Can We Hit the Mute Button on LaVar Ball Already?

Written by :
Published on : March 24, 2017

 

 

In the 2004 movie Napolean Dynamite, the main character’s uncle, Uncle Rico, has some classic lines that depict a type of person that chances are we all know, or have had conversations with at some point or another. In the movie, Uncle Rico, in an effort to showcase his arm strength, claims to have the ability to throw a football over a set of mountains, and then later on while trying to convince others of his prior success on the gridiron, adamantly believes if only his coach would have put him in for the fourth quarter, they’d have been state champs, no doubt in his mind.

 

We all know “that guy” or have known “that guy” at some point in our lives. Whether it’s the varsity jacket wearing guy some five-plus years after graduation, or the trash-talking guy who you had to go back and check your yearbooks to make sure he was actually in fact on the team. All too often these people are simply attention seekers, living for that next “like” on their Facebook status or Instagram post, probably while trash talking on Twitter at professional athletes when they don’t make the game-winning shot or the needed clutch hit.

 

On television, we have unfortunately seen a rise in this type of behavior, by hosts who seem to believe that by saying the most outlandish things they will generate conversation, web-hits, ratings, and therefore attention. A few years back, one of the biggest clowns of sports talk, Skip Bayless, was basically owned on ESPN’s First Take by Detroit’s own, Jalen Rose, when Skip had compared his own playing style in high school to that of “Pistol Pete” Maravich. Rose came on the show and embarrassed Skip by pointing out that while playing junior varsity as a junior, Skip averaged just 1.4 points per game during his high school career, and then threw shade Skip’s way by giving him a more fitting nickname, “Water Pistol Pete.”

 

 

Now, I couldn’t care less about Skip’s high school statistics, or whether he even played high school basketball to begin with. Hell I didn’t, but this won’t be about which NBA superstar my driveway basketball skills most closely mirrored either. Instead, what I do care about is the fact that Skip Bayless for example, and the conversations or run-ins with “that guy” that we all know in our lives, continuously spit out these horrendous takes on sports, willing to take such asinine (to quote Stephen A. Smith) claims to their graves if need be for the sake of trying to catch our eyes and ears.

 

Fast-forwarding some fifteen years, former varsity jacket wearing guy is now in his mid-to-late thirties. Married, three children, and perhaps a few waist sizes larger, the varsity jacket now hangs deep in the closet or packed away in the basement somewhere, replaced instead by a newer, fresher crowning achievement, his teenage kids. Yeah, we’ve all seen this guy too. This guy thinks his kids are the best on the team, they’re going to be the superstars, and the only thing that could possibly keep them from getting there is either bad coaching, weak teammates, a referee with an agenda, or a horrible combination of all three.

 

 

This is the parent that yells the loudest from the sidelines, typically standing very close to the field or court, often even right next to the head coach, while giving him his two cents. He’s the guy that coaches his kids from the sidelines, even if that direction is opposite of the instructions given out by the actual head coach. This guy is out there, and for those of you who have never met this guy, let me introduce you to LaVar Ball.

 

LaVar Ball is the father of three very talented teenage basketball players from California who are becoming very popular in the sports world. However, they usually have to play second fiddle to the headliner in the family, their father. Eldest son, Lonzo is a dynamic freshman at UCLA, leading his team into the Sweet 16 of this year’s NCAA Tournament, and is projected to potentially be the overall #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. LaVar’s two younger sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, are currently high school teammates, and both are following their older brother’s footsteps by verbally committing to play for UCLA.

 

 

Since LaVar’s kids have burst onto the scene, LaVar has been the one hogging the spotlight by making all of the headlines, and rarely for anything good. Trying to create a brand centered around his kids with the hopes of landing the richest endorsement deals in the history of sports is his goal, however while driving the car that manages and acts as the PR rep for his kids, so far it seems about as wise as handing the keys to your drunkest friend on a Saturday night bar crawl.

 

LaVar has already said that all three of his sons will be one-and-done players at UCLA immediately declaring themselves for the NBA Draft after just one season in Westwood. While Lonzo is a lock to make such dreams come true, his two younger brothers are anything but a sure thing. With just a 4-star and 3-star recruiting ranking, the two brothers should probably pump the brakes on the assumption that they’ll blossom into the next big thing, even just at the college level. But of course, let me backtrack a bit, LaVar should pump the brakes because after all, again, he is the one driving this car.

 

Ever since the NBA created the “one-and-done” rule which requires high school basketball players to enroll at a college or play overseas for a year before entering the NBA draft. We have seen dozens of players like Lonzo try their hand at the pro game after their freshman season. With Lonzo receiving comparisons to Jason Kidd’s size and style of play, few doubt he will find success in the league, however just how good will he be is the multi-million dollar question. Fortunately, LaVar already knows not only how good he will be, but also how good he is right now.

 

 

A month or so ago, LaVar let the NBA world know that his son, Lonzo, would only play for the hometown Los Angeles Lakers, which he later, backtracked on and re-worded—kind of. Raising on that, LaVar went even further this week to say that if drafted by the woeful Lakers, his impact would rival the impact that Laker legend Magic Johnson had on the franchise. Yes, that Magic Johnson. Three-time MVP winner, Hall of Famer, NBA champion, the orchestrator of the Showtime Lakers.

 

Magic wasn’t the only former NBA MVP LaVar compared his son to, or even ranked below his son. LaVar also said this year that currently, Lonzo is a better player than Golden State Warriors’ guard, Stephen Curry. Doing one better, saying that if Lonzo and Steph swapped places, there is no way that Steph would have been able to get UCLA to where they are right now, and that Golden State would be better off with Lonzo as well.  This topic always makes me shake my head when people want to ask the annual question, “Is (insert dominant college team) better than (insert worst team in the NBA, NFL, NHL, etc)?” The answer of course is always no, and it’s always going to be no. And in this circumstance asking as if the NBA’s MVP of the past two seasons wouldn’t do better than Lonzo is at UCLA right now? Just stop.

 

Naturally, LaVar’s ridiculous takes don’t stop there, nor do they stop with just his oldest son Lonzo. LaVar, a former college hooper himself, can’t go without letting us know just how good he was back in his day as well. You see, just because that old varsity jacket doesn’t fit anymore, doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there (no matter how foggy and embellished they have now become). LaVar Ball played one season with Washington State in college averaging 2 points and 2 rebounds per game. Now let’s be clear about one thing, in order to even make a Division 1 college team let alone even get some minutes here and there, suggests you have to be a good player, far better than the average college student. That being said, when LaVar Ball looks back to that time of his life and tries to tell us he could beat Michael Jordan one-on-one, I can’t help but wonder if this man is sending out a cry for help. By the way, while Ball was putting up 2 and 2 each night up in Washington, Michael Jordan was averaging 35 points a night for the Chicago Bulls.

 

 

I am not sure if Jordan has responded to such incredulous claims. My thought is maybe he is doing what we all should be doing when LaVar speaks, and that is to simply not even acknowledge the unbelievable things that have been coming out of his mouth. However, one NBA star couldn’t ignore LaVar’s “hot takes.” As the face of the NBA, LeBron James recently heard his children’s names being talked about by Ball in regards to his claim that LeBron’s kids will have the added pressure of having to live up to the high standards set by their father. LeBron responded by telling Ball to “Keep my kids’ names out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”

 

LaVar Ball of course deflected the criticism, refusing to apologize and claiming his statements were not malicious and that LeBron was being too “touchy” on the subject. While he may be right, LaVar has been speeding steadily down a very slippery slope for a long time now and while it won’t affect himself, it could be already tarnishing the brand he is just starting to try and create for his kids.

 

With his three sons all showing the potential to have long-lasting basketball careers, LaVar is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that you know the name “Ball.” Unfortunately though, it seems to me his number one priority is that you also remember to put “LaVar” in front of it.

 

 


Potential Upsets for Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament

Written by :
Published on : March 16, 2017

 

While the weather across much of the Midwest and Northeastern parts of the country would suggest otherwise, spring is just around the corner here in the United States and that can only mean one thing—March Madness has arrived.

 

A couple of storylines take center stage in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Defending champion Villanova looks to become just the 3rd back-to-back champ in the past 25 years, Northwestern makes its NCAA Tournament debut after making the tourney for the first time in their history, and possibly the feel good story of the tournament, Michigan battles on after quite the scare when their team plane heading to Washington D.C. for the Big Ten Tournament slid off the runway. Michigan went on to win the conference tournament and isn’t a team anybody wants to see right now.

 

But of course, as always with the NCAA Tournament, new storylines seem to be born every round, and upsets can come from anywhere, just ask Michigan State. So as you take a final look at your bracket, desperate to find that Cinderella that’s going to keep your bracket from being busted during the opening weekend, take a look at these potential underdogs that can make you look like a true Bracketologist.

 

For starters, with all the magic that is March Madness, it’s hard to define what is and what isn’t an upset, who is or who isn’t a Cinderella. For the sake of this article, nothing under an 11-seed will qualify as an upset so if you want to boast around the office about how you predicted a 9 or a 10-seed winning on opening weekend, save it.

 

Here are my 5 most likely big upsets for Round 1 (Thursday and Fridays games).

 

5. (#13) East Tennessee State over (#4) Florida

 

The Gators are the last team to win back-to-back NCAA Championships when they did it in the early 2000’s, and are set to face the defending champs Villanova in the Sweet 16, should both teams make it that far. However, both teams would be wise to not look ahead to that potential matchup as they both have a tough road to the Sweet 16. For Florida, they better not look beyond even their first game as East Tennessee State is looking to steal one. The Gators are without their big man in the middle (John Egbunu) which takes away a dynamic shot blocker. On the other side, East Tennessee State has the ability to shut down the paint defensively and they have a big-time scorer in T.J. Cromer.

 

Upset confidence points: 3/10

 

4. (#12) Florida Gulf Coast over (#5) Florida State

 

Who doesn’t remember when Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world by defeating 2-seed Georgetown in 2013, introducing us all to “Dunk City?” After making the tournament last year as well, Florida Gulf Coast is becoming even more of a household name this time of year and are set for a very interesting all-Florida matchup against Florida State in Orlando. Oh how the selection committee has a way of putting these regions together. Florida State was a team I loved going into the season, as I expected them to be major players in the ACC. After tying for 2nd place in the conference, the Seminoles lost a close game to eventual conference tournament champion, Duke in the ACC Tournament. The dynamic duo of Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon can light up the gym but the Seminoles all too often get their lights knocked out when the spotlight is on.

 

Upset confidence points: 4/10

 

3. (#12) UNC Wilmington over (#5) Virginia

 

A year ago, UNC Wilmington almost pulled off a major upset when they gave Duke all it could handle before the Blue Devils eventually pulled out an opening round win. One year later, UNC Wilmington is looking for redemption against another ACC foe. Coach Tony Bennett has built a fantastic program at Virginia in recent years centered around defense. The Cavaliers are not flashy and may even have a tendency to put you to sleep, but for the past few years it has gotten results. UNC Wilmington is the exact opposite as they get up and down the floor quickly. This is your classic “something has to give” matchup as two very opposite styles try to get their opponent to play to their pace. UNC Wilmington protects the ball well, and attacks the offensive glass. Second chance points for the Seahawks and Virginia’s inability to match offensively I think is the difference.

 

Upset confidence points 5/10

 

2. (#11) Rhode Island over (#6) Creighton

 

A couple of smaller schools match up here in the Midwest Region on Friday afternoon with the Rhode Island Rams and the Creighton Blue Jays. For both teams, they entered the season with very lofty expectations and both had disappointing finishes. For Rhode Island, a preseason ranking was followed by a shaky of 10-6, but they wound up winning 14 of their final 17 games. On the contrary, the Blue Jays got off to an incredible 18-1 start but limped to the finish line going 7-8 down the stretch. The downfall seemed to begin when point guard Maurice Watson (who at the time led the NCAA with 8.8 assists per game) went down with a torn ACL. Sometimes in March, it’s all about who enters the Big Dance with more momentum and the Blue Jays seem to have the momentum of a flightless bird.

 

Upset confidence points: 6/10

 

1. (#12) Middle Tennessee State over (#5) Minnesota

 

With possibly the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history under their belts after defeating 2-seed Michigan State last year, the Blue Raiders are out to show the world they aren’t a fluke. While they flew under the radar a bit last year, Middle Tennessee State probably has a better team this year and won’t be satisfied with just a first round victory this time around. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw were enough to knock off the Spartans last year but the addition of JaCorey Williams gives them the realistic possibility of making a Sweet 16 run. Minnesota has enjoyed quite a turnaround this year as the Golden Gophers went from an 8-23 season last year, and having only 2 conference wins to finishing 4th in the Big Ten this year with a 23-8 record overall. Richard Pitino has a very talented young team led by point guard Nate Mason who has big game ability. Minnesota however does not have a ton of depth and the Red Raiders will look to expose that by getting the Golden Gophers into foul trouble. Expect to see Middle Tennessee State wreck another Big Ten team’s season, and avoid seeing them wreck your bracket again. Go with Middle Tennessee State.

 

Upset confidence points 7/10

 

So there you have it. Five big games to watch that have the potential to either make or break your bracket. Tread carefully, but if you’re looking for a little more spice or sizzle for your bracket, needing to find some upsets to shake things up, then look no further. A 12-seed over a 5-seed is almost a gimme as is the popular 11-seed over a 6-seed. This year I see a great chance to have as many as three 5-seeds fall. When the dust settles I think the cream will rise to the top and the Final Four won’t be anything too surprising but the opening weekend could be one to remember. Good luck and enjoy the dance.

 

 

 


Student Athletes of the World Unite

Written by :
Published on : September 6, 2016

 

 

Should student athletes be allowed to unionize? That’s a complicated question that has yet to be definitively answered. This is a battle that is far from over. So I’m here to give you my thoughts on the issue.

 

I’ve alway had a firm belief that if there is a group of people profiting off of the labor and dedication of others, then the people doing the work have a right to band together in order to present a united front to management. For the workers, it’s really the only chance they have to be on a level playing field with the people profiting off of their endeavors. The owners of capital hold all of the cards in this game and as an individual, the laborer, has little chance of being able to stand up to the bosses.

 

northwestern-football-strike-picket-signs-union

 

So the real question regarding this whole situation is: are student athletes in fact employees? When the football players at Northwestern University attempted to unionize last year, the National Labor Relations Board declined to rule on the question of employment. Instead, they refused to extend their jurisdiction to college athletics altogether, stating “potential negative consequences” that could be associated with such a move. They didn’t necessarily overturn the lower regional ruling that the revenue-generating student athletes at Northwestern were, in fact, employees of the university, but they refused to even hear the question.

 

That just doesn’t make sense. The college sports industry is valued at something like $11 billion, yet the student athletes that help make all of that possible get none of the profits, have little recourse for airing grievances, and are denied certain rights that are available to other students. That’s a travesty, especially when you consider that the lack of profit sharing leaves an estimated 85% of student athletes below the poverty line. Sure, they receive room and board, in addition to tuition, but almost all agree that it isn’t enough to live on. They sacrifice their education in the name of sports. Athletes routinely miss classes in order to fulfill their commitments to the team.

 

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                                                                      How is this ok? (SOURCE: NYT)

 

All of that is secondary to what I consider the most important reason that student athletes should be able to unionize, and that’s long term health benefits. This probably applies more to football than to basketball. I don’t want to trivialize the physical sacrifices that college basketball players make, but the high impact nature of college football means that there are long-term, internal effects of that game that aren’t as obvious as the joint and bone injuries common in hoops. With everything that we now know about repeated concussions sustained in football, I believe that there should be some responsibility by the universities that are making millions off of these kids. There could be mental effects that these athletes won’t feel for years to come, and if they aren’t lucky enough to make it to the NFL, then they may be left to deal with them on their own. That’s just not fair.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I was raised in a UAW family and have always been a strong believer in the benefits of unions in general. I recognize that the power they hold has been abused at times, but you can certainly say the same thing for management in almost every industry. These kids are making huge sacrifices in the name of their schools. I understand that making unionization possible for big money sports like football and basketball could put smaller, less profitable college sports in jeopardy, but I also think there is a way to work around that. There is no shortage of money in college athletics. Now the only problem is getting those that hold that money to share a little bit of it with the people who generate it. That’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s not impossible either. First, we need the student athletes of the world to unite and demand their rights as employees of their respective universities.

 

 


Coaches who really hate The Media

Written by :
Published on : December 22, 2015

 

If you think about it, being a head coach and having to deal with the media seems like a real pain in the ass. I’m sure there are some guys who relish the opportunity to be on national tv and have the cameras in their face. But for the vast majority of coaches, the ones whose main focus is improving their teams and winning titles, it seems like a real inconvenience. Aside from that, they probably believe that it distracts from the game and from the team, especially when they have star players who embarrass themselves and the organization by saying something stupid in front of the cameras.

 

We thought we would take a look at some coaches refuse to hide their disdain for the media. It also happens that their contempt for the cameras makes for some pretty hilarious interviews and press conferences. So sit back and take a look at some of the more hilarious coach/media interactions caught on film.

 

 

 

Gregg Popovich

This man has never made it a secret that he can’t stand dealing with reporters. From his court side interviews to post game press conferences, he continually let’s reporters know when they ask stupid questions and just trolls them in general. If I was a reporter and had to deal with him, I would piss myself. Here is is getting ready for the 2015 season, but fucking with a reporter at Spurs media day.

 

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick might just be the best football coach of the modern era. Since he teamed up with Tom Brady, forming the most dangerous Sith duo in league history, they have dominated the NFL. While he is recognized for his coaching prowess, he is also known as a man of very few words. Especially when it comes to dealing with the media. Here is a compilation of some of his greatest moments on the camera.

 

 

John Tortorella

This dude is an absolute nut. He is currently the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but has been around the NHL once or twice. And once as the coach of the Canucks he tried to enter the Calgary Flames locker room to confront their coach… You’ve got to love hockey. One shining moment in this compilation occurs early on at the 0:16 mark when he really gets into it with a reporter. Solid gold.

 

Bob Knight


I think it’s generally accepted that Bob Knight is a little bit crazy. It’s also well known that he does not like the media, at one point referring to the profession as “one or two steps above prostitution.” Take a look at these SportsCenter soundbites from coach Knight and prepare to laugh your ass off.

 

 


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