Monday Musings: On the Ducks, NBA Kicks and the Knicks’ French Connection

This week, our sports editor writes about the legendary Sabrina Ionescu, her favorite basketball kicks and the Knicks’ best option at point guard.

Bela Kirpalani, Sports Editor

Sabrina Ionescu Is the G.O.A.T.
On Saturday night, the University of Oregon women’s basketball team beat the U.S. women’s basketball team 93-86 in front of a crowd of 11,530. It was the first time in 20 years that an NCAA program defeated the women’s national team. Talk about making history.

The Ducks, led by Sabrina Ionescu, have put the basketball world on notice for this season and I, for one, am so ready. Ionescu is the best player in college basketball at the moment. On Saturday, she went off for 30 points and seven assists. Last year, she averaged 31 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists per game on her way to becoming the all-time NCAA leader in triple-doubles, making her the best in both men’s and women’s college basketball history.

Also, Ionescu is basically a lock for the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, which is held by the New York Liberty. If Saturday’s performance is a sneak preview, fans better be excited to see the G.O.A.T. tear it up at the Barclays Center next season.

Check Out These Kicks
I’m going to preface this by saying I am in no way a sneakerhead. However, by virtue of closely following the NBA and WNBA over the years, I have taken a slight interest in the sneakers that the world’s top basketball players wear on and off the court.

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While stars like PJ Tucker and Sue Bird are known for their extensive collections of kicks, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is changing the game one pair of shoes at a time. Dinwiddie always has fire on his feet. He started his own sneaker company in 2018 after none of the big names would sign him for a shoe deal. Last season, he wore a different pair of personalized kicks for each game. Dinwiddie designs each pair himself, often paying tribute to cultural icons like Nipsey Hussle, remembering historical figures like Harriet Tubman or showing off his own personality. Dinwiddie then auctions off each pair of game-worn shoes and gives the money to charity. And for each pair of sneakers that get sold on his website, he gives about 25% of the earnings to charity as well.

My personal favorite pair of kicks so far is inspired by Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The detail is pretty sick, if I do say so myself.

The French Prince of New York
I am officially declaring this the year of Frank Ntilikina.

Toward the end of last season, many Knicks fans were getting fed up with the French point guard. After being drafted with the No. 8 pick in 2017, Ntilikina struggled to meet expectations in his first two years with New York. He averaged less than six points per game and was often too slow to make decisions offensively.

On Friday night, however, the 21-year-old seemed to finally take that next step in his development in the win over the Dallas Mavericks. While he may not have stuffed the stat sheet, it was clear that he was the Knicks’ best player on the court. He provided his usual consistency and effort on defense, recording a game-high four steals and a team-high three blocks, and he also looked more comfortable on the ball, dishing out four assists and aggressively pursuing his own shots.

For a team that has struggled to figure out its starting rotation so far this season, Ntilikina looks like the Knicks’ best option for point guard, and all he needs is to be given enough time on the floor to shine. While he is not likely to be the team’s top scorer every night, the French Prince makes everyone around him better with his resilient defense and improved passing.

The Sports Girl is a weekly sports column that will feature a girl’s take on sports. Yes, a girl. Yes, on sports.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]

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