On what makes Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-Point Contest performance so important
Plus: looking back at the 2020-21 Suns
Welcome to another issue of A Farewell to Takes, our quick trip around the NBA. In case you missed it, we dropped our episode with Gabe Vincent this past Friday. It was a joy to chat with him on his journey, time with the Heat, and future with the Lakers. And a heads up, we’ll be dropping this week’s episode of The Old Man and Three Things tomorrow. Stay tuned. Among other things, we’ll be talking about the Summer League Championship, which I’m calling tonight.
In this week’s A Farewell to Takes we’re giving you:
Steve Jones Jr. of The Dunker Spot on Sabrina Ionescu making history
Tommy on the fast-moving NBA
The Best Thing Tommy Ate Last Week (in Vegas)
Thanks for listening and reading! —JJ
On the importance of Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-Point Contest performance
Sabrina Ionescu put up one of the most impressive shooting displays I have ever seen. It was also one of the more important shooting displays I have ever seen.
By now you know that Sabrina Ionescu lost her mind in the WNBA’s All-Star 3-Point Contest on Friday. Got 37 out of a possible 40 points, setting the single-round record in both the WNBA and the NBA. 20 consecutive makes, a near minute of not missing. Just an unbelievable display of shooting. There have been 27 seasons of the WNBA; Sabrina Ionescu won the 10th 3-Point Contest. And this is where it becomes important.
As a wise man once said “that math is not mathing.”
Stick with me.
In 2006, the WNBA announced their first 3-Point Contest. In doing my Googles, I found the press release. That initial contest was initially scheduled to “take place at 1:30 PM, prior to the East and West All-Star Practices.” The event was “open to the public and free of charge.” It was televised live on NBA TV at 1:30 PM EST on a Tuesday afternoon in July.
In furthering my research, I believe that event took place prior to the All-Star Game on Wednesday instead. It was announced to have six participants and ended up with four. I could not find anymore information or footage of it.
In 2007, Washington Mystics guard Laurie Koehn won the 3-Point Contest, setting a then-record 25 points, tying Craig Hodges’s NBA mark in the process. This event also took place prior to the WNBA’s All-Star Game. The only way that I found any of this out was by clicking on a 2007 article on the WNBA reaching a new television deal with ABC. Becky Hammon won in 2009; Katie Douglas won in 2010. The contest did not return until 2017 where it (again) took place during halftime of the All-Star Game. That three point contest is easily available on YouTube. We entered the Allie Quigley era rather [checks notes] quickly.
Think about this. Las Vegas has been home to the WNBA All-Star Festivities three times: in 2019, 2021, and 2023. In 2019, the WNBA actually had an WNBA All-Star Friday Night. In 2021, the contest was at halftime. In 2023, it was on a Friday afternoon.
What made Ionescu’s performance so important was the moment. The 3-Point Contest (and Skills Challenge) returned to being a stand alone event the day prior to the All-Star Game, and it got this moment. I fondly remember my co-host Nekias Duncan trying to figure out where the 3-Point Contest was in 2022. We fast forward a year, and the biggest complaint is “why was this on during the day?”
Progress is not always linear, folks, but you will see it. —Steve
New Los Angeles Laker Gabe Vincent joined the show last week to talk about why he ultimately chose to go to the Lakers to play with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the difficulties of leaving behind the Miami Heat, playing at UC Santa Barbara, what Jimmy Butler is like as a leader, and so much more.
Things move fast in the NBA
There's no question the 2020-2021 Phoenix Suns were one of the great Suns teams in franchise history. Finishing with a 51-21 record (equivalent to 58 wins in a normal season), this group rolled the Lakers, Nuggets and Clippers in the Playoffs before coming inches from a Giannis block from winning a championship.
This group had an all-world shooting guard in Devin Booker, a Hall of Fame point guard in Chris Paul, one of the great young two-way forwards in the league in Mikal Bridges, a deep bench, and a beloved coach in Monty Williams (who would win Coach of the Year a year later). And now, as we sit in July 2023, with the exception of Booker and Deandre Ayton, the entire group is gone.
While there's something darkly ironic about Ayton still being here considering he's been in 100,000 trade rumors, what's more interesting is how fast things move in the NBA. Yes, this team had two home playoff implosions in closeout games. Yes, it's hard to say no to trading for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. And yes, you can make a real argument that this should be a 2024 title favorite along with the Nuggets. But with the weekend trade of Cam Payne to San Antonio, it still is shocking that one of the league's great recent teams has almost completely disintegrated.
The only recent comp from a Finals team in the last decade or so that was this drastic was probably the 2020 Lakers, but besides the fact that LeBron James and Anthony Davis are still around, 7 of the guys from the team are no longer in the NBA. The whole Suns roster is just in different places.
There's been much talk about the incredibly short leash championship coaches are given in the years following their wins, but as we've seen in the case of Phoenix, that phenomenon is not necessarily unique to just coaches. —Tommy
Best Thing Tommy Ate Last Week: Shredded Beef at Viva Las Arepas
Once you get off the Strip in Las Vegas, it's a brand new world. There's culture, history, normal prices. Basically, it's way, way better. Viva Las Arepas is a legendary Venezuelan spot about 15 minutes off the Strip. Fighting a Summer League hangover, Jason and I made our way over there last week. Everything is under 10 dollars and tastes like you're in Caracas. I would recommend either the arepa or empanada with Shredded Beef, which is like a perfect slow cooked stew, but I feel like everything here is excellent.
Did you know we’re on Threads now? Come hang.
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