Sports’ coronavirus-crisis response helped awaken, enlighten America

Sports’ coronavirus-crisis response helped awaken, enlighten America

Thank you, sports, for once again doing the profoundly impactful work for which you’re never properly credited.

Thank you for shaking us out of an ignorance that can be dangerous, even fatal, and turning us toward the path of enlightenment and vigilance.

For until you stepped forward, COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, was too easily dismissed by some as a seasonal flu or denied by others as frightening enough to dramatically alter our routines.

Once you sounded multiple national alarms during a period lasting roughly 24 hours, we had to stop and listen.

The NBA initially considered playing games without fans before conceding to sanity Wednesday night and deciding to suspend its season for at least 30 days. The NHL followed suit, suspending its season “until further notice” while also considering cancellation. MLB announced a suspension of its season for at least two weeks. MLS announced Thursday it was suspending its season for at least 30 days, during which there will be ongoing consultation with its “medical task force.”

Even the NCAA opted to cancel all remaining winter and spring sports — including its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, annual festivals of money-printing that touches every pocket of the country, on the backs of unpaid student-athletes.

Thank you, sports, for informing us that a 7-foot-1 basketball player, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, tested positive Wednesday and at least one of his teammates, Donovan Mitchell, tested positive Thursday. Though we wish them a speedy recovery, we also know their condition is yet another way for sports to grab our collective collars and shout THIS IS A GLOBAL EMERGENCY!

Gobert and Mitchell — as well as Tom Hanks, remembered for many works, including the role of baseball manager Jimmy Dugan in the 1992 movie “A League of their Own" — put faces to an illness that for too many was shrouded in mystery.

Faces give us something to see, which is important because nothing seems to move us better than visuals. Optics. We as a nation have a history of being apathetic or insensitive about issues that affect real people until we can see the discomfort or obtain the knowledge that makes us question our prejudices. Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier, Muhammad Ali’s protest of the Vietnam War and Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive diagnosis immediately leap to mind.

We have for more than a century cited sports as a place we go to temporarily escape our large and small miseries, as a social opiate of sorts. While it surely serves that purpose quite well, sports also can force us confront reality.

After a weekend during which COVID-19 was discussed and its dangers deliberated by everyone from the White House to the field house, the past four days closed the debate. It is a global pandemic. No one of sound mind can build an argument against taking seriously a virus that has killed thousands around the world and is putting millions at risk in the United States.

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Sport took this illness and slammed it on our national table. It startled us. When sport retreats en masse, we all notice. We self-examine. From there, it’s a small step toward reaction and appropriate caution.

Thank you, sports, for taking the lead and showing us the way. For giving this country faces it knows, thereby at least partially personalizing a credible threat that had been ridiculed the previous week. For saving us from ourselves.

Where Steph Curry's back-to-back MVPs rank among 2010s award winners

Where Steph Curry's back-to-back MVPs rank among 2010s award winners

The last decade was littered with some of the greatest MVP seasons in NBA history.

From Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 becoming the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson in 1962 to LeBron James taking his game to new heights during the 2012-13 season, there was no shortage of singular campaigns to remember. Of course, Warriors star Steph Curry was plenty unprecedented on his own, becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history in 2015-16 and the only player other than James to win the award multiple times in the 2010s.

[RELATED: Warriors' season reportedly over in NBA plan likely to pass]

Curry's MVP wins will stand the test of time, but where do those campaigns stand among his award-winning peers' in the last 10 years? Here's how I ranked the MVP-winning seasons of the 2010s, starting with arguably the biggest outlier among the bunch. 


[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Steve Kerr explains moment he realized Warriors' dynasty was underway

Steve Kerr explains moment he realized Warriors' dynasty was underway

Steve Kerr has seen plenty of success during his tenure as the Warriors head coach. In just six seasons, Kerr has won over 70 percent of his regular-season games and helped bring three championships to the Bay Area.

The coach told 95.7 The Game on Friday that he first realized he might be captaining a dynasty during the 2015 NBA Playoffs.

“For me, the moment was when we beat Houston in the West Finals in 2015,” Kerr said. “We had maybe a 12-point lead with about 45 seconds left, and I was standing up near halfcourt, kind of leaning against the scorer’s table. 

“There was a dead ball, and that was the moment when we realized we were going to win, the crowd realized it, our team realized it. And I just soaked it all in, I remember just looking (at) the entire panoramic view around Oracle and just soaking it all. It was such an incredible moment to be heading back to the Finals for the first time in 40 years.”

Warriors fans had sat through so many rough seasons and come up short in the postseason for several years in a row prior to Kerr’s arrival, but that night marked the de facto beginning of the organization’s perch atop the NBA, where they’d stay for the next five seasons.

[RELATED: Warriors' Steve Kerr said George Floyd's death led to 'soul-searching']

A disastrous 2019-20 season riddled with injuries brought many back to reality, but it likely won’t continue even if the NBA restarts the season after the coronavirus pause. 

Golden State then can look forward to restarting the dynasty in 2020-21 with a healthy Steph Curry and Klay Thompson back on the court.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]