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Reel Robinson

A ball player that enjoys watching and discussing the game.

Getting Ready for March Madness

Every year, March Madness brings a fresh set of expectations and excitement with its promising players and bracket filled to burst. Here’s what to expect from this year’s tournament.

Superstar era

We have entered the era of the “superstar,” many of the heralded programs across the country have found themselves falling victim to the one-and-done culture in basketball, resulting in an overwhelming number of 19-year old young men prematurely jumping from college to the NBA.

This rule, constituted by the National Basketball Association in 2005, by then-Commissioner David Stern, has continued to be a controversial topic among amateur and professional sports enthusiast. This rule has created a dynamic where the best players simply attend college for one season of basketball in an effort to reach the NBA as quickly as possible. With this rule, we have seen coaches like John Calipari of Kentucky thrive off the notion that he can provide players with the most competitive platform to prepare them for long careers in basketball and hopefully NBA success.

It has helped create a number of millionaires, but at what expense? Many of our college institutions are losing their best talent to the NBA on a one-year lease program dictated by the NBA. The college system has begun to lose its luster as players are seeing their peers forego college to make millions playing the game they love. It unconsciously pits student-athletes who may be borderline or have little chance to reach professional status against those who choose to lease their talent to the college for a singular year.

It also places the college in a moral position to dictate who and how someone will pursue their professional aspirations. This can be problematic if these institutions are more concerned with their bottom line than preparing their student base for success post-college. These are some of the many wrinkles that this rule has fostered, and we have reached a point in history where basketball will eventually dictate the overall ideology of amateur sports across the country. The demand and popularity of basketball will supersede its need for organizations that choose to profit off of players and the culture of basketball but do little to enhance the lives of the people they are exploiting along the way.

Why this is relevant?

NCAA basketball/March Madness is an American past time and offers us a first glance at some of our favorite athletes. March Madness alone has helped countless young men and women transform their families financial, economic and sociological circumstances. This year is no different. We have reached the tipping point of the one and done culture.

The results have left us wondering if it is actually beneficial to the NBA, NCAA or the player themselves. Forcing an athlete to participate in collegiate sports is unnecessary and simply goes against any other industry in the world. No other profession forces you to be good at everything else but the thing you are good at. Sports are big business and the athletes who participate in it should be a major piece in the revenue distribution on all levels.

Experience trumps talent

The most glaring difference in the one and done era is that the talent has not produced a high level of winning. Outside of John Calipari Kentucky team led by now, NBA All-star Anthony Davis in 2011, the one and done athlete has routinely fallen short in the big games including the tournament. It has allowed for the older players to showcase their experience over the youthful talent which has resulted in nearly 80 percent of the NCAA Champions since 2005 to be led by seniors and upperclassman including Villanova who has won two of the last three NCAA Championships with older more experienced rosters.

March Madness 2019

With all of that being said, this season has provided us with some of the best one and done talent we have seen in a long time. The popularity of R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish at Duke strongly resembles Michigan’s Fab Five of the early 90s. Players like Mac McClung of Georgetown, Bol Bol of Oregon are names who have been built through their high school campaigns. Many of these names have larger followings than many third tier NBA players. This is a unique problem that the NCAA must deal with as the growth of social media starts to dictate who is or is not a great athlete.

Coach Krzyzewski of Duke has long lamented the idea of one and done players usually only keeping one or two on his active rosters. That was until this year, he has the top three prospects in the country playing together. They are all studs and plan to enter the draft this summer. They are basically the face of college basketball right now and will be throughout the remainder of the season.

Sleeper teams to watch

In a field of 65, the NCAA tournament provides a dream-like platform for aspiring basketball players. This year we will have an influx of small to mid-major colleges and universities making their name throughout the country. There are five teams I have been paying close attention to that may not be on most analyst radar but could make some noise come tournament time.

Memphis Tigers

Memphis is finally starting to shake out of their short lull since John Calipari took his coaching and recruiting greatness to Kentucky. Although they stumbled out of the gate to a 5-4 start you can tell they are starting to get comfortable with the pace and style of college basketball. They hired former NBA All-Star and Memphis basketball legend Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway this past offseason. This alone has brought the energy back to Memphis basketball, and once they figure out how to compete on a consistent level, they could be a team to reckon with come tournament time.

Arizona State Sun Devils

After starting out the season hot, Arizona State looks to take their early success for a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. They are a veteran team with only four freshmen. Their experience could make them a solid sleeper team to deal with coming out of the PAC 12. The PAC 12 may not be as elite as it normally is, so this is a great season for ASU to make their push.

Houston Cougars

Early season wins against Oregon, Oklahoma State and LSU has put Houston in the top 25. The Cougars have proven they are for real. Their 8-0 start puts them in a great position to surprise a lot of teams when the tournament arrives and in a first-place position in the American Conference.

Furman Paladins

After defeating the defending National Champions in #8 Villanova, Furman has been as confident on the court as you can be. Lead by junior Jordan Lyons they are positioning themselves for a sweet Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament this year. This is another example of experience playing a big factor in this one and done culture.

Nevada Wolf Pack

Nevada has come out of the gate on fire, knocking off Arizona State and winning at USC. They are led by returning senior forward Caleb Martin who averages 18 points per game and five rebounds adding to his great junior campaign last season. With only two freshmen on the roster, this is another veteran team poised to make a big run late in the season.

Now that we have discussed some teams that may surprise us this season, let us go into some more detail about the teams that are no surprise but are legitimate contenders for an NCAA National title.

Championship Contenders

Duke Blue Devils

As I said earlier, this powerhouse program is led by the top three prospects in the country. One of which is already being compared to LeBron James (Zion Williamson) and he isn’t even the best player on the team (R.J. Barrett). They also have a solid freshman point guard in Tre Jones who was also highly rated in High School and spent most of his time recruiting his current teammates. With R.J. Barrett running the show and Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson as the perfect pieces on his side, the Blue Devils look extremely dangerous. The only concern is the experience level, but if these boys continue to play at the level they started the season at, they will definitely have a deep run in the tournament.

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee has a storied basketball program and has routinely been in a position to be successful in the tournament. It hasn’t necessarily turned out to bring them championships, but this season feels a little different. After a close loss to No. 1 overall Kansas Jay Hawks, the Volunteers bounced back to defeat the No. 2 Gonzaga in a thriller. They are a team to reckon with coming out of the SEC. The SEC has five teams ranked in the top 25 including Kentucky, Auburn and Mississippi State. This provides Tennessee with great competition and no excuse to make a push for SEC Title and a deep NCAA tournament run.

Michigan Wolverines

After the embarrassing loss to Villanova in the National Title game last season, Michigan has come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They have already defeated three top 20 teams including a 73-46 beat down against the defending Champions Villanova in their home gym. Michigan is looking like a team poised to cut down nets this year; their only obstacle may be playing Duke or Kansas before the Final Four or Title game.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga has been a staple in the NCAA tournament for seemingly two-decades now. They are looking like a team that is talented enough to beat anyone. After taking down the juggernaut Duke Blue Devils early in the season, they showed they can compete in big games and chaotic atmospheres with the best of the best. Gonzaga has done a rare thing and turned a yearly Cinderella story to a perennial basketball powerhouse program.

Kansas Jay Hawks

Kansas Coach Bill Self is one of the best coaches in the country and has shown a level of consistency only rivaled by a few of his contemporaries. Once again, he has put together a powerhouse team who despite losing some of their key guys to the NBA still is good enough to cut down the nets in March. Kansas is led by junior forward, and Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson, who is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Jay Hawks so far.

These five teams could interchange with each other all season but should prepare us for a special and competitive NCAA tournament in March. We have big name players and big-name programs to go with a large group of smaller colleges and universities who are looking to make a name for their program as well. The demand for great basketball is at an all-time high, and I look forward to watching it play out this year.

See also: Top 25 Men’s NCAA basketball teams have been announced


The Relevancy of BlacKkKlansman

The Spike Lee-directed, Jordan Peele-produced summer movie BlacKkKlansman was everything you can imagine from the title. A story based on real events has hit the movie world to surprising success. Making over $10 million dollars in sales on its opening weekend, it also received countless standing ovations at festivals, including the theater I saw the movie in. The in-depth story of the first black officer in Colorado Springs quickly transitions into a sting operation, where the same officer successfully infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. Set in the 70s, the story is littered with racial bias and nuances of the time period. Strong racial language made the story a bit heavy at times but to see a glimpse of the neo-Nazi ideology unfold will serve as a beacon for truth for many years. Let me explain why.

BlacKkKlansman is not some righteous portrayal of a cop doing good for his people but simply an accidental operation that turned out to land on the morally right side of history. It is more of a detailed manifestation of the undertones of white nationalism and white supremacy. It is distinct and precise in its approach to gain access into the world of the “Organization” better known as the KKK.

Spike Lee showcases his directorial genius by creating a film that almost reminds you of a self-serving KKK documentary than a counter-operative mission against them. He slowly takes the audience through the underworking of hatred and how it is derived through the use of “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” while displaying the glaring differences between “white power” and “black power”. The movie starred John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, and Adam Driver as Flip, who becomes the white version of Ron Stallworth when the KKK asks to meet him in person. The interesting dynamic is that Flip is a Jewish man who has never acknowledged his heritage. The film is a peculiar depiction of a black man, Stallworth, discovering himself alongside a Jewish man, Flip, who is discovering his own religious and political ideology as he fights through the racial discomfort in the presence of neo-Nazi’s, who believe the Holocaust was a hoax.

This film was not made for black folks to stand and clap at the end. This movie was made for white Americans who seem to align themselves with hateful rhetoric, purposely or not. This movie is more about the group of white cops who allowed this black man to infiltrate and thwart the radical ways of the KKK chapter in Colorado Springs. Spike Lee uses smart and seemingly clear-cut references that make you feel as if the story could happen at this very moment in time. This was displayed most effectively in a scene with storied activist/philanthropist Harry Belafonte sitting in the famous bamboo chair that Huey Newton of the Black Panthers sat in, telling a story to the Black Student Union. In this scene, Belafonte recounts a story about Jesse Washington, a black man who was lynched in 1916. This story sets a tone for the climax of the film and offers some insight on how black America has dealt with oppression and violence throughout the century.

Why is BlacKkKlansman so relevant?

This movie is relevant because it is eerily relatable to the political climate of today. President Donald Trump’s lack of empathy and disregard for human life has stirred racial feelings similar to the timeframe of this film. It comes on the one-year memorial of the death of Heather Heyer, who was murdered last year at the Unite the Right Neo-Nazi March in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is detailed before the closing credits. This unimaginable hatred still exists in our country and BlacKkKlansman doesn’t shy away from that point at all.

Spike Lee has publically spoken out against the president and he isn’t reluctant in dealing with that in the dialogue of the movie. He was able to drop subtle lines that make you think and at times cringe. Overall, the film is great and full of small details worth exploring on your own. The biggest take away I got from the film is that it was a black man articulating the story of the KKK. In a world full of cultural appropriation, it was a clear-cut thorn to the side of the KKK and as a black man, I appreciated every moment of it. I do want to give a legitimate shoutout to That 70s Show star, Topher Grace, who played a young David Duke, Head Master of the KKK. The cast who played the Neo-Nazi organization was phenomenal and really made the movie as real as they can make it.

What we learned

If we only learn one thing from the film, it’s is that in order to fight hatred and racism we need to work together. It can’t be the hated fighting the hateful while the undecided sit on the sidelines. Those that are not on the side of hate should put their lives and careers on the line as we do to eradicate these hateful ideologies from our American society. BlacKkKlansman will go down as one of Spike Lee’s most important films.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman- 4.5 out 5 stars

Further reading: Bo Burnham on Eighth Grade

Boston Celtics

Why Should the Boston Celtics Be Disappointed If They Do Not Win an NBA Title next Season?

For most franchises, reaching the Eastern Conference finals in consecutive years would be a great accomplishment. This is not necessarily the case for the Boston Celtics. The storied franchise is littered with Eastern conference and NBA titles, so just merely making it to the series means absolutely nothing. I know last year they were missing their two franchise players and were being led through the playoffs by two second year players and a rookie. Although, their success throughout the playoffs may have surprised a lot of fans they really only won one road game the entire playoffs and had a chance to send LeBron James home early for the first time in nearly a decade on their home court and laid an egg. Shooting horrendously from the three point line, and making youthful mistakes down the stretch, offered the young team an opportunity to play for an NBA title.

Fast forward to the summer, they have been able to resign a key player, Marcus Smart, who literally represents everything the franchise has become. Smart’s gritty, hard-working attitude reflects the very nature of the organization; he has proven to be one of those players who needs little attention like the stars but impacts the game like one. Boston is positioned to bring back two All NBA performers to their starting lineup in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward as well as the rest of the cast, Al Horford, Jalen Brown and last years’ rookie sensation Jayson Tatum. The bench will be one of the best in the league with Scary Terry Rozier, Smart, Marcus Morris, and Semi Ojeleye and newly drafted big man Robert Williams from Texas A&M.

Boston should be salivating at the opportunity of pursuing an NBA title, now that LeBron James has left the eastern conference for at least four years. The doors have gone through Cleveland and Miami for nearly a decade and now the pickings are ripe for a young but competitive Boston Celtics basketball team, led by a former NBA champion in Irving. This will be a legacy-defining season for Kyrie, with this strong cast of players; he should be able to lead his team to the next level. As long as they can stay healthy, Boston has no excuses for not making it to the NBA Finals out of the lackluster Eastern Conference.

Who will be in their way?

The Boston Celtics may only have two or three teams that can match up with them in a seven game series next season. The closest competition will be the youthful Philadelphia 76ers, who have a tandem in Joel Embid and ROY Ben Simmons that are poised to cause havoc on the east for many years to come. The Sixers will be significantly better after the success they saw last season. They will have more late-game experience, which was a major issue in the playoffs and they will have two players who can dominate a game playing side-by-side. The Boston Celtics may avoid them until the conference finals which will give them the advantage once again if they have home court. The only other teams that may give the Celtics a run for their money are the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks. Both of these teams will improve greatly with the exit of LeBron James. They both have top players in the conference, Milwaukee has a potential of adding another all-star in Khris Middleton and a rookie selection in Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, a sharpshooter that adds another element to the roster.  The Pacers, on the other hand, would have been a problem last season without the heroics of King James. They picked up a healthy Tyreke Evans to add to their stout core. They will most likely see the largest growth next season than any other team. They are young and hungry with Miles Turner, Victor Oladipo, Evans, Corey Joseph, and young big man Domontas Sabonis. These are ideal compliments to their veterans of Thad Young and Darren Collison. I expect them to be much better but still a game or 2 short of a deep playoff run.

If Boston can keep their defense a consistent piece of their arsenal, I expect them to represent the East in the NBA Finals. Gordon Hayward will win comeback player of the year at the ESPY’s and Kyrie will either win or be runner-up for NBA MVP.  So this is why Boston Celtics fans should be disappointed if they do not win an NBA Title next season.

  1. They have the length and depth to compete and beat the Golden State Warriors.
  2. LeBron James is no longer in their way
  3. They have the best bench in basketball and arguably the best starting line-up
  4. They have a top-5 point guard in Kyrie Irving
  5. Their young players will have 1 more year of experience

Do you think Boston Celtics will reach the NBA Finals? If so leave a comment and let me know why I am wrong!

Further reading: Top 5 NBA Point Guards to Take Leap Forward During the 2018/19 Season

Point Guard

Top 5 NBA Point Guards to Take Leap Forward During the 2018/19 Season

The age of the point guard has extended much longer than I expected it would. As the game sped up over the last five to 10 years or so, the NBA has been a lightning rod for top-tier point guards. Point guard is the hardest position to make a lasting career in any sport because of the size disadvantage that normally occurs. The odds a great point guard won’t make an NBA team is extremely high. The competition at the position hails some of the most dynamic players in the NBA for example, Stephan Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damien Lillard are all big name point guards who lead their teams. This era has produced some of the best to play the position, if you are looking at stat lines, impact on the game and consistency.

The point guard position has been revolutionized and has opened the game to a more exciting pace but with less focus on the mental aspect of the sport. Players can shoot from 30 feet but make mental mistakes more often than those in past eras. The result of the changing game has created a demand for longer more versatile playmakers. We are seeing the flood-gates open with 6’7 (and above!) guys dealing with the bulk of the ball-handling and playmaking for their team. Although a shift is happening, the need for a dynamic point guard will always be vital to winning basketball games. In the NBA today, without a top-tier point guard at the helm, your chances of sustaining success is very slim (unless you have LeBron James). So that being said, I believe we will see a generational shift this coming NBA season. The young point guards will take their rightful place in the NBA landscape forcing the respected ones to tighten up or they will soon be replaced. Here are my top five point guards to look out for in 2018-2019.

  1. Spencer Dinwiddie. The Brooklyn Nets found themselves a jewel in Dinwiddie. Poised enough to make late-game shots and has shown the ability to be a top-tier playmaker. Dinwiddie improved his overall game, stretching the floor with his 3pt shot, averaging 12 points and 6 assist with his team’s best scorers and playmakers sidelined with injury all year long, gives me the impression he is on a growth incline that will only get better now that he will have his backcourt buddy Diangelo Russell back next season.
  2. Jamal Murray. Murray is coming into the 18-19 NBA Season coming off a great season. Although his nuggets failed to make the playoffs, with the additions of Isiah Thomas and rookie sensation Michael Porter Jr. Murray will have the weapons around him to become a star in this league. The Western conference is tough every night but Murray has shown an uncanny ability to compete against the league’s best and with his athleticism and scoring ability on a fast-paced offensive team, he will have his best season yet, finally pushing the Denver Nuggets into the playoffs.
  3. Dennis Schroder. Schroder is a starter on most NBA rosters. He is a quick and effective guard who competes with the best on a night-to-night basis. Leaving Atlanta may turn out to be the biggest blessing he could receive. One season behind Russell Westbrook (and in some cases side-by-side) should take his game to the next level. He is only 24 and will become the best backup point guard in the league the first game of the season. His style really fits OKC and may have them playing deep in the playoffs if the chemistry fits.
  4. Elfrid Payton. The Louisiana native has an opportunity to return to where it all started, playing with the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans after losing Rajon Rondo are looking for a long and intelligent playmaker to take over at the point guard position. Payton is a stout defender. The Pelicans backcourt will be tough on the defensive end; Payton brings a different scoring threat to the table than Rondo as well. He will be able to thrive as the third or fourth option on the team making the Pelicans deeper and younger at the same time. I expect his assist per game to rise from a decent six per game to eight/ nine per game, many coming from lobs to Anthony Davis and Julius Randle.
  5. Kyrie Irving. I know this one may come as a surprise since Irving is a legit star in the league. That being said, the 2018-2019 season will be one of the biggest for the legacy of Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving. He is coming off a great season that ended short because of a knee injury. He is surrounded by arguably the best supporting cast in the NBA. LeBron James has left the Eastern Conference, many naming Irving the best player left in the East. All of this, and let us not forget his team was about five minutes away from making it to the NBA finals with him sitting in a dentist office or something of that nature. This is his chance to solidify his legend post-LeBron. He will be an MVP candidate and the Boston Celtics will be the team that dethrones the juggernaut Golden State Warriors. Yes, I said it, a healthy Irving and gang will defeat the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Do you agree with my list? Tell me some sleeper point guards we should be looking out for this up-coming NBA season.

Further reading: LeBron James in Limbo

NFL Playoffs

Down to Eight: NFL Playoffs Are Here

Although I’ve been one of the many people taking a break from the NFL during the season, I figured I would get my NFL fix during the playoffs. After a long season full of controversy and political implications, we have finally reached the coveted NFL playoffs where all the commotion can die down and we can focus on the best teams in the league competing for the ultimate prize: an NFL Superbowl Championship. The wildcard games were everything we thought they were going to be but the divisional round looks to be a clash of young, up-and-coming talent with three of the games’ greatest quarterbacks to ever lace up their cleats. Let’s break down the games and I will give my predictions at the end.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Atlanta comes into this game off of an impressive victory over the L.A. Rams in Los Angeles. The Falcons who have found their stride over the last several weeks of football are looking to bounce back after last season’s collapse against the New England Patriots in the SuperBowl. Their balanced attack gives them the edge as well as the experience of Matt Ryan, who also has the elite wide receiver, Julio Jones as a safety net to lean on in tough times. Philly is coming in without their starting quarterback Carson Wentz and despite having a pretty dominant season, missing a talent like Wentz versus a team looking to redeem themselves seems like a tall order for the Eagles. With the injury, they will start Nick Foles at quarterback to go with the rest of their attack during the NFL playoffs. If Foles can limit the turnovers and manage the game against Philadelphia’s defense and strong running attack, they can keep it competitive. But in the end, I believe the experience and tenacity of the Falcons will overcome the Eagles on the road, propelling them back to the conference championship for the second year in a row. Final Score, Falcons 31- Eagles 17.

New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota has been one of the most consistent teams all season. Case Keenum took over for Teddy Bridgewater after his injured players Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater and has not missed a step. Their 13-3 record offered them around one bye and an NFC North championship. They take on the hungry and multifaceted New Orleans Saints who defeated Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in their wild-card matchup with a masterful performance by their legendary QB, Drew Brees. Despite being one of the most potent running attacks in the league this season, it took a Brees effort to lift them over the Panthers at home. If they can get any help from their running game against the Vikings in that cold weather, then they can pull off the upset during the NFL playoffs. It is hard for me to pick Keenum over Brees in any fashion, so I won’t here either. Saints upset the Vikings with a big game by Mark Ingram and that saints offense. Final Score: Saints 34- Vikings 24.

Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots

QB Marcus Mariotta leads his rugged Titans unit up against the defending champions during the NFL playoffs with arguably the best quarterback and coach in the history of the sport looking to cement their legendary status with another NFL championship. Mariotta comes into the divisional round after leading his team to a 22-21 comeback victory over AFC foes the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card game. Hoping to continue his success, he will need to play a turnover-free and explosive game in order for his titans to have any chance of completing the upset on the road in Foxboro Stadium. The conditions will be cold and the atmosphere of the NFL playoffs will be unlike any the young Mariotta has ever experienced, but if he wants to start putting his name in the hierarchy of active NFL quarterbacks, this is his best opportunity—an opportunity the entire Titans organization should be waiting for. With all that being said, New England will come out the victors setting up a Championship game versus either the tough defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars or their biggest AFC rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Final Score, Titans 17- Pats 28.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh has been waiting for an opportunity to play the Jaguars again after getting pummeled early in the season by this tough Jacksonville defense. They forced Roethlisberger the Steelers Championship winning QB into five interceptions and overall his worst professional game of his career. Ben Roethlisberger played so bad that he was quoted after the game questioning his own abilities and whether he still had the hunger to play professional football. Since that loss, the Steelers have won 10 out of 11 games, their only loss coming off the heels of one the most controversial no-catch calls in recent history against the New England Patriots in week 14. They will get a healthy Antonio Brown back for the divisional game which will make the game that much easier for Big Ben. If Jacksonville can keep the game ugly and their defense can keep them in it, then they have a puncher’s chance. But ultimately it comes down to quarterback play and Blake Bortles will have trouble against the Steeler defense while Big Ben is prime to bounce back from that performance in week five of the NFL playoffs. Pittsburgh battles to advance for their long-awaited rematch with the New England Patriots. Final Score, Jags 9- Pitt 24.

These are my divisional round picks, who do you have to advance to the AFC and NFC Championship games? Let me know in the comments.

Further reading: Dear College Football: Stop Playing Playoff Games on New Year’s Eve

Kobe’s last game marked the passing of a torch

The NBA torch has officially been passed

Kobe’s last game was this past week, and it marked the passing of a torch. The final week of NBA basketball has traditionally been one of those weeks where most teams have solidified their playoff berths and are starting to rest players for the long run to a championship. This year was a bit different. Several teams have been pursuing regular season goals that has upped the energy for the final week tremendously. The Golden State Warriors who have been above and beyond the best team in the NBA all season have been pursuing the 72-10 regular season record held by the 95-96 Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. After losing 2 random home games just a week and a half ago, they had to win the final 4 games to break the record and 3 of 4 to tie. They took on the Spurs in their record tying game, who were also playing to make history. The Spurs were undefeated at home up until their lost to the Warriors this past weekend. The Spurs tied one of the great Boston Celtics teams with the best home record in league history at 39-1.

Last night was not just about team records. Stephan Curry, perennial MVP of this season was chasing 400 3 point shots made which is a record he already owns but he has destroyed this season. A Warriors team that has made more than 1000 3 pointers as a unit. It has been a remarkable season and for them to go out with big win at home to take the coveted record of 73-9 is all but fitting. In doing so, the Warriors prepare to finish the job in the playoffs and take home the franchises 3rd NBA championship and back to back. I am someone who thinks they have no real choice but to repeat as championships to solidify their legendary status as a team. They have been the mark of consistency all season long and I look forward to watch Curry, Thompson and Green lead the way through the playoffs. They have been the most entertaining team since the Miami Heat Big Three a few years ago.

Kobe leaves like only the Mamba can

Kobe “Bean” Bryant played his last game as a professional last night as well. He took his lack luster Lakers team up against the playoff hungry Utah Jazz in front of a sold out crowd, with all eyes on him and he did not disappoint. He put up every shot he could and all of sudden he started to look like vintage “Mamba” knocking down 3-point bucket after 3-point bucket. The game was pretty entertaining with the Jazz playing for a birth in the playoffs. The Jazz led most of the way even having a 11-point lead with a little over 9 minutes to go in the game. Kobe proceeds to take over the game and do what he has done for 20 years now and that is kill his opponent. He ended the night with 60 points shooting 22-45 from the field. Not only did he score 20 points in the last 9 minutes he propelled the Lakers over the Jazz 101-96 knocking the Jazz out of the playoffs, making room for the Houston Rockets to sneak in and take the 8th seed. 

What did the final night of Kobe reveal about the NBA?

Last night was a culmination of one of the most entertaining seasons in NBA history. The parody across the league has grown to the most competitive level it has been in a long time. The Eastern conference has bounced back to be the better conference after so many seasons lamenting behind the competitive west with teams who were barely having above .500 records but still making the playoffs. This year the tables have turned, the Western conference has the only below .500 team in the playoffs, the Houston Rockets, who have been disappointing to say the least. Now that being said, Kobe’s performance last night gave the Rockets a wonderful opportunity to forget about their struggling season, and an opportunity to avenge their Conference championship defeat from last season. They take on the Golden State Warriors who have their sites on another championship, so James Harden will have to do his best Kobe impersonation if he wants to get his team to the 2nd round, or even keeping them from being swept would be an accomplishment. I don’t think they have a chance but I have been wrong many times before, anything is possible in this game. Kobe single-handedly saved Harden and Howard from a long summer of scrutiny. Not to say it still won’t exist after this first round match-up but it will be postponed to see if they have the ability to pull it together when the games really count.  Harden has been playing at the top of his game as of late but Dwight Howard has seemingly disappeared so this could be the opportunity for the big man to reclaim his throne as best center in the NBA. (Although, highly unlikely) I will be doing my Playoff preview later this week. How did you enjoy Kobe’s final game? Do you think the Golden State Warriors of today would defeat the 95-96 Chicago Bulls? Leave a comment and let me know. 

Connor McGregor and Holly Holm took L’s at UFC 196

UFC Champs fell together this past weekend at UFC 196

We watched champs fall together at UFC 196, when Connor McGregor and Holly Holm took L’s. This past weekend, Holly Holm and After a year where we had to put up with the bravado of fighters in UFC, despite their records not reflecting this confidence we finally come to a place where those claims can fall to the waist side. UFC has been fighting for attention, looking to take its rightful place in the hierarchy of the fighting business. The retirement of Floyd Mayweather after September’s bout against Andre Berto was not just a jolt of energy for boxing hopefuls who look to claim that #1 spot but it also ended a run in which the best fighter in the world was never in question. This goes for all fighting styles. UFC has been positioning Connor McGregor to be heir to the Mayweather throne since early 2014 and it seems his track record has made it an easy transition. He has a similar bravado as Mayweather, only thing he is missing is an unblemished record in his respective sport. McGregor came into Saturday Night’s fight against talented Nate Diaz (19-10) on a 15 fight winning streak in which he won his last fight convincingly in 13 seconds over former champion Jose Aldo. This seemed to be a chance to notch another victory in his legacy.

Although the fight was a bit unorthodox to begin with, Diaz had only 11 days of preparation for this fight due to McGregor’s original opponent Rafael dos Anjos withdrawing due to a broken foot. Diaz stepped up to the plate on short notice to take on the champion and from the beginning had confidence in the fact that he could beat him. If you go by all of the media, McGregor who uses his bravado well to intimidate his opponents, took on the challenge from Diaz despite the evident difference in size. McGregor had to climb two weight classes to match Diaz who fights normally at 170lbs. This turned out to be a major advantage for the veteran. McGregor dominated most of the 2 rounds but an underestimation of the size difference could have been his down fall. His ability to knock opponents out has been his strength, especially when delivering his overhand left. Diaz was able to take those shots in the 1st round and bounce back to adjust. Connor looked to find comfort with his ability to make Diaz miss until he didn’t miss. Late in the 2nd round Diaz dazed McGregor with a straight right hand and from there he took to the offensive. Knocking the champ back forcing him to go for a takedown, which ultimately lead to his defeat. After McGregor initiated his take down, the tables quickly turned and Diaz was able to put McGregor in swift yet stern guillotine hold that forced the champ to turn his back and from there Diaz initiated a rear-naked choke causing McGregor to tap out in a matter of seconds. Just like that a new champ was crowned.

There is nothing more satisfying then seeing someone who talks as much as McGregor go down in defeat. Although, I am not a fan, I respect McGregor for his ability to take a loss in the manner that he did and bounce up with no issue. He took on a fight he had little time to scout and he did what he normally does by bruising his opponents face remarkably despite his difference in size and power. McGregor is scheduled to fight in UFC 200 in July to defend his 145lb belt. There has yet to be an opponent announced for that battle.

Holly Holm takes the L just 4 months after claiming Bantamweight title

Holly Holm defended her Bantamweight Title against savvy veteran Miesha Tate (18-5) who came in to Saturday’s bout after previously considering retirement due to being looked over by UFC with a fight with Rousey. The fight was extremely competitive and it went down to the wire. Holm had her way by staying away from the grapple expertise of Tate most of the fight. In the final round, Tate was able to get a hold of Holm placing a strong rear-naked chokehold that she couldn’t bear. Holm fought for some time throwing punches as Tate held on tightly but to no avail as she lost consciousness losing with 90 seconds left in the fight. This sets up a potential headliner between Tate and Rousey. Ronda Rousey has previously defeated Tate 2 times from arm bar submissions and would be returning back to action after taking her first lost just last year. I look forward to more UFC fights that actually live up to the hype as these two did. What did you think of UFC 196? Did the losses by two champions hurt or help the sport as it goes forward? Leave a comment and let me know.

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The Damian Lillard Portland Trailblazer’s show has begun

NBA Pointguard, Damian Lillard, is rising up as a star

The Damian Lillard Portland Traiblazer’s show has officially begun. I know, I know it is the Stephan Curry show in the NBA this season but when it comes to point guards there has been some amazing performances elsewhere throughout the season. Curry’s unimaginable performances seem to have trumped the guard heavy league and in some cases rightfully so but Damian Lillard is a name that deserves recognition. I have spoken about him throughout the season but his performance in February makes for a perfect opportunity to express just how good he has been all season long. After a 2nd All Star snub in a row Lillard has been on a mission to prove his status as a top 5 pg in the league. He has all the intangibles to be one of the greats and with continued success and the leadership he displays, he possesses everything that is needed to surpass Curry in the next few years, that is if the Trail Blazers can put enough around him to help.

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After losing 3 of his go-to players to other teams, Lillard has taken on a brunt of the workload on his own shoulders. He does have help with emerging star CJ McCollum out of Lehigh who has come into his own as one of the deadliest isolation players in the game. Damian Lillard is the 5th best scorer in the league and 7th in assist this season. He has been able to increase his scoring to 25 points a game from 21 ppg just last season. Despite losing Lamarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews he has been able to keep his Trail Blazer team in contention in the West this season. Their 32-28 record keeps them in the playoffs battling with Houston, Dallas and Utah for those final 3 slots. Unlike those other teams, they are on the incline at this point in the season. Watching the NBA so called best during All Star weekend from his home must have gave him some motivation.

Let’s talk February

Lillard has been one of the best players since the All Star break averaging 30 points and 8 assist which includes a 51-point performance against the Golden State Warriors. Curry was honored with the February Player of the Month for his outstanding performances and multiple game winning shots the last 3 weeks but Damian has pulled his struggling team out of the depths of failure in his process. The Trail Blazers are far from the most talented team in the league unlike the Warriors so the pressure for near perfect play is put on the shoulders of Lillard on a night to night basis. He has stepped up to the challenge. The Trail Blazers are 8-2 in their last 10 and are putting pressure on the rest of the West as they climb up the playoff tree.

Making an argument for best back court in the league

Damian Lillard is slowly becoming one of the most productive players in Portland franchise history. He has been one of the best point guards in the league since the moment he stepped on a NBA court. Winning rookie of year by a long shot in 2012, he has continued to grow as a player every year. Adding more points and more assist every season and now with the help of McCollum, they look to be attempting to claim the position of the best back court in the league. Now, with that being said, he has some work to do. While his numbers reflect an elite player, his team’s lack luster start has him sitting behind some of the more successful back courts in the league. If I had the rate them, it would go Golden State, Toronto and then Portland unless Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are healthy for Chicago. As these two ballers mature since Lillard is only 25 years old and CJ McCollum is only 24 they have the ability to surpass everyone if they stay on this trajectory. I look forward to seeing them work and how far Damian Lillard can take his game. What do you think about Lillard’s season so far? Tell me what you think in the comments.

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Super Bowl 50 Recap

Broncos win Super Bowl 50 despite a mediocre performance by Peyton Manning

So Super Bowl 50 went down in Santa Clara, California Sunday evening and once again a defensive minded team took control. The Broncos came into the game against a 15-1 Carolina Panthers team who had dominated the first half of each of their two previous playoff games and looked prime to bring home the organizations first Super Bowl win in just their 2nd appearance. Although the game was a bit underwhelming overall, the story line of the newly named MVP and soon to be face of the NFL, Cam Newton versus the savvy veteran Peyton Manning looking to write the ending to his own prestigious legacy stood out. A matchup that really wouldn’t unfold as both defenses put on great shows and proved they were the real engines to both of teams.

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Peyton just doing enough

Peyton Manning came into this game off of a season where he sat the bench for the first time since his old college days. Not knowing if he would have another opportunity to win a title unfolded into may be the legends final 60 minutes on a football field. He didn’t have a legendary game by any means, he simply did enough to keep the Broncos in good position. The defense caused a fumble and touchdown on the recovery on the first drive of the game and from their held the Panthers to only 1 touchdown. Peyton had an opportunity to play with the lead allowing him to play conservative enough to withstand the constant pressure the stout defense of the Panthers presented. Manning had a pedestrian day with 141 passing yards off of 13-23 passes and 1 interception while being sacked 6 times as well.

Not to take anything away from his accomplishment but he was pretty lucky that the Panthers came out sluggish and looked as if the moment had gotten a bit too big for them. Carolina committed uncharacteristic turnovers (caused by an elite Broncos Defense) and the offensive line who has been one of the best all season met their match. Von Miller and Demarcus Ware put pressure on Cam all day long leading the D with 4.5 of the 7 sacks on Newton. Von Miller would go on to win MVP adding 6 tackles to go with his 2.5 sacks and 1 of those forced fumbles on Cam. The most important asset for the Broncos goes to the kicker Brandon McManus who was responsible for 10 of the teams 24 points.

Carolina folded under the Broncos pressure

Cam Newton came into Sunday a day from winning the NFL MVP award for the first time and solidifying himself into super stardom. He played a safe conservative game in Super Bowl 50 but his patience seems to have bit him in the butt as the Broncos defense constantly put him on the turf. You could see the frustration as Panthers receivers dropped a number of his passes and the running backs struggled to gain any positive yards. The defense was put in tough field position most of the night but they still managed to keep the Broncos out of the end zone for most of the game limiting them to field goals. Cam over threw a few passes in the first half but seem to get in a groove in the 2nd but every time it seemed the Panthers would gain moment they turned the ball over. Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton fumbled twice. Cam numbers wise were pretty decent 265 on 18-43 passes. He had a lot of success running the ball in the 1st half but seem to shy away from running in the 2nd. From my perspective he wanted to show us how much of a pocket quarterback he was and it did not play to his favor. He was a sitting duck in a constant collapsing pocket.

Carolina missed an opportunity to sketch their names into history. I still believe they were the better team but Sunday Denver came ready to play. They made very few mistakes and took advantage of the Panthers when the opportunity presented itself. Congratulations to the Broncos.

Let’s talk legacy

The legacy of Peyton Manning won’t be defined by this performance at all. It has been somewhat over shadowed by the Cam Newton press conference and other news already and it is only a few days old. Manning will go down as one of the best to ever do it and it is only fitting that he stood on that stage one last time with the Lombardi trophy in hand. He didn’t necessarily say his good byes but some of those throws had some indication hanging on them, trust me. The new era of athletes is among us and Cam Newton, Josh Norman, Luke Kuechly are leading the Panthers with a style of football that can easily get them back to the championship next year. As one career comes to a story book close another one is starting on his upward climb to superstardom. How did you enjoy Super Bowl 50? Tell me what you think in the comments.

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NBA All-Stars released: Who made the cut and who got the Snub

NBA All-Star weekend 2016 is approaching

Since the NBA All Stars got released, let’s figure out who made the cut and who got the snub. The mid way point of the NBA season is approaching quickly and the coveted NBA All-Star weekend is all everyone can talk about. The NBA recently released the reserves for the Western and Eastern conference and some familiar names were left off. I don’t know if it is a nod to the incredible depth of talent that the league holds or their need to build brands for the future. I understand it is hard to decide on the crème of the crop in the confines of a twelve-man roster. I wanted to take the time to name a few honorable mentions that you won’t have the opportunity of seeing at this year’s NBA All-Star Game.

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Who made the Cut?

One thing I did notice was the fans vote no longer has an emphasis on position and having the traditional starting 5 during NBA All-Star weekend 2016. Both teams starting lineups are littered with guards that excite the crowd, although most of the starters deserve their position from what they have been able to do on the court this season. Besides Kobe (I thought I’d never say that) everyone has had great seasons and deserve to be out there. Kobe deserves to be there too because if it is his last go at it why not take on the league’s best to usher in this new generation. That’s another story line in itself.

It is good to see players like Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green be rewarded for their outstanding play. These players have been significant reasons for the success of their organizations and should be rewarded with their first NBA All-Star appearances. It has to be difficult choosing 24 of the best players in the league when you have a league full of amazing talent. Here are your lineups.

Western Conference Starters

Kobe Bryant

Steph Curry

Kevin Durant

Russell Westbrook

Kawhi Leonard


LaMarcus Aldridge, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green (led in votes), Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Chris Paul.

Eastern Conference Starters

Paul George

LeBron James

Kyle Lowry

Dwayne Wade

Carmelo Anthony


Andre Drummond (led in votes), Isiah Thomas, Chris Bosh, Jimmy Butler, John Wall, Demar Derozen and Paul Milsap.

They may have gotten snubbed but they still get the job done

Don’t get me wrong all of the players selected are great in their own right but there are some noticeable names missing from the lineups. The snubs this season could be related to the generational shift or just lack of production from familiar faces but some deserve some notoriety for their seasons so far. The most noticeable missing face is Blake Griffin, who despite injury (caused by lack of judgement) would otherwise be a lock on the Western conference team. So if he didn’t suffer his injury who on the list would he replace? That is another conversation.

In the west, there are a few other names I would consider snubs even if their teams were not as good as some of the players who made the list. Damien Lilliard (who was also left out last year), the point guard and leader for the Portland Trailblazers is averaging 24 points and 7 assist while shooting 42% from the field is the biggest name to not make the cut. Lilliards production has increased with the loss of Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum who all have moved on to new organizations. Although, the Trailblazers are struggling to get wins he has been one of the more solid players all season and deserves to be on the court with the best. Others honorable mentions for NBA All-Stars would be Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Rajon Rondo who is leading the league in assist once again. I wish the two veterans could go out like Kobe but Duncan has the team around him that may push for another NBA title this season and Kobe has the Lakers.

Eastern Conference snubs that deserve a mention

Over in the east, were a few guys who did not make the cut who are having strong seasons as well. Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat leads the league in Blocks with 3.9 per game, he is 2nd in Field Goal percentage and 5th in Rebounds. His overall production has been a big reason the Miami Heat have been able to stay competitive in the tough eastern conference this year. Pau Gasol is another familiar face that did not make the cut this season. Averaging his typical double double in a conference that lacks production with players of size he got the snub leading the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference. A few other snubs would be Nicolas Batum, Al Horford and Kemba Walker who are all having tremendous seasons themselves.

The biggest names not mentioned in the East are two of the three-headed monster from the defending Eastern conference champions the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Irving who missed the bulk of the early part of the season with an injury to his kneecap he suffered in the NBA Finals last year is an understandable snub but Love may have an argument to make. Love may be having a down year to his standards, but his 16 points and 10 rebounds have put the Cleveland Cavaliers in the driver seat once again to challenge the Golden State Warriors for league supremacy. I think wins are important aspect in All-Star voting unless it is a clear-cut player who has dominated but team has underperformed. In those cases, the best players should play in the game.

An NBA All-Star snub doesn’t make or break your career but it does make you think what all goes on in to deciding the best of the best. Some of these names deserve to be there and some have good numbers but in the end star status plays a role who people want to see on NBA All-Star 2016 Sunday. I look forward to seeing this year’s game and cheering on Andre Drummond of my Detroit Pistons. What do you think about the NBA All-Star line up, do you think any of the snubs deserve to take a place on the official NBA All-Star 2016 roster? Leave a comment and let me know. 

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