There is No Headline Capable of Touching on How Shocking the Tragic Passing of Kobe Bryant and His Daughter is to the World of Sports
Numb, but in a way that makes you keenly aware that the nothingness felt is actually just your body’s instinctual reaction to your brain’s inability to process information that previously seemed implausible. Empty, but in a way that makes you keenly aware that you’re actually full of far too many feelings for just one to take precedence.
I am bound to eventually start rambling uncontrollably in trying to simultaneously collect and convey about a thousand different thoughts, but that’s the best way I can describe how I felt upon hearing the (heart)breaking news that I’m still left re-reading and re-re-reading in disbelief while desperately trying to make sense of a loss of life that, like so many others, doesn’t make any sense at all. I never dreamed of seeing myself damn near stunned to the point of sedation by the premature death of a public figure, much less one I merely took turns loving and loathing from afar. However, the realization that my opinion of Kobe Bryant was never just neutral speaks to how peerless he was in evoking - or more accurately, provoking - overly emotional reactions and responses out of anyone even casually invested in or against his tumultuous and tireless efforts.
Fact is, to almost everyone that has ever bounced a single Spalding, either before him or because of him, the sudden death of Kobe Bryant is not at all like others, as there are so few others who could truly lay claim to an aura of invincibility. I think Taj Gibson put it best when speaking of a Knicks’ locker room that was shocked somber. It feels as though all of sports, never mind anyone that had even a semblance of interest in them, lost a superhero yesterday. A flawed superhero that had trials and tribulations that were largely of his own making and earned all of his detractors in being a better reflection of the innately imperfect human condition than Superman, but a superhero nonetheless...
Immortal, as only the type of different breed and beast that could look up and down the entirely overwhelming physical force that was Shaq and know full-well he could win without him can be. Immortal, as only a predatory performer who not only got away with giving himself a nickname due to the unabashed accuracy of it, but also got away with crafting the universally understood and accepted 'Mamba Mentality' around said nickname can be. Immortal, as only a competitor who willed himself to the foul line to knock down two shots before walking himself off the court with a torn achilles in tow can be. Immortal, as only a showman who capped off an illustrious rollercoaster of a story-arch that included a fistful of championships by signing off for good with a signature 60-point performance can be. Immortal, as only someone who accomplished enough on the court to have two different numbers raised to the rafters above it in his honor can be. Immortal, as only a professional athlete who commanded the respect and appreciation of every last one of his peers despite trying to shatter their spirit every time he faced off against them can be.
Everything Kobe Bean Bryant did, and how confident/cocky/arrogant he was in doing it, sure made it seem like a guarantee that all he had to do to outlive us all was want it badly enough or scare the reaper into submission with his patented soul-searing stare and snarl. Yet, with him seemingly wanting nothing more than to continue transforming into so much more than an athlete by nurturing the multi-faceted growth of both his immediate family and his outrageously extended basketball family, we’re left pondering the potential of a man who proved, time and time again, he’d stop at absolute nothing to surpass it.
The Jordan of the next generation. Oddly enough, as psychotically centered on maximizing his own greatness as he was, referencing Kobe as he compares to the legend whose footsteps he, near literally, tried to follow while emulating every move and mannerism might be the ultimate compliment. His resume isn’t as flawless and his reputation as a person was hardly as irreproachable as that of his predecessor, largely due to playing through the era of easily accessible information. Regardless, Kobe Bryant gave late 80’s babies and beyond their own mirror image of a larger-than-life, endlessly talented, insatiable and fearless freak athlete of a performance artist whose win-at-all-costs attitude and hunger for more championships drove him straight past bordering on maniacal.
This tragedy is quite obviously bigger than basketball. There are multiple families in a state of mourning that would even be mentally crippling to the type of cutthroat, cold-blooded lunatic that is immune to the inherently human act of flinching. However, the immeasurable amount that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi still had left to give to the world through sport was ever-present in every tear dropped in or around the NBA’s social circle yesterday.
A mentor who did what so few retirees do in wholeheartedly embracing and encouraging those responsible for taking the reins and helping evolve the game to which he dedicated his entire existence. A 13-year-old mentee who, based on shared love and lineage alone, it somehow wasn’t entirely unreasonable to foresee taking women’s basketball to heights previously un-peaked. The world, whose global interest in seeing a ball go through a hoop is steadily increasing by the day, lost both an international icon and a next-of-kin that was already speaking freely about carrying on a wildly intimidating legacy of wild intimidation...
Again, what’s most devastatingly heart-wrenching is the unexpected and irreversible wreckage of the multiple families that had members aboard that helicopter. Still, what makes this particular tragedy, that you sadly wouldn’t think twice of had you not recognized the one unmistakable name taken by it, so profoundly painful to so, so many is how promising and impactful the very public lives of the victims we "knew" seemed downright destined to be.
I wouldn’t have imagined saying this yesterday morning, mostly because I wouldn’t have imagined anything short of the planet imploding taking the Mamba out before the age of 100-and-something, but his passing is one that I’ll never forgot where I was or what I was doing when I learned of it. The unforgettably clutch moments. The memories of flat-out emasculation through offensive genius and defensive doggedness. The mind-blowing milestones. Hell, even the eternally recyclable memes will continue to serve as a reminders of Kobe Bryant's lasting and unapologetic imprint on the cultural landscape of society, never mind the blueprint of basketball. For better or worse, he was that transcendent in the same way that a Prince or Michael Jackson might be to an older demographic, but with the added caveat that his whole image seemed defiantly and determinedly indestructible to those that grew up shouting the only name he ever needed while throwing literally anything in a trash can from a distance.
Death obviously comes for us all. If there were a competitive person or protective father that could simply fight it off by putting his mind to it then it would have been Kobe Bryant, so him being rendered helpless as he and his daughter presumably passed away in each others arms is undeniable proof of the harshest of human truths to accept. No matter what kind of life we're living, we can only control so much in regards to our own fate.
I’d imagine that aspect of this horrific accident plays a significant part in how sharply this stings. Perhaps, even as significant a part as Kobe Bryant would have continued playing - through the guidance and development of Gianna and her teammates, the tutorship of already incredible NBA players that still revered him, and the countless other Oscar Award-worthy projects he undoubtedly had in the works - in trying to better the sport for which he served as a pillar of polarization for two straight decades.
Kyrie Irving Celebrated Martin Luther King Day by Making the Heroically Departed Roll Over in His Grave
I am going to make the mistake of giving Kyrie Irving a little benefit of the doubt in assuming that the NBA's oft-cantankerous enigma to the tragically slain Civil Rights leader comparison isn’t one that he sat down, with a pen and pad, and put a lot of thought into. In my opinion, this was just a case of him dropping whatever topical name happened to be on the tip of his tongue in trying, and largely failing, to voice his opinion in making a point about him constantly being maligned through the media's misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
Unfortunately, the ever-so-slight difference between those two things is far-too-nuanced a distinction to expect people to make on the one day a year devoted to the memory of a man who died for a cause exponentially greater than any easily-confuted conspiracy theory.
Look, I don’t want to go all “shut up and dribble” here. That’s partially because I hate the racial and “political” overtones of doing so, but it’s mostly because the last thing Kyrie Irving needs is encouragement to spend even more time singlehandedly bouncing the air out of a basketball. Still, the fact remains that someone who only manages to make the media’s job that much easier almost every time he attempts to criticize it could probably benefit from knowing when to stop talking.
Albeit for a brief and belated second, Kyrie Irving was right. At the end of the day, all that matters is how his team performs and what his teammates think of him. However, if the general population is off-put by him seamlessly making MLK’s legendary life as a martyr for the inherently human rights of minorities about himself then it stands to reason that an NBA locker room would also feel some type of way about the timing of such shameless self-importance. Simply put, I have a hard time believing that the rest of the Nets' roster isn’t looking at their best (active) player through a collective side-eye after he returned from spending two months on the sideline only to contribute more to the creation of dumbfounding and divisive distractions than the work that goes into winning...
...never mind doing so on a culturally significant holiday ahead of an important divisional game that he didn’t even fucking participate in.
Again, I don’t think Kyrie Irving thought he was making an apples-to-apples analogy between himself and one of the most accomplished activists to ever walk this decisively round planet. I do, however, think that he thought he was smart enough to speak on some off-the-padded-wall similarity without sounding like more of an insane asshole than an eccentric intellectual. That’s an egregiously obnoxious trend with him, as what he considers an unfair portrayal is what the vast majority of the basketball world has seen enough of to consider it an insufferable personality.
The absolute best case scenario here is that he was intentionally trolling for the entertainment purposes he only seems to speak of with snark, but even that would require a disingenuous and disrespectful repurposing of MLK’s purpose on a day dedicated to his awe-inspiring existence. Plus, while I think we all wish that Kyrie Irving had the self-awareness for that soundbite to be heard as sarcastic, he’s proven - ad nauseam - to be a human hot-air balloon as an aimless gasbag that needs to be tied down, psych-ward-style, to remain grounded. If we're speaking metaphorically, he makes an Ambien addict with narcolepsy seem "woke" to reality by a comparison that is exponentially more appropriate than that of the NBA's most incessant malcontent to a timeless trailblazer who sacrificed his life to the pursuit of equality.
LeBron James Damn Near Anointed Himself in His IG Response to the Jazz Announcers That Found it Odd That He Hopped Feet From the Paint During a Live Game to Celebrate While Shoeless
Imagine doing your job at the highest level to where youâre not needed anymore, giving your shoes to a lil girl and boy who you inspire and hoped you made proud that night, then cheering on your teammates cause you love seeing them succeed more than yourself only to be criticized while doing it. People itâs the world we live in and you canât let it ever stop you from your purpose in life. Negativity, bad energy, hate, envy, etc etc will try to bring you down throughout your journey and itâs up to you on how you handle it. I handle it by simply saying âThank Youâ with a ð on my face and continue to push forward while doing it! LIVE.LAUGH.LOVE ðð¾â¤ï¸ð
While we're in the imagination station, let's all take a second to imagine that being gracious enough to sign a pair of your sneakers for some young fans absolves you of any and all obnoxiousness once they've been removed....
To be clear, if LeBron James had put the game out of reach in the first five minutes he could have headed back to the locker room for a shit, shave, and shower before returning to the court for the second half only to auction off his game-worn uniform in the tunnel for all I care. There is no shortage of sideline antics I am cool with. Unfortunately, venturing egregiously far from the bench during live play, regardless of whether or not you look like you are one black leather jacket short of trying to incite a sock-hop in the process, cannot be considered a sideline antic...
I'm all for NBA extracurriculars but let's not go spitting in the face of the forefathers of the 'And 1 Mixtape Tour' by acting like celebrating a mid-game play with the flooding of a live floor isn't a timeless display of disrespect. â
âI don't care that LeBron James actively chose to strip and tease the Utah Jazz in the final minutes of a complete blowout anywhere near as much as their announcers do. In fact, I admittedly find it pretty funny. What's not nearly as funny is the sanctimonious social media post that clears him of any wrongdoing in having the situational will power of a 5-year-old with a full bladder.
I'm all about the bullshit, especially throughout the league that wholeheartedly embraces it, but LeBron's failure to own his after the fact gives it a decidedly unpleasant stink.
Leave it to Grayson Allen.
By "it", I do not mean the Lexus that was probably passed down to him to he could whip around his high school parking lot with his collar up, his windows down, and his insanely punchable face on full display in all its infinitely douchey glory. By "it", I am instead referring to the first, and probably only instance in which I will ever even think about siding with a foul-mouthed fan who cowardly disparaged a professional athlete from the safety of their own seat.
Perhaps my brain is a little too familiar with his lack of playing time on a bad Memphis team and does, in fact, now recognize Grayson Allen as more of a bitch than a basketball player. I can only imagine the visual of him in the uniform he was truly meant to cry into after his days of prepubescent deviancy at Duke - a suit with sneakers - is only a hindrance to my eyes' inability to identify him as anything other than a bitch.
Realistically, it's probably just the smugness that likely got stuck across his face eternally the first time he threatened to sue someone over a skinned knee. Him approaching that maniacal seeker of 15 seconds of internet fame with a nose so turned up that it is out of reach to the stink of his own shit is definitely what has my fingers refusing to type up the same basic level of respect and decency I'd offer almost any other athlete in any other sport.
Whatever the case may be, I'm just glad that I don't have to feel like a hypocrite, as I am near certain that heckler tripped over a precariously placed leg soon after he published his recording.
Russell Westbrook Could Have Done Much Better and/or Said Much, Much Worse in His Criticism of Patrick Beverley
Look, the truth is that I'd probably harbor the type of unwavering disdain that proves that hate can be demonstrably more blind than love if someone ever tore my meniscus making an entirely idiotic play on the ball, thus bringing my championship run to an abrupt end with a substantial limp...
Never mind the rest of their extensive, antagonistic, and...well...hilarious history with one another...
Russell Westbrook was granted a free pass to say whatever and whenever in regards to Patrick Beverley as a player the second the latter's unrelenting recklessness threatened the longevity of the former's career. Hell, if he wanted to take an unexpected shot at his personal life - sans family - during a press conference I still might call it low blow-for-low blow in the long run.
That doesn't mean he's always right, with last night's pettiness being a perfect example...
....but it does mean he'll forever be justified in unconditionally crapping on the defense of someone that is - and I presume he will take this as the compliment it is intended as - universally considered a shameless prick of a provocateur outside of his own locker room.
Personally, I probably would have pointed out that Patrick Beverley is the "James Harden" of offensive fouls, in - more or less - creatively using (or, more accurately, flinging) his body to manufacture them out of thin air where they might not otherwise exist...
Seeing as that wouldn't sit well with the person in the stall next to him, I can totally empathize with Russell Westbrook strongly implying that the Clippers' skin-breaching specialist is no more than an aimlessly hyperactive hack.
It's not anywhere near true to say that Pat Bev just runs around in circles and has no impact at his own end of the court, but - with it being an exaggeration that likely brought a sinister smirk to his face - I figure it's pretty fair in its falseness. Especially when you consider that the source owes him a damn near limitless amount of physical or verbal swipes on a grudge card that's not running low anytime soon.
Inbounds? Pass. Eric Bledsoe May Have Forgotten Something While in a Hurry to Get a Possession Started Last Night
First week of November and Eric Bledsoe has already skipped clear over midseason form and straight into postseason form. That might be a good quality in some fast starters, but unfortunately the postseason form of the Bucks' guard at best resembles the preseason form of his peers and at worst resembles a pre-teen playing pick-up.
Mandatory mockery of playoff futility aside, Eric Bledsoe is just one of those players that refuses to get out of their own way in playing slap-happy defense against his own reputation. He's talented enough to be a recognizable name to the vast majority of NBA fans, and yet repeatedly uses that notoriety to turn said name into a punchline. It's a bit like JR Smith, if JR Smith took himself just a little too seriously. In essence, those laughs are not with, but rather at the man that treated the basketball like a baton during the first leg of his own, very personal race to a viral shaming. He really turned on the proverbial jets down the stretch with a flop that would make Shamu turn in his flippers...
...but there's just something so perfectly so fitting about him being under absolutely no pressure whatsoever in Shaqtin' that much of a fool.
That type of low could literally only be explained by being high, so while I don't want to put any blunts in Eric Bledsoe's mouth, I sure hope he hit the hashish a little too hard at halftime. If only because the lone remaining alternative is that he was of completely clear mind when he confidently snatched the reins and took the lead as the most handicapable player in the NBA about as quickly as he got blown dead as brain dead.
P.S. Never forget...
By Hook or By Crook, Kawhi Leonard Gave the Lakers Exactly What They Deserved in Spurning Them for the Clippers
I don’t think Kawhi Leonard’s intention was to do anything other than put himself in the best possible position to win both now and later as the number one option for a team located in his beloved Southern California. He clearly accomplished just that in proving that robots are, indeed, en route to outsmarting and exterminating all of us by quietly forcing the hand of two separate franchises, while leaving two others lying in the lurch, to make an 11th hour trade that involved a record-setting return. At the end of the day, it's possible that the biggest reason the Lakers thought they had a real chance was because they convinced themselves they had a real chance, as the insertion of an exceedingly silent, ball-dominant assassin next to Anthony Davis in the LeBron James' media circus never made any sense whatsoever.
That, however, doesn't make the collateral damage caused by his decision, with that being the complete compromising of the Lakers' superiority complex, any less sweet. I have a hard time believing that Kawhi Leonard had sticking it to Bron on the brain when he was playing hard-to-get with Jeanie Buss while going door-to-door around the NBA in trying to recruit a second star player to the Clippers...
However, if one were to plot out a maniacally meticulous plan of attack on the insufferable entitlement of an organization that couldn't be bothered to show a baseline level of competence in expecting a third transcendent talent to just fall in their lap? Well, I'm not sure they could craft a better backstabbing than the one that Kawhi Leonard just pulled off in leading on the Lakers for nothing more than leverage in making the Clippers more competitive.
Uniting two stars who, in consecutive years, more or less told LeBron & Co. to piss in the wind despite both having an obvious affinity for Los Angeles, and doing so in a form and fashion that brought the most formidable of foe in-house? With the way his free agency played out, eventually leaving Rob Pelinka to pick from the scrap heap of what was left over of the mid-tier free agents he missed out on by chasing the dragon that is star-power (which he did a decent job of, in all fairness), you'd think Kawhi Leonard was seeking vengeance after being Don King'd by Klutch Sports. I'm not sure his plan was as devious as it was determined, but reminding the Lakers of their most recent free agency failures by going above and beyond to have them call home the same building in a less prestigious uniform is how you pour gasoline on a dumpster fire in showing a legendary organization the error of its current leadership.
Kawhi Leonard sent the Lakers their reality check by choosing to both join and actively reinforce the deeper, more complete roster in Los Angeles while putting his trust in the city's most accomplished coach and executive. Whether they deposit said "check" or refuse to withdraw their head from their ass in continuing to live in LaLa Land remains to be seen. Regardless, they are currently the second-most flexible franchise in their own arena due to dumbass decision-making that couldn't possibly have done less to earn the services of the most deadly three-headed monster in NBA history.
It never made any sense for Kawhi to subject himself to a high-profile power struggle for possessions. The Lakers being unable to see that while going against the wishes of the introverted player they had targeted in aimlessly leaking baseless bullshit like they lost control of their organizational bladder tells you pretty much everything you need to know. They are a franchise that's been made spoiled by LeBron and his team choosing to make them relevant in prioritizing local interests outside basketball. They are a franchise that can't seem to wrap their head around AD only finding his way into purple and gold because they got desperate in giving up the entirety of their future for a 7-foot pawn on Rich Paul's chess board. Lastly, they are a franchise that was dead ass wrong in thinking they had some sort of right to a player who needs not to be part of such a shameless sideshow to win championships in Los Angeles. Long story short, the Lakers got what they deserved in the Kawhi sweepstakes...which was absolutely fucking nothing.
Look, if Kyrie Irving, who was raised in West Orange, is just trying to pander to the regionally protective and overtly proud New Jerseyians that still call themselves Nets' fans by speaking so glowingly of "home" then...well...it's working, and well enough for me to ignore that he did so while crossing (up) the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm of no illusion that the Meadowlands would have been able to outmaneuver the mystique of MSG in gaining the the NBA spotlight of two simpatico superstars simultaneously. However, if Ian Eagle says Kyrie has contacted him to reminisce about running around Continental Airlines Arena in awe of Jason Kidd & Co. then that's exactly the type of gospel that can make me reconsider a reluctance to organized religion that compares favorably to ye' who shall not be named's skepticism of the government...
That said, one flat-Earth truther's affinity for his old stomping grounds (...or a place a borough and change away from them) wasn't my main takeaway from his upgrade to Carmelo's "I'm coming home" video. Instead, my takeaway was that Kyrie Irving is...::cleans out ears and turns up volume::...currently happy?!
If his tenuous and bipolar tenure in Boston is any indication, that could change with the wind of one media member blowing hot air, but man - if working alongside his friends helps the NBA's foremost idiot savant keep that same cosmic energy then the New Jersey Nets of Brooklyn could have big, big things on the horizon. So long as he reallocates the time he would have spent getting ludicrous leadership lessons from LeBron to self-preserving his sanity, the team he's joining should be markedly better while his running-mate rehabs. If he just keeps that third eye on the prize and his young teammates out from under any and all cross-borough buses then the insanely deep and developing roster Sean Marks has assembled should only incrementally improve by leaps and bounds over the next few seasons.
I somehow have more faith in Kevin Durant making a full recovery from a crippling injury that's crapped on the course of plenty of promising career paths than I do in Kyrie Irving's ability to maintain his current mood or keep to catering to his crazy while off-the-clock. However, if "home" (or something like it) is truly where his heart is and said heart is set on making things work with a team he grew up enamored by then he should (...being the operative word) be far from the only person bouncing over to Brooklyn with basketball on their brain and a smile on their face.
TL;DR: Don't worry Kyrie, as you can leave that to Nets' fans, just please be fucking happy.
Dame Lillard Called Bullshit on Enes Kanter's Claim That the Blazers Only Gave Him 6 Minutes to Decide on His Future
You know what? I'm going to go ahead and say that Enes Kanter made the right decision in turning down the Trail Blazers, because - despite a couple impressive postseason performances - it's very clear he learned nothing during his time as one. He's always been a bit overly dramatic, especially online, but to have spent time with Damian Lillard as your teammate and not think he's not going to take a no-nonsense approach to any nonsense directed at the franchise for which he plans to forever man the front lines is just plain old stupid.
To be clear, Dame is absolutely right in saying that 45 minutes is hardly an eternity when it comes to deciding on the fate of your future, but business doesn't give a fuck about your feelings and, at the end of the day, the NBA is one of most cutthroat. I'd expect a journeyman of a 10-year veteran to have realized that by now.
To be honest, while I generally don't like to go this route, you're fighting a pretty steep uphill battle if you're trying to play the victim of time's essence in deciding which city you'd like to live lavishly in while playing a sport professionally. Mix in an exaggeration that makes your choice of where you'd prefer to surpass $100 million in career earnings seem as difficult as deciphering which cord to cut in trying to beat the clock to defuse a bomb and you're really setting yourself up to look silly. Never mind doing so at the expense of a team led by one of the NBA's most formidable flushers of all bullshit.
Free agency is referred to as a frenzy for a reason. With all due respect, that reason is immeasurably more important than where a playoff-run rental like Enes Kanter plays defenseless basketball for the next two seasons.
The Warriors are Unofficially "Retiring" Kevin Durant's Number, In Case You Were Wondering Exactly How Guilty Their Conscience Is
To be clear, I have absolutely no idea how guilty the Warriors organization should feel about letting Kevin Durant make an appearance in a must-win game that ended up costing him a full season of his prime and the certainty of his future as one of most transcendent talents in basketball. I'm quite sure there was plenty of inquiring minds mending together to make an extremely difficult decision that ultimately spelled disaster. While I definitely think some were swayed by the situation, even more so after listening to Andre Iguodala's story, I highly doubt all of them were only acting in the best interest of Golden State's dwindling chances at winning a third straight championship.
That being said, I think I have a pretty good idea of how guilty the Warriors' organization does feel, as the idea of "retiring" a player's jersey after three seasons, no matter how successful, is laughable to say the least. I can understand not immediately giving out the number of your back-to-back Finals MVP to some schlub off the street, but going out of your way to express exactly how off-limits it is in a press release the day after he asked "where Brooklyn at?!" in telling you "thanks, but no thanks"? Especially when you could just not say anything and easily go a decade without anyone voluntarily requesting to wear a number as unsightly as 35? That seems to be about as desperate a play/ploy for good will as...well...blubbering all over yourself in a postgame press conference while deflecting from a devastating injury by giving a sermon on the sainthood of the person who suffered it...
Simply put, Kevin Durant was a mercenary. He may have been a good person, a great teammate, and a quality leader in coming within one "calf strain" and two wins of being the most valuable part of a 3-peat in Golden State, but he was still a mercenary. Mercenaries don't get special treatment. Unless, of course, they are still owed payment for services rendered. KD rendered a hell of a lot in being left without time restriction in putting his career in jeopardy on behalf of a team that was, for intents and purposes, already beaten. Therefore, if the Warriors really want to settle things in the court of public option they should get to work on immortalizing him in bronze outside every gate of their new arena. Everyone already knows what they are doing in shamelessly kissing his ass as he limps out the door anyway. Might as well do it right by offering up more than some half-assed and likely unnecessary hold on the #35 disguised as a grand gesture.
Jimmy Butler Either Loves Miami or Loves Masochism, As I Can't Think of Any Other Reason He Would Turn Down the Sixers Max Offer to Sign With the Heat
I'm starting to think that Jimmy Butler's favorite song might be 'Only Happy When it Rains', and that's not so much an acknowledgement of his new city's on again, off again relationship with precipitation as it is an observation that he seems pretty damn content in being perpetually pissed off.
To be clear, I'm totally fine with a player prioritizing quality of life over quality basketball. It's just that Jimmy Butler hardly strikes me as the type to plop down on the 142 million dollar, state tax-free bag he just secured and enjoy sitting South Beach-side while calmly resting on his laurels as a great veteran player on a middling team whose cap is as strapped as its potential. In fact, his career speaks to him taking a much more, shall we say, incendiary approach to how things go down when they aren't quite looking up basketball-wise.
I guess I can see Philly having too many young, developing mouthes to feed for an overly proud player to picture himself staying there as nothing more than a complimentary option throughout the remainder of his prime, but Miami as the alternative? I'm sure him and Pat Riley will get along swimmingly in chastising everyone who doesn't come within a BPM or two of hustling their way into a heart attack during any given practice. However, that on-court marriage between a hyper-competitive malcontent and an unworthy roster is so obviously asking for trouble that I can't but think Jimmy Butler only agreed to it because he derives pleasure out the process of messy divorces.
Harrison Barnes Celebrated Signing His 85 Million Dollar Extension With a Pic of Him Bricking a Jumper, Which is a Hilarious Commentary on NBA Free Agency
Contrary to what some bungee-less conclusion jumpers on the internet may think, Harrison Barnes didn't accidentally post a picture of him missing a jump shot nor was he intentionally making light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production.
âWhat he did do, however, was unintentionally make light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production. All you really have to do is read to see this was clearly supposed to be a spiritually-driven narration on persevering past your failures and remaining unconditionally confident in yourself. That's not exactly the type of social media celebration I would have chosen after cashing in on another 85 million dollars, but it's also not one that's entirely senseless.
That said, as I find the Bible to be largely senseless, I can't help but laugh at the objectively funny visual aide that Harrison Barnes chose to go along with his excerpt, as it makes for quite the indictment of the mystifying money monsoon that it is NBA free agency. Teams that stand next-no-chance at contention just holding their form on long shots that will serve as a swing-and-miss the second the ink dries. I think Harrison Barnes is worth what he got relative to the market, but only because the market when it comes to shameless summer spending on supplementary talent is absolutely insane. So much so that the following might be the only better portrayal of it...
Finally. That admittedly feels like a weird word to use in reference to the comeuppance of a franchise that relocated from New Jersey seven years ago and almost instantly made a devastatingly dumb trade that paralyzed the team in basketball purgatory while suffering through it's unforgiving aftermath. However, the truth of the matter is that the Knicks have basically been begging to be overshadowed in their own city for ages. So much so that the Nets' rebuild, that was pretty quick relative to the complete lack of lottery picks that a team so demonstrably bad should have been privy to, put them in a far, far better position to make entice top-end talent than the most stupefyingly self-important organization in sports. It took a bit longer than he would have hoped, but Jay-Z's words just went from punchline to prophecy, as "little brother" made big brother's dream his reality - albeit one that is about 14 months from true fruition - in sending Knicks' fans scrambling for the shattered remains of their superiority complex from mere miles away...
The key word in that prophecy, of course, being management. With that of the museum of mediocrity that is "The Mecca" being entirely incompetent in a way that's long shown itself throughout every level of the Knicks' organization, it was somehow more likely than not that James Dolan would let the Knicks get lapped in relevance in their own city. Tough to deny that that's exactly what he's done, as it was he who led the season-long suckfest at the feet of Kevin Durant before only choosing to change his stance on paying top-dollar for damaged goods when the goods in question were an all-time great...
Make no mistake, this is a massive win for both the Brooklyn Nets and the team-building process. That said, it's also a demotion-to-the-G-League worthy 'L' for a franchise that crapped away an unfathomable competitive advantage in a media market that should realistically be entirely their own. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and - to a much lesser extent - DeAndre Jordan could easily be bringing the magic back to MSG, be it not for MSG making a mockery of itself. The long-held belief of both the Knicks and their fans that if you can make it there then you can make it anywhere isn't entirely untrue, but I hardly think Frank Sinatra was referring to extinguishing an organizational dumpster fire when harmonizing (not to be confused with harmonica'ing) about the mystique of Manhattan.
Obviously, there is plenty of risk that comes with putting your young team and selfless culture in the hands of an objectively insufferable asshole, who just lit the fuse that led to the implosion of a somewhat similar roster, for a year while his 32-year-old running mate recovers from an injury that has all-but-ended plenty of promising careers before. It's just a risk that any team would be stupid not to take, as Kyrie Irving eventually falling back into the Robin role (in which he ended a 50+ year championship drought for the city of Cleveland) to KD's Batman (at even 75% of his former freakishly talented self) is a recipe for title contention.
Be it Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LaVert, Taurean Prince, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, or even Rondae-Hollis Jefferson, the Nets put together a playoff-level team that was simply a superstar or two away from becoming a championship-level team. Meanwhile, the Knicks pissed away money on contracts that were more inflated than clown shoes in continuing to run an absolute circus of an operation on a wing and a prayer (See: trading a unicorn for cap space). Take out the alleged allure of a building that hasn't hosted a truly meaningful basketball in decades and this decision seems all-too-easy. From the Sean Marks on down, Brooklyn was a better basketball situation and for that reason they have a basketball team whose intrigue and potential is so exponential in comparison to the team whose city they just took over that it managed to rewrite the harrowing history of the Celtics' heist.
The Rockets are Looking for Reinforcements to Help Cure What Ailes Their Volatile Locker Room, and Have Reportedly Settled on Trading for...Jimmy Butler?
Would you look at that? The Rockets went and took the name right out of my mouth. Well, at least I assume that's why I was left speechless upon reading this report.
Who needs to be brought in to cure the temperamental locker room of a team led by clashing personalities and explosively opposing ideologies? Why, of course, it's Jimmy Butler! With Chris Paul being unable to get through to a superstar who has unlimited organizational support in playing however selfishly he sees fit, it only makes sense to double-down on difficult blowhards who demand accountability. I can't think of a more perfect way to motivate the most stubborn scorer in the NBA to share the ball and exert the excess effort on the less celebrated end of the floor than tag-teaming him with the most overbearing of peer-pressure. If I know James Harden like I think I know James Harden then people taking turns screaming in his ears for 82 games is what will really bring the cutthroat competitor out of him come playoff time!
In all seriousness, I think it might behoove the Houston Rockets to slap the calculator out of Daryl Morey's hand and enroll him in a chemistry class. Dude is so caught up in the math of basketball that he's completely forgotten that it's a team sport played by those with very distinct egos, emotions, and playing styles. I do rather enjoy the mental image of someone who would gladly die diving for a loose ball rolling his burning retinas while watching James Harden throw himself to the ground like he had just been shot between the eyes by a light brush against his wrist and CP3 bark at an official like the whistle was only discernible to the ears of old dogs who are fresh out of new tricks. However, to think that such an inevitable scene is fitting of a championship caliber basketball team is to think that the relationship between a dried-out forest, a fire, and a can of gasoline is a fruitful one.
Unless the assumption is that everything is already destined for ashes anyway, in which case I would applaud the Rockets for sacrificing their sanity in acting solely on behalf of the sadistic fans of a sports' soap opera, this simply doesn't add up in any non-analytical way.
The Torch of New Orleans' Sports Could Soon be up for a Passing if Drew Brees' Gift to Zion Williamson Is Any Indication
I don't want to hate too hard on Anthony Davis here. After all, in many ways, him becoming a villain in New Orleans after spending year and year personally flourishing on a floundering team that greatly needed a reality check has inherently made Zion Williamson all the more galvanizing to a city that might soon be in need of another "savior". Rich Paul depositing that reality check by trying to...ahem...Klutch the Pelicans by the balls mid-season really woke the front office up to the fact that their franchise was largely seen as a farce.
More importantly, it presumably inspired the organizational overhaul that got kickstarted with the hiring of an accomplished exec like David Griffin and got put into overdrive by some prosperous ping pong balls. The Pelicans no longer being treated like a second-class citizen internally has made the external shift in optimism all the more possible, and it's impossible to know if things would have been so quick to change if not for the embarrassing public spectacle of the Anthony Davis saga.
That said, while also taking into consideration the imprisonment of the moment, the aura surrounding this 1st overall selection as opposed to that of his premier predecessor just feels so much different. Anthony Davis both was and is a transcendent talent in his own right, but as the forward-facing ambassador for a long-suffering franchise and the city they call home, Zion Williamson appears to have a Drew Brees-lite type "it" factor.
Lord willing, the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the current torch-carrier will never again be replicated, as his impact was unimpeachable for reasons far beyond a resurgence in sport. However, I don't think #9 is merely "passing it on", figuratively speaking, because he's on his last leg as an elite arm in the NFL or because he received strict instructions to go out of his way to be overly complimentary to make the newest member of a tight-knit community feel welcome. I'm probably unwrapping far too much from a gift that required no ripping or tearing. Still, if I can see that Zion Williamson has the rare mix of personality, potential, and magnetism that can make him a larger-than-life figure both on and off the court then surely so does the regional diplomat of a future HOF quarterback that implied as much in a message that, in an already large frame, made mention of an even bigger picture.
I don't know that the Pelicans can ever come anywhere close to reaching a Saints-like level of importance in New Orleans, as Sundays are basically a cult-like spiritual experience in and around the parish that lays claim to the insanely excitable church that is the SuperDome. However, their stars might soon have the capability to shine somewhat close to as brightly throughout the city and that alone would be a massive shift in the right direction for what's been, until recently, a red-headed stepchild of a professional basketball team.
Of All the People to Question the Warriors' Treatment of Injured Players, Golden State Surely Considers Andre Iguodala an Unpleasant Surprise
Well, after watching Mr. Myers kiss Kevin Durant's entire ass throughout a oddly tearful postgame presser that pointed more fingers at those outside than inside the organization that told their best player he couldn't possibly make his injury any worse on the same day he eventually sacrificed a season of his prime to an achilles tear, I think the general consensus from this clip has to be...
A role player like Andre Iguodala admitting to being medically misled through media manipulation in the process of being pressured to play against a crappy Cleveland Cavaliers' team that realistically stood little chance of beating the Warriors with or without him is bad enough in its own right. What it implies about what KD might have faced as a soon-to-be free agent of a savior to a team that was on the brink of NBA Finals elimination, however, is substantially worse.
Whether or not the decision to play in Game 5 was ultimately in the hands of the consummate competitor in question, one of the most well-respected veterans in the league, who shouldn't have a bone to pick with the franchise that's paying him 17+ million next season, just added quite a bit of context to what already had the unfortunate feel of guilt-born blubbering...
Fact is, if you think the Golden State Warriors had any responsibility to clearly lay out all the risks without laying the peer pressure on thick then they probably didn't fulfill it. I thought to be the case before, and hearing someone who has had a wealth of success in Golden State speak to his own personal experience with being pushed to play through duplicitous means certainly didn't change my mind for the better. Never mind disavow the legitimacy of the following report...
The Rockets' Twitter Will Let Giannis Finish, But Not Before Reminding Everyone Who Might Have Forgetten That James Harden Scored A Lot This Season
I got to be honest. I don't really have a problem with the Rockets having a pre-drafted list of James Harden's personal accomplishments, that could have been summoned up with something as simple as "did you know he scores...like...a lot?" ready if their superstar (who didn't even bother showing up last night, mind you) missed out on winning a 2nd straight MVP Award. Team-run Twitter accounts are meant to pander to the most fanatical of followers, so being shamelessly biased and insecurely defensive about the one-man team it's devoted to, even if comes off as giving the most egregious "well, actually..." to Giannis' historic season, is kind of fitting of its job description.
Now, to post it while the actual MVP, who is universally beloved enough to make James Harden look like Judas by comparison, was on the verge of leaking all over himself in talking about what his dearly departed father and the rest of his family meant to what has been a selfless and meteoric rise to superstardom?
Needless to say, I've certainly seen better looks. Again, I get why it was posted, but when it was posted is a different story. Maybe, just maybe let the ultimate overseas success story give what was almost guaranteed to be a heartwarming speech and have his well-deserved moment in the spotlight. After all, doing the social media equivalent of screaming "what about us?" like 'us' wasn't last seen melting under the spotlight as their former MVP once again went MIA in another massively passive postseason moment was, ironically enough, bound to flop in embarrassing fashion when introduced to an always unforgiving internet.
Doc Rivers' Reaction to Mike Budenholzer Winning 'Coach of the Year' Over Him was so Classically Doc Rivers
I'd say that in most cases we'd expect head coaches to plaster professionalism across their face when dealt disappointment during something as subjectively selected as Award Show winners. As the strategist behind the young team with the best record in basketball, it's tough to be too surprised by Mike Budenholzer winning 'Coach of the Year' anyway, so you'd think the disgust would be a little less undeniable in the expression of someone who definitely served as worthy competition.
That, however, simply isn't who Doc Rivers is a person, so if absolutely nothing else, I appreciate how on-brand a reaction that was from someone who has never suppressed his emotions or agreed with a single judgment call that didn't go his way. Had the presenter at the time happened to be wearing a whistle around his neck, we might well have been the Pavlovian Rottweiler in Doc Rivers come out during an award show freakout capable of making Taylor Swift drop the mic and Kanye West feel second-hand embarrassment.
For that reason, I'm pretty proud of the guy for merely being caught looking like he smelled some shit on his lip for two seconds by a camera guy that knew damn well what he doing. After all he did in making a gift out of the present in getting to Game 6 against a full-strength Golden State with a roster that was undercut by a management team that had their sights set on the future, I understand his outward objection. Even though I ironically wouldn't be as willing to give a pass to an NBA coach that hasn't broken me down and made me immune to his barking throughout years of shameless bitching.
Anthony Davis is Employed by an Incompetent Organization, And for the First Time in a Long Time it is Not the New Orleans Pelicans
Ya know, I can't help but wonder if Anthony Davis is a fan of irony. I know he's a fan of the idea of playing alongside another transcendent talent in LeBron James during a convenient time in which the league has been busted wide open by the dethroning of a damaged dynasty, but is he a fan of irony? Make no mistake, the conclusion to his messy, drawn out divorce proving symbolic of the Pelicans' finally figuring it out in the front office in moving him to a franchise whose The Office-esque parody of a front office makes the one that largely wasted his limitless talent for seven years look competent by comparison is a prime example of it.
I don't want to speak on behalf of the self-awareness of a 7-foot freak of nature that let himself be paraded around as nothing more than the most precious of pawn by Klutch Sports. However, Anthony Davis has to see the self-deprecating humor in Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers salary crapping their pants in failing to realize that they had yet to open up enough space for another max contract in acquiring him, right? He's definitely in a better position to win now and win big in front of much fuller crowds, but he's also in a position to become quite the punchline in wanting nothing more than to be tasked with throwing buckets of water on the Lakers' dumpster fire of dysfunction.
LeBron, AD, and - to a lesser extent - Kyle Kuzma make for an unconscionably formidable front court, but whatever help they might be getting isn't coming from the men and women running a complete circus of a shitshow. As far as I could tell, mismanagement was one of the main reasons for Rich Pau...I mean, Anthony Davis' trade demand in the first place. Therefore, he better hope he doesn't finish in second place or worse if he doesn't want to be mocked for defiantly deviating from the now ridiculously reinforced 'Road to Zion' just to run directly into the same type of dead-end that he did his damnedest to avoid. Simply put, if organizational stability was high on his list of priorities then, in waving off David Griffin to go from Dell Demps to Rob Pelinka, his list of priorities is still laughably unfulfilled and in a fairly familiar way.
The Fact That I Can't Immediately Dismiss This Story Tells You All You Need to Know About Kyrie Irving
To be as clear as the day is long, let me first say that the only person I'm less likely to take at their word than Doug Gottlieb is...well...Doug Gottlieb when he's making a guest appearance on the Colin Cowherd show. To put it lightly, I'm suspicious of this story's validity.
That said, it speaks volumes to the quirkiness of subject that my suspicion is based entirely on the source, as opposed to the flat out foolishness of a tale that would seem tall if not for featuring the NBA player who is most likely to come off as dumb in an exaggerated effort to sound smarter than he is. As someone that fears Kyrie Irving might come to Brooklyn and be late to the Nets' home opener because he let the universe guide his path to Barclays Center after turning off his location to go MIA to the all-knowing eye, I can't entirely dismiss this as fake news. Whether or not it's true is actually kind of irrelevant, because it being even mildly believable in a "sounds about right" sort of way is a problem in and of itself.
I don't know for sure that he was walking around the Celtics' facilities asking people for their personal meaning of 'government' like he was conducting a verbal admissions test to Tinfoil Cap University, but Kyrie Irving is way out there and it's not because he accidentally stepped off the edge of the Earth. Rather, it's because, much like someone opening their eyes as wide as possible to fight off exhaustion, he tries so incredibly hard to be woke that he's ironically one step away from being asleep at the wheel. Just his Instagram captions alone are proof of someone who makes for an odd mix in being a type of pretentious that you can't help but pity.
Obviously he's still an insanely talented basketball player, despite what his percentages from this postseason might show, but he'sone that is just a little too close to giving up his hoop dreams to pursue the type of "truths" outlined in rarely viewed but oddly convincing YouTube videos.