LeBron James And The Lakers Played Some Hands-Free Defense To Draw Immediate Attention To The Rockets' Flop-Heavy Offense Last Night
ESPN-“Just trying to defend without fouling,” said James, who briefly locked his hands behind his body on a Rockets possession in the third quarter. “That’s a point of emphasis any time you play Houston. They got guys that can sell calls really good — Chris [Paul] and James [Harden] — so you got to try to keep your hands out of the cookie jar.” …
“You can’t touch them,” Ball said, expressing extra indignation at the two times Josh Hart was called for a foul while Harden was attempting a 3-pointer.
“I was just trying not to foul today,” he continued. “They were calling it tight today, so I was just trying to get my hands out of there. … It’s very tough staying in front of [Harden] with your hands like that.”
And things go from bad to worse for the Houston Rockets. Never mind handing the Lakers a loss last night, because - as is always the case with everything LeBron James does - you have to look long term at the ramifications of the best player on the planet playing defense with his hands locked behind his back. Regardless of what they had to say after, the Lakers - likely at Coach James guidance - were proving a point as much as they were trying to limit the Rockets from free points. In a league where superstar calls have led to the epidemic of flailing around like the touch of a finger is enough to turn the most finely-tuned of professional athletes into half-in-the-bag high schoolers, the most transformative of superstar had to be the one to call for change if it were to be made.
Now, I have no idea if the officials are going to immediately be less gracious in gifting obvious embellishment, but I do know their discussions about doing just that, and in turn forcing the Houston Rockets to actually earn a higher percentage of their buckets, just became a little more concrete. The message of "we are literally better off handicapping ourselves on defense" packs a much heavier punch when a player who is as calculated as he is transcendently talented is the messenger, and the team who it would effect the most is already on the ropes in trying to fight their way back into contention.
Of course, LeBron is about the furthest thing from innocent when it comes to going to egregiously immature lengths to draw a foul, but he's also 'The King' of aggressive passiveness. I'll be damned if he didn't showcase the latter by incriminating the hell out of Chris Paul (who needs all the help he can get this season) and James Harden by calling for his team to citizen's arrest themselves on defense.
Philip Rivers Trolled Chiefs' Fans As He Strolled Off The Field Following The Chargers' 14-Point 4th Quarter Comeback
I think it's fair to proclaim Philip Rivers the male equivalent of "a lady in the streets, but a freak in the sheets", and I don't even mean that in the sense that's he's on pace to father an entire, 53-person co-ed roster under one roof. Instead, I mean he's exactly what you have once you "get you a man that can do both".
Just before Philip Rivers twisted the knife deep into the heart of Arrowhead Stadium's most wasteful, he was so damn humble in the most vivacious of victories that if you caught his postgame interview in the middle you'd have assumed his first answer started with "golly gee". From showering both his own team and their opponent with praise to immediately calling all cans in instigating a beer shower at his expense. There aren't many players at the most buttoned-up of position who aren't afraid to metaphorically flash their chest hair in reminding you they are ruthless competitors at heart, but Philip Rivers is so situationally smart about doing so that it's always a pleasant surprise when he does.
The truth is, he's had a little Baker Mayfield in him since Baker Mayfield was merely 10 years removed from swimming out of a scrotum, but he's otherwise such a typical dad that he managed to evade criticism as some sort of problem child. The best part about the Chargers winning, after having spent years finding new and comical ways to lose, is that their long-time starting quarterback finally gets to show both sides of personality with some consistency. He might as well have been waving bye-bye to the lovable loser label, because - as an appreciative adversary with an enchanting touch of well-deserved arrogance - he's currently emptying his entire bag in making the most of all the tools at his disposal.
That troll job was Philip Rivers in a nutshell, and - other than Chiefs' fans - we should all be happy that the Chargers have finally been more than good enough in crunch time to justify cracking it back open. The amount of throws reminiscent of the following that he has made over the years compares only to his sperm count, so it's about time he gets the opportunity to make them count...and let some haters hear it along the way...
DeAndre Jordan And Trae Young Tried To Argue Their Way Out Of T's After Getting Into A Playful Shoving Match On The Way Back To Their Benches
I find those old, constipated types that only tune into the new NBA to pick and choose instances in which to glorify the old NBA to be nauseatingly annoying. The "basketball has gone soft" crowd conveniently likes to ignore the fact that league has far and away more talent and intrigue than it's ever had. Therefore, it would be much appreciated if the officiating stopped fanning the flames of the faultfinders by tossing around technicals like they are candy canes at Christmas time.
I get that referees probably dedicated their lives to the authority side of sports because they grew up not being invited to parties and/or eating alone at lunch, but are they also all only children who spent their free time isolated in a soundproof room to work on their whistle blowing? Like, the only requirements needed to gain access to the "joke" of a 7 foot tall dude getting in a sibling rivalry-style pushing match is the most rudimentary sense of humor and the life experience of having interacted with friends and/or family.
That harmless display between two professional athletes honestly might not have been enough to draw the ire of the strictest of parents in the quietest of church. The principle at a private school would strut his tight ass right on by if he saw that type of thing taking place in the hallway between periods. I don't think I'm asking for all that much in pleading for referees to use sense that's common to anyone and everyone that's ever taken a social cue, and that's all they would have needed to determine that DeAndre Jordan and Trae Young weren't about to come to blows over brotherly love.
The Panthers' Weekly Press Release Has Been Named The 'Drip Chronicles', And...Boy, Oh Boy...It's Embarrassing
Objectively speaking, yikes.
Much like a death by 1,000 cuts, the Carolina Panthers' playoff hopes are basically drowning by 1,000 drips, and here they are chronicling it in a form and fashion that makes them look about as professional as, well, their own quarterback's idiotic Instagram captions...
I'm not even trying to be a curmudgeon, because part of me appreciates the fact that the organization has fully embraced Cam Newton's flashy fashion sense and eccentric personality. Unfortunately, that other part of me realizes that typing how mumble rappers talk is an extremely stupid thing to do on an official press release when you're riding a 5-game losing streak that sent your once promising season to the brink of a cliff that the back-to-back division champs could very easily send you careening off of come Monday.
I'm no longer in middle school so fancy, nonsensical fonts don't exactly do it for me regardless, but if I had to read this dumb shit as someone who was invested in the Panthers' success during a month in which they've had absolutely none I would lose my ever-loving mind. Being the "cool" organization that doesn't give a fuck and does things a bit differently only works when you're actually, ya know, good.
Therefore, the only way the timing of this makes sense is if the Panthers are voluntarily embarrassing themselves in an effort to get the Saints to take them less seriously as a franchise so that they take for granted a game that could drip, drip, drop a division rival they've dominated of late from the playoff race. If so then the mission is probably half accomplished, but the only thing that Carolina stands a lesser chance of doing than beating New Orleans out of having home-field advantage is having more swag than them in the process. Especially if their best attempt at being "hip hop" is stealing special effects from the school newspapers of 6th graders while pandering to an underperforming quarterback who appears to get dressed on the set of Alice In Wonderland every week.
The Bottle Of Wine And The Broom That Cam Jordan Sent Cam Newton After The Saints Swept The Panthers Last Season Still Sits In His Locker
Imagine that. Cam Newton kept the homemaker start-up kit that was sent to him in mockery by the defensive leader of a division rival that's terrorized him countless times throughout his career. Literally forced himself to take a daily look at a reminder of his team's second-rate standing in the NFC South for nearly the entirety of the last year. Let Cam Jordan and the Saints take up literal real estate in his locker, never mind figurative real estate in his brain, and still couldn't keep it together long enough to be competing for the divisional crown by the time he had an opportunity to seek revenge. That's just...well...sad, really.
Never mind the Saints having the juice, or the Panthers sitting sadly at the table with an empty cup hoping they get offered some out of pity. The game itself should have more juice than it does, if not for Carolina spilling it all over the floor and finding new and creative ways to keep slipping in it like they were in a Three Stooges skit for the past month. Of course, there's still plenty on the line with New Orleans playing for the SuperDome's right to host the remainder of their games prior to a potential Super Bowl and Carolina trying to breath a little life into a long overdue playoff push. Still, I can promise you the NFL wasn't planning on a banner being raised prior to the first Saints/Panthers game when they drew up the schedule. Kind of takes the piss and vinegar out of returning the favor if the Panthers do somehow manage to pull the upset.
And look, I'm all for a little smack talk ahead of two rivalry games in three weeks, but it's probably best to steer clear of the historical angle here. The Saints might have been longer-suffering, but they didn't watch their franchise quarterback taint the biggest moment in team history by looking at his own fumble like it was an alternative life form while the Super Bowl hung in the balance. A little self awareness goes a long way, though - judging by how many times the sender has sacked the sendee over the years - it's not all that surprising Cam Newton doesn't have it.
What he does have, however, is the tools to drink away his sorrows while getting a head start on Spring cleaning if his mediocre team brings anywhere close to the same effort in the next three games that they've brought the previous five...
DJ Durkin, Who Was Canned For Having A Student Athlete Die On His Watch, Has Entered Into The Most Esteemed Image Rehab Center In All The Land
I'm not even sure it's accurate to say that DJ Durkin was disgracefully dismissed, after a bunch of out-of-touch old dudes made the instantly regrettable decision to reinstate him, for overseeing the tragic and entirely avoidable death of a 19 year old kid. After all, at this point, being the focal point of an unforgivable scandal that roasts your reputation is just the necessary evil of applying for the most prestigious image rehabilitation center in all the land. That 20-ish hour period in which DJ Durkin was once again entrusted with the supervision of student-athletes he proved incapable of keeping out of a casket was basically his two weeks notice, as creating a "toxic culture" was sure to impress during Alabama's interview process. Accidentally ran an innocent kid into an early grave? PERFECT CANDIDATE! CAN'T LET HIM LEAVE THE BUILDING!
Be it Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, or Butch Jones, Nick Saban has a softer spot for taking on seemingly impossible projects than any of my ex-girlfriends. He loves a good challenge so much that he'll create an otherwise non-existent role in his program for one to fill. I don't what DJ Durkin is doing while serving in a "consultant-like capacity" for an undefeated team that seemed to be doing just fine without any outside help, but Nick Saban will be damned if he does it anywhere other than Tuscaloosa. The only way he doesn't end up having a long-term role at Alabama is if he graduates early and goes on to bigger and better things after having his character cleansed during a quick stop at college football's foremost laundromat for the conscienceless. The Crimson Tide, they can even wash blood off your hands!!!
Stephen A. Smith Thinks The Hunter Henry Vs. Derrick Johnson Matchup Could Be A Difference Maker Tonight. Wha...What?!?
Typically I don't like to fan the flames of professional gas bagging, but this is just too perfect. I hardly expect Stephen A. Smith to be tearing up the All-22 in search of TAKES so hot they have to be capitalized. However, trying to sound smart by referencing the oh-so-important tight end vs. linebacker matchup only to pick both a tight end and a linebacker that won't be remotely close to the field tonight is so unbelievably fitting of the state of sports media that I'm highly suspicious we're all being trolled.
If there's a personality who should get a pass for misspeaking than it would be the one who never shuts the hell up, but there's nary a pass catcher on the "San Diego" Chargers' active roster that could possibly be mistaken for the one that's spent the entire year sitting on their PUP list. When going the "insert random defensive player with name recognition" route in making a primetime matchup seem like more than an entirely offensive shootout, one must make sure to reference an athlete whose last NFL team, prior to his release, is actual playing. Stephen A. Smith knows that better than anyone, so either the joke is on us or a legend in the art of decibel-reliant debate has finally screamed himself stupid after years of being extra spicy. Either way, considering his Spencer Ware mistake, we're probably pretty lucky he didn't make things super awkward by accidentally bringing up Kareem Hunt's physicality as a pass blocker.
UPDATE: It gets better...
Ah, the gift and the curse of playing under the ownership of a myth of a man whose legend is beyond reproach. The gift, of course, being able to work alongside 'Basketball Jesus', and the curse (other than being at the mercy of organizational decisions that no one else in the building feels comfortable questioning) being that no one's going to blink twice if he lightly slaps you upside the head a couple of times.
Obviously that was just a harmless little teaching moment between two guys that look to have a peer-like relationship, but I promise you the optics of almost any other owner taking two swipes at the back of a player's head wouldn't be anywhere near as endearing. Malik Monk's reaction made that interaction as playful as it seemed, and Malik Monk's reaction was what it was because he was staring greatness in the face. Probably wouldn't have been quite the same if those five fingers belonged to Dan Gilbert, James Dolan, or Jerry Reinsdorf.
To be honest, I'm not sure what type of discipline Michael Jordan would have to administer before we came to a consensus that he overstepped his bounds, but I think it would probably have to involve one of those paddles that get used to abuse for frat hazing during rush week. As evidenced by how little we discuss the most notable point of his franchise's history being their name change, Michael Jordan can do no wrong. That's not an indictment as much as it's a credit to 'His Airness' soaring so far above impeachability.
The Saints Released Brandon Marshall, Only To Go A More "Traditional" Route In Adding An Offensive Playmaker
Welp, when adding multiple enigmatic, veteran wide receivers who are on their last leg doesn't even equal up to one single meaningful snap, there's really nothing left to do but head straight back to the well. That, of course, being the promising pipeline of young, athletic tight ends with limited playing experience from the University of Miami...basketball team?
What can I say? When you're talking about a Sean Payton-led offense, the "traditional route" is often synonymous with "the road less traveled".
Now, I have no idea if Erik Swoope if going to contribute much of anything down the stretch of a season that's 'Super Bowl or bust', but I do know that I have just as much faith in Sean Payton to squeeze some productivity out of a Junkyard Jimmy Graham as I did in him doing the historically impossible by turning Brandon Marshall into an actual playoff participant for once.
This move probably doesn't speak too, too highly of what they have seen out of Dan Arnold in practice as of late, but I'm going to focus on the positive of his potential replacement having a couple interesting things in common with one of the dynamic weapons of the Drew Brees' era. Erik Swoope might not be Jimmy Graham Jr., but he might actually see the active roster as someone who has a stat line on the season, which is undeniably one of the most important things you look for in a complimentary pass catcher come playoff time.
To think Kawhi Leonard was the type to be overcome by the holiday spirit is to think WestWorld is based on a true story. The only emotion known to the NBA's resident robot is angst, and it ain't the type you might find waiting for a parking spot at your nearest shopping center on the afternoon of December 22st. He's more likely to have made elves obsolete by manufacturing gifts as part of a mechanical assembly line than he is to have had his heart made bigger by unwrapping a highly memorable one from under a tree, so him being more graceless than Grinch when asked about Christmas is just about the least surprising thing ever.
That being said, I'm going to need that same reporter to ask that same question come March...and May...and August...just to really highlight the ridiculousness of "not right now", as if feeling happy feelings is an untimely inconvenience not meant for mid-December. I know it's just a stock response he has been programmed to use in replying to every non-basketball related inquiry, but it's still funny nonetheless...which is more than can be said for the painfully deadpan NBA superstar whose personality compares favorably to the doorknob of a cold, abandoned house on Christmas Eve...
Eric Reid Was Fined (Again) For A Nothing Hit And Is Adding The Dollar Amount To The Collusion Case That The NFL Must Be Irrationally Certain They'll Win
The truth of the matter is that, legally speaking, this matter's truth will figure itself out in court. Everyone has their own opinion, some more stupid and ill-informed than others, on a polarizing subject that I'd rather waterboard myself than discuss again in detail.
That said, you don't have to agree or disagree with the defendant to judge the strength of their defense, and - objectively speaking - the NFL is actively weakening theirs on a weekly basis. Considering money, and only money, is the root cause of this collusion case, it's quite befuddling that the NFL appears to be putting more and more millions on the line in search of profit margins that are comparatively as lucrative as taking someone's lunch money.
As is the case with Colin Kaepernick, who can't even get a single glimpse while teams both sign and start undeniably shittier quarterbacks, it doesn't matter if you view Eric Reid as a terrorist, a hero, or literally anything in between. What the NFL is doing by trying to suck him dry of both urine and paycheck every time he so much as knocks someone down during the playing of professional football is basically the equivalent of stealing change from a fountain in broad day light while knowing exactly how pricey bail will be if you get caught.
Unless the judge and jury have are viewing things through an NFL-sponsored prescription (if you catch my drift), this is just a terrible, terrible look for the league. While they are pretty used to dealing with unforgivable visuals, they damn sure aren't used to bad optics costing them a potentially preposterous payout that's increasing with each and every punitive measure taken against a player who is intentionally being turned into just as much of a victim as he is a pariah. Never mind some of these fines being flat out wrong in the court of public opinion, because at this point they could very easily end up being financially irresponsible in the court of law.
My instinctual reaction was to take umbrage with the idea that a puck can't go in off an official, as any referee that lacks focus in failing to get the hell out of the way should feel the shame that comes with drawing the ire of an entire team of professional athletes by having a direct impact on the outcome of their game.
After close consideration, however, I have quickly changed my tune. I still think humiliation is the ultimate deterrent for suspect supervision from those in stripes, but I don't think there's anything more humiliating than for Tim Peel to be sent sailing into the boards and sprawling to the ice as a goal horn blares in a way that basically signals his testicular pain as every eye in the building is immediately drawn to the insult of his groin injury. That poor, spatially unaware bastard paid his penance in taking one off the penis, so - if only because I'm uncomfortable with the ramifications of relying on referees to work on their rebound control - it's probably best his obliviousness wasn't reflected on the scoreboard. Even though it would be slightly funnier if it was.
Other Than A Lack Of Self Awareness, I Don't Know What Makes Kevin Durant So Sure That He's Eventually Getting A Statue In Golden State
First, I'll say there's an outside shot that Kevin Durant just spoke himself into effigy. Considering how carefully Golden State laid out the red carpet to make sure an outside talent, who was/is basically the word-for-word definition of a mercenary, felt more than welcomed on a team that was established prior to his arrival, I suppose it's not out of the question that they throw him a bone by hanging him a banner and/or sculpting him a bust. The Warriors have gone so far out of their way to make sure KD's precious feet don't get irreparably stepped on, as evidenced by Draymond Green getting suspended without pay for being a big old meanie head, that they might as well have taken out an insurance policy on his sneakers. I would think they'd stop catering to the sensitivity of someone who already has one foot out the door when he finally puts that second foot after the other, but clearly a soft spot exists for the back-to-back Finals MVP that tends to only have hard feelings.
Now, if Kevin Durant is right and his number does end up engraved into the back of his likeness then that speaks more negatively of the organization than it does positively of his legacy. The three homegrown talents that, over time, developed into the winningest team ever and changed the way the sport of basketball is played for the foreseeable future? Sure. Build them up as tall as you'd like as soon as the ink is dry on their retirement paperwork. However, if all of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green get a garden of statues then, comparatively, Kevin Durant should get nothing more than a goddamn gnome that holds the gate open. Three short seasons, no matter how unbelievably successful, don't (or, more accurately, shouldn't) get you immortalized in bronze unless you tragically die at their conclusion.
We are talking about someone who somehow didn't see the backlash coming when he hopped on the bandwagon of a 73-win team that had just knocked him out of the playoffs in demoralizing fashion. Therefore, it's not a huge surprise that Kevin Durant has a fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to become a franchise fixture forever. To clear things up for him, a player who is on the fast track to becoming an NBA legend gave up the opportunity to be an organizational legend when he bolted from a team and city that already anointed him as such when they were just starting to reach the peak of their promise. LeBron James didn't return to the Cavaliers because he missed Cleveland winters, much less Dan Gilbert. He returned to the Cavaliers, in part, because there was no circumstance under which he would be canonized quite like the teammate that basically already had Miami's county named after him.
Personally, I think it's incredibly obnoxious to be talking about the historical standing of your tenure with a team before it's even over, as any tribute whatsoever would be more of a privilege than a right, but to do so in such a self-aggrandizing fashion makes this even more sad than it does stupid. No matter how many times you catch up to them, there's nothing heroic about the chase of championships. For Kevin Durant to think, that when all is said and done, he not only gets to have his cake, but also gets to be serenaded by a legion of fans who are more loyal to Steph Curry prior to him eating it all up is laughable. His own damn teammate doesn't love him like that, so I don't know what makes him so sure that the Bay Area does.
NHL.com- What do you say to those emotionally invested fans who want to see improvement over last season?
"Last year gave both hope and optimism. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Our fan base finally saw the vision we talked about my first two years through drafting, developing, and making proper trades; you could see it start to come together. We established something where you could see more talent, more belief and a commitment to hold each other accountable, whether they were younger players or veterans.
"I know we have a ways to go, not just to get to Game 82 (this season), but over the course of the next two or three years. It's all really the start (of our build) I envisioned when I came here. I said last November (2017), that I felt like this is turning. I know it, I've been through this before with Nashville and Ottawa (as assistant GM). With Josh and David, we have stayed true to our plan, no shortcuts. There will be speed bumps along the way, but this is the right way to do it.
"Rebuilds are not for the weak. (New York Islanders GM) Lou Lamoriello once said, 'I have a five-year plan and it's changing every day' so you have to be prepared and have an idea what you want to do for the short- and long-term. We want to be a team that competes for a playoff spot every year and not just by chance or luck, and then from there become more of a contender.
"Our fans have shown their passion. We all felt the excitement last year, as we had a great run at the end of the season and witnessed how electric the building was when we clinched the playoffs at home. We built this the right way and our fans, other teams and the League noticed. We were selected to do the first-ever behind the scenes all-access training camp series, and obviously picked as one of the teams to go to Europe (for the NHL Global Series). That is on- and off-ice progress which we should be proud of."
Your thoughts on Taylor Hall in his third season with the Devils, and how do you think he handled his recent benching by coach John Hynes?
"I once told Taylor that he can't expect to be on his game all the time, but it's how he helps the team win when he's not on. I sent a text to coach Hynes after he benched Hall for the final seven minutes of the second period in our loss to Tampa Bay (on Dec. 3) and asked how Hall was doing.
"[Hynes] said he was fine. He said Hall apologized for putting him in a situation to sit him. He respected what [Hynes] did, and he still played him 16:17 and [Hall] said that was more than enough for him to get his game back. [Hall] appreciated the way we treated him and how we held him accountable and knows he has to be better and wants to be better. [Hynes and Hall] have a healthy respect for each other and Hynes was confident Hall would be OK. Hynes told me it was really a reset for him and Taylor's response was great.
"That's the kind of player and person Taylor is. He wants accountability for himself and those around him. What does he do after that conversation with John? He goes out the next day and is the best player in practice, he leads by example. These are the kind of things that prove how driven he is, how much he cares."
Hall, who won the 2018 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, has one season remaining after this one on his seven-year contract he initially signed with the Edmonton Oilers. The earliest you could sign Hall to an extension is July 1, 2019. How soon will you begin talks on a new contract?
"Taylor and I had dinner at the end of the 2016-17 season, and it ended up turning into this enlightening four-hour conversation covering so many different topics. Taylor was determined after that season. I met with all the veterans at the end of the season and it was clear they all shared their disappointment.
"Based on what his response was, the conversation could have lasted just five minutes. But he said to me this was the right fit. I told him that his legacy is important to me and that I cared about it. When I asked him about Hynes, he told me he was the best coach he's ever had. Once you hear those things, you know you have something together. Taylor came in and transformed this franchise.
"We will definitely talk after the season, and he is a priority, but an announcement, if any, won't come until after (July 1), per league rules. Our feelings haven't changed about Taylor. He's an incredible addition to our team and franchise. Like I said before, he has come in, bought in and transformed this franchise. This is a faster, younger and more exciting team in part because of Taylor. We made a trade for a player that became the MVP which is only the second time NHL history that has happened (Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks). I think we have a lot of unfinished business and it's been a great fit for both sides."
Why does John Hynes remain the clear choice as coach moving forward?
"The three areas important to me in a coach are an ability to teach, inspire and discipline. There's a fine line between being a friend and establishing a relationship and John has done that with his players. You've got to hold everyone accountable and can't defer to veterans. In three seasons he's shown great growth in how he's dealt with our veterans and young players. John's growth path has mirrored that of our team, and I like to see that. He's taken hard-working teams and helped them accomplish more. He coaches to his players' strengths and helps them find a gear or aspect to their game and brings it to the forefront. He's coached an immensely talented player to become an MVP. Everyone had a great inside glimpse into John with the Behind the Glass all-access series as a communicator, motivator, and his direction as a coach. You have to be honest with yourself as a coach, and sometimes that's not comfortable, but John has matured in that regard, too."
Can you offer your assessment of goalies Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid?
"Cory has worked really hard and he's physically fine. There are things we can help him with, but at the end of the day if Cory wants the net back he needs to be the best goalie in practice and that will help him become sharper when he gets into the game. He's got to push Keith and continue to be supportive, too, just as he was for Keith during his run last year. He's been great in that regard. Sometimes it comes down to the player and the player needs to make a difference.
"I tried to hire (goalie coach Roland Melanson) when I was in Pittsburgh (as GM) because I knew of his reputation. Rollie has worked hard with both Cory and Keith. He's helped Keith develop and take the next step and continues to work with Cory, day-in and day-out."
To be honest, I'm not sure what I expected. As someone who wants to believe in Taylor Hall's long-term future with the franchise, as well as John Hynes' ability to turn things around as a well-respected coach that - largely by default - gets more grief than he deserves, I like what I read. As someone who was hopelessly hoping for something other than the most elaborately worded translation of "status quo" that all-too-fittingly quoted Lou Lamoriello, doing so kind of triggered my gag reflex.
The truth is, I just don't see any drastic changes to be made that are going to help fix this team in the short term or long term. It sucks to...well...suck, but riding out a step back in the rebuild is better than setting fire to the undeniable progress that has been made solely because the high that comes as a result of destroying shit - like a foundation - is good as an extremely short-sighted cure for frustration.
There's no doubt that watching this team play has been an experience that's bi-polar to what it was last year, but to not understand the amount of promising pieces that have been put in place since Ray Shero took over is to have a comically short memory. Take a look back at the average AHL/AARP roster he inherited and impossible not to be impressed by the work he's done in flipping it. His plan might be one that's longer than either he or Devils' fans expected, especially after the seven month adrenaline rush of last season, but at least it's a plan. There's not one (undoubtedly overpriced) free agent that was actually attainable who would have this team in a drastically different position right now, and there's not one panic move to be made that's going to change that pathetic position for the better in the very near future.
It's painfully obvious this team isn't anywhere near complete, and that Taylor Hall playing God was as much of an impetus for their unexpected playoff appearance as his Hart Trophy indicated. However, doing something just to do something isn't going to miraculously recapture that magic, or guarantee the re-signing of the person who possessed it, as the Devils' shattered confidence isn't a single outside player or a new coach away from being reconstructed.
The goaltending has been garbage in a way that's fitting of the defensive dumpster fire around it, and that's a whole lot more problems than are fixable midseason. The climb to being a contender isn't always a steady one, and - if him saying nothing too shocking or scathing is any indication - then it looks like Ray Shero is prepared to wait out the occasional pitfall with a young, developing team as that makes for a more proven way up than letting pure desperation guide your decision making.
The Chicago Bulls Basically Boycotted Practice A Day After Finishing Off A Back-To-Back With A 56 Point Loss To The Celtics
What a story. I almost don't even have the words to express how I feel about an NBA player threatening to fine his own damn teammates, whatever that even means, if they showed up to work a day after the entire organization embarrassed themselves on the job. That's partially because it's nothing short of patently ridiculous, but it's also because I'm gasping for breath laughing at the type of messages that might have been exchanged in this JV-esque group chat amongst pissed off pros.
Now, I do think there is something to be said about treating players like professionals, and for an interim coach like Jim Boylen to repeatedly run a bad Bulls' team into the hardwood while they were still in the process of peeling themselves off of it wouldn't exactly have build up any mutual respect. I certainly understand the team's frustration, because if a lack of conditioning cost them 2+ hours of sprints and suicides then Lord only knows what type of torturous treatment they would have received on the heels of a 50+ point loss...
Unfortunately, there's also something to be said about demanding professional treatment through your actions. I hate to break this to the Bulls, but coming damn close to organizing a passive aggressive coup from the comfort of their own couches doesn't exactly paint a picture of maturity. Going straight to the NBPA with a complaint about insane practice habits before even confronting your interim coach men-to-man sort of makes me think they should run baseline-to-baseline until they find some damn discipline.
The truth is, both parties were laughably wrong in how they either went about things or planned to go about things, and yet neither of them are the most guilty party in an organization whose dysfunction drivels from the top down. Literally all of this idiocy is a byproduct of an entirely mismanaged franchise. Therefore, while I don't think it can realistically get any worse than players refusing to practice after losing by half a hundo, it's probably not getting all that much better any time soon. Especially is Jim Boylen really is sticking with the "management of fear" approach even after the Bulls got murdered and mocked by the team they took over for as the NBA's most flammable tire fire...
In fairness, I don't think too much should be made of a proud pass catcher voicing frustrations that were probably only meant to be heard by his primary defender during an offensive performance that would have needed a Beyonce-style upgrade only to be considered anemic.
That said, it bears mentioning that what was unintentionally heard is entirely fitting of the bottom-feeding career of the person it was indirectly directed at...
The Vikings' offensive line was admittedly atrocious, but not atrocious enough to completely explain their quarterback's struggles in getting the ball to some of the league's most prominent playmakers. Much like he has been against almost every good team he's ever faced in a big spot, Kirk Cousins was exactly the type of overwhelmed player that the Redskins felt comfortable letting walk last night, and it's not all that easy to make Washington look right these days. These clear misses against a Seattle secondary that was made to look like the second coming of the post-PED 'Legion Of Boom' did just that...
...and managed to get an offensive coordinator officially dunked (albeit one who had already put himself on thin ice)...
The fact of the matter is that the guy who was paid oh-so-handsomely to be the difference maker has historically only made a net-negative difference when it actually matters. For about 60 million more guaranteed dollars than Case Keenum himself would have cost, the Vikings basically got themselves a slightly more talented but much less clutch version of him as his replacement. Therefore, whether the question is "you like that?!" or "you Vike that?!", I think we can fairly accurately use stats, context clues, or a hot mic to determine what Adam Thielen's answer might be.
A Ballsy Fan Sitting Courtside At 'The Garden' Took It Upon Himself To Get The Nets' Assistant Coach In Front Of Him To Take A Seat Via Jacket Tug
On one hand, you'll never get me to fully side with the type of entitled fan that thinks merely purchasing a ticket gives him (or her, but 99.9% of the time it's a him) the right to go around disrespecting anyone and everyone that just so happens to enter an oh-so-expensive line of vision. Tugging on someone's suit tail is basically one step short of palming their head and pushing it down, so doing so to Travon Bryant, who is a former professional athlete turned NBA staffer, should - in a perfect world - result in your whooped ass getting handed to you.
On the other hand, I think it's fair to question whether it was entirely necessary for a second row assistant coach, who stands at 6'9, to be standing more erect than the Empire State Building in getting a better look at a matchup for which his in-game input is, in all likelihood, limited. To be honest, it seems like more of a power move than anything else, which doesn't make all that much sense considering the lack of true power he actually wields.
Let's just keep it real, if Travon Bryant thought he needed to be standing then he would have remained standing, as opposed to conceding his view to some middle-aged man who was dressed for the nosebleeds. Let's keep it even more real, if Travon Bryant's authority was truly respected then the fan that laid a hand on him in a disparaging manner would have gotten forcibly removed from The Garden before he got a chance to smell the flowers, never mind pick a fight.
Maybe I'm wrong here, but if the same on-court security team that dragged Charles Oakley out of the building responds with nothing more than a"hey, don't do that!" then they probably sort of sympathize with the plight that caused you to do just that. Doesn't mean you should do it, as there's certainly something to be said for not showing up to someone's workplace and telling them how to do their job. However, there's also something to be said about knowing your standing in the workplace. With all due respect to a short-tenured developmental coach, Travon Bryant's standing is probably...well...seated.
LeBron James And Dwyane Wade Hugged It Out, In Front Of Approximately A Billion Cameras, After Going Head-To-Head For The Final Time
I was going to let it go, I swear I was. The idea of two close friends, former teammates, co-champions, and competitors, who are central figures of a golden era of NBA basketball, showing love and appreciation for one another was awesome enough for me to look past the amount of lenses eavesdropping on a conversation that was bound to tainted by their presence. It was as inevitable as it was weird that, while taking a moment to reflect on the upcoming culmination of a career that means so much to the both of them, they had to look either down at the ground or directly into one another's eyes so as to not accidentally get intimate with the Channel-Whatever news. Such is life when two larger-than-life, generational superstars hug it out under the brightest of bright lights for the last time, but the coverage it got all-but-guaranteed we'd be privy to the sentiments they damn well knew would be shared...
And those sentiments themselves? Bleh. Dwyane Wade pandering to Los Angeles' superiority complex? LeBron James offering even more mystique to "The Mecca" while torturing/trolling Knicks' fans? Predictably, that conversation was a whole hell of a lot cooler and more genuine in theory than it was in execution, and theory is all we would have had if not for nosiness of news cameras. If given 60 seconds to think on it, never mind 15 years, I could have put more sentimental words on lips that instead chose to service two fanbases that were doing a fine job of fluffing themselves. I don't care if it's truth or if LeBron just wants everyone to think it was the truth, because both the following picture and the relationship it represents are iconic enough in their own right not to have the preceding discussion invoke a love-fest of two tradition-rich cities that already love themselves too much.
As a Saints fan that watched an entire Super Bowl-worthy season get salted away in a fashion that was just as unbelievable, inconceivable, and inexcusable, I needed that. As a viewing audience that largely loathes how much success the Patriots have had over the years, you needed that. Hell, they'll never admit it, but even the most braggadocios of Boston sports' fans needed that. By "that", I just don't mean the apparent dawning of Hook-and-Ladder SZN....
...but also an indisputable reminder that no one - and I mean NO ONE - is entirely immune to falling victim to the fickleness of football's freakiest plays.
Due to the combination of their own dominance and the undeniable effect it has on opposing coaches that start outsmarting themselves once they take the field opposite it, New England has found a way to end up on the right side of the vast majority of "W...in...T...actual...F" plays since David Tyree caught a fateful pass with his cranium. For that reason, I couldn't be more certain that Gronk was going to come roaring into the screen looking like Tedy Bruschi in his prime only to deliver a perfect form tackle that would make it seem as though it was an ending that Bill Belichick brilliantly drew up in his lab of irregularity. Instead, an otherworldly athlete managed to trip over his own feet like Frankenstein taking his very first step in making the greatest coach of multiple generations look like he got too cute in mismanaging personnel.
In all honesty, if the game wasn't being played in Miami - aka Bizarro World Foxboro - Dolphins' fans probably would have had their hopes raised up juuuust enough to make it that much more painful when Kenyan Drake got bulldozed through the turf by a mutant tight end turned last line(backer) of defense. Fortunately, that game was played in Miami, so the concept of "any given Sunday" was able to be emboldened by yet another example, this one coming at the expense of both a team and a head coach that have grown nauseatingly used to seeming smarter than everyone else in setting it.
Add This Perfect No-Look Pass To The Pile Of Evidence Supporting Patrick Mahomes As A Living, Breathing Cheat Code
Keep in mind that it's quite hard for me to find the words, as 'speechless' is the only one coming to either mind, mouth, or fingertip at the moment. NFL quarterbacks have a tendency to defy their learnings on a weekly basis, but even playing 'Madden' at anything above a rookie level is supposed to teach you not to throw back across your body, never mind doing so when you're not even looking.
Therefore, what Patrick Mahomes did in trusting only his third eye by throwing a pinpoint pass to a moving target while locked in a close game against one of the NFL's best defenses was wipe his ass with the unwritten rules of football. That sounds more critical than it was meant to, as he's not cheating by being more physically gifted than anyone else at his position, but he sure is playing as a cheat code. MVP candidate or not, it takes an unprecedented amount of gumption and gall to have the overconfidence to sling that sucker blindly as a first year starter, and yet the Chiefs' baller/shot caller did so with a lack of fucks that could only be matched by Brett Favre after his 4th daily dosage of painkillers. I'm working under the assumption that other athletes will eventually follow his evolutionary lead, but - as it currently stands - Patrick Mahomes is a proverbial 3.0 to the 2.0 of everyone merely hoping to contain his superhuman skill-set.