Prospective. Not the type you might be liable to gain upon being released from the juvenile detention of a full face shield, but rather the type that you'd be liable to gain from the idea that Jack Hughes was literally too young to use the same equipment as every other one of his teammates at the World Championships as of yesterday. With Kaapo Kakko making a quality case to be selected first overall throughout a tournament during which his main competition for that spot has looked physically overwhelmed at times, that type of perspective is exactly what is needed to keep grounded arguments that have become more imprisoned by the moment than Jack Hughes' face was imprisoned by perpendicular bars.
In judging these prospects, we're talking about actual kids here. Kids whose bodies develop at their own personal rate, with that rate often getting ratcheted up well after they are drafted as teenagers. Point being, while his speed, skill, and skating might, Jack Hughes won't look anything like he does now as little as two years down the line. That doesn't mean it's going to take him anywhere near that long to contribute at the NHL level, nor does it mean that he'll ever be as imposing a presence as the prospect he'll forever be measured against by a bunch of outspoken assholes on either side of a remorseless rivalry. It does, however, mean that what you've only seen glimpses of in three games that were played prior to him having the ability to vote and after him having played a full international tournament elsewhere is hardly what you'll be getting a couple birthdays down the line.
What Jack Hughes can't be taught, but it sure as shit can be trained, so let's just light some candles, have some cake, and let the professional prognosticators do their job of analyzing hundreds of hours of game tape over a multitude of years. Seems like that might be a more rational way to go about things. Especially since the alternative is assuming they are unqualified to do so based on a handful of highlights from someone who wasn't given enough initial credit when he was forced out of both sight and mind by a record-breaking performance that proved exactly how far ahead Jack Hughes is of every other one of his teenage peers whose body isn't absurdly mature beyond its years.
The Curry's Will Be Flipping a Coin in Deciding Which Son to Root For in the Western Conference Finals
ESPN- "It's going to be so much fun," Sonya Curry told ESPN. "It is. From our end, to see both of our sons to compete at this level and for the goal to be a championship is such a blessing. We never could imagine this."
"One of them might go home. But we're going to the championship!"
"It's going to be fun," he told ESPN. "It's going to lessen our travel schedule. That's the biggest thing. We've been traveling quite a bit. It's been fun, it's been tiresome, but it's about ready to get real now.
"It's a first experience for all of us," he added. "Biggest thing is we are trying to decide who represents who."
Sonya Curry has a solution for which parent will wear Blazers colors and which will wear Warriors gear.
"We are flipping a coin every game," she said.
I'm sorry, flipping a coin? FLIPPING A COIN?!? If I were Seth Curry I'd be flipping a shit, if not heading over to my childhood home to start flipping all the furniture. I get that the Curry's are theoretically in a tough spot with their sons matching up against each other with an NBA Finals appearance on the line, but...like...are they? Are they really?
Other than being front-running and preferential parents who consider one of their pregnancies to be a regrettable mistake, is there actually any justification for rooting for the superstar son who probably spent his time since Game 6 shopping for a bigger trophy case over the younger son whose first chance at glory might well be his last? I get giving diplomatic answers publicly, but I don't even think the Curry's have to considering all else is the farthest thing from equal when it comes to the disproportional career paths of their kids. If Steph were to find himself hurt by his parents being as Portland-proud as most hipsters he'd legitimately be the most selfish sibling in the history of 4+ human households, as even the most distant of cousins should be hoping the Warriors get Trailblazed.
Again, this is probably just a case of Dell and Sonya having sworn themselves to suppress their support one way or the other, but if they absolutely had to pick sides and both weren't strongly on 'Team Seth' then Seth would have every right to go the free agency route in opening himself for recruitment by more deserving parents like Elijah Wood in 'North'...
I say the following knowing full well that you'd have made a fair amount of money by now had you bet on Logan Couture to score 25+ goals and somewhere in the vicinity of 50-65 points over the course of every regular season throughout the last decade...
Playoff Couture would skate so many circles around that bitch ass bum that he'd leave him on the IR with some combination of dizziness and vertigo with how often he'd be left looking up at him on both the ice and the score sheet. The term 'clutch gene' gets thrown around quite a bit, but if there's something that is biologically responsible for Logan Couture's damn near annual ability to transition from very good to virtual God once the intensity gets turned up ten-fold then I think it's probably seasonal schizophrenia. A particular strand of DNA might explain a person's rapidly receding hairline or even their penchant for punctuality, but it doesn't explain why a top 3-5 player in the entire NHL lays relatively dormant as nothing more than a top 20-30 player until early April.
I was already in the process of crafting a tweet referring to the Sharks' most predatory Spring time scorer as just that after he notched his 12th goal in 16 games, and before I had even sent it he had already collected his 13th. Considering that type of postseason production has somehow become his norm, it is entirely abnormal for a professional athlete's performance to consistently follow the bloom patterns of most roses. Credit to Logan Couture for feeding on pressure like it's pollen and becoming a bigger, stronger, and faster version of himself that would kick his own highly accomplished ass 'Me, Myself, and Irene'-style if, in an alternate universe, their lines were ever matched when it mattered most. However, I can't help but feel like the analytics community owes us a look into the statistics behind him appearing to have stumbled upon one Mario's magic mushrooms when his team manages to make it to May, even if I presume their rationale will sound just as silly as the science behind a hypothetical clutchness chromosome.
By Making a Positive Impact Throughout a Hard Fought Series, Enes Kanter Finally Earned His Opportunity to Troll and Troll is Exactly What He Did
I'll tell you what, Enes Kanter's pettiness is a much easier pill to swallow when he's actually playing well. In essence, when you...
...his online antics are much more endearing, appreciable, and...well...earned. That hasn't always been the case as Oklahoma City clearly considered him too much of a defensive liability to play even a complimentary role on a team that desperately needed people to fill them...
...and a woeful Knicks' team didn't even care to give him some burn despite being engulfed in a smoldering dumpster fire of a lost season...
However, he penned quite a chapter to his redemption story in battling through a separated shoulder to make a positive impact on a seven game series so tightly contested that, oddly enough, his absence alone could have potentially swung its outcome. I don't want to overstate what we was able to offer as a bench scorer who was extremely active and effective on the boards, but he undeniably deserved the opportunity to rub the Nuggets' nose in it by being an important piece of Portland's run to the Western Conference Finals. That's a lot more than can be said for attempts at internet trolling that came when the only real punchline was his stat line.
Suns' Josh Jackson Was Either Arrested at a Music Festival For Fleeing the Scene of a Crime in Handcuffs, Or For Being an Entirely Anonymous NBA Talent
My only piece of advice for any relatively recent lottery picks in the NBA draft who happen to find themselves turned away from the VIP section of a music festival is to immediately find a gym, and find it fast. Don't waste time changing your shirt, or putting on a different hat, or attaching a fake mustache prior to giving another go at forced entry into an exclusive area of a highly secure event. Just take the hint, hang your head in shame, and go get some goddamn shots up, because a 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft that actually plays like a 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft isn't having any problem whatsoever getting preferential treatment in public.
I honestly don't mean for that to come off as harsh, but Jayson Tatum would had to have rushed the stage with his dick out for the police to intervene in his concert going experience. De'Aaron Fox wouldn't even have to break out his fastest footwork to casually euro-step past security without so much as his hand stamped. You ball out like you're expected to as a Top 5 pick in a league that's closely linked with the music industry and that world might as well be your oyster. Playing in festering pit of failure that is Phoenix certainly hasn't helped his notoriety, but only being capable of putting up mediocre numbers on a pathetic team is almost as good of a way of finding yourself relegated to NBA irrelevance as fleeing the scene of an entirely unnecessary crime in handcuffs.
It's Our Duty as NBA Fans to Mock Joel Embiid For Weeping Uncontrollably After a Heartbreaking Defeat, As It's Exactly What He Would Have Done
Here's the thing. We should appreciate just how hysterical a proud professional athlete was made by what was, historically speaking, an unprecedentedly devastating defeat. We're talking about a guy that overcame spending the vast majority of life to date in Cameroon only to eventually come stateside and develop into premier prospect before having to overcome what quickly started to seem like a career-threatening inability to stay healthy enough to scratch even the surface of his sky-high potential. In theory, if there were an NBA player that reserved the right to have himself a judgement-free ugly cry after potentially coming within a quarter-inch of his first Conference Finals' appearance then it's one who has already fought a treacherous uphill battle to get where he currently is in his promising career.
Unfortunately, the player in question is one who has long forfeited the right to play the innocent victim of juvenile jokes in making a bi-weekly habit of unconditionally trolling every opponent he's ever gone up against. We're talking about Joel Embiid here. Much like your hilarious Uncle wanting nothing more than for his funeral to be turned into a light-hearted roast of reverence, the perpetually petty Sixers' big man would have wanted the tearful loss of his playoff life to be used as comic relief following the most dramatic of postseason deaths. If not then he'd be a hypocrite, as had that ball bounced 6 tenths of an inch one way as opposed to a half dozen the other he'd be the first one pointing and laughing at Kawhi Leonard's slightly constipated expression in preparation for overtime.
Respecting how much that game meant to Joel Embiid and making fun of him for being one pint of ice cream away from looking like the stereotypical dumpee in a sitcom are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the latter might as well be seen as a tribute to his generally jovial and persistently childish demeanor as someone whose as much a class clown as he is a dominant force on the basketball court. When it comes to getting these jokes off, dude is more efficient and creative than Nikola Jokic when dishing it, so I'm absolutely certain he can take it after leaving more salt water in his wake than a speed boat.
Not On CJ McCollum's Watch Will You Get Away With Praising His Competition For Even a Single Second Following His Heroic Game 7 Performance
For what it's worth, while "great" might be overstating it, I did think Torrey Craig's man-to-man defense of a red-hot off-the-dribble shooter was pretty good. Especially considering that the latter had to stop on a dime in a way that could make two nickels of change in order to create just enough space for a step-back, fadeaway jumper that still kept a series-deciding game within one possession.
What that opinion is worth, of course, is absolutely nothing, as CJ McCollum's public refusal to allow any sort of praise to be offered to an opponent tells you everything you need to know about the mindset of the delightfully bitter backcourt that he's a pissed off part of...
In theory, great defense played on a made shot would imply even better offense being played by the person who was absolute nails in hitting it under pressure, but that postgame jab wasn't about CJ McCollum making sure he was recognized amongst the NBA's elite scorers. That postgame jab was about chase-down blocking any attempt made at praising the team whose destruction he almost singlehandedly orchestrated down the stretch...
That postgame jab was about interrupting the recognition of an effort that pales in comparison to those that have gotten Lehigh University's first NBA draft pick to the peak of his professional career...
I'm not sure calling it an "inferiority complex" would be anywhere near as accurate calling it a nobody-is-superior complex, but what's actually important is that the attitude that caused CJ McCollum to demand the ball in putting the Nuggets in their rearview is eerily similar to the one that had Dame Lillard initiating an emasculation of Russell Westbrook in waving goodbye to the Thunder. That chip on the shoulder of the Trailblazers' backcourt is one seasoned with unsparing spite, and it's one of the few intangibles that could help satiate basketball fans' craving for a competitive Western Conference Finals by mitigating the intimidation factor of the Splash Brothers.
Whether KD is available or not, Portland will need the playmaking and shot-making of both Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum to match their eternal stance that they are at least on equal footing with everyone that lines up across from them if they hope to pull the upset. However, if there's one thing they have proven they don't lack it's the internal and external sources of motivation to do so...
With a Shot During Which Fate Quite Literally Hung in the Balance, Kawhi Leonard Willed The Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals
Iconic. Just, iconic.
Not just because the argument can be made that the first ever Game 7 buzzer-beater was the most emotionally impactful shot in NBA history, as evidenced by the fact that it coaxed a resounding reaction out of most aesthetically apathetic athlete in all of sports...
Not just because it became more and more of a cinematic experience as each breathtaking bounce of the ball added dramatic effect to a singular moment that was made into its own scene, much like the end of every sports movie ever put to big screen...
Not just because both the immediate and long-term future of two franchises may have quite literally been hanging in the balance as a cutthroat competitor was brought to a squat by the significance of the situation and a soul-crushing beat was readying itself to drop.
Not just because it may have pulled at the heart wires of the soulless shooter turned self-aware robot in a way that might convince him to call another country home past this summer. Not just because it may have served as the last straw to an immutable malcontent that couldn't have been too happy to look like one of the few players on a young team with tons of potential that was willing to go down swinging.
Not just because it looked like as though an attempted goal-tend by a LeBron-sized ghost of postseasons' past was exorcised as the Raptors and a fanbase that's underrated in their enthusiasm finally experienced the melodramatic thrill of victory after being made the poster children for the anticlimactic agony of defeat...
Not just because it may have already aged poorly a process that's supposed to still be maturing after being damn near a decade in the making.
Not just because it punctuated a 40+ point performance for a superstar that made unforgettable a game that was otherwise anything but from an offensive standpoint.
Kawhi Leonard's game winner was iconic for all those reasons and, depending on how both this impending offseason and many seasons to come play out, potentially even more. The play, in and of itself, will go down as one of the memorable moments in the history of a league that's stopped no shortage of hearts throughout the years, but the unknown amount of miles on the wings of its butterfly effect make that timely shot far bigger than just four lucky (or unlucky, I suppose) bounces of a basketball.
An Irrelevant Boston Radio Personality Hung Up on a Hurricanes' Beat Reporter Because He Couldn't Handle Having Hockey Spoken in a Southern Accent
AwfulAnnouncing- The Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes face off in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Final on Thursday. With that in mind, Boston radio station WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub) had Raleigh News and Observer Hurricanes beat writer Chip Alexander on “Toucher & Rich” to talk hockey Wednesday morning.
After Alexander was on the phone for just over four minutes, host Fred Toucher hung up on him. Toucher explained, “I just can’t listen to a guy with a southern accent talk about hockey.”
(16:20-22:00 in the clip above)
My reaction, in a nutshell...
Now, I could easily say that the mindset of the talk radio host who hung up on a insightful beat reporter who was nice enough to offer some time to temporarily clear the air of verbal vomit simply because he didn't associate the interviewee's accent with the sport being covered is the very same one that has actively castrated the growth and popularity of hockey. I wouldn't be wrong to say that abrupt conclusion to an otherwise copacetic conversation is a stereotypically symptomatic example of the self-importance of the Boston sports' scene.
However, because that's exactly what some predictably disagreeable dick who was shamelessly searching for attention in clinging to the shortage of relevance left in his occupation of choice wants me to say, I won't. The idea that the Mason-Dixon line separates those that can talk hockey from those that can't is so preposterously stupid and outlandishly archaic that I refuse to believe that it was conjured up as anything other than a desperate cry for controversy on a medium that no one under the age of 50 listens to.
In my opinion, Fred Toucher doesn't care about having his hockey talk seasoned with a little Southern twang. After all, his eardrums must be pretty calloused after having spent his dying days listening to locals ignore the entire existence of the letter 'R' with an accent that's about as audibly satisfying as listening to nails get scratched on a chalkboard through blown out speakers. All Fred Toucher cares about is that we've now heard of the name Fred Toucher. So congrats to him, I guess? He certainly didn't gain me as a listener by being a counterproductive cliche who prays on the insecurities of hockey fans in the Northeast that think surviving snowy winters has somehow increased their NHL expertise, but at least he made it easier to avoid accidentally stumbling upon his increasingly unheard words.
In What Serves as a Preemptive Punchline, The AAF Agreed to Pay Marshawn Lynch $5,000 IN QUARTERS For a Quick Draft Day Interview in November
SI- Another story that spread far across the AAF offices has Marshawn Lynch crashing the league’s quarterback draft last November at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. According to one employee, Lynch, whose cousin Josh Johnson was the first pick in that draft, and who is notoriously media-averse, agreed to do a two-minute interview for the Alliance at that event in exchange for $5,000. But when a check was presented to Lynch, he asked that his money be delivered instead in quarters—which AAF co-founder Charlie Ebersol took seriously. In the end, 20,000 quarters were delivered to Lynch’s room and the interview apparently took place.
I mean, that should have been it, right? Certainly feels as though the AAF could have saved themselves some embarrassment and a whole hell of a lot of inevitably unsettled lawsuits if they just ceased operations before they truly started when they got bitch slapped with such an unmistakable sign. Granted, it's silly to expect those that somehow still thought we lived in a world in which the NFL would even allow an alternative football league to flourish aren't exactly great at taking a hint. Still, having to pay a laughably literal $5,000 toll for a couple minutes of a professional athlete's time should have made it quite clear that there wasn't enough money in the world to make people care about minor league football.
That professional athlete being Marshawn Lynch makes this story exponentially more hilarious, as you could probably base an entire episode of 'Where Are They Now?' on the life and times of those coins. Such a preposterously disrespectful ask could only be the brainchild of a mind that's birthed no shortage of comedic brilliance, so a special thanks must go to Beast Mode for making a seemingly satirical report of such a ridiculous request possible.
That being said, the fact that a league that wanted to be seen as professional felt enough pressure to fulfill it should have spoken immutable volumes about how impossible it is to be seen as enough competition to force an absolute behemoth of a self-sustaining business model into a coalition. The AAF was bound to become a punchline at some point, but it's pretty crazy they couldn't tell how quickly they were headed to the ass end of the joke when they felt it worthwhile to haul 20,000 quarters out of a bank and through a hotel lobby in exchange for a few words, that were just as likely to be repeated on a loop, from a legendarily enigmatic athlete.
Probable Rangers' Prospect Kaapo Kakko Scored a Sweet Goal in the World Championships, But Let's Not Bury the (Quite Literal) Lead Here...
That's him? That's the guy campaigning to dethrone Jack Hughes for the distinct honor of being selected first overall by the tri-state area organization that doesn't have a harrowed history of wasting top notch talent? The dude who wasn't even the highlight of his own highlight? HA!
I mean, I guess I can begrudging admit that fighting off the penalty of a solid NHL defenseman to finish on a Stanley Cup Championship-winning goaltender while balancing on one foot is a highly impressive sign of what's to come throughout Kaapo Kakko's promising professional career. However, the no-look touch pass through both legs and traffic that freed him to do so is what really made me re-adjust the glasses I don't wear. The show of strength on the puck in combination with the calmness under pressure was definitely cool and what not, but I personally think it would be flat out disrespectful to Toni Rajala not to focus on his instinctual unseen assist, and his instinctual unseen assist alone, in fully appreciating such a pretty example of playmaking...
After all, while there's no real reason to play 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' in regards to what was an undeniably awesome display of skill, what if Canada had the chance to retrospectively rethink their roster decisions? I believe they, much like myself, might conclude that future franchise goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood wouldn't have gotten beaten to that post, thus making Kaapo Kakko's contributions entirely irrelevant in the alternate universe of which I am currently choosing to live.
In all seriousness, this is going to suck. It's easy to be positive about what the upcoming draft means for the bitter future of the Devils/Rangers rivalry with its two standout studs yet to have donned combatting colors. However, those inevitably biased and bi-annual arguments are going to get really annoying really quick when they both start killing it on opposite sides of the river. I don't mean to sound so spoiled because there are far worse problems to have, but - regardless of how special a player Jack Hughes is - Kaapo Kakko is definitely going to remind Devils' fans of how lucky they are that Nolan Patrick doesn't appear to be especially special. That fact, however, won't stop me from posting things like this as a transparent way to project my frustrations with the Rangers being gifted the golden opportunity to tarnish the silver medal of an almost equally pristine prospect...
It's with the absolute upmost respect that I say the following. Fuck this kid...
Joe Pavelski Forced His Way Back Into the Lineup for Game 7, And Immediately Enforced His Will in Leading the Sharks to the Conference Finals
While success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is often predicated on which teams get healthy at the right time, what happened to the Avalanche last night seems unfair. To split six tightly contested games against one lineup and then have the seventh and deciding game impacted by one of the most subtle secret weapons in the entire NHL? How do you not feel for a team that had enough to worry about in entering a raucous environment for a do-or-die game without having to prepare themselves for their opponent's emotionally uplifting insertion of a savvy veteran whose net front presence is, aside from Connor McDavid, the closest thing that the NHL has to a cheat code.
I mean, deep down was there really any doubt that Joe Pavelski, in returning from the unsightly injury that galvanized his team to put together one of the most mystifying comebacks in postseason history last series, was going to all-too-casually deflect at least one entirely unstoppable puck home during his debut in this series?
I guess it's easy to say in retrospect, but if I were coaching Colorado I might've agreed to start the game down 1-0 so long as San Jose agreed to continue sitting someone who leads by example in playing a brand of hockey that's built to win in the margins. Those margins don't get any more microscopic than they do in Game 7, so coming back from down a goal in a must-win playoff game is an endeavor that is merely equal to preparing for the presence of a well-rested player whose perpetually prepared for anything. Joe Pavelski wasted no time in proving he's not only that but also an inspirational entity, and the talented team he captains is now a much more menacing out because of it.
Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before, James Harden Completely Disappeared Down the Stretch of a Wildly Important Playoff Game
Fortunately, it wasn't a lack of offensive efficiency that haunted a Houston team whose last golden opportunity to hit the gimpy Goliath that is Golden State with a knockout punch was missed, 27x over, during the type of shooting slump that would make a mathematician spike his calculator...
Unfortunately, that's about the only excuse available for someone who has otherwise run out of them after annually picking the worst possible time to play passively in the playoffs. It's honestly as if James Harden is the NBA's ultimate masochist, because there's nothing else that can explain the criticism he actively invites on himself by exclusively being entirely inactive in legacy-defining moments. The most shamelessly ball-dominant scorer in NBA history has never met a shot he didn't want to take...unless that shot could help repair his postseason reputation.
I know that Chris Paul legitimately would have been more helpful last night had he been seated courtside in street clothes with an untimely hamstring injury. I also know that the fate of this season was never designed to be put in his hands. I know that James Harden was making "the right plays" in facilitating to other teammates that put up more than enough points to win after Kevin Durant exited a pivotal Game 5 when its outcome was very much up for grabs. I also know I have spent all season being defiantly scolded into believing that the Rockets play what many basketball purists consider to be "the wrong way" because it gives them the best chance to win.
If that last part has been at all true any one of the thousands of times I have heard it then, when they needed a crucial victory the most, all the Rockets' best bullets were left in the chamber by a superstar whose itchy trigger finger only manages to be stilled by something as simple as a double-team in situations that are of triple the importance. I'd imagine you'd be hard pressed to find another 8 and half minute stretch over the course of their entire careers during which Draymond Green outshot James Harden, so don't tell me the guy that was still being overly aggressive when he was half-blinded by bloodshot eyes earlier in the series didn't let the pressure cook his competitiveness.
It's too annual an occorrence for it to be a coincidence. Regardless of whether or not this particular one cost his team the game as much as their inability to get a stop (or grab a rebound the rare time they did), it's without fail that James Harden has one entirely inexplicable bout of offensive apathy in the most highly critical of moment per postseason. This one came when a hobbled KD had the Golden State Warriors there for the taking, and the MVP candidate whose primary value is in scoring the basketball was far too glad to give it up in suspiciously veering from a highly successful system of taking otherwise ill-advised shots. Situational circumstances certainly play a part, but this Rockets' team has either lived or died by 'The Beard' all season, so for him to be not much more than a casual observer as said season got put on life support is absolutely inexcusable, albeit all too predictable.
Kyrie Irving, Self-Proclaimed Basketball Genius, Just Put The Finishing Touches on an All-Time Dumb Display of Basketball
Less than a week ago. Somehow, someway, that obnoxiously cocky quote made its rounds less than a week ago, so don't you dare let anybody tell you there is a limit to the speed with which life can accelerate at you...
To be fair, I get it. Shooting slumps happen. Typically not to such a historically half-blind extent for an unbelievably talented player that can absolutely embarrass almost anyone off the dribble and has unprecedented touch around the rim, but - as is the fickle nature of the sport - shooting slumps do happen.
Unfortunately, I'm just of the belief that when they happen to a "basketball genius" they'd be more intellectually equipped to find other ways to positively impact the game other than just...shooting...more?
Fact is, just about the nicest thing you could say about Kyrie Irving following a series during which it appeared blood stopped flowing to his brain is that he looked to be about as much of a basketball idiot as he did to be a basketball savant. For him to be an actual basketball genius, that four game stretch of unabashed futility would have to be uncharacteristic in a way that could only be matched by a valedictorian forgetting how to read while taking the SAT's. As far as in-game intelligence is concerned, what we witnessed was legitimately the basketball equivalent of "the Earth is flat". Like, Kyrie Irving might as well have dressed up as Uncle Drew and hoped for people to blindly give an elder undeserved credit for wiseness, because literally the only reason to believe he was brilliant in comparison to every else on the court was the shameless level of pompousness in his proclamation. He might be athletically astute relative to some unqualified analysts, myself included, but stupid is as stupid does and doing the same thing over...and over...and over again only to expect a different result is the definition of insanity.
The truth of the matter is that Kyrie Irving isn't even the smartest player on the team he mentally abandoned. If you put Al Horford's basketball mind in his body then he'd at least be in position to luck into a defensive stop every once in a while...
If you put Al Horford's basketball mind in his body then a rough night (...or four) from the field would just be a good excuse to exponentially up his assist average. There is absolutely nothing that Kyrie Irving is physically incapable of doing on a basketball court, so if it wasn't a mental inability to adapt then what exactly was it that had his impact senselessly fading away like his body on every routine jump shot?
The only answer I can conjure up to that question is a lack of effort, leadership, and interest from a star player who punctuated a season of perpetual pissyness with a shockingly stubborn week long soiling of himself. "Who cares?" is a great question. In my opinion, "an actual genius when it comes to this game" just might have cared about being made to look so goddamn dumb while playing it for a week straight, but I'm just a stupid sports' fan so what the hell do I know?
Georgia Softball Player Alysen Febrey Put All Other Bat Flippers to Shame in Celebration of Her Opposite Field Homerun
Graceful. Just so...graceful. Like a "someone pass Ken Griffey Jr. the condiment carrier and a set of utensils because it's about damn time he eats his heart out" level of graceful. I wonder if that comparison makes the compliment sound less gender specific, because I hardly mean for it to come off like a buzzword that undercuts the impressiveness of the absolute rocket that was promptly dismissed over the left field fence solely because it was hit by a woman. Instead, it's really just meant as a credit to the perfect fluidity of the picturesque swing into the exclamatory bat flip that seamlessly followed.
Whether the physical flawlessness of that performance had anything to do with her femininity, your guess is as good as mine. However, you can't tell me that everything about that execution wasn't beautiful enough to bring a tear to Tim Anderson's eye, regardless of the size of the hands from which it came. That doesn't make powering it over the opposite field wall any less beastly, but the rhythmic release of her bat in conjunction with the smoothness of her transition into a trot does serve as pretty good evidence that the fairer sex does have a substantially superior knack for the visual arts. I guess women do mature faster, because that celebration made every Bryce Harper bat flip look like an underdeveloped ugly duckling in comparison to what was Alysen Febrey’s aesthetically pleasing swan-like display of slugging. Take a lap Robert Redford, because this natural truly knows how to nurture anything left out over the plate.
I guess the nicest thing I could possibly say about this is that I have certainly seem dumber.
I'm not sure a rationalization that relies entirely on relativity is going to appease an old school ball coach like Bruce Arians. He might have a little steam collecting under his Kangol when he gets wind of his starting quarterback, who has routinely shown he's already something significantly less than smart, having a blunt club swung full-force in the general direction of his head for no other reason than to garner some fake love on the internet.
Still, when I initially read that Jameis Winston had a golfball driven off his skull I wasn't expecting nearly as many precautions to be taken. Between the helmet, the extended tee, and the person he entrusted with preserving whatever brain cells he does have left being an actual "pro", that might be the safest sequence he's ever played a part in executing in a pair of cleats. Again, it's not a stunt I would feel inclined to partake in if I were a highly-paid professional athlete whose reputation was already that of a jackass due to a level of decision making, both on and off the field, that had my future in question and quite a few Bucs' fans strongly considering birth control. But hey, at least it's one that pales in comparison to all of his other crazy and/or criminal antics he's gotten himself into throughout the course his illustriously idiotic career.
Leave it to Baseball to Create a Racial Controversy Where the Most Common of Sense Could Tell You That One Doesn't Exist
In the same vein of "me thinks the lady doth protest too much", the MLB being so overly sensitive to racial issues that they mistakenly manufacture them (See: Tim Anderson's suspension for using the n-word towards a white pitcher) where they otherwise wouldn't exist truly speaks to a harrowing history of pale players being preferable. They are like a dog owner repeatedly stepping in old shit that's spent decades festering because they failed to do an adequate job picking it up the first time, if said old shit was actually just the aftermath of an entire extensive era of dehumanizing segregation.
Granted, I could totally see the Tiki torch types being incredibly unoriginal in adopting the long-standing sign language of six year olds as their call to frail and fearful arms, but does Wrigley Field not have WiFi? My sense happens to be quite common so I've never had to look it up, but I'd imagine you'd need not more than one single Google search to learn that a gesture so harmless that it has it's own goddamn emoji on Apple products has no legitimate affiliation with actual white supremacists. Personally, I would think said gesture would be universally understood as part of the decidedly non-discriminatory circle game by now. That said, even if it's not, assuming that an 'a-okay' sign ironically stands for intolerance solely because it's being shown over the shoulder of an African American analyst makes the Cubs, above anyone else, look bad.
I suppose there's about a 1-3% chance that a fan who purchased a front row seat tried (and, more importantly, failed) to pledge his allegiance to the Aryan Nation once he got within a black man's camera shot. Theoretically, it's not impossible that was moronically meant to be a proud display of prejudice. In execution, however, no one with a brain capable of spelling 'context clues' saw it as such. Therefore, even if the person who flashed it was being racist, he doesn't even deserve the publicity of an investigation aimed at outing him as a racist because he flat out stinks at being racist if he got trolled by fellow racists into using a non-racist gesture for racist purposes.
If he wanted to show a little courage and conviction in his caucasity then he'd deal with the repercussions of showing up behind home plate in a pointed white hood next game. Until he does, I'm just going to assume that he was innocently messing with the television audience, like hundreds of thousands of teens before him, regardless of the skin color of the person from which they happened to be receiving insight at the time.
“I do think they’ve made pretty good progress with him from the sense I have. They put themselves in it. And when Kawhi showed up there, I’m not sure he imagined any future in Toronto. I do think it’s a serious consideration now….
“I think the Kawhi thing is getting really interesting there. For them to just get through this series and get to a Conference Final, every day is the case you’re making. And, oh by the way, ‘we can pay you more than anybody else. If you want to be in L.A. and you want to live there in the offseason, there’s only so many days you really have to be in Toronto in the snow. You can get out of here. You’re on the road half the time. The rest of the year, you can get out of here and go in L.A. and be in California.’
“But Toronto is selling winning on him.” - Adrian Wojnarowski
As I'm not interested in the Raptors going extinct from the perennial playoff picture, I don't really have any reason to root for Kawhi Leonard to depart Toronto as soon as their incredibly important postseason comes to a conclusion. However, seeing as the fate of said incredibly important postseason was weighted so heavily on his shoulders less than a week ago that some assumed his programming capable of non-verbal communication, I just wonder if the best case to stay isn't being made by him and him alone. Especially since I don't know how you could possibly measure "progress" on the type of eternally enduring poker face that would make the Terminator show his tell.
The Raptors aren't exactly lacking in depth or talent, but you could have easily fooled me into thinking they were when long-time mental midget Kyle Lowry tried the most circumstantially stupid move in NBA history in closing Game 2 or when the rest of the roster left Kawhi Leonard to put on an inevitably unsuccessful one-man show in Game 3. Of course, things have since changed with the Sixers getting dunked all over like the sickly bunch of underachievers they are, so it makes perfect sense that the odds of a player staying with the organization for which he is currently blossoming into a whole nother level of superstardom have reportedly followed suit.
Still, to be quite clear, the most impactful thing the Raptors have done for Kawhi Leonard is trade for him, with giving him the ball...repeatedly...and with full autonomy coming in as a close second. Those aren't exactly moves that other teams with similarly striking supporting casts, most notably one that just so happens to call Los Angeles home, would be hesitant to make after witnessing this type of dead-eyed domination...
The truth is, I'd rather attempt to read the entire Bible in braille than try to read the mind of man and machine's first lovechild, but I'd imagine that it's still pretty far from made up. That said, if the Raptors' main selling point is what, at the very least, looks to be an inevitable Eastern Conference Finals appearance, then they'll basically be doing the equivalent of inviting their friend out to a club they can't even get remotely close to without him using his name at the door. Winning definitely cures all, but - in that analogy - this 2.0 version of Kawhi Leonard that we're seeing is the prescribing doctor whose practice can quite easily withstand relocation to almost any city of his choosing.
There is probably only a little more than a handful of people that know exactly how much money Pat Maroon left on the table when he decided against taking a more lucrative deal with the Devils this past summer, and I undoubtedly don't account for any of those fingers. Therefore, it would typically be a fool's errand to try to do the cost-benefit analysis on him returning home on a one year deal that was entirely underwhelming relative to his production over the last few seasons.
Fortunately, the openness with which Pat Maroon values quality time with his kid is anything but typical for a pro athlete, so suffice to say that you can take hockey out of the equation in determining that signing in St. Louis was worth it before he even laced up his skates as a member of his hometown team...
That being said, if - and only if - there was one thing that could make him start recalculating the actual dollar value of that decision it's what played out as soon as he did lace up his skates for said hometown team, as he became far too familiar with the Blues in more ways than one. Be it due to lingering injuries or offensive struggles, there was a time in the not-so-distant past where not only could Pat Maroon not buy a goal, but it would have been damn near financially irresponsible for him to do so as an underpaid crew member on a sinking ship.
Times have quite obviously changed as St Louis, against stupifying odds, stamped their ticket to the Western Conference Finals by narrowly avoiding a Cinderella season-ending, double-overtime defeat that was starting to feel sickeningly depraved and increasingly inevitable with each and every headstand stop made by an overworked Ben Bishop. However, the point is that for as much as the fortunes of the Blues have been flipped flapjack fast, the fortunes of the family man that bet on himself in returning home for about 65 cents on the dollar just may have come a longer way since early January.
Pat Maroon took the risk knowing the only guaranteed reward was more time spent with his son, but it's safe to say that what he's earned from the experience is currently rising at an exponential rate. A late game-winning goal in Game 3. An early go-ahead goal in Game 7. A heroic sudden death series clincher that will make the highlight reel of NHL history. All in front of a long suffering fanbase of a Stanley Cup starved city, who probably could have unbent the Arch with the collective breath they unleashed after hours spent holding it prior to that puck getting poked over the goal line, that is both figuratively and literally family to him. You honestly can't put a price on that, but even if you could it's a price that would make Ray Shero's offseason offer look something you might find in between your couch cushions.
Being that professional sports are a business, and a cutthroat one at that, you're generally not advised to make career choices on behalf of anything other than your bank account. You need not look further for proof of that then the player in question switching agents in the middle of the free agency frenzy. The Big Rig bucked that trend by going with his heart, and - to his credit, confidence and character - now the goddamn thing is probably as full as it will ever after an unforgettable, movie-worthy moment whose emotional budget couldn't possibly be accounted for merely in money.
Richard Panik Backhand Toe-Dragged the Dignity of the Norwegian Goalie to a Hopeless Place With This Silly Snipe in a Shootout
First and foremost, it's unbelievably impressive that Richard Panik got enough power on a shot taken with the toe of the underside of his blade for it to basically be on its way back out of net before the opposing goaltender even dropped to his knees out of instinct. That's just a lethal move to which you have to tip your cap, as it would have been pretty tough to stop even if the person tasked with doing so had any reason whatsoever to believe that getting backhand-toedragged to a place where only dumb could be founded was even a possibility.
That said, what's somehow more impressive than the flawless execution is the size of the shooter's balls immediately prior. As is often the case when the margin for error is insanely small, the chances Richard Panik ended up looking like a complete idiot were absurdly large. Granted, we're talking about a shootout in a relatively meaningless warm-up game so the stakes weren't exactly at their highest, but you'd certainly rather not make yourself look stupid as an NHL player on international ice. Richard Panik risked doing just that with the slightest slip of a stick blade that was fairly unfamiliar with being used in such a fashion, and was nice enough to split the reward of some internet eye candy with all of us.