This was supposed to be one of the slowest weeks in sports, with the NBA, NHL, and NFL all out of season, college sports on a summer vacation, and Major League Baseball taking a break to hold its All-Star Game. There’s a reason the ESPYs are always held the night after the MLB All-Star Game, and that’s because most athletes aren’t busy and can make it to the ceremony.
But looking back at the last seven days in sports shows some of the biggest sports stories of the year. Let’s take a look back at a few of them.
Clippers Become Title Contenders
After waiting for nearly a week to find out whether Kawhi Leonard was going to stay with the Toronto Raptors next season or jump ship and head to Los Angeles — presumably with the Lakers — the sports world was shocked when he finally announced that he’d be signing with the Clippers. And that the Clippers would be teaming him with fellow All-Star Paul George after trading for him with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Los Angeles sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and five first-round picks to the Thunder to be able to form a superstar duo that immediately put the Clippers as one of the favorites to win the 2019-20 NBA title. It was a blockbuster deal, but it wouldn’t be the last time we’d hear from the NBA this week.
Team USA Wins Women’s World Cup
It was expected even before the competition began, but the United States’ 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday was still a huge event. The Americans completely dominated the competition in winning their fourth World Cup title, with Megan Rapinoe scoring a goal and winning the Golden Boot, becoming the only American other than Michelle Akers in 1999 to win the award. Rapinoe finished with six goals and three assists in the United States’ seven victories, though she sat out in the semifinals against England with a hamstring injury. Teammate Alex Morgan also had six goals and three assists, but Rapinoe won due to the third tiebreaker, having played fewer minutes than Morgan.
Home Run Derby Fireworks
The annual MLB Home Run Derby on Monday pushed the competition to new heights, as a pair of rookies — the Mets’ Pete Alonso and the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — advanced to the finals. Alonso ended up edging Guerrero 23-22 in the final, but it was Guerrero who drew most of the rave reviews, finishing with a Derby-record 91 home runs. Guerrero and the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson stole the show in the semifinal round, needing three tiebreakers to finally determine a winner. After each player got one minute in the first tiebreaker, the two were still tied. A three-swing tiebreaker was next, and the two were tied again. Guerrero finally hit two home runs in the second three-swing playoff to advance to face Alonso. Alonso became the second rookie to win the Derby, joining Aaron Judge of the Yankees (2017).
MLB All-Star Game
The night after the electric Home Run Derby, the American League extended its All-Star Game winning streak to seven games with a 4-3 victory over the National League. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo had a solo home run in the game, and Cleveland pitcher Shane Bieber won the All-Star Game MVP award after striking out the side in his only inning of work in the game. The American League took a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning, but the National League cut the lead to one on Alonso’s RBI single with the bases loaded. Mike Moustakas popped up to end the threat with runners on second and third, and the Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory.
Westbrook Heads To Texas
Just when we thought the week was calming down, Thursday night brought news of Oklahoma City’s second big trade of the week, as the Thunder dealt All-Star Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for guard Chris Paul and two first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, as well as pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. The dealing of George made the trading away of Westbrook seemingly inevitable, but it was generally believed he would be traded to Miami. But the Rockets decided to take the chance of pairing Westbrook with James Harden again after the two helped the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012, the season before Harden was dealt to Houston. The two are both former NBA MVP award winners. Oklahoma City now has eight first-round picks other than their own between now and 2026.