Even the most immutable facts are sometimes subject to change.
On Monday, the beautiful partnership between the Raiders and the city of Oakland came to an abrupt end, as the team announced it will move to Las Vegas for the 2018 season. Meanwhile in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers relinquished first place, a happening that would have seem unthinkable not long ago.
Neither of these changes occurred overnight, but both felt sudden and shocking, interrupting realities we’d long grown used to.
Luckily, the UConn women’s basketball team qualified for its 10th straight Final Four on Monday, reminding us that not everything changes all at once.
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The Raiders are leaving Oakland and heading to Las Vegas
After months of rumors and reports and flirtations, it’s official: The Oakland Raiders are henceforth the Las Vegas Raiders.
NFL owners voted 31-1 Monday to relocate the team (The Miami Dolphins were the lone holdout, for no particular reason), and all the city of Oakland is left with is this hollow quote from owner Mark Davis:
“I have mixed feelings; it’s very bittersweet,” Davis told ESPN.com. “I understand [Oakland fans] will be angry and disappointed. I want them to know that I do understand that it’s emotional. Raider Nation is the greatest fan base in the world and we’re going to build something to make them proud.
— Tom George (@TheTomGeorge) March 27, 2017
Everyone knows sports franchises are businesses, but it still hurts to see them act that way at the expense of the very fans who make sports possible. Just like that, Davis ripped a beloved team from the people who have loyally supported it for more than 20 years (and for another two decades in the 60s and 70s, before it moved to Los Angeles). Oakland, a city that values its sports teams as much as any other, is losing the Warriors and the Raiders, and the Athletics are desperate to get out of town. In the most basic sense, it’s just not fair.
Quarterback Derek Carr handled the whole thing about as well as he could have, posting an honest and heartfelt note on Twitter.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) March 27, 2017
Anyway, Las Vegas has now gone from having no pro teams to having two (the Raiders and the NHL’s Las Vegas Knights) in less than a year. In a way, there’s some poetry about the Raiders playing in the Sin City. But that franchise just won’t be the same away from Oakland.
The Cleveland Cavs lose again, fall out of first place
Normally, there’s no shame in losing to the San Antonio Spurs. But when you fall by 29 points, when it’s your third loss in four games and your 10th loss in 17 games, and when it knocks you out of first place in a conference you’re expected to win without a sweat, then it might be time to worry.
Somehow, after Monday night’s loss to San Antonio, the defending champion Cavaliers are now a half game behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. And given Cleveland’s trajectory, it’s not hard to imagine LeBron James and company falling further behind in the season’s final weeks. The only thing reason the Cavs aren’t in severe danger of dropping beneath the Wizards and the Raptors is that they’re running out of games.
For the first time all season, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't the No. 1 seed in the East. pic.twitter.com/h95zzDz4Gk
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) March 28, 2017
Even amid an extended slump, Cleveland’s loss Monday stood out for being particularly brutal. The Cavs were down 10 after one quarter and 24 at halftime. LeBron James was solid (17-8-8 in 30 minutes), but his teammates were near-universally unhelpful. Cleveland shot 37.3 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from 3-point range and turned over the ball 16 times.
For a team with so many big names and big scorers, the Cavaliers were entirely unable to create offense.
The Cavaliers 74 points were their fewest in a game with LeBron James in uniform since February 26, 2009 at the Rockets.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 28, 2017
So what now for Cleveland? Well clearly the Cavs won’t romp through the Eastern Conference playoffs the way many people have long expected. Sure LeBron knows how to kick it into gear come postseason, but what if his teammates just aren’t good enough this time around? At the very least, series that pit Cleveland against the Raptors, Wizards or Celtics will be worth watching carefully.
UConn women cruise to Final Four with yet another huge blowout
The UConn women continue to be the most magnificent team in sports.
On Monday, the Huskies reached their 10th straight Final Four by destroying No. 10 seed Oregon 90-52. Napheesa Collier led the way for UConn with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and Gabby Williams added 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals.
— UConn Huskies (@UConnHuskies) March 28, 2017
UConn's win over Oregon was beautiful basketball. Just beautiful. Wow. That's the way the game is supposed to be played. @UConnWBB
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) March 28, 2017
Perhaps UConn got a little lucky to have faced Oregon in the Elite 8 as opposed to a higher seed who might have played the Huskies closer, but clearly the Ducks were somewhat formidable, having beaten No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Maryland to earn the right to face UConn. It wasn’t necessarily that the opponent was bad Monday, it was that the Huskies are that good. They have elevated basketball to an art form. What their games lack in drama they make up in precision, creativity and ruthless efficiency.
The truth is, there probably isn’t a team in America that can play with UConn. Even in what was supposed to be a bit of a rebuilding year, Geno Auriemma’s team is just unstoppable.
The next team to try to slay the Huskies will be Mississippi State. That game will take place Friday in Dallas. The winner will take on the South Carolina-Stanford victor in the national title game.
– How long does it take for a Cy Young pitcher to strike out Tim Tebow? How about three pitches and 37 seconds.
Tim Tebow hits against Max Scherzer.
It's fun and eventful, and for Tim, it doesn't go well. pic.twitter.com/4oZabpjOYS
— Jay White (@JayWhiteSports) March 27, 2017
– Patrick Beverley thinks NBA players sitting out games for rest is “bullshit” and “a disgrace to the game.” Tell us how you really feel, Patrick.
– We ranked the worst realignment decisions in college sports history. Don’t read this, Rutgers fans.
– Barely 12 hours after hitting the game-winning shot to beat Kentucky and lead North Carolina to the Final Four, Luke Maye got a standing ovation in his 8 a.m. business class.
— Jack Sewell (@JackSewell_) March 27, 2017
– Courtesy of Kentucky fans, we’ve now got the full range of sports emotions captured on film.
— Lee K. Howard (@HowardWKYT) March 27, 2017
– Here’s why Indiana was wise to avoid Steve Alford in its search for a men’s basketball coach.
– What role should Clint Dempsey serve on the U.S. Men’s National Team?
– An Auburn softball player got into an altercation with the Florida coach. It turned out the two had some personal history.
– Will there be a third season of True Detective? The idea is gaining steam.
– Cash Cab is coming back, but longtime host Ben Bailey will not be there.
One Two last moments of procrastination
Kids are so adorably dumb.
this gif never fails to brighten up my day pic.twitter.com/S8mddqcWe7
— muminah alfonso (@muminuh) March 27, 2017
This little girl thought a broken water heater is a real life robot. It's just not fair how cute it is pic.twitter.com/TLbuKKEEbY
— Ben Tolmachoff (@bentolmachoff) March 27, 2017