One could argue that the other side of the sports coin, the one opposite triumph and victory, isn’t actually failure. Failure and loss happen to the best of us, and are only byproducts of someone having to win in a competition.
No, the other side is really the bizarre—the outlandish, the unusual, the extraordinarily weird moments that happen all the time whenever men and women leave everything in the game. These sometimes lead to failure, sometimes to victory, and often times leading us to plain disbelief. They could be a harmless kind of WTF, or they could be viciously mindboggling, giving us lessons we should all heed.
2018 wasn’t short on these WTF-worthy moments at all. Here are the five weirdest moments in sports around the world.
This year, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks drafted Slovenian baller Luka Dončić, who was previously playing for the Real Madrid basketball team in Spain. The reason why he was able to generate crossover appeal to be drafted third overall in the NBA was because he was that good, as in superstar levels of good—good enough, in fact, to write a song about.
That’s right. Sports and pop culture site The Ringer’s Isaac Lee and Jason Gallagher wrote a parody of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that heaped praise on Dončić, clocking in at around half the length of the original.
You might think that something as silly as this wouldn’t gain so much traction, but it didn’t take long for the song to go viral. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr proclaimed himself a fan of the ditty a day after it went up, and the rest of the league and its fans quickly followed suit—the Mavericks themselves asked Lee and Gallagher to perform the song at a home game.
4. “I THOUGHT WE WERE AHEAD!”
The play that decided Game 1. pic.twitter.com/e1UeOv57Rn— ESPN (@espn) June 1, 2018
The news cycle moves so fast wherever you look, so you could be forgiven for forgetting arguably the most unforgettable moment of a ho-hum NBA Finals.
Remember this? It was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it was the final possession of the fourth quarter. The Cavs’ George Hill is on the line, and he just missed a free throw that would have given his team the lead and the game. His teammate J.R. Smith rebounds the ball, heads to the outside instead of taking an easy shot with under five seconds left. LeBron James tells him they have to score, and Smith realizes it a second too late, passing the ball back to Hill for a three-pointer he would have missed.
The game goes to overtime, and the Warriors beat the Cavs in the extra period.
It’s still one of the weirdest mistakes fans have ever seen in basketball, simply because it could’ve been avoided had Smith been aware of the score. Smith claimed in the post-game press conference that he actually knew the game was tied and thought the Cavs were going for a timeout, but their head coach Tyronn Lue knew Smith was unaware.
So let this be a lesson to everyone playing basketball: always look at the damn scoreboard.
3. BRYAN COLANGELO’S SECRET TWITTER ACCOUNT
If you’re in charge of a whole NBA team, maybe it’s best that you keep your little social media subtweeting to yourself.
In one of the most bizarre and shocking developments in the world’s biggest basketball league this year, former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo was discovered to be operating anonymous Twitter accounts that leaked sensitive team info—as well as criticized the team’s own superstars. It essentially amounted to a grown-up version of a disgruntled teenager talking smack about the world around him, except that this had some real-world implications.
The Ringer received a tip about Colangelo’s online activities and broke the story that theorized he was behind these secret accounts, which eventually led to Colangelo’s wife admitting she was running them and his resignation. It’s still unclear exactly why Colangelo would try to publicly undermine a basketball team he was supposed to be leading to success, but he’s now one less problem for the Sixers to deal with.
2. THE GILAS-PILIPINAS/AUSTRALIA BRAWL
Ah, yes. The brawl nobody could escape last July.
There’s no need to refresh you on the details, is there? It was the FIBA World Cup and the Philippines was hosting. It was a heated Philippines versus Australia game that had been physical and disrespectful from the beginning. Gilas’s RR Pogoy was punched by Daniel Kickert after the former had pushed Australia’s Christopher Goulding, leading to the massive bench-clearing brawl, but no matter who started the fight, the way it ended was straight up embarrassing.
Gilas getting together for a post-brawl selfie, as though completely unleashing their toxic masculinity was something to be proud of, was the worst image of them all. This whole thing completely polarized society, drawing takes from all sides of the community. The most popular take, of course, is that the Filipinos had to defend themselves—but when was overwhelming the opponent and letting other people not involved get shots in considered defending ourselves?
The only consolation is that those who had joined the fight were suspended, showing that FIBA takes violence and a lack of sportsmanship seriously. Hope everyone learned their lessons.
1. SERENA WILLIAMS’S CATSUIT BAN
We still don’t know why one would ban a catsuit on the tennis court, but we have a few guesses.
The French Tennis Federation caused an uproar earlier this year when it decided to ban the awesome Black Panther-like catsuit Serena Williams wore at the 2018 French Open. Federation president Bernard Guidicelli didn’t exactly say why the catsuit would be banned, other than Williams had to “respect the game and the place.” The guess is that he thought it hugged Williams’s body too much or Guidicelli was being racist for even daring to criticize how Williams, a black woman, looks—or both. She needed the compressive bodysuit to promote better circulation after having some blood clot issues due to childbirth.
Tennis does have a history of unfairly cracking down on what its athletes wear, and this seemed like yet another uncalled-for response to a fashion choice that was more functional than aesthetic. In response, Williams turned up to her next game in a black tutu designed by Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, drawing praise from fans all over.