In 2004, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. They had an awesome squad featuring Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. I was 19-years-old at the time and it was my freshmen year of college. My brother and I were both living in Chicago and we watched every Finals game together.
The Pistons played a Lakers team featuring hall of fame talent in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Peyton and Karl Malone. The sporting world didn’t think we stood a chance but Detroit won the series in a commanding 5 games. I can remember being at my brother’s apartment for game 5, I went to the fridge and saw Miller High Life. AKA the champagne of beers. Like champagne as in championship. I saw the golden bottles and got nervous. I asked my bro about it but he cut me off. As if to say, “don’t jinx it”. But we won. We drank those beers and it was one of the best memories I’ve have.
Flash forward to 2005, the Pistons make it back to the NBA Finals, this time against the San Antonio Spurs. We’re talking Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili. Plus a deep bench of quality players and the master, Greg Popovich, at the helm. This time around, Game 5 was a heart breaker. Robert Fucking Horry. No one guards the inbound man and Horry gets the ball back and sinks a huge 3 with just seconds left. San Antonio steals the game and ends up winning the series in 7. Destroying the hope of a Detroit repeat. Needless to say, I was salty. The Spurs were officially on my shit list.
Jumping forward again. It’s the summer after the Pistons lost to the Spurs. I’m home visiting the family in Michigan. My brother was also in town. He wants to take me out for a drink and starts listing off places he thinks won’t card me (I was 20). It’s Detroit, so the list is long. I silence this line of questioning by pulling out my flawless $75 fake Indiana Driver’s License. Complete with hologram. Which I bought from some shady kids in Chicago. The ID looked great because these guys had a real professional rig. They had a macbook, a scanner and even a printer. The forgery was made in photoshop so you could claim any info you wanted. I’m now 23 and an organ donor. It was a quality fake with my very own picture. More importantly, it worked everywhere.
My brother and I settle on local spot since I’ve got the fake. We roll in and meet meet my bro’s friend. We get drinks at the bar. Bartender asks for everyone’s papers. A quick glance and we all have beers. Cheers. A few rounds later and the social lubricant is glistening. A round of whiskey shots to clear our heads. Then, I spot it. The letter. My blood boils. My jaw locks. And I just point until the crew notices. Finally, my brother glances over. His eyebrows jump, as he reads a few lines.
Now, I wish I had a picture of the letter but this was way back in 2005 and I didn’t get a cell phone until the next harvest. But even then, that camera was really, really bad. So let me just summarize. The letter was on official San Antonio Spurs stationary. It went something like this:
“Thank you so much for your hospitality during the Spurs 2005 championship run, we found the city of Detroit overall, to be very hostile, but your bar and restaurant was an oasis to our franchise. Blah, blah, blah. Slurp, slurp, slurp. Blah, blah, slurp, blah…”
After another round and tons of shit talk. We, as a group, decide that the local bar shouldn’t show off memorabilia of teams that beat us in the championship. Then, someone says “we should steal it.” I grab the frame and realize that it’s bolted down. As if this wasn’t the first time someone has tried to take it. Plan thwarted. For now. We keep scheming and we land on the idea that we cannot, in good conscience, leave this document in the possession of the bar. It’s our duty, to the city of Detroit and its fans.
Our plan goes into motion. All three of us working like a swiss clock. It’s straight, Ocean’s Eleven. I grab the frame and violently rip it from the wall. It makes an awful sound. An extra yank (yeah, I said it) and the letter comes free! And just like prison, I pass the contraband off to someone else (my brother’s friend). He takes the prize, puts it under his hoodie and bee lines for the exit. I walk the other way and disappear out the front like Keyser Söze. All while my brother sits and drinks from a lookout spot across the dining room. Genius.
We lost the 2005 NBA Finals but we stole the Spurs stupid thank you letter. A real lost the battle but won the war scenario. Maybe now that Italian joint in the suburbs of Detroit will think twice before displaying their little love notes with the enemy. That should be the lesson here. Don’t sellout your city just to rub elbows with some celebs. It’s a trash move. And if you are going to do it, at least don’t brag about it or hang trophies of your betrayal in places I go drinking.
What’s going on ScoreBoredSports family? It seems like I’ve been away from you all for too long! I have a lot going and I’ve never been too good at multi-tasking. Even though I haven’t posted much lately I have been keeping up with the sports world. Let’s take a trip into the Locker Room and see what’s been happening.
Luigi Auriemma IS Women’s College Basketball
Yes, Geno’s birth name is Luigi. The Connecticut Huskies head coach has received some criticism for his team’s greatness. This past week I was at work and glanced at the television. The Huskies were beating the Mississippi State University Bulldogs by 60 points. It looked as though the team was trying to win by 100 points, as they had star player Breanna Stewart playing in the late stages of a lopsided contest.
As much as I can’t stand Auriemma for fielding an unbeatable team every year I must also state the obvious; there aren’t many great female basketball players. Once in about every five years, there is a player that the media brings attention to that is not a UConn player. For every Candace Parker, Brittney Griner, and Skylar Diggins that escape the recruiting grasp of Auriemma there’s a Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, or Diana Taurasi to lead the charge. Let’s face it, there aren’t enough great female basketball players to go around. If we’re seeing, on average, one impact player enter the WNBA every five years then it’s safe to assume that the talent pool isn’t too deep. I can’t recall a time where I have seen an ESPN broadcast about where the #1 female high school player will attend college. There’s no Signing Day coverage. You may see on the sports ticker who was the #1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Maybe.
Geno has mastered the world of NCAA Women’s Basketball but seeing another team challenge the Huskies would be great.
RGIII as a Cleveland Brown
I’ll call it the way I see it. It’s about to be the Jacksonville Jaguars situation all over again. The Jags said before the 2014 season that they were essentially redshirting their rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles. Veteran Chad Henne started the year but before the season ended, the team put Bortles on the field and he has started every game since. I foresee the Browns using this strategy. Robert Griffin III is in a winning spot with a losing franchise. It’s actually a win-win for both parties. RGIII will get the preseason and maybe half a regular season to show other teams that when healthy, he can be a competent option at quarterback. The Browns, being the quarterback graveyard it has been for two decades, can slowly ease their rookie quarterback into the system. Browns are expected to select North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick.
RGIII is getting the chance he’s desired. The Browns have a chance to change the fortunes of their franchise by handling this situation correctly. I think anyone with a semblance of a soul can root for the Browns to get this right.
Golden State: they are who we thought they were
The Warriors are simply plowing through the league this year. I thought that they would end up being the third-best team in the Western Conference. Just think about this, the San Antonio Spurs have not lost a home game this year (the Warriors haven’t either), Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has 16 triple-doubles this season, and Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James is having emotional meltdowns every week. Yet, the NBA world is watching the Warriors as they can possibly eclipse the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a season. I clearly was wrong about this team and I’ll be watching the next two weeks to see if they can make history.
Kobe Bryant has roughly two weeks left in his illustrious basketball career. He’s been celebrated at every arena and praised by every player. Kobe has improved his play since the All-Star break despite the horrible production by his teammates. He has done his part to fill arenas, put up points, and play sparingly enough to ensure the Lakers will have a chance to retain their top three protected draft pick. As a die-hard Kobe fan, I will be sad to see him go. The team looks like they will be embracing the Philadelphia 76ers ideology of how to build a team. It’s going to be a tough five years for us in Laker Land.
The Houston Texans signed former Denver Bronco Brock Osweiler to a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. The league is void of high-quality quarterbacks and it seems that if you have played a few games, you have hit the jackpot. There’s no way Osweiler is worth that much money. I call it Matt Flynn Rules. Remember him? He’s that guy that had one amazing game against the Lions and got rich from it, but even Matt Flynn said that the Osweiler’s contract was bananas. This year’s draft class of quarterbacks looks underwhelming so I can’t totally blame the Texans for reaching.
Well that’s my opinion on the happenings since you last saw me. Be sure to check back soon for my next article.
The NBA is in its prime. The Magic, MJ, Bird, Bad Boys era was incredible. But right now, the NBA is just as good and the proof lives online.
In general, can we all wrap our heads around the notion that things are not better right now than they will be? I know it’s popular to prep for doomsday, but that’s just one possible scenario. Can we try to band together to project a positive outlook regarding the innovations and changes taking place throughout our lifetime and beyond? The Earth might be a literal garbage dump, but it’s not too late to turn it around. Instead of lamenting about the so-called “Good Ol’ Days” of the way things used to be during “simpler times,” let’s realize now that life evolves. So when this generation of millennials ages, we don’t sound bitter and shortsighted. Just like Oscar Robertson talking about Steph Curry:
“He’s shot well because of what’s going on in basketball today, In basketball today, it’s almost like if you can dunk or make a three-point shot, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
There have been some great shooters in the past. But here again, when I played years ago, if you shot a shot outside and hit it, the next time I’m going to be up on top of you. I’m going to pressure you with three-quarters, half-court defense. But now they don’t do that. These coaches do not understand the game of basketball, as far as I’m concerned.”
Barring a dystopian future (which is plausible, especially if Trump 2016 happens…), life could and should get better. All aspects can progress positively: technology, convenience, our attitudes toward improving the environment, our treatment of one another, quality of entertainment to distract us in case none of the above comes to fruition. When platforms like Vine and Snapchat dropped, I was very Oscar Robertson about them. Didn’t get it. Didn’t care. Bitched about them. Felt old and simply dismissed them. A few years removed from their inception, I can admit I was wrong. Vine has made my favorite sport, basketball even more fun and accessible.
However, the old guard of the NBA loves to bitch about the state of the game. Lots of NBA Hall of Famers complain about the lack of defense due to rule changes and the focus on the league’s public relations making the game and players “soft.” Charles Barkley and Shaq, two of the game’s most entertaining players, both on and off the court, are also culprits of being such old timers who whine about “how much better the game used to be…” The game done changed. Just get on (hover)board so you don’t seem so dated.
I’m not saying The Diesel and Round Mound Of Rebound need to become the equivalent of a middle-aged white dude named Noah in a backwards hat and board shorts, calling everyone “Bruh,” attending Coachella year after year as he suppresses stories of Woodstock ’94 so he seems relevant. Noah’s old school buddy Dean still wears a 2012 AC/DC tour shirt unironically regaling anyone who will stand close to him about the “hey-day of culture” peppering in critiques of everyone having their nose in their phone, how computers ruined music and how rappers only rap about money. That’s what Shaq and Charles sound like when they bitch about guards not getting nearly paralyzed when they drive the lane and the league lacking “True Centers.” Hopefully one day people will be able update the way they operate easier than downloading the latest version iOS.
Shaq and Charles
Fuck ESPN, they’ve jumped the shark (a term that itself has jumped the shark). ESPN is totally corporate and thus becoming obsolete, but it’s not going anywhere for the time being. Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit and Podcasts give everyone instant highlights, genuine coverage and access to all our favorite players, coaches, teams, plays and behind-the-scenes discourse. Social media, more than rule changes, player safety protections and PR concerns have revolutionized sports overall. With the NBA being the biggest benefactor. Go ahead, bemoan “everyone being on their phones all the time” instead of engaging in the moment, but maybe you’re the one who isn’t engaging in this moment. You can cry about how “defense just isn’t the same” so players like Steph Curry wouldn’t be able to light it up in the past the way he does now.
Shout it from the rooftops how no one talks to each other face to face anymore. No one will hear you because you don’t have a relevant outlet/wifi signal. Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, you’re wrong because your time’s expired. Society changes. Sports evolve with it. Games are watched in their most important 6-12 second increments on people’s phones without having to hear Stuart Scott-knockoffs make bad puns and bastardize current slang. Isn’t it convenient that there just isn’t that much footage of what Oscar Robertson is talking about is supposedly missing from the present day game of basketball? Cool grainy highlight of the Big O literally running circles around a bunch of dudes who would get cut from teams in China if they played today.
Nevertheless, coverage of every aspect of life has changed, it’s not so easy to hide mistakes, for better or worse. The way the NBA is played and consumed now is not perfect. Nothing is. The implications on our own personal entertainment being a distraction from the miserable, violent, unjust (and hopefully temporary) present state of the world has its pros and cons: the speed and efficiency of how we consume Steph’s latest 35 foot swish or Kristap Porzingis’s putback slam happen so rapidly we don’t get a break from our timelines of watching to think or do anything about who and what are hurting the world. That’s a cause I wouldn’t mind hearing retired sports legends speak out about. Ya know, those who lived through protests that brought about change.
They’d rather criticize DeAndre Jordan’s free throw percentage. Bill Russell gets overlooked for his on court talent because he absolutely annihilated inferior competition, but his contribution to activism gets overlooked along with it. Bill Russell dwarfed his competition the way social media is dwarfing Sportscenter. However, he didn’t have as much of a platform to spread his message to fix inequality during an era when people were more proactive about causes that meant something to them. Yeah, LeBron and some other players wore that t-shirt because their publicists told them to stand with Freddie Gray.
Nobody really remembers or cares because the media cycle revolves too quickly. Today, you don’t like the way cops treat black people. You tweet something self righteously or post something indignant on Facebook and get to feel like you’re part of the solution. You want to try to make a difference today? Your message has to be constant, but ya know, don’t mess up your endorsement deal. There are always drawbacks, holes to be poked in the innovations by those who have lived to witness the change, but not ready to accept it. Sometimes those flaws are very real, but the criticism is hard to take seriously when it’s served upon every stand-out player.
Way back at the beginning of this decade, before Snapchat, LeBron moved from Cleveland to Miami so he could play for a team with his best friends and win. Not a single NBA alumni even remotely encouraged LeBron to do what made him happy. That’s indicative of the difference between the old versus new guard: the old guard doesn’t understand or appreciate millennial’s choice to do what makes us happy.
James and Wade
Say you have a buddy from college, the kind of guy who partied his ass off but still managed to get all A’s. Charismatic, friends with everyone, the kind of guy who could stay up for two days on a bender then go to brunch with your parents and charm their pants off before acing a test he barely studied for. This guy graduates, but moves back to his hometown to work for a notoriously fledgling local business that has potential to turn it around now that he’s there, but has organizational problems that no one man could turn around on his own no matter how focused, talented or committed.
Then one day, this guys gets an offer to be a partner at a hot new start up, run by his college drinking buddies who still party, but are more mature now. The salary is comparable, company HQ is in a cool city with great weather, social life and no income taxes. If you’re this guy, what would you choose? We know what his parents and their friends would think. The older generation loves to glorify their loyalty, the same loyalty that makes them miserable. Romanticize sacrifice, suffering and hard work in the same breath exhaled with carbon monoxide-like sentiments.
That’s why old timers can’t let go of the notion that their way was better. They’re haters. Generally, most people over 47 can’t and won’t wrap their minds around today’s conveniences and innovations in both technology and lifestyle choices. Why? They’re “stuck in their ways,” which is old people code for “refuse to accept the possibility of an easier path.” Too tired out from doing what they didn’t want to have to do most of their lives. Sacrificing joy and satisfaction for “security.” I get it, it’s hard to change once you’re used to a routine, but what if that routine suddenly got way easier and more enjoyable, but just took a litttttttle bit of effort to figure out?
With all this said, when we as a generation hit middle-age, let’s all agree to examine the way things with an open mind. Realizing most things get better, not worse. Or at least let’s pretend to get on board so we don’t age faster than we need to. Being someone like Noah with grey hair and saying shit like “stay woke” while Snapchatting might seem like it’s trying too hard.
Albeit, that’s immensely less sad than not knowing how to text message on your LG Flip Phone as you lament how sports were better when athletes were slower and way more barbaric to each other, when it wasn’t even broadcast live over the medium of terrestrial radio. Maybe the sound bite goes viral, but the person saying it doesn’t even know what that means. “Going Viral,” whether you get it or not, is the most significant way to convey a message today. The How and Why of Going Viral is still puzzling. I’m rocking the White Van’s trying to get everything I do to Go Viral. Damn Daniel! Tomorrow will be different. Get on board or bundle up to suffer through the winter in Cleveland.
The NBA is better now than it’s ever been. I stand by it. NBA basketball might have been better 25-30 years ago, but it didn’t have a constant flow of memes and Vines. Who knows if Steph Curry would be as prolific against MJ, Isiah or John Stockton? I do know this: Spudd Webb would be global phenomenon if Instagram was around in the 80s.
Final Note: I’m doing my best to swallow my own pill and adapt to the future, but the old timer in me still gets ornery observing that anyone under 16 only knows Michael Jordan for crying and his shoes, they think Kobe is better then him, the OJ Simpson Murder Trial is a comedy series on FXX and everyone who retired from pro sports before 2000 is a whiny old fart. Instead of diminishing today’s stars, we all should just focus on ourselves.
Post Script: can Turner Broadcast turn TNT into an all sports network? ESPN is like a dumpster behind a Trading Card shop: there might be a treasure in there, but contains mostly flammable garbage. Fox Sports 1 is that dumpster on fire. How awesome would a Turner Sports channel be headlined by Charles, Shaq, Ernie and Kenny The Jet?
I’m just writing it here so when it happens I can claim to be ahead of my time.
There are days when I sit back and reminisce about my adolescent years. Young and full of energy, I could climb trees and run around the neighborhood for hours. I was, for the most part, of average height and build compared to my peers but the one thing I lacked was competitive drive. Growing up I was considered a nerd. An A-average student for most of my pre-college years, I started to dabble in sports considerably late in my childhood. I was 13 years old when I played on my first organized team. It was the swim team. Yes, black guy on the swim team.
Don’t get me wrong, I played almost every sport recreationally. Football, baseball, soccer, and even tennis. When I started playing basketball I played on the street with a milk crate attached to a light pole. This would be the beginning of an awesome ESPN “30 for 30” except for one major caveat, I suck at basketball. After 31 years of living on this earth I’ve come to the realization that basketball is not my sport. I could blame it on my parents not really being inclined to get me into sports, not exposing me to them at a younger age. There is however only one person to blame for my miserable existence as an athlete, Kobe Bean Bryant.
By high school, I had participated in wrestling, football, and track. I failed to the point where I pray there isn’t footage of my lack of skills. Baseball was my passion and I did fairly well with it playing all four years of high school on a rather lackluster team. I tried out for basketball, twice. Didn’t make the cut, twice. At the point of my auditions I honestly thought I was the second coming of Kobe and Magic Johnson. A willing passer, good shot selection, great rebounder, and aggressive defender. What I failed to realize is that Kobe is Kobe for a reason. He’s talented. He works hard. He’s gifted. In a moment of self-assessment I decided to give myself a scouting report.
The best part of my makeup is my physique. Other than my now 31 year old slight stomach pooch I stand at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. A far cry from the 255 pounds I weighed about a year ago. In high school, I peaked at 6’2″ and 180 pounds during my wrestling season. Fair to say that even though I was a decent size NBA guard back then I was taller than most my peers. So during pick up games I was always the Center. Try putting Derrick Rose in the paint every play and only getting the ball IF you got a rebound. Yep, I was that guy.
Have you ever seen a fish jump out of water? That’s exactly how my jumpshot looks. No form. I can’t seem to place my hand on the ball correctly despite having relatively small hands for a man my size. Think of Shawn Marion shooting a three pointer with his eyes closed. Once again, I’m that guy. My Kobe-esque turn around fade away is sick though!
One area of my game I can hang my hat on is my passing. I do have a pretty good court vision. Being cross eyed helps me in so many ways on the floor. I can pass on both hands and my drive and kick is legendary on 12th street in Saginaw, Michigan. However, the next category hinders me from ever getting the ball to a teammate.
Ball Handling: F
Remember when I said I was always the Center when playing basketball? Well that definitely did not help my dribbling skills. I am quite stubborn though and in my mind I believe I’m Allen Iverson crossing someone over when in fact I’m more like Kwame Brown. (True story) I played a pick up game about two months ago. I was bringing the ball up court to the dismay of my teammates on a fast break. As the defender approached I knew I was about to ‘drop’ him with a crossover. As I planted my foot to execute this sensational move I broke my own ankle and fell to the floor in agony and pain. I truly thought I broke my ankle only to find out I fractured my foot. I have not played a game since that day.
I’m not getting dunked on. I’m not getting crossed over. I only break my own ankles. I’m an adequate defender. That’s all you should expect of me.
Basketball IQ: D
If I had a good basketball IQ I wouldn’t think I’m a point guard now wouldn’t I?
It sucks to be this tall and have people constantly ask you if you’ve played basketball before. It’s quite embarrassing actually. Nonetheless, one day soon I’ll step out to a court for a pick up game. There will be many suitors for my services. As long as I’m tall and black I’ll get picked up every day on a playground. All I have to do is ride my team’s coattails and win games because once the next round of players see my skills I won’t have to worry about playing another game. Maybe I should just stick with swimming. At least there is NBA2k16! I’m currently a 91 rating.
Boy, was I wrong about a few teams and players in my 2016 NBA Preview (East & West).
I missed the mark, much like Kobe Bryant is missing three pointers, free throws, and dunks this season. After watching a lackluster All Star Game, arguably the BEST dunk contest ever, and a little more than half a season of NBA Basketball, I’ve come to eat my crow in front of you all.
The Lakers REALLY Stink
My favorite team sucks. Where did we go wrong? Perhaps giving Kobe a two year deal that has handcuffed their salary cap is a start. Also, letting Kobe’s influence drive Dwight Howard away is another point. Overall, they should not be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers; at least they have a plan. With only eleven wins on the season and fighting desperately to lose as many games as possible to secure their top three NBA draft pick, the only thing to look forward to is the countdown to Kobe’s last game. I’m sure I’ll cry as he walks off the floor for the last time as a player, but by June I HOPE the Lakers start the rebuild they’ve been holding off for three seasons.
I Underestimated the Will of a Champion
I thought that the Golden State Warriors would suffer from a championship hangover. I picked the Los Angeles Clippers to be a better team and have a better record than them. Well, clearly I was wrong with this one. Other than the San Antonio Spurs (whom I picked to be the best team in the league this year) there’s not a team that can challenge the Warriors. The Clippers aren’t a bad team as they have 35 wins thus far. Blake Griffin has had a hand (pun intended) in the team’s success thus far. The Warriors and Stephen Curry have a chance to make major history as the team is en route to a league record in wins for a single season and Curry can become a MVP in consecutive years. I am sorry Based God Chef Curry.
Why would I believe in these teams?
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks had the makeup of playoff contenders. The Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns as the face of their franchise. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker in tow to lead theirs. Both teams are 13th in their respective conferences. Both teams have dealt with absences by a head coach but for different reasons. Flip Saunders, formerly the head coach of the Timberwolves, passed away shortly before the season began. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has missed games due to health issues. Perhaps with those two coaches at the helm the teams would be better at this juncture. That’s not the case and hopefully the teams can fulfill their potential next season.
Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make it to the Finals?
There is no team in the Eastern conference that can stop the Cavaliers when fully healthy. By keeping their core intact and going to an up-tempo offense, the Cavs may make a deep run into the playoffs. The one concern is that the team is working with another rookie head coach in Tyronn Lue. Whereas injuries played a significant role in not getting a championship last time, this year the assertive Lue and LeBron must be on the same page. Former coach, David Blatt, was merely a minutes and timeout specialist. Will Lue have the respect of LeBron to make the important decisions to get the team its first NBA championship?
The Detroit Pistons…might actually…be good this year?
I’ve been in a constant back and forth with one of my best friends over the current state of the Pistons. I do not believe in the team nor do I believe in coach Stan Van Gundy. My friend however thinks that the Pistons have a legitimate shot to go to the playoffs. He likes that Van Gundy has started to build the team around Andre Drummond. I hate to admit it but my friend may be right. Van Gundy is making the team in the mold of his Orlando Magic tenure. Getting players that can space the floor and shoot is what will propel this team in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely get swept by the Cavs or Toronto Raptors but they are an improved team.
Quick Predictions on NBA honors
Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves
The kid is getting better as the season progresses. He is a double-double machine and he is getting more comfortable with his mid range shot. He is even taking 3s. I don’t know if we’ve prematurely crowned Anthony Davis of the New Orlean Pelicans as the next great big man. Anthony-Towns seems to be just as skilled and may have the more talented team in the long run. He’s definitely worth watching out for.
MVP: Stephen Curry
I don’t think I have to make much of a case for Curry. The sad part is he’s sat out roughly 15 4th quarters thus far this season. Even if games get more competitive for the rest of the season he’ll likely increase his already league leading scoring average. Sick! I will throw LeBron James and Chris Paul in the mix as potential MVP winners but it’s Curry’s trophy to lose at this point.
Defensive Player of The Year: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors
This is a tough one to call. I think the voters will lean toward either Green or San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard won last year despite Green receiving more first place votes. With both teams having not reached double digits in losses thus far, this award may be decided by team success. Whichever team has the better record may be able to catapult their DPOY candidate to the honor.
Tough Question. I loathe a lot of greats: LeBron, Marino, A-Rod, Jordan, Aikmen, Sydney Crosby, Aaron Rodgers, Bonds, Shaq, Emmit Smith. Pretty much anyone who wins too much and doesn’t have a public persona of being super humble makes me dislike you. I don’t hate all winners. I don’t hate Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky or Tim Duncan. But winning too much generally rubs me the wrong way. Let’s put my own personal baggage aside and try and figure out who is the most hated player in sports?
What makes fans turn on a player? Off field issues (rape, gambling, beating your kids/lover), they say arrogant stuff in the media, they leave to play for a rival, they don’t give back (or enough), they don’t seem to care what us regular Joes think, they get away with murder (sometimes literally), they always kick your favorite team’s ass. Or maybe it’s just their attitude. Whatever it is, there is small group that seem to get a lot of haters, more than average. Below are the kings of boo birds and angry fan mail. The top of the bottom. The most hated.
No surprise here. If you don’t love the Lake Show then you probably hate the Black Mamba. He has that smirk on his face. He kept winning all the championships when I didn’t want him to. Then that thing in Colorado happened. Ugh. At least it looks like he gets to end his career with a whimper, that’s some consolation.
Tom and Gisele
Super Bowls, MVP’s, the cheating and scandals, the super model wife, that hair, those dimples. Kill me and him. If he wasn’t a Michigan boy then I’d be brewing my own Haterade for Tom. But honestly, can we see someone else* hoist the Lombardi Trophy for once? It’s getting pretty boring.
The easy joke here is that he is really good looking. I don’t see it. I think he looks like a tan hotdog with beach muscles. But maybe you are into that fit, rich, adonis look. Whatever. Also his hair is straight Ross from Friends. “Could it be any wetter?” That my friends, was a Chandler Burn!
And the winner is….
Floyd and his best friend Justin Bieber
Of course Mayweather wins this. He wins everything, ever. I don’t know many sports fans not named Floyd that would not LOVE to see “Money” get knocked the fuck out. Dude is 49-0. I’d give Pay-Per-View my first born, Rumpelstiltskin style, If I got to watch him get crushed. Especially after all that fancy evading he loves to do. POW! That would be the best. Only thing sweeter than that would be betting tons on the fight too so you cleaned up as Mayweather got laid out.
Leave a comment on your least fav. Maybe you’ll find some like-minded enthusiasts and you all can start a fan club where you send glitter-bombs to people who cross you. And remember, you can be mean as long as it’s funny. Don’t be a jerk just to be a jerk.
Recently I brainstormed looking for a topic for a new article. I put up a “status” on FaceBook asking my friends what should my next article be about. Someone mentioned that I should do a piece comparing the careers of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter. One person went a step further and stated that if McGrady had not been injured so early and often in the prime of his career that he would have been the best player of the three.
It led to this reaction; “What the #%$#? It ain’t no way in hell T-Mac, or Vince Carter, was better than Kobe! F#$% outta here!” I was completely beside myself in disbelief that someone I have respect for would utter such a blasphemous statement about THE Black Mamba. As the days passed I had to consider my fandom a hindrance to me being unbiased and objective. I have to preface my piece by being forthright with you all. I am a Kobe Bryant Fan Boy.
Now that we have that out the way let’s get into some facts. After really digging into this topic I came away rather astonished at how close T-Mac was to Kobe, in terms of per game production. Kobe clearly benefited from sticking with a world class organization like the Lakers for his entire career. McGrady, on the other hand, toiled between several teams, which could be a valid reason why he never advanced to a Finals appearance. Also worth noting, McGrady never had a healthy co-star on his team to help with the work load. Kobe enjoyed great coaching and a franchise big man to elevate his team to seven Finals appearances. Here is a summarized breakdown of T-Mac’s career.
McGrady was selected as the Toronto Raptors 9th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He was part of the high school to pros boom of the late 90s. After Kevin Garnett and Kobe headlined the previous draft classes, T-Mac followed with a different athletic profile. Whereas Kobe was viewed as a project player, T-Mac was viewed as more polished at the time of his draft. McGrady was also more gifted physically as he was listed at 6’8″ and sometimes at 6’9″. Kobe on his best day is 6’7″. It may not make much of a difference to some, but a few more inches of height and overall body mass goes a long way in pro sports.
The beginning of both Kobe and T-Mac’s careers started off with them being understudies. Kobe was relegated to the bench to begin his career. He came into his own as the the Lakers began their championship run of the early 2000s. Looking at the first 5 years of their respective careers, they have nearly identical per game averages. In Kobe’s first five seasons he averaged 19 PPG, 4 APG, and 5 RPG. In comparison, T-Mac averaged 17 PPG, 3 APG, and 6 RPG. T-Mac spent the first seasons of his career with newly discovered distant cousin Vince Carter, who was coming into his own fame as a NBA star. The Carter-McGady tandem was more of a partnership that went awry due to self-preservation. Kobe’s rise collided with the dominance of Shaquille O’Neal. It was not a partnership at all. It was a kid that was staking his claim and a man that wanted control over his team. Kobe clearly got more out of his situation as he won 3 NBA Championships within his first 6 years. Meanwhile, T-Mac started his dominance right as Kobe started collecting trophies.
Both players peaked at precisely the same time. Kobe had to adapt to finally being the alpha male on his team, T-Mac had grown accustomed to it. It was not planned for McGrady to push his Orlando Magic team to the playoffs alone. The Magic also acquired former Detroit Piston Grant Hill to co-anchor the team back to prominence. The pairing proved to foreshadow the premature ending of both McGrady and Hill’s promising careers. During his tenure with the Magic, and the beginning of his time with the Houston Rockets, T-Mac was must see tv. He was putting up LeBron like numbers before LeBron. In his sixth season, T-Mac had 32 PPG, 7 RPG, and 6 APG. If you add in the 2 steals and 1 block per game he contributed defensively, I would say that McGrady had one of the better seasons in NBA history.
T-Mac was killin’ the game during his prime.
He was fourth in MVP voting that 2002-2003 season. Tim Duncan took home the honors for a second consecutive year. At the time the league was a big man’s league. Kobe finished 3rd in voting that same season, posting similar overall per game averages but 2 points less per game than McGrady. Over the next five seasons both players would be at the top of their respective individual game. During the 02-03 season and the following four years, T-Mac averaged 27 PPG. At this juncture is when Kobe began to separate himself from his fiercest competitor as he averaged 30 PPG; including a 35 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG season in 2005-2006. Kobe finished fourth that season in the MVP voting to 2x MVP Steve Nash. Tracy McGrady was not in the top ten of voting in a list that included Elton Brand, Chauncey Billups, and Shawn Marion. This is despite of having averages of 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5 APG.
Sadly, McGrady’s career unraveled quickly. He battled and played through various injuries, and played on talent-poor teams. The tandem of McGrady and Rockets center Yao Ming had basketball fans salivating at the prospects of a dynasty but never quite panned out. By the 2007-2008 season McGrady was a shell of his former self. The once high flying offensive assassin began to deteriorate at the age of 28. After posting an eight year low of 21 PPG that season, he went on to decrease his PPG average by 5 points each season. By age 30, he had been traded to the New York Knicks. He floundered around the league for three more seasons before retiring, playing minor league baseball, competing for a championship with the San Antonio Spurs, and retiring again, all by the age of 36.
These two never became the unstoppable force that fans imagined they might be.
Kobe would never post 35 PPG again but he went on to win two more championships, finally win a MVP award, and would continue to pour in points. Kobe averaged 27 PPG in the same time frame that T-Mac would score a career low 12 PPG, including a 5 PPG average in 2011-2012. Tracy McGrady’s career came to an unceremonious close during a taping of ESPN “First Take”. A year younger than Kobe, he bowed out gracefully, albeit not at his own wishes. Kobe meanwhile is in the final year of his current contract at age 37. He is undecided if he will continue playing after this year. There aren’t many career feats that he can realistically accomplish. Having recently surpassed Michael Jordan for 3rd all time in career points, and he would need several seasons of good health to unseat Karl Malone for 2nd all time. The Lakers franchise is clearly in rebuilding mode and Kobe’s chances of getting a sixth championship are slim. It is not clear if he would play for another team to get that championship but as it currently stands Kobe will finish his career as an all time great.
Tracy McGrady’s career was beset by injuries and undermanned rosters. In my opinion, if McGrady had a great team or comparable talent to the Lakers he would have had a longer career. The Sacramento Kings was a team that always seemed on the cusp of going all the way. McGrady was always a player or two short from winning a championship. The two could have been a perfect match. It just never happened.
As a six time All Star and a NBA scoring champion, McGrady will one day make it to the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. During his inception speech he should note the following about himself:
Top 25 All Time in Single Season Points Per Game Average
Tied Top 15 in NBA History in Points Scored in a Game (62 points on 20-37 shooting against Washington Wizards March 10 2004)
Scored 13 Points in 33 seconds to beat the Spurs 81-80 on Dec 9, 2004
Despite career ending relatively soon he averaged 20 PPG, 6 RPG, and 4 APG for entire career
Kobe gave T-Mac the highest honor by stating that McGrady was the toughest person he had to play against
McGrady should conclude his speech by humbly saying “and I’m still not better than Kobe”.