For sports fans, 'The Match II' was a sight for sore eyes

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for The Match.

I'm not the biggest golf fan. I'll watch the majors. I'll watch Tiger Woods play if he is in contention at a tournament but for the most part, there are plenty of other sports I would watch before I would sit down and watch golf for five hours. We are all struggling to find compelling live programming due to COVID-19, especially compelling live sports programming. The biggest storyline in sports the last 5 weeks has been watching The Last Dance on ESPN featuring Michael Jordan and 1997-1998 Bulls. As fun as that was, reacting to a story that ended 23 years ago is not what the typical sports fan was hoping to watch during the prime sports months of the spring.

However, everything changed on Sunday with The Match II: Champions for Charity. A fantastic event that Turner and Capital One put together at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida to raise money to combat the ongoing virus. Instead of Tiger and Phil playing against each other as they did in 2018's first installment of The Match, they would go against each other with a legendary QB playing with each of them. The storylines were there for The Match. Tiger Woods playing with Peyton Manning and Phil Mickelson playing with Tom Brady. Superstar athletes that all sports fans respect regardless of sport.

The most recent charity golf outing, The TaylorMade Driving Relief skins game, featuring Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Matt Wolff didn't keep my attention. If you are a hard core golf fan, I'm sure that you loved watching those guys play but to the casual sports fan, the game of golf needs Tiger Woods or Phil Micklelson playing to get a big rating. While there was undoubtedly star power when you have Dustin Johnson and Rory Mcllroy playing, The Match featuring four sports legends felt like a way bigger event of a higher magnitude.

The expectation coming in was that we as fans watching at home would get to hear the players mic'd up, talking trash, and having fun. However, until you actually see a plan like that executed it felt as if many people were skeptical especially after the first Match was negatively impacted due to technical issues. TNT took a chance and made the broadcast so enjoyable. The booth of Brian Anderson, Trevor Immelman and Charles Barkley, with Amanda Balionis and Justin Thomas as on-course reporters had a great balance of golf analysis and plenty of laugh out loud moments. Brian Anderson is as smooth as any top-notch broadcaster out there and anything Charles Barkley says can go viral at any given moment. Justin Thomas has a future in broadcasting whenever he decides to stop dominating the PGA Tour. Despite horrendous weather throughout, TNT did a remarkable job keeping the broadcast on the air.

Charles Barkley's mouth even helped create the moment of the entire match. As Brady struggled mightily on the front nine, getting roasted on social media by everyone for finally not being great at something, Barkley told Brady he wanted to challenge him sometime on the course. Things changed on the 7th fairway for Brady as he found himself standing over an approach shot. With Barkley's challenge in mind, he flew a wedge just a few yards past the pin, spinning it back into the cup for a birdie. It was one of the most impressive shots any golfer can have let alone an amateur playing with two of the all-time greats with millions of sports deprived fans watching. Brady telling Barkley to, "Shut your mouth, Chuck. Take a little of that medicine" was laugh out loud funny

Both the amateurs held up well with the pros. Give Tom Brady credit for getting things together after a rough start that even featured the 6x Super Bowl winner splitting his pants as he and Mickelson really challenged Woods and Manning late and nearly pulled off a big comeback after trailing 3-0. It felt like Brady was struggling worse than Johnny Drama was when he used Brady's clubs during a season 6 episode of Entourage. Manning's tongue in cheek dry humor made him highly entertaining the entire afternoon. From ribbing Brady about Bill Belichick, Eli Manning and Nick Foles, to laughing at his own expense, it is easy to see why Peyton remains one of the most likable athletes ever.

The pros held up their end of the bargain. Tiger Woods didn't miss a fairway. His swing looked sharp and he moved around well. It's unclear when we will see the 15x major winner play next but when we do we are all going to watch. Phil Mickelson was steady throughout and kept him and Brady in the match after Woods and Manning grabbed the lead early. Mickelson provided all of us at home with a bunch of free golf lessons. It was fascinating to see him try to teach Tom Brady where to putt the ball on the greens.

The collection of epic moments, awesome golf shots, and finally a live and competitive sports competition helped The Match become a major success. TNT says it was the most watched golf event in cable TV history. From 5:45 PM - 6 PM Eastern, the broadcast peaked with 6.3 million viewers.

Sports fans are starved for content and it certainly helps when the content was as interesting as The Match II lived up to be. How about the next time they play, we get Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan against Phil Mickelson and LeBron James for The Match III? You know that Michael will be ready to gamble. I can't wait to see the hot takes about that foursome...

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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