SALT LAKE CITY — Embiid or not Embiid, that is the question.
The foot injury to Kansas center Joel Embiid has left the teams at the top of Thursday’s NBA draft scrambling, trying to figure how serious his injury is and how much it might affect him long term.
Before the injury, Cleveland looked locked into taking the 7-footer, but after last year’s disaster with Anthony Bennett as the No. 1 pick, the Cavaliers can’t afford to take a risk.
That means Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Orlando should have an opportunity to pick Embiid, thinking he could turn out to be another Hakeem Olajuwon. If none of those teams take a chance on the big center, then it will be up to the Utah Jazz to decide if they want to select him at No. 5. They could get the next Olajuwon or they could get the next Greg Oden.
My guess is that Embiid doesn’t drop to Utah and that Orlando, which also has the No. 11 pick, will take a flyer on the injured star.
That means the Jazz will still have the same presumed players available with a choice between Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle or Marcus Smart. That is unless the aforementioned teams decide to pass on Dante Exum. If that happens, the Jazz would likely snap up the Australian point guard.
WORLD CUP SHOCKER: Local fans can relate to the disappointment of the United States’ 2-2 draw against Portugal Sunday evening when Portugal scored five minutes into second-half stoppage time with a late goal.
Stoppage-time goals have been a recurring theme for Real Salt Lake this year as the team has allowed several late goals that have resulted in draws. The club also gave up a stoppage-time goal last week in a loss to Atlanta in a U.S. Open Cup match.
REAL HERO: Martin Kaymer might have been the big story at the U.S. Open golf tournament with his large victory, but the real hero of the week was a young man named Brad Millard.
You might have missed the story of Millard, who qualified for the Open and was actually driving to the tournament with his caddy when his conscience got the better of him and he disqualified himself from the tournament.
It seems that in the sectional qualifier earlier this month, Millard thought he might have grounded his club in a bunker, which would have been a two-stroke penalty. Nobody but him saw what happened, but Millard had enough integrity that he gave up his dream of playing in the U.S. Open because he wasn’t sure if he’d inadvertently incurred a two-stroke penalty.
You wish there were more people like the 24-year-old Millard in the sports world.
EARLY MEDIA DAY: The BYU football team will hold its media day Monday, perhaps the earliest college football media day in history (last year the Cougars held it on June 26). As an independent, BYU can do whatever it wants, so it holds its media day in June, well ahead of the various conferences, who hold their media days in late July.
I’m OK with that — it gives the Cougars some early publicity, even though most sports fans are concentrating on the World Cup or the upcoming NBA draft. At least the Cougars won’t have distractions from the media until they open camp in early August.
BETTER SCHEDULE: The Utah basketball team released its 2014-15 schedule last week and it’s a huge improvement over last year’s cream-puff slate that included just one road game and only one decent home game (against BYU).
This year the Utes will take on Wichita State at home, Kansas at a neutral site and former Mountain West Conference foes BYU, San Diego State and UNLV on the road. It’s by far the best schedule of the Larry Krystkowiak era and perhaps the best in a decade.
As good as it is, it still lacks games against any local schools except BYU. I still don’t understand why the Utes can’t play Weber State or Southern Utah, who play in the same league as North Dakota, or Utah Valley, which plays in the same league as Texas-Pan American, or Westminster College, which plays in the same league as Carroll College.
North Dakota, Texas Pan-American and Carroll College are all on the Utes’ schedule.
AMAZING FINISH: Kevin Streelman did something Sunday that no golfer in PGA Tour history has done. He birdied the final seven holes to win the Travelers Championship in Connecticut by one shot.
Local golf fans probably won’t remember, but Streelman was one of the 11 golfers Utah’s Tony Finau competed against in 2007 for the $2 million prize at the Ultimate Challenge in Las Vegas.
That tournament, which was for golfers with no status on any of golf’s major tours, had quite a field that turned out Erik Compton, last week’s runner-up at the U.S. Open, and Scott Piercy, the winner of the $2 million prize, who has since gone on to win more than $6 million on the PGA Tour, including two victories.
KUDOS FOR WIE: Finally, kudos to Michelle Wie for winning her first major Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina. You’d have thought Wie would have won several majors by now after the way she burst on the scene a decade ago, playing in men’s tournaments as a teenager and dominating women’s amateur golf.
Wie famously made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur Public Links in 2005, only to lose to Utah’s Clay Ogden, who went on to win and earn a spot in the Masters.
However, it took Wie until the age of 24 to capture her first major as she won Sunday by two strokes over Stacy Lewis.
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