John's Weekly Sports Wrap-Up: Daytona 500, Rob Manfred and NBA All-Star Weekend
Denny Hamlin Wins Daytona 500
The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series kicked off with a photo finish on Monday evening at the 62nd running of the Daytona 500. After rain forced the race to be delayed to Monday, Denny Hamlin edged out Ryan Blaney by 0.014, the second-closest margin of victory ever at the race. Hamlin's win gives him his 3rd title and second in a row, with his 2016 win being the closest margin of victory ever (0.01 seconds). Hamlin becomes the 7th driver to win the Daytona 3 times or more, with the others already known as Hall of Famers. The end of the race was marred by a fiery crash by Ryan Newman, who was immediately sent to the hospital with serious injuries. The 42-year-old Newman was released from the hospital on Wednesday.
Rob Manfred Controversy
Many around Major League Baseball have been calling for harsher punishments for the Houston Astros amid their sign-stealing scandal, including stripping the organization of its 2017 World Series Title and punishing individual players involved in the scheme. Manfred set off a firestorm Sunday evening when in response to these notions said "The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act." Many of baseball's big names were quick to call out the commissioner for his comments, with many pointing out that the World Series Trophy is actually called "The Commissioner's Trophy". Manfred apologized on Tuesday for his comments.
NBA All-Star Weekend
The NBA's annual All-Star Weekend took place over the weekend, with the NBA's brightest stars coming together at the United Center in Chicago for a weekend full of competition. Friday, Team USA featuring Ja Morant and Zion Williamson defeated Luka Doncic and Team World 151-131 in the Rising Stars Challenge. On Saturday night the Miami Heat duo of Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr. made headlines with Adebayo winning the Skills competition and Jones taking the Slam Dunk Contest. Kings guard Buddy Hield outdueled Devin Booker of the Suns to take home the 3-point Shootout. Sunday's All-Star game featured the most competitive All-Star game in years. Introducing a new format in the 4th quarter, where the teams had to reach a target score, determined by the leading team's total plus 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant. Team LeBron came from behind to beat Team Giannis 157-155 in a thriller of a 4th quarter.
What to Watch This Weekend
The NBA returned from its All-Star break Thursday night, and the second half of the season will begin in earnest over the weekend. Saturday features 3 ranked matchups in major college basketball. #1 Baylor puts its 23-game win streak on the line as it hosts #3 Kansas at 11 a.m., while #14 Oregon travels to #24 Arizona and #2 Gonzaga travels to #23 BYU in a pair of primetime west coast matchups. Week 3 of the XFL season will also feature doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.