Zion Williamson Will Be Playing Basketball in New Orleans Next Year, And You'd Have to Be an Absolute Imbecile to Even Consider Otherwise
Thankfully, an objectively dumb and entirely unrealistic "option" that was disingenuously brought to light in shamelessly pandering to the innumerable whiney bitches that root for high-profile dumpster fires like the Knicks and Lakers has already been put to sleep. You might want to sit down for this, but the idea that the consensus top prospect in the NBA Draft was going to pass up tens of millions of dollars in contracts and endorsements to return to the place where one shitty sneaker almost cost him his ankle while he was playing for free was proved asinine by....::audible gasp::...actually fucking speaking to him...
That being said, the fact that it even had legs, be they short and stumpy or not, in the first place made me want to check the map to make sure I wasn't thinking of Old Orleans when I envisioned Zion Williamson playing in the destination city that hosts nationally attended sporting events on a bi-annual basis. I get that the Pelicans, who come in thee most distant of second in the race for most popular pro sports team in NOLA, don't have the most reassuring history of filling the building for generation talents. However, the thought that it would be difficult for someone who was a larger-than-life household name when he was dunking on and over the next generation of accountants in high school to profit greatly off playing in a city as loud and proud as New Orleans is nothing short of stupid.
Let's be real for a second, winning is what cures everything. What's being lost in all this big market manufactured hoopla is that the organization in question has put themselves in a position of which their first lucky lottery ball is unfamiliar, and said position is one of on-court promise. Whether it be in a revamped front office that's ripe with experience, throughout the gold standard of NBA training staffs, or up and down a roster that (at least currently) reads absolutely unguardable, the Pelicans are suddenly a hell of a lot further along than just about any team you'd expect to luck into the first overall pick next year. If they make anywhere near close to good on their potential then the arena, stupid name and all, will be packed with people who are more than eager to celebrate success. The same holds true for the vast majority of sports' cities, and the vast majority of sports' cities don't even offer you the opportunity to legally get loaded on the eventful walk over to potentially watch two of basketball's biggest biological anomalies play off one another in a way that's all but guaranteed to get your ass to leave your seat solely for the right reasons.
While it is not a basketball hotbed, New Orleans is neither Siberia nor a place that often turns down the chance to enthusiastically embrace their own so long as they are worth embracing and are quick to embrace them in return. Contrary to reports that come across as the wishful thinking of regionalists, it doesn't appear as though the latter should be much of an issue so maybe we can stop going desperately far out of our way to make it one...
Another Day, Another Stanley Cup Playoff Game Ruined by Bad Referees and a Ridiculous Use (Or Lack Thereof) of Replay
While it absolutely sucks to feel robbed of yet another legitimate ending to what was an otherwise awesome overtime playoff game and once again be forced to discuss suspect officiating as opposed to the quality of hockey being played, at least we can all rest easy knowing that absolutely nothing could possibly be done to right such an obvious wrong.
Human error (or professional incompetence, whichever you prefer) is simply an unfortunate and irreparable part of the game, as evidenced by the fact that the NHL never abuses technology in the type of paranoid pursuit of the puck's involvement in potentially illegal activities that would make YouTube conspiracy theorists proud. It's a tough break for the Blues that Timo Meier ever-so-subtly smacked the puck to a wide open teammate, whose hesitancy alone could have told you that a hand pass was afoot, mere feet in front of the net with the grace of someone with a bee sting allergy fighting off a swarm of hornets, but what are we to do? Believe that the striped supervisors predominantly treating their most important piece equipment as purely ornamental when pivotal postseason games hang in the balance can't handle their responsibilities?
In all seriousness, I'm not one of those people that wants every little on-ice infraction brought to replay. That said, if four full-time officials can't be trusted to trust their eyes, nor comprehend that flat out refusing to blow the whistle when the outcome of a game is on the line has the exact same counterproductive effect on it as doing so too often, then it stands to reason that it might be wise to enlist the help of the 6,000 HD cameras swaddling every inch of the ice like a literal security blanket.
I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to the referees working last night's game by assuming they'd get at least the first three rows of letters right on a routine eye exam. Unfortunately, that leaves cowardice and incompetence as their only explanations for the lack of a painfully obvious call. If a postseason that has been governed by Murphy's Law in attacking every vulnerability and loophole in a rulebook that reads absolutely ridiculous in retrospect with respect to replay has proven anything it's that on-ice officials are either entirely inept or completely overwhelmed. In most cases, I don't necessarily blame them as the players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever. However, much like pucks previously out of play ending up in the back the net, if we have to worry about blatant hand passes in the slot during sudden death going undetected by eight fully functioning eyeballs then let's just lube up and throw ourselves head-first down the slippery slope of going back and re-governing entire games at 1/100th speed. If the alternative is having half the Stanley Cup storylines be deja-vu inducing cries of injustice then it's the lesser of two evils.
Credit to Sean Payton for doing his side job as an unofficial ambassador for a tightly knit sports' city in finding a lighthearted way to prematurely welcome a larger than life entity who is set to become NOLA's next big thing as his eventual neighbor. A clever co-sign from the Saints' beloved coach certainly won't add to Zion Williamson's alleged skepticism regarding the instantly reinvigorated regional interest in a Pelicans' team with which they share ownership.
That said, while that tweet was clearly in jest, you are beside your mind if you don't think Zion Williamson could be schemed into a Pro Bowl using only the play designs that Sean Payton will involuntarily dream up after posting that photoshop. In every good joke there is a hint of truth, and the truth is that football's most beautiful mind had a hell of a lot more than one thought running around it in when he found out he'd be sharing city limits with an entirely unprecedented athletic specimen that could crunch the mold of every competitor that's come before him in between his thumb and his forefinger.
For a pioneer of a play caller whose fancy appears to be tickled to near orgasmic levels every time Taysom Hill adds yet another stat to his line, you can bet your ass that being within a stone's throw of the lovechild of LeBron James and 'The Incredible Hulk' has him fluffed up off his own fan fiction. What you can't have is always what you want the most. Therefore, you can undoubtedly consider Zion Williamson to be the white whale that has Sean Payton overwhelmed like a toddler in a toy store and salivating over the X's and O's of sketches that are nothing short of sci-fi while laughing maniacally over a growing fascination with what type of godforsaken things he could be capable of on the gridiron in an alternate universe.
Blazers' Coach Terry Stotts Would Very Much Like You to Keep Your Better Ideas for Defending Steph Curry to Your Damn Self
Admittedly, I do feel bad for the reporter. That question regarding the Blazers' big men providing less defensive pressure than a broomstick in a grainy highlight video for an overseas prospect and letting two of the deadliest shooters in NBA history waltz so casually into open dagger threes that they might as well have done so while eating ice cream during a walk on the beach was more than fair.
That said, Terry Stotts' snarky deflection was the type of mic dropper for which you simply have to tip your cap and shut your trap. It was a more than a little disingenuous, as his way of limiting a limitless backcourt was 100% the wrong way, if you want to consider it a "way" at all. However, self preservation is a skill and it was on full display in him knowing exactly what angle to take in falling back on the crutch that there really is no right way to defend the indefensible.
When Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are feeling it you might as well just grip your hands tightly in prayer while saving your energy for the offensive end. Of course, you can't say that publicly as the guy tasked with making adjustments from doing absolutely nothing to actually doing something to contain them, but the Warriors have offered opposing coaches no shortage of instances in which each and every attempt at a defensive strategy was a demonstrative failure. Might as well take advantage by referencing them to quickly zip the lip of a reporter whose honesty came off confidently condescending in making an impossible job sound a bit too easy.
Surprising isn't the right word. After all, anyone sadistic enough to heartlessly kill their own precious time in cold blood using the unforgiving stretch run of a lost season as the murder weapon (::shamefully raises hand from the back of Assholes Anonymous::) could tell you that Nico Hischier began oozing the confidence he was forced to build up without the help of Taylor Hall for most of the season. Prime example #1 (of many)...
Instead, we'll go with reassuring, as watching him continue to develop into a dominant presence and a versatile playmaker for a country relying heavily on his production is proof that the increasingly common glimpses of brilliance we saw in New Jersey weren't just hopeful relative to the general hopelessness they occurred amongst.
Whether it be the type of saucy passing that makes you go back for seconds, a stronger desire to shoot combined with a more persistent penchant for scoring, or just his patience and creativity with the puck that is resulting in routine highlights, they are coming more and more frequently for a kid (yes, despite being half dead in comparison to Jack Hughes, he's very much still a kid) whose potential is that of a top-flight two-way center. I would have gladly let the inevitable offensive development of Nico Hischier serve as a surprise to the rest of the league but it sure seems like the Swiss' breakout star is already over being under the radar, as he hasn't been at all shy in doing something, or more accurately, everything about it.
Justin Williams Owes Us All Amends for the Unforgivable Crime of Making Brad Marchand Seem Like He Might Actually Have a Point
First and foremost, let me state that, albeit very mildly, the NHL was complicit in that unrelenting display of undisciplined idiocy. With their continued failure to do so much as stick it in the box for two minutes, the league and its officials basically left it up to those whose legs it kept gnawing at to exterminate the irredeemable rat on the Bruins' roster. Of course, encouraging vigilante justice counterproductively plays right into said rat's trap, because...get this...the same type of shit that Brad Marchand somehow continues to scurry away from scot-free is actually illegal and enforced as such when done to him or his teammates in retaliation.
I promise you that the last thing I am trying to do is justify Justin Williams' mentally unstable transition from consummate captain to unhinged asshole, as repeatedly targeting Torey Krug of all people wasn't even aesthetically satisfying in its abject stupidity. However, the truth of the matter is that what we saw was an indisputable reminder that it's impossible for the players to police themselves in the playoffs without potentially pissing away games when they are of their upmost importance.
Now, that being said, far and away the most guilty party here is the veteran presence who served as the worst possible example to a young team when they needed his leadership the most. As much as I want to point the finger at the referees and scoldingly state "look what you've done" for giving a mile's worth inches to an unsubtle antagonist, Justin Williams deserves to pay the entirety of the security deposit after letting Boston bully their way into his head and under his skin to make an absolute mess of an otherwise experienced hockey mind. There is absolute no excuse for doing what was previously thought impossible by making Brad Marchand look somewhat smart in actively and repeatedly becoming the perfect manifestation of his mockery...
From swallowing a "poop sandwich" during Game 2 (his words) to being left with egg over his damn face during Game 3, Justin Williams has...::chokes back vomit taste::...proved positive the impact of a pest with his inability to feed into anything other than Brad Marchand's bullshit. As much as it pains me to say it, the latter should feel self-satisfied, because he got a high character player to act entirely out of character in focusing on everything other than hockey while his season was slowly being salted away.
I'll wait until his impending offseason for an apology, but - regardless of his team controlling the damage of his repetitive recklessness - Justin Williams owes the entire sport an extensive one after providing the NHL's resident rodent the exact type of power he so shamelessly, dangerously, and incessantly seeks.
With a Draft Lottery Result That Was a Low-Key Great Look for the NBA, The Pelicans Were Granted an Infallible Head Start on the Road to Zion
M Night Shyamalan, eat your heart out! Seriously, what a plot twist! It might not have made for the show we expected, but it gave us one that was insanely entertaining in its unexpected irony. The NBA has this almost inherent ability to create drama off the court, and I'll be damned if a bunch of chaos-causing ping pong balls didn't prove just that by making for an emotional roller coaster of a Draft Lottery that served as the heart-stopping high to the lullaby-like low of Game 1 of the goddamn Western Conference Finals.
With the Lakers and Knicks finishing in the final four, we had two big market, high-profile franchises whose most recent claims to fame were the amount of rubbernecking they've drawn as dysfunctional dumpster fires. Yet, both basically played nothing more than the roles of the far-too-obvious suspects in an episode of CSI before the Pelicans slipped in the backdoor as the spiteful, shock-value serial killer to the rest of the room's hopes and dreams of acquiring a generational-type talent. As an unbiased observer, I saw it as a poetically just conclusion without being one that was at all inevitable ahead of time, and what more can you ask for from the best soap opera in sports?
Let's face it. No matter how positively you view player empowerment, the third-party sabotaging that the entire Pelicans' organization was forced to suffer through this season was a black eye on basketball, as it was essentially the result of a hit being put out by the sport's most notable name and insatiable athlete. Look no further than Alvin Gentry's reaction for proof of that wrong now being righted and that collusion having successfully been combated...
Seems crazy that it could be good for the NBA that an athletic alien narrowly avoided landing in two cities with which that news would have undoubtedly proved most profitable, but I genuinely believe Adam Silver lucked into an huge upholding of integrity that wiped quite a few distasteful problems from his plate as Commissioner. After merely 6% proved most significant, the loser lottery now comes with unmistakable warning label that reads "tank at your own (high) risk". If there were a way to fix the draft without immediately calling all conspiracy theorists then this was it, so I appreciate the final framing of what was a complete curveball.
As for what this means for a Pelicans' organization that spent months getting dragged for their inability to do right by a former first overall pick? Well, Anthony Davis can continue to speak through others in saying what he wants for now....
However, we're talking about a guy that couldn’t even take a harmlessly light-hearted parting shot on a novelty tee shirt without backtracking and make up some lie about how he's not allowed to tie his own shoes without his stylist's supervision. Therefore, I’m not buying the idea that his decision is set in stone. Anthony Davis is both impressionable (See: being used as a seven foot pawn by 'Team LeBron') and terrible at playing the villain, so I have my doubts that can't be swayed to take substantially more money to write his redemption story on a roster that, with the addition of someone who might be is equal as a genetic anomaly, suddenly seems at talented as any other that might be in the sweepstakes for his services.
Who knows? Maybe AD does end up getting traded for a haul, and New Orleans does end up putting more young talent around the most structurally sound of foundational pieces in Zion Williamson. Whatever the case may be and however they go about trying to construct a contender under management that's now as qualified as it is confident, it will feel like a much more appreciable and karma-satisfying blueprint than a vast majority of the other rebuilds that could have been kickstarted last night.
If Steelers' Fans Wanted to Say Goodbye To Antonio Brown He Could Have Been Found at the Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Because Where Else?
Perfect. Just perfect. Add a little Chef's kiss to that forcibly fake ass smile, because the fact that the only team still pleading for an Antonio Brown appearance in the city of Pittsburgh is his defense team tells you a whole hell of a lot about his exit. The lack of self awareness required to laugh throughout that entirely unnecessary Instagram clip as if the joke he thought he was making wasn't entirely on him is just all too fitting of a guy who is currently operating in his own universe.
There's not one Steelers' fan that is trying to bid adieu to AB, but if there were then said fan wouldn't even have needed that heads-up to find him, as the courthouse would have been the third place checked after his IP address and the front of the largest mirror within city limits. Let his constantly contradictory social media accounts and his list of legal charges serve as proof that Antonio Brown is, without question, an insufferable douchebag. Therefore, you'd think he would try to dispute that unfortunate truth by living his best life somewhere other than on the stand when trying to make it seem as though he pulled one over on the city of Pittsburgh. That is, if you also still think he's at all capable of thinking for some ungodly reason.
Prospective. Not the type you might be liable to gain upon being released from the juvenile detention of a full face shield, but rather the type that you'd be liable to gain from the idea that Jack Hughes was literally too young to use the same equipment as every other one of his teammates at the World Championships as of yesterday. With Kaapo Kakko making a quality case to be selected first overall throughout a tournament during which his main competition for that spot has looked physically overwhelmed at times, that type of perspective is exactly what is needed to keep grounded arguments that have become more imprisoned by the moment than Jack Hughes' face was imprisoned by perpendicular bars.
In judging these prospects, we're talking about actual kids here. Kids whose bodies develop at their own personal rate, with that rate often getting ratcheted up well after they are drafted as teenagers. Point being, while his speed, skill, and skating might, Jack Hughes won't look anything like he does now as little as two years down the line. That doesn't mean it's going to take him anywhere near that long to contribute at the NHL level, nor does it mean that he'll ever be as imposing a presence as the prospect he'll forever be measured against by a bunch of outspoken assholes on either side of a remorseless rivalry. It does, however, mean that what you've only seen glimpses of in three games that were played prior to him having the ability to vote and after him having played a full international tournament elsewhere is hardly what you'll be getting a couple birthdays down the line.
What Jack Hughes can't be taught, but it sure as shit can be trained, so let's just light some candles, have some cake, and let the professional prognosticators do their job of analyzing hundreds of hours of game tape over a multitude of years. Seems like that might be a more rational way to go about things. Especially since the alternative is assuming they are unqualified to do so based on a handful of highlights from someone who wasn't given enough initial credit when he was forced out of both sight and mind by a record-breaking performance that proved exactly how far ahead Jack Hughes is of every other one of his teenage peers whose body isn't absurdly mature beyond its years.
The Curry's Will Be Flipping a Coin in Deciding Which Son to Root For in the Western Conference Finals
ESPN- "It's going to be so much fun," Sonya Curry told ESPN. "It is. From our end, to see both of our sons to compete at this level and for the goal to be a championship is such a blessing. We never could imagine this."
"One of them might go home. But we're going to the championship!"
"It's going to be fun," he told ESPN. "It's going to lessen our travel schedule. That's the biggest thing. We've been traveling quite a bit. It's been fun, it's been tiresome, but it's about ready to get real now.
"It's a first experience for all of us," he added. "Biggest thing is we are trying to decide who represents who."
Sonya Curry has a solution for which parent will wear Blazers colors and which will wear Warriors gear.
"We are flipping a coin every game," she said.
I'm sorry, flipping a coin? FLIPPING A COIN?!? If I were Seth Curry I'd be flipping a shit, if not heading over to my childhood home to start flipping all the furniture. I get that the Curry's are theoretically in a tough spot with their sons matching up against each other with an NBA Finals appearance on the line, but...like...are they? Are they really?
Other than being front-running and preferential parents who consider one of their pregnancies to be a regrettable mistake, is there actually any justification for rooting for the superstar son who probably spent his time since Game 6 shopping for a bigger trophy case over the younger son whose first chance at glory might well be his last? I get giving diplomatic answers publicly, but I don't even think the Curry's have to considering all else is the farthest thing from equal when it comes to the disproportional career paths of their kids. If Steph were to find himself hurt by his parents being as Portland-proud as most hipsters he'd legitimately be the most selfish sibling in the history of 4+ human households, as even the most distant of cousins should be hoping the Warriors get Trailblazed.
Again, this is probably just a case of Dell and Sonya having sworn themselves to suppress their support one way or the other, but if they absolutely had to pick sides and both weren't strongly on 'Team Seth' then Seth would have every right to go the free agency route in opening himself for recruitment by more deserving parents like Elijah Wood in 'North'...
I say the following knowing full well that you'd have made a fair amount of money by now had you bet on Logan Couture to score 25+ goals and somewhere in the vicinity of 50-65 points over the course of every regular season throughout the last decade...
Playoff Couture would skate so many circles around that bitch ass bum that he'd leave him on the IR with some combination of dizziness and vertigo with how often he'd be left looking up at him on both the ice and the score sheet. The term 'clutch gene' gets thrown around quite a bit, but if there's something that is biologically responsible for Logan Couture's damn near annual ability to transition from very good to virtual God once the intensity gets turned up ten-fold then I think it's probably seasonal schizophrenia. A particular strand of DNA might explain a person's rapidly receding hairline or even their penchant for punctuality, but it doesn't explain why a top 3-5 player in the entire NHL lays relatively dormant as nothing more than a top 20-30 player until early April.
I was already in the process of crafting a tweet referring to the Sharks' most predatory Spring time scorer as just that after he notched his 12th goal in 16 games, and before I had even sent it he had already collected his 13th. Considering that type of postseason production has somehow become his norm, it is entirely abnormal for a professional athlete's performance to consistently follow the bloom patterns of most roses. Credit to Logan Couture for feeding on pressure like it's pollen and becoming a bigger, stronger, and faster version of himself that would kick his own highly accomplished ass 'Me, Myself, and Irene'-style if, in an alternate universe, their lines were ever matched when it mattered most. However, I can't help but feel like the analytics community owes us a look into the statistics behind him appearing to have stumbled upon one Mario's magic mushrooms when his team manages to make it to May, even if I presume their rationale will sound just as silly as the science behind a hypothetical clutchness chromosome.
By Making a Positive Impact Throughout a Hard Fought Series, Enes Kanter Finally Earned His Opportunity to Troll and Troll is Exactly What He Did
I'll tell you what, Enes Kanter's pettiness is a much easier pill to swallow when he's actually playing well. In essence, when you...
...his online antics are much more endearing, appreciable, and...well...earned. That hasn't always been the case as Oklahoma City clearly considered him too much of a defensive liability to play even a complimentary role on a team that desperately needed people to fill them...
...and a woeful Knicks' team didn't even care to give him some burn despite being engulfed in a smoldering dumpster fire of a lost season...
However, he penned quite a chapter to his redemption story in battling through a separated shoulder to make a positive impact on a seven game series so tightly contested that, oddly enough, his absence alone could have potentially swung its outcome. I don't want to overstate what we was able to offer as a bench scorer who was extremely active and effective on the boards, but he undeniably deserved the opportunity to rub the Nuggets' nose in it by being an important piece of Portland's run to the Western Conference Finals. That's a lot more than can be said for attempts at internet trolling that came when the only real punchline was his stat line.
Suns' Josh Jackson Was Either Arrested at a Music Festival For Fleeing the Scene of a Crime in Handcuffs, Or For Being an Entirely Anonymous NBA Talent
My only piece of advice for any relatively recent lottery picks in the NBA draft who happen to find themselves turned away from the VIP section of a music festival is to immediately find a gym, and find it fast. Don't waste time changing your shirt, or putting on a different hat, or attaching a fake mustache prior to giving another go at forced entry into an exclusive area of a highly secure event. Just take the hint, hang your head in shame, and go get some goddamn shots up, because a 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft that actually plays like a 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft isn't having any problem whatsoever getting preferential treatment in public.
I honestly don't mean for that to come off as harsh, but Jayson Tatum would had to have rushed the stage with his dick out for the police to intervene in his concert going experience. De'Aaron Fox wouldn't even have to break out his fastest footwork to casually euro-step past security without so much as his hand stamped. You ball out like you're expected to as a Top 5 pick in a league that's closely linked with the music industry and that world might as well be your oyster. Playing in festering pit of failure that is Phoenix certainly hasn't helped his notoriety, but only being capable of putting up mediocre numbers on a pathetic team is almost as good of a way of finding yourself relegated to NBA irrelevance as fleeing the scene of an entirely unnecessary crime in handcuffs.
It's Our Duty as NBA Fans to Mock Joel Embiid For Weeping Uncontrollably After a Heartbreaking Defeat, As It's Exactly What He Would Have Done
Here's the thing. We should appreciate just how hysterical a proud professional athlete was made by what was, historically speaking, an unprecedentedly devastating defeat. We're talking about a guy that overcame spending the vast majority of life to date in Cameroon only to eventually come stateside and develop into premier prospect before having to overcome what quickly started to seem like a career-threatening inability to stay healthy enough to scratch even the surface of his sky-high potential. In theory, if there were an NBA player that reserved the right to have himself a judgement-free ugly cry after potentially coming within a quarter-inch of his first Conference Finals' appearance then it's one who has already fought a treacherous uphill battle to get where he currently is in his promising career.
Unfortunately, the player in question is one who has long forfeited the right to play the innocent victim of juvenile jokes in making a bi-weekly habit of unconditionally trolling every opponent he's ever gone up against. We're talking about Joel Embiid here. Much like your hilarious Uncle wanting nothing more than for his funeral to be turned into a light-hearted roast of reverence, the perpetually petty Sixers' big man would have wanted the tearful loss of his playoff life to be used as comic relief following the most dramatic of postseason deaths. If not then he'd be a hypocrite, as had that ball bounced 6 tenths of an inch one way as opposed to a half dozen the other he'd be the first one pointing and laughing at Kawhi Leonard's slightly constipated expression in preparation for overtime.
Respecting how much that game meant to Joel Embiid and making fun of him for being one pint of ice cream away from looking like the stereotypical dumpee in a sitcom are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the latter might as well be seen as a tribute to his generally jovial and persistently childish demeanor as someone whose as much a class clown as he is a dominant force on the basketball court. When it comes to getting these jokes off, dude is more efficient and creative than Nikola Jokic when dishing it, so I'm absolutely certain he can take it after leaving more salt water in his wake than a speed boat.
Not On CJ McCollum's Watch Will You Get Away With Praising His Competition For Even a Single Second Following His Heroic Game 7 Performance
For what it's worth, while "great" might be overstating it, I did think Torrey Craig's man-to-man defense of a red-hot off-the-dribble shooter was pretty good. Especially considering that the latter had to stop on a dime in a way that could make two nickels of change in order to create just enough space for a step-back, fadeaway jumper that still kept a series-deciding game within one possession.
What that opinion is worth, of course, is absolutely nothing, as CJ McCollum's public refusal to allow any sort of praise to be offered to an opponent tells you everything you need to know about the mindset of the delightfully bitter backcourt that he's a pissed off part of...
In theory, great defense played on a made shot would imply even better offense being played by the person who was absolute nails in hitting it under pressure, but that postgame jab wasn't about CJ McCollum making sure he was recognized amongst the NBA's elite scorers. That postgame jab was about chase-down blocking any attempt made at praising the team whose destruction he almost singlehandedly orchestrated down the stretch...
That postgame jab was about interrupting the recognition of an effort that pales in comparison to those that have gotten Lehigh University's first NBA draft pick to the peak of his professional career...
I'm not sure calling it an "inferiority complex" would be anywhere near as accurate calling it a nobody-is-superior complex, but what's actually important is that the attitude that caused CJ McCollum to demand the ball in putting the Nuggets in their rearview is eerily similar to the one that had Dame Lillard initiating an emasculation of Russell Westbrook in waving goodbye to the Thunder. That chip on the shoulder of the Trailblazers' backcourt is one seasoned with unsparing spite, and it's one of the few intangibles that could help satiate basketball fans' craving for a competitive Western Conference Finals by mitigating the intimidation factor of the Splash Brothers.
Whether KD is available or not, Portland will need the playmaking and shot-making of both Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum to match their eternal stance that they are at least on equal footing with everyone that lines up across from them if they hope to pull the upset. However, if there's one thing they have proven they don't lack it's the internal and external sources of motivation to do so...
With a Shot During Which Fate Quite Literally Hung in the Balance, Kawhi Leonard Willed The Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals
Iconic. Just, iconic.
Not just because the argument can be made that the first ever Game 7 buzzer-beater was the most emotionally impactful shot in NBA history, as evidenced by the fact that it coaxed a resounding reaction out of most aesthetically apathetic athlete in all of sports...
Not just because it became more and more of a cinematic experience as each breathtaking bounce of the ball added dramatic effect to a singular moment that was made into its own scene, much like the end of every sports movie ever put to big screen...
Not just because both the immediate and long-term future of two franchises may have quite literally been hanging in the balance as a cutthroat competitor was brought to a squat by the significance of the situation and a soul-crushing beat was readying itself to drop.
Not just because it may have pulled at the heart wires of the soulless shooter turned self-aware robot in a way that might convince him to call another country home past this summer. Not just because it may have served as the last straw to an immutable malcontent that couldn't have been too happy to look like one of the few players on a young team with tons of potential that was willing to go down swinging.
Not just because it looked like as though an attempted goal-tend by a LeBron-sized ghost of postseasons' past was exorcised as the Raptors and a fanbase that's underrated in their enthusiasm finally experienced the melodramatic thrill of victory after being made the poster children for the anticlimactic agony of defeat...
Not just because it may have already aged poorly a process that's supposed to still be maturing after being damn near a decade in the making.
Not just because it punctuated a 40+ point performance for a superstar that made unforgettable a game that was otherwise anything but from an offensive standpoint.
Kawhi Leonard's game winner was iconic for all those reasons and, depending on how both this impending offseason and many seasons to come play out, potentially even more. The play, in and of itself, will go down as one of the memorable moments in the history of a league that's stopped no shortage of hearts throughout the years, but the unknown amount of miles on the wings of its butterfly effect make that timely shot far bigger than just four lucky (or unlucky, I suppose) bounces of a basketball.
An Irrelevant Boston Radio Personality Hung Up on a Hurricanes' Beat Reporter Because He Couldn't Handle Having Hockey Spoken in a Southern Accent
AwfulAnnouncing- The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes face off in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Final on Thursday. With that in mind, Boston radio station WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub) had Raleigh News and Observer Hurricanes beat writer Chip Alexander on “Toucher & Rich” to talk hockey Wednesday morning.
After Alexander was on the phone for just over four minutes, host Fred Toucher hung up on him. Toucher explained, “I just can’t listen to a guy with a southern accent talk about hockey.”
(16:20-22:00 in the clip above)
My reaction, in a nutshell...
Now, I could easily say that the mindset of the talk radio host who hung up on a insightful beat reporter who was nice enough to offer some time to temporarily clear the air of verbal vomit simply because he didn't associate the interviewee's accent with the sport being covered is the very same one that has actively castrated the growth and popularity of hockey. I wouldn't be wrong to say that abrupt conclusion to an otherwise copacetic conversation is a stereotypically symptomatic example of the self-importance of the Boston sports' scene.
However, because that's exactly what some predictably disagreeable dick who was shamelessly searching for attention in clinging to the shortage of relevance left in his occupation of choice wants me to say, I won't. The idea that the Mason-Dixon line separates those that can talk hockey from those that can't is so preposterously stupid and outlandishly archaic that I refuse to believe that it was conjured up as anything other than a desperate cry for controversy on a medium that no one under the age of 50 listens to.
In my opinion, Fred Toucher doesn't care about having his hockey talk seasoned with a little Southern twang. After all, his eardrums must be pretty calloused after having spent his dying days listening to locals ignore the entire existence of the letter 'R' with an accent that's about as audibly satisfying as listening to nails get scratched on a chalkboard through blown out speakers. All Fred Toucher cares about is that we've now heard of the name Fred Toucher. So congrats to him, I guess? He certainly didn't gain me as a listener by being a counterproductive cliche who prays on the insecurities of hockey fans in the Northeast that think surviving snowy winters has somehow increased their NHL expertise, but at least he made it easier to avoid accidentally stumbling upon his increasingly unheard words.
In What Serves as a Preemptive Punchline, The AAF Agreed to Pay Marshawn Lynch $5,000 IN QUARTERS For a Quick Draft Day Interview in November
SI- Another story that spread far across the AAF offices has Marshawn Lynch crashing the league’s quarterback draft last November at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. According to one employee, Lynch, whose cousin Josh Johnson was the first pick in that draft, and who is notoriously media-averse, agreed to do a two-minute interview for the Alliance at that event in exchange for $5,000. But when a check was presented to Lynch, he asked that his money be delivered instead in quarters—which AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol took seriously. In the end, 20,000 quarters were delivered to Lynch’s room and the interview apparently took place.
I mean, that should have been it, right? Certainly feels as though the AAF could have saved themselves some embarrassment and a whole hell of a lot of inevitably unsettled lawsuits if they just ceased operations before they truly started when they got bitch slapped with such an unmistakable sign. Granted, it's silly to expect those that somehow still thought we lived in a world in which the NFL would even allow an alternative football league to flourish aren't exactly great at taking a hint. Still, having to pay a laughably literal $5,000 toll for a couple minutes of a professional athlete's time should have made it quite clear that there wasn't enough money in the world to make people care about minor league football.
That professional athlete being Marshawn Lynch makes this story exponentially more hilarious, as you could probably base an entire episode of 'Where Are They Now?' on the life and times of those coins. Such a preposterously disrespectful ask could only be the brainchild of a mind that's birthed no shortage of comedic brilliance, so a special thanks must go to Beast Mode for making a seemingly satirical report of such a ridiculous request possible.
That being said, the fact that a league that wanted to be seen as professional felt enough pressure to fulfill it should have spoken immutable volumes about how impossible it is to be seen as enough competition to force an absolute behemoth of a self-sustaining business model into a coalition. The AAF was bound to become a punchline at some point, but it's pretty crazy they couldn't tell how quickly they were headed to the ass end of the joke when they felt it worthwhile to haul 20,000 quarters out of a bank and through a hotel lobby in exchange for a few words, that were just as likely to be repeated on a loop, from a legendarily enigmatic athlete.
Probable Rangers' Prospect Kaapo Kakko Scored a Sweet Goal in the World Championships, But Let's Not Bury the (Quite Literal) Lead Here...
That's him? That's the guy campaigning to dethrone Jack Hughes for the distinct honor of being selected first overall by the tri-state area organization that doesn't have a harrowed history of wasting top notch talent? The dude who wasn't even the highlight of his own highlight? HA!
I mean, I guess I can begrudging admit that fighting off the penalty of a solid NHL defenseman to finish on a Stanley Cup Championship-winning goaltender while balancing on one foot is a highly impressive sign of what's to come throughout Kaapo Kakko's promising professional career. However, the no-look touch pass through both legs and traffic that freed him to do so is what really made me re-adjust the glasses I don't wear. The show of strength on the puck in combination with the calmness under pressure was definitely cool and what not, but I personally think it would be flat out disrespectful to Toni Rajala not to focus on his instinctual unseen assist, and his instinctual unseen assist alone, in fully appreciating such a pretty example of playmaking...
After all, while there's no real reason to play 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' in regards to what was an undeniably awesome display of skill, what if Canada had the chance to retrospectively rethink their roster decisions? I believe they, much like myself, might conclude that future franchise goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood wouldn't have gotten beaten to that post, thus making Kaapo Kakko's contributions entirely irrelevant in the alternate universe of which I am currently choosing to live.
In all seriousness, this is going to suck. It's easy to be positive about what the upcoming draft means for the bitter future of the Devils/Rangers rivalry with its two standout studs yet to have donned combatting colors. However, those inevitably biased and bi-annual arguments are going to get really annoying really quick when they both start killing it on opposite sides of the river. I don't mean to sound so spoiled because there are far worse problems to have, but - regardless of how special a player Jack Hughes is - Kaapo Kakko is definitely going to remind Devils' fans of how lucky they are that Nolan Patrick doesn't appear to be especially special. That fact, however, won't stop me from posting things like this as a transparent way to project my frustrations with the Rangers being gifted the golden opportunity to tarnish the silver medal of an almost equally pristine prospect...
It's with the absolute upmost respect that I say the following. Fuck this kid...
Joe Pavelski Forced His Way Back Into the Lineup for Game 7, And Immediately Enforced His Will in Leading the Sharks to the Conference Finals
While success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is often predicated on which teams get healthy at the right time, what happened to the Avalanche last night seems unfair. To split six tightly contested games against one lineup and then have the seventh and deciding game impacted by one of the most subtle secret weapons in the entire NHL? How do you not feel for a team that had enough to worry about in entering a raucous environment for a do-or-die game without having to prepare themselves for their opponent's emotionally uplifting insertion of a savvy veteran whose net front presence is, aside from Connor McDavid, the closest thing that the NHL has to a cheat code.
I mean, deep down was there really any doubt that Joe Pavelski, in returning from the unsightly injury that galvanized his team to put together one of the most mystifying comebacks in postseason history last series, was going to all-too-casually deflect at least one entirely unstoppable puck home during his debut in this series?
I guess it's easy to say in retrospect, but if I were coaching Colorado I might've agreed to start the game down 1-0 so long as San Jose agreed to continue sitting someone who leads by example in playing a brand of hockey that's built to win in the margins. Those margins don't get any more microscopic than they do in Game 7, so coming back from down a goal in a must-win playoff game is an endeavor that is merely equal to preparing for the presence of a well-rested player whose perpetually prepared for anything. Joe Pavelski wasted no time in proving he's not only that but also an inspirational entity, and the talented team he captains is now a much more menacing out because of it.