynasty denied

For the first time since 2001, the Avalanche have won the Stanley Cup.

Colorado defeated the Lightning 2–1 in Game 6 last night to win the series 4–2, denying Tampa Bay a historic three-peat.

“To beat them is probably a little more satisfying, to be honest, because they are champions,” Andrew Cogliano said. “They know how to win. And, ultimately, when you can beat the champions, you know you really earned it.”

It was Colorado’s Artturi Lehkonen who came through in the clutch once again, scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal midway through the second period. (He also scored in overtime to clinch the Western Conference Final earlier this month and sent the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final with an overtime goal last year.)

Defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after scoring 29 points (eight goals and 21 assists) during the postseason. His win came just days after he won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in the regular season, making him just the third player to win both trophies in the same season.

Makar is only 23 and will be a key player for the Avalanche if they hope to start a Tampa Bay-style dynasty. But Colorado’s win—not unlike the Rams’ Super Bowl win—is an example of throwing all your chips on the table and hitting it rich. The Avs made four trades around the deadline this year, acquiring Lehkonen, Cogliano, Josh Manson and Nico Sturm. Their starting goalie, Darcy Kuemper, was acquired in a trade in July. All five of those guys will be free agents this summer (all unrestricted, except for Lehkonen), along with other key contributors like Nazem Kadri, Valeri Nichushkin and Andre Burakovsky.

The Lightning weren’t able to pull off the three-peat but don’t count them out next year. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay’s second leading scorer in the postseason, is an unrestricted free agent, but every other key player will be back.

“Who says we’re done?” Steven Stamkos said.

In case you missed the celebration…

… here are the best postgame moments after the Avs’ win:

The best of Sports Illustrated


As Serena Williams gets ready to compete at Wimbledon, in what looks likely to be one of her final tournaments, Jon Wertheim looks back at her career in today’s Daily Cover:

“How will she fare? If history is any indication, well, who knows? Williams could, conceivably, storm back and win. A tennis article of faith: This is a player you underrate at your peril. Yet, signs indicate the queen’s reign is over—40-year-old athletes don’t take gap years and resume their supremacy. History also suggests (strongly) that Serena dispenses with most formalities and conventions, and is thus likely to forgo a traditional retirement announcement, much less a maudlin retirement tour. Maybe this doubles as a start to a fitting farewell.”

Wertheim also broke down the men’s and women’s draws at Wimbledon, which begins today. … With the NFL offseason just about done, Conor Orr and Albert Breer break down all the biggest developments. … Justin Barrasso recaps Forbidden Door, the first pay-per-view collaboration between AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Around the sports world

Bradley Beal is reportedly expected to opt out of his contract and re-sign with the Wizards on a $248 million deal. … Ole Miss beat Oklahoma to claim its first Men’s College World Series title. … Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the 400m hurdles at the U.S. national championships. … Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres went down with an ankle injury in yesterday’s game. … Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson is reportedly leaving the team to take a job with a college team. … Two more PGA Tour winners are making the jump to LIV Golf.

The top five...

5. Sahith Theegala’s heartbreaking collapse on the 18th hole at the Travelers Championship

4. Aaron Judge’s walk-off homer (his 28th of the year)

3. The benches-clearing brawl between the Angels and Mariners

2. Raisel Iglesias hurling a bucket of sunflower seeds onto the field after the fight broke up

1. The Mariners fan who sent a pizza to the stadium for Jesse Winker after he was ejected (Stephen J. Nesbitt wrote about the pizza delivery and Mariners fans’ generous tip for the delivery driver for The Athletic)


On this day in 1993, which Mets pitcher set a major league record by losing his 24th consecutive decision?

  • Mike Maddux
  • Pete Schourek
  • Wally Whitehurst
  • Anthony Young

Friday’s SIQ: Since the ABA/NBA merger, who was the lowest draft pick to win the Rookie of the Year Award?

Answer: Malcolm Brodgon. He was the 36th pick of the 2016 draft but immediately assumed a major role for a Bucks team that finished sixth in the East. He’s the only non-first-round pick since the common draft era began in 1966 to win Rookie of the Year.

Brogdon beat out a pair of Sixers—Joel Embiid and Dario Šarić—to win the award. Embiid, finally making his debut after being picked third in the 2014 draft, played only 31 games as a rookie. His stats (20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game) were far better than any other rookie’s, but voters favored Šarić and Brogdon.

Brogdon’s win came as a bit of a surprise because he was not selected as the Eastern Conference’s Rookie of the Month at any point during the season. (He was the first player to win the Rookie of the Year without taking home any of the monthly awards.) Embiid won three Rookie of the Month awards (in November, December and January), while Šarić won two.

The No. 1 pick in Brogdon’s draft was Ben Simmons, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year the following season after a foot injury kept him sidelined during his first year. Simmons, somewhat interestingly, is the last No. 1 pick to win Rookie of the Year. Will Paolo Banchero break that streak?

From the Vault: June 27, 1994

O.J. Simpson in court on the cover of Sports Illustrated

The O.J. Simpson murder trial is among the most exhaustively chronicled media spectacles in American history, but Richard Hoffer’s story in the immediate aftermath of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman is still a fascinating snapshot of the reaction to Simpson’s arrest. Here was a man—not only a decorated athlete but a true celebrity who had crossed over to the mainstream through his appearances on television and in movies—who was by all accounts well-liked and now stood accused of committing two shockingly violent murders. Here is what Hoffer wrote about trying to reconcile those facts:

“But no endorsement from friends, former teammates or broadcasting colleagues could shift the monstrosity of this crime from Simpson's famous name. It was impossible to ignore the ocean of blood on the steps and the pathway outside Nicole Simpson's condominium, the tremendous arterial spray that the killer had produced in his violence. The cruelty of the murders, the fury it must have taken to perform them, was otherworldly. If O.J. Simpson was that killer, a lot of what we think we know about human behavior must be reconsidered.”

As Hoffer details, Simpson had previously pleaded no contest to domestic violence charges in 1989 and was reputed to have assaulted Brown Simpson on many other occasions.

The running theme of Hoffer’s story is just how much of a circus the O.J. case had already become. And it was just getting started.

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