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Make no mystake: the Washington Mystics are WNBA champions!

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We have that and more in Friday’s NBA newsletter.

2019 WNBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Mystics are your 2019 WNBA champions. The Mystics were the best team in the league all year, had the best player in the league in Elena Delle Donne, had the best offense in WNBA history, were well-coached, deep (look at Emma Meesseman winning Finals MMVVPP!), and extremely well-built. What a team! Washington would have been one of the best basketball teams in memory to not win the title if they had fallen short (up there with the 2016 Warriors, 2016 Lynx, and 2013 Spurs).

Kudos to the Connecticut Sun for a great season — they had two chances to finish off the Mystics and fell short both times, but not for lack of excellence or effort. The Mystics were just too good.

The Mystics won’t have a parade because ... a bunch of the players of the new WNBA champions have to go play in international leagues like next week to supplement their WNBA salaries. This is like when 2 Legit 2 Split beat the Lords of Pinterfell in your local bowling league championship but team captain Brett can only drink a Beck’s in celebration because it’s a Tuesday and he has to be at work at 7:30 the next morning. Except instead of local bowling enthusiasts it’s the BEST WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.

Anyways, the Mystics are having a party for fans Friday afternoon instead of a parade next week. They deserve this party and many more. Kudos to Washington, better luck next time to Connecticut, and see you for the WNBA Draft in April.

A shift in China

The New York Times’ Keith Bradsher and Javier C. Hernandez report that Chinese government officials have told journalists to chill out on attacking the NBA over Daryl Morey’s deleted tweet and Adam Silver’s defense of the right of Morey and any other NBA official to dash off tweets about Hong Kong or anything else. This report came in the wake of the NBA actually holding its first preseason game of this annual China trip on Thursday, albeit without it being broadcast in China and with no sponsor logos on the court.

Based on the Times report written by China experts — Hernandez has been a must-read throughout the Hong Kong protests this summer and fall — the reason the C.C.P. is apparently trying to cool things off is ... money, in the form of NBA merchandise sitting on Chinese store shelves, prospective impacts to and scrutiny of e-commerce giant Alibaba, and ongoing trade and tariff negotiations with the U.S. government, plus potential boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics near Beijing. Interesting that this is exactly what those of us critical of the NBA accused the league of prioritizing: money over principles.

Keep watching. This is only going to get more interesting.

Links

Stephen Curry went for 40 in 25 minutes. He’s the first player since Stephen Curry to score 40 in a preseason game. The twice and future MVP, ladies and gentlemen.

In sad news, there’s no way for Curry to do his traditional tunnel shot at the Warriors’ new arena.

Zion Williamson is doing to NBA players exactly what he did to college, high school, and AAU players.

Agents tell Jabari Young they are telling their clients not to talk about China.

Dan Devine on the utter weirdness of the Nets-Lakers game in Shanghai.

Steve Kerr on choosing when to exercise his free speech and how it feels to be targeted by President Donald Trump.

The great Mirin Fader profiles the very interesting Patrick Beverly.

538’s new player rating metric RAPTOR.

Five interesting plays from the Sixers’ preseason opener.

Atlanta is cursed.

Be excellent to each other. See you next week.