First call: Kawhi Leonard’s dagger, Putin’s hockey stumble, LeBron being that dad |
U.S./World Sports

First call: Kawhi Leonard’s dagger, Putin’s hockey stumble, LeBron being that dad

Tim Benz
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard celebrates his game-winning basket as time expired at the end of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers on May 12, 2019, in Toronto.

In “First Call” Monday, Kawhi Leonard’s unreal Game 7 buzzer-beater for Toronto. Vladimir Putin’s on-ice stumble. LeBron James is every sports dad you’ve ever known.

Is this the dagger?

That was play-by-play man Kevin Harlan’s question on TNT as Kawhi Leonard chucked up a potential series-winning shot to send Toronto to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.

Well, maybe not a dagger. More like a butter knife slowly being pressed through the heart, but lethal nonetheless.

That may be the greatest visual representation of a “hometown bounce” I have ever seen. Leonard’s buzzer beater sends Toronto on to face Milwaukee in a ratings disast … uh, I mean … a very interesting Eastern Conference final. This still shot says it all.

The Raptors won 92-90. Leonard had 41 points in 43 minutes.

Victory lap?

Russian president Vladimir Putin is renowned for putting on a show during celebrity hockey games. But as Sports Illustrated discovered, this one had an unfortunate stumble.

Putin scored eight goals in Sochi Friday. That’s a stunning total given the clear attention the defense gave him during his shifts.

Although give credit where it’s due. Check out the sweet backhand finish on the breakaway here.

But then there was this unfortunate incident during Putin’s postgame skate.

Something tells me the red-carpet guy may want to get on the first flight to Finland.

Anyone got some gum?

For the first time since the NHL playoffs started, the Carolina Hurricanes appear to be crashing back to reality.

The No. 7 seed has made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. But now they trail Boston, 2-0, after losing Game 2, 6-2, on Sunday.

That left team captain Justin Williams struggling to find a description for the team’s state of affairs.

I prefer Carolina barbeque, personally. But to each their own.

The Hurricanes host Game 3 on Tuesday.

LeBron is that dad

You know that youth sports dad.

The one that’s too vocal, too critical, too involved. You know him, because his name is LeBron James.

That’s “The King” watching his son, Bronny, in an AAU game. Take a look at this account of his behavior from’s Pat Forde.

“He coached his son’s team every bit as much as the actual coaches, occasionally telling the two guys supposedly in charge what to do,” Forde writes. “He walked the sideline giving post-up advice, instructing defenders, calling traps and directing inbounds plays. On a couple of occasions he hectored the officials (‘That is not a travel!’ he barked).”

Well, if LeBron can’t be involved in the playoffs, he might as well be involved in something.

Punching Porzingis

We all know sports fans can get a little emotional when a big-time player leaves a team.

But this is nuts.

According to TMZ, Kristaps Porzingis was in an altercation at a club in Latvia. Here is the aftermath.

The story says a group of Russian men attacked Porzingis because they were upset that he left the New York Knicks for Dallas. ESPN reported that the Mavericks forward may have been hit with a chair.

Porzingis hasn’t even played for Dallas yet as he recovers from ACL surgery.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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