Taylor Hall Just Needled Every Obnoxiously Insecure Hockey Fan You Know By Tweeting About His Newfound Appreciation of the NBA
There I was, idiotically thinking that I couldn't possibly love Taylor Hall anymore than I already did. So, you can imagine my surprise when he spoke straight to my athletically appreciative soul by jabbing a knife in the side of every hockey fan that thinks diminishing the efforts of all other athletes should be a requirement of enjoying the NHL and twisting...hard.
There honestly isn't one single thing that ignites the insecurities of hockey's most overly obsessive observers quite like bringing up basketball, and the (technically still) reigning NHL MVP did just that and more by unintentionally reminding the entire internet of what's been his own league's most pressing issue for multiple decades running. For that reason, I think it would be nice if Taylor Hall offered to pay the next therapy bill for the faction of close-minded fans whose world promptly collapsed upon reading a good ole' Canadian boy's gratuitous praise of professional basketball after his experience enjoying it in a non-traditional market.
Now, said issue exists, in large part, because hockey inherently isn't anywhere near as superstar-driven or individualistically encouraging as basketball. You hardly need fully functional eyesight to see the amount of extreme differences that can be easily and immediately identified between two sports that, due to a multitude of factors (some avoidable, some not), clash culturally. That's why, as can be read in the actual words that Taylor Hall oh-so-carefully chose, this wasn't some sort of attempt at an apples-to-apples comparison. Unfortunately, if you don't think it will be defensively interpreted as such then you've somehow been fortunate enough not to encounter the type of hockey fan who will stop at no amount of illogical analogizing in a nauseatingly endless effort to get you to like their sport and only their sport.
What Taylor Hall essentially implied is that, though the games themselves are a matter of preference, the NBA produces a much more intriguing show with better character development than the NHL (and all other pro leagues, for that matter). That might be a difficult thing to admit during a postseason that is unequivocally the most gripping in all of sports. However, how can you argue against something so blatantly obvious that a superstar who has dedicated his entire life and livelihood to winning the Stanley Cup felt comfortable saying so on a public platform that collectively bears its claws at contrarianism?
The NBA has plenty of its own flaws, but among them are not a lack of adaptability, a lack of marketability, a lack of publicized personalities, or a lack of entertainment value. I say the following as a loyal consumer of hockey above all else: If you perceive that undeniable fact to be a subtle dig at the NHL then me thinks that you, as an overly sensitive hockey fan with an inferiority complex, doth protest far too much.
Packers' Coach Matt LaFleur Could Have Made a Better First Impression Than Tearing His Achilles Playing 'Knockout' at Team Facilities
Tough break for Green Bay. I mean, to go from a head coach that wouldn't stand up to Aaron Rodgers to one that quite literally cannot? If there were a team in desperate need of someone who could demand respect from the entirety of the locker room then it was the Packers, and tearing your achilles during a glorified foul shooting competition, no matter how testy the rebound chasing got, doesn't quite make for an intimidating first impression. Speaking mostly in jest, no one loves a good power struggle more than Aaron Rodgers, and it's tough to go toe-to-toe in a tug-of-war with the most irritable arm in the NFL when you don't even have full use of half your toes.
Hopefully whatever Matt LaFleur has drawn up in that playbook of his is more impressive than what he put on tape with the Titans last season, for if the plan of attack comes limping out the gate as badly as the person who designed it then it won't be long before Aaron Rodgers is back to undermining it by teaching in-huddle improv classes. As someone who was complicit in figuratively crippling his last head coach, the last thing #12 needed was his next head coach literally crippling himself. Never mind doing so in a way that calls into question just how young and energetic he is as a physically feeble branch on the Sean McVay coaching tree.
Simply put, I think I'm a little less than half serious in saying that those play-calls better jump off the projector and command the attention of the starting quarterback. Otherwise, the man using his crutches to point out the nuances in them might have a hard time proving himself persuasive to someone who fancies himself the smartest and most powerful guy in every room.
I understand that everyone's first instinct is to mock DK Metcalf for needing to look as though the overwhelming urgency to urinate had taken over the lower half of his body in order to do something as simple as stop. After all, it is quite humorous that he basically re-defined inefficiency by taking a baker's dozen steps en route to...well...next to nowhere.
That being said, there is something all-too-relatable about being so incredibly good at one thing at the expense of looking downright disastrous at another that I can't help but appreciate. Like, as fun as it is to join in on a nice long laugh at the fatal flaws of otherwise freakish athletes, literally the only thing that makes DK Metcalf a mildly comprehendible specimen is that his (in)ability to stop is less aesthetically pleasing than that of Luis Mendoza...
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for beating that same punchline to death over the course of his career, but it's worth noting that maybe there's a reason that he's the first NFL wide receiver that looks like a Greek god who could dominate a 'World's Strongest Man' competition on his off day...
Perhaps the laws of physics require that those with the build of a centaur that are able to gallop like the most thorough-of-bred have the same lack of lateral quickness that is responsible for racetracks being rounded off. That inherent inability to move anywhere other than forward with any speed whatsoever makes a lot more sense when you think of it that way.
I mean, I get it. The risk of being rewarded with the disproportional praise of those salivating over 40 times is that they'll turn on you far quicker than the Seahawks' newest deep threat can turn on the ball once they sense a weakness. Therefore, this twitter taunting wasn't entirely unexpected. What it was, however, was as unfair as it was hilarious, since DK Metcalf is nowhere near human enough to be judged as such when he does more tip-toeing than a teenager who missed curfew every time he changes direction with the elegance of an alligator.
Just When You Thought That Drake Might Go Home Parched For Attention, He Got Into it With Draymond Green Following Last Night's Game
Whew, what a relief. Goodness gracious, I don't even know what we would be left to talk about if Drake, noted supporter of all great teams but holding the totally not made up title of "global ambassador" for merely one, didn't swoop in and beat the broadcast buzzer to insert himself into the storyline of a championship series. Can you imagine the straws we would be grasping at if the Head Raptor in Charge (of courtside affairs) didn't step in to call "trash" the team whose two best players are quite literally inked on his arm eternally?
Toronto, and Canada as a whole, rallying around a franchise that went all-in with only one title shot guaranteed and is making the absolute most of it, to the extent that you need to wait on line to claim your spot outside the arena? Yawn. The Raptors as perhaps the best and most versatile defensive team that one of best offensive teams in NBA history has ever had placed in the way? Ugh, no thanks. Pascal Siakam putting on a show fitting of the front-runner for the NBA's Most Improved Player in giving a dominant defender like Draymond Green absolute fits? Meh. The Warriors' dynasty being pushed back onto its heels and looking desperate for the services of KD, despite their opposition having never been to the Finals before and its best player having a rather quiet night during his Jordan-esque playoff run? Eh, noteworthy I suppose.
However, as far as a appreciable narratives are concerned, can anything really hold a candle to the un-rostered rapper who is going out of his way to steal the spotlight by running his mouth as if he is the one that is going to have to back up his overly cocky words against an already intimidating opponent with damn near unlimited experience? Sure, the Raptors' taking one step closer to NBA immortality makes for a hell of a story, but every story needs a headline and I can't think of one that better suits their profound performance on the court than 'Shamelessly Thirsty Celebrity Messes With the Most Irritable of Bull Knowing He's Not The One at Risk of Getting its Horns'.
(Sidenote: In all seriousness, I do love the pettiness of the signed Dell Curry jersey. That said, Drake needing to rock athletic accessories, that make him look even more delusional in regards to his actual impact, to cover up his fraudulence as a "super fan" tells you everything you need to know about his priorities. Not for nothing, but if his role allows him more leeway than any other fan ever then only a Flagrant 1 should follow if he happens to end up on the ass end of one of Draymond's "accidental" dick kicks.)
Some Bruins' Fans Were Apparently Stunned Into Sobriety by Last Night's OT Loss, As Full Beers Were Left to Meet Their Non-Drunken Demise
Shameful. Despicable, really. The last fanbase I expected to leave overpriced suds to suffer a fate of flatness was the FUBAR'd Boston faithful, and here they are abandoning yet-to-be-sipped stragglers as if their success in sports has made them forget that there are sober assholes in Africa, or however that saying goes. Whatever happened to "win or lose, we still booze"? That used to be a motto that the entire over-served city of speech impediments could stumble behind, but now some of its most loyal inhabitants have become so spoiled that they refuse to finish beers that aren't filtered through the thrill of victory? Is that what it has come to? Samuel Adams would roll over in his goddamn grave if he witnessed such willful wastefulness and entitled alcoholism. And to think, our forefathers fought for Boston's right to drown their Irish guilt in abused substances just for said substances to be left unabused when the outcome was undesired? Ugh, makes me sicker than a Masshole who fell publicly ill in a puddle of his own Jameson-induced vomit.
Now, I know it was just one single row, but if Bruins' fans as a collective can't be entrusted to leave only empties after overtime then maybe they deserve the sobering reality of Stanley Cup sorrow as they are apparently still too drunk off the Patriots' dynasty. One thing is for certain, the same can't be said of St. Louis...
Thomas Morstead Posted Some of His Insane Workout Clips on the Internet, And All He Received in Return Was a Piss Test
Honestly, fair is fair. You'd have to have banged your head on that self-important shield one too many times to still be under the illusion that the NFL only drug tests randomly and, as far as non-random drug tests are concerned, Thomas Morstead has earned more than his fair share as an All-Pro fitness freak with a diabolical amount of dad strength. Personally, I was already half surprised they didn't make him piss in a cup before leaving the field after every absurdly powerful pinpoint punt...
So, if anything, he's really been running up the score on the league's eternally suspicious urine collectors by publicizing extreme feats of athleticism, that are entirely unfitting of his position, on the internet. Even as a Saints' fan that should be used to them by now, I still have a hard time comprehending just how lethal and finely tuned Thomas Morstead's weapons are as a workout warrior. Therefore, I'm not exactly at liberty to question the NFL for being in disbelief that his 33-year-old body is only the product of a collaboration with a more socially acceptable brand of juicers. The guy is simply in pristine shape as both a punter and a person, and with the ability to casually crush high-level calisthenics like they are a basic crunch comes the requests to prove your ass hasn't been needled more than that of a stay-at-home father.
Carl Gunnarsson Told His Coach He Just Needed One More Chance During a Pre-Overtime Piss, And He Certainly Wasn't Wrong
Welp, give that socially unorthodox anecdote its own damn chapter in the bathroom reading of both St. Louis Blues' and Stanley Cup lore.
Carl Gunnarsson, who just as easily could have been watching from a luxury suite had Vince Dunn happened to have returned to the lineup last night, remaining entirely un-phased after hitting the post so hard you'd think it slapped his mother only to figuratively show his balls to Craig Berube while their dicks were literally in hand.
It's not the most aesthetically endearing visual, I suppose, but what followed was the self-fulfilling of a mid-piss prophecy that perfectly encapsulates the predictable unpredictability of a postseason during which the unexpected is to be expected. A defensive-minded role player not only scoring his first ever playoff goal to give a long-suffering franchise its first ever finals victory, but also openly envisioning himself as the overtime hero at the urinal beforehand? That's so ridiculously surreal that it's actually the most real representation of a sport whose most significant moments so often make the least amount of sense.
Call it wishful thinking. Call it irrational confidence. Call it the overly hopeful desire to completely erase from his memory the painful ping of the most unforgiving of iron...
Call it whatever the hell you want. Just remember that Carl Gunnarsson called it first when he talked over simultaneous streams in speaking his odds-defying OT goal into existence as someone that refused to be denied his own scene in any potential championship DVD. He didn't just prove, once and for all, that the most brilliant ideas are born in the bathroom. He also proved that persistence is key to Stanley Cup success by...ahem...relieving himself of a pee-bound promise in heroic fashion.
Albert Almora Jr. Was Brought to Tears After His Foul Ball Injured a Young Fan, And It's Probably About Time the MLB Steps in to Prevent Such an Ugly Scene
It's only a matter of time. Unfortunately, I say that not of the MLB taking additional preventive measures to ensure the safety of fans during the routine occurrence of absolutely tattooed foul balls, but rather the fatal tragedy that will force them to do so if they don't heed the harrowing warning of a 4-year-old being sent to the hospital by the brunt of one.
That may seem like a prisoner-of-the-moment exaggeration, as it sounds as though the little girl on the ass end of Albert Almora Jr.'s rocket of a line drive was one tough customer, but that moment could be almost any moment. Seriously, just ask the NHL what happens when you tempt the fate of high-speed projectiles (that are increasing in velocity as athletes continue to evolve) exiting the playing surface towards those entirely unequipped to protect themselves from them on a regular basis. Someone quite literally had to die before the NHL came to it's senses regarding netting that hardly registers as such to the naked eye anymore. Hell, someone could have easily died last night had that errant foul ball happened to catch her in a more prone position. Look no further than the distraught reaction of a player whose livelihood is baseball for a reminder that baseball is not more important than life itself. Therefore, it stands to reason that the damage controlled by a largely transparent safety precaution is worth an ever-so-slightly obscured view of the sport.
There will always be the hypocritical crowd that says you should never not be paying attention while in the stands. The single, solitary commonality between that crowd is that none of them have ever been struck in the jugular with a bullet of a ball during the inevitable instances in which they missed a pitch while turning away to take a swig from their beer or a bite from their hot dog. Not even the outrageously over-the-top diehards who score the entirety of every game keep their eye on the ball for 3.5-4 hours, and if you're seated down the baselines then all it takes is half-a-second for said ball to obliterate your earhole. Sigh, if only there were some sort of harmless precaution that could be extended so that we wouldn't have to victim blame fans for not having the laser focus and/or fundamentals of the professionals whose brand of entertainment they certainly aren't paying good money to emulate.
In all seriousness, all the well wishes go out to that young girl and her family. Here's to hoping for a quick and uncomplicated recovery, as well as an untarnished love of baseball. Hopefully a highly humanizing response from the person who was unfortunate enough to hit her is enough to get through to baseball in making sure her ER visit wasn't in vain...
In Today's Episode of "Why Does This Rain Smell Like Urine?", Carlos Correa Claims His Fractured Rib is the Result of a Massage Mishap
From both a mental and physical perspective, this honestly might be the laziest lie ever told in the history of professional athletes trying to cover-up their non-sports related ailments. From the lack of critical thinking that went into crafting it to the full-on refusal to thumb through his contract looking for the list of activities it actually forbids him from partaking in, Carlos Correa basically pushed the bar down the basement steps in setting a new shameful standard for injury excuses.
Full disclosure, this came damn close to reaching "too stupid not to be true" territory, but the thought of a physical freak of nature in his athletic prime having a bone cracked via a comforting caress of his rib cage, of all things, requires the suspension of far too much disbelief. Like, assuming that Wreck-It Ralph wasn't the one providing him in-home back rubs and that a 24 year old MLB superstar didn't mystifyingly develop Osteoporosis overnight, this absolutely has to be a case of Carlos Correa covering all his bases (excuse the pun) in making sure he can't possibly be at fault for his fractured rib. It's certainly a thorough one as claiming you were lying motionless, naked, and vulnerable while being recklessly rubbed onto the IL definitely absolves you of all blame. What's not thorough, however, is the rationale and reasoning (or lack thereof) that went into deciding that the malpractice of a masseuse was the tall tale that he and PR team were comfortable telling.
Jeremy Lin Got Stopped Trying to Board the Raptors' Team Bus After Game 2, As There Are Inexcusably NBA Security Guards That Are Unfamiliar With 'Linsanity'
"After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He's like, 'Where do you think you're going?!' And I'm like, 'Uh, I'm trying to get to the team bus.' He's like, 'What?! Where's your pass?' I was like, 'I don't have a pass. I don't know what you're talking about. I don't have a pass,'" said Lin.
"This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow."
Look, I get it. To the untrained eye, Jeremy Lin looks...shall we say...well...hmm...nope...I can't think of a less subtle way to put it than saying he looks a hell of a lot more Asian than your average NBA player.
I just can't help but wonder exactly how untrained one's eye has to be not to be familiar with face of 'Linsanity', which was quite literally a cultural phenomenon that led to a more well-publicized stretch of fame and notoriety than almost every non-superstar in basketball history is able to call their own. If NBA security is made up of even the most casual of NBA fans then not recognizing the man that burned the brightest as a shooting star of New York sports' celebrity is almost more inexcusable than thinking that Asians of even the most non-stereotypical aesthetics look alike. It stands to reason that those hired to protect professional athletes should have a heightened sense of who they are dealing with, and - relative to the vast majority of his black, white, brown, or purple peers - Jeremy Lin reached heights that most basketball players could only dream of. Therefore, while the unintentional racism of the repetitive profiling is definitely unfortunate, what really has my panties in a bunch is the thought of the insanity of the national treasure that was Linsanity not being common knowledge all throughout each and every NBA arena for-ev-er.
The Rockets Are Reportedly Willing to Move Chris Paul, As There Are Approximately 124 Million Reasons For Them to Do So
Question. Are we really considering this a hard-hitting piece of news? It's definitely noteworthy that Houston's trading block consists of every non-MVP candidate on their roster, but - relative to most Woj Bombs - I'd say this fittingly packs the punch of a malfunctioning bottle rocket.
Of course the Rockets, a team that keeps finding ways to fall short in their bid for Western Conference supremacy, has a desire to improve. Of course they'd go as far as parting ways with an absolute anchor of a contract that's looked worse and worse from the very second it was signed, as it belongs to a player whose impact is depreciating far quicker than his attitudinal ego. I hesitate to say that moving on from Chris Paul would be a blessing in disguise, for if it were then that disguise would be about as transparent as the one worn by "Cliff Paul" in State Farm commercials. With James Harden dominating possessions like there is quota of dribbles he has to reach for the ball not to blow up in his face, CP3 is probably worth half of what he is being (over) paid as an injury prone 34-year old who is most effective as a primary point guard whose most deadly shot is the same one that's damn near forbidden by Daryl Morey.
Now, I don't know that the Rockets can get much better by trading CP3, as it might take the Lakers idiotically appeasing LeBron by tossing a full can of gasoline on their organizational dumpster fire to give up enough promising, young, cost-controlled assets to fill the on-court void left by an off-court albatross. That, however, doesn't mean it isn't common sense for them to try to do so instead of running it back with a roster that has proven to pick the worst possible times to live up to their reputation by painting Picasso's of postseason choke-artistry.
The Boldest of Browns' Rookies Lied His Way Into the Tryout That Earned Him His Training Camp Invite
'Cleveland- Back in late March, Sheehy-Guiseppi was in need of a future.
He had been a junior college All-American kick returner for Phoenix College (not to be confused with the University of Phoenix online school). But when his 2016 season didn’t earn him a scholarship at Phoenix, he went in search of bigger opportunities.
Armed with a credit card and determination (and his game film), Sheehy-Guiseppi went on a tour of Division I universities in early 2017, hoping for a chance to show what he could do.
The trip to SEC and Big 12 schools wasn’t very fruitful. Only one school watched his tape. But he did get plenty of bad news. He learned that he had just one year of eligibility remaining (he had attended another juco prior to Phoenix). Also, he was nine credits short of being able to transfer.
And now he didn’t have enough money to return to school.
So Sheehy-Guiseppi hatched a plan to go pro.
“I’m going to go to Florida and start with the Tampa Bay Bucs and I’m going to go to every facility I can, go all the way across the country and see if I can just walk in there and give it a shot,” he said.
Sheehy-Guiseppi remained based in Arizona and trained for more than a year, looking for tryout opportunities while networking.
He drove to Las Vegas for a CFL tryout, paid his $100 to participate, ran a 40, did his workout, and then, nothing. After the tryout he learned that the odds of a player being signed from the event were slim to none.
An Arena Football League tryout for multiple teams in Atlanta didn’t work out, either.
Then, earlier this year, a connection made through a flag football league in Arizona paid off. A friend of a friend knew of an NFL workout in Miami. Sheehy-Guiseppi got the address and headed to Florida.
One problem, though. He wasn’t invited.
The flag football connection was reluctant to give out the address of the workout at first. But Sheehy-Guiseppi was desperate. He didn’t care if it was an invite-only event. This was an opportunity, and he’d make it work.
When he finally got the address, he also got some advice: look for Alonzo Highsmith at the workout.
Sheehy-Guiseppi typed the name into Google and found out he was the Browns’ vice president of player personnel. Good to know. He also made note of what Highsmith looked like.
Sheehy-Guiseppi made it to Miami and headed to the workout, where he was met with confusion. But he was prepared for that.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. I’m here for the tryout.”
“Do you know Alonzo?”
“Yeah, I know Alonzo.”
The confidence paid off. Sheehy-Guiseppi had his foot in the door. To make sure his story didn’t fall apart, as soon as he saw Highsmith, he ran to him and introduced himself.
“I just knew I had to make it look like we were friends,” Sheehy-Guiseppi said. “Alonzo was real nice to me.”
The workout began and Sheehy-Guiseppi stood out. He caught punts, he caught passes, and, best of all, his 40 time was 4.38. Only five wide receivers at the 2019 NFL combine ran faster than that.
Speed. It got Highsmith’s attention.
About 30 minutes after the workout ended, Sheehy-Guiseppi’s phone rang. It was Highsmith, with an offer to visit Berea for an official tryout.
That was great news, but the tryout was a week away and he didn't have money to fly back home. He also didn't have money to rent a room for the entire week. So Sheehy-Guiseppi improvised, sleeping outside, sleeping at a 24-hour fitness center, and then outside a training facility he was using to prepare for his workout.
Train. Sleep. Eat very little. That was the schedule leading up to the biggest day of his life.
“Then we got a chance to see him for ourselves and you could see all of the explosive movement stuff that Alonzo was talking about,” said GM John Dorsey. “Then when you watch him field kicks and punts, you are going, ‘OK, he can do this kind of stuff.’
“Now, he has not played in a couple of years, but it will not be because of lack of determination because this is a very determined young man.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi became a member of the Browns on April 5.
While it's still quite far from having the type of happy ending that it's main protagonist has stopped at absolutely nothing in desperate search of, you can't deny the awesomeness of this story. Without a true (or even false, for that matter) minor league system, there are plenty of talented and worthwhile players that manage to slip through football's cracks due to no shortage of unfortunate circumstances. As a JUCO dropout that, to his lack of credits, couldn't find any other takers at the college level, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi might as well have been lubed up head-to-toe while trying to clear the gap in his athletic resume in leaping to the National Football League. For him to even find a way to earn himself a training camp to prove himself is a minor miracle disguised as a lesson to never let anything get in the way of your dreams. Therefore, I think we can look past the deceitful means necessary to achieve it in celebrating an accomplishment that is entirely unprecedented outside of fictional sports' cinema (i.e. Major League, as referenced in the article).
That being said, the fact that the Cleveland Browns happen to be the organization that had the wool pulled over their eyes by an irrationally confident nomad of a nobody wide receiver is a comforting reminder that they have yet to completely shed the lovable losers label. They are definitely heading in the right direction with what looks to be a favorable future under center and a superstar split out wide. However, waving through some dude who was last seen paying $100 to run around a field as a fundraiser for a CFL team to stand amongst the same position group as Odell Beckham Jr. is a sign that the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. hasn't exactly erased decades of dysfunction. They are going to have to prove positive their long overdue organizational pivot on the field, and I would imagine a good place to start is by doing a halfway decent job making sure people off the street can't just lie their way onto it. Even if this particularly persistent kid overcame absurd odds in proving he had every reason to be so cocksure in refusing to look back and running freakishly fast with quite the feel-good narrative once he did.
Magic Johnson as a Verbally Abusive, Overzealous Tyrant of a Boss is Certainly an Unexpected Twist on The Lakers' Dysfunction
ESPN- In his remarks, Johnson expressed excitement about the task ahead, but he also made clear he didn't accept excuses or mistakes, and that those who weren't on board with the new management and their mission should leave, according to six staffers who were present.
Pointing upstairs, toward his office, Johnson drove home his point. He had a large stack of resumes sitting on his desk -- "a thousand" of them, multiple staffers recall him saying -- and he could replace any of them at any time.
"It was shocking," said one Lakers coaching staff member who was present. "If you're going to be in this business, you bring enough pressure on yourself. You don't need more pressure, especially from someone who's supposed to be an ally."
The message would set the tone for what many staffers describe as Johnson's confrontational demeanor over the next two years.
"If you questioned him on anything, his response was always a threatening tone," said a Lakers front office staffer who interacted with Johnson directly. "He used intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority."
According to nearly two dozen current and former team staffers, ranging from occupants of executive suites to office cubicles, in addition to league sources and others close to the team, the Lakers under Johnson and Pelinka were fraught with dysfunction, on and off the court. These sources, who feared reprisal and weren't authorized to speak publicly, describe Pelinka and Johnson as managers who made unilateral free-agent acquisitions; triggered a spate of tampering investigations and fines; berated staffers, including Walton; and created an in-house culture that many current and former longtime staffers said marginalized their colleagues, inspired fear and led to feelings of anxiety severe enough that at least two staffers suffered panic attacks.
As one ex-Lakers star privately told confidants, "It's f----ng crazy over there."
On March 10, 2017, the day he was introduced as the team's new GM, Pelinka was asked about the steepest learning curve in his new role.
"This franchise consists of 200-250 employees," Pelinka said, "and our job is to make sure that all of those team members are functioning as a well-oiled machine and together."
Johnson, sitting beside Pelinka, added that they were evaluating everybody in the organization.
"We're going to see if we have the best people," he said, "and hopefully we do in house, and if not, we just have to get the right people."
As Johnson and Pelinka foreshadowed, change would follow. At least two dozen staffers throughout the organization would depart, a figure that includes not only basketball operations and coaching staffers but also athletic training officials, analytics staffers, administrative assistants, the team's equipment manager and the head athletic trainer.
In the Lakers' 2016-17 media guide, the directory lists 72 staffers who aren't a part of the ownership group. That figure does not include players, cheerleaders, security members, ball boys, interns, outside consultants, team broadcasters, players and coaches of the team's development league team, among others; nor does it include the six Buss family members listed in various positions throughout the franchise. Of those 72, at least 27 are, as of this date, no longer with the organization, a turnover rate of 37.5 percent.
The spate of changes increased the workloads for several staff members -- and in one instance in 2017, a longtime female staffer was called into an office with Johnson and Pelinka after making a mistake, according to multiple staffers present and others familiar with the incident. The mistake, sources said, involved arranging a car service to the team's facility for a draft prospect.
"I don't stand for mistakes!" Johnson shouted at her. "I don't make mistakes."
Johnson also made clear, according to multiple people familiar with the exchange, that if the staffer made one more mistake, she would be fired.
In the office, the staffer apologized and later, off site, began to cry, according to multiple people with knowledge of the incident. In the months ahead, she would suffer increased anxiety and panic attacks. She was prescribed anti-anxiety medication, quit the Lakers after more than two decades with the team, and began several weeks of therapy, multiple people familiar with the matter said. She gave her notice on Dec. 18, 2017, the same day Kobe Bryant's two jerseys were retired.
A Lakers executive said he also suffered panic attacks and had to be prescribed anti-anxiety medication. "Every day you go in there and you get this horrible feeling of anxiety," the executive said. "In the last year, I can't tell you how many panic attacks I've had from the s--- that has happened there."
Multiple current and former Lakers staffers who interacted directly with Johnson would describe a striking duality to his personality. One ex-staffer noted that when Johnson was present, there was often a question of who employees would face that day: Would they see Magic? Or would it be Earvin? The cameras love Magic, the charismatic one, but there was also Earvin, who could be manipulative and impulsive.
"It was a roller-coaster ride of up and down with him," one coaching staff member said.
Current and former team staffers told ESPN that Johnson, who has business interests outside the Lakers, was frequently absent, sometimes appearing only once a week or every two weeks. But, these same people said, when Johnson was there, he could make his presence known in a demonstrative way.
"He comes off to the fan base with the big love and the smile," said one ex-Lakers athletic training official who interacted directly with Johnson. "But he's not -- he's a fear monger."
While I can't say I had foreseen the second of three sides to a story of abject dysfunction portraying Magic Johnson as the Lakers' very own version of Dr. Jovial Jekyll and Mr. Hotheaded Hyde, but it does paint a better picture of the third side of said story, with that of course being the truth.
Far be it for me to support someone who temporarily brought back to life Heath Ledger just so he could completely fabricate a postmortem fable as a way to prop up the prestige of a franchise legend...
However, at least now we know why Rob Pelinka may have actively been sabotaging the job security of a co-worker who, from the outside, appeared to be non-threat as an absentee executive who was largely brought in to smile and wave as a familiar and comforting face to the fickle fanbase of a foundering franchise. It's not that Magic Johnson spent 60% of business hours trying to find the nearest camera to coax and the nearest baby to kiss, but rather that the 40% of business hours for which he was present were spent hypocritically berating employees into extensive lines outside the nearest therapist office and pharmacy.
He may not be the first overly demanding dictator of a boss, especially in a business as cutthroat as professional sports, but it sure sounds like Magic Johnson was the first too get that belligerently drunk off the limited power of a gimmick gig. That's definitely on the Lakers' for over-serving him. Still, when you come and go as you please, you need not more than a shred of self-awareness to understand you can't be an overzealous, egomaniacal asshole on the rare instances in which you actually do stay.
Magic Johnson treated running a once premier NBA franchise like a hobby, so for him to require professional perfection from those under him is as dumbfoundingly duplicitous as it gets. We're talking about a guy that, in the year 2018, signed every brick-laying headcase left on the market to put around one of the best open-shot creators in NBA history. A guy who was complicit in letting LeBron & Co. take a leak in what team chemistry did exist. A guy that didn't have the balls to notify his employer before he tucked his tail and ran once the going got tough. The only yelling and screaming he should have felt at liberty to do was in the mirror. Unfortunately, he's never been able to stop grinning at his own reflection as someone who loves the smell of his own shit almost as much as he loves going on ESPN and spewing said shit in a bunch of aimlessly defensive directions through a 100 watt smile...
If Evgeny Kuznetsov Didn't Let Himself Get Videotaped Casually Sitting in Front of Multiple Lines of Cocaine Can He Even Say He Blew Them?
As someone who is not under some illusion that booze is the only thing that kept the Washington Capitals mildly alert during their entire week long binge with Lord Stanley's Cup last summer, I really, really hope that Evgeny Kuznetsov did actually blow some lines on that fateful night. Not because I care one way or the other about him ingesting enough booger sugar to be at risk of drug-induced diabetes, but because peaking off the purest of snow is at least a reasonable excuse for an NHL player to allow himself to get videotaped appearing next in line for carefully cut narcotics.
If the Capitals' forward really did just get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time amidst the wrong company then he's just a dumbass, and I think that might actually be worse than being a recreational drug user in Sin City. Honestly, when you consider how prevalent coke presumably is amongst well-to-do, predominantly white professional hockey players in their early 20's to mid-30's, only being featured next to it on a hardly candid camera while celebrating a Stanley Cup championship in Las Vegas is at least as inexcusable as merely snorting as the Romans snort, metaphorically speaking.
Again, I don't give a damn what Evgeny Kuznetsov drinks, sucks, sniffs, or blows for fun. However, being that the NHL definitely cares how he comes off, you'd think common sense would tell him to do the absolute bare minimum in terms of self-preservation by not sharing a smart phone screen with the most conspicuous of controlled substances, whether he was drawing them up his nose through a $5 bill or not.
Kaapo Kakko Has Opted Out of the NHL Scouting Combine, As Jack Hughes Inches Closer to Becoming a New Jersey Devil
First and foremost, I'm quite certain that there isn't anything that Kaapo Kakko could prove on a pull-up bar that he didn't already prove by physically overwhelming a laundry list of NHLers in helping to will his country to an international title for a third time prior to his 19th birthday...
That being said, if we're working under the somewhat uneducated assumption that he'd have to ace every single test to claim the spot atop the Devils' draft board then going full-on Ferris Bueller in playing hooky during the most notable one remaining only stands to hurt his case. Like, if Ray Shero and the gang are sitting at 51/49 in favor of Hughes as we speak then it would take something patently ridiculous like Jack skinning his knee falling off a stationary bike, suffering from vertigo during his vertical jump, or literally choking on his tongue during the interview process for him to drop to second overall.
Swinging his proverbial sword as a workout warrior might seem like a small and unnecessary feat for a man-child who spent full shifts protecting the puck like he gave birth to it during the World Championships. However, with the scale being so close to balanced, simply showing up and stepping on it could have theoretically made a difference for Kaapo Kakko. With him staying home to celebrate, it sort of feels as though not much is being left to the imagination of inquiring minds. Of course, my jaw wouldn't completely drop if the full-bodied Fin were the choice when Ray Shero takes the stage on June 21st, but my eyes would at least widen with him opting out of one last pre-draft audition. All signs were already pointing to Jack Hughes becoming a New Jersey Devil, and the absence of the near-consensus second best prospect at the combine is yet another one of them.
In Choosing to Play Overseas Ahead of His Draft Year, RJ Hampton Made Quite the Argument on Behalf of Giving the Middle Finger to the NCAA
Huh. So you mean to tell me that, by unexpectedly steering clear of the college route, RJ Hampton will be making himself some money, better preparing for life as a professional athlete, and avoiding the distraction that is an inevitably abrupt and empty education before entering the NBA Draft? Well, when you put it like that it almost seems as though the NCAA shouldn't feel quite so comfortable about continuing to exercise what was thought to be a unlimited amount of power in profiting off high-profile players who figured themselves to have no other legitimate alternative to the money-making scheme of a scam that clings to the most disingenuous definition of amateurism.
In all seriousness, one premier prospect having the balls to try to his hand at overseas ball, while giving up the publicity that comes with being exploited by a college basketball blue-blood, isn't going to serve as the dam-breaker for a wave of high-quality high school kids to follow his lead to Australia, or New Zealand, or wherever else. Especially since we've yet to see in which direction his draft stock fluctuates after doing so. Still, even one player of his caliber betting on himself by more or less telling someone with the prestige of Bill Self to shove it is a relatively huge step in the right direction.
Slowly but surely, the sports' world is at least trying to distance itself from an institution as demonstrably dumb as the NCAA. It might be moving at a snail's pace, but basketball needed an American-born phenom to go global in shooing the seductiveness of an objectively unjust "developmental" system. They finally got one, and hopefully that leads to two sooner rather than later. Simply put, it's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Ben Watson, Of All People, Has Been Suspended 4 Games for Taking a Banned-Substance When He Still Thought He Was Staying Retired
I'm not going to fault any one party for a piece of news that initially reads as shocking due to the consummate professionalism of the un-retired player, who treated his body as a temple, in question. The NFL has pretty clearly outlined what drugs they've deemed suspendible, and Ben Watson should have felt more than comfortable ingesting them in the wake of his absurdly long career in organized brutality that he deemed to be over. If anything, his upcoming four game suspension is just a byproduct of unfortunate circumstances while also being a bit of a blessing in disguise to a 38-year old who was almost certainly inspired to put the pads back on by having his "final" season brought to an early end with him stuck on the sidelines.
That being said, it's pretty telling of how stupidly strict the league's banned substance policy is that Ben Watson's first unrestricted doctor's visit in a decade and a half had him prescribed something illegal in the eyes of his former employer. Of course, I imagine it's almost impossible to draw the line between using and abusing something as helpful in the recovery process as Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate. Still, the juxtaposition of profiting greatly off battered bodies and bruised brains while nitpicking what medicinal methods are allowable, so much so that it's one of the few remaining professions in which weed is still a bad word, of players risking their short-term and long-term health on non-guaranteed contracts is an unsettling one.
I don't know that there's a right answer, as having bigger, stronger, and faster athletic freaks hitting each other head-on even harder isn't the answer, but surely the pharmaceutical community could find a happier medium than what certainly seems to be the wrong one. That is, if the NFL even cared enough about their players to listen to anyone other than their nonsensically stubborn selves.
Cam Jordan is More Concerned With Being a "Saints Lifer" Than He is With Amount of Money It'll Take to Make That Happen
PFT- Jordan has two years left on his five-year, $55 million extension, but the guys performing at his level are making about double that on average. And with a pair of All-Pro honors in the last two years, Jordan’s poised to eventually get a raise,
“All that can take care of itself. Honestly, I just want to be a Saints lifer. I want to go after this record by Rickey [Jackson],” Jordan said, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “I would love to say, ‘Hey, I want a megadeal.’ I don’t really. I just want to be secure in my job. Now to be sure, do I need to be updated? No doubt. But do I want to be like, ‘Hey, I want to break Aaron Donald bank or go after Khalil Mack money even though I have better than Khalil Mack numbers in most categories?’ No. For me it’s all about just being around my team, making sure that my family and my team is gonna be my family and my team for as long as I can play.
“When it comes down to it, I feel like to miss out on training camp two years out is just no point. I feel like the Saints and I have a phenomenal repertoire, so why would I want to damage that? For me it’s not even about money; it’s about solidifying a legacy. It’s about pushing and furthering what I’m doing. And I love our team to the fact that I want to continue doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve gone through some 7-9 seasons, but we’ve gone through some great times as well.”
I hesitate to heap too much praise on NFL stars that honor the entirety of their contracts or take a discount in extending them. After all, I'm totally cool with football players going just about every route short of the Psycho St. that Antonio Brown took in milking an exceedingly short career path, that could literally kill you, for all that it's worth.
That said, from the selfish point of view of a Saints' fan, it's refreshing to hear such an unselfish perspective from an eternally underrated player whose controlled cockiness can be seen throughout every corner of the organization. With Mark Ingram in Baltimore, Cam Jordan isn't just a team leader but also the pacesetter for the Saints' collective personality. The culture that's been built in New Orleans is basically a reflection of a well-respected veteran like himself. Therefore, for him to refuse to put up any sort of stink regarding the return on his on-field investment, despite being egregiously underpaid almost every single season he's been a Saint, only bodes well for the example he can continue to set in the locker room.
Now, do I think that Cameron Jordan having motivations other than money is going to stop someone like Michael Thomas from seeing dollar signs (or incessantly posting about them on social media) in his highly spirited effort to secure a bank-breaking bag? Absolutely not, nor should it. I do, however, think that it can only make lower the chances that even his most financially fueled teammates will make things messy when it comes to making sure they get their money. Mark Ingram's depressing departure was a harsh reminder that the NFL is and will always be a cutthroat business, but having an insanely talented and accomplished player who is as much a "brand loyalist" as he is a businessman can only help set a more selfless standard during the season.
Cam Jordan has, ::knock on wood::, been mystifyingly healthy throughout his illustrious career, so it's not out of the question that a brush with NFL mortality puts money more on his mind. For now, him having a well-deserved payday prioritized behind only leaving New Orleans as a "Saints lifer" is the exactly the type of mindset you'd want out of someone who leads as much through on-field example as he does off-field emotion.
According to Richard Jefferson (and Common Sense), The Cavs Were Hung the Hell Over When They Busted Out the Bench Mob Bottle Flip Against the Knicks
While I suppose it's nice to get a cutthroat confirmation from a fun-loving former player who is quickly turning into one the league's most quality listens, was it ever really in doubt that a contending Cavaliers' team came, boozed, and conquered during a midseason stop in Manhattan?
In my opinion, that tweet is only a bad look for the New York Knicks if you've somehow avoided catching wind of the festering pile of feces that's inhabited 'The Garden' for the last two decades. I mean, of course LeBron & Co. took advantage of a night on one of the most enticing NBA towns off the court before taking advantage of the uncompetitive also-ran's that annually tarnish its reputation on the court. If, for some reason, you weren't already assuming that young, rich professional athletes looked forward to playing dysfunctional organizations in destination cities then said professional athletes finding themselves obnoxiously amused by flipping a half-empty bottle should have been a pretty clear sign of a less-than-sober headspace.
Again, I'm glad that Richard Jefferson, after all these years, is still fulfilling his duties as a New Jersey Nets' great and a Brooklyn Nets' employee by dunking all over the Knickerbockers at every opportunity. I just can't consider an assumed amount of pregame popped bottles to more disrespectful than mid-game flipped bottles when the former has long been associated with traveling to play a perennial pushover in a city that knows how to party away the sorrows induced by its most "prestigious" squad.
With an Imperfectly Impactful Performance, Jack Hughes Offered a Pretty Clear Reminder of His Limitless Potential
It would be easy to point to a 'Player of the Game' worthy performance in Team USA's most important game of the tournament, that came on the heels of an inexplicable benching against their biggest rivals, and say "I told you so" to those that can't seem to compliment Kaapo Kakko without hating on Jack Hughes. After all, in just 12+ plus minutes of ice time, he was able to cause two turnovers (he pick-pocketed Ovechkin like he was a first-time international tourist just prior to the second highlight) that created two huge goals that somehow kept competitive a game against a Russian team that's loaded with top-level NHL talent. You'd think such a showing would prove the perfect counterpoint to the Finnish manchild's eye-popping assault on every hockey twitter timeline.
The truth, however, is that what we saw out of Jack Hughes yesterday was far from perfect. There were still times where the slightest bit of contact sent him swimming. There were still instances in which he looked entirely overmatched physically, as exemplified by him being left bloody after being driven into the ice like a pick on a zone entry attempt. There were still plays where a 160-170 pound kid who turned 18 less than two weeks ago looked like...well, you might want to sit down for this...a 160-170 pound kid who turned 18 less than two weeks ago...
I say that not to discredit what was an undeniable reminder of the level of talent that's had Jack Hughes atop 2019 draft boards since 2016, but rather to point out that being underdeveloped in a way that's typical of far more than most teens isn't going to stop him from having an immediate (and increasing) impact on NHL ice. Finished product, he is oh-so-shockingly not, but try to imagine what his almost unprecedentedly slick skating, Patty Kane-esque puck skills, playmaking prowess, and innate ability to have an instantaneous impact will look like once they are attached to a man who is already capable of standing out amongst full-grown superstars, despite a limited role, as a literal boy. Honestly, it shouldn't really require 20/20 foresight.
A massive amount of awe and respect to Kaapo Kakko for flat-out bullying his way into the conversation for first overall as a biological anomaly, but the previous projection is what still has Jack Hughes listed as the #1 prospect by a vast majority of the experts that don't adjust their rankings after each and every highlight. If you even care enough to live beyond the moment then you need next to no imagination to foresee that projection coming to fruition, even though yesterday's moment was pretty damn impressive in and of itself. American bias aside, while it'll definitely take a decade+ to officially declare one close to can't-miss player better than the other, his final pre-draft audition reinforced the reason to believe that there's more of Jack Hughes' best still to come than that of the Finnish freak who is already fully grown beyond his years.