We have the answer, and trust me when I tell you that is most certainly not a reference to Allen Iverson's classic line of kicks. Instead, it's a nod to the enlightening realization that Kawhi Leonard's individuality is officially about as exciting as...the MLA Format. I've been looking for an accurate comparison for the lack of charisma exuded by a superstar so boring that he makes the media appearances of hockey players seem like standup routines. Then, all the sudden, there it appeared...perfectly punctuated in Times New Roman across the back of a basketball shoe produced by a painfully caucasian company in a way that was almost too fitting to not be photoshopped.
Kawhi Leonard has the personality of proper grammar. His personal style is set to default. His lack of creativity is so unprecedented in the NBA sneaker game that, in an ass-backwards way, it might actually be creative despite its uninteresting intentions. I honestly can't tell if the back of that shoe is more characterlessly characteristic of New Balance or Kawhi Leonard, and for that reason I offer him my deepest apologies in questioning whether his decision to jump ship from Jumpman was the right one. He's being branded right where he's supposed to be branded, which will presumably be in the back of every elderly, suburban English teacher's closet.
The moment has this way of imprisoning us all. With this particularly drama-filled moment all-but-arresting the attention of anyone with more than a passing interest in the NBA, it would be easy to say that Dell Demps just got canned for laughing in the face of the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline. The timing of his firing implies that the mismanagement of Anthony Davis as an asset was an unforgivable misstep.
The truth of the matter is that every mistake that led to a freakishly talented franchise cornerstone feeling the need to force himself into a more favorable situation with a year and change left on his contract probably makes up over 90% of the list of reasons he got unceremoniously ousted. The idea that ownership was on board with telling the Lakers to piss off until the summer makes this news a little less fun to digest, but Dell Demps' bed was more than likely made well before Anthony Davis tucked his ass in with an untimely trade demand.
For that reason, I think this is actually the optimal way for him to go out. Never mind the unknown that is the package the Pelicans get for AD this summer, because the Lakers could have thrown a team of A+ architects into their outrageous offer and Dell Demps still wouldn't have been able to build a winner in New Orleans. The big picture has been far from easy on the eyes, as he's been an undeniably bad General Manager for years now.
Therefore, appearing as though he was martyred for giving a massive middle to two iconic basketball figures is the best way he could possibly bid farewell. Magic Johnson and LeBron James have basically been begging to be told to "go screw", so - as petty and potentially counterproductive as it may have been to acquiesce - it'll go down as far more memorable than anything else Dell Demps was able to do during his time with the Pelicans.
Of course, I'm sure he'd have preferred to remain in a high ranking position within an NBA organization, but it's not like Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram would have been packing carry-ons full of job security in their flight over from LA. Dell Demps basically went out with type of bang that somehow rings louder than his woefully underwhelming resume, which serves as quite the desirable distraction from the fact that he deserved his inevitable dumping.
Amidst A Situation His Coach Described As A "Dumpster Fire", Anthony Davis Left The Game And Then The Building Early After Bruising His Shoulder
Hey, what do you know? A relationship more doomed than any retread that appears to be seeking out bad looks more shamelessly than J.R. Smith in his prime just got even more gratuitous in its awkwardness. I don't know if what happened last night is predominantly an indictment of a league that forced the entirely meaningless participation of an oft-injured player that apparently can't absorb a light bump without needing to be rushed to an examination table. Maybe it's more of an indictment of a player and his agent looking for just about any reason to create some breathing room so as to avoid ingesting the fumes from the dumpster fire they started...
Whatever the case may be, it doesn't look great that the lead arsonist in the burning of the bridge between a superstar and the organization with which he spent the last seven seasons, that being Rich Paul, was caught accompanying Anthony Davis out of the building mid-game like the shoulder he merely bruised was about to fall off. I know that New Orleans' medical staff has been much maligned, but I think their trainers are capable of deciphering between contusion and catastrophe. Therefore, looking as though he was in a rush to go on vacation with his recklessly ruinous representation isn't exactly a sight for the sore eyes of anyone invested in the best interests of the Pelicans' organization.
Now, it would be fair to say that Alvin Gentry and Co. haven't handled an unprecedentedly amateurish situation perfectly, as benching AD during a 4th quarter of a nationally televised game that he dominated for three quarters only drew more attention to how icy things have become. However, let last night serve as the evidence that they were forced into an impossible position. Either Anthony Davis is injured and his trade value suffers or he's entirely uninterested and the team's chemistry suffers. Since those were really the only two ways in which a sabotaged stretch run was going to play out, he might as well stay home and collect a paycheck post-All Star break.
The circulation of a video that either rightfully or wrongfully paints a picture of a premier player walking out on his team certainly isn't going to endear him to them. The Pelicans are trying to clean up the debris in the wake of a collusive and foundation crumbling trade demand (and doing a decent job, if last night's upset win over the Thunder is any indication), and every time Anthony Davis picks up the proverbial broom he's at risk of making things more of a mess.
NFL Owners Have Reportedly Approached NBA Commissioner Adam Silver About Replacing Roger Goodell, Which Is Almost Too On The (Clown) Nose
ESPN- While Silver did not explicitly confirm that he had been approached by NFL owners, sources close to the situation told ESPN that several NFL owners have tried to persuade Silver to run their league over the course of his five years as the NBA's commissioner. Silver has also been approached by a number of Fortune 500 companies, according to sources.
"I'll just say I have not given it any thought," Silver told ESPN about his reaction to those job opportunities. "I feel very fortunate to be in this position. As a longtime fan, as a longtime league employee, the opportunity to become the commissioner of this league was beyond anything I even ever dreamed of as a kid.
"I've loved every day I've been in this job, and I think there's nothing but enormous opportunity ahead for this league. And ultimately, I realize I'm just passing through like every player who's gone through this league and ultimately like every owner, and I feel an enormous obligation to the fans and to this greater NBA family to do my best and try my hardest every day. But that's where 100 percent of my focus is."
How? Just...how? How is entirely unsurprising? The NFL thinking they could just pry the nails out of the most crucified Commissioner in professional sports and replace him with the most beloved Commissioner in professional sports with a pitch that probably just equated to a swimming pool full of additional salary should be huge news. Instead, the fact that they tried to give a whole new meaning to the term "copycat league" by not only trying to emulate the NBA's success in being run forwards instead of ass-backwards, but by trying to buy it off them is about as shocking as the NFL botching another domestic abuse investigation.
To be fair, the NFL should be looking to add a tell-it-like-it-is type leader. It's partially by design, as being NFL Commissioner basically just means serving as "The Shield" in taking a bunch of bullets on behalf of greedy billionaires, but Adam Silver is all the things Roger Goodell is not. Prompt. Forthright. Likable. Rational. Chances are that list would be stunted in short order if he were the voice of a league that's only progressive in being counterproductive and literally only cares about its liquidity, but - from a personality standpoint - someone like (being the operative words) Adam Silver would be a massive upgrade.
That's not really the point though. The point is that the multibillion dollar behemoth of a business is essentially the equivalent of the spoiled grade schooler that thinks everything that strikes his fancy can be funded, regardless of whether or not it belongs to someone else. NFL owners are basically Willy Wonka's worst nightmare in being an entitlement army staffed entirely by Veruca Salt clones. They don't care how, they want it now...despite "it" being something almost as unattainable as a goose that shits out golden eggs. That, of course, being the good will and/or benefit of the doubt that comes as a result of leaving a (very particular, apparently) man with a moral compass to weigh management decisions free of outside influences that are too long in both tooth and pocket to be anything other than short in sight.
Steve Kerr Went A Little Nutty Nuts In Getting Tossed For Arguing A Questionable Flagrant Foul Late In A Warriors' Loss
A tip of the hat to Steve Kerr. Not just for a throwing both a clipboard and an absolute shit fit in response a routine foul that was only made flagrant by the reputation of the person who committed it, but for choosing exceptional circumstances in which to do so. There's a time and a place for everything, even expletive-laced tantrums, and what better time and place than one that starts your vacation early while making a public talking point of a questionable officiating decision that would have otherwise flown under the radar?
We sometimes have to dig a little deeper to praise the job Steve Kerr does as the overseer of a superteam that can coast on talent, hence the amount of times you'll hear him (accurately) referred to as an excellent manager of egos. Therefore, I'm willing to take it a little too far in treating that cleverly-placed conniption as a feather in his coaching cap. Ranting and raving at referees with rage in your eyes late in a loss isn't often worthy of praise, but doing so with passion, principle, and purpose? That's something I can stand firmly behind...even if said passion is just a strong desire to use 4-letter words, said principle is just an over-the-top attempt to paint your villain as a victim, and said purpose is to receive an early dismissal from "the office" ahead of a long weekend.
In Answering To How He Handles Criticism, Russell Westbrook Explicitly Dropped The Quote Of All Quotes
I don't know if the blessed talent of which Russell Westbrook speaks is of his personality or his play, but I'll be damned if I...well...give a fuck. That's just an all-time quote that should, at least temporarily, transcend however you may have felt about a player who has a tendency to be polarizing. We often say we don't care, but it's nowhere near as often that we actually remain entirely unscathed by criticism, so it is very much a skill to keep a blind eye to the haters and a deaf ear to the doubters.
Now, I suppose it's technically impossible to say that whether or not that's a skill Russell Westbrook possesses, as he could very well go home and curse the name of every person who has ever criticized him into his pillow at night. However, if the lack of alterations he's made to a style of play that was seen by many as selfish during a season in which he chased both stats and history by design is any indication then he didn't exactly pay much mind to the idea that he's impossible to play with. Paul George is helping proving any negative commentary wrong in making a strong play for MVP alongside the former MVP, and it's not like the latter has had to go out of his way to pass up the torch (or a ton of shots, for that matter) for the former to do so...
The formula that presumably sparked Kevin Durant's exodus from Oklahoma City is pretty close to the same one that has the Thunder as one of the most well-rounded teams in the West and - ironically enough - one the biggest threats to Golden State. Therefore, I'm more than willing to believe Russell Westbrook when he says he doesn't give a fuck what people have to say about his hogging of boards and his floundering shooting percentage. For better or worse, he's unabashedly himself both on and off the court. Without naming names...or reptiles, that's more than can be said for even some of his more accomplished peers who merely dream of being internally talented enough to remain undeterred by the opinions of others.
In The Wake Of The Sixers' Loss To The Celtics, Joel Embiid's Entirely Enlightening Opinion Was That NBA Refs F'n Suck
If you're asking me to spot the lie then the process of finding it would take longer than the one Sixers trusted on their long, winding road back to relevance. The truth is, NBA referees - due to both the relative impossibility of their job and their inconsistency in doing it - do fucking suck. The following travel going uncalled and the subsequent social media defense of that swallowed whistle spoke to that louder than even the most boisterous and unapologetic of NBA star ever could...
In fact, I think that what Joel Embiid said is so cut and dry that I don't feel as though the proverbial whistle needs to continue being blown at those that use theirs so haphazardly. That's why I'd rather focus on another epidemic that's running rampant in the NBA, and that's players actively placing their fate in the hands of those that have made no bones about fucking sucking...
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By current standards, the play above almost certainly should have been called a foul against Al Horford. I just have no problem with it being judged differently in crunch time, because the current standards are what have some of most talented athletes on the planet trying to bang bodies as opposed to trying to get buckets with the game on the line. For whatever it's worth, which was apparently not two foul shots, the arm of the Celtics' big man was in place before a more skilled opponent swung up under it knowing full well that putting the ball in the basket was his second priority.
Point being, if the calling of fouls is inherently fickle then it's probably best to stop relying on them. That's pretty much the same philosophy I use in avoiding Spirit Airlines. The free throw line should be harder to get to late in games, and it's unbelievably easy for an athletic specimen the likes of Joel Embiid to create contact on unorthodox moves in which attempting an actual shot is just an added bonus. Awful officiating is undeniably hurting the NBA's product. However, so is the Hardenization of offenses that are too damn talented to be dependent on an aspect of the game that's as inconsistent as post-Mexican bowel movements in big situations.
If Joel Embiid thinks the new referees fucking suck because they let the game be decided by the players then the old school referees would have had him cowering in the corner. Therefore, the Sixers' biggest weapon probably should have just stopped talking after taking some responsibility for being completely cuffed by Al Horford for 75% of a game that his team lost by one possession in which he didn't happen to get bailed out...
Inexcusable. Simply inexcusable. Of all the things not to clue a proud and accomplished newcomer in on, they forgot to give Marc Gasol the low down on the player intros? As if a 7-foot white foreigner didn't stand out like enough of a sore thumb in a new city, the Raptors left him standing solo in uncomfortably watching over their pregame core-crunch like he's Steven f'n Glansberg? Never mind indoctrinating him into the offense, as he's a savvy veteran with a high enough basketball IQ to find the passing lanes and identify the proper time for a pick-and-roll...
The first order of business should have been getting the big man up to speed on the little ways in which to avoid any initial awkwardness. Needless to say, doing what the two-way, 3x All Star was left to do in peaking through the proverbial window at a group workout is awkward enough behavior to get your gym membership revoked. Marc Gasol has been a big name in the NBA for far too long to be left standing on the court wondering what the hell to do with his hands while the rest of his team gets a pump and plays patty-cake, so let that amateurish scene be a lesson to a Toronto Raptors' team that would have been an absolute nightmare for new kids during recess.
And there you have it, proof that 'The Greek Freak' is currently beyond reproach. Never mind somehow quietly carrying the Milwaukee Bucks to the top of the Eastern Conference as a consensus MVP candidate. Being a peck away from the most outrageous of presidential ploys and not getting questioned on it by those who are professionally inclined to point out the obvious is almost as impressive as the fadeaway dunks and alien-esque athleticism.
Three and half minutes. Three and a half minutes and not one single reference to the human being he was holding. Once that baby got comfortable it started grabbing mics like they contained breast milk, and the reporters that held them still didn't uphold their responsibility in letting us know who the hell she belongs to. I'd imagine that's mostly because they already know, but not pointing out the elep-infant in the room even once is evidence that Giannis can do no wrong.
I bet he could have palmed that little girl out of a court-side stroller without asking and we'd all just assume she was a product of bad parenting. He could've robbed an actual cradle and we'd treat him like he just casually leaped from a burning building having saved a life. His smile is as infectious as his transition game is hellacious, and the combination somehow makes for someone you want responsible for both your offense and your offspring. I don't know if he wins MVP over a guy that just topped 30 points for the 30th straight game, but - if only because he's the smoothest of operator in both playing and politicking - he's got my vote.
The Knicks Featuring A Picture Of Kevin Durant In Their New Season Ticket Promo Isn't As Sad As Their Laziness In Doing So
In theory, I don't really hate this move. After all, the Knicks traded a young, cost-controlled talent that was touted to be as rare and awe-inspiring as a flying, horned horse that farts rainbows for nothing more than cap space. It's not as if their offseason intentions weren't already written across the collective forehead they've had planted firmly in their hands for the last decade plus. As far as I can tell, tampering at its most shameless only costs around $50,000, so if the image of the back-to-back Finals MVP helped coerce even one court-side season ticket holder into an early renewal then it already paid for itself. The fact is, pitching a brighter future is key to promotion, and if the Knicks go Durant-less over the summer then the atmosphere in The Mecca next season will make the darkest and dreariest scene from The Day After Tomorrow seem like a plausible place to host a picnic. I, for one, actually appreciate them unofficially admitting as much. For whatever it may be worth, that advertisement of their 'all or nothing' optimism isn't false.
The execution, however, is what has me up in arms. Like, really? A picture that was haphazardly sought out by way of 'Google Image' and implies that New York's most encouraging roster piece is a center that, while steadily improving, is averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds per game this season? If I were Kevin Durant, that picture being the most intriguing that the Knicks could find in trying to sell a long-suffering fanbase on overpriced ticket packages would have me more likely to go play in Greece than the Garden. All due respect to Mitchell Robinson, but they might as well have gone full-photoshop in giving KD an orange and blue makeover. That visual "aide" is simply sad...even aside from it desperately featuring another franchise's First Team All-NBA player that has already made it pretty damn clear he'd rather argue in circles with internet trolls than prematurely answer to the hysteria of his impending free agency.
Missouri State Won On A Half-Court Buzzer-Beater During A Scene That Looked A Lot Like Kids Attacking The Insides Of A Piñata
Therein lies the beauty of college basketball, and by that I mean that's just a likely to resemble a semi-professional brand of basketball as it to not resemble basketball at all. If you judged that scene only on the amount of bodies that hit the floor, you'd think that kindergarteners were playing soccer or the city of Boston was "celebrating" another championship. You certainly wouldn't think that athletes on scholarship had orchestrated the most unlikely of last second comebacks in an otherwise organized competition.
That might sound hyper-critical, but truth is that the unpredictability of college hoops is what makes up for its incredibly questionable execution. That truth is self-evident in an inexcusably reckless in-bounds pass ultimately creating a scene worthy of the Benny Hill theme music and somehow still working its way from the bottom of the blooper reel to the top of the highlight reel in the matter of a second.
We can credit both the hustle and the heave, of course, so long as we make sure they are taking a proverbial bow alongside the half-witted help that made it all possible by allowing for a bunch of proud amateur athletes to look as drunk as their peers probably were in the stands. Madness, turns out it's not just reserved for March.
As Understandable As It May Be, The NBA Using 6-Figure Fines To Threaten The Pelicans Into Playing Anthony Davis Is Kinda Bullshit
In understanding how cutthroat the business of professional sports so often is at the expense of athletes, it pains me to ever side with management. That's usually because it feels wrong to offer billionaires the one and only thing they can't buy, that being sympathy. In this particular case, however, it's because a 7 foot freak of nature who was under the heavy influence of the destructive drug that is LeBron James' figurative and literal agency basically put everyone in a headlock and dragged them out of the way in an attempt to get a deal to the Lakers done.
Of course, the NBA should have a high level of interest in their top-end talent taking center stage whenever they are available to do so, but - the way I see it - the league basically appraised the mess made by Anthony Davis at $50,000 then threatened to charge the victimized organization upwards of millions of dollars to clean it up. The fact is, it wasn't the New Orleans Pelicans' prerogative to change the designation on the most impactful player in franchise history from 'athlete' to 'asset', but it is their prerogative to do everything in their power to make sure said asset doesn't depreciate. Essentially charging them 100K, even if it's much less relative to the networth of the finee, for each game's worth of insurance just seems silly when all they are doing is trying to control damage that they didn't cause.
This isn't some indictment of the NBA's player empowerment (of which I am a fan) or some principled stand on behalf of small markets (of which I find to be an overused excuse for failure). Rather, it's a nod to the everyday rivalry that is Risk Vs. Reward. Anthony Davis bet heavily on the latter in hoping he'd get quickly flipped to a historically prestigious franchise to play alongside the best player on the planet. The cost of the former covering should have been 20-some-odd games in which he, proverbially speaking, gets packaged in bubble wrap and prepped for auction. Fingers crossed that this argument is made moot by AD finishing his final, increasingly awkward season in New Orleans healthy. However, if he doesn't then it's going to be a terrible look for a league that apparently considers collusion less criminal than a couple dozen DNP's in games that will only be made meaningful if the disaster they are openly inviting strikes.
Lakers' GM Rob Pelinka Didn't Exactly Have An SAT-Worthy Analogy Ready When Asked How His Team Was Going To Come Together Post-Trade Deadline
I'll tell you what, it must pay to have a striking resemblance to a famous celebrity, for when I first read that entirely irrelevant analogy, I pictured it coming from the lips of Rob Lowe and just automatically assumed it was somewhat coherent/applicable due to the actor effect...
I guess with a little creativity it still could be. That is, if you think of LeBron James as the pastor, Magic Johnson as the fiancee (or vice versa), and the rest of the Lakers' roster as 100 strangers that were told by a blasphemous pastor and his fiancee to get off at the wrong stop before jamming their way back onto the trolley just as the doors were closing. So long as you accept that the pastor and his fiancee proceeded to continue conspiring how to coax a bunch of young nuisances with their loud music and piss-poor personal spacing out of their way at subsequent stops so as to create some leg room for more prestigious company, I suppose the comparison holds up.
Unfortunately, I have the sneaking suspicion that's not the contentious spirit that Rob Pelinka was trying to summon with this story, which really leads you to believe that he would be better off having Rob Lowe make his public appearances for him.
Magic Johnson Is Reportedly Meeting The Lakers In Philadelphia To Try To Convince The Kids He Still Loves Them
Ah yes, the age old question that has been asked by every shockingly sad sitcom episode in a which a deadbeat dad returns with an ulterior motive to selfishly regain the trust of his child before once again showing his true colors in about 22 minutes time. That being, exactly how glistening a grin do you have to attach to "I promise I still care" for it to be believable?
Personally, I think Magic Johnson would be better off letting the short attention spans of a young team stay centered on a buzzer-beating, double-digit comeback win over a historical rival on the road than bringing up what was a bad, bad week in Laker Land...
I mean, far be it for me to tell the man how to spend his endless supply of money, but it just doesn't seem worth it for Magic Johnson to gas up the private jet every single time he tries and fails to keep LeBron happy for half a second. After all, he has always struck me as more of the ultimate used car salesman than the guy you speak to when said used car breaks down a block off the lot. I just don't know that a smile that beams brighter than most diamonds is as useful a tool in doing damage control as it is selling snake oil. I'd be a damn fool to question his ability to talk people off the ledge, as his bottomline speaks to his business acumen, but legislating an open forum with the preposterous personalities in that locker room sounds about as thankless as trying to referee a food fight.
The truth is, even if that Lakers' team builds over their won off Boston, they know damn well that The King's roster is always due to have dynamite taken to it. No use flying all the way out to Philly to try to save face in lying to them about it. They might be young, naive, and impressionable kids, but they are young, naive, and impressionable kids that have been paying attention to both the availability of Anthony Davis and the combustible career path of LeBron James.
After Over A Week Of Silence, Kevin Durant Made Sure To Get His Point Across In Bitching To The Media About The Media
We can, and some professional shit-stirrers on sports' television probably will, debate the legitimately of Kevin Durant's argument all damn day. I think there probably is some truth to the public's drug addict-like demand for NBA news being responsible for the questionable lengths the media goes to in re-upping their supply. I'm not going to call into question the journalistic credibility of The Athletic's own Ethan Strauss, but I also don't know that KD has ever been anywhere near as open about the possibility of him joining the Knicks as we have been led to believe. Honestly, I don't care either way, because it's not the rhyme or reason of that rant that I am concerned with, but rather what it continues to tell me about the source of it.
To be clear, I ask you this. Is that really the guy? That dude up there calling out reporters by name and telling them to grow up, despite being months removed from arguing with teenagers on Twitter, is the one that's going to attack the most ruthless of news' cycle head-on in finally bringing a little magic back to the Mecca? The once anonymous internet troll who needed a week-long sabbatical from answering questions and only returned from it to bitch and moan about the people asking them is going to run the goddamn gauntlet of gasbags looking for scorching hot headlines in the city that sleeps just about as often as it's actually satisfied with its sports teams? Really? Of all people, the thin-skinned superstar who somehow didn't foresee the backlash to come in attaching himself to a 73-win team is going to be the one to bear the cross for a long-suffering powder-keg of a franchise at which stones are most often thrown? We're talking about an athlete that once felt attacked by writers in Oklahoma City, and he's going to conquer the criticism that resounds off the walls of the concrete jungle?
To Kevin Durant's credit, everyone should stop asking him about the Knicks, because he'd have to be a complete idiot to think his pissy personality would play in New York. That two minute distressed diatribe about sticking to basketball was really the best "answer" he could have given. Even if it didn't technically address the question he's been avoiding since Kristaps Porzingis more or less got traded to create cap room for him, it certainly did tell everyone everything you need to know about whether he can handle the media circus of Madison Square Garden. Whether or not he was listening, however, remains to be seen until this summer.
The Pelicans Have Reportedly Played The Lakers Like A Fiddle In Making Them Kill Their Time And Togetherness On A Trade That Ain't Happening
Time to test the salt levels in the water down in NOLA, because I honestly believe that's a level of scorn that would leave a prideful, sodium-filled tear dripping from the eye of Sean Payton to the screen-printed red nose of Roger Goodell. I can't say I'm surprised that the Pelicans are trained in the art of pettiness, as they conduct their business in a city that just successfully boycotted the goddamn Super Bowl and partially share a front office with a franchise that takes absolutely everything personal. I am, however, impressed with the intricacy of the brushstrokes they've used in painting a player as calculated as LeBron James and an organization as prestigious as the Los Angeles Lakers into a corner.
Granted, no one could have predicted the damn near nuclear implosion of the Lakers against a undermanned Pacers' team, but if you light the fuse then you get to take the bow following the grand finale of the fireworks. Needless to say, we got quite the show of the combustibility of Los Angeles' team chemistry the other night.
Therefore, for all the criticism he's received in wasting the work of Anthony Davis, Dell Demps deserves all the credit in the world for giving Magic Johnson's taint just enough of a light tickle to get him to shamelessly chase a complete ghosting. He basically got the one of the winningest franchises in NBA history to put their balls on the negotiation table....just so he could turn around to his team and laugh under his breath at the size of them. Granted, he fell ass-backwards into the "lesson plan" by having a transformative talent at his disposal, but if leading on the Lakers just long enough for LeBron to be left looking in on the playoff picture for the first time since 2005 isn't a masterclass in cock-teasing then I don't know what the hell is.
Of all the people to deliver an equally powerful counterpunch for mid-season tampering, it's the goddamn New Orleans Pelicans who left the Lakers' balls bluer than the emotional state of all the young players with which their relationship has been ruined. Who woulda thought they'd achieve anything close to vengeance, never mind in a dominant enough fashion to do so in the victory formation?
LeBron James Had Some Thoughts On Harrison Barnes Getting Traded Mid-Game, And Almost All Of Them Read Like Self-Preservation
When I first started reading what seemed to be a defense of a player who was treated like trash and an indictment of the organization that basically left him out in the sun to swelter, I thought it was bound to be the least self-aware commentary on the current power structure of the NBA, considering the source. After all, if it meant getting Anthony Davis in purple and gold as soon as possible, LeBron James has made it quite clear he'd have no qualms with going one-by-one in dragging the current Lakers off the court by their ankles like they were crying kids in the candy aisle. For him to go the "do unto others" route as a guy who is in the process of gut-punching his roster in trying to grab the league by the balls would basically refine the concept of hypocrisy.
As it turns out, I completely underestimated LeBron James, for he turned that comment from a show of sympathy for a fellow player to a defense of himself as both an unappeasable athlete and an overreactive, yet unofficial executive. You want to talk about getting REAL and changing narratives? The tone of that rant went from "How dare they embarrass Harrison that way?!?" to "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business...man" in exactly one piece of punctuation.
Somehow, I can actually respect the latter more, for if there's one NBA entity that treats players more like poker chips than people then it's LeBron James. Though, if we're "calling a spade a spade" then there was no need for The King to start off with the bluff of feeling bad for Harrison Barnes, as the Mavericks' lack of professionalism was just his ace in the hole in circling the conversation back to himself.
As LeBron James, Rich Paul, And Magic Johnson Desperately Try To Work A Trade For Anthony Davis, The Lakers Are Becoming A Complete Circus
Admittedly, the basketball fan in me would rather enjoy seeing what type of Johnson-like Magic that LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be capable of creating together on the court. Unfortunately, the anarchist in me would absolutely love to see just how much of a shit show one of the most storied franchises in sports can turn into if 3PM on February 7th comes and goes with the Pelicans clutching tightly to their pearls in holding on to a premier asset out of pride.
Don't get me wrong, having LeBron indirectly and diabolically disband his second professional basketball team in as many trade deadlines would be hilarious. It's just that the way that he and his agency went about trying to do so feels like the dirtiest of pool, and the most inherently combustible of rosters bursting into flames right in their face would make for the ultimate scratch on the old eight ball. I don't want to say that LeBron James made his bed, as Rich Paul was definitely there to help tuck in the sheets, but he more than deserves having to toss and turn in it while the nightmare of him missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005 comes to fruition.
To be clear, I'm all for the player empowerment of the NBA. That said, this whole mess has seemed just a little too collusively orchestrated for my liking. Therefore, I actually think the awkwardness of a whole rash of young players half-heartedly playing out the stretch alongside the "leader" that's been laughably less than subtle in trying to get them all shipped off like spare parts would, oddly enough, be good for a league that could probably benefit from reminding it's high-end talent that it still technically has rules. A $50,000 slap on a diamond-studded wrist was a pretty lame attempt at restoring some semblance of order, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis having to suffer into the summer more or less working alongside their eventual exes with uncertainty surrounding their respective divorces would be a more fitting price to pay.
Now, I have a hard time believing that the New Orleans Pelicans are going to field a better offer for Anthony Davis than...well...basically the entire Lakers' present and future plus picks and cap relief, so there's a very good chance this actually gets done by Thursday afternoon...
However, if for some stubborn reason it doesn't, a couple months of complete madness would make for a quality comedy that's almost as incredibly entertaining as watching two of the most transcendent basketball players on the planet play off one another. Between the Pelicans being as aggressively passive with their intro video as an ex-girlfriend might be with her Instagram and Lakers starting their very own spin-off of the soap opera that is the NBA, I think I'd prefer the continuation of this unprecedented pettiness to more player movement...
It's About That Time We Stop Treating Coaches' Halftime Interviews As If They Are Anything Other Than Empty Air-Filler
I'm chalking up this ridiculously inconsequential disagreement between Buster Olney and an otherwise unknown college basketball recruiting analyst to miscommunication. Not to suggest that someone who makes their living covering baseball is speaking an entirely different language as someone who keeps close tabs on what matters to most to prospective college basketball players, but - at the very least - they are working in very different dialects.
Buster Olney is entitled to his opinion, but I just have a hard time believing that it's not highly influenced by what he's encountered in his own field. For one, almost everyone is guilty of applying personal experience to their point of view. More importantly, however, communicating with Managers whose lack of a second-to-second emotional investment in a slow, methodical chess match of a sport allows them open up to analysts between the chewing of sunflower seeds mid-game is the only thing that explains his lack of sympathy to Chris Mack's circumstance. Surely Louisville's coach could've, and admittedly should've, given a more gracious answer to a sideline reporter who was put in the impossible and unforgiving position of squeezing water out of rock...
However, to not take into account the anxiety/adrenaline build-up that comes as a result of the constant and closely supervised back-and-forth of a college basketball game, never mind one played against another nationally ranked team, reeks of being biased by baseball.
To Buster Olney's point, whether it's John Calipari generously breaking down the performance of each one of his NBA-caliber talents or Chris Mack being curt in cutting off to the locker room, no one really gives a damn about the inherently rushed and unproductive practice of giving mid-game interviews to those who have more important things on their mind. Not me, not you, and most certainly not 17-18 year olds who are in the process of making the potential life-changing decision of where to best further their basketball career. Chris Mack was guilty of being a bit of a dick, but he wasn't guilty of ruining his program's reputation or wrecking his recruiting pitch by running off to the locker room to...god forbid...actually coach his players.
The Nets' Bench Appropriately Celebrated An Early Air-Ball From Giannis Antetokounmpo Like It Won The Game For Them In Overtime
Normally I'd say that mocking an MVP candidate who can posterize your pride from anywhere within the arc at any given moment is a bad idea, especially doing so early in a game of which your team is an undeniable underdog. Generally speaking, not drawing the ire of a human Monstar is preferable to giving him another reason to reach into his bottomless bag of tricks.
That being said, MVP candidates who can posterize your pride from anywhere within the arc at any given moment typically don't leave wide-open three pointers shorter than they would have had they tried to dunk it from distance. Therefore, while the Nets' reserves may have pissed off the wrong player, it's my contention that they had an obligation to the entire NBA to give it to one of the least criticized superstars in the league after he hung one about two feet short of the hoop. A bench mob not making its presence seen, heard, or felt in a moment that out-of-character and embarrassing would basically be the equivalent of going against the proverbial "family", regardless of what kind of ridiculously superhuman and retaliatory whacking it might draw...