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CURATING THE BEST IN SPORT
Global Edition
October 13-19, 2020
LeBron James and Bill Russell, 2016. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

LeBron: not the GOAT. Which stats matter?

It is not uncommon to see that when a very successful and spectacular player wins a championship, he/she is hastily claimed by many as the “Greatest of All Time”. This has been the case with LebBron James (USA, Los Ángeles Lakers), who is undoubtedly one of the best players of all time. But it would probably be too rushed for many to name him the best just yet.

The first problem with naming someone is the “greatest of all time” is that the criteria can be extremely subjective. Is the “greatest” the one that popularized the game? The most talented? The most financially successful? The most dominant? The one that best embodied sportsmanship and/or used the platform to impact society positively? Even within these diverse criteria, the exercise is extremely difficult. Because of that, stats matter when determining such designation.

But stats matter not just as stats but looking at them as a bottom-line. It is also very often that we see analysts  dissecting sport-specific jargon and statistics of specific sorts of play and the sort. But in the end, part of the aesthetics of sport is that there is no roadmap to win or a perfect prototype of how a “best player” looks like. We can see very different types of players being the best in the era, and that is totally fine.

That is why what matters in the end in determining who is the best, is winning more. It is true, there can also be considerations such as the team where you play, the equipment you had, accolades received or the competitiveness of the era in which a player was competing, for a more complete holistic evaluation. But champions are champions because they managed to be the best of their time. Regardless of the beauty of their play, their entourage or background, the bottom line of what makes you the most successful player is the times you won. And there, LeBron James’ fourth NBA title makes him one of the best ever but far from Bill Russell’s (USA) 11 or Sam Jones’ (USA) 10. Lebron is 27th.

True though, in a holistic manner, he is probably better than the 27th best player ever, since he has been selected to the All-NBA team 13 times, has two Olympic gold medals, four NBA Most Valuable Player and FInals Most Valuable Player awards, as well as several other obscure statistic records. But if we were to consider holistic scenarios, then we could arbitrarily argue for Michael Jordan’s (USA) domination of the sport en route to his six Championships and popularization of the sport and his leading of the Olympic “Dream Team” in 1992, or Kobe Bryant’s (USA) team building and raw talent en route to his five Championships, or Kareem Abdul-Jabber (USA) record 19 All-Stars en route to his six Championships, and the health issues surmounted about “Magic” Johnson (USA), and surely there are some way we can make the argument fit for Sam Jones (USA) or others that have also won more Championships than James.

For that, for as much as it is exciting to get in the bandwagon and hope to think you are seeing the “greatest ever” of “something”, the best is to take a step back, establish criteria and look at the bottom-line. Certainly, in some criteria LeBron has got to be the greatest basketball player ever, just he is is objectively not the most successful basketball player ever for as much as ESPN might use criteria such as “points in a final” or so-called “advanced metrics”), if sporting success matters at all. 
Five things to know from last week
  • Storm and Lakers.  This week crowned both the WNBA and the NBA Champions. First, the Seattle Storm won its fourth WNBA title (2004, 2020, 2018, 2020), all with Sue Bird (USA), a joint record for her. Breanna Stewart (USA) was awarded her second Finals MVP, even though she was injured for most of the Series Finals, where Storm won all games by two digits. Then in the the Los Ángeles Lakers beat Miami Heat in six games for the NBA Championship, which now makes them be tied first of all-time with 17, along with the Celtics. This was a special season after their historical figure, Kobe Bryant (USA), passed away on a helicopter accident earlier this year, as well as a complicated socio-political situation in the United States and the obvious effects of the pandemic which forced players into a bubble. LeBron James (USA) was awarded the Finals MVP. Watch his best plays (NBA).

GLOBAL PODIUM OF THE WEEK
Gold: Antoni Bou
(Spain, Motorcycling)

Toni Bou (Repsol Honda) took his fifth and sixth wins of the FIM Trial World Championship season at the Italian TrialGP -out of eight rounds so far this year- and clinched his 14th total and consecutive Outdoor Trial World Championship, his 28th Individual World title and 43rd overall, which make him the most successful Trials rider of all time and potentially also the most successful motorcycle rider of all time. There are still two tests to go this year. Another Catalan, Albert Cabestany (ESP), took the FIM E-Trial World Cup for a second consecutive year. Matteo Grattarola (ITA, Beta) clinched the Trial2 World Championship and Pau Martínez (ESP, Vertigo) secured the Trial125 title. Bou’s winning score on Saturday was 22 marks clear of Jorge Casales (ESP, Gas Gas) (TrialGP) and 35 marks clear of Jeroni Fajardo (ESP, Sherco) on Sunday. No one was even close.

Watch the Highlights of his participation at the Italian TrialGP (Todotrial com)
Silver: Lewis Hamilton
(England, Auto Racing)

A record that most would have thought would stand for longer has been tied: Lewis Hamilton has tied Michael Schumacher (GER) as the winningest Formula 1 driver, with 91 Grand Prix wins. Lewis Hamilton won the Eiffel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring starting from second. His Mercedes-Benz teammate and polesitter, Valtteri Bottas (FIN), abandoned with a mechanical issue but it is likely Hamilton would have won anyway (Motor Sport). Hamilton was followed by Max Verstappen (NED, Red Bull), Daniel Ricciardo (AUS, Renault) -in the first podium for Renault since 2011-, and Sergio Pérez (MEX, Racing Point), who comes from another 4th place and surprisingly remains without a contract for 2021. His teammate, Lance Stroll (CAN) was replaced by Nico Hülkenberg (GER) for this race due to feeling unwell. The German missed all practice sessions and qualified 20th but still managed to finish 8th. Another record-breaker was Kimi Räikkönen (FIN, Alfa Romeo) with his 322th start, more than anyone else.

Watch the race highlights (F1)
Bronze: Rafael Nadal
(Spain, Tennis)

Rafa won his 13th French Open (Roland Garros) in as many finals, defeating Novak Djokovic (SRB) in the final, in a tournament where Nadal did not drop a single set throughout the whole tournament. This victory was Nadal’s 20th Grand Slam title, which ties him with Roger Federer (SUI) in first place on that record. Nadal has won 13 of the last 16 French Opens, including the last 4, and has a win-loss record of 100-2. He is the best Roland Garros and clay tennis player of all-time.

Watch the Final Highlights (Roland Garros)

GLOBAL SPORTS AGENDA
 
Week Preview

After Sei-Young KIM (KOR) won her first Major at the LPGA PGA Championship, the ladies tour rests while PGA plays in Las Vegas again, right after Martin Laird (SCO) took his first title after seven years last week.

Major League Baseball sees the Los Ángeles Dodgers square off against Atlanta braves (Braves lead 1-0) and Tampa Bay against Astros (Tampa leads 2-0) as next week’s World Series teams will be determined in the best of seven League “Championship” Series.

Chess has a big tournament at Norway Chess, where the news is that Magnus Carlsen (NOR) lost a classical game for the first time in over two years, against Jan-Krzysztof Duda (POL), although the Polish has almost no chance of winning the . The tournament is currently led by Alireza Firouzja (IRN) over Carlsen.

Darts has three PDC Tournaments right after Gerwyn Price (WAL) took the World Grand Prix over Dirk van Duijvenbode (NED) and that way he is now the Grand Slam, World Grand Prix and World Series of Darts Champion, although Peter Wright (SCO) remains World Champion.

The Superbike World Championship will see two Brits battling it out for the World Title and two Dutchmen fighting it out for the Supersport 300 title, while the Supersport title has been long clinched by Andrea Locatelli (ITA). This follows a week of crazy motorcycling action that saw Danilo Petrucci (ITA) become the 7th Moto GP race winner this year, by defeating Álex Márquez (ESP) at the French Moto GP.

Australia has a big week
 with the Preliminary finals of the Aussie Rules Football tournament, the Supercars Bathurst 1000, and Horse Racing’s Caulfield Cup. This after their national cricket team matched the ODI women’s record of consecutive wins, 21, which had only been done by Australia previously.

In Boxing, Vasyl Lomachenko and Teófimo López fight in what might be the fight of the year.


American Football:
NFL Regular Season

Association Football:
FIFA International Match Days

Athletics:
World Athletics Half Marathon Championships

Aussie Rules Football:
AFL Preliminary finals (Semis)

Auto sport:
Carrera Panamericana (México)
Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (Circuit Zolder, BEL x2)
FIA European Truck Racing Championship (Hungaroring, HUN x4)
FIA World Rallycross Championship (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, ESP)
FIA World Touring Car Cup (Hungaroring, HUN x3)
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta, USA)
International GT Open (Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, BEL)
Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (Glen Helen Raceway, California x2)
NASCAR Cup (Kansas)
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (Kansas)
NHRA (Texas)
Stock Car Brasil (Vello Città, BRA x2)
Supercars Championship Bathurst 1000 (Bathurst, AUS)
Super Formula (SUGO, JAP)
USAC Silver Crown (Illinois State Fairgrounds, USA)
World of Outlaws Sprint Cars (Lakeside Speedway; Lake Ozark Speedway, USA)

Badminton:
HSBC BWF World Tour Super 750 DANISA Denmark Open I 2020

Baseball
Major League Baseball League Championship Games (MLB Semis)
Nippon League Regular Season
KBO Regular Season

Billiards:
World Snooker Tour English Open 

Boxing:
World Boxing Federation, Women’s International Boxing Association, interim World Boxing Council World Female Middle Title – Ema Kozin (SLO) vs Chris Namús (URU)
vacant World Boxing Council Youth Female Welter Title, vacant World Boxing Federation, Women’s International Boxing Association World Female Welter Title – Jessica Schadko (GER) vs Katelynn Phelan (IRL)
vacant World Boxing Organisation World Female Middle Title – Savannah Marshall (ENG) vs Hannah Rankin (SCO)
World Boxing Association Super World Light Title, International Boxing Federation World Boxing Organisation World Light Title – Vasyl Lomachenko (UKR) vs Teófimo López (HON/USA)

Canoe/Kayak:
ICF World Cup, Tacen (SLO)

Chess:
Norway Chess

Darts:
PDC Unibet Premier League Play-Offs
PDC European Darts Grand Prix (ET3)
PDC Women’s Series

eSports:
Arena of Valor (Garena Challenger Series Summer 2020, RoV Pro League 2020 Winter, Arena of Glory Winter 2020)
SMITE Pro League/2020 Season/Phase 2
Global StarCraft II League Season 3
Quake Pro League Season 2: Stage 1
World Cyber Games 2020 Connected Group Stage
League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals
DreamHack Open Fall 2020

Golf:
PGA Tour Las Vegas

Harness Racing:
Le Grand Prix de l’UET

Horse Racing
Caulfield Cup (Australia)
E. P. Taylor Stakes, Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Canada)
Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, Qipco Champion Stakes (England)
Kincsem Dij (Hungary)
Shuka Sho (Japan)
Livamol Classic (New Zealand)

Motorcycling:
FIM Borilli EnduroGP World Championship (Zschopau, GER)
FIM E-XBike World Cup (Boves-Cuneo, ITA)
FIM Flat Track World Championship (Diedenbergen, GER)
FIM Motocross World Championship (Lommel, BEL)
FIM MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 World Championship (Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, ESP)
FIM Superbike, Supersport, Supersport 300 World Championship (Estoril, POR)

Mountain Bike:
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Slovenia

Para Powerlifting:
Online World Cup 5

Para Swimming:
Berlin 2020 World Para Swimming World Series

Road Cycling:
UCI World Tour Tour of Flanders
UCI Women’s World Tour Tour of Flanders

Simracing:
BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup
eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series
F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series (x3)
The Race IndyPRO Championship (x2)

Sport’s best values

Freedom of speech: Free Union of Belarusian athletes
Belarusian athletes have raised their voice upon the oppressive regime of their country, including World Champions. As a response, former WNBA Finalist, Yelena Leuchanka, was sent to jail briefly after this video was uploaded. These sportspeople are an example of standing up against what is wrong, and other Belarusian athletes could follow. 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I just remember sitting on the couch with my brother watching the grands prix every Sunday, watching Michael storm ahead…We used to watch the start and first half of the race, and then at the end me and my brother would go play a racing game upstairs and I was always Michael.”

Lewis Hamilton (ENG)
Six-time Formula 1 World Champion
After equalling Michael Schumacher’s (GER) record of 91 F1 Grand Prix wins.
ESPN

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