Five thoughts from the weekend in sports:
1 The genuine joy and enthusiasm with which Alex Ovechkin is celebrating Washington’s Stanley Cup title — perhaps at this very moment, perhaps forever as far as we know — is a tribute to the power of success truly earned.
Without turning this into a “get off my lawn” style rant, the pursuit of championships in pro sports these days has become in many cases a business transaction. Free agents choose teams because they want to win, which is fine, but … sometimes it feels hollow.
The NBA’s Warriors were already champions before Kevin Durant made them pretty much unfair. LeBron James could make a similar decision this summer if he decides to join Houston or another loaded team instead of staying in Cleveland.
The contrast is Ovechkin, who in his 13th season with the Capitals finally was able to hoist the Cup. Elias had a great stat: Among previous MVP winners, only John Elway (15 years with the Broncos) had to wait longer to win a title with his original team.
As we watched Ovechkin drink beer from the Cup and swim in a public fountain over the weekend, we were reminded that his triumph was more than a victory. It was a catharsis.
Those types of celebrations and emotions are hard to garner in any manner except the hard way — the path less traveled these days.
2 The Gophers baseball team was just two innings away Saturday night from forcing a winner-take-all third game against Oregon State with a trip to the College World Series on the line.
Had they been able to hold that 3-2 lead for six more outs, it would have been easy to like their chances in Game 3 thanks to their pitching depth.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Oregon State tied it in the eighth and then delivered the knockout blow with a three-run ninth.
As someone who probably didn’t watch enough Gophers baseball this season, I found the action to be riveting and the drama to be top-notch.
3 ESPN.com put out its latest NBA mock draft recently, and the Wolves are projected to take forward Keita Bates-Diop at No. 20 overall. He averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior at Ohio State and could add depth to the frontcourt.
I still have a hard time seeing how the Wolves would pick anything except a wing player given how little depth they have at that position, but maybe there are other ways they could add to that spot other than the draft.
4 Justify earned fame with his Triple Crown win, capped off Saturday at the Belmont. Now it’s time for the second half of the equation: fortune. The horse’s breeding rights are reportedly going to be sold for $75 million — a figure that had been $15 million lower before the Belmont victory.
5 The Lynx have a much-needed break after their Saturday loss at Connecticut dropped the defending WNBA champs to 3-6. They get a full week off before playing again Saturday at home against New York. Six of their first nine games were on the road, and many were against tough foes. If they continue to struggle after this time off, we can truly be concerned.