Chain Gang

Where will LeBron go?

When you think of the greatest basketball player of this generation you think of Lebron James, with no doubt. He’s clearly the greatest player to enter the league in the last 15 years and will continue to be great for only a few remaining years. Still, at 33 years old he’s producing at a record breaking level. Eight 40 point games in this postseason, 4 triple doubles in this years playoffs, and he’s absolutely putting the team on his back. But an embarrassing sweep to the Golden State Warriors, a fractured relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, and the extreme workload he has every time the Cavaliers take the floor could cause an exit out of Cleveland. I will layout some potential landing spots and why it would be a good or bad fit.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says there are 7 teams Lebron will meet with in Free Agency this summer. It’s Stephen A. Smith, so take it for what it’s worth but they all seem somewhat logical. The 7 teams listed are Cleveland, Boston, LA Lakers, Houston, Golden State, Philadelphia, and Miami.
Cleveland: Normally resigning seems the most ideal for any player in the NBA, but Cleveland has not gotten any closer to coming anywhere near taking down the Golden State Warriors. Also, the Cavs are extremely locked with the players they have due to very little cap space. The addition of Alabama point guard Collin Sexton should be beneficial. Yet, I don’t think adding Collin Sexton to the mix will change Lebron’s decision one way or another.
LA Lakers: This is very puzzling due to the fact that a move to the Lakers means you’re now in the western conference with harder competition and in the same division as the Warriors. With that being said, there is a lot of emerging young talent such as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, etc. Another thing to take note of is that the Lakers have enough cap space for 2 max contracts. This means if Lebron goes there, then they could also sign a Paul George or trade for and take on the contract of Kawhi Leonard.
Philadelphia: The Sixers had a great season and have 2 blossoming stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They also have some solid role players set in place. This could be very lucrative for Lebron James to move into. A dispute to Lebron going to Philly is that him and Simmons can’t play together because they’re the same type of player. Many say they’re similar because neither can shoot very well, this isn’t true simply due to the fact that James made 149 3-pointers this season whereas Simmons made 0. But then again Simmons and Lebron are both very ball dominant so they’d have to split the point guard duties amongst each other. This could be a good fit.
Houston: Lebron could be great around CP3 and James Harden. But, why breakup what you have when you were so close to knocking out Golden State in the Western Conference Finals. If Chris Paul doesn’t go down with a hamstring injury and have to sit game 7 then maybe Houston wins it all. Also, to resign CP3 and sign Lebron would take a lot of roster moves. They would have to dump guys such as Clint Capela, PJ Tucker, or Trevor Ariza. Overall this would take a ton of work and I don’t see the point in breaking up this championship caliber team.
Golden State, Miami, Boston: In different ways these 3 teams are all in the same boat. Outside shots to land Lebron James this summer. Golden State is a dynasty and in no way do they need James and really shouldn’t even want him. The league would be in shambles if he went there. The competition league wide wouldn’t be good and they’d dominate everyone in there path. Also, they’d need to shed most likely Klay Thompson to land James. A return to Miami for Lebron also seems unlikely because plain and simple the talent level isn’t quite there on the Heat roster. But if anyone can bring him back it’s Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade. Boston also looks unappealing due to the fact that Kyrie Irving demanded a trade to get away from him. So, he clearly doesn’t want a reunion. If Lebron leaves Cleveland which he very well could, unless he joins the Sixers, the Celtics are immediately the frontrunners to win the Eastern Conference. Kyrie and Gordon Hayward will be healthy and they’re loaded at forward with budding stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Another issue is cap space, 3 players already on max contracts (Irving, Hayward, Horford), and Marcus Smart’s contract is up and Terry Rozier is up next year. These teams would all need some serious work to accommodate Lebron.
The whole NBA world is watching and waiting anxiously for him to make his choice. I believe it’s very much a toss up between whether he’ll stay or leave. It’ll come down to 4 things for his decision. First, Loyalty to the city of Cleveland and his home. Second, How much does he value championships? Third, Does he want young, up and coming players, or a veteran team built for now. Fourth, His family and what’s best for them. It will definitely be interesting.

5th Down and Long

Russell “Fraud” Westbrook

The choke artist strikes again! Russell Westbook has proven time after time that he cannot be the alpha on a basketball team (even when he shoots 40+ times in a close-out game).

With the season on the line Westbrook shot 18-43 from the field, and threw up 19 threes!  The stat sheet-stuffer only chipped in 5 assist in his season-ending performance. Hmm, interesting for a guy who has averaged a triple double over the last two years.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are now 3-8 in the playoffs without Kevin Durant, and ALL the blame should be placed on the ego-driven point guard. Over the series vs the Utah Jazz this past week, Russell Westbrook racked up 31 turnovers. Yikes. He didn’t have one game where he shot at least 50% from the field. Not exactly what I call “efficient”. Keep in mind he shot 39 shots in game 5, and 43 shots in games 6. Yikes again.

It is obvious why the 2nd best player in the league (Kevin Durant) left the Thunder. The “point guard” is the most difficult player in the leagues history to play with. Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio constantly out played the so-called superstar during the 1st round of the playoffs. Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz looked like the only superstar on the court and he is a ROOKIE. Durant got a ring his first year apart from the ball-hog.

Need verification for my argument? Here is Durant’s confirmation via Instagram:DbgE-WAWkAAiIJK

All I am trying to say is, “don’t drink the Westbrook kool-aid”. He is a proven loser as well as a cry baby. Instead of taking ownership in his poor play in the game 6 self-destruction, he called on the NBA to check the Utah Jazz fans because they are “vulgar”. And you aren’t Westbrook? I have to turn down the volume on my TV when you play because all I hear are 4-letter words that aren’t what I would call “wholesome”.

He doesn’t make his team or teammates any better. Why do you think Paul George will leave 46 million big ones on the table and go to the Lakers? Why do you think Durant left? Why do you think that the Thunder can’t get out of the first round without the Slim Reaper aka Kevin Durant? The answer is Russell Westbrook.

He is a cancer to the NBA and constantly embodies selfishness and narcissism. Can we put Russell in Upward basketball for a year so he can rediscover what it means to be a “team player”? You won’t win with him and you WILL get out of the first round without him. Still glad you gave him that contract extension OKC?

5th Down and Long

Masters Mania: A Recap of Golf’s Biggest Week

Ladies and gentlemen, here we are. It is April 9th, and yesterday the sun set on Augusta National Golf Club. The stage that was set just days ago has officially been torn down, and while most of the golf world has returned to their mundane daily routine, I took the liberty of skipping ALL my classes today to recover from the madness that ensued this past week. I mean, who can watch Bubba Watson putt an eagle chance into a bunker and not need a full day to recuperate? This week has provided us with some… amusing story-lines to say the least. I invite you to take a stroll down the metaphorical, “Magnolia Lane” and reflect on the highs and lows from golf’s biggest week.

At the beginning of the week, everyone had high hopes for Tiger Woods. This man was coming off two top 5 finishes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Valspar Invitational, 5th and 2nd respectively. These impressive finishes were reflected in his odds to WIN the Masters, in which he was at 8:1. (Shocked? Me too.) Tiger ended up finishing T32 shooting an aggregate score of 289 (+1), winning the, “Biggest Disappointment Award” presented by none other than… me.

In other, more positive news, the young guns in the field did not disappoint this week. Patrick Reed, the man who now bears the green jacket, is only 27 years old. Not to mention the others who were in contention were not above the age of 29, and this includes Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy. This goes to show that we have an era of young ins that are only going to look to make some history in the coming as years.

Now let’s talk about the last stretch on Sunday. Jordan Spieth showed exactly why he has dominated at Augusta the past 4 years. At 2 PM on Sunday, Jordan was 9 shots behind the lead Patrick Reed held and by 5:30 PM he was tied with the man. Between Jordan’s last 4 years at the Masters, we need to be grateful that he has had the collapses he’s had, because if not, the seen on the 18th green would look something like this…

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Regarding the award that I gave out earlier about the biggest disappointment, Rory McIlroy takes runner up. Rory had the opportunity to finish the career grand slam, making him only the 6th player to accomplish this feat, putting him in very elite company. For those of you that don’t know, the grand slam is achieved when a player wins all four majors, which consists of The Masters, The U.S. Open, The Open, and The PGA Championship. The Masters title is the only one that has eluded Rory, and just when it seemed to be within reach, he let it slip. Rory shot a 74 (+2) on Sunday to shoot an aggregate score of 279 (-9).

This week has been a roller coaster ride, and one in which I am sad that has come to an end. It is always satisfying to see Sunday come to a close on a course that boasts a garden full of Magnolia’s, and not see a single player in the field Milly Rock (No really, I expected that to happen at least ten times this week). The golf elites have awarded a new face the title of Masters champion, and golf and sports fans alike stood by to watch. As I reflect on the week full of golf that I was able to have, 360 days does not seem too long to wait for another roller coaster.

-@wilkersonadylan

Chain Gang

Chain Gang Blog: Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict. A polarizing name in the NFL. If you’re a Bengals fan you love him, if you’re not you hate him. Well, these days even Bengals fans are getting fed up. At what point does it all add up? The questionable hits, the injuries, and now even an off the field issue.

He hasn’t started a season without a suspension since 2015. That doesn’t even consider all the games missed for nagging injuries. This automatically sets the Bengals well behind the 8 ball. He is an emotional leader on defense and a force when on the field. The last time he played all 16 games he was a first team all-pro in 2013.

Some of his conduct on the field has been questionable at times to say the least. His first suspension resulting from “multiple plays detrimental to player safety.” With the last straw resulting from a hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 4th quarter of a playoff game.

This set the “Burfict is a dirty player” talk ablaze. Leading to a bad boy reputation from the media and the NFL. After more controversial plays in 2016, whatever credibility he had left was gone. He was getting more and more negative attention.

In 2017, he came into training camp with no reigning suspensions over him and was ready to start the season. Then in the Bengals 2nd preseason game, on a play that wasn’t even flagged, resulted in a 3 game suspension for a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman.

Now, less than 3 weeks ago, it emerges that he is facing another 4-game suspension. This time for performance enhancing drugs. Burfict claims it was prescribed by a doctor to help nurse a head and shoulder injury suffered due to a debatable hit to say the least by Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster.

juju-smith-schuster-vontaze-burfict

The question I’m posing to Bengals fans and NFL fans is this: “When is it time to give up on Burfict?” What will it take for the Bengals to release him? I think the Bengals have invested too much in him so far. When he’s out there he’s a big vocal leader and makes a ton of plays. Owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis continue to back his every move. They obviously aren’t thrilled with his actions but publically stick with him.

If the Bengals do get fed up and try to move him, a potential landing spot could be the Oakland Raiders. There have been rumors that Oakland has contacted Cincinnati about getting Burfict. This could be believable due to Oakland head coach Jon Gruden raving about Burfict on Monday Night Football. Saying he loves the toughness he plays with and how he would love to have him on his team.

With all this being said the Bengals should continue to stick with Burfict and try to coach him up better to avoid many more mind-boggling situations in the future. When he’s not hurt or suspended he has proven to be a top tier linebacker in the league.

5th Down and Long

Fortnite: The Demise of Professional Sports (as well as myself)

“Just one more game.”

Those are the words I think to myself after every round of Fortnite. I do not understand what gives me a craving/desire to build forts in a cartoon universe, but I love it. The game has taken off and is the hottest virtual activity on the market right now. People all across the country (from the ages of 10-32) are ignoring their responsibilities to play this incredible game, and I don’t blame them.

Big name athletes have already joined the game from JuJu Smith-Schuster, Gordon Hayward, Baker Mayfield, and many more. Just recently, JuJu shut down the internet by playing with Fortnite legend “Ninja”, musician Drake, and rapper Travis Scott. The video of them was streamed on an online gaming platform called twitch, and became the application’s most-watched video EVER.

After winning a game of Fortnite, JuJu was very honest with his fans:

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Uh-oh. What if Fortnite took away one of the most exciting, young recivers in the NFL today? It is not a far out thought that JuJu would hang up the cleats for the joy-sticks.

Gordon Hayward may be destroying his family life due to this unstoppable epidemic. The Celtics forward was live streaming on twitch when a frustrated wife busted in:

Robyn Hayward – “How much longer are you playing?”

Gordon Hayward – “Uhhh, I don’t know. A little while longer.”

It gets worse. Hayward’s young daughter entered the room, and we all know that video games and babies don’t mix. After trying to be excited that his child was there to support Dad, Gordon piped up in a stern tone to address his daughter:

Charlie, you’re gonna make me die.

Imagine putting that burden on a child? The reason your father died in a game of Fortnite is because of you. Children that age cannot process the trauma of a Fortnite death, much less live with the guilt of being the reason your own father was eliminated from the game.

If Gordon can’t balance his family and Fortnite then how do you expect him to balance Fotnite and basketball? It just doesn’t make sense. Listen Gordon, I love watching you play basketball but I understand if you wanna step away from basketball to peruse Fotnite goals.

I guess this is what I am trying to say: Do not be surprised when the NFL and NBA are no longer relevant because all of the athletes are too busy playing the adrenaline-packed game, Fortnite.

Also, don’t be surprised if I drop out of college one month before graduation because of this life-changing movement.

 

Check out the Gordon Hayward video right here:  https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/976617070883430400

-Tristan Huggins (@thuggins_21)

 

 

 

5th Down and Long

NCAA=The New Underground Mafia

It’s obvious that college basketball players are getting paid. Don’t you see that college basketball coaches are beginning to look less like coaches and more like members of the mafia?

The biggest scandal in NCAA history was broke by the weirdest source ever (Yahoo Sports). The NCAA was once again caught with its pants down. To dumb it down, players were caught receiving money from former NBA agent Andy Miller and associate Christian Dawkins. Some pretty big names made the cut such as: Kyle Kuzma, Collin Sexton, Kevin Knox, Wendell Carter, as well as a plethora of young men in the college basketball fraternity.

It was so obvious that programs were buried forever with this overwhelming evidence. Not much later, news reported from the pits of hell (aka ESPN) stated that Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller was recorded speaking to a runner for a sports agent about making the cool payment of $100,000 to deliver Deandre Ayton. Again I thought to myself, “buried”.

Let me be very very clear: I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona. In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.

I have never paid a recruit or prospect, or their family, or their representative to come to Arizona. I never have, and I never will.

 

-Sean Miller, Arizona Wildcats Men’s Head Basketball Coach.

Listen Sean, we all know you did it. Your well combed crew cut and pin stripe suits scream, “PAY THE MAN”.

The NCAA has once again swept an allegation under the rug like a ball of lint. I guess I have a big problem with it is because I root for the Tennessee Vols, a team that has 0 paid players. How am I so sure? Because it would be a crime to pay anybody on that roster.

TRISTAN’S SOLUTION:

Go ahead and pay your players! Just do us all a favor and branch off from the NCAA. It is so clear that they operate like the mafia that it is insane. They are a non-profit that is taking billions to the bank. If colleges like Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and USC branched off other programs would surly follow. Just make another league and call your own shots because the NCAA can’t get away with this one.

We have to at least create an equal playing field, and we cannot do that with the mafia member tossing around money to high school players like its a hot potato.

I know that everybody’s bracket is busted right now, but just remember that the player that just iced your team out of the tournament was probably paid by one of the coaches who look like they are straight ofF the Sopranos.