Wrong For The Right Reasons

As I sit there in the deep blue chair that rests in the middle of my living room, watching the announcement come on, all I can do is stare in disbelief.  My childhood basketball hero, Lebron James was leaving his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.  He was turning his back on his home, betraying the ones who worshipped him like a god.  All in pursuit of the championship; the ring. I felt shocked and hurt.  Never again will I support someone like him again.  Never will I forgive him for what he has done.  But that was five years ago.NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat

 I used to believe that once people reach a certain age, that’s the type of person they would be the rest of their life.  People don’t change once they reach that point, that’s the way they’ll always be.  This belief is what made me always resent Lebron because I always saw him as a selfish, front-running, egotistical person.  He was the epitome of a traitor.  How could someone ever root for a man who turns his back on his home?  

Then the summer of 2013 came around.  Lebron had won three championships with Miami, but failed to win a fourth the season before, after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the finals.  It was now the offseason.  A time of wild accusations, and crazy assumptions.  Per usual, rumors arose of Lebron leaving Miami and returning home to Cleveland, just like every other summer.  I dismissed the rumors as always, simply to avoid getting my hopes up.  As the summer progressed, however, so did the rumors.  They kept gaining more and more traction, with more and more credible sources confirming the rumors.  Then, before you know it, Lebron had agreed to return to the Cavaliers.  I was shocked, nearly as much as I was when he first left.  Weeks after the announcement I still could not believe it, I felt as if one morning I  would wake up and learn that it was all just an odd, realistic dream about a topic that shouldn’t be as serious as I make it out to be.  But soon, the signing was official, Lebron was a Cav again.  The king has returned to his kingdom.NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Clippers

It was actually quite confusing of a time for me, when it came to my feelings towards Lebron.  One part of me still wasn’t willing to forgive him for leaving, because it was still quite a selfish decision to make, claiming that he had a better chance to win in Miami as opposed to Cleveland.  Especially coming from someone who my dad claims threw the finals to have an excuse to leave.  But the more I thought about it, the more I began to see the logic and reasoning behind it.  Lebron was simply a human being like the rest of us, susceptible to selfishness and greed.  There is always something we desire and seek in this life, and for Lebron, it was a championship.  He was nervous, he got scared that he may never win a championship, so he panicked and decided to take the easy way out and join two other superstars, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on a team that was destined to win a championship.  It was simply a natural reaction.  When one realizes that they may never get what they have dedicated their whole life to, it takes a lot out of them, even if it is simply the possibility of it happening.  When Lebron lost in the playoffs his final year with the Cavs the first time around, he fell hard, leading him to panic and choosing to go somewhere he simply could not fail.  And fail he did not, having won three championships in Miami.  What he did next, after his dominance in Miami, is what made me believe that he was not the person I perceived him to be.  Lebron was able to recognize that his work was done, he had won his championships.  He had fulfilled his dream, but it was time to do what he needed to do as opposed to what he was supposed to do.  It was now time to give the people of Cleveland what they deserved and what they had been hoping for since 1964 for: a championship.  Thhi-res-459814949-kevin-love-of-the-minnesota-timberwolves-stands-on-the_crop_northe path to a Cleveland championship looked rough, with the Cavs roster looking bleak besides the rising star Kyrie Irving, but the team would be gaining back the greatest player in the game.  There were still holes to be fixed and Lebron couldn’t single handedly carry a team (or could he?).  The Cavs img24326053decided it was best to trade for both Kevin Love and Timofy Mozgov, two well-established big men, to help him and Kyrie out.  

The first season with Lebron back started out rough, with the team not really being able to meld together as a unit yet, but Lebron did not give up.  He kept fighting and working hard and brought the Cavs all the way to the NBA championship against Steph Curry and the Warriors.  Although the storybook ending didn’t happen, they held their own, only losing the series 4-2.  

After the finals, Lebron remained patient.  A side of him I hadn’t seen before.  The old him may have run away again, but he persisted and looked forward to the next season, hungry to bring his people what they wanted.  The 2015-16 season came around and the reigning champion Warriors somehow looked better than ever.  In fact, they would set the record for best record of all time, going an astonishing 73-9 in the regular season, beating the previous record by 1 win, set previously by the 1996 Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan.  The Cavs did very well too, but not nearly as good as the Warriors.  The two teams were both destined to face off in the finals, and face off they did.  i

The Warriors continued their great success and took a quick 3-1 lead in the series.  It was all but over for the Cavs.  My dad, the big Cleveland fan he was, had already packed it in and moved his focus fully to the baseball season.  It was the end.  But not to Lebron and the rest of the Cavaliers.  They battled back and tied the series up at 3-3, but the final stage that lay ahead of them was nearly impossible to vanquish.  They were forced to play not only the 73-9 Warriors, but they also had to play them at Golden State in the Oracle Arena, a place where the Warriors reigned supreme.  The Cavs chances looked bleak, but the new, lovable, mature Lebron did not roll over.  With the game coming down to the wire, he came up clutch for a game saving block in crunch time, setting up his teammate Kyrie Irving for the game-winning three-pointer.  I vividly remember sitting in a Friendly’s parking lot listening to the hectic radio broadcast that was the final minutes of the 2016 NBA finals.  I was nervous as hell, as I hugged the steering wheel of the car ever so tightly. maxresdefault Upon hearing that shot go in, I was on the verge of tears, my grip tightening on the plastic of the wheel. Hearing the final shot of the game miss, the final buzzer sound, and the announcement that the Cavaliers had won, froze me with such astonishment.  I was so stunned that all I could manage to do was get out of the car, and pace around the grass beside the parking lot in disbelief.  He had done it.  The fairytale had been completed.  Lebron went from villain to hero and brought a championship back to his kingdom.  The complete transformation that I believed to be impossible had been done.  Lebron did it, he proved me wrong.

People change and constantly have the ability to change.  There is always room and time in your life to grow as a person.  Lebron was the one who taught me that lesson.  He went from being a hero, to a villain and back again.  He showed me that people are constantly growing up as human beings, as well as that there is always work to be done to make ourselves better people.  Lebron was able to recognize the difference between what he was supposed to do, and what he needed to do.  Once he was able to do that, he returned home and brought them what they deserved:  a ring and a king.maxresdefault1

Who To Root For? 2016 MLB Postseason Edition

With the AL and NL Wildcard games over, the rest of the playoffs are now a little more solid and straightforward.  The AL and NL divisional series are upon us and if your team, like mine, is not in the playoffs, it can be tough to find a team to root for.  So for those struggling to find a reason to root for someone, I’m here to help. With my flawless, absolutely, completely unbiased explanations of who you should root for and why, you’ll be certain to find that special bandwagon.  You’ll find the one that fits you right and then ride that baby straight to the World Series!  So let’s get started.

 

AL TEAMS

 

Why should you root for the Boston Red Sox?

Oh, so I see you like seeing the same teams win the world series year in and year out?  You must also really like the Giants and Cardinals too, eh?  I bet you also hate the Yankees because all they do is “win.”  Well, then the Red Sox are a perfect team for you!  They’ve only won it three times since 2004, and it’s been three years since their last one, that’s practically an eternity.  The same five teams should win it every year and that’s why Boston must win the World Series!  Screw the Cubs, they’ve waited over a hundred years for one, they can wait a hundred more.  Cleveland? Pff, they already got a championship this year, they don’t need another.  Boston needs them all,  or at least share them with the Giants and Cardinals, they need more championships too.  Every other year for the Giants just isn’t enough.  And don’t get me started as to how good of a role model David Ortiz.  So nice, calm and genuine.  He would NEVER do anything bad like roids like that damn A-Rod.  What’s that? He’s failed multiple drug tests in his career?  Doesn’t matter, those tests were probably faulty anyways.  A guy like him would never do something like that, he’s too kind.  What’s that? He once bashed the phone in the visitor’s dugout after he got out?  There was probably just a bee on the door and he knew one of his teammates was allergic.  What a guy!  I want to root for a team with his as their leader!Tlumacki_soxvsroyals432.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Cleveland Indians?

If Cleveland wins the World Series the same year as the NBA championship, then the city would completely go berserk.  Every Cleveland fan, all three of them, will have such a nice get together the police may even have to be called to calm them down.  If they win, you won’t even need to hear about Cleveland for at least another sixty years.  They’d be overly satisfied and will just go back to their homes and sit in their houses until it’s been another sixty years since they’ve won.  Then, they’ll crawl back out, make a 30 for 30 film again, repeat the events of 2016, rinse, and repeat.  That sound like a pretty fair deal to me.  Plus, who doesn’t love Francisco Lindor’s infectious smile?  And why not root for debatably the underdog with the best record I’ve ever seen? I mean come on, who doesn’t love a 1st place underdog?  Everyone loves a good oxymoron.Lindor-Mark-Cunningham-Getty-Images.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Texas Rangers?

Do you have an irrational hatred of Canada, and birds that are blue? Do you love crazy left hooks and guns?  Then the Texas Rangers are the team for you!  Most fans are rooting more for an all-out brawl with Toronto, rather than a win.  If you agree with this belief then surely you must root for the Rangers.  Actually, I think this may go without saying that most Americans will be rooting for a fight to break out between the Rangers and Blue Jays, so I guess in a way, we’re all rooting for the Rangers in this fine divisional series.  i.jpeg

 

Why should you root for the Toronto Blue Jays?

Do you have an irrational hatred of America, and the Texas Police/Military? Do you love crazy left hooks and hockey?  Then the Toronto Blue Jays are the team for you!  Most fans are rooting more for an all-out brawl with Texas, rather than a win.  If you agree with this belief then surely you must root for the Blue Jays.  Actually, I think this may go without saying that most Americans will be rooting for a fight to break out between the Rangers and Blue Jays, so I guess in a way, we’re all rooting for the Blue Jays in this fine divisional series.  jose-bautista-bat-flip.jpg

 

NL TEAMS

 

Why should you root for the Chicago Cubs?

Are you tired of the same teams winning year in and year out, while your team is left in the dust?  You must either be a Rays or a Twins fan, meaning hopping on the Cubs bandwagon is right for you!  They’re like your team, only good!  If you’re also tired of hearing Cubs fans say “Oh, we never win.” “Oh, it’s been over a hundred years.” “Oh, my grandma was born and died before they ever won again,” Then rooting for the Cubs is the right move for you as well!  If they win, you won’t have to suffer through those dreaded conversations about the woes of being a Cubs fan.  We may end up with having to suffer through a few years of bragging Cubs fans, but that’s all worth it for an end to the constant complaining.  And if none of this satisfies you either, then you can at least root for those beautiful eyes that Kris Bryant possesses.  Man, I could get lost in those babies for hours…. kris.jpg

 

Why should you root for the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Do you love being the largest market, living in warm weather, and still being a disappointment?  Do you love having the best pitcher in baseball, but the inability to bring him to the World Series?  Or the joy of constantly losing to a bunch of conspiracy theorists? *Cough* Giants *Cough* Then the Dodgers bandwagon is the perfect place for you.  So much history, yet so much disappointment as of late.  Such a wonderful, beautiful combination.  I know I sure would want to be a part of that.  Plus they have had everyone’s dream grandpa as their announcer for the past 67 years.  They’ve got it all, they are truly blessed.  They’ll still blow it, though, don’t you worry.  I mean come on, their ceiling is losing to the Cubs in the championship series, so if you are fond of low expectations, then come join the Dodgers!Clayton-Kershaw.jpg

 

Why should you root for the San Francisco Giants?

Do you enjoy conspiracy theories and the illuminati?  Do you require your TV to be set at an even number volume?  Then the San Francisco Giants are the team for you!  This team lives and breathes conspiracy theories!  How else could you explain them winning the World Series the past three even years in 2014, 2012, and 2010?  And then this year they proved this wild, even number theory by pulling a playoff appearance out of their ass.  They completely fell off the face of the Earth, but they then used their voodoo powers on the Cardinals and Giants, causing them to self-destruct just at the right time, paving the way for themselves to just stride right into the playoffs.  If this just doesn’t warm your heart and make you wonder which Shaman they went to for this unworldly feat, then I guess this just isn’t your team.  But if this is exactly what you were thinking, then welcome to the San Francisco bandwagon, next stop, another even year championship.  I honestly don’t even know why any of the other teams are bothering this year, when the prophecies clearly state that the Giants are going to win.  Pfff, suckers…wasting their time.060915-MLB-SF-Giants-Hunter-Pence-looks-on-during-batting-practice-MM-PI.vresize.1200.675.high.1.jpg

Why should you root for the Washington Nationals?

Do you love our nation’s capital?  With all those cute little monuments, especially the one that looks nothing like George Washington, but is supposedly the “Washington” Monument?  What about constantly knowing in the back of you mind that your star player is going to leave your team for the New York Yankees and get the largest contract ever?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the Washington Nationals are right for you! A team so good, yet so forgetful that I even forgot to mention them in this article!  How great is that?  You can clearly tell who I WON’T be rooting for, am I right?? The Nationals got all that it takes to make it to the World Series; power, pitching, speed, defense and so much more!  They even got a a garden gnome/caveman/Jesus in the outfield.  If that doesn’t reel you in then what will?635790386449508984-usatsi-8810303

Hope this helped clear up any confusion you may have had.  May the best team win!

Another Sixer Start To A Sixer Season

After the draft this year, I was beyond excited for the upcoming basketball season.  The Yankees were doing bad at the time, so the Sixers were a nice relief from my struggles so far this year as a sports fan.  The Sixers had just drafted Ben Simmons and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, two promising looking players that I was excited to see in action.basketball.jpg

Welp…here we are now in October, and at least I’ll get to see one of them play sometime soon with the recent news of Ben Simmons’ fractured right foot after he rolled it in practice.  Although they say he is only expected to miss three months, I feel as though they should not rush his return.  This team is still in a rebuilding stage, so it is not like we need him back soon in order to compete for a playoff spot or anything.  The team is still figuring things out for the future, and with him being a vital part of the future of the Sixers franchise, why rush him back when he is not ready and risk him re injuring his foot, possibly even more severely the next time?  usatsi_9353371.jpgI think the best course of action in a time like this is to sit him out for the season and give him all the time he needs and then some to recover from this injury.  Foot injuries are scary, especially in the basketball world.  Plenty of foot injuries have cut careers short in the NBA, the famous example of course being Yao Ming, who suffered chronic foot injuries yet still made the hall of fame. Just imagine what more he could have done if he didn’t suffer all those injuries.  It is somewhat interesting how in the past four year, two, and now possibly three of the Sixers first round picks have sat out their entire first season, two would be due to foot injuries.  Foot injuries are bad news, I think the Sixers, and Simmons, should take their time with this one and make sure it is treated carefully and properly.

As for the rest of the team, one big question is still in the air: Who stays and who goes?  The Sixers are stockpiled with big men and with only so many minutes to go around, it only makes sense that one or more of them must go.  This belief isn’t an unpopular one either.  Many other writers and analysts have expressed this as well.  Hell, even the Sixers organization itself has made it fairly clear with all the trade rumors surrounding both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.  Noel and Okafor are the two players that it appears the decision has come down to, which makes sense just based on process of elimination.  Both Embiid and Saric have yet to see any minutes in the NBA, so their trade value is quite low, plus the Sixers themselves have no idea what they are capable of at the NBA level.  Although Simmons is a big man technically, the Sixers have said that he would be seeing minutes at point guard and more or less act as a point forward for the Sixers, much like Lebron’s role with the Cavaliers.  Simmons is also too great of an athlete to pass up on.  He’s got the size, height, and talent that just doesn’t come around often, making him an untouchable.  All of this makes Noel and Okafor the two big men left available to be moved.

As for what I think the Sixers should do, my opinion comes slightly biased.  This is due to my love and appreciation for Nerlens Noel.  Nerlens Noel was the reason I began to watch basketball.  During the 2012-2013 college basketball season, I happened to be watching the Kentucky game my dad had on one day, and I noticed this tall, lanky player with an amazing high top fade.  I noticed the name on his back Noel and I asked my dad about him and he told me that that was Nerlens Noel, one of the most highly touted players in the NCAA.  As the game went on I started liking this guy more and more.  His athleticism and fierce defense was absolutely amazing to watch.  He made me appreciate the game of basketball in a way I never had before.  My dad had always tried to get me into basketball, but it wasn’t until watching Noel at Kentucky did I ever begin to follow the game. nerlens-noel1.jpg 

When Noel ended up with the Sixers, after being traded from the Pelicans for Jrue Holiday when the dust finished settling after the 2013 draft, I decided to follow Noel and join the Sixers nation as well, leading me to fall in love with the Sixers organization as a whole.

So here we are, back in present time after that lovely little flashback, faced with the decision between Noel and Okafor.  Although my opinion may be slightly biased, I still believe it would be best to keep Noel and trade Okafor, even after Noel openly stated his frustration with this whole situation.  To me, that statement he made wasn’t that big of a deal, because I understood his feelings.  It wasn’t that he was frustrated with the organization itself, he was simply tired of the constant anxiety of possibly getting traded.  That can really take a toll on a person and I know I certainly would not want to be put under that kind of stress, constantly knowing that at some point you could be traded.  It’s a lot on a person, simple as that.  

Although people argue that Noel’s trade value is higher than Okafor, I feel his skills and abilities on defense are too great to pass up.  Over the past two years, he was putting up defensive numbers that haven’t been seen by a player in their first two seasons since David Robinson.  In an offensively driven era of basketball, defensive specialists like Noel don’t come very often.  Offense comes and goes, but defense is something special.  Not just any player can play defense like Noel, he really is unique, despite his stats flying under the radar the past two years, due to the lack of love for good defense.  If the Sixers got rid of a defensive force like Noel, they may not regret it now, but they will somewhere down the line.  

I can see why the Sixers may trade him, however, due to his higher trade value.  But if they do decide to trade him, I feel that they should only do so if they receive an established guard along with a decent draft pick.  It’d be going backwards for the Sixers if they got another young, unestablished player, especially if that player was…dear god..another big man.  They’ve got plenty of those.  It’s about time that they start letting these young guys develop, instead of trading them away prematurely for more draft picks.  Have some patience, have some faith.

Personally, in some weird, crazy way, I could see a future where none of these big guys are traded.0538194001448465758_usatodaysportsimages.jpg.jpg  In an era where players are playing at unorthodox positions, then why couldn’t you sometimes put a guy like Okafor out on the court at say the small forward position?  And if they simply rotate correctly and in an efficient manner, these guys could all see a good amount of minutes this year.  Especially since Embiid isn’t even going to see that many minutes this year due to precautions with his foot. That makes room for guys like Noel, Okafor, and Saric to see more minutes out on the floor.  I say let the big men stay.  At least for this year.  See how the rotations work out, see who performs, see who just isn’t working out, and then at the end of the year, decide who you want to keep and who you want to trade for much needed guard support.

This season is looking to be an interesting one.  This team is by no means near a playoff contention season, in all honesty, they’ll probably be in the cellar again this year, but I still have hope that they are going to surprise people and win a decent amount of games.  Not a lot of games, but a decent amount of games.  I see them improving from last year, based on the continuing growth and development of these young guys.  I look forward to seeing how this season plays out. #Trusttheprocess