Deion Sanders’ online tirade, plus a big playoffs night for Dallas

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Good morning! Read up on Cavan Sullivan while you still can.

While You Were Sleeping: Dallas 2, the world 0

The pace of playoff games is slowing down. Teams are getting eliminated. Not in Dallas, though. The city’s big night, quickly: 

  • The Mavericks steamrolled the Clippers on the road, 123-93, to take a 3-2 lead in this heated series. LA didn’t have Kawhi Leonard and sort of looked lost for the entire game. Luka Dončić had 35 points, of course. Dallas gets a chance to end this one at home tomorrow.
  • The Stars grinded out a 3-2 win at home to take, ahem, a 3-2 lead in their series against the defending champion Golden Knights. Jason Robertson scored again, and these Stars have won three straight games in this matchup. They can channel the 2011 Mavs by winning four straight to clinch in six tomorrow. 

We also had two eliminations in other playoff action last night: The Celtics routed the Heat in five, while the Oilers eliminated the Kings for the third year in a row.

Beef? The dichotomy of Deion’s tactics

For better or worse, the Deion Sanders era at Colorado has stirred more conversation than has any other college program. The upside has been that people have paid attention to Colorado football. The downside: Sanders’ bravado about his still-unproven strategies has people hoping a 4-8 team gets worse.

On Monday, The Athletic’s Max Olson published a really interesting story on the dozens of players sent packing during Sanders’ initial offseason a year ago, and the Pulse featured the story multiple times because, simply, it’s a good story. Yesterday, it turned into something bigger: 

  • To backtrack briefly: the way Sanders handles the media is a fascinating use case. His family creates tons of its own production, with cameras following him and his sons around the facility, practice fields, etc. It makes for great content. But, if anyone outside the in-house media operation — like The Athletic, ESPN’s Ed Werder or anyone else — dares question a tactic, they’re deemed a dissident.
  • So, as Max’s story matriculated through social media this week, both Sanders and his son, Shedeur, fired back. Shedeur, the starting quarterback, tweeted a diss at one of his former teammates mentioned in the story, saying he didn’t “even remember” the player, who must’ve been “very mid at best,” according to the QB.
  • Deion went on an extended tirade, with vague platitudes about negativity and a diss at a separate former Colorado player featured in the story. He also defended Shedeur in a reply to someone, saying his son would be a top-five pick in the 2025 NFL Draft. For context, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has Shedeur going 22nd in his early 2025 mock, while Nate Tice has him as prospect No. 30 — and that’s before wondering how many NFL GMs will simply not want to be part of this spectacle.

Let’s be clear: This is great theater for the fall. There is an annoying, villainous energy here, where — let me repeat — a team that went 4-8 is trashing players who felt wronged by the coach who booted them. We have two realities ahead:

  • The Sanders empire backs up its talk and wins a few big games next season. There are plenty of winnable games on this schedule.
  • Or … we get another sub-.500 season and the entire operation gets clowned all year. Remember when the far superior Oregon caught Colorado players talking trash before last year’s game and then ran the Buffs off the field? That made for good theater, too

I am curious how you feel. Does this whole bit tire you? Or does it make you want to watch Colorado more next season? 

Vote in this week’s Pulse Poll. I’ll share the results tomorrow.

News to Know

14-year-old signs MLS deal
Cavan Sullivan, America’s 14-year-old “diamond” phenom, has officially inked a homegrown deal with the MLS’ Philadelphia Union, The Athletic’s Tom Bogert reports, with a contract clause to send him to Manchester City when he turns 18. City will pay up to $5 million for Sullivan’s services, and the overall deal represents the most lucrative in MLS history. I’m excited to see this kid play. See the full contract details here.

Griner opens up
Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner gave an interview to ABC last night, sharing unheard details of her Russian detainment. It’s a jarring read, from the conditions she faced in prison to her work in a penal colony. Griner resumed her WNBA career last season and re-signed with the Mercury for the upcoming year.

More news

Watch This Game

NHL: Bruins at Maple Leafs
8 p.m. ET on TBS
All eyes are on the availability of Auston Matthews in this one. While Toronto’s Game 5 heroics were impressive without him on the ice, I don’t know if they can reel off two in a row. 

NBA: Knicks at Sixers
9 p.m. ET on TNT
Best basketball game of the night, but brutal timeslot for these teams’ East Coast fans. I’m excited to see if the Knicks can overcome Tuesday’s preposterous collapse at home, although there will be fewer Knicks fans in the stands than Game 4. I kinda think Jalen Brunson wins this one tonight. And if it’s too late for you, we’ll be in your inbox early. 

Get tickets to games like these here.

Pulse Picks

There are behind-the-scenes stories, and then there is what Jourdan Rodrigue did: spend 10 months with the Rams’ scouting department, both in Los Angeles and on the road, as they whittled down their 2024 draft class. The story is really great

Meanwhile, Mike Sando gathered some unfiltered thoughts from NFL executives about how their NFC rivals fared in the draft. Yes, everyone’s wondering what Atlanta was doing. 

Charlie Condon showed up at Georgia as a walk-on baseball player. He’s now the best hitter in college baseball and might be the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft. A stunning journey. 

I thought this was fun: The woman who created the “It’s Gonna Be May” meme is a huge NASCAR fan. Jeff Gluck tracked her down and came away with a great story

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: The photo of Jon Stewart courtside in Madison Square Garden, stunned by Tyrese Maxey’s brilliance. It’s so good. 

Most-read on the website yesterday: The bees.

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(Photo: Ryan Kang / Getty Images)

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