5-at-10: Rory speaks the truth, Jokic answers, Connecticut athletes want day in court

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media about the deal merging the PGA Tour and European tour with Saudi Arabia's golf interests at the Canadian Open golf tournament in Toronto on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

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We are wrapping up our final day on San Juan Island. Been an amazing few days.

We’re headed to the mid-state of Washington to explore before heading to the Gorge Amphitheater for a concert Friday night.

Let’s do this.

More merger machinations

So Rory McIlory met with the media. Like Rory or loathe him — seriously does anyone not involved with LIV really dislike Rory that we know of? — dude has been a stand-up star with the media, and that has been the case since he completely gagged away the Masters on the final nine holes 11 years ago.

Rory’s quotes in the news conference deserve some space here.

“Whether you like it or not, the PIF were going to keep spending the money in golf. At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent,” Rory told the group of reporters before today’s start to the RBC Open. “If you’re thinking about one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather have them as a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks, and you would rather have them as a partner.”

“I still hate LIV. I hate them. I hope it goes away.”

Rory’s talking points included something that has not been discussed all that much as Phil and the Shark and the rest have enjoyed their victory laps in the days after the PGA-LIV merger was announced.

“The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this Tour, started litigation against it,” Rory accurately said.

He’s right, too. For all the clamoring Phil has done about improving the game for the players — and that has proven true in a slew of ways — the defections and the original acceptance of the modern version of 30 pieces of silver has led us to this.

And that’s not condemning their decision. In fact, I’ve tried to be very honest about the entire LIV operation, from offers to acceptance to tempered understanding about those who took the money.

Heck, we’ve had discussions here about whether you would or wouldn’t, and of course Phil having close to a half billion dollars before switching is different than a Talor Gooch signing on or even a David Feherty joining the crew.

But Vader’s words from earlier this week, because it is real easy to spend other people’s money and it’s real easy to be high and mighty and moral about the financial decisions others face in this life.

Which leads us to even more questions 48 hours after the announcement that still has more unknowns than knowns:

— The biggest of course being, will this ultimately happen? (And in truth, Rory speaking solemnly about rationalizing Jay Monahan’s bending of the knee makes me think it has a better chance than I originally thought.)

— Next question, with Congress looking at bills to remove the PGA Tour’s tax-exempt status, would the single-worst outcome for the PGA Tour in particular and golf in general be for this merger to get blocked and then the PGA Tour is forced to go back after all of this? (Side note: Congress best be really careful peeling back the layers of the “where’s the money coming from” game. Because a whole lot of the donors for a whole lot of folks in D.C. are almost assuredly doing business with the Saudis or other shady folks around the globe.)

— What will the reception be like — in terms of fines and player relations — for Phil, Brooks, Bryson and the rest of the LIV defectors/pioneers when/if the merger occurs?

— Is this the beginning of the end for professional golf as we know it?

— Or is this the beginning of the Saudi invasion of sports as we know it? Because the PIF (the Saudi royal family’s government-running bankroll) sits at a tidy $600 billion. That could buy every NFL team at its current value according to Sportico four times over and still have more left in the account than $70 billion in the bank.


Game 3

We wondered in this space yesterday which would matter more in Game 3: The best basketball player on the planet in this moment or the best basketball coach.

Edge player.

Nikola Jokic put on a clinic in Game 3, becoming the first player to ever get a 30-20-10 triple-double in an NBA Finals game (he went 32-21-10) as well as the first player ever to get 10 triple-doubles in a single postseason. His Denver Nuggets rolled the coach Erik Spoelstra’s Heat in Miami to retake home-court and a 2-1 series lead.

It was a master class, and Jokic is staking claim as arguably the best passing big man in the history of the game.

Because not only is he averaging right at 10 assists for the entire season — regular and post — but his location on those passes is unbelievable precise.

The best comparison I know for a truly great and accurate basketball passer is a football analogy. OK, we all know that QBs who deliver the ball in a place for the receiver to catch it and be in position to accelerate after the catch are rare and excellent.

That’s Joker with the basketball, because he not only finds the open man — be it pick-and-rolls, cutters or spot-up shooters off a double team — he gets them the basketball in the perfect scoring position.

It truly is a clinic right now what he’s doing.

Side question on an anything goes Thursday: How much does Jokic’s nationality, appearance and style — let’s face he plays a deliberate, really fundamental, church-league-feeling kind of game — hurt him in the comps and praise of everyday NBA fans?


Day in court

So, amid the mushroom cloud of conversation that was the PGA-LIV news, four high school athletes took a huge step in the attempt to make women’s sports about biological women again.

And some of the courtroom reactions are disappointing.

Rewind: In recent years, Connecticut has been among the states to allow transgender girls to compete in girls sports. To no one’s surprise who is willing to remotely acknowledge the obvious and undeniable advantages male athletes have over female athletes, the transgender females had great success competing in track and won state championships.

That’s the big picture.

Now to focus on the details from earlier this week.

One of the judges hearing the appeal really tried to wash his hands of this hot-button issue.

“It is a clear violation when a school or school district knowingly lets sexual discrimination proceed. I don’t think we can say that here,” Judge Denny Chin said.

What? That’s the dumbest thing to come from a Denny’s mind since the restaurant tried a pizza buffet.

All the four girls want is a day in court.

Now whether that’s worth financial repercussions or punitive damages is a whole other kettle of fish.

And the fact that the Connecticut athletic association’s defense is insulting and devalues the importance of and the life-altering lessons a lot of us experienced back in the day and try to communicate to current athletes in the here and now.

“Nothing about track results would affect the plaintiffs’ life prospects,” said Peter Murphy, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s attorney.

Life is unfair, that’s true. But the rules shouldn’t be.

All they are asking for is to be heard.

This and that

— Man the smoke from the Canadian wildfires in the Northeast is something, eh?

— Josh Allen is your Madden cover boy. Hope he avoids the curse.

— Lionel Messi is headed to play soccer in the U.S. Does that move the needle for you at all? Would you buy a ticket to see him play in Atlanta? Discuss.

— Oklahoma softball is absolutely amazing right now. The Sooners won their 52nd straight game — 5-0 in Game 1 of the WCWS over FSU — and are one win from a title and are 60-1 on the season. They have spent all year save one week — the stretch after a 4-3 loss to Baylor in February — ranked No. 1 in the country. UCLA passed Oklahoma in the polls for that one week, which overlapped when those two clubs met. Then-No. 2 OU beat then-No. 1 UCLA 14-0. Any questions?

— Here’s a story on Bradley Central’s girls’ hoops stars getting a local NIL deal. Good details from Patrick MacCoon, a TFP preps hoss.

— Braves played. Braves won. Welcome back Michael Harris II.

Today’s questions

There are several above that fit the bill on an anything goes Thursday.

Is this Oklahoma softball team then best college sports team of the last decade, regardless of sport?

Also, do you believe in sports curses?

As for today’s Rushmore, what’s the Rushmore of the biggest days in the history of golf.

Does Tuesday make it? Go, and remember the mailbag.