Two years after winning the 2020 NBA Championships, Lakers coach Frank Vogel stood in front of a press room prepared for an awkward interaction. He had, after all, just led an injury-laden Lakers to its worst showing in years, with the team missing the playoffs (which is especially embarrassing, because the playoffs were recently expanded to include the top 10 teams in each conference instead of the top 8). Instead of the Sunday night awkwardness he was expecting, Vogel got something worse: news of his firing. Just that evening, Adrian Wojnarowski had tweeted the following
Frank Vogel has coached his final game for the Lakers, a decision that’s expected to be shared with him as soon as Monday, sources tell ESPN. Lakers’ search expected to be lengthy and expansive with no clear initial frontrunner.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2022
Vogel, having just coached a game, had not seen the Tweet. But all the reporters in the news conference had. When asked about the issue, Vogel simply told reporters: “I haven’t been told”. It is one thing to be let go from such a public position; it is another thing to find out about it from reporters. This type of firing will inflict untold damage on an organisation that cannot afford it. The Lakers missed the playoffs because their ageing players, such as Russel Westbrook, brought in 44.21 million dollars over the course of a remarkably weak season. Their superstars were making superstar dollars, but they weren’t putting up superstar numbers. The team, despite having Lebron James on the roster, is not exactly primed for an NBA playoff run in 2023. Finding a quality coach was going to be hard enough as it stood, but after this uncalled-for public humiliation, Woj’s prediction about a “lengthy and expansive” process might have to do more with the willingness of the league’s top coaches than it does with the ability for the Lakers to find talent.
The Master of the Masters
Press coverage leading up to this year’s Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, was mainly centred around Tiger Woods’ remarkable comeback. In February of 2021, Woods was part of a serious automobile crash. Doctors came extremely close to amputating the golf superstar’s leg in order to save his life. Thus, him playing well enough a little over a year to play in the Masters again without humiliating himself was cause for celebration. And when Woods made the cut, even staying in contention through the first two rounds, the golfing world celebrated. But over the course of Saturday and Sunday, another story took over as Woods’ performance ebbed. Enter Scottie Scheffler, a 25-year-old American who came out of nowhere this spring to dominate golf. Over the course of 57 days, he won four tournaments, including the Masters, which forever changed his life. But that change will not come from winning more than 10 million USD in prize money in 2022 alone so far. He is now the number one golfer in the world, and he will never again fly under anyone’s radar, not even Tiger’s.
The Third Retirement
Kim Clijsters has been here before. Despite being near the top of the women’s tennis game and having held the number one ranking, the Belgian abruptly walked away from the sport in 2007 (at 24 years of age) in order to start a family. But she did not stay away for long, and she came back with a vengeance. In 2009, in just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open for her second career major. Her young daughter walking around Arthur Ashe Stadium after her mother’s victory is one of the sport’s most adorable moments in history. Clijsters went on to win two more grand slam titles and recapture the world number one ranking before calling it quits again in 2012. Then, after seven years of retirement, Clijsters announced that she would be making yet another comeback in her late 30s. She performed well and had surprisingly strong results in February 2020, but then COVID hit. Clijsters was forced to the sidelines like the rest of the tennis world, and ended up undergoing season-ending knee surgery. In 2021, she failed to win a match, so, when the 38-year-old announced her third and possibly final retirement in April 2022, it did not come as too much of a shock. She has always been one of the most well-liked, gracious champions her sport has ever seen, so if she decides that the fourth time is the charm, the tennis world will embrace her with open arms.