Bizarre things happen in the sports world all of the time. That’s one of the reasons why we love them so damn much.
It’s the type of drama and suspense that you can only find when you have a handful of buttery popcorn in your mouth while at the movies. Whether it’s in the middle of a heated of battle between two teams or when you’re reading a Woj bomb at 9 a.m. there are always moments in sports that leave us speechless and looking for more.
June had an entire catalog of these moments.
If aliens dropped to Earth and played a pickup game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden (sounds like a good movie idea, sorry LeBron), you’d have to flip to page four or five in the sports section to read about it this month.
There were moments that had us prying our jaws off of the floor and others that left tears in our eyes (looking at you Jon Rahm), so let’s reflect on some of the most staggering moments from June.
Betting Odds to win U.S. Open: +1000 (Favorite)
There is no better way to start this list. It’s a script Jordan Peele couldn’t even come up with.
On June 5, Jon Rahm walked off the 18th green at the beautiful Muirfield Village Golf Club with a 6-stroke lead and in prime position to defend his Memorial Tournament title.
15 seconds later, in front of a crowded gallery of fans and millions of television viewers, he was told he tested positive for COVID and had to withdraw from play. He had live odds of -1500 before this happened, a virtual lock to win one of golf’s biggest ‘non majors’ of the year.
Fast forward 15 long days of quarantining and preparing for the sport’s greatest test, and Rahm, a dad of just two months, captured his first career major at 27 years old. Oh, and let’s not forget he did it on Father’s Day.
It doesn’t get sweeter than that.
LeBounced out of the First Round
Betting Odds: Suns to beat Lakers +240
LeBron James was knocked out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs in June. Based on how the Lakers performed this season that doesn’t seem so shocking, but it’s not a stretch to say it is one of the crazier things to happen in recent NBA history.
James prior to this season:
- 14 trips to the NBA postseason
- 14 first round series victories
- Seven clean sweeps
Over the past decade plus, betting a James-led team to make it past the first round of the playoffs was one of the easiest to make. Welp, not anymore.
The Los Angeles Lakers entered their series with the Phoenix Suns as the No. 7 seed, but were -300 favorites to advance to the next round. They became the first No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the past 30 years to be favored over a lower seed.
Everyone and their mother expected the Lakers to get healthy and foresaw another championship run in the making.
But not this year.
The Lakers became the first preseason title favorite to be eliminated from the first round since the ‘08 Mavs.
Whether you saw it coming or not, it’s truly a phenomena to watch one of the greatest players of all time get ousted so early in the playoffs, especially as a favorite. The younger generation of basketball fans just isn’t used to anything but James, Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry being in the NBA Finals.
Is this a sign of what’s to come?
DoomsDay in the NBA
It was your standard Wednesday morning. I was sipping my morning tea, scrolling through Twitter and enjoying the peace and quiet of my apartment.
With one Woj bomb, all hell broke loose.
First it was Chris Paul. Twitter was set a flame by the news of his positive COVID test.
Things died down for maybe two minutes and BOOM another one. I felt like I was watching Saving Private Ryan and artillery was being dropped left and right.
Chris Paul ➡️ entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols and is sidelined for an indefinite period of time
Kawhi Leonard ➡️ ruled out of Game 5 vs. Jazz pic.twitter.com/Ej44mmENT5
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 16, 2021
It was reported that Kawhi Leonard had a serious knee injury and was being ruled out for Game 5 vs. the Jazz and potentially the rest of the postseason (which turned out to be true).
What else happened you ask? So much that we had to leave some moments out due to the character limit on Twitter.
• Chris Paul – Tested positive for COVID
• Kawhi Leonard – ACL injury
• Scott Brooks – mutually parted ways with the Wizards
• Stan Van Gundy – out as Pelicans head coach
• Donnie Nelson – parted ways with the Mavs after 23 seasons
• Mike Conley Jr. – ruled out for Game 5 pic.twitter.com/vJ1HKnAzMN
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 16, 2021
If there is one thing I’ve learned from my job at Action Network, it’s that sports news never sleeps, even if you are.
History for the Habs
With the exception of Raven from everyone’s favorite childhood Disney Chanel show, few expected the Canadiens to make the Stanley Cup Finals. Especially not oddsmakers.
Montreal was an underdog in all three series’ leading up to the Finals. They pulled off upsets in all three series.
- 3-1 first round comeback against the Maple Leafs.
- Swept the Winnipeg Jets.
- Defeated the heavily favored Knights in six games.
+235 vs TOR ✅
+110 vs. WPG ✅
+375 vs. VGK ✅
Montreal Canadiens are the first team to make the Stanley Cup Final winning all three series as underdogs since the 2006 Edmonton Oilers pic.twitter.com/BnKNkalCOX
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) June 25, 2021
To put things in perspective, prior to Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay, Montreal had played in 17 games. They were been underdogs in all but two series!
If you’re a bettor that loves wagering on the underdog, I hope you jumped on the bandwagon early and never get off.
It’s been a Cinderella story for the Canadiens, but they still have one more steep mountain to climb. Can they knock off the defending champions as +200 underdogs in the Stanley Cup Final?
If they can, it will be one of the most remarkable runs in NHL history.
Money vs. The Maverick
Did you already forget that this happened? So did I.
As we start to round out our list, let’s think about this for a moment, shall we?
Floyd Mayweather (50-0 career record), arguably the greatest boxer of all time, stepped into the ring for an exhibition fight with egocentric 26-year-old YouTuber, Logan Paul, who boasted a professional boxing record of 0-1.
That’s pretty much all you need to know for this to make it onto this month’s list. Hollywood script written all over it.
Not only was this an irregular happening of sport, it was actually quite entertaining. My eyes were glued to the screen for all eight rounds waiting for one of the fighters to knock the other out.
The fact that Paul was able to go the distance when no one in the boxing world gave him a chance is a miracle in itself.
Clippers vs. Suns, Hawks vs. Bucks … Hickok vs. English!?
Harris English to win Travelers Championship: +4500
One week removed from the biggest tournament of the year, golf bettors and fans expected to have a more tame week of competition.
Harris English and Kramer Hickock didn’t spare us any dramatics on Sunday evening when they dueled into the evening in an 8-hole playoff. The two battled like they were Magic & Bird, not two men competing for a golf tournament in Northern Connecticut.
Both golfers had much different narratives heading into their playoff at TPC River Highlands. English was looking for his second win of the season while Hickok was fighting for his first career victory and permanent TOUR status.
Their playoff was some of the most exciting golf I have ever seen played, even if they played the 18th hole 6-of-8 times.
As Kramer lipped out birdie putt after birdie putt for the win you couldn’t help but appreciate the chaos that was ensuing during this never-ending playoff.
And then of course, Hickok followed up his heartbreaking misses with an insane par putt to keep the playoff alive.
English eventually put the tournament on ice at the eighth (!) playoff hole to cash at 45-1. Whether you had money English, Hickok or no one at all, it is one of the main reasons why we bet and love sports so much.
You get unexpected twists and turns at every corner and there is nothing that quite compares to the highs and lows that come with each moment. It was a special way to end one of the most ridiculous months in sports.
What a spectacular June it has been and here is to an even more exciting July.