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Saturday sports: Golden State claims championships; Sue Bird retires

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KURTZLEBEN: The Golden State Warriors come back to claim the NBA championship. WNBA superstar Sue Bird announces her retirement. And the 2026 men's World Cup could be coming to a city near you. Joining us now is Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Danielle. How are you?

KURTZLEBEN: Great. So let's start with the Golden State Warriors. They beat the Boston Celtics on Thursday to claim their fourth championship in eight years. It was a great series, wasn't it?

BRYANT: It was a terrific series and a fantastic series for the Warriors, who'd come back after all of those injuries. It did not even seem that - people were talking about these dynasty being dead. It's very much alive. They showed their championship mettle when it counted the most. The Celtics were the better team for the first three games and about 44 minutes, until Game 4, when Steph Curry took completely over. And they never looked back. Golden State is by far the better team at the end of the series. And what a series for Steph Curry - once again, four championships, one of the, the great players of all time. And they really showed it.

This was - I'm sure the first championship was the sweetest, but this championship has to feel incredible for the Warriors for so many reasons and also for Klay Thompson, who missed pretty much two seasons due to injury. And probably sure, maybe he believed he was going to get back to the top, but in the back of your mind, when you have those kind of injuries, hoisting a championship trophy one more time feels more like a dream. And they made it happen. Unbelievable moment for them.

KURTZLEBEN: Well, let's talk more basketball and more greats of basketball. We're going to talk about Sue Bird, the Seattle Storm and WNBA legend. She announced she's calling it a career after this season. Tell us, what'll be her legacy?

BRYANT: Well, I think the legacy of Sue Bird is not really going to be in the accomplishments or in the achievements. It's going to be getting so many young girls and young women to be basketball players, to join in the WNBA, to grow the sport. She's going to be one of those Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Everest players who you look to whenever you think about the greatness of the players. I mean, male, female - you can't really top what she's done.

One of the things that when I think about these athletes, at some point, when she said she wanted to go back and play the way she did when she was a little girl. But my goodness, even she, I'm sure, could not have imagined two NCAA titles, four WNBA titles, five Olympic titles, a 38-0 as an Olympian, the all-time leader in assists for the WNBA. She's played 21 seasons for one team, for the Storm. The league's only 25 years old. It just tells you everything about what Sue Bird is and has been to the sport. And it's just one of the all-time greats - and clearly decided before the season began that this was going to be the last one. Thought it was going to be last year. Instead, it's going to be this year. So enjoy Sue Bird for the final season that we get her.

KURTZLEBEN: All right. Finally, a big week in the world of soccer. FIFA announced the host cities for the 2026 men's World Cup. It's taking place here in the U.S., in Canada, Mexico. Tell us, which cities made the cut?

BRYANT: Well, you've got - it's almost like a redux of 1994. You've got San Francisco Bay Area. You've got LA. You've got Kansas City, Boston. And it's going to be great. I'm looking forward to it. You've also got two Canadian cities, and you've got Mexico, as well. This is one of those moments where you're waiting to see if your city made the cut. All the time zones are represented. Obviously, D.C. didn't make it. Huge disappointment there. But anyone who remembers 1994 when the World Cup came to the United States is going to go out and get their tickets now because boy, that was a lot of fun, as well.

KURTZLEBEN: That's Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media. His latest book is "Rickey: The Life And Legend Of An American Original." Thank you so much, Howard.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.