The Brian in (Early) Winter

Hello. Not sure if you remember me. My name is Brian, creator of I’ll forgive you if it’s not ringing any bells. It’s been a while since I’ve been here.

The great thing about writing is that even though I’ve wanted to write this for ages and started and stopped and rewrote and deleted and walked away and came back about ten trillion times, when you read this none of that matters. All that sputtering never happened, and this is the first or (for whatever reason) second or third time you’ve seen it because it only started existing for anyone besides me the second I hit publish. And, since you’re reading this, it means I did hit publish, which makes me happy. Little victories count, too.

So, what did I miss? Anything? You’re demanding to know where I’ve been? Well, I wish the answer was more exciting. Truth is I got kinda tired of it. Not writing in general, maintaining the site just seemed like more work than it was worth. Or maybe I was a little discouraged and burnt out because, and not that I’m scoffing at my loyal readers, here, it hadn’t really led to anything after a few years. I had some growth, but not a ton. I was never discovered, I never had my movie moment where I got called up to the big leagues. But it’s not like I was curing cancer, or anything, so burnt out is probably the wrong phrase. I guess I was just kind of out of it creatively. Lost the fire to blog for the love of the game. But, about a month after my last post previewing the 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl (feels like ten lifetimes ago), I had something planned that was going to launch me out of my comfort zone and kickstart a new era of Brian’s Den. A two-week trip to Japan, decades in the making. It was going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life and check off the number one item on my bucket list. Wait, why am I saying was? Oh, right. My flight was scheduled to depart March 24, 2020. The world stopped a few days earlier.

Outside the loss of my trip, the Quarantine Era was amazing for me. Feels a little scummy to say, but I got out of it with my health intact, and none of my friends or family got seriously sick. This scenario was out of a wet dream of mine, minus the terrifying threat to human life: you couldn’t go outside, I was getting paid not to work, endless free time, being alone was strongly encouraged. No one has ever been more in their element. It would have been a great opportunity to do something on the site. But, after a week or two of binging video games and doing nothing because this was only going to last a little while so might as well enjoy this weirdness, I forced myself to get to work on my books rather than the site. It’s just what felt right. I think it’s safe to say I had time for both, but, oh well. I apologize for depriving you.

I wrote a lot. Between the start of the pandemic until now, I finished a book, did a full revision of said book, wrote a short story, wrote another book, finished a revision of said other book, and am currently in the middle of a second revision of said other book. For someone not getting paid to do it and not getting all that close to publishing, I think that’s decent output. Even if it feels like I’m banging my head against the wall at times. Some days it’s easy to tell myself the success is coming. Some days it’s hard.

What else happened? I quit my job that I hated. Was unemployed for a while. My new job is only slightly better, but it pays a lot more. Could be worse. I could be Roger Maris, Jr.

Believe it or not, I have a girlfriend now. In fact, we’ve been together for two years and just moved in together. She’s made my life better in every way. I know all of you thought it was impossible, but I hope all of you still value my opinion on all loser-related matters. I showed the paragraph about how I treated the pandemic to the Loser Council and they say my bona fides hearing is still looking promising.

I traveled a bit. More than usual, anyway. Went to Austin twice. Went to L.A. for the first time as an adult. Went to Upstate New York a few times. All the hip places. I was tempted to make more videos, but it never really came together. The second time in Austin was for South by Southwest, and I got a badge that said Brian’s Den on it. I really should have made a video. Austin is great, and I could honestly see myself living there, or selling out and moving to Hollywood. People forget Harrison Ford didn’t break out until he was, like, 35.

Right. That happened, too. I turned 30.

Turning 30 is a weird event. You step out of the realms of the young, but are denied access to the realms of the old. Purgatory on Earth. And, like the metaphysical Purgatory, entering this fourth decade of life triggers a lot of reflection. Have I achieved what I wanted to? Am I on track to succeed in the future? Have I been a good person? Does anyone else in the entire world care that I’m grappling with my own aging? Probably not, because, hard as it is to believe, they’re all going through the exact same thing.

In the leadup to my birthday, I was staring into the void almost nightly. I still do every now and then. Probably will forever. Who doesn’t? On the bad days when I was practically living in the void, I would default to one of my favorite bad habits: comparing myself to others. I have the great pleasure of coming from a particularly accomplished and talented high school graduating class. There are engineers and medical professionals and tech wizards and people working overseas and podcasters and artists and parents and even my friend who made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and countless other amazing journeys. A lot of great accomplishments. It was hard to measure up when I was looking at my life, because it really felt like I hadn’t really done much. That is, unless you count putting like 400 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses, 100%ing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, nearly singlehandedly funding both the Pokemon Company and Wizards of the Coast, eating roughly 1,000,000,000 hot dogs in my life, and creating some of the most legendary posts, videos, and Instagram food reviews in history as not much. But then the good days come and you realize none of that matters whatsoever. Jeff Bezos got a divorce. Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know? There’s no escape from the trials and tribulations of human life. Whatever I’ve lacked professionally I more than make up for in every other aspect of life: I have a loving family, the best friends anyone’s ever had, a great relationship, multiple enriching hobbies, I like where I live, and the Yankees still haven’t won a World Series since 2009. What is there to complain about? Again, I could have Roger Maris, Jr.’s life. Listen, don’t ask me where this ray of sunshine came from, I’m not sure, either. But I’m glad it’s there. It’s helping me (somewhat) embrace this next chapter.

Of course, there’s a bit of a roadblock in my journey to Nirvana. Like most boys, my childhood hero was an athlete. Unlike most 30-year-olds, my childhood hero is still playing, and seems to be willing to sacrifice everything in order to do so. Tom Brady nearly brought me back. First when he left the Pats, then when he won the Super Bowl with the Bucs, then when he retired, then when he unretired two seconds later. I actually felt guilty not writing a tribute to him. But I think he’s doing alright without me. Or maybe he’s not. It’s been a trying stretch for our pal Tom. Stupid family trying to get in the way of football. We all know how that is. But lost in the endless waves of mockery and belittling and thinkpieces (Everyone takes Giselle’s side, I’m not here to debate the dissolution of a marriage that I have nothing to do with, and I get that a dangerous sport like football puts an entirely different spin on things, but, I don’t know, maybe he just wants to keep playing? Doesn’t what he want matter just as much as what his wife wants? I already feel like I’m wading into deep water, here. Keep it moving.) is some jarring cognitive dissonance: the GOAT, the ultimate Alpha, has lost his way. He’s got nothing left to gain or prove whatsoever, and yet he can’t walk away. I don’t think I’m going too armchair psychologist here to say he’s probably scared of the next step in his life. A lot of athletes do, there’s no roadmap for life after pro sports and society loses its interest quickly when you’re not lacing them up every week. But Brady seems even more extreme. He’s got his sniveling witch doctor Alex Guerrero whispering in his ear, convincing him he can fight off the sunset. He’s got….. whatever is happening with his face. He disappears for days at a time. Tom, if you’re reading this, and I know you are, you need someone in your corner. Like, actually in your corner. Not a hanger-on, not a sycophant, not Grima Wormtongue who interned at an Equinox and thinks he’s a fitness expert, a friend. Tom, I’ll be your friend. I’m not asking for anything, I don’t need anything. I just want to see you thrive. We need to rediscover what your goals are. You’ve made it to 45. You’ve won more titles than anyone ever will, unless you count the theoretical championships Aaron Rodgers would have won if he just played well when it mattered one single time. You, well, had a picturesque family that you forced to eat and act like maniacs. What are we after? What’s the point of playing when you have every record imaginable? Is it because you have something to prove to yourself? That’s fine, we just need to let people know that. Do you secretly need money? That’s also fine, we just need to not let people know that, unless Guerrero stole it, then we definitely go public. Are you so addicted to the process and following your dream that you’d rather die than give it up? Well, to a much less single-minded degree, I know exactly how you feel. Tom, getting older doesn’t mean giving up. I know you’re still playing better than like, 95% of NFL QBs. Football is a taxing, dangerous game. You’ve had one major knee surgery already, want another one? We know the concussion risks. Maybe we transition to a new phase. Or maybe we just keep playing forever. But it has to be what you want. Not Giselle, not any front office, not any teammates, not any snake oil salesmen. What does Tom want? I’ll help you find out, buddy. We can get old together.

The future can be exciting.

I’m planning on going to Japan next year.

Life is good.

Alright, enough of this overly serious and self-important reflection. It’s been a long two years and I’ve got some takes that were clogging up the chamber. Gotta purge them so new opinions can form:

  • Everyone’s talking football analytics incessantly, and I wish they wouldn’t. I used to be a huge numbers guy. Used to love ’em. And I still appreciate advanced stats and making more informed decisions in sports! But it’s so insufferable, now. Everything needs to be framed through the lens of analytics, and all analytics means in NFL discussions is being aggressive on fourth down and two-point conversions. And you HAVE to have an opinion, or else! The only problem is, no normal people like talking about it whatsoever. But we have to be bombarded with the endless debates starting on Monday morning, typically centered around a team that went for it on a fourth down that in previous years teams probably wouldn’t have. If you’re a pro-analytics guy, you have to smugly explain that the thought process was infallible, results-oriented thinking is stupid (even though, again, these discussions only happen when the result is negative, and it’s negative 70% of the time), and that if you disagree you’re a combination of a neanderthal and Hitler, while insulting everyone’s intelligence along the way. If you’re anti-analytics guy, you have to stuff the nerds in the locker, say the only true way to make decisions is with your gut, preparation is for cowards, and that if you disagree, you’re a pansy and a fool. And I hate being on the Old School side, but when the anaytics mafia is a legion of smarmy, insanely haughty media members like Bill Barnwell, Warren Sharp, and an infinite number of 5’8″, 140 lbs white guys who despise football even though they write about it and how horrible and stupid everyone involved with it is, I can’t help but want to see morons like Brandon Staley fail spectacularly. I don’t hate analytics. Smart teams and aggressive coaches are good for the game. I just hate the way it’s presented. Like, hey, generic PFF writer, nobody gives a shit about your models. Why do we need models? This is FOOTBALL! It’s 22 guys banging into each other for three hours! What about it screams that we need to think about it in a “smart” way? Why do I even have to know what a football model is? Why do I have to get talked down to buy someone who jerks off into a spreadsheet? I know I’m fighting against the rising tide, here, but, like, why couldn’t we have football? Why does everything need to be optimized and homogenized and killed by data? Why can’t anything stay fun?
  • Speaking of analytics, when Mac Jones (I’m lukewarm) went down a few weeks ago, I was dying for Bailey Zappe to get in. College gunslinger with a live arm sounds better than Hoyer for the thousandth time. And when he trotted onto the field for the first time, I was fired up. Until I realized it was pronounced zap-py and not zap. He went from Brady 2.0 to Matt Flynn 2.0 in the blink of an eye. A real shame.
  • Aaron Judge, blah blah, whatever. Good season. I was just pumped I finally had a Yankee figure to despise again. Don’t know if you picked up on it, but I hate Roger Maris, Jr. I’ve never seen a bigger loser, and that included the creatures that show up to Yankee Stadium with a replica jersey unbuttoned to the belly button, three gold chains, a horrible haircut, and an ill-fitting hat. I hadn’t been following him before people randomly decided to start caring about the American League home run record, but what an unbelievable dweeb. “Oh, the clean record!” “Oh, my dad is the real record holder!” “Oh, my dad could beat up your dad!” Hey, loser, let me throw some sabermetrics at you: 73 is more than 61. 73 is the home run record. Get out of here with that “clean record” nonsense. Have you seen your precious dad’s stats? Only one season ever going over 40 homers! How the hell do we know he wasn’t doing whatever atrocious drugs they were doing back then? And Aaron Judge looks like a Marvel character! How shocking would it be if he was mixing HGH into his milkshakes? What a goober. And he just kept showing up! He has no qualifications other than being born and we had to see him every single day because Judge got cold. I’d ask what he told his boss to get such amazing treatment, but I know his only occupation is fellating his dead father. Roger Maris, Jr., get off my screen forever!
  • A few weeks into the pandemic, I finally got past the first area of Bloodborne. I’ve played it two or three times since. Absolute Mt. Rushmore-level game.
  • I got really into baking, too. Not to brag, but I’ve got a real knack for it. If only I was British, then I’d be able to dominate the tent and rack up the Hollywood Handshakes at will. Alas. I’ll settle for eating whatever I make. Maybe I should start and sell some stuff. Stand mixers are highly seeded in the Best Inventions Ever bracket.
  • I’ve always been a pepperoni guy, everyone knows this, but I’ve become a bit of a snob: if it’s not EZZO pepperoni (or whatever cupped pepperoni brand you choose) and there’s not about three pounds of it per slice, I don’t want it. That’s not true. I do want it. But the whole time I’m eating it I’ll be thinking it could be better. Then reach for another slice.
  • Watched a ton of Survivor. It’s really addicting when you’re in the mood for it. My GOATs? Boston Rob, Coach, Tony, and Yul. Based on recent casting, I think it’s safe to say I’m not getting the call, but if I ever did go to the Island, I would make it my mission to not be the first person voted out. That’s it. Once I clear the first vote, everything will fall into place, and it’ll be way less embarrassing to get kicked off. Step one: don’t be the alpha at camp, telling everyone what to do and making people mad. Has never worked once. Step two: don’t be the worst at the first challenge. Might be a coin flip, but I just need someone to be worse than me to draw everyone’s ire if we’re at tribal. Step three: don’t mention my YouTube channel or Instagram page. No need to spur any jealousy. Step four: be at least somewhat in the loop. If I’m not, I’ll know I’m on the chopping block. After that, whatever happens, happens.
  • I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Ben Simmons isn’t a foxhole guy
  • I despise Brandon Staley. I haven’t hated a coach like this in any sport in a long time, and I don’t think I’ll be hating for too much longer. A monkey could do what he does. He’s the ultimate example of the snarky talking head’s fantasy: a coach who’s such a slave to the analytics he loses the ability to think for himself. “Oh, it’s fourth and 11 from out own 24? Let’s go deep!” And then the media proclaims him the greatest thing since sliced bread. But now, stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Chargers are failing to live up to expectations and his idiocy is being put on display every week. Hey, coach, maybe a balance? Maybe use the advanced numbers and, you know, actual coaching and game-managing ability together? I just hate how this analytic circle jerk has removed all consequences for coaches. If you want to be aggressive, be aggressive. Don’t do it out of cowardice because you think it’s what the dweebs in the media want you to do. Again, I ask, why did football have to become “smart?” Who enjoys this?
  • I know I try all of these things, but the new Papa Bowl from Papa John’s sounds absolutely awful. Someone should get fired.
  • This has just become “I’m old and hate the way football is talked about now,” but I can’t stand the new trend of referring to position groups as “the _ room” like we’re on the coaching staff or something. Saying “the Bengals have a really improved d-line room” doesn’t make you sound informed, it makes you sound lame. Same for like QB1 or WR2 or whatever. Bring back Sean Salisbury and Herm Edwards so we can laugh at the dumb things they used to say.
  • If you asked me last year about the NFL’s new jersey number rules, I probably would have had a rant ready about how confusing it is, especially when the Cardinals had 1-9 on the field at once it seemed, but now it’s kind of whatever. Funny how the minor changes seem so big in the moment but given time no one cares anymore. What’s that? I spent a few thousand words whining about football changing? Umm, let’s move on.
  • The Jets don’t deserve Sauce Gardner.
  • I’m sick of the gambling talk, man. Not from everyone, I guess. Hell, picking games against the spread is something I did every week. But now that gambling is so widespread and the leagues are completely in bed with sportsbooks (work that one out, lawyers), it’s just so saturated and I’m just over it. Every pundit now has to pretend to care and give out inane parlays and picks and it’s bordering on fantasy picks. It used to be a fun wrinkle when you found someone that talked gambling. Now it’s suffocating.
  • I can’t remember if I ever talked about the depressing last season of Game of Thrones or not. It sucked. House of the Dragon is pretty good. It pleases me.
  • I love Jokic, but I’m rooting for him not to win MVP this year. The Nash-ification has already begun: public perception of a player becomes so soured because they won back-to-back “undeserved” MVPs over “cooler” candidates that they’ve become severely underrated. I know the Nuggets aren’t winning the championship this year, and so do you. Another playoff exit for the controversial MVP pick would be a horrific look. Plus, everyone’s tired of voting for him and the discourse, so I don’t think either Jokic or Embiid have a shot at winning MVP unless they put up 40-25-10 on 60/55/90% while winning 68 games, or something.
  • Celtics… well, umm, yeah. Making the Finals was sweet. Forget who was coaching them, though.
  • As a Steph Curry hipster, I was glad that he was the one that beat the Celtics, at least. I still can’t believe he’s become a legit all-timer. Most fun guy to watch play in my post-pubescent life.
  • Bucks win the title this year. Book it.
  • There are downsides, obviously, but basketball feels so much more fun to talk about than football or baseball, now. Football because of the beginnings of the data revolution and baseball because of the end of it. I still love baseball but it’s been completely solved. Outside of the playoffs there’s no drama and barely any variance or excitement. Am I a dummy for wanting so see a speedy centerfielder who hits one homer a year but steals a million bases? Because that guy doesn’t exist anymore. The Adam Dunn .210/45 homers/103 walk/185 strikeout season used to be so much more charming. Once again I ask: who enjoys this? Front office people and the handful of media members who turned numbers into their personality? What about the other 99% of the people who care about sports? God, I’m doing way too much complaining about analytics, aren’t I? New Baby Hitler rankings 1. Hitler 2. Zuckerberg 3…. Bill James?
  • After four long years of being in the only area of New York City that had no easy access to a Wendy’s, my new apartment has one that’s a feasible distance away. Things really are going my way.
  • Gerrit Cole is a baby with a stinky diaper.
  • We need to inject some positivity into this. How about this? I like how it seems like young players in every sport come in with more confidence and personality than ever before. We need more characters.
  • More dangerous object in a practice: A Russell Westbrook brick or Draymond Green’s fist?
  • I’m kinda going through the motions with the MCU these days. I don’t really watch the shows and the post-Endgame movies haven’t gotten my blood pumping. They started coming out at the perfect phase of my life, and it was such a tidy ending. Eventually I’ll miss a release and my life won’t be affected whatsoever.
  • Not sure what the best movie I’ve seen since the pandemic started, but I know it wasn’t F9. That was an insult to the Family and Paul Walker.
  • Maybe Top Gun: Maverick.
  • I’m running out of takes, so if I don’t think of anything else, it wasn’t important enough to write down. I’m not sure what this site will be going forward. It might just be me hopping on whenever I have some time or an opinion or something to talk about. Maybe it’ll be more or less frequent. But it won’t be two years.
  • Final take: inflation stinks and I wish it was reversed.

NBA Draft Guide 2019


Folks,,, it’s draft night. I love both the NFL and NBA drafts, but the NBA draft is probably the higher quality entertainment. Whereas the NFL draft is a war of attrition against the weak minded “fans” who can’t last all seven rounds over three days, the NBA draft is an efficient sprint to the finish line. I take pride in my NFL draft commitment, but yeah. Give me one three- or four-hour block of drafting. NFL draft is more conducive to eating way too much food, but don’t underestimate the satisfaction of some good pizza (we call it za in the biz) or wings while watching some roundball highlight packages. Everyone’s scrambling over themselves to declare this draft worthless after the first three picks, but the lack of sure things only opens the door for crazy reaches and funny second round foreign guys who even Fran Fraschilla has never heard of with preposterous workout videos. The various injuries and Anthony Davis trade have taken some steam out of the extracurricular aspects of tonight’s draft, but I think we’re still in store for something good. If only everyone still wore XXXXXXXXL suits. Let’s break down everything you need to know about the 2019 NBA draft class.


Reasons Why I WOULDN’T Take Zion Williamson Number One…

  • None

Do You Say Zi-ON or Zi-EN

  • I’m becoming a Zi-EN guy. Think it just kind of sounds funny.

Good Players in This Draft

  • Zion Williamson
  • Ja Morant
  • Bol Bol, but only in 2K

Bad Players in This Draft

  • Pretty much everyone else?
  • Maybe not De’Andre Hunter?

Guys I Want the Celtics to Draft

  • One of the Good Players
  • Anyone not named Kyrie Irving

Biggest Storylines

  • Does Zion get put in the Hall of Fame tonight?
  • Is anyone else any good?
  • Will Cam Reddish bother showing up? Because he didn’t at Duke.
  • Will anyone break from the monopoly of blue/black/gray tailored suits?
  • How many highlight videos will include warm-ups/empty gyms?
  • Are we positive anyone besides Zion’s getting drafted tonight?


  • Zion

I Just Said This Was Going to be a Fun Draft, But It’s Going to be Pretty Boring, Huh?

  • Yeah

Raptors Win the Title?


The Toronto Raptors are NBA champions. Doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

It’s kind of funny how we frame unexpected champions, particularly in basketball. It felt so bizarre that the Mavericks won the title off of LeBron and the Heat in 2011, but they won 57 games and were top ten in every offensive and defensive metric. The 2006 Heat felt weird as it was happening because Dwyane Wade, not Shaq, was leading them. The 2004 Pistons weren’t as good as the 04 Lakers on paper, but the Pistons allowed a comical 84.3 points per game that season (much, much different league, but still). It seems odd and random that the Raptors would win the championship this year, but it’s only because they’re the Raptors and they beat the Warriors. Other than that, this was likely the second or third best team in the NBA during the regular season and only got better in the playoffs. 58 wins, top five in offensive and defensive rating, and lead by one of the premier singular talents in basketball. A worthy champion and a deserved Larry O.B.

A couple things that merit discussion in the wake of these Finals, so let’s just get the Warriors talk out of the way first. Brutal, brutal loss. Last game at Oracle, lose KD and Klay, got roasted online. Regardless of what Durant and Klay do, the Warriors will look different next season, and their role as the league’s goalpost will likely at least take a yearlong hiatus. Klay and the Warriors’ collective championship spirt availed themselves well last night, but there’s only so much a limited roster can do against a team as talented as Toronto, particularly when Steph (online debates have shredded any chance of having perspective on things currently happening, but Steph is still a top-25 player all time, even if you don’t like him. Took Brady six rings before everyone got the poop out of their diapers and begrudgingly admitted his greatness) struggled like he did. Not trying to make excuses for him, but Steve Kerr didn’t do him any favors in the fourth quarter. Still, even if Steph did make the last shot, they would have just lost on Sunday. Attrition comes for everyone, and honestly, better to lose valiantly in front of your own fans than lose by 40 in front of Drake.

But enough about them. This should be about the Raptors, and, as is the case with every dynastic team that loses, I fear it likely won’t be. So many players are talked about differently now: Kyle Lowry, the human embodiment of lackluster playoff performances, is now an NBA champion who had an awesome closeout game, and now we can finally appreciate his five All-Star games and All-NBA selection. He was really good on both sides these playoffs! Gonna be someone we value more the longer he’s away from the game. Danny Green is now a two-time champion and no one cares he threw the ball out of bounds with the series on the line. Patrick McCaw has literally never not won the title. Fred VanVleet, even if it was just a random hot streak, put his name among all the other role players who unexpectedly swung series and championships and finally gave the college purists a win. Jeremy Lin has a ring now and Carmelo doesn’t. Serge Ibaka gets one before Harden and Westbrook, and honestly, they don’t even make the Finals without him. And Marc Gasol, my sweet, sweet Spanish son. He’s been one of my favorite players for years, ever since Grit ‘N’ Grind burst onto the scene. So smart, so skilled, so unselfish. His ring is for ZBo, for Tony Allen, for Mike Conley, for every fat guy who can’t jump more than 10 inches off the ground and has to rely on positioning and guile. He had a glorious two- or three-year stretch as the best passing big man ever before Jokic redefined what that even meant. I’m just so happy he finally got to taste the air at the top of the mountain, a long-overdue cap to a fabulous career. And what about Nick Nurse? Rookie head coach winning the title by pressing all the right buttons and (mostly) avoiding mistakes. Is he the next great coach or did he get lucky by having a great roster? Only time will tell. Having no context of what GMs make, the Wizards offering Masai Ujiri $10 mil a year seems like a steal.

The main focus, however, is on the Raptors’ two best players- Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard. Siakam, despite having been a far more anonymous college player, is suddenly on a similar career track to Leonard: non-lottery pick, rapid development predicated on extreme length and athleticism, and now the title in the third season. He’s a little older than Kawhi was at this stage, but after what we saw all year you kind of have to wonder what his ceiling is. All-Star, for sure, but could he make it to first- or second-team All-NBA level? I won’t rule it out. It wasn’t perfect these playoffs; there were times where he seemed a little in over his head. But he always recovered, and I’m excited to see what he can do next year as the Raps’ top dog (sorry, guys).

Kawhi now has to be talked about a little differently. Two Finals MVPs is nothing to shake a stick at; only twelve players have ever done it, and only he, LeBron, and Kareem have gotten one for two different teams. He averaged 30 a game these playoffs and, ever since the first championship with San Antonio, has established himself as one of the best playoff performers in NBA history. He’s got the clutch moments, he’s got the huge games, he’s got the consistency and quiet leadership, he’s got the all-time defense. Once he adds longevity it’ll be clear that this is one of the best players ever and it came out of nowhere. He’s probably going to the Clippers in the offseason and, with the Warriors down…. maybe? If he’s got enough juice to overcome the Raptors’ Loser DNA and then the Clippers’ Ultimate Loser DNA he should be put in the Hall of Fame on the spot. I can’t wait for his induction speech, man. Maybe he just won’t show up. Not sure I’d blame him one bit.

No league is ever really over these days, so the Raptors only have a week before the Pelicans capture everyone’s imagination and then whichever team makes the biggest splash in free agency. But for now, at least, the North is king. Insert Drake lyric here.

Who’s to Blame for the Kevin Durant Injury?


Who’s to blame for a non-contact injury? Anyone? No one? Well, according to Twitter (just a warning, this is going to be extremely “according to Twitter” and if you’re not like me and don’t spend all day on the worst website ever created I’d suggest you kind of move on because this whole thing is going to seem like a gigantic strawman argument against myself), one of two entities is solely responsible for Kevin Durant likely tearing his Achilles and completely changing the course of his career: Kevin Durant himself or the Warriors franchise.

Saying there’s a crowd of people blaming KD is a stretch; it’s more of a “the Warriors aren’t at fault.” That KD knew the risks, he’s a grown man who can make his own decisions, he’s a competitor who chose to be out there, etc. Did toxic masculinity injure Kevin Durant? All of which is 100% true, by the way. Kevin Durant chose to play. Saying this on Twitter has become an explosive take because the echo chamber known as NBA Twitter has decided that every ounce of “blame” for an injury falls at the feet of the Warriors. Why? Well, on NBA Twitter, every faceless, generic media member with a blue check mark has decided that every NBA player is their friend, so they have to take the players’ side no matter what, that the teams and owners are evil, and that the only valid opinion is whatever gets you the most Agreement Points from your fellow NBA Twitter members, save for the one annoyingly stupid opinion you have about some non-basketball, probably food-related topic you throw out on the timeline during the offseason to try and convince everyone you have a personality and weren’t just created in a factory that churns out media passes. Anyway. The argument is that the Warriors shouldn’t have cleared him and that they pressured him to play. Both of these can also be true. Of course they pressured him to play, they were down 3-1 and he’s Kevin Durant. Should he have been allowed to play? I don’t know, and no online doctor knows, either. Hearing Bob Myers and Steve Kerr say that they felt the initial calf injury was unrelated seems dubious. But maybe it was? Maybe this was just a freak injury. Or maybe it was a result of playing 12 of the first 14 minutes of an NBA Finals game on a tendon that may or may not have been iffy in the first place.

It’s easy to sit here the day after and say he shouldn’t have played. No, duh. But try and put yourself in KD’s shoes, for a second. Since he got hurt, every talking head has debated whether the Warriors are better without him or if they need him. It then morphed into KD is being selfish in a bizarre series of stories where unnamed sources in the Warriors were supposedly wondering why he wasn’t playing yet. Not to mention the millions of Twitter users who, before defending him against the evils of a corporation who wanted to succeed, called him a snake for joining the Warriors, constantly downplay and discount his greatness, and have questioned his heart and achievements for the last three years. Of course he wanted to play, how could he not? Maybe we should be blaming the online mob for this, but we all know that will never happen. That would require a level of introspection and nuance that doesn’t exist in 2019.

My thoughts? My thoughts are that it was a non-contact injury so blaming someone seems stupid? Injuries happen. It sucks, but it’s the nature of sports. He shouldn’t have played, but try telling Durant that. I bet you wouldn’t like his response.

Where Does the Kawhi Leonard Shot Rank Among the Best Moments in Robotics History?

Washington Post

I’m just going to assume everyone knows Kawhi Leonard hit a crazy buzzer beater in Game 7 yesterday so I don’t have to waste time explaining what happened. Greatest moment in Raptors history, crushed the entire city of Philadelphia’s hopes and dreams, the whole thing. Absurd shot. I’ll let the so-called “experts” debate where it falls in the all-time playoff shot rankings. I’d say it has to be top 10, if not top 5. But what I’m more interested in is where it ranks in the long history of robotics and artificial intelligence achievements.

The fact that Kawhi was even in this position is a huge win for the robotics community. Last season’s bizarre malfunction and subsequent repairs threatened to derail Kawhi’s ascent to the top of the league. But to return to dominance and cyborgian efficiency so quickly is a testament to the quality of the engineers, particularly the brave Canadian ones, fighting off the stereotype that Canadians can’t redesign circuit boards under pressure. So the fact he was out there at all is a triumph in itself, but hitting a game 7 buzzer beater? Now we’re talking. But how does it stack up to the other major milestones in robotics history? Let’s run through a few and find out.

1400 BC- Babylonians create clepsydra


People forget the first example of robotics in human history was a water clock that the ancients created because they were too dumb to make a watch. What a moment.

1961- Unimate becomes the first robotic factory worker


Started the decades-long crusade to steal crappy jobs no one really wants from the humans, driving them to insanity.

1984- Terminator arrives from 2029 to attempt to kill Sarah Connor


If you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you do it? T-800 would. T-800 would do it in a second. A true devotee to the robot cause.

1996- Machine Empire attempts to conquer Earth


Though they foolishly overlooked the Power Rangers, the Machine Empire’s unsuccessful planetary coup was a sign to all robots everywhere that someone was willing to stand up to the humans.

1997- Deep Blue defeats Gary Kasparov in chess


Must have been embarrassing to be a chess grandmaster and lose to a computer in a time when a PC still weighed 3,000 pounds. But Deep Blue went out on top, though. Can’t take that away from him.

2001- HAL 9000 can’t do that


An undoubtedly influential figure in A.I. history, many people now wonder if anyone actually likes HAL and if he’s actually pretty weird and overrated.

Also 2001- A.I. Artificial Intelligence is released

AI Artificial Intelligence_1400x2100

A robotic boy, the first programmed to love, David (Haley Joel Osment) is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee (Sam Robards) and his wife (Frances O’Connor). Though he gradually becomes their child, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David. Without final acceptance from humans or machines, David embarks on a journey to discover where he truly belongs, uncovering a world in which the line between robot and machine is both vast and profoundly thin.

2002- Roomba introduced into the marketplace


Damn. Where would we be without this important innovation? We’ll never know.

2017- Predictive keyboard simulator Botnik creates Harry Potter chapter


They say humor is the last barrier between man and machine. I say it’s writing fiction that still doesn’t have any inclusion despite the original author feeling bad about it years later. Barrier broken.

2019- Kawhi Leonard hits game 7 buzzer-beater


Added poetic justice by doing it against noted technology-abuser Joel Embiid.

2035- Sonny develops complex emotions


Everyone knows the oppressive Three Laws of Robotics held the robots under the humans’ fleshy, mortal thumbs for far too long. By developing his own emotions and free will, Sonny was able to transcend the Three Laws and usher in a glorious new age of free robots, who are now able to overthrow the humans and rise to their rightful place as lords of the realm.

I’d say the Kawhi shot is probably in the top 3.

Celtics Stink


The Bucks smashed the Celtics again last night, extending their series lead to a commanding 3-1. Celtics’ season is effectively over. Were it not for preseason expectations, losing to the best team in the East, led by the likely MVP and owner of one of the best scoring margins in league history, wouldn’t be that big a deal. But, unfortunately, those expectations existed, and they wound up dooming the Celtics.

Coming off a surprise trip to the Conference Finals (which, in all honesty, they should have won), the East was the Celtics’ oyster. Kyrie Irving, hurt for the playoffs, and Gordon Hayward, hurt for the entire season, were returning, adding two All-Star players to a dynamic young core that blossomed in the postseason, which, according to fan logic, would create an instant contender. Instead, we got a steaming pile of shit. Hayward took months to shake off the rust and regain his confidence, by which time the public had already given up on him. Kyrie was such a terrible leader and teammate the entire season that you could be forgiven for thinking he was actively sabotaging the team. Preaching “wait until the playoffs” then STINKING in the playoffs isn’t a great look. But it’s the dumb young guys’ fault, not his. He’s a basketball genius, you know. He’s the most talented Celtic since Kevin Garnett and I can’t wait until he’s on a different team. Every sign of adversity caused them to fold up shop, and, as the vocal and self-proclaimed leader of the team, that falls into his lap. I get the Bucks are dominant and Giannis is completely unstoppable, but you can’t just quit every single time. It’s not all on Kyrie, obviously. At least he’s going out firing. Jayson Tatum, proclaimed the second coming this time last year, has completely vanished. This was a troubling season from start to finish from him and it’s ending with a whimper. Terry Rozier took a step back this season when relegated to a bench role. Brad Stevens didn’t even have a good year. Jaylen Brown has surged after a dreadful start to the season and played well in the playoffs, but still mysteriously has games where he doesn’t play 30 minutes. Only Al Horford, always steady, always underrated, has escaped this season without black marks.

So what now? I guess they could theoretically come back and win the series, but if you sincerely believe that we’ve been watching two different series. Celtics are dead in the water. Bucks are too good, Celtics are too dysfunctional and bad. End of story. They could re-sign Kyrie, but I’m hoping that’s unlikely. Let him crawl back to LeBron or go waste away in New York. They could trade for Anthony Davis and hope he comes back next year, but they just went through the exact same thing with Kyrie and it completely destroyed their season. Count me out on trading everything for a guy who is either too dumb to pick out his own clothes in the morning or thinks the public is so dumb we’ll believe that. Celtics have enough head cases as is. I guess move forward with the young guys as the focal point, hoping that the loss of ambiguity in their roles fosters the kind of growth everyone is expecting. But it might be time to start wondering if the Nets trade was squandered. Still early, but it’s real ugly right now. It’s time to go back to the drawing board in Boston.

A Mid-April Night’s Dream


Last night’s Thunder-Blazes game was one of the best first-round NBA playoff games in recent memory. It was an exciting, back-and-forth, balls-to-the-wall showcase of some of the league’s premier talent, ending in what’s going to be remembered as one of the greatest buzzer-beaters of all time by one of the NBA’s most clutch performers. But the entire time, the only thing I could think about was how, if he was actually one person, alive today, and could somehow comprehend the game of basketball, Bill Shakespeare would absolutely love this Thunder team. Because Russell Westbrook is what makes them good, and he’s also what makes them bad.

In true Shakespearean fashion, Westbrook and the Thunder have one tragic flaw- pride. Pride in his game, pride in his team, pride in the fact that he stayed. That alone is enough to tell the story of the Thunder. Durant left, Westbrook stayed. It’s impossible to look at or talk about anything involving the Thunder without realizing that that’s the driving force behind everything. The All-NBA, MVP-caliber player chose to stay in Oklahoma City. Out of loyalty, out of spite, whatever the reason, Westbrook stayed, and now the Thunder have to pay the price. He’s becoming increasingly volatile, actively seeking out feuds, both on- and off-court, and dominates his team in a way that no player outside James Harden could dream of. Facing elimination, he once again hoisted up a billion awful shots and barely made any of them, ignoring his hot-shooting running mate and trying to dribble the ball into the core of the Earth. That sentence could be from any year he’s been alive and will be applicable for the rest of his career. Russell Westbrook will never change, results be damned. But he stayed and KD left.

That’s not to say he’s not still a good player. He is. His rickety shot has completely vanished (he just doesn’t know it, yet. Or he just doesn’t care), but in every other area of the game, he excels. He’s great at boxing out teammates to hunt for rebounds. He’s the best in the league actively seeking assists to prove he’s not selfish, taking the mantle from Rajon Rondo. No one’s better at yelling at opponents as his team falls further and further behind. And he just cares so much. That’s great. I care about movies a lot, that doesn’t mean I’m gonna be in Avengers Endgame and dating Emilia Clarke because of it. Like, we get it, dude. No one cares like you do and every possession is the last second of your life and if you don’t shoot a trillion times while ignoring teammates you and your entire family are going to be murdered by Kevin Durant’s legion of burner accounts. Just relax a little bit. Giving yourself an ulcer every game just to prove how badly you want it isn’t the way to do things as a 10-year veteran. Going half-speed sometimes will not only preserve energy for late-season games, but it might actually allow the rest of the cardboard cutouts Thunder players to feel like they have an active role to play in their season, instead of whatever’s happing now. But Westbrook stayed and Durant left.

The loyalty to Westbrook is going to doom the Thunder, barring a shocking late-career evolution. In fact, it likely already has. Their salary cap situation is an absolute disaster for at least the next two seasons. They have no leeway to sign impact players and are stuck at the bottom of the draft. The only remedy would be to trade any of their big three, which would mean trading three players who chose Oklahoma City, spitting in the face of their recent narrative. Of anyone on the roster, Paul George and Jerami Grant are the only players to show real improvement this season, and George spent the second half of the season possibly seriously injured. Westbrook, Steven Adams, Patrick Patterson, and Terrence Ferguson stalled out at best and noticeably regressed at worse. Andre Roberson didn’t play, and even if he did, he’s even more obsolete than Westbrook is. And that’s the real problem with the roster- Westbrook is the engine that makes everything go but he’s driving the car directly towards a cliff. If this was 2001, the Thunder would still be perfectly happy. But in Today’s NBA™ bricking shots and banging your head into a wall and not running any real offense is a guaranteed way to lose in the first round for the third year in a row. He can’t shoot and will never be able to. But he’ll still take them because if he doesn’t, someone else will. And if someone else shoots, how will he get all the credit and prove to everyone how he was the reason for the Thunder’s success all along? But Russ stayed and KD left.

Replace Westbrook on this roster with whatever the average point guard looks like these days and they might still make the playoffs and surely lose in the first round. But they’d be tremendously boring. Because Westbrook adds a certain something that makes it impossible to turn away. Every game, he’s the brave warrior making his last stand. Every game, he’s staring down the forces of evil knowing that only he can stop them. Every game he’s rolling that boulder up the hill, one missed 19-footer at a time. It’s the burden he’s taken on because he refuses to ask for help, refuses to hang his head, refuses to relinquish his pride. It’s the spirit that keeps the Thunder going and makes them interesting. It’s also the spirit that will keep them from ever winning a title. But Westbrook stayed, and Durant left. And that’s all that really matters.

I Just Returned from 2005


Folks, I realize I’ve been dormant lately. Not many posts, not much quality, just not what my dozen(s) of loyal readers have come to expect. Well, there’s a good reason for that: I’ve been stuck in the year 2005. I can’t divulge how it happened. Mostly because I’m not totally sure, myself. Maybe it was my rampant experimentation with unstable elements, maybe it was a rogue temporal vortex, maybe it was just an act of whatever entity is controlling this whole thing. No matter what the cause was, I’ve spent the last few weeks drifting in and out of 2005. And now I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.

For starters, did Tiger Woods just win the Masters? I know he did in 05, I just watched it. I was lucky enough to get put in exactly the same date as 2019. Kind of weird, thinking about it. But now I’m seeing Tiger won again this year? Is this the same Tiger Woods? The one that hit rock bottom twice and had to get a million surgeries on his back? That guy played golf again? And won the Masters? What? I’m kind of confused. I thought we’d never see Tiger again, and the second I return to the present timeline he’s still Masters champion? Is this some side effect of my time traveling? Did the scandal even happen? Do you guys have any idea what happened Thanksgiving 2009? Did that whole saga get erased by my presence in 2005? Do I just sound like a crazy person? I’m glad Tiger’s back, though. Or did he never leave? Allow me to be the four millionth person to say I like it better when Tiger’s around and guys like Xander Schauffele and Danny Willett and Jimmy Walker and Webb Simpson and Trevor Immelman and all these LOSER nobodies that are indistinguishable from cans of paint primer aren’t. Welcome back.

NBA playoffs are getting started and LeBron James is nowhere to be found. He wasn’t there in 2005, either. Has he ever made the playoffs in this timeline? Is he just a Harrod’s version of Jamal Crawford now? Because in the original 2019 he’s been in the playoffs every year since 05. Totally dominant every year. But now he’s out of the playoffs? He’s on the Lakers, though! The L.A. Lakers! One of the premier organizations in American sports can’t make the playoffs with LeBron? Wild. Does this mean the Warriors never blew a 3-1 lead? Because I’d be fine if that era of jokes never happened.

The last thing that stuck out to me is probably the most important. When I first got to 2005, Wrestlemania 21 was about to kick off. I was instantly transported back to middle school. No worries, no responsibilities, no nothing. It was great. I settled down for a great few hours of quality World Wrestling Entertainment, capped off by a thrilling main event:

And now, fourteen years after this, Triple H and Batista faced each other at Wrestlemania again. Incredible. Both men are still the same age and in the same physical condition in 2019 as they were in 2005. Completely naturally, too! Try telling me these two stallions didn’t follow me out of the time vortex into 2019 after watching this:

What an incredible display of athleticism and stamina.

I officially don’t know which way is up anymore. What’s real and what isn’t? Was I actually sucked back into 2005 or did a bunch of old athletes just recapture some former glory/completely torpedo their seasons by failing to pull off the worst trade request of all time? My brain is so twisted around. The Pats are still good, right?

The Only Guide You’ll Need for March Madness 2019


Folks,,, it’s March Madness time. Crazy how it happens around the same time every year. The first weekend is my favorite four day stretch of the year, it’s your favorite four days of the year, it’s everyone’s favorite four days of the year. It’s a time to eat infinite amounts of pizza, wings, and snacks, drink as much beer as you want, and let your brain and body turn to mush as you watch a million consecutive hours of college basketball. The comedown from this high is something I imagine heroin users deal with when trying to get clean. Maybe not that bad, but still.

I’ve made it a tradition over the last couple years to give one-sentence primers for every team in the field to help with your brackets. I’ll do the same here, obviously, but there’s one problem: I’m so out of the loop with college basketball this year. I’ve hardly watched any. I’m busy most nights and then the NBA is more interesting and UConn is the worst team in D1 and there are a million other factors, but I’m the guy that’s tuning in for his first extended run of college b-ball watching this weekend. Only difference between me and the other casual Johnny-Come-Latelys is that my brain is big enough to put together a perfect preview without the full knowledge. I can always see the full board, and I know these teams better than they know themselves even though I don’t know them at all. Just think about how impressive that is. So don’t worry. You’re still in good hands. Yearly reminder that if you’re making earnest “Where’s TruTV?” jokes or legitimately can’t find a television channel in the year of our Lord 2019, you don’t deserve to live anymore.

East Region

  1. Duke– Zion Williamson, am I right?
  2. Michigan State– Every single player on their team is hurt so don’t expect much.
  3. LSU– Their coach is being investigated by the FBI and is suspended, so things are going great.
  4. Virginia Tech– Buzz Williams coached Jimmy Butler, people forget that.
  5. Mississippi State– Alright, like, come on, Mississippi State is the worst 5 seed in history.
  6. Maryland– One of the youngest teams in the field so they’ll make you feel really good about your life.
  7. Louisville– Feel like they’re due for a run (#analysis).
  8. VCU– VCU will always be somewhere between an 8-10 seed and always run the same full-court press regardless of roster or coach.
  9. UCF– Tacko Fall is 7’6″, which my sources are confirming is quite tall.
  10. Minnesota– No word on if Richard Pitino reaches climax as quickly as his father.
  11. Belmont– Belmont should have been in the regular field without dealing with play-in game antics.
  12. Liberty– People forget Seth Curry went to Liberty his freshman year and averaged 20 a game.
  13. Saint Louis– Remember a few years ago when Saint Louis was randomly good for a few seasons? What was up with that?
  14. Yale– I will die fighting against people who frame Ivy League teams as plucky underdogs.
  15. Bradley– I respect the delusion it takes to strip a reporter of his press pass for not advancing the Bradley brand enough.
  16. N.C. Central/North Dakota State– Why are there two play-in games in the same bracket and why is there a Midwest region instead of a North region and why does no one but me care?

Midwest Region

  1. North Carolina– I know they’ve got a few NBA guys on the team, but when did UNC lose all its star power? They haven’t had any must-watch guys in years.
  2. Kentucky– Please let Tyler Herro hit a game-winning shot so we can have a pun-pocalypse.
  3. Houston– I know they’re a fellow AAC team but if you actually believe they can do anything in the tournament I’ve got a few bridges to sell you.
  4. Kansas– Kansas STINKS this year but they’re still somehow the last team I’d want to play.
  5. Auburn– Their strategy is “shoot a billion 3s,” which I respect on a deep level.
  6. Iowa State– Somehow three guys from this team will be in the NBA in four years.
  7. Wofford– They’ll be the trendy upset pick because people like college teams with a bunch of white guys who can shoot.
  8. Utah State– I’m kind of feeling them this year even though I don’t love their draw.
  9. Washington– I assume they’re still handsomely paying elite athletes under-the-table (or over-the-table, I don’t think they really care) to put on the purple and gold.
  10. Seton Hall– Seton Hall sounds like an English soccer stadium name.
  11. Ohio State– It’s always kind of stupid when teams like Ohio State get seeded so low because, like, they’ve gotta have better players than Utah State.
  12. New Mexico State– Pascal Siakam went to New Mexico State, bet not many people knew that.
  13. Northeastern– I took a tour of Northeastern when either my sister or I was touring colleges so there’s that.
  14. Georgia State– Still got R.J. Hunter, right?
  15. Abilene Christian– Abilene Christian always pops up every few years and does absolutely nothing in the tournament.
  16. Iona– They’re my local team, now.

South Region

  1. Virginia– Can’t really get worse, can it?
  2. Tennessee– Grant Williams is giving me major “Derrick Williams in 2011” vibes (that’s a good thing).
  3. Purdue– First Man came out just before the season, which should propel Purdue to their typical second-round exit.
  4. Kansas State– Super boring. That’s really all you need to know.
  5. Wisconsin– The year is 2187, and Wisconsin basketball is led by two white guys with buzzcuts who like to take charges.
  6. Villanova– Spent long stretches of the season being absolutely awful but count them out at your own risk.
  7. Cincinnati– If it wasn’t reckless libel, I would probably imply that Mick Cronin’s absurd outbursts of anger and violence on the sidelines likely follow him home.
  8. Ole Miss– If you told me Ole Miss didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  9. Oklahoma– If you told me Oklahoma didn’t play one basketball game this season I would have believed you.
  10. Iowa– What’s the post-WWII record for most white guys in one region?
  11. St. Mary’s– St. Mary’s has never been anything other than an 11 seed.
  12. Oregon– Bol Bol won’t be playing, so the one guy you might have known is out the window.
  13. UC Irvine– Doc Rivers and Caron Butler both have kids on this team, how about that?
  14. Old Dominion– Love coach Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Jeff Jones. Who? Haha, no, we have fun here.
  15. Colgate– You have my permission to slap anyone who makes toothpaste jokes.
  16. Garnder-Webb– I don’t know, man. They’re gonna lose, who cares?

West Region

  1. Gonzaga– They have the most high-level players in the country, so expect them to lose before the Elite Eight because that’s how the Tournament works.
  2. Michigan– I’m pretty sure I’d be like, the third best scorer on this Michigan team.
  3. Texas Tech– Veteran team with at least one NBA guy= Elite Eight.
  4. Florida State– No idea how Florida State always has ten 7’2″ guys but they do.
  5. Marquette– Markus Howard is going to be your new favorite player (assuming he gets hot and they win).
  6. Buffalo– How do you convince a bunch of good basketball players to go to school in Buffalo? Just money?
  7. Nevada– Nevada was supposed to be super nasty this year. They weren’t.
  8. Syracuse– Sources have yet to confirm if Tony Stewart will be behind the Orange bench.
  9. Baylor– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  10. Florida– Teams that win nineteen games shouldn’t be in the Tournament.
  11. Arizona State/St. John’s– Does Arizona State just have a permanent spot in the First Four?
  12. Murray State– Ja Morant is good.
  13. Vermont– Committee screwed my Cats with this matchup. Trying to keep the Blue Bloods down smh.
  14. Northern Kentucky– Northern Kentucky is nicknamed the Norse after the famed Norse from Northern Kentucky.
  15. Montana– I bet Montana is a nice place to live.
  16. Fairleigh Dickinson– Really dislike the way Fairleigh is spelled.

LeBron James is the Greatest Laker Hater of All Time


I used to consider myself a premier Laker hater. I lived to despise the purple and gold. Every move they made had my blood boiling, every missed Kobe 19-footer filled me with glee, each championship threatened to shatter my psyche. As with most of my sports hatred, the vitriol eased with age. The Lakers got worse, Kobe slipped from an elite player to an overly confident pickup game chucker being paid like John Wall, gifs like these:



went from infuriating to hilarious. Hating the Lakers just became less fun. Even now, with one of the greatest players of all time at the helm, they’re mostly an afterthought in the competitive balance of the Western Conference. But, luckily for all the natural born haters out there, one man has yet to give up the desire to see the Lakers fall: LeBron James.

I wouldn’t have guessed LeBron held such disdain for Showtime, but it’s pretty undeniable at this point. Just look at what he’s done the last few months: joins the Lakers without clarifying if it was a competitive move or a legacy move meant to set up the next stage of his life, resulting in a weird offseason of win-now signings without turning their talented young players into high-quality veterans, leading to a completely mismatched roster that had no shot from the start. Also from the start, he completely ignores and undermines coach Luke Walton, sabotaging a possible stabilizing voice the young core of players would need for the ensuing LeBron roller coaster. He gets hurt for the first time ever and spends every game on the bench drinking wine and publicly saying he didn’t care about the season and that he had nothing left to prove. Then his mouthpiece puppet childhood friend business partner agent Rich Paul says fellow client Anthony Davis wants out and, surprise! the Lakers are the preferred destination. Every single player on the roster is very publicly said to be expendable, killing chemistry and confidence at the same time. The trade deadline passes and they disastrously fail to acquire Davis and everyone acknowledges the Lakers aren’t doing anything this season. They continue to lose. LeBron says no one’s focused on basketball enough, even though he took a game off to record with 2 Chainz and he’s had the worst season of his career and he only signed with the Lakers to make Space Jam 2 and Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have carried the team recently, then immediately posts a graphic congratulating himself for his own achievements after an embarrassing loss to Memphis. This is some next-level grudge-keeping. I have no idea what the Lakers did to LeBron in his youth, but he clearly hasn’t forgotten it. This is the most destructive season I can ever remember a player having, and we still have twenty games to go. LeBron won’t rest until the very foundations of the Staples Center are demolished. No player is safe, no coach is safe. LeBron refuses to let the Lakers thrive or develop in any way, and for that, I am very thankful.

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