Yahoo Sports AM: A star is born

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🚨 Headlines

⚾️ Banned for life: MLB banned Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on baseball. The league also suspended four players for a year in a scandal that feels like merely the tip of the iceberg.

🎾 Djoker withdraws: Novak Djokovic withdrew from the French Open (torn meniscus) and will undergo surgery, which means he'll likely miss Wimbledon next month.

🏀 Auriemma extended: UConn signed Geno Auriemma to a five-year, $18.7 million extension that will keep him in Storrs through 2029, when he’ll be 75.

⚾️ Tommy John for Javier: Astros starter Cristian Javier will reportedly undergo Tommy John surgery, further depleting Houston's injury-riddled rotation.

🏀 Kyrie signs his dad: Kyrie Irving has signed his father, Drederick, to a signature shoe deal with ANTA, the Chinese sportswear brand where he serves as chief creative officer.

(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images)
(Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images)

16-year-old Lily Yohannes made her USWNT debut on Tuesday night and scored the team's third goal in a 3-0 win over South Korea.

Historic evening: Yohannes (16 years, 358 days) is the eighth-youngest player to debut for the USWNT and the third-youngest to score, trailing only Kristine Lilly in 1987 (16 years, 22 days) and Tiffany Roberts in 1994 (16 years, 340 days).

How she got here: Yohannes was born in Springfield, Virginia, and moved to Amsterdam at age 9 with her parents and two older brothers. At 13, she began training with the country's most successful club, Ajax, where she has since become a starter.

  • Her path is unique in that respect, as virtually all of her USWNT teammates spent their formative years playing for American clubs and universities.

  • But with women's soccer on the rise in Europe, more players could follow Yohannes' lead in the future and opt to develop their game overseas.

From Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell:

While U.S. men's and boys national teams have an extensive recent history of recruiting players reared abroad, the women's program has relied exclusively on players who spent their formative years in America.

And there's a very simple reason for that: While Europe has long boasted the best boys soccer academies, on the girls side, the U.S. was the standard-bearer; Europe lagged.

But that's changing. The same pro clubs that scouted Lily's brothers are now scouting — and tutoring — girls like her. They're leveraging existing infrastructure and methodologies.

Many experts would argue that at least a dozen top European clubs, including Ajax, and perhaps many more, now offer a better footballing education than most or all youth clubs in the U.S.

🏀 The "best player wins the series" doctrine

(Grant Thomas/Yahoo Sports)
(Grant Thomas/Yahoo Sports)

From Yahoo Sports' Ben Rohrbach:

There is an age-old saying in the NBA: More often than not, the team with the best player wins the series.

If this is doctrine, Luka Dončić's Mavericks will win the NBA Finals, even though Jayson Tatum's Celtics won 14 more regular-season games.

Dončić finished three spots higher (third) in the MVP voting. Tatum may be the superior defensive player, but Dončić averaged more points (33.9), assists (9.8) and rebounds (9.2) per game and did so more efficiently. Advanced statistics significantly favor Dončić.

I think it is almost universally accepted that Dončić is a better player than Tatum, even though the gap is not so far between a five-time All-NBA first-team selection and a three-time All-NBA first-team honoree.

Using each season's MVP race as the determining factor for who voters believed was the best player in that particular campaign, the better player has won 41 of 68 NBA Finals — or roughly 60% — since 1956.

Since the turn of the century, the player who finished higher in MVP voting has been 12-11 in Finals matchups. Those are not overwhelming numbers. Hardly doctrine.

However, if you go by a more general idea of who was the best player in each series — weeding out, for example, when Charles Barkley won the 1993 MVP, only for his Suns to lose to Michael Jordan's Bulls — you could make the argument that the best player won 56 of 68 championships (82.4%).

That is a pretty convincing number. Enough to lend some credence to that saying.

Read the full story.

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

The Tri-City Chili Peppers made history on Saturday when they turned off the lights and introduced the world to Cosmic Baseball, Jeff writes.

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

The collegiate summer team in the Coastal Plain League* spent over $100,000 to install a series of black lights at their stadium in Virginia. Every piece of equipment glowed in the dark during the Chili Peppers' 9-4 win over the Greenbrier Knights, believed to be the first sporting event ever played under black lights.

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

Extensive testing was done to ensure they could play an actual game in these conditions, and though it was dark, "it's not as dark as you think," catcher Jacob Lee told "I was actually really surprised."

(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
(Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)

More to come: The Chili Peppers have three more Cosmic Baseball games scheduled this summer for June 15, June 28 and July 20.

*Famous alums: The wood-bat summer league features 15 teams across Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and has produced numerous MLB players, including stars like Justin Verlander and Ryan Zimmerman.

🏀 NBA mock draft 8.0

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

The 2024 NBA Draft is three weeks away and there's a new name atop our latest mock draft: French wing Zaccharie Risacher.

Where things stand: Here's Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek…

Some prospects are traveling around the country working out for teams and meeting with executives, while others are still finishing out their seasons in Europe, where many scouts are making their way to Italy this week for the adidas Eurocamp to get additional eyes on draft-eligible players.

The Lakers, meanwhile, now have two draft picks with the Pelicans deferring the 17th pick in 2024 for a first-round pick in 2025. Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul has made it clear that Bronny James will only work out for a select number of teams, including the Lakers and Suns, almost solidifying Bronny as a lock to the Lakers in the second round.

📆 June 5, 1977: Blazers win the title

Walton speaks to the media after leading the Trail Blazers to glory. (Hank Delespinasse/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Walton speaks to the media after leading the Trail Blazers to glory. (Hank Delespinasse/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

47 years ago today,the Trail Blazers beat the 76ers in six games to win their first and only NBA title and become the league's first champion post NBA-ABA merger, Jeff writes.

RIP, Big Red: 24-year-old Bill Walton exploded for 20 points, 23 rebounds, 7 assists and 8 blocks in Game 6 to earn Finals MVP.

"I've never coached a better player. I've never coached a better competitor. And I've never coached a better person than Bill Walton." — Blazers coach Jack Ramsay

More on this day:

*Sign of the times: To give you a sense of the NBA's popularity back then, Game 6 was originally scheduled for 10:30am to accommodate the final day of a mid-tier golf tournament called the Kemper Open. CBS ended up agreeing to a noon tip-off, then cut to golf immediately after the final buzzer, skipping the trophy presentation entirely.

📺 Watchlist: Quarterfinals in Paris

Will 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva's spectacular run continue? (Robert Prange/Getty Images)
Will 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva's spectacular run continue? (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

The French Open quarterfinals conclude today, with two women's matches and one men's match, Jeff writes.

  • Women: No. 4 Elena Rybakina vs. No. 12 Jasmine Paolini (8:15am ET, Tennis); No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. Mirra Andreeva* (9:30am, Tennis)

  • Men: No. 4 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 11 Alex de Minaur (2:15pm, Tennis); No. 7 Casper Ruud def. No. 1 Novak Djokovic (walkover)

More to watch:

  • 🥎 WCWS Finals: No. 1 Texas vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (8pm, ESPN) … Big 12 foes meet in the best-of-three championship in their final season before moving to the SEC.

  • ⚾️ MLB: Padres at Angels (9:38pm, FS1)

*Teen phenom: Andreeva, 17, is the youngest woman to reach the French Open quarterfinals since Sesil Karatantcheva in 2005. She's also the youngest to make the Round of 16 in Grand Slam events on each surface since Anna Kournikova in 1998.

🏀 NBA Finals trivia

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

This year's NBA champion will be just the third this century that didn't have a current or former MVP on the roster.

  • Question: Who were the other two?

  • Hint: They won titles in 2004 and 2019.

Answer at the bottom.

🇭🇷 Croatia's newest citizen: Bill Belichick

(Matija Habljak/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)
(Matija Habljak/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)

For the first time since 1975, Bill Belichick isn't coaching in the NFL. That's freed him up to do other things — like explore his Croatian roots.

Man of the hour: Belichick, who wore a Croatian pin to news conferences in recent years, became a Croatian citizen on Monday and was honored during Tuesday's Croatia-North Macedonia soccer match, where he addressed the team.

"My grandparents came to the USA in 1910 from Draganić and had a difficult life, but that's why my father [Steve], also an American football coach, managed to live his American dream. … Yesterday, I became a Croatian citizen. Now I'm one of you."

Trivia answer: Pistons (2004) and Raptors (2019)

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