About Last Night: Phil Phlirts With History

Phil MickelsonIn case you were busy setting all the clocks in your house back an hour as part of an ill-conceived “February Fools” prank, here’s what you missed in sports on Thursday.

  • After missing birdie putts on the last two holes he played, Phil Mickelson finished with a 60 in the opening round of the Phoenix Open, one stroke off of the PGA record for the lowest score in a single round. “I’m not thinking about those two putts,” a haggard Mickelson said 12 years from now, panhandling outside of a Piggly Wiggly’s in West Memphis, Arkansas, a broken shell of his former self. “But, man, they were both so close. I bet things would be different if one of those bad boys fell. But no, I’m not thinking about them. Hey, you got some teeth I could borrow?”
  • In college hoops, the Michigan State Spartans rallied from 10 down in the second half to top conference rival Illinois, 80-75, in East Lansing. “We got overconfident against the Spartans again,” said Illini fan Xerxes the Great, “sure we had the superior manpower, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that you can never underestimate a Spartan team at home when they are hellbent on contesting the pass.”
  • Gonzaga topped conference rival Loyola Marymount, 88-43, to move to 7-0 in the WCC. “I know what folks are going to say about this game: ‘If Paul Westhead were alive to see this game, he’d be turning over in his grave,’” said former Loyola Marymount head coach Paul Westhead, architect of “The System,” a prolific run-and-gun offense implemented at LMU in the late ’80s. “But Paul Westhead isn’t dead,” Westhead insisted. “He’s coaching women’s basketball at Oregon, so please stop referring to me as if I were dead. It’s freaking my wife out.”
  • Butler fell to unranked St. Louis, 75-58, on the road. When asked about the loss, Butler coach and noted basketball strategist Brad Stevens nodded confidently, and said, “Oh, it may appear that we lost today, but I think you’ll find that in the broader game of chess that we were playing, things worked out to our advantage.” Stevens, then leaned forward and whispered, “The chess game is the important one, right? Because they beat the heck out of us in that basketball game, but I just took [St. Louis head coach] Jim Crews’s queen.”
  • Thursday was Transfer Deadline Day in European Soccer, and David Beckham is on the move after signing a five-month contract with Ligue 1–leading Paris St. Germain. Beckham also announced that he would be donating his entire salary for the remainder of the season to charity. “It wouldn’t be right to accept money and get to play with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Paris; that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic when asked about Beckham. “What a Zlatanesque move by a Zlatanesque man.”
  • The Golden State Warriors held off a late charge from the Dallas Mavericks, winning at home, 100-97. The Warriors won despite missing injured guard Stephen Curry who was, according to team doctors, “Stephen Curry.”
  • The Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 106-89, despite a third-quarter meltdown from the Thunder’s All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. After the game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks pulled Westbrook aside, and said, “I know tempers got hot, but I want to tell you two things you have to understand if you want to be on my team. Look at me when I’m speaking to you. One, you can’t turn on your teammates ever. Those are your brothers. Look at me, look me in the eyes, Russell.” Westbrook glanced up at his coach, before casting his gaze back at the floor. Brooks continued, “There’s no place for that sort of behavior on my team. Sometimes, guys make mistakes, but you have to let me be the one to deal with them. Two — and this is the most important thing — I believe in you, Russell. This will be a learning experience. Look at me, Russ.” But Westbrook couldn’t look at his coach again, knowing he had let Brooks and the whole team down. These men had trusted him in a way no one else ever had. What a fool he had been! Tears were now pouring down his cheeks uncontrollably. Brooks put his hand on Westbrook’s back and continued: “I need you to take a step forward, bud. We all need that from you. But you’re ready for that, aren’t you? I know you are. Now, grab a tissue, and let’s go apologize to the rest of the guys, so we can move on from this.” As Brooks passed his star point guard a box of Puffs, Westbrook’s tears turned to laughter. And as their eyes met, Brooks and Westbrook agreed wordlessly that if the Thunder won the championship this year, it would be because of this day.
  • In the classic rivalry matchup, “The Battle of Teams That Are Bigger Rivals With the Rangers,” the New York Islanders topped the New Jersey Devils, 5-4, in overtime. “Man, those guys really think they’re the best team from a place where lots of people commute into New York on a daily basis,” said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. “And, uh, I guess tonight they were. Hats off to them. Well-played.”
  • A source close to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said that A-Rod has no plans to retire and cede the rights to his contract, which is worth $114 million dollars over the next five years. The source went on to say, “Thank God, you know? Being a source close to Alex Rodriguez is all I have. I don’t want to try to find another job in this economy. If that guy retires, then what? Sourcing for Raul Ibanez? That won’t pay the bills.”

Filed Under: About Last Night, Alex Rodriguez, Dallas Mavericks, David Beckham, Golden State Warriors, Illinois, Memphis Grizzlies, New Jersey Devils, New York Yankees, Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook

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Spike Friedman is a contributing writer for Grantland and makes theater with the Satori Group in Seattle, Washington.

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