Category Archives: Basketball

I’m All In on the Andrew Bynum Comeback

Many eras ago, there was a time where NBA players truly hated one another. A time once the playoffs rolled around, nobody was all talk. It was time to man up or go home. Not “If we lose it’s okay, we’ll just move our vacation together up one week”. One of the guys who spearheaded that era was Lakers center Andrew Bynum, as seen below:

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It should probably be noted this behavior is not condoned, but the NBA is definitely softer than it was back then

A few days ago, we learned that this former Lakers, Cavs, and Pacers center is en route to an NBA comeback.

Despite the fact that his dribbling sort of reminds me of Stanley from The Office (gif below for all you uncultured swine), I’m actually really pumped for Bynum.

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Why? Am I former Lakers fan? No. Did I place an irrational bet years ago saying he would be a Hall of Famer? Fortunately, no. Does he represent something larger than any of you probably understand? Fuck. Yes.

Andrew Bynum’s comeback is not just about a former star center playing basketball again. It’s so much bigger than that. His attempt to get on a professional court again gives hope to players of the past just like him. That’s right, every oversized and overrated center that ever graced the NBA is looking at Andrew Bynum right now like “Holy shit, he’s gonna do it”. Greg Oden, Kwame Brown, Anthony Bennett, Darko Milicic, and Sam Bowie are all sitting on their couches viciously icing their knees and crying their eyes out. But deep, deep under those tears of failure is a glimpse of hope. A belief that just because you’re a big man that fell out of the NBA, and your body was bigger than your brain could handle, that you and so many others could be great once more. If Bynum completes the comeback, it will be a lesson to all of them…don’t give up, even if literally every doctor tells you that you should. Listen to your heart, not your knees.

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Image via Sporting News

Fortunately for him, Bynum is the rich man’s version of all these players, and actually had/will continue to have a solid career. At his peak, he averaged 18.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG. Knee injuries derailed him, but at one point he was part of discussions in a blockbuster trade for Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. He was an impact player without a doubt.

Most people will shake their heads at this, much like we do with all old players who leave the league. But, at 30 years old, this really isn’t that far of a stretch. He could really go out and perform well in front of a couple of teams, and they’ll decide to take him as a project. Off the bench, you’ll get a player similar to Dwight Howard’s level of production, probably a little less. Regardless, a veteran who has been to the end of the world and back is great for a young team with young big men on the team (@SacramentoKings?)

You know what, give me Andrew Bynum in a Kings uniform by mid-October or I’m not watching a single second of the NBA season this year. ALL IN.

#BringBackBynum

LeBron vs MJ: One Point Nobody is Making

The argument that everybody seems to hate, but still can’t stop talking about…Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? The truth is, there’s no way to determine who has had a better career until LeBron closes up shop for good. LeBron still has three to four solid years left, and maybe five to six total. A lot can happen in that time. Randy Johnson won four straight Cy Youngs from ages 35-38, Barry Bonds won four MVPs from 36-39, and Kobe Bryant scored 60 points at 37. Sometimes, players get better with age (in Barry’s case it was just a lot of steroids, but I think that hurts my point more than it helps, so we can ignore that).

People argue that just because LeBron takes 12U town recreation teams to the Finals every year that he needs to be crowned the best. Others say that although MJ didn’t make it to the Promised Land every year, he was 6-0 when he did make it, and should be deemed the GOAT. Who knows where Jordan would have been without Pippen? But, LeBron has lost five times in the Finals. Great debate. Both sides have some legs to stand on. Lots of potential and ammo for a light-hearted, casual sports conversation at your local BBQ to get unnecessarily out of hand as both sides get way too passionate and end up fighting each other in the grass while their wives and kids watch. LeBron could be better than MJ, or vice versa, but neither beat a pointless sports argument that diminishes the respect your loved ones have for you. That’s what Memorial Day is all about.

With all that said and done, there’s one one argument that I never hear, and I just can’t figure out why. The argument is the whole Michael Jordan playing baseball thing. Do people just like, not remember that? If you want to compare careers, how can you forget the whole “stopped playing in his prime” aspect? It seems wildly important, for both sides involved.

LeBron left the Cavs to play for the Heat and fans almost imploded from hatred. Imagine if he left the entire NBA to go pursue that football career he’s been teasing us with for ten years? I think Skip Bayless would actually be speechless for the first time in his life. Regardless, you’d have to agree that the decision alone would need to have an impact on his legacy.

Michael Jordan ACTUALLY did that. He QUIT BASKETBALL. Here’s proof:

I don’t want this to sound entirely negative to MJ, because there are pros and cons to the whole situation:

FOR MICHAEL JORDAN

For all things considered, MJ had a decent 1994 season:

.202 BA, 3 HR, 51 RBI, 17 2B, 1 3B, 30 SB, 23% strikeout rate.

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He pretty much came raw into a sport that has been recognized as one of the more difficult to master and put up average to slightly below average numbers. He wasn’t a slouch by any means, and was rather effective on the basepaths with 30 stolen bases.

After trying to follow his passion, which is something I give him credit for, he returned back to the NBA and dominated once more. As a two-year, two-sport athlete in high school, I can safely back MJ up by saying that it’s not easy to perfect your game when you want to focus on so many specific parts in both sports. The fact that he was able to leave and come back without losing a stride is impressive.

Also, Space Jam was an amazing movie and if he never quit basketball, we might have never gotten that gem. LeBron can’t top that.

AGAINST MICHAEL JORDAN

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I know I said he wasn’t a terrible minor leaguer, but let’s not take that too far. He wasn’t good. You saw him in Space Jam. He was a liability at the plate day-in and day-out, and it’s sad he left his famed career to be below-average. It just sort of ruins your perception of him as an athlete. At least with LeBron, we can leave it up to the imagination what he would be like in the NFL (probably unreal).

He also left his team, and then came back with the expectation that everything would be the same. If your girlfriend dumped you for somebody she liked more, then she dated that person for a year, then that other dude basically told them her she sucked, and your ex-girlfriend came crawling back to you immediately after, you’re telling me you’d be pumped? You’d tell her to kick rocks 10/10. MJ is a user, and was spoiled by his era. LeBron has had to deal with a lot more hate than this…

 

Bottom line, the “Michael Jordan quitting basketball” is an argument that needs to be considered in future MJ vs LeBron discussions, and I cannot fathom how people don’t bring it up more.

#Cavsin7

Circle of Madness

Note (Saturday 3/17): I actually wrote this post on Thursday (3/15) night.  Since then, my bracket, with a championship game of UVA over Wichita State, has been destroyed.  Therefore, some of what you will read below did quite ring true this year.  Enjoy my post nonetheless!

I am one of those annoying people who watches 99% of my college basketball in March yet is super-duper interested in basketball for that month.  Does that make me a fraud?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  I love the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and I know that many of you out there are frauds like me.  In light of this, allow me to share with you my “Circle of Madness”.  This explains my following of college basketball over a full year.  I shall start this circle with “One Shining Moment”.

April: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

July: On a random summer day, I think to myself, “I really love the NCAA Tournament.  I can’t wait until next year’s college-basketball season.”

Midnight Madness in October: As I revel in the only time of year with MLB, NFL, and NHL games; I am floored to hear that college-basketball teams have begun practicing.  “Seriously, who cares about college basketball at a time like this???”, I think.

Opening Night of College Basketball in November: A week or two after the World Series has ended, I think to myself, “OK, now I can put all my sports focus on football and the Devils.”  When I hear that the college-basketball season has begun, I think, “I’m not ready for this yet!  Can we push this off a few weeks?”

Next Week or Two: I begin to obsess over making fantasy-playoff runs in my fantasy leagues, how to win my Survivor pool, how the Giants are going to make the playoffs, and which Devils games I will attend.  At no point do I spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Thanksgiving Eve: At a bar or restaurant, I catch a glimpse of either the Preseason NIT or Maui Invitational on TV.  I think to myself, “Oh yeah, it’s time for me to start watching college basketball this season.  Starting now, I am watching every single Gonzaga game!”

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Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.  My mind is simply filled with thoughts of “Fantasy, Giants, Christmas music, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music, Fantasy, Survivor, Mariah Carey needs to cover up her chest at Rockefeller Center, Devils, Survivor, Christmas music.”

Random Date in Mid-December: During a CBS football game, I see a preview of a college-basketball game, complete with the great CBS college-basketball music.  I start to get excited thinking about March Madness.  I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball TODAY.  I can’t just jump onboard a week before the NCAA Tournament”…you know, even though that is what I have done for each of the past 11 seasons.

Next 2-3 Weeks: I do not spend even a second thinking about college basketball.

Random Night in January: I turn on a Rutgers game because Rutgers is either tied or losing by just a few points to a good team.  I am very excited for 2 to 3 minutes before switching to “The Mick” on DVR.  Sidebar: “The Mick” is absolutely hilarious, and I recommend it to all of you.  The only funnier show right now is “Last Man on Earth”, which (double sidebar) is coming back on Sunday!  Anyway, after turning off the Rutgers game, I think to myself, “I really need to start watching college basketball.  If I wait until March to start watching, I will know nothing about these players or teams, and I won’t enjoy the Tournament as much as I usually do!”…even though, for every year since 2007, I have waited until March and have managed to love the crap out of the NCAA Tournament.

Worst Sunday of the Year (aka The Sunday Between the AFC/NFC Championships and the Super Bowl): I wake up in the morning (but not feelin’ like P-Diddy) and think to myself, “How do I fill my NFL void?  I know, I am going to watch college basketball today!”  What do I actually do?  Go running, listen to Elton John music, clear out my DVR, go to the gym, and spend a few hours lying on my couch doing absolutely nothing.

Super Bowl Sunday: As I go to bed after the game, I think to myself, “The Super Bowl is over!  You know what that means – March Madness is right around the corner.  Time for me to start watching college basketball!”

Next 2-3 weeks: I watch one Bucknell (where my brother went to college) basketball game on TV.  By that, I mean that I put 10 minutes of the game on my TV while I am eating dinner, listening to a podcast, and reading a map…all at the same time.  That game aside, I watch no basketball whatsoever.

Two Weeks Before Selection Sunday: I realize that college-basketball conference tournaments are soon to begin.  “Now I will start watching college basketball so that I know what I am talking about when I do my brackets.”

One Week Before Selection Sunday: I go to espn.com’s “Championship Week” page and look at all of the conference-tournament brackets.  I also begin making daily visits to Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology”.  At this point, I have watched zero basketball over the previous week.

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During the Last Week Before Selection Sunday: Hallelujah, I finally start watching some college basketball!  I do not watch for long periods of time, but I do check out at least one college-basketball game each day.  Additionally, I check the college-basketball scores daily to see who is advancing in their college-basketball tournaments.  This is a huge step for a guy who had not deliberately sought out general college-basketball scores at any previous point in the season.

During the Weekend of Selection Sunday: I read many articles about who should be in the Big Dance/who should not/who should be seeded where/etc.

During the Selection Show: I watch/listen in a state of pure euphoria.  “I love this time of year!!!!  March Madness, Thin Mints, and spring weather!  Plus, this year, I feel like I know the teams in the Tournament so much better than I have in any previous seasons.  I am going to dominate my pools this year.”, I think.

Between Selection Sunday and Thursday’s Start of the First Round: I fill out my brackets and read/listen to countless analysts speak about the tournament.  By Thursday, I have heard that every single team in the Dance is somehow a sleeper, a favorite, an underdog, prime to pull off an upset, unlikely to  pull off and upset, underseeded, and overseeded…and has both a very easy path and a very difficult path to the Final Four.  I find myself in many conversations with other people who have also watched roughly 0 hours of college basketball this season.  In these conversations, we lament the fact that Oklahoma has no business being in the Tournament while Oklahoma State stays home.  In years’ past, we have scolded the selection committee for leaving Drexel or St. Mary’s out of the tournament.  We agree that the Selection Committee shows no respect for mid-majors and that Drexel and St. Mary’s are clearly better than two of the at-large teams who have been selected for the Tournament.  We are qualified to make these statements because we watched St. Mary’s upset Villanova in 2010, and we saw Drexel pull off that upset in 1996.

This all makes perfect sense coming from a guy (me) who usually picks Michigan State to outperform its seed (except this year because of karmic reasons) because it did that in 2009 and 2010 and picks Cincinnati to perform worse than its seed just like it always did under Bob Huggins in the 1990s.  Like I said, I know my college basketball.  It was not luck that caused me to pick Loyola-Chicago to go to this year’s Sweet 16.  No, no, no.  It was hours of Loyola game film that someone else watched….and then this watcher wrote an article that said Loyola is really good.  Then, I read that article. Like I said, I know my stuff.

Thursday to Sunday of First Weekend of NCAA Tournament: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!  48 games of college basketball!  I love it, and I hate having to miss even a single game.  I hated missing Bryce Drew’s buzzer beater for Valparaiso against Ole Miss in 1998.  (I was in school in 10th grade at the time.)  I hated missing Loyola-Chicago’s buzzer beater today!  After all, a loyal college-basketball watcher like myself should not have to miss any NCAA Tournament games!

Quick tangent: There are four people who annoy me greatly this weekend:

  • The person who starts out 4-for-4 on Thursday and brags to everyone about it. Congrats, you successfully picked a 3 over a 14, a 6 over an 11, a 2 over a 15, and a 1 over a 16.  Seriously, if you have a standard bracket-scoring system (32 max points per round), the first round can only eliminate you.  Those with 2012 Duke, 2014 Duke, or 2016 Michigan State national-championship brackets know what I mean.  If you went 4-for-4 so far, nobody cares.

 

  • The studio talking head (one of the 7845 employed by CBS/TBS/TNT/TruTV/Nickelodeon/Bravo) who responds to a “12 over 5” upset by saying, “Everyone in America is tearing up their brackets right now.” Um, yeah.  I suppose if you are in a “You win this pool only if you pick a perfect bracket” pool, you are tearing up your bracket.  Otherwise, you can probably withstand that one upset even if you did not pick it.

 

  • The play-by-play announcer who shouts, “IS THERE AN UPSET BREWING HERE IN (FILL IN THE LOCATION HERE)????”, as a 16-seed heads to a timeout with 12 minutes left in the first half holding a 20-15 lead. How many times do we have to see a #1 seed go on a huge run to end the first half or start the second half before we realize the silliness of this announcer’s quote?  Often, a #16 seed can hang with a #1 seed for a little while, but eventually the #1 seed figures out how to neutralize the #16’s strength or takes advantage of its major depth advantage.

 

  •  The announcer/analyst who calls an “11 over 6”, “10 over 7”, “9 over 8” an upset.  Stop it.  In the first round, “12 over 5” is the smallest seed disparity that counts as an upset.

 

Monday to Wednesday of the Following Week: I spend several hours playing with the “Scenario Generator” on my bracket pool’s site to see how many different paths there are to my victory.

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Thursday to Sunday of Weekend #2: I love it!!!!  We get the quantity of 48 games in Weekend #1.  Now, we get the quality of 12 huge games between dominant teams – with a few Cinderellas sprinkled into the mix.

 

Monday to Friday of Next Week: I can’t wait for the Final Four.  I think, “It all comes down to this.  All the hours of college basketball I have watched this season culminate right here. This is my reward. What an incredible ride it has been.”

 

Saturday to Monday of Final Four Weekend: I intently watch all three remaining games.  It is bittersweet though, as I know that, after Monday, I have to wait until mid-November to get to watch college basketball again.

Monday Night: While watching “One Shining Moment”, I think to myself, “I love college basketball!  Next year, I am going to watch a lot of college basketball all year long.”

….and there you have it – my Circle of Madness!

LeBron James Lists Warriors As One of His Potential Teams; Fans of Literally Every Other Team Decide to Start Watching More Baseball

According to Bleacher Report , LeBron James claimed he will listen to offers from the Warriors and Spurs this offseason, as well as the Cavs, Lakers, Heat, and Rockets. His decision to include the Warriors is based off his “respect” for their “winning culture”.

 

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Fans yelling at their phones and TV screens when they hear this
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Fans when it actually happens

Clearly, I don’t think it will ever happen because there’s no shot they would be able to offer him a max deal while keeping Draymond or Klay long-term, but even the thought of LeBron, Curry, and Durant on the same team makes me feel like Owen Wilson.

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All respect for the NBA, LeBron, KD, Curry, Kerr, and anyone else involved with this move, would be lost entirely. However long LeBron chooses to play for in his deal will be followed with the worst years of the NBA in the history of the league. Professional basketball would matter so little, that I might actually consider watching the Ball brothers in Lithuania before I watch the NBA.

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But don’t you think LeBron would have learned his lesson when he went to Heat and got annihilated for joining a “Big Three”? Or when Durant went to Golden State and had to make a fake Twitter account just to boost his self-esteem? Let’s make this clear:

LEBRON, IF YOU GO TO PLAY WITH THE WARRIORS, FANS WILL HATE YOU AND THAT TEAM.

Your journey to “Catching Jordan” will be over because having a team like that around you is basically like using PEDs (maybe not), and any championships you win basically won’t count in the eyes of those that judge you. Nobody can deny you are the most dominant player of this generation, and your stats alone will force people to argue for you as the greatest player of all-time, but doing this will only hurt your legacy. And at this point in your career…that has to be the last thing that means something to you.

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On the bright side, more people will watch baseball, and maybe 2K19 will be a little cheaper.

A List of Things Markelle Fultz’s Shot is Uglier Than

Remember Markelle Fultz? The first overall pick in the draft? Consensus best player in a stacked class? Sure thing, great speed, great vision, great player. Well…this is him now.

Feel old yet?

A few videos have been released of Fultz learning to shoot again, and it is UGLY. With free throws like that, he has potential to be the biggest bust of all-time. He’s still young, and he can still fix it, so I’m not going to be making any assumptions. But, for the time being, I don’t want to let an opportunity for humor slip away. Let’s discuss a few things that Markelle Fultz’s shot is uglier than:

Steve Buscemi

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50 Cent Throwing a Baseball

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Kyle Kuzma’s Outfit Choices

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Jabba the Hutt in his prime

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Kevin Durant Trying to Drink a Beer

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Dennis Rodman (two pictures were required)

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Matt Schaub Pick Six’s

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Ed, Edd, and Eddy in Real Life (Viewer Discretion Advised)

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Moles (both kinds)

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Anyone Who Consciously Hates on Nicolas Cage

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Science…it’s stupid and hard

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Kim Kardashian singing anything, let alone her own song “Jam (Turn It Up)”

Shaq Shooting Free Throws (didn’t know this was ever possible)

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And finally…this

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I’m sure I’m missing something, so comment below if you think there is anything Fultz’s shot is uglier than before he figures out how to be good again.

The Leadership Role of Kyrie Swervin’

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics
Picture Courtesy: Newsweek

After the Celtics saw Gordon Hayward go down in the opening minutes of the first game of the season, it looked very dismal that the Celtics would compete for the first spot in the Eastern Conference with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “Yes, the Celtics will still make the playoffs this season without Hayward, but they’ll be a middle pack team in the East standings,” said many sports analysts. After the Hayward injury in Cleveland, I don’t think anyone in their right minds would have thought the Boston Celtics would be 24-7, first in the East, three months into the NBA season.

How have the Celtics been so successful losing their new superstar that was supposed to be “their missing piece”? Easy,  Kyrie Irving. Although a lot of the hype this early summer had been all about acquiring the shooter in which the Celtics needed bad, in Hayward, it can not be forgotten that Kyrie Irving can straight-up ball. He might have been number 2 to Lebron James, but who wouldn’t be?

Just a few of Irving’s accolades to look at:

-2011-2012 Rookie of the Year

-4x Allstar (’14 MVP)

-2014 “All NBA”

Could he be successful without LeBron James? Throughout the first three months of the NBA season, the answer to this is YES. Although he has missed a few games this season with a facial injury, he is doing legit everything to put his team in a successful place, and giving the Celtics a chance to win every single night he steps on the floor. Kyrie Irving is shooting the ball great this year to start the season. He is averaging 24.3 points and shooting 49.4 %, which is about 5 percent above his career average.

This might be seen as average statistics for an NBA All-Star, but he is putting up these numbers and winning games with a whole new team and cast of players. Within the starting lineup for the Celtics is Jayson Tatum (age 19) and Jaylen Brown (age 21). Irving is really making space for these two, allowing them to get open shots.

We all know Irving has incredible ball handling skills. He is using these skills to give his players space, by opening up the court by his handles and being double teamed throughout games. A great example of this was this past Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets. In this game, Irving had 7 assists. The special thing about this is 5 of these assists were to Celtics big man Aaron Baynes. What NBA Allstar is looking to pass the ball to Aaron Baynes that many times throughout a game? He is really getting his team involved especially the many young guys on the team.

Irving seems to be a mentor on this Boston Celtics team, being one of the older guys at only 25. He is always high-fiving his teammates, coaching and showing a lot of emotion during games. Head Coach Brad Steven’s has noticed the leader Irving has become on this “New Look” Boston Celtics Team.

Video from ESPN

It sure will be fun to witness a series between the Celtics and Cavaliers, if they match up in the upcoming playoffs this March. It is evident that Kyrie wants to prove that he does not only win championships in LeBron’s shadow.