Monthly Sports Roundup: Lakers Win the NBA Championship, Dodgers Complete the Comeback, NFL Season in Jeopardy

In the past few months a lot has happened— a world series was won, the Lakers were crowned NBA champions, and the Tampa Bay Lightning proved that not even COVID-19 could stop them from winning— here’s what you missed.

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Paolo Rosa

“NBA Finals” by Paolo Rosa is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Cameron Takmil, Sports Editor

Six months after an unexpected pause in play, an NBA champion has been declared. The Larry O’Brien trophy once again resides in Los Angeles, nearly 10 years after the Lakers, led by the late Kobe Bryant, last won the championship. The Lakers were able to dispatch the Miami Heat in 6 games, despite Miami shocking many on their dark horse run and only losing 3 games in the Eastern conference playoffs against the Indiana Pacer, title-favorite Milwaukee Bucks, and the Boston Celtics. Despite the heroic efforts by Jimmy Butler throughout the series to keep this young Miami team alive, the Lakers were not only playing to capture their 17th franchise championship, but they were playing for Kobe Bryant as well. Bryant, who tragically passed in January of 2020,  sent ripples throughout the NBA as many players idolized Bryant and were inspired to play the game of basketball because of him. With their signature “Black Mamba” jerseys and “KB” patches commemorating Kobe, the Lakers were clearly motivated to win this year’s championship in the name of the late Laker legend. It would be a crime to leave out that the NBA COVID bubble was a success that dwarfed the precautions taken by other leagues. Players were isolated from most of the outside world (barring close family members), but not a single player or anyone inside the bubble contracted COVID-19, which is a major achievement for the NBA. 

The MLB  recently finished conducting their playoffs in their own bubble in Texas, and at the time of this article the Dodgers were pitted against the Tampa Bay Rays, as the Dodgers made their 3rd World Series in the past four years, coming back from a 3-1 lead against the Atlanta Braves. Their comeback, led by Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, was astounding. Many believed the Dodgers season was practically over after losing Game 4 by a score of 10-2 and going down 3-1 in the series, but unlike the Astros, they were able to dig out of that hole. The Rays avoided embarrassment, as the Astros failed to be the 2nd team in MLB history to complete a 3-0 comeback after forcing a Game 7.

After a World Series that saw great performances from Clayton Kershaw, herculean efforts from Mookie Betts, and a World Series MVP performance from Cory Seager, as well as great performances from Randy Arozarena and Blake Snell, the Dodgers came out victorious. It did not come without controversy, as the Dodgers’ double-error at the end of Game 4 cost them and allowed Tampa to even the series at 2-2. Brett Philips’ was the savior of Tampa Bay that night, as his hit into right field spurred the dramatic ending. The blunder drew much attention on Twitter, as many were in awe at how the Dodgers managed to lose a game that they were 1 strike away from winning. That was not the only controversy in the series, as Rays manager Kevin Cash made the mind-boggling move of taking Blake Snell out earlier despite a shutout up to that point, and shortly after the Rays’ would allow 3 runs that would effectively cost them the World Series. In the year of COVID-19 and passing of Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles is now the center for the sports world with an NBA and MLB championship in this year alone. 

With the NHL being long finished and the NBA and MLB concluding their seasons, that leaves only the NFL. Unlike other sports, the NFL might not be fortunate enough to close out the season, as going into Week 6 multiple games have been moved around and postponed due to outbreaks of COVID-19 amongst teams. Players such as Cam Newton, and at the collegiate level, Alabama coach Nick Saban, are both notable names that have contracted the virus. Throughout the season it has been seen that teams such as the Titans have relaxed protocols, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred as a result, severely hampering the NFL’s ability to continue the season. 

In an unprecedented year, the NFL standings themselves have been equally unprecedented, as the amount of surprising and disappointing teams this season has shocked many. The Bills, Chiefs, Titans, Steelers, and Ravens all stand at the top of the standings battling for supremacy of the AFC. The Steelers revitalized by the return of Big Ben, and the Bills led by a surprising Josh Allen MVP campaign, have inserted themselves into an already interesting AFC conference. In the NFC, both the Buccaneers and Saints have had slow starts. The Bears have been the surprise of the year as Nick Foles has replaced Mitchell Trubisky and led Chicago to a division-2nd-best 5-2 record. There are so many combinations of possible playoff matchups and Superbowl matchups, it will be interesting to see how the season pans out amidst the chaos that is the year 2020.  

Disclaimer: This article pulled upon coverage from The Los Angeles Times and CNN.