As the summer comes to a close and the chilled breeze of fall blows in, here is a recap of some of the biggest things in sports from the summer:
The NBA's super-team seemed to live up to their expectations as the Golden State Warriors superstar-filled team swept LeBron's Cavs to win their third NBA title in four years. A few weeks after the season a new $153 million deal moved LeBron James out of Cleveland and 2,300 miles west to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are filled with young talent, including NBA Summer League MVP Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and others. There were other big moves in free agency like Tony Parker leaving his longtime home in the San Antonio Spurs with a heavy heart speaking very proudly of the Spurs organization. Parker will be a member of the Charlotte Hornets this coming season.
The NHL Stanley Cup Finals were filled with firsts: the Las Vegas Golden Knights in their first ever season as an NHL team reached the finals and the Washington Capitals won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. As hard as it is to say as a Penguins fan, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps deservedly got to hoist Lord Stanley after they defeated the Knights in the series 4-1.
The FIFA World Cup made for a month full of good soccer. This year, the USA missed out on this tournament and watched as 32 other teams competed for the trophy in Russia. Leo Messi was the first to play in a world cup in his teens, twenties, and thirties. But this year a different teenager stole Messi's spotlight, the 19-year-old forward for France: Kylian Mbappé. France and Mabappé met Croatia in the World Cup Finals. Unfortunately, Croatia didn't win, but they still had a parade to celebrate. Proud fans packed the streets and celebrated their team's unexpected performance and amazing World Cup run. France also had a parade to celebrate, but the FIFA World Cup Champions trophy was in attendance for their parade.
Serena Williams made an impressive come back to tennis this summer, making it seem like she never even left. Williams gave birth to a baby girl only ten months before she was back on the court in the Wimbledon finals. She played an amazing tournament considering the circumstances, but she wasn't able to add to her 23 grand slam champions this time. Angelique Kerber took the match in straight sets. In the men's tournament, Novak Djokovic became 3rd oldest to ever win Wimbledon as he took the victory over Kevin Anderson.
Another athlete made his return to the spotlight this summer, this time on the golf course. Tiger Woods looked like his old self in the PGA Championship in August. His play drew a lot of attention giving the event it's best TV ratings since he nearly won in 2009. Similar ending nine years later, he couldn't get it done and took second place Brooks Koepka.
One of the most impressive sports performances of the summer, that quite frankly flies way too far under the radar, is the cyclist who rode the Tour De France. It lasts most of the month of July, this year running from the 7th through the 21st. They ride 21 stages and cover 3,349 kilometers (2,080.9 miles). They spend three to five hours, depending on the stage, in the saddle climbing the mountains of France like the Alps and Pyrenees which have over 10% gradients. Then they climb four mountains like this in a day. This year, 176 cyclists began the race on the biggest cycling stage in the world, but unfortunately only 145 made it to the end in Paris, as crashes cause athletes to end their race early. Geraint Thomas won the Tour De France and proudly wears the yellow jersey in victory. The yellow jersey goes to the best overall rider who finished fastest as each stages time is combined. but other categories are awarded. For example, the green jersey goes to the best sprinter, or the polka dot jersey goes to the best mountain climber, also the white jersey goes to the best young rider under the age of 25. This year Peter Sagan took green, Julian Alaphilippe wore the polka dot jersey, and Pierre Latour was awarded best young rider.
In the MLB, the playoffs are getting close as teams are playing for playoff spots and wildcard positions. Bryce Harper and the Nationals may be struggling a bit sitting just at .500 as they battle for a wildcard position in the National League, but he had an amazing performance in the Home Run Derby on all-star weekend. In a comeback style victory in front of his home crowd, he won the Derby and seemed to have a blast in the process.
The WNBA is also heading down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. The older, more experienced, and defending champion Minnesota Lynx seem to be heading towards the end of their reign as they head into the playoffs only 2 games over .500. Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen announced recently that she will be retiring after this season after 15 years in the league and is ready to start a new journey as the head coach at the University of Minnesota. The young Seattle Storm is having an impressive season under the leadership of a new head coach but under the on-court leadership of one of the greatest point guards in the game, Sue Bird. Young star Breanna Stewart is playing well in her MVP campaign this season. The Storm seems like the team to beat heading into the playoffs. With one spot left for the taking the Las Vegas Aces look to rookie A'ja Wilson to grab that last spot. Wilson is the unanimous choice of rookie of the year, especially if she can lead her team to their first playoff appearance. Wilson and her partner in crime Kayla McBride and the rest of the Aces have some work to do as they battle the Dallas Wings for the last playoff spot.