*Take 5 is a series where I give my opinions on five recent stories in the world of sports. Today, we have updates on the Premier League, NBA Conference Finals, NBA Combine, the Madden Cover Reveal, and the League of Legends MSI tournament.
1) Chelsea Clinches Premier League Title: Michy Batshuayi played unlikely hero in the 82nd-minute for Chelsea, coming off the bench to score the sole goal in a 1-0 victory over West Brom. Entering the match week, Chelsea led Tottenham by seven points at the top of the table, and with today’s win, the team now have in an insurmountable 10-point lead. With just three losses through 36 games, Chelsea have shown their class all season long, making their eventual victory no surprise. It’s Chelsea’s fifth Premier League title, and second in three years. Last year’s season for the ages saw Leicester City win their first championship while titleholders Chelsea fell shockingly to 10th. This year, roles have reversed, as it’s Chelsea on top, with Leicester currently holding a respectable ninth place position.
2) Harden Crumbles as Rockets Eliminated: I wasn’t aware production had already started on Space Jam 2. I mean, that’s the only excuse I can come up with. The Monstars are back, and this time around, they’ve stolen James Harden’s talent. The Beard’s MVP-candidate form was nowhere to be found on Friday night when he took just two shots before halftime and fouled out in the fourth quarter, finishing with just 10 points on 2-11 shooting, seven assists, and six turnovers. The game as a whole was just as ugly. The Spurs took a big lead early and never let off the gas, even outscoring Houston 27-11 in the fourth quarter of a 114-75 throttling. Again, this is on the road, in a potential elimination game, without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. According to Stephen A. Smith, Hall of Famers were texting him saying Harden quit. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but if you’re a Rockets fan (and I am), you can’t love seeing pictures of him at the club after the game.
3) Hamidou Diallo, the “None and Done”: We’re in the midst of the NBA Combine, and one of the more intriguing draft prospects is 6’6″ “Kentucky” guard Hamidou Diallo. Note the quotation marks around Kentucky- Diallo enrolled in January, and never played a game for the Wildcats. By spending a postgraduate semester at the Putnam Science Academy, Diallo followed in similar footsteps to last year’s #10 overall pick Thon Maker, who also entered the draft without playing ball in college or overseas. Diallo’s stock is rising quickly, and after posting a 44.5 inch vertical, good for second-best in Combine history. There is a possibility of Diallo returning to Kentucky next season, as it seems was his original plan, but either way, the idea of a “None and Done” seems to be gaining traction.
4) Tom Brady Announced as Madden 18 Cover Athlete: Over the years, a growing list of evidence has led people to continue asking the question: “is there a Madden Curse?” Well, this year, we might finally find out. Madden Gods, if you’re out there, slow down Tom Brady. Five-time Super Bowl champion Brady ages like a fine wine, even as he approaches 40 years old. Once again, the Patriots have put together an impressive series of offseason roster moves and will enter the 2017 season as clear favorites to win Super Bowl LII, currently with 7-2 odds per Bovada. No other team is closer than 12-1, a mark shared by the Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks, Falcons, and Raiders. It’s the Patriots, and then it’s everyone else. Brady isn’t afraid of the Madden Curse, but there sure are 31 teams hoping he will be by the end of the year.
5) SKT Dominating MSI 2017: The group stages of the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational began on Wednesday, and through three of five days of double round-robin play, SK Telecom T1, representing South Korea, is unsurprisingly dominating the competition. Led by mid-laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, widely-regarded as the greatest League player of all-time, SKT are 6-0, having swept the field once and already beaten Southeast Asia’s GIGABYTE Marines a second time. Three-time World Champions as well as reigning Worlds and MSI champions, SKT should easily lock up the #1 seed and could potentially do so tomorrow on day four. Europe’s G2 ESports and China’s WE Gaming are 3-3, while North American TSM, Taiwanese Flash Wolves, and the Marines are 2-4. The top four teams will advance to next week’s semifinals.