Getty Images

Luka Doncic warns Jay Cutler: Handball is hard

Leave a comment

Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, appearing on the podcast “Pardon My Take”, said he believes he could put together a team that would win gold in Olympic handball (or, as we tend to call it to distinguish it from a sport played against a wall, “team handball”).

The podcast hosts were happy to go along with their guest, saying a team of Cutler, Patrick Mahomes and LeBron James could defeat any team in the world because people in other countries lack arm speed. Former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth agreed, saying on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” that he could replace Mahomes in that trio and emerge victorious.

“You know who plays handball?” Foxworth said. “People who couldn’t make it in soccer, couldn’t make it in football, couldn’t make it in basketball.”

One prominent basketball player emphatically disagrees.

“(N)o chance! people dont know how hard is to play handball,” tweeted Dallas Mavericks player Luka Doncic, who played a bit of handball growing up in Slovenia.

Foxworth’s co-host, Sarah Spain, cast cold water on the idea, pointing to a crew of NFL players who have tried their hand at curling with little success so far. That team initially consisted of former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, former St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger, former Tennessee offensive tackle Michael Roos and former Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck.

Allen and company made their top-level curling debut in November 2018 against Olympic gold medalist John Shuster and predictably lost. The team also entered the 2019 Challenge Round, a qualifier for the national championships, and lost its three games by a combined score of 27-2.

This year, Allen has brought in Jason Smith, who played in the 2010 Olympics with Shuster and team coach John Benton, to skip the team. The results haven’t been much better through the season, though it did pick up a couple of wins in small events and one win in the 2020 Challenge Round.

Curling took advantage of the publicity boost, though, with Allen appearing at the national championships as an alternate for one team and getting an opportunity to come in and play at the end of a game whose outcome wasn’t in doubt.

The handball community has similarly perked up with Cutler’s commentary. Team Handball News took issue with some footage in the ESPN analysis, saying it was from a residency program at Auburn instead of the current U.S. national team.

USA Team Handball CEO Barry Siff, who joined the federation last year, welcomed Cutler’s interest, as did the team’s official Twitter account.

But they also appreciate Doncic’s take.

Given the rough-and-tumble nature of team handball, would the U.S. be better off with some hybrid of Shaquille O’Neal and T.J. Oshie?

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!