Noted Rockets' Hater Scott Foster is Officiating Game 2, Thus Increasing the Odds That It's More Soap Opera Than Sporting Event
To be honest, I'm having a really tough time deciding whether I love or hate this news. On one hand, as someone who loves the 'Days of Our Lives'-type dramatics of the NBA, you'd think I would appreciate inserting an official whose presence might as well be a powder keg into a series that has already seen the referees raked over the coals by the Rockets. After all, if you also like that the league often operates as a soap opera then tonight's game is a must watch due solely to the amount of antagonistic personalities playing a part in it.
On the other hand, as someone who realizes that this is probably the most entertaining basketball matchup this postseason possesses, I'm downright fearful of the volume being turned up on an amount of whining over whistles that would have the teacher of a cranky kindergarten class at her wit's end as is. Considering James Harden's flagrant flopping and CP3's motormouth, Scott Foster probably has just as much reason to hate them as they hate him. That said, if he inserts himself into tonight's contest in a way that at all increases the obnoxious officiating angle that's already reared its ugly head and began running amok then we're well on our way to a great series being ruined by factors outside of the actual sport presumably being played at its peak level.
I genuinely believe that the postgame moaning and groaning was more intended at leveraging some more fortuitous calls in the very near future. However, if there's one person that can pour gasoline on what quickly became a flammable situation and add another spark to a heated rivalry then it's the head referee of a absolutely pivotal Game 2. So, here's to hoping Scott Foster either suppresses the urge to make tonight all about him...or at least puts forth a performance worthy of a reality TV show in causing the type of chaos that makes everyone forget their supposed to be watching the highest quality of competition between some of the world's most remarkable athletes.
Shall We Discuss Kyle Lowry Choosing the Final Possession of a One Score Playoff Game as a Showcase For His Street Ball "Skills"?
Oddly enough, I think what certainly appeared to be an objectively idiotic move that was about as well-timed, situationally appropriate, and risk-adverse as any 10+ foot jump shot ever taken by Ben Simmons was also a good sign for the Toronto Raptors.
Don't get me wrong, it was due in absolutely no part to the execution of the person who attempted to throw the game under the scrotum of a superior athletic specimen. However, when you consider that the Raptors still managed to get an open look regardless, they have to be feeling good about the boldness of their All Star PG during a time of year when it historically wanes.
To be quite clear, I'm sure Toronto would much rather have the extremely confident Kyle Lowry who was aggressive in hitting back-to-back clutch 3's in the final minutes than the irrationally confident Kyle Lawry's who was more worried about getting spicy and leaving opponents salty when the outcome of a playoff game hung in the balance. However, even the 'And 1 Mixtape Tour' version is preferable to the dude who has multiple 0-fer offerings throughout his incredibly underwhelming postseason career.
Of course, the fact that what somehow comes a close second to JR Smith passing up a lay-up to run out the clock on a tied Finals game as the most circumstantially stupid play in NBA history can be seen as a relative positive tells you pretty much everything you need to know Kyle Lowry's problematic playoff appearances. Still, it's much easier to knock a man down a peg than it is to build him all the way up, and the Raptors are far too familiar with falling short in failing to do the latter with Kyle Lowry when it matters most.
Signs Aren't Pointing in the Wrong Direction, As Taylor Hall Had a Courtside Seat Between The Sixers/Devils Owners to Game 2 in Toronto
It's a good sign. Nothing more and, assuming they didn't let Josh Harris' insanely awkward ass try to take command of the conversation, nothing less. Of course, in judging by the facial expression above, Taylor Hall's courtside experience wasn't the most socially seamless endeavor of his life. Probably had the laser focus of Kawhi Leonard in taking in the efforts of Jimmy Butler & Co, if only to avoid having to pull an entire mouthful of teeth in trying to relate to billionaires. Still, even the fact that this was arranged between the Devils' money men and the Devils' money man fairly far ahead of any potential payday is enough to bring the heart to a resting rate.
We're talking about a franchise that, as of late, doesn't have the greatest track of properly financing and/or keeping their most familiar faces. Therefore, their fanbase will gladly take every ounce of optimism that is to be provided by the inherently idiotic and unforgiving act of reading far too much into things seen on social media. I both think and hope that there are still a lot of hockey-centric discussions to be had between Taylor Hall and two people who I trust exponentially more to conduct them in John Hynes and Ray Shero. However, the currently underpaid talent being open to being in the open with two guys with which he probably shares exactly two common interests, with those being dollar signs and the New Jersey Devils, is a helluva start to a impending anxiety attack of an offseason.
"What could possibly go wrong from here?", he naively muttered while pounding on wood with the tenacity of Blake Coleman until his knuckles began to bleed.
UPDATE: Hynes alert!
Stars' Esa Lindell Got Shot Four Separate Times, And Lived to See His Flagrant Flopping Directly Cost His Team Game 3
As I watched, and then re-watched, and then re-re-watched in amazement as an unprofessionally professional athlete in Esa Lindell performed all three acts of his shameless one man show entitled 'Bambi On Ice' in the middle of a tightly contested Stanley Cup playoff game, I couldn't help but wonder what type of supplemental discipline he'd face. A postseason suspension seemed a bit too stiff for temporarily compromising the integrity of the sport, but the write-off of a mere fine felt like too much of a slap on the wrist for the embarrassment of eternally tarnishing his entire family's name. As you can imagine, I was at quite the loss for a punishment fitting of the crime of...well...the fraudulent reporting of multiple felonies.
Then something that went against the 'WTF' nature of a postseason whose annual unpredictability appears to have been shot up with steroids this Spring happened...
Esa Lindell let a relatively light Pat Maroon shove launch him into a full-on breast stroke only for him to pop his head back up for a breath just in time to see a tale of justice get poetically penned at his expense.
Now, I'm more than fine with nothing more than a fine, because the number on that check will pale in comparison to the amount of respect he cost himself in the locker room by flopping around like he was just pulled fresh out of Alaskan ice while his defensive assignment made sure he also paid the price of a pivotal Game 3. Credit the Big Rig for dominating a net-front battle in familiar fashion, but his combatant, for the fourth time in a single game, put up the fight of James Harden mid-jump shot in looking like a widow fainting at the funeral. But hey, little did he know that in doing so he'd be gifting us the happiest of storybook endings to what was the saddest of attempts to draw a 25-to-life sentence during a playoff hockey game.
The New Jersey Devils of Present and Future Are Already Setting the World(s) on Fire, So to Speak
Trust me, the irony of having to celebrate the accomplishments of New Jersey Devils' players, or those who are very likely to be soon, while they are performing for teams other than the New Jersey Devils despite the playoffs still being in full swing is not lost on me. Still, as far as early offseasons go, you can't ask for much better than lucking into the opportunity to select someone who broke a record last held by the best pure scorer in NHL history while the two most dynamic young players already on your roster were making an instant impact internationally.
During an otherwise depressing time of year in which a disappointed fanbase desperately needed reassurance of a brighter future, it's a wonder that every social media savvy Devils' fan hasn't had to make an optometrist appointment after being left temporarily blinded by the amount of highlights they've had flashed in front of their face over the last week. Whether it be Jack Hughes absolutely infantilizing his peers with his effortlessly amazing play, or Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt picking up right where they left in looking more dangerous and more dangerous by the day, what should be a massive summer for the upward trajectory of the franchise has already been granted an extremely promising precursor.
There's still an entire tournament to be played by all three (assuming reports of Hughes' high level of interest accurate). However, what will more than likely serve as half of the Devils' top-six hasn't appeared to waste a damn shift in continuing to realize their potential at every opportunity. Who knows? Maybe Mackenzie Blackwood (who will also be getting some shine in Slovakia) IS on to something...and if not I'll gladly accept the delightful distractions during the aftermath of a doom-and-gloom season...
The Milwaukee Bucks Can Warm Up the Bus, Because Their Series Against the Celtics is Over After One Game...By Paul Pierce's Estimation
So, now that he's officially retired, we can officially complete the 'Paul Pierce Emasculation Tour' by giving all his airtime to Dwyane Wade, right? Don't get me wrong, there's a time and a place for Boston-driven bullshit. I just think that time is late at night and that place is some Northeast regional affiliate that people primarily watch to bolster their bias ahead of big games.
As much as I loved 'The Truth' throughout the entirety of his career, he's made a habit out of bending it in basically becoming living proof that not every former athlete is cut out to be a objective analyst. That has never been made more clear than it was in this particularly bad attempt at trying to inform a viewing audience. The winningest team in the league, led by the presumed MVP, whose range of talents are assumed to not be of this planet, is doomed after one single playoff loss to a team whose kryptonite has been their own consistency. You honestly couldn't take in a worse prognostication if you sniffed it straight from the ass Skip Bayless talks out of.
Of course, the Bucks have more causes for concern now than they did 24 hours ago, as the Celtics looked to be firing on all cylinders offensively and Al Horford did a great job on Giannis defensively. However, if the question is "where do they go from here?" then I'd imagine the answer is back to their locker room to ready themselves for a long series of adjustments after an uncharacteristically piss-poor shooting performance.
I don't even feel comfortable calling Paul Pierce a prisoner of the moment. Saying "styles make fights" as if styles can't be changed and fights don't last more than a round is so abjectly moronic that it better purely be a product of favoritism towards the franchise for which his number hangs in the rafters. If not, then it's a product of a clear and present stupidity towards the entirety of sports that can't be solely blamed on the circumstances of which he was asked to analyze.
I'm Shook by My Overwhelming Inability to Feel Bad For James Harden When Bad Officiating is Decidedly Not on His Side
Even if you tend to think that the final non-call was the right one, which I do, it would require seeing yesterday's game through lenses so royal blue they'd make Elton John blush to fail to see that the Warriors were the obvious beneficiaries of bad officiating. I don't even think that's an opinion as much as it is a fact...
That being said, if you're anything like me, it's also impossible to come away from that game feeling at all bad for the player who went on to shamelessly plead for fairness in officiating after spending an entire MVP-worthy season making things entirely unfair on those officiating him...
Call it paying a postseason physicality tax after having his net-worth inflated by the relief he was granted at the charity stripe all regular season. Call it an untimely regression to the mean. Call it whatever the hell you want, but James Harden's gift (and it is absolutely a skill, albeit an obnoxious one) in creating otherwise unnecessary contact is a curse in that there is reason to doubt literally every reaction he has on the court. In the same vein of "the boy who cried wolf", the engine to the Rockets' offense is very much the beard who cried foul, and placing your fate in historically inconsistent hands by design is not a strategy that's liable to succeed when it matters most.
Simply put, it's of James Harden's doing, and his doing alone, that the refs, whose job is hard enough as is, are basically flipping a coin in trying to decide if he was truly fouled or if he shamelessly flopped. It sucks that coin kept coming up heads in biting Houston in the tail yesterday, but it was really only a matter of (playoff) time before those questionable calls became a hell of a lot harder to come by.
As he referenced, Kawhi Leonard's postseason-altering injury a few seasons ago is evidence of the importance of giving a shooter space to land, but what he failed to address is one particular shooter's need of an entire runway to land as he often has the intent to do so on his back. That intent was pretty clear to me as one of the most unstoppable scorers in league history appeared more worried about kicking his way to the free throw line than actually making a game-tying shot with mere seconds left...
Now, I could very well be seeing that wrong, but the point is that James Harden has actively and voluntarily made it so that, even in dissecting the replay in high-definition and slow-motion, it's still pretty damn difficult to tell what's right (i.e. fair). At the risk of giving too much of a pass to full-time officials that undeniably had an off afternoon, it's absolutely irrational to expect them to do so with any consistency in real time.
I'm as tired of the Warriors as anyone else, and as such I'm made about 100x more exhausted by Draymond Green's mouth. Unfortunately, what came out of it this time around was dead-on-balls-accurate. Ain't nobody trying to hear James Harden whine for whistles, and for good goddamn reason.
The Spurs, A Team Coached By Gregg Popovich, Stood Around Stupefied as the Final Seconds of Their Season Casually Ticked Away
Look, you'd have to be as situationally blind as San Antonio was in watching their season get salted away like a deer in headlights not to see that the beginning of the end to a robotically productive era was already in the rearview. The lack of familiar faces and a humbling win total served as evidence that the Spurs of an unprecedentedly successful yesteryear were no more. That said, whether it be taken a two-seed to seven games, or benefitting from an off-brand Tony Parker-like performance from some dude who might as well have been nameless prior (Derrick White), there was still some crumbs of their holistically systematic history.
Now, however, I think it's time to sweep up those crumbs and except that the party is all but over. Never mind them being unable to hear Gregg Popovich screaming desperately from the sidelines. The Spurs we knew and begrudgingly grew to love as the NBA transitioned into a period of shameless flirtation and "superteams" became all the rage wouldn't even need him to open his mouth to know to foul there. It's something that would have been engrained into their instincts since early October. Hell, Manu Ginobili could have been at the goddamn grocery store for all I know and I'd be half surprised if he didn't grab the guy next to him in the produce aisle out of some telepathic need to do the right thing at the right time. I get not making out the raspy voice of a 70-year-old, but how they were deaf to Tim Duncan's internal screams is beyond me.
I was hesitant to say so before, out of an unhealthy respect for Coach Pop that was probably more of an irrational fear that he might find out and somehow shoot an unamused stare right though my decidedly less successful soul, but now it's impossible to ignore. Not just a mere mental mistake, but the most unforgivable of mere mental mistakes in the most pressurized of moments. Considering how well-coached his teams have been for decades on end, Gregg Popovich being helpless to the type of completely unconscionable circumstantial stupidity that has other NBA coaches waking up in a cold sweat is like watching Drago taste his own blood. Forget their actual ability to play basketball for the second, because it's the Spurs' damn near manufactured mentality and mindset that now appears mortal, which means we're likely far closer to the end of the end than anyone wants to admit.
Texas A&M's Erik McCoy Sure Seems Happy to Have Been Chosen to Solidify the Saints' Offensive Line Depth
Let me first say that I have nothing bad to say about the Saints' decision to trade up to get the guy they clearly wanted...
That's partially because Millennial Mickey and Shortsighted Sean have been given the middle finger to tomorrow on behalf of today for so many years running that the instant gratification has become a bit of an annual tradition, but it's mostly because they've gotten pretty damn good at it since the arrival of Jeff Ireland. After they left no shortage of heads being scratched by giving up future assets to jump up and select an underutilized playmaker by the name of Alvin Kamara from the University of Tennessee, despite already having a franchise leader and a Hall of Famer at his position, I have now grown to accept that questioning the front office's longstanding loathing of later is a fool's errand.
Now, as for the direction they chose to go after pulling an all-too-familiar trigger, it's tough not to feel comfortable in following along. As a petulant prioritizer of prospects that score points, I'd be lying if I said I had my sights set on Erik McCoy when Jahri Evans and Deuce McAllister took the stage early, but that doesn't make his presumed role any less relevant. With Max Unger kicking his feet up in retirement, Andrus Peat looking at one last year in New Orleans, and Nick Easton coming off a neck injury, the Saints' offensive line needed a youthful injection in an uncertain interior.
Who better to provide it then someone whose resume in neutralizing some of the best d-linemen college football has to offer in the SEC is pretty close to spotless? Add in a quality combine performance that spoke glowingly of what was already a well-documented ability to get out in space and take advantage of his athleticism, and it's really a wonder that Erik McCoy's name wasn't one that came up more often when discussing the interests of a screen and sweep happy team that values versatility. Another receiver would have been nice, seeing as some high-profile pass catchers were still on the board. However, the best weapon you can offer a quarterback, especially one with the accuracy and active eyesight of Drew Brees, will always be time and it doesn't read like Erik McCoy will need much of it before proving capable of starting at center.
As grateful as Erik McCoy is to have been taken by the Saints, the Saints sound just as grateful that he was there for the taking, which is really I needed to feel comfortable with an unglamorous selection that's being considered a steal by most that matter. Especially given the success that New Orleans has had in throwing caution to the wind after coming to the profound conclusion that you always have a full year before having to worry about next year.
Here's Steve Smith Filling Unnecessary Air-Time By Skewering Josh Rosen for...Unfollowing the Cardinals on Instagram?
If we're going to talk about the passive aggressive use of social media in sports, I think an act that was much more egregious than Josh Rosen unfollowing the Cardinals was the Cardinals leaving their then starting quarterback entirely un-featured in their season preview/schedule release video no more than a week ago.
Now, that's neither here nor there, as the passive aggressive use of social media in sports is not something I want to talk about. That goes ten-fold for its role in an absolutely inevitable breakup between a second year, first round quarterback and the franchise that gave him very little chance to succeed before seeking out his successor.
Trust me, I'm not shedding any tears for Josh Rosen, as he showed very few signs of living up to his draft billing, but it would be laughably disingenuous not to acknowledge that he was forced to play a piss-poor hand in unprotectedly running an anemic offense of questionable coaching during his lone NFL season. Add that to the fact that Arizona is selling low in actively shopping him, likely at the insistence of their woefully unqualified head coach, after having followed through on the months they spent shamelessly flirting with his high-profile replacement, and you want me to be upset that Josh Rosen committed the unspeakable crime of...::audible gasp::...unfollowing their Instagram account?
Are we talking about a prideful athlete that clicked a button out of understandable frustration, or a malcontent that sat Indian-style with his arms folded and his brow furrowed at mid-field during training camp as a show of protest? If I were answering that question based on the vigor in Steve Smith's preposterously excessive answer then I'd be certain it was the latter, because Josh Rosen has handled this on-going slight against his personality and his largely untapped potential as professionally as you could possibly expect of a young, competitive kid.
Nikola Jokic Gave a Piece of His Mind to the Mic Stand He Had Some Trouble With Following His Historic Performance in a Losing Effort
Whether it be due to a faulty piece of equipment or our own clumsiness, we've all been there. There's only one thing worse than struggling with something you know to be insanely simple, and that is having some hero appear out of nowhere to make you look stupid by doing it for you. For that reason, we could all learn a thing or two from Nikola Jokic, who was not about to stand idly by fumbling and bumbling with some crappy contraption in playing to a sadistically satisfied audience while waiting for a patronizingly helpful hand.
Generally speaking, "fuck this shit" is right. Situationally speaking, "fuck this shit" is pretty tame considering the compounding of the frustrations he must have been feeling after collecting a record-breaking 43 points, 12 boards, and 9 dimes in a losing effort against the type of experienced organization you'd prefer not to face in a Game 7...
With the amount of heavy lifting he did in putting on a complete basketball clinic in the post during what ended up being an unfortunate elimination game, someone else can figure out the goddamn malicious mic stand...so long as they let him leave the room before they do so.
Brad Marchand, Noted Good Guy, Was Considerate Enough to Stomp Out the Structural Deficiencies in Cam Atkinson's Stick
I'm not going to exaggerate the scumminess of this sequence, as I find it just as funny as I do foolish. Cam Atkinson isn't some beer leaguer who is going to have to go bargain basement with the diaper brand to able to afford an expensive and otherwise unnecessary stick replacement in order to keep passionately putting pucks on net at approximately 11:59PM every Wednesday night. Therefore, that douchey destruction of property is far from as big a deal as it was when a much younger Brad Marchand undoubtedly did it to someone who was paying their own way up through the sport.
That being said, it was about time we were reminded that Brad Marchand is a loathsome prick, and I'm glad this particular reminder didn't come courtesy of a stabilized elbowing victim being stretchered off the ice or by way of suspect saliva being wiped from an unconsenting opponent's upper lip. As far as ways in which an entirely too literal rink rat has shown his...well...rodentry, intentionally splintering a stick with his skate during a draw is about as harmless as the come. There's just no way he was getting through a whole postseason without doing something preposterous that served as yet another sign that he's a petulant piece of shit, so - all things considered - I suppose I'm pretty happy he finally acted out in a way that incited an altercation that was actually appreciable. If his infamously idiotic history is any indication, being nice enough to offer up a complimentary crash test to his competition's equipment prior to the play starting back up in OT is far better than the alternatives.
The Falcons' Draft Party was About as Loud and Proud as Their Crowd Typically is Following the Selection of Their 1st Round Pick
I'll start saying this. Though building an impenetrable offensive line is a key to sustained success in the NFL, a guard from a relatively unheralded program like Boston College isn't the type of glamorous first round pick that gets your heart beating faster and increases the blood flow to your sports' penis. It takes the most diehard of fan to appreciate such a selection at that spot and since the Falcons have, give or take, about a half-dozen those, it's not surprising it was met with the type of reaction one might expect to see from people greetings those around them in neighboring church pews.
That being said, you would have thought that Atlanta would have learned by now that they are in desperate need of artificial enhancement if a raucous, supportive atmosphere is what they are going for, so I'm a little taken aback by the fact that they didn't pump in some of that crowd noise they got penalized into packing away for the past few years. A moderately attended fan event would have been the perfect time to break out the speakers and the applause track, especially if a relatively unknown road grader was about to be the honoree. Even a handful of claps would have made a difference amongst an otherwise dumbfounded draft party, so why not break out the AUX cord and add the sound effects of excitement and elation?
With a Draft Pick That Has 'Worst of All Time' Potential, Dave Gettleman and the New York Giants Actually Outdid Themselves
I can't believe I am going to say this, but I actually feel bad for Giants' fans. That should really tell you everything you need to know about how their draft night started, as the longest running Eli Manning apologists have been insufferable and entitled in a way that only an overly obnoxious New York fanbase could. I am diametrically opposed to offering them any sort of compassion and yet, after doing a hell of a lot go laughing, I'm left with with this uncomfortably unfamiliar gut feeling that even they deserve better. After all, with the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected...even more job security for a 38-year-old quarterback whose ability to keep his starting job had already reached Peter from 'Office Space' levels of stupid...
After finally accepting years of the type of damning evidence necessary to override two Super Bowl MVP's worth of allegiance, Giants' fans were finally ready to go in another direction under center, and Dave Gettleman, in his infinite wisdom, decided that direction should be the same amount of steps backwards that Eli Manning takes before sacking himself. The crowd at MetLife Stadium last night would have welcomed the selection of a quarterback, so think about how badly you'd have to screw up said selection to draw this type of reaction...
Of course, it's not completely outside the realm of possibility that Daniel Jones defies the odds of common fucking sense develops into a quality player that ends up worthy of his draft slot. You might have to dig pretty deep through the dustiest of archives to find record of them, but crazier things have undoubtedly happened. That said, his selection at 6th overall, with Josh Allen and Dwayne Haskins still on the board, a year after passing on demonstrably better QB class for a running back, was - objectively speaking - such a Stretch Armstrong-esque reach that it almost had to be a product of either organizational sabotage or the type of laughably limited scouting you'd expect from a drunk searching for a quality bite after last call...
Even the astronomically more accomplished player who had every right and reason to be enraged after being passed over for a former ZERO star recruit whose football career at Duke was wildly underwhelming couldn't help but muster a laugh. And why not snicker a sigh of relief, as he ultimately dodged one of the bullets that the most dysfunctional of franchise keeps shooting right through their own foot...
Honestly, it's as if each increasingly inexplicable decision that Dave Gettleman makes in guaranteeing that Eli dies the Giants' starter is an attempt to make the previous one seem not as mind-numbingly stupid by comparison. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where he goes from here, because he just might have pulled the fateful Jenga piece in building an entirely unstable roster that's doomed for destruction.
Steve Kerr Couldn't Get Draymond Green to Turn Down The Music During His Media Availability, As It Appears His Team Has Him in Need of a Stiff Cocktail
As someone who has resigned himself to Golden State's annoyingly predictable success, I refuse to truly let myself believe they can lose a seven game series until they actually do lose a seven game series. That said, if - and only if - I could be persuaded that they could come up short of a three-peat, it would be petty, little bullshit like this that would do a better job of convincing me than them losing back-to-back home playoff games for the first time since Kevin Durant slithered his way to Silicon Valley.
There was once a time when it was more than fair to say Steve Kerr's job was an easy one, as there were literally nights when he felt comfortable enough to let his players coach because simply beating the crap out of teams wasn't taxing enough. That time is very much up, as he looks the part of a man who has been left exasperated by the egos he's been left to babysit all season. Between KD finding whiney new ways to passive aggressively stir up shit only to complain when it splashes back up in his face and Draymond being Draymond sans 50% of the skill that made Draymond's Draymondness even remotely tolerable, this team has not the collective attitude/mindset of an actual "team" at all.
Since I'll never trust James Harden and the Rockets to do anything other than implode once the sky appears to be the limit, I still think the Warriors' talent has them in the driver's seat of the Western Conference. However, their Head Coach not even being able to call for a slight muffling of the music during a playoff series that is suddenly and shockingly competitive doesn't exactly speak to a quality command of the room. Steve Kerr's response to "who's in charge around here?" might as well have been to light a cigarette and rip it all the way to the filter, because you could legit feel the type of frustration that's caused many disgruntled employees before him to go sprinting to a smoke break. Normally I wouldn't overreact to that, but with on-court results not being what we're accustomed to either, I think it's safe to assume that they aren't on the same page of what's reading more and more like it could potentially be a rocky final chapter.
MSU's Nick Ward, Who Recently Declared For the NBA Draft, Is a Team Player...So Long as That Team Isn't Working on a Group Project
Can you believe this? The unmitigated gall you'd have to have. The outright disrespect you'd need to be comfortable showing. I swear, damn college kids these days just don't get it. An accomplished student-athlete in a big time Division 1 basketball program just bows out of a group project days before it is due... and one of his peers has the audacity to give him attitude?
Huh, there goes his/her courtside seats! That'll be the last time he/she gives lip to a scholarship'd star player whose course schedule was merely a suggestion. Back in my day you treated it as a privilege to be in the presence of campus legends whose acceptance wasn't predicated on an agreement to play school. Now, however, NBA Draft hopefuls can't even graciously go out of their way in remembering to inconvenience themselves by reminding the little people of how much bigger they are without being fed a dose of crap about contributing to a class project? Sad times, indeed.
Considering he was denied the congratulations he was quite obviously due, "lol, nah..." was well above the call of humility and courtesy for a 21 year old with NBA aspirations to fulfill. I know he dropped out because he's got shots to get up and shits not to give, but if the subject of that powerpoint was in understanding one's place in the social and educational hierarchy then I'd award him all the credits regardless. After all, Nick Ward clearly has nothing left to learn on the topic.
Kentucky Hung a Huge Banner Near The NFL Draft in Celebration of Josh Allen, Only to Have it Removed By a League That Always Wants All the Attention
I hate to say this, because it kind of feels like a sign that I have become desensitized to how dumb the NFL is run, but I kind of get it. I don't agree with it, as it's certainly not something I can envision myself worrying about if I happened to be in charge of a bajillion dollar brand. However, the fact that I don't think said bajillion dollar brand is all that should ever matter is, amongst a laughable lack of qualifications, what takes me out of the running for said job.
The NFL is basically the organizational equivalent of the type of sociopath that just looooves to hear themselves talk and thinks everything that's coming out of their mouth, and only their mouth, is of the upmost importance. Therefore, them going out go their way to remove a harmlessly unauthorized banner that, realistically, was as much a college recruitment tactic as it was a show of support for Josh Allen isn't all that surprising. Anyone even mildly trying to benefit off their annual event in any way, shape, or form was bound to be met with pushback, and - as great a story as he may be - Kentucky football didn't only finance a 50-foot likeness of their most famed football player in a relatively local region out of the goodness of their heart.
Personally, I don't think the intent matters, so long as it would have been appreciated by the person whose biceps were bulging off the side of a building. Unfortunately, as someone who has long come to grips with how greedy, self-absorbed, and narcissistic the NFL can be, I can comprehend why that appreciation wasn't shared by an absolute attention whore of an institution that wants your former players but not at the price of giving you any publicity.
In a way that you'd now be statistically and superstitiously stupid not to believe in, Justin Williams is unbelievable. In a way that's become all too real, his penchant for heroics is simply unreal. Unpredictably expected. Impossibly inevitable. Call is whatever you want, but 'Mr. Game 7' is so consistently clutch that he might as well have the moniker stitched atop the back of his jersey every time he's involved in a series that extends past Game 6.
At this point, I think Justin Williams might have a playoff roster spot locked up for as long as he wants one. For, even if it requires him to be wheeled out for warm-ups at 82-years old, he'd still manage to get a cane on the puck in doing as opposed to dying. That's just who he is and what he does, as if the age old adage of "anything can happen in Game 7" only applies to the performance of every other player on the ice.
Honestly, I don't know if his innate ability to contribute points when they are at their hardest to come by is entirely nonsensical or if it makes all the sense in the world. On one hand, the 37 year old is not super skilled in a way that makes it much more common for him to be involved in scoring chances. On the other hand, it's rarely an end-to-end rush that decides games in which everyone is at their most desperate. The fact that he is a solid, smart, and versatile player that knows where to be, when to be there, and what to do when he gets there, regardless of circumstance, likely behooves him when the hockey being played is at its most high strung. Whatever the case may be, you feel much better about your chances in Game 7 when you look down for bench and see the calm, cool, and collected face of Captain 'Cane, whose beard has been grayed by his greatness in such situations.
It's almost as if Brock McGinn was more likely to get his stick on an airborne puck in ending the season of the defending champs solely because it originated from the stick of Justin Williams. While that seems completely irrational, so does everything else regarding his sustained success in the most unstable of situations of the most erratic of postseason in sports.
The Comparison of the Golden Knights' 5 Minute Major Meltdown to the Non-Call in the NFC Championship is a Bigger Joke Than Either
Look, I get it. It's an easy (also see: lazy) comparison to make. For the foreseeable future, any time a sports' team feels as though they were jobbed by incompetent officiating in a way that even slightly affected the outcome of an important game they are going to invoke the eternally and unforgettably stained postseason of the 2018 New Orleans Saints. Mix in the fact that this too will probably result in a change to replay rules, and I can certainly see some similarities.
However, while I understand that Jonathan Marchessault was speaking purely out of frustration in the wake of his team's season being brought to an untimely end that was nothing short of shocking, what we aren't going to do is ignore the much more numerous differences in the two scenarios. For instance, the Saints may have blown some opportunities to (re-)win a close game that was put up for grabs as soon as they were denied a blatantly deserved opportunity to casually kick their way into the Super Bowl with mere seconds left. What they definitely didn't do is make a mockery of math with an embarrassing attempt to protect a huge lead with half a period remaining...
Never mind the fact that one crappy call, no matter how impactful, statistically matters less in a seven-game series (that, need I remind you, Vegas led 3-1) than it does a one-game winner-take-all, because the truth of the matter is that the Golden Knights are deflecting a laughable amount of blame by drawing such a false equivalence. I honestly don't even what the NFL equivalent of giving up four goals in four minutes of 5-on-4 would be, but it certainly wouldn't be losing in OT after allowing one of the best offenses in the league to two-minute drill a long, game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.
Point being, the only reason anyone in the Golden Knights' locker room thinks they've truly felt the pain of the Saints is because feeling a worse pain is unimaginable to them right now. Unimaginable, however, is not synonymous with impossible, as New Orleans had what little doubt they left in the outcome multiplied exponentially by the human error of officiating. Vegas, on the other hand, still had little doubt left in the outcome regardless of the officiating until they, themselves multiplied it's effect exponentially with their own human error.
There are plenty of people that still stand firm that the Saints choked, and if that's even 10% true then it's a miracle that the Golden Knights could even mutter such an asinine analogy without needing the Heimlich maneuver to remove a historically half-assed and haphazard penalty kill, that is understandably tough to swallow, from their collectively tightened throat.
Well, At Least the Maple Leafs Most Massive Mistakes Weren't Made by All-Too-Familiar Faces...
While I don't feel one way or the other about the successes or failures of the Maple Leafs, I'm going to take this time to pray for the city in which they play. I'm not particularly religious, nor do I care that Toronto's collective mental state is currently as fragile as Mike Babcock's ego after watching the Bruins hit 'play' on a re-run of Game 7's gone by. Instead, I'm hoping to offer a toxically fanatical following all the forgiveness they can get for the vile things they are inevitably going to direct at their favorite punching bags of past and present.
Honestly, of all the players to make gargantuan, game-changing gaffs, those least likely to be offered any sort of pass were Jake Gardiner, Frederik Anderson, and William Nylander, and yet here we are with all four goals against that actually mattered being attributed to their all-too-familiar inefficiencies.
Another promising season ended, in any form or fashion, by the Boston Bruins would have been an actualization of a nightmare for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans. However, Jake Gardiner contributing to it by being as sloppy in his cycling as the type of amateur laundry-doer that ends up with an unexpected influx of pink in his wardrobe is the most cold-sweat inducing version of that nightmare...
If there was anything that might trigger the postseason PTSD of Leafs' loyalists, Frederik Anderson almost literally leaking pucks that's he's spent all season stopping would be it...
If there were prophetic frustrations to be self-fulfilled in the eyes of infuriated fans they were all but guaranteed to be with William Nylander, so why wouldn't he be the one to seal the fate of a disappointing season's deja-vu with the type of turnover you're supposed to learn not to make by the time you start lacing your own skates...
I have far too much respect for professional athletes to ever argue that their mental toughness isn't strong enough to withstand the barrage of hostility that comes with underperforming in the eyes of a bi-polar fanbase that hates as passionately as it loves. That being said, if someone were to present the possibility that those most likely to unrelentingly dwell on players' pasts are actually their worst enemies then rendering Games 1-6 forgettable with a similarly self-sabotaged Game 7 loss to a familiarly fortunate foe would make for quite the convincing 'Exhibit A'.