King Slayer

For 24 hours, my hatred for the Lakers was renewed. LeBron James left Cleveland and signed with Los Angeles. No matter what your specific list of top 10 professional basketball players entails around half of them have been on the Lakers at some point in their careers1)Imagine you had a time machine allowing you to field a team of the Lakers’ all time greats at their peak powers. Here is what my starting lineup would be: PG-Magic Johnson, SG-Jerry West, SF-Elgin Baylor, PF-LeBron James, C-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I am not sure if those are the 5 best individual Lakers, but it is the best team possible if only to have Kobe and Wilt coming off the bench. Both of them would be playing with chips on their shoulders, and we would get to see Wilt get 40 assists and Kobe score 80 points every game.. The rich get richer.

But then DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors. The greatest team in the NBA signed another All-Star, and they got him for the veteran minimum. Next year Golden State will be better than a superteam made out of the best players from the entire Eastern Conference. The NBA is fundamentally broken right now. We might as well award the Larry O’Brien Trophy right now, and Golden State’s dominance shows no signs of letting up. Continue reading King Slayer

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Imagine you had a time machine allowing you to field a team of the Lakers’ all time greats at their peak powers. Here is what my starting lineup would be: PG-Magic Johnson, SG-Jerry West, SF-Elgin Baylor, PF-LeBron James, C-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I am not sure if those are the 5 best individual Lakers, but it is the best team possible if only to have Kobe and Wilt coming off the bench. Both of them would be playing with chips on their shoulders, and we would get to see Wilt get 40 assists and Kobe score 80 points every game.

My Worst World Cup Losses

Soccer is usually only a passing interest of mine. I will catch a Premier League match if I am up early on the weekend or a Champions League one if I have a random day off in the middle of the week. However, soccer is not an obsession of mine like college football or professional basketball.

Except when the World Cup comes around. Every four years my social life gets put on hold as I try to catch every game. I will quickly form passionate opinions on players like Neymar and Mo Salah. I will support a team based solely on how good their uniforms look.

As an immigrant from the UK, football is in my blood, and I am forced to support both the England and USA international teams. Yet my love for the World Cup is more than genetic; several reasons make it the world’s greatest sporting competition: Continue reading My Worst World Cup Losses

Rockets/Warriors: Infinity War

Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War follow.

Sometimes I like to feel depressed. After a long day at work, I will listen to the Smiths, watch a sad episode of Scrubs, or remember that Donald Trump is president. Embracing your inner darkness feels good from time to time.

This summer I have been able to add a new piece of media to my list of depressing works of art: Avengers: Infinity War. I have already seen the movie multiple times, and despite (or perhaps because of) its heartbreaking ending, I have already fallen in love with it. Sometimes the bad memories have the largest impact on us.

The other event of the summer for me was the Western Conference Finals. All year, I have looked forward to Rockets-Warriors. Now that it is over, it too can join my list of depressing things to torture myself with. Multiple moments and lines from Avengers: Infinity War remind me of this NBA series. Let’s take a look back at how Rockets-Warriors 2018 went down. But first, let’s ask, Which Avenger is each Rocket? Continue reading Rockets/Warriors: Infinity War

The Possible Letdown of LeBron Going to Philadelphia

The NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals have been a huge letdown. Philadelphia has barely avoid getting swept by a Celtics team missing their two best players. And after a difficult first round, LeBron and his team of nobodies have demolished the Raptors. Neither the Celtics nor the Cavaliers deserve to play in the NBA Finals, but one of them is almost certain to make it.

LeBron knows his team is bad. The Cavs have been a flawed team both before and after the trade deadline. At times during the regular season, LeBron James looked listless and rightfully so when you look at whom he is playing with. The situation has not improved in the playoffs. Kevin Love, JR Smith, and Tristan Thompson have had at most two or three good games apiece during the first two series, and everyone else on the roster has been completely forgettable. Continue reading The Possible Letdown of LeBron Going to Philadelphia

The Only NBA Playoff Series That Matters

The Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in ’94 and ’95. However, those titles will always carry with them an asterisk: They won them during Michael Jordan’s first retirement1)Technically, Jordan came back during the ’94-’95 season, but he would not return to his GOAT level until the following year.. People look down on those championships because Hakeem Olajuwon did not have to beat Jordan to earn them.

As a Rockets fan, I say this argument is bullshit. Injuries, retirements, and bad luck are inherent factors every season. The best teams and players often do not face off against one another. The Lakers still won in ’09 even though Kobe vs. Lebron never happened. Back in the 90’s, The Rockets were the best team in the NBA two years in a row, and nothing should diminish that.

But deep down, even I know that is not true. Those Rockets championships do have a little tarnish on them. The Dream never got to play MJ in the Finals. Continue reading The Only NBA Playoff Series That Matters

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Technically, Jordan came back during the ’94-’95 season, but he would not return to his GOAT level until the following year.

UCF Are Not National Champions

Last Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl. The media is portraying this as the first time Philadelphia’s beleaguered franchise has reached the league summit, but that is not true. Before the AFL-NFL merger and the first Super Bowl, the Eagles won the NFL championship in 1948, 1949, and 1960. While the league may have been much smaller in those days, those are still #1 results. In the NBA, most of Bill Russell’s titles were in years when the league had less than 10 teams, but he is still remembered as one of the greatest players of all time. Professional basketball is acutely aware of its history.

On the other hand, pro football forgets the sport existed before the Super Bowl. To most Americans, Joe Namath is more well-known that Johnny Unitas. They both have one Super Bowl victory to their names, but Unitas won multiple championships and was the prototype of the modern quarterback. To Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL, professional football did not start until 1967. Continue reading UCF Are Not National Champions

2018 CFP National Championship: No Asterisks

I still think about the 2010 BCS National Championship: Texas vs. Alabama. The Longhorns came in as underdogs, but the game started well for them. They held Alabama to a three-and-out, got the ball back, and drove down to Alabama’s red zone. Then UT quarterback Colt McCoy injured his shoulder after a tackle from Marcell Dareus. True freshman Garrett Gilbert took over for McCoy.

The drop-off from McCoy to Gilbert was steep, but Texas was able to stay in the game. With 3:04 left in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns were down only 21-24 with a chance to win it all. I thought the Horns would drive down the field and lift the crystal football. Instead, Gilbert fumbled, and Alabama recovered and scored a touchdown. Continue reading 2018 CFP National Championship: No Asterisks

Learning to Hate Jacksonville

In week 10 of the 2010 NFL season, the Houston Texans experienced one of their most ridiculous losses in franchise history. With the game tied in Jacksonville, Jaguars QB David Garrard threw a hail mary from midfield that was deflected by Texans safety Glover Quin. The game should have been over.

Except, the ball got batted into the hands of Jags receiver Mike Thomas. Jags win.

Despite the ridiculousness of the situation, losing to the Jags did not really hurt. This is the sort of loss that is commonplace as a Texans fan. The next week Houston would completely destroy their season by letting Mark Sanchez drive 68 yards with 59 seconds left on the clock to score a game winning touchdown. Distinguishing between all the horrific losses is difficult. Yet it is never easy to lose to a rival in your division. Continue reading Learning to Hate Jacksonville

Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

Deshaun Watson’s injury is my fault. After not having a franchise quarterback since Matt Schaub, the Texans had finally found the future of the franchise. The phenom from Clemson gave this franchise hope and went toe to toe against Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

But, unfortunately, I had tickets to the Week 9 game versus the Colts. My friends and I were excited to watch our new quarterback in person. Then one of my buddies texted me in the middle of the week, “Watson’s injured.” The universe will not let me get what I want. Continue reading Why I No Longer Watch the Texans

The Second-Rate Houston Rockets

Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest Rockets player ever. He led the team to two consecutive championships and was the second best player in the league when the GOAT Michael Jordan was around.

Those 90s Rockets teams were incredible, but they were not my favorite. At the time, I did not really watch basketball and did not appreciate the domination that was being unleashed in my city.

Instead of Olajuwon, my superstars were Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. However, my favorite team, the ’08-’09 Rockets, were mostly missing that pair due to their injuries. T-Mac sat out most of the regular season, but the Rockets still made the playoffs and beat the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. Continue reading The Second-Rate Houston Rockets