On this day in sport: Kobe wins fifth and final NBA ring, Koepka goes back-to-back

By Sports Desk June 17, 2020

June 17, 2010 was the date Kobe Bryant got his fifth and final NBA ring.

The Los Angeles Lakers icon, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year, helped his franchise beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

Two years ago Brooks Koepka became a back-to-back champion at the U.S. Open while in 1999 Australia and South Africa played one of the most thrilling Cricket World Cup contests ever.

We take a look at major sporting events that have happened on June 17 in previous years.

 

1999 - Australia edge past Proteas in dramatic semi

Until England's incredible Super Over win over New Zealand in last year's World Cup final, the 1999 semi-final between Australia and South Africa was perhaps the greatest ODI ever.

Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald managed to restrict Australia to 213 and though Shane Warne (4-29) kept his team in the match, South Africa entered the final over nine down but needing nine more to reach the final.

Successive fours from Lance Klusener (31 not out) tied the scores but, with the Proteas needing only one run from their final four deliveries, a mix-up between Klusener and Donald resulted in the latter being run out.

The game finished as a tie but Australia went through to the final because they had a superior run rate in the Super Six stage, with South Africa left to reflect on some all-too-familiar World Cup heartache.

 

2010 - Kobe leads Lakers past Celtics

Boston, who had beaten Los Angeles in the 2008 Finals, were 3-2 up after Game 5 but knew the series would be closed out in the City of Angels.

The Lakers, who were the defending champions, forced a Game 7 and came out on top 83-79 to clinch the franchise's 16th - and to date most recent - championship.

Bryant was voted Finals MVP for the second time in his career and scored a game-high 23 points in the decider.

 

2018 - Koepka wins U.S. Open again

Twelve months after he won by four strokes to claim his first major, Koepka proved to be unstoppable once more at the U.S. Open.

The American began the day in a four-way tie for the lead and his two-under-par 68 on Sunday was enough to earn him a one-stroke success over Tommy Fleetwood at Shinnecock Hills.

Koepka became just the third man since World War II - after Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange - to successfully defend the U.S. Open title.

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  • Stephen Curry offers to be US PGA Championship winner Morikawa's caddie Stephen Curry offers to be US PGA Championship winner Morikawa's caddie

    Stephen Curry offered to be Collin Morikawa's caddie after the American's US PGA Championship success.

    Morikawa fired a six-under 64 in the final round at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco to win his first major by two strokes on Sunday.

    Golden State Warriors star Curry was in attendance and went to the 23-year-old's media conference afterwards.

    After asking the first question, Curry – whose Warriors endured a poor 2019-20 NBA season and did not head to the bubble in Florida – followed up by asking to replace Morikawa's caddie J.J. Jakovac.

    "I'm free for the next three months if you need a caddie or replacement. No, J.J. is a great guy, but if you need me, I'm available," Curry said.

    Morikawa responded: "Perfect. I can't wait. I want to see your game."

    Morikawa produced a brilliant final round to win his first major, becoming the third-youngest winner of the US PGA since World War II, behind only Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus.

    A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Morikawa was proud to be alongside the greats.

    "It's great company. It's been crazy, because this entire start of my professional career, I see all the things comparing to Tiger [Woods] and doing all this and then Tiger is on a completely different level. I think we all know that," he said.

    "But any time you're in the conversation of the greats, Jack, Rory, Tiger, no matter who it is, if you're in that conversation, you're doing something well.

    "So to know that, yeah, what I've done, what I did my four years in college, was obviously worth it, but there's just that extra sense of feeling good in my heart, to finish out, get my business degree, graduate, come out here knowing I'm prepared, and knowing that it's possible.

    "You know, when you feel you're ready, you're ready, but to be in the conversation with those guys, it's very special and yeah, you know, I'm ready for the next."

  • Nets stun Kawhi's Clippers, Lillard scores 51 as Blazers take down 76ers Nets stun Kawhi's Clippers, Lillard scores 51 as Blazers take down 76ers

    The Brooklyn Nets upstaged the Los Angeles Clippers 129-120, despite Kawhi Leonard's big performance in the NBA on Sunday.

    Leonard posted a game-high 39 points for the Clippers but it was not enough against the Nets in Orlando, Florida.

    Caris LeVert put up 27 points and 13 assists as the Nets clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Joe Harris added 25 points of his own for the Nets at Walt Disney World Resort, where team-mate Jarrett Allen (16 points, 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double.

    Damian Lillard, meanwhile, dropped 51 points to inspire the Portland Trail Blazers to a 124-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Lillard made 16 of 28 shots and 15 from 16 free throws to lift the Trail Blazers past the 76ers and within a half-game of the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth place in the Western Conference.

    It was Lillard's fifth game of 50-plus points this season – tying Houston Rockets star James Harden – with all of those performances coming against teams that made the playoffs last year

    Per STATS, the last player to have five 50-point games against postseason teams from the previous campaign was Michael Jordan (6) in 1986-87.

     

    Career-high night for Rivers

    Austin Rivers had a game to remember as the Rockets soared past the Sacramento Kings 129-112. The Rockets guard registered a career-high 41 points off the bench. Rivers is the first player in NBA history to score 40-plus points, make six or more three-pointers and shoot 70.0-plus per cent from the field off the bench in a game, per STATS. Harden contributed 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets.

    Gordon Hayward's 31-point display helped the Boston Celtics top the Orlando Magic 122-119 in overtime. Jayson Tatum scored 29, including the tying basket with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

    Defending champions the Toronto Raptors secured the Eastern Conference second seed and their fifth consecutive season with at least 50 wins after outlasting the Grizzlies. Pascal Siakam had 26 points.

    The San Antonio Spurs and their hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to reach the playoffs for 23 straight seasons remain alive after emerging 122-113 winners against the New Orleans Pelicans. San Antonio are 10th in the west, half a game adrift of Portland for the ninth spot, which would secure a play-in series.

     

    Pelicans eliminated from postseason race, Wizards winless in bubble

    Zion Williamson will have to wait another year for playoff basketball after the Pelicans lost to the Spurs. Despite 31 points and a season-high eight three-pointers from JJ Redick, the Pelicans – coupled with Portland's win – were eliminated from postseason contention.

    The Washington Wizards' woes continued after falling to a 121-103 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Washington are the only winless team remaining in Orlando, having gone 0-6 since the restart.

     

    Dame with the four-point play!

    After struggling against the Clippers, Lillard came up big for the Trail Blazers in their meeting with the 76ers. A spectacular four-point play with less than three minutes remaining catapulted the Blazers into the lead.

    Sunday's results

    Houston Rockets 129-112 Sacramento Kings
    Portland Trail Blazers 124-121 Philadelphia 76ers
    Boston Celtics 122-119 Orlando Magic (OT)
    San Antonio Spurs 122-113 New Orleans Pelicans
    Toronto Raptors 108-99 Memphis Grizzlies
    Oklahoma City Thunder 121-103 Washington Wizards
    Brooklyn Nets 129-120 Los Angeles Clippers

     

    Raptors face Bucks

    It will be an epic encounter as the Eastern Conference's two best teams meet on Monday. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks take on the in-form Raptors.

  • Koepka upbeat after unsuccessful three-peat bid at US PGA Koepka upbeat after unsuccessful three-peat bid at US PGA

    Brooks Koepka turned his attention to the two remaining majors in 2020 as the American star remained upbeat following his unsuccessful attempt to win a third consecutive US PGA Championship.

    Koepka struggled on the final day of the tournament in San Francisco, where Collin Morikawa broke through for his maiden major title thanks to a thrilling two-shot triumph on Sunday.

    Eyeing a third straight US PGA crown and fifth major victory, Koepka started the day two strokes off the pace but a final-round 74 saw his hopes dashed at TPC Harding Park.

    Koepka finished tied for 29th at three under through 72 holes, 10 shots behind fellow American Morikawa.

    "To be honest, the bogey on two was not good," Koepka, with the U.S. Open and Masters to come, said as he reflected on his round.

    "But to make the turn at four over was disappointing, to say the least. You knew you had to be under par, at least one, to have a good chance on the back side.

    "It's my first bad round in a while in a major. You know, I was just there to cheer Paul [Casey] on. That was it. Just try to help him get it in the house and see how well he could finish, because I had put myself out of it already.

    "Hey, wasn't meant to be. Three in a row, you're not really supposed to do two in a row looking at history, but that's all right. Got two more the rest of the season and we'll figure it out from there."

    Asked about Morikawa as the 23-year-old closed in on his victory ahead of Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson, Koepka said: "He's a hell of a player. He's really good. You see these guys coming out of college now, they are ready to win, and prime example.

    "I think of that group, him, Matt Wolff, Viktor Hovland, it's impressive what they do. They come out of college and they're ready to play out here. Hats off to him.

    "For this week, it's impressive. This golf course, you really have to golf your ball and make some putts. He was obviously the best at that, and that's impressive. You know, to win a major this young in your career, he's got a lot of upside."

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