Credit To The T'Wolves For Welcoming Jimmy Butler Back To Minnesota With The Song 'You're So Vain' And A Rousing Round Of Boos
Pretty good. Prettay, prettaaay good. Never mind the boos, which were inevitable considering Jimmy Butler was one spark short of legitimately setting fire to the facilities in forcing his way out of town, because the score of that reception was very fitting of someone who loves himself some...well...himself. Jimmy Buckets might be selfless in his style and effort, but he's certainly not one to let his dedication to defense go unrecognized, whether he has to be the one to recognize it or not. No one knows that better than the members of Minnesota Timberwolves who were left almost literally licking their wounds after having their entire pack emasculated by a loud lead dog with irritability issues.
Not that there is anything wrong with it, but self-interest (aka vanity) seems to be the fuel on which the NBA is running these days and there are only a handful with more gas in the tank than Jimmy Butler. That's not as much an insult as it is a fact, so credit goes to Minnesota for picking a song with the perfect combination of specificity and spite. At the very least it showed a level of pushback that Karl Anthony Towns definitely did not in getting bullied by a smaller dog with a bigger bite. That, and it was a much, much more fair and funny reaction than jeering the crap out of him as he sat hunched over the court tending to a back ailment...
The Officials Didn't Care Much For Being Showed Up And Absolutely Robbed The Warriors, Without Even Caring To Wear A Ski Mask While Doing So
I'm someone who, like most, has grown both tired and resigned to the Warriors' nauseatingly predictable success. For that reason, I can't help but laugh at a sequence of preposterous calls that would make more sense if collectively decided upon by the patrons of a Buffalo Wild Wings in the heart of Oklahoma City, rather than made by a presumably objective officiating crew. If regular season games meant absolutely anything to Golden State, which they, themselves have repeatedly and arrogantly admitted to not being the case for quite some time, then I would probably suggest the referees at least turn the lights off and kiss them before fucking them. Seeing as they don't, I'm pushing back pounding my fist on the table in the name of competitive integrity until the postseason.
After all, there was something inherently funny about the most petty of professional NBA referees just flat out fabricating fouls as if the most irrationally biased Warriors' hater in the crowd had been given a courtside seat and a whistle. Taking mental note of a blatant taunting that came in a flagrant form and fashion that only Steph Curry could grow accustomed to getting away with, and then almost immediately referring to that mental note in using a blind eye to call a buzzer-beating foul on a pass that damn near landed in the locker room? That's the type of spiteful, vindictive, and calculated comeuppance that Russell Westbrook has had on his Christmas list for years.
Of course, it was also an egregious display of officiating, but it's an egregious display of officiating that was, in the end, instigated by a team of all stars that's had NBA fans dreaming of the day the score would either figuratively or literally get settled on their pompous asses. No more harmless, hilarious, and relatable a way for it to be executed than by an official who simply made the decision that the Warriors were going to lose after growing sick of their shit at the end of a game that doesn't really matter to them. An unwarranted kick in the dick indeed, but at least now they know what it feels like.
In The Newest Edition Of 'Things You Can't Make Up', The MLB Awards A Replica Wrestling Belt To The Team That Is Most Frugal In Player Arbitration
This is obviously a hilariously bad look. Salary arbitration, in and of itself, is basically a legally supervised roast of your own players, and thus celebrating its results after the fact makes it much, much more dehumanizing towards "the opponent" whose employment has just successfully been undervalued. Other than that, it doesn't matter much that those running the MLB take so much pride in being a bunch of tight wads that they basically turned disingenuous cost-cutting into its own sport. I'm sure it won't exactly play well in what was already sure to be an absolute teeth-pulling of an upcoming labor dispute, but anyone that knew almost anything about professional athletics has long known that the people in charge of them would pay the talent in rolls of nickels if possible.
Therefore, the most surprising aspect of this story is that all these team delegates agreed to loosen the strings on their coin purses and go in on a plastic replica belt they could award annually to the 'Undermaker' who won the Royal Rumble of reduced prices. Just seems like a wildly unnecessary cost for a bunch of guys who cling to their money like they can actually take it with them. If judging by their standards of spending, some might even call it...::audible gasp::...financially irresponsible.
The truth is, I want to be upset that these guys are so passionate about pinching every last penny out of the pockets of players. However, I really just find myself pitying them for being a bunch of old, rich dudes who have absolutely nothing better to do than hoist a championship belt like they just reached the peak in a fake "sport" whose entire existence is inspired and made possible by the efforts of those playing a much more real and circumstantial form of competition. Hm, why does that concept sound so familiar?
The Lakers Allegedly Confronted LeBron James Regarding His Body Language Earlier This Season, And Should Have Sold Tickets To The Event
ESPN- The timing was prompted by James, who aired his grievances to the media one night earlier, openly questioning his teammates' experience and readiness to meet the challenge of making the playoffs. "How many know what's at stake if you've never been there?" James asked, later declaring that he never has been and never will be accustomed to losing. The fact that Davis' home arena was the venue for James' venting only made his words come off stronger, as Davis was the player the Lakers made a run at.
The meeting in Memphis was a retort of sorts. In what became an open forum, several players spoke up. Players focused on James' inconsistent body language throughout the year. The four-time MVP copped to the critique, telling his teammates that, in essence, cutting out behavior like slumped shoulders and sideways glances has been something he has tried to work on his entire career.
I need to know. I just need to know. Who, in a predominantly young locker room full of players whose jerseys might as well be covered in the sneaker prints of LeBron James after months of being walked all over, called out the the NBA's most untouchable teammate on his bullshit? Open forum, my ass. There is one player who was the first to timidly raise his hand as his balls leaped into his throat and his mouth opened to speak of the juvenile gestures of one of the most aggressively passive players of all time. I need to know who that player is so that I can lend him my support, whether he be primed for big things as a strong-willed leader throughout an extensive, no-nonsense career...or packing his bags while awaiting his first class ticket to the G-League. There's probably not much that falls in between being knighted and being thrown in a moat full of alligators when you call out 'The King' on taking the crap he's been getting away with for awhile now to a whole new level, so time is really of the essence here.
Also, it is beyond hilarious that - of all things LeBron James has yet to master after 16 seasons as a physical specimen the likes of which were entirely unprecedented on this planet - keeping his head up, his shoulders properly postured, and his glares to himself are what couldn't be self-taught throughout the most dedicated and diligent of offseasons. Add that to his career-long free throw woes, and LeBron James sucks at pretty much everything you're supposed to have learned by the time you start playing on a 10-foot rim. Pretty ironic when you think about it that way...as opposed to just viewing the most talented player in the history of basketball as a bit of a baby who doesn't consider himself obligated to display a baseline level of maturity as the "team leader".
The Celtics, Who Play In Boston, Handed Down A Two-Year Ban To A Fan That "Muttered" THAT Racial Slur At DeMarcus Cousins
You know who the Boston Celtics should really be mad at? I mean, other than piece of shit that used the most disgusting of words as a weapon in cowardly prioritizing his racism over the already questionable reputation of the city he represents, quite obviously. The Utah Jazz, for that two-year ban seems like a light slap upside a white-hooded head in retrospect, after another team went on to present a lifetime dismissal to someone whose more indirect racial undertones were taken umbrage with by Russell Westbrook...
The truth of the matter is that these bans are insanely ineffective anyway. You can take away someone's season tickets, but you deny them access into the building through the secondary market unless you've got the most focused and expert of facial recognizers working blue collar jobs as ticket takers. That's sad, because the NBA really needs little things like a worldwide epidemic of intolerance to cease creeping its way within screaming distance of the hardwood, but it's true. Not to encourage those that have been publicly ostracized for being bigoted assholes, but - so long as they manage to somehow swallow their white pride - they can pretty easily sit through a game undetected.
For that reason, it's in every organization's best interest - from both a PR perspective and more importantly a humanity perspective - to give these morons that illogically pay in excess to demean the entire existence of those they are paying to see an official and eternal door to the ass. Not only because there is no such thing as too strict a punishment for being such a prejudiced prick that you feel more than comfortable doing so in front of tens of thousands of people, but because it's a punishment that's more of a hopeful deterrent than a harsh form of discipline. Therefore, why not deter discrimination as severely as humanly possible in hopes that it's effective? That's a question that really should have been asked, specifically regarding the use of the n-word in Boston.
The story here will be that Connor McDavid, while skating at full speed with a defender on his back, put the puck and his stick between his legs to snipe top corner despite being at an angle that would flummox a Geometry teacher, because...well...that's a pretty goddamn awesome story.
However, being that we've "heard" an iteration of it before, although not one "told" in a way that made time and space seem like entirely unnecessary social constructs, I'm going to focus on the most mind-melting "oh, and..." of all time. That, of course, being that while making the rest of a league filled with the best hockey players on the planet look like pylons, he also lifted his foot to allow for a full follow through on a shot that not one other person on the ice would have had the stones to attempt in the first place.
Never mind the astronomical amount of balance and skill required to do so, because the amount of smarts required to do so are, ironically, absolutely fucking stupid. Connor McDavid's presence of mind makes that of his competition seem comparable to someone that just licked up the entirety of the batter for a specialized batch of brownies in celebration of 420. He just thinks the game on an entirely different level, with that level being so far above everyone else's head that it justifies the nickname 'McJesus'. Scored what's likely to be a goal of the year candidate, and yet somehow the true beauty of it was still in the details. The kid is a special kind of special, so much so that you have to tip your cap...even it leaves you at risk dumping your blown mind all over the place.
Sean Payton Has Some Thoughts On The NFL's Recent Coaching Trend Of Trying To Hire A Bunch Of Cut-Rate Versions Of Himself
So, what you're saying is that Sean Payton doesn't believe that coaches who can lead, motivate, and call plays in serving as an extra set of all-knowing eyes for their quarterback at the highest level of football can be plucked ripe from the Sean McVay coaching tree in just two years time? Weird. Why would he find the notion that young and innovative offensive minds that are instinctually well-versed in the managerial aspects of coaching while being ahead of their time systematically are a dime-a-dozen during any given offseason to be patently ridiculous? Can't quite put my finger on it....
In all seriousness, there is just a hint of bias showing in that answer, as Sean Payton would have been football's flavor of the year long before Sean McVay had he teamed up with Drew Brees and quickly turned around the Saints' fortunes while rocking a handsomely kempt beard during the social media boom. While (attempted) imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no one wants to believe that what they do best can be even remotely replicated by a bunch of guys whose resumes might as well read "right place, right time, right theory", much less someone who is second to only the most accomplished coach in NFL history in length of tenure. Therefore, Sean Payton should be flashing that infamously spiteful smirk in talking down in the direction of a bunch of stereotype hires. Not only because he's earned the right, but also because he did what some of them objectively did not in earning the hell out of the high-profile, pressure-packed job he's managed to hold onto for the last 12 years.
The truth of the matter is that he's exactly right. Much like Sean McVay, Sean Payton is of a rare breed that doesn't simply repopulate through interactional and intellectual osmosis. I get that the NFL is a copycat league, but how many of those copycats end up being passable clones as opposed to the type of unsightly genetic mutations that serve as short-lived proof that cloning is actually really fucking hard? There are so few quality head coaches with staying power that stick in the NFL, so thinking that they can all be found in the same list of contacts requires a semester-long nap through Statistics 101.
Now granted, if I were looking to fill a sideline vacancy, I too might find myself swoon by a young, handsome fella who has a play sheet that looks like a diner menu and has the uncanny ability to flirtatiously drop an 'RPO' reference, but that's because I'm a simple-minded moron that can't look past points. Presumably, the people in charge of employing the highest levels of multi-billion dollar organizations are not, so - when they are inevitably replacing a bunch of flameouts in the near future - they'd probably be wise to keep in mind that off-the-field lesson from Sean Payton before he teaches them another one on-the-field.
Gary Sanchez Clearly Didn't Work On His Instincts During Spring Training, As He Bat Flipped During A Pop Out On Opening Day
To tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure what to make of that laughable display of depth perception. On one hand, it could be argued that it was the result of early season unfamiliarity and a reminder that it takes awhile for even the most professional of athletes to get back into the literal and figurative swing of things. On the other hand, it could also be argued that Gary Sanchez displaying a terrible feel for the sport while being involved in such juvenile jackassery is proof that he's already in mid-to-late season form...
Whatever the case may be, I'm just glad it didn't take longer than opening damn day for him to provide a blooper. Especially one as giggle-inducing as the visual of him using his hand to retrospectively recalibrate the aerodynamics of the trajectory of the routine can of corn that he acted as if he had hit clear over the bread aisle.
Sean Payton Was Frustrated With How Things Went Down With Mark Ingram, Which Brings A Little Clarity To A "Cloudy" Situation
Suits, you just can't trust them. That's what I have come to take away from the split between the Saints and one of their most beloved and consummate leaders, as everything that's been made public regarding Mark Ingram's free agency leads me to believe it was botched by a third party not named the Baltimore Ravens. Considering the amount of up-to-the-minute communication that he, himself said he had with his now former teammates throughout the process, it makes little to no sense for #22 to have, more or less, ghosted his now former head coach unless it was a directive from his representation. Therefore, I'll go to the grave believing that the Saints would have met Mark Ingram in the middle if his agent didn't lose his mind...just a little.
It still sucks something serious to know that such a familiar and galvanizing face won't be wearing the black & gold alongside Alvin Kamara next year, but it does slightly ease the pain to know that even Sean Payton was feeling the frustration. The Saints didn't wait because they were given no indication they should wait from the person they would have been waiting on. They simply did what they could not get stood up by someone who was presumably instructed to play hard to get while ignoring the status of the grass in seeing if the money was greener elsewhere, which was settle.
I don't blame Mark Ingram for trying to maximize one last big pay day that he undoubtedly deserved. I'm just upset that his proverbial GPS malfunctioned while looking for it, as it allegedly took him too long without talking to get to the reasonable price and term he eventually accepted anyway. Just another reinforcement of the belief that this entirely unnecessary breakup was merely a product of circumstance, except this time with Mark Ingram's management assuming the nickname 'Circumstance'.
Devin Booker Called His Most Recent 50 Point Game At Halftime...Of An Eventual Loss To The Woeful Wizards
To be honest, I find this more sad than anything else. That's not to say that I'm shaking my head at Devin Booker's insanely cocky words or his ability to back them up. Rather, it's to say that it's pretty depressing that he's gotten so used to playing for absolutely nothing throughout a young career in which his Suns' team has topped 25 wins exactly ZERO times that he's adopted shooting for half a hundo - win or, much more likely, lose - as his primary source of motivation.
To have a problem with stat chasing is to have a problem with almost all of the NBA's most impressive milestones, but that we've come to accept Devin Booker's openness in occasionally doing so really speaks to how much we sympathize with his situation of being left with absolutely nothing else to race towards other than point totals. One of most promising young stars in all of basketball, and all we get to celebrate is him being cocksure in his counting stats... during a loss to a lowly Wizards team. That's about as bittersweet as the black coffee you'd have to drink to stay awake during a Phoenix Suns' game in which Devin Booker isn't running up his numbers and reminding everyone that he's been catching fire from basketball hell.
Michael Jordan Definitely Made The Right Business Decision In Turning Down Seven Figures A Year To Endorse 'Beanee Weenees' Early In His Career
SI- In the ’90s, Michael Jordan was known as much as a pitchman as he was as a basketball player. He hawked products for Gatorade, McDonald’s and, of course, Nike, among many others. But there was one lucrative deal that Jordan had to pass on, because he refused to say the product’s name.
In a 1992 interview with Playboy that was later republished on Longform and dug up this week by Business Insider, Jordan says he was approached early in his career to endorse Beanee Weenees, a canned combo of baked beans and hot dogs. The deal would have been worth nearly $1 million annually, but Mike just couldn’t do it.
“Two or three years ago Quaker Oats came to me to endorse Van Kamp’s pork and beans—Beanee Weenees, I think it was called. You ever heard of Beanee Weenees pork and beans? It was close to a million bucks a year. I’m saying, Beanee Weenees? How can I stand in front of a camera and say I’ll eat Beanee Weenees? If I wanted to be a hardnosed businessman, I could have been in a lot of deals, like the one with Johnson Products. I had a deal with them for their hair-care products. I had two or three more years on that deal when I started losing my hair. So I forfeited the deal. But if I had wanted to be greedy, I could’ve said, Screw you, you didn’t know my hair was falling out so you owe me money. But I didn’t.”
Think about how much mileage the internet got out of a visual of arguable the greatest competitor and most cold-blooded champion in the history of professional sports shedding a tear of vulnerability during a celebration of his legendary career that might very well go unmatched in terms of dominance for all of eternity.
Now, think of what might have happened if that same ruthless entity of anonymous aliases got their hands on a clip of that same player grinning shamelessly through gritted teeth while endorsing a product that makes 'Oscar Meyer' sound and seem as civilized as 'Ruth Chris' during the early stages of that same historic career.
I don't want to say that Michael Jordan had any sort of foresight in simply refusing to trade in his pride for a paycheck, and it's definitely easier to do exactly that when you are insanely confident in how amazing an athlete you are on pace to be, but - boy, oh boy - did a little autonomy in his endorsements end up going a long way in embarrassment avoidance.
The eventual GOAT as a brand ambassador for 'Beanee Weenees' and the type of food you might damn well feed to a farm animal? A universe in which 'Jumpman' was once the dump man for childishly named franks and beans? What a weird world (wide web) that would be. You think canned goods have a prolonged shelf life? Imagine a GIF of the most iconic basketball player turned brand of all time hawking chopped up hot dogs in those cans.
Kliff Kingsbury Better Not Suck Because He's Playing Right Into The Hands Of His Haters By Giving His Players "Cellphone Breaks" During Team Meetings
ESPN- Kingsbury said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings that he'll implement "cellphone breaks" during team meetings. He did something similar while coaching at Texas Tech but will adapt it for NFL players.
"They're itching to get to those things," he said.
Kingsbury will let the players break for their phones every 20 or 30 minutes -- what he called a "good run" -- right around the time he usually starts to see players lose interest.
"You start to see kind of hands twitching and legs shaking, and you know they need to get that social media fix, so we'll let them hop over there and then get back in the meeting and refocus," Kingsbury said.
While coaching the Red Raiders the past six years, Kingsbury saw firsthand just how short young football players' attention spans can be. Kingsbury said the average age in the NFL is 25, not much older than the players he coached in college.
I'd be quite the hypocrite if I typed in my password, opened up Twitter, stumbled upon this story mid-day on a Wednesday, and proceeded to scold Kliff Kingsbury for having the baseline understanding that the generation he's predominantly trying to get through to has the attention span of a goldfish that has taken too many subconcussive blows to the head. I mean, at 39 years of age with a clear consciousness of his Ryan Gosling-esque self image, you can argue you that he's not actively trying to relate to his technologically addicted players as much as he just instinctually does relate to them like a young, cool Uncle of sorts. Whatever the case may be, not updating your techniques in dealing with the new, more narcissistic breed of young adult like they are all as laser-focused on film study as Larry Fitzgerald is a good way to find yourself being tuned out in favor of a timeline.
The truth is, I judge people for aimlessly scrolling through their phone at the table about as often as I catch myself involuntarily scrolling through my phone at the table. Therefore, as incredibly pathetic as it might be, maybe the occasional break for a notification check is what you have to give to get today's pro athletes to fully take to your approach. Either way, I can pretty much guarantee that Kliff Kingsbury won't be a failure based on the amount of time his team spends on social media.
What he will be, however, is a parody if he just so happens to fail while also being the most stereotypical version of a stereotypical hire. Before Kliff Kingsbury even gelled his hair and slid on his designer sunglasses for the first time as the broke and beautiful man's Sean McVay for the Arizona Cardinals, the repressive old guard of NFL retreads already a skeptical eye on him as someone who didn't earn a job that he's historically too young, pretty, inexperienced for. I also tend to differ from 50-70 year old disciplinarians when it comes to preferred learning techniques. Unfortunately, I can't blame them for rolling their eyes when the formerly fired college coach whose lack of a need for an Instagram filter is as impressive as his lack of a need for a respectable resume decides his NFL team needs internet intermissions.
I guess my point is that maybe it's best not to play right into their predictable and generalized critiques by branding the time intervals between team meetings as "cellphone breaks" and actively encouraging online distractions. Sort of feels like we're one step away from post-practice lunch appearing on the itinerary as 'brunch'. Not that it would really make any difference whatsoever if it did, but it would sure make the millennial jokes a whole hell of a lot easier to come by if he falls flat on his face while also millennializing his roster's day-to-day routine. After all, it's not like doing so returned reverent results at a much lower level of football. He might just be a pioneer, but I think I'd market his new age tactics a little more professionally as they make him even more likely to become a punchline.
Jon Gruden Alleges That He Cried For Three Days After Trading Khalil Mack, Which Is A Lot Too Much To Be Even A Little True
While I have very little doubt that Jon Gruden is a passionate guy who wears his emotions on his sleeves and whose eyes have welled up, with either sorrow or joy, more from football than literally anything else in his life, I think doth protest just a few thousand too many tears here. As I recall, we're talking about a recent hire that didn't so much as reach out and initiate contact with Khalil Mack throughout his holdout, so implying that he spent upwards of 72 hours swimming in pool of his own sadness after an extended split that he snarled silently through seems a bit extreme.
You might be able to convince me that he cried himself through many "don't know what ya got 'til it's gone" type moments after the season started and he was getting beaten six ways to Sunday in the breakup. I'm sure his office got mildly dusty when #52 was wrecking havoc on the entire NFC North while he was stuck sounding nothing short of senile in answering to Oakland's inability to pressure any quarterback other than their own, but in the immediate aftermath of the trade? Nah.
That heartbreak was reserved for the Raiders' faithful that was left believing their team was too cheap to retain talent despite arranging a move to a city where money is no object and having just committed $100 million to a head coach that hadn't manned a sideline in a decade. Let's not retroactively manufacture the crocodile tears of some immediate mourning period as if Jon Gruden wasn't gung-ho in giving away a defensive destroyer the likes of which all other organizations were desperately searching for. That's a convenient rewriting of history after said quarterback killer predictably proceeded to have an unquantifiable impact on a playoff team, but it's not one that comes anywhere close to being considered non-fiction.
Due In Part To The Masterful Motivational Skills Of Sean Payton, The Saints Got Their Rule Change...And A Very, Very Slight Sense Of Closure
Thirty-one other inherently self-serving NFL head coaches. Thirty stubborn and oft-unrelatable NFL owners, with the only exception being that of a Bengals' organization that would be one step away from relegation if professional football were ever to enforce such a practice. One imbecile of an NFL commissioner, who'd rather beat off to his bank account than agree to make any sort of sizable changes to the league that keeps it fluidly flush at all times.
That concludes the list of powerful people who Sean Payton convinced to indirectly admit that his team suffered such an outrageous and inexcusable injustice that something absolutely had to be done to prevent the league from enduring such an unsightly black eye in the future...
Saints' fans and/or players are still far too cynical for even one to believe that this "win" comes even remotely close to making up for the harrowing and heart-wrenching loss that necessitated it. Be prepared to continue telling New Orleans as a collective to get over it, because this hardly signals the end of their spiteful grudge. However, it's tough to think about how unbelievably unlikely it is to get almost the entirety of the NFL's billion-dollar brain trust to agree on anything that doesn't have a dollar sign attached, as well as look at that warm embrace between Sean Payton and Gayle Benson, and not come to the conclusion that this is an accomplishment - albeit a bittersweet one - for those heavily invested in the franchise.
Now, this rule change is hardly a cure-all for negligent, cowardly, and flat-out piss poor officiating. You don't exactly need a telescope to foresee the stars of stupidity aligning in such a way that controversial pass interference calls, or lack thereof, endure the forever frustrating "what exactly is a catch?" treatment. That said, with the NFL's principled refusal to put any one of their many zeros worth of income towards the outcome of full-time referees whose jobs are actually dependent on identifying the blatantly obvious free from the game-situation during which it occurs, this is about the best anyone could hope for in terms of change.
Perhaps whatever impassioned speech Sean Payton gave in swaying the unforgiving audience in a room that's resistant to change to damn near unanimity should be made public so that everyone feels the same about the NFL's rare attempted fix to something that actually affects the integrity of football. This wasn't about retroactively righting one disgraceful and dishonorable wrong, as the Who Dat Nation will gladly be demeaningly loud and obnoxiously proud in letting you know that will always and forever be an impossibility. This was about making more fair a product that impacts the fickle job security of thousands, even if that is an on-going and imperfect process.
Root for the New Orleans Saints to ironically be on the wrong side of a rule their head coach was adamantly ingenious in having altered all you want, but don't say his head wasn't in the same place as his heart in doing so.
Andy Greene Became The 1st Player In Devils' History To Record Over 200 Blocked Shots In a Season, Which Is A Testament To Him And An Indictment Of His Defense
First and foremost, a tip of the hat to Andy Greene. During a season full of decidedly uncool moments in which he's far too often been treated as a scapegoat by some, it's pretty damn cool for him to be the first to officially reach such a selfless milestone for such a historically defensive franchise as one of its longest tenured veterans. There certainly hasn't been any questioning of his captaincy from within the locker room, but let this stat serve as the fist that shoves it up the ass of everyone outside said locker room that doesn't understand what his presence might mean to a young team. The record-setting beating he's taken is not only a sign that he still has some old man's tricks to provide to a young man's game, but also proof that even when he doesn't lead by example in execution, he's doing so in effort.
Now, what this says about the Devils' defense isn't anywhere close to as complimentary as I just was towards Andy Greene, for the amount of time a 36 year defenseman has to play to be 25(!) blocked shots ahead of the next closest player in the entire league is extremely troublesome. I don't think it's a secret that his instinctive penalty killing prowess as a gluttonous minutes-devourer for one of the best shorthanded units in the NHL is a factor. However, so is the fact that he spends way too much time stuck in over his head as someone who has no business being a part of a first pairing at this stage in his career. All the credit to him for sacrificing his body to make up for the physical shortcomings unloaded on him by Father Time, but they wouldn't be anywhere as highlighted if he was at...say...170 blocks on the season as a high quality third-pairing PK specialist.
As far as Andy Greene's leadership is concerned, that organizationally unmatched stat speaks directly to it. Unfortunately, it also speaks to the thankless and unforgiving role he's not once complained about being forced to fill as a bruised up brick wall for a depleted defense.
The Jazz Intentionally Fouled While Up 30+ In The Final Minute, In Using A Shameless Tactic To Combat A Shameless Attempt At A 60 Point Performance
Here's the thing, worrying about an opponent's stat line in the waning seconds of a game that you have well in hand is pretty pathetic. Intentionally fouling someone to stop them from scoring 50, 60, 70, or 8,000 points, as opposed to just playing another possession of solid team defense and hoping for the best while the actual outcome is already decided in your favor is a bush league move. That much is pretty inarguable.
Here's the other thing, however. The same could be said about worrying about your own player's stat line in the waning seconds of another emasculating and embarrassing defeat. The same could also be said about inserting your own star back into a complete laugher of a blowout for no other reason than to give him a chance at scoring 50, 60, 70, or 8,000 of the most meaningless points en route to the most empty of milestone. That much is also inarguable.
We're talking about a complete soap opera of a professional league that uses super premium pettiness to fuel their full-speed-ahead popularity, so you won't find me bitching about a lack of class in a situation this stupid. If anything, I find it funny. That said, if last night's scoreboard read the amount in which each team maintained the integrity of the game of basketball then it would have been a 0-0 tie. It would have been a low-scoring struggle of shamelessness, with the Jazz "winning" by technicality in denying Devin Booker, a prominent player that belonged nowhere near the court at the time, of a stat night that wouldn't even have come close to eclipsing his career high (that was achieved in a much more palatable fashion, mind you) anyway.
I honestly don't care if NBA organizations want to make a punchline of themselves for nothing more than pretty point totals, nor do I care in what form or fashion particular players achieve those totals. You just can't get upset with a competing NBA organization for being just as ludicrously laughable in their retaliatory attempts at defending themselves against those totals when you initially wiped your ass with the spirit of the sport in trying to attain them in the first place. It's a classic case of fighting fire with the fire...but with the fire instead being feces that was being thrown between benches as a sideshow to an uncompetitive professional basketball game.
A Disgruntled Drew Doughty Went Scorched Earth On A Couple Big-Name NHLers, Which Was All But Guaranteed To Be Poorly Received
If you want to view these scathing comments from the mouth of someone whose performance as a franchise cornerstone defenseman this season has paled in comparison the 11 million dollars he's due annually starting next season through 2027 as sour grapes then be my guest. Much like the rest of an aging Kings' roster that has almost as many regulation wins as they do big names, Drew Doughty doesn't really have any room to talk from the cold, damp basement of the Western Conference.
That said, just so we're clear here, it's entirely the messenger that is the problem, as opposed to the actual message. The truth is that Matthew Tkachuk has gone far out of his way to make far more than his fair share of enemies in prioritizing his role as a pest, just as Brent Burns has gone far out of his way to make far more than his fair share of defensive blunders in prioritizing his play with the puck. No one really wants to hear that from the homeless-looking mouth of a notable douchebag and an underachieving defenseman whose plus/minus, as overrated a stat as it may be, speaks to his own massive failures in keeping the puck out of his net. Especially since he, himself lays claim to the most undeserved Norris Trophy in recent memory. However, in a very "takes one to know one" type way, he is pretty damn qualified to identify both dickheads and defensive liabilities alike.
If Matthew Tkachuk and Brent Burns keep producing as is then neither indictment really matters all that much. However, it's not crazy to think that the young player prides himself on being an asshole has yet to earn league-wide respect, just as it's not crazy to say that a former forward doesn't make for an impenetrable line of defense. It is crazy for Drew Doughty to think that he looks like anything other than a super salty hypocrite for taking it upon himself to deliver such harsh critiques, but we're not exactly talking about someone whose on-ice awareness has always been of thy self...
After A Lengthy Flirtation Period, Jared Cook And The New Orleans Saints Have (Basically) Officially Gotten Into Bed With One Another
With the slow and steady way things have gone since the Saints actively started courting Jared Cook, I suppose Sean Payton's mildly non-comittal "understanding" that the premier tight end on the market has joined one of the offenses most likely to maximize his talents is the best we could have hoped in terms of an official announcement. In fact, the coyness of it is actually quite fitting of what's felt like a sitcom-esque inevitable relationship, in which the New England Patriots played the cameo role of the attractive suitor that ultimately ends up making the two parties realize exactly what they've seen in each other all this time. Of course, what really took so long was really the master class in cap economics that Mickey Loomis was undoubtedly putting on for Jared Cook and his agent. However, it was still reassuring to hear that not even a call from a Super Bowl champion with a first ballot HOF-sized opportunity available could get him to change courses before the final drop date.
As for how Jared Cook fits into a Sean Payton offense that's never met a mismatch it wasn't overly anxious to exploit, I can't help but feel like I'm a bit late to the game in realizing how perfect it has the potential to be. I don't know if I underrated his athleticism due to the sheer incompetence of Jeff Fisher's Rams, or the inability of Aaron Rodgers-led offenses to get the most out of the tight end position, or the irrelevance of the Oakland Raiders, but what Jared Cook lacks in career consistency was more than made for by his versatility the last two seasons.
It might be premature to think of him as much more than a rich man's Coby Fleener. Still, with the way he's able to exploit the seam, execute double moves, and use his size and speed to his advantage, you can definitely envision a reason to believe he could provide the production of a poor man's Jimmy Graham plus the occasional block or two. Especially in a Saints' system that's become more reliant on intermediate routes as their quarterback's accuracy has aged more gracefully than his arm strength. Now more so than ever before, Drew Brees needs to work with hand-in-hand with the scheme around him and there's nothing Sean Payton loves to do more than find ways to make the most of unique offensive skill sets. What's undeniable is that Jared Cook absolutely has one of those and it happens to match what the Saints have been missing at the flex tight end position for awhile now.
If what's being reported is at all accurate then the only risk that comes with investing in a 31 year old player who is reliant on his athleticism has been minimized by a short deal that's front loaded in guaranteed money and backloaded in roster flexibility. Therefore, until further notice, there really isn't anything to dislike about an addition that helps open up an offense that probably wouldn't have needed to leave their fate in the blind eyes of officials if they had another prominent and experienced pass catcher available to them during the postseason. At least in theory, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Jared Cook should all make each other more efficient, and they were are all pretty damn effective in their own right as is.
Moe Harkless Kicked Aside An After-The-Whistle Shot Attempt, And Yes...You Did Read That Right
You know, it's not so much the act of pulling himself up by the net to boot away a basketball mid-flight that I find impressive, as I'm pretty sure quite a few NBA players could do the same if they really, really wanted to. Rather, it's the presence of mind to do so in the moment that I find mesmerizing. It's as if reaching his foot above the rim to block a meaningless shot out of principle with some Cirque Du Soleil-type bullshit is as second nature to Moe Harkless as swatting in the general direction of a fly...and missing is to the average, everyday asshole. If he had thought anything of stopping merely one step short of literally jumping through hoops then he wouldn't have been able to time it right. Therefore, his casual execution and instinctive desire to go full Tae-kwon-Dikembe in using ass-over-teakettle calisthenics to protect the rim is the realest of reminders that Moe Harkless, much like many other professional athletes, is truly a different breed of human.
The Celtics Finally Gave Isaiah Thomas His Touching Tribute Video, But That Didn't Stop Him From Saying They'd Have Won A Title If Not For Trading Him
There's no doubt about it. Watching Isaiah Thomas relive his heroics in transcending tragedy to help will a young and incomplete Celtics' team to the Conference Finals before feeling every ounce of love from the loud and proud Boston faithful was a very cool moment. You could also argue that's true literally, as - thanks to Paul Pierce's ego - that heartwarming video was tabled and just sat around waiting to be served after being fully prepared well over a year ago. That, however, is besides the point, which is that 'The King In The Fourth' reigned short but unforgettably supreme during his time as a Celtic and deserved to be honored, no matter how belated, for such.
Now, as far as his proclamation that TD Bank Garden would have already hung another banner if not for the coldblooded business decision that sent his career into a tailspin of sorts, that's not even worthy of a discussion. If anything, all that has unfolded since Danny Ainge shipped a fan favorite out of Boston has vindicated him in his decision to do so. Isaiah Thomas has become an oft-injured journeyman who even has trouble cracking the rotation when actually healthy. No matter how much Kyrie Irving's incessant bitching and moaning weighs on his teammates, something tells me the guy that's played only 42 games in a limited capacity since being flipped for him wasn't the missing piece necessary to topple either LeBron James or the Golden State Warriors.
That being said, I'm totally fine with him telling himself such. With the amount of money Isaiah Thomas cost himself in battling through a bad hip and a broken heart to pick up playoff wins for an organization that ultimately thanked him by sending him to go perform in the circus that was last year's Cleveland Cavaliers, I actually encourage him to tell himself as many lies as is necessary to keep him sane. We're talking about a guy whose league-wide and cliff-sized fall from grace came when he was basically an outstretched finger-tip away from securing lifelong financial security. If convincing himself that he'd be a champion if not for the trade that altered the trajectory of his career to something that looked a lot like a Malaysian Airlines flightpath is what helps him sleep at night then I honestly think Boston Celtics' fans should help crowdsource him a replica Larry O'Brien trophy. He did almost everything right only for almost everything to go all wrong, so if his side of the story is that the team that moved him indirectly traded away a title then we should all respectfully sit around quietly and listen with open ears and open hearts. Even if it is a tall tale.