The Philladelpia 76ers now hold the record for longest losing steak of any team in any American professional sport. This team is currently 0 – 17 for the season, and they have lost 27 straight games dating back to the end of last season. The futility of this organization was once seen as a plot to amass a group of young talented number one picks, but that idea seems to have backfired in a terrible way. The Sixers seem to have nothing going for them at the moment, the team has had several early picks in the draft over the last decade, but injuries have left the team with many young players that have no position on the court. It doesn’t help that the team has drafted a center in consecutive drafts, and traded for another high draft pick that can essentially play the same position. The true issue with the 76ers is that they absolutely lack direction, this team is like a talented child that has no idea what they plan to do with their life. If the owner of this franchise ever wants to put a serviceable team on the court, they need to get new coaching, get a new GM, and get a plan of action. The 76ers have been losing for so long that it is their culture, I don’t expect the losing ways to end anytime soon, but anything is possible once a legitimate plan of action is put into place. I know it seems like a long shot, but the 76ers may be one management change away from being a championship team.
The NBA season has just begun, and while we are only a week in, many teams are beginning to show if they can actually be contenders in this 82 game round robin tournament of sorts. It honestly too early to begin crowning champions and MVPs, but it is never too early to point out the players that seem to have lost their touch. Kobe Bryant, the player who was once mired in off the court controversy, now has to deal with questions about his on court playmaking ability. Kobe Bryant was once a man considered by many to be “the next Michael Jordan,” and while his many accolades and championships speak for themselves, it is plain to see that Kobe is getting old. At the age of 37, Kobe seems to be far past his prime, and the fact that he is coming off of two injury ridden seasons doesn’t help him get back into the routine of playing well. This season, Kobe is shooting a woeful 30% from the floor, and he is quickly becoming an afterthought in this increasingly social media driven world. I feel bad for even thinking it, but it may be time for Kobe to retire from the game of basketball. He is not the same player he was ten years ago, and he seems to have no interest in taking a reduced role on a team. With his current level of play it will be hard to imagine seeing Kobe retire at the top of his game, but at least he will be able to keep his reputation and rest on his accolades as one of the greatest players to ever grace the basketball court.
Fantasy football is a fickle little game. I posted before about how fantasy football has gained a significant following in recent years, and along with that following has come the online gambling that is weekly fantasy games. Weekly fantasy football leagues are the heavily advertised and not at all regulated flavor of the week. If you have ever watched any sporting event or even turned on a television show that is geared towards millennials, you probably have seen the countless ads for Fanduel and Draftkings, which are the two competing fantasy for money websites. These companies advertise a chance to win millions for dollars, by simply picking your favorite players and enjoying the games you love, but this week both companies have come under fire for the actions of their employees. An employee of Draftkings won $350,000 from Fanduel after leaking sensitive information about player ratings, then using that data to his benefit. The knowledge this employee had on players and the similarity of the two companies gave this individual a distinct and unfair advantage over his competition. Both fantasy companies have since barred their employees from playing on either site, but there are more issues with these games than just “insider trading.” The problem with these fantasy sports betting sites is that they are completely unregulated. I am not the biggest fan of government regulation, but these companies are controlling way too much money to be able to freely share data with employees who have a chance to make a financial gain from it. Many people have called these websites the new stock market, I just hope this whole fantasy sports betting thing doesn’t get out of hand. Too many people have too much at stake when it comes to sports betting and this whole ordeal may run them the wrong way. I expect some sort of regulation to come out of this mess within the next few months, but until then, I would be wary of putting money into fantasy sports.
The NBA free agency period has begun and as of yesterday plenty of the league’s top eligible players have already snagged max contracts. The Free agency period is a time when players who are out of contract can be courted and signed by any franchise that is willing to pay their asking price. So far this offseason, the two teams that many expected to make the biggest push for talent have been the most silent. The Knicks and the Lakers, two of the NBA’s most storied franchises, have failed to lock up top talent so far. At the rate players are signing, it seems like both the Knicks and Lakers will be sitting on the sidelines with money to spend but nowhere to spend it. The biggest problem with the Knicks and Lakers is their history, both teams expect the most out of players, but neither team has been competitive for quite some time. The way free agency works these days is different from the past, players are no longer just looking for the highest payday, they are now looking to go where they can win and compete with the least added stress. While I am certain that both the Knicks and lakers will be competitive in the next 5 years, neither team is in a market that is comfortable with losing. New York and Los Angeles are big cities, with fans who spend the most money to watch basketball, even when the teams are awful. As a New Yorker, I don’t want to say we are spoiled, but I understand the requirement we have for winners, since prices here are high regardless of the level of play. Playing in big cities markets puts a great amount of stress on players, and players who can handle the pressure and play well are exactly what is desired and needed in NYC and LA. There are still a handful of fantastic free agents left to be had, I just hope the Knicks have a good enough proposal to land the talent necessary to compete next year.
The Knicks have done it again, they have managed to take what should be an exciting day for fans and make it stressful. As a Knick fan, I have resigned to the fact that they are bad, and that they are not necessarily known for making good decisions but they had a legitimate chance to make a big splash in last nights draft. This year’s draft class was not particularly strong, but there were a few players that seemed to be “game changers,” and the Knicks may have failed to grab one of them. The Knicks did the unthinkable and drafted European born player, Kristaps Porzingis, with the fourth overall pick much to the dismay of the entire city. Porzingis is very talented and might possibly be the best player in this draft, but New York fans want big flashy talent, and immediate results. The problem with drafting a foreign player is their lack of familiarity with the American style of basketball, and when they are picked this high in the draft, they almost always fail to live up to the hype. I am an upset fan, but at the same time, part of me fully expected the Knicks to somehow draft this guy. I really hope the Knicks management knows what they are doing, and that they make plans for this kid’s success. There is now a city worth of pressure on the shoulders of this 19 year old, and if he fails to deliver, the Knicks may not see relevance for another 10 years.
Today is the day of the NBA draft, it is the second most popular draft in American sports, and I am something of a sports fanatic so I have been fully drawn into the hype. Much like the NFL draft, this is an event in which dozens of young adults are made instant millionaires with the calling of their name. There is no science to the NBA draft, I mean, scouts study and interview players for months before naming a pick, but often times NBA draft picks just don’t pan out. On average, it seems as though only 8 out of the 60 players drafted in a single NBA draft actually make an impact in the league. The low percentage of success in the NBA for draft picks can be unnerving to a struggling franchise, so it pays to have the first pick in the draft, but even that is not a sure thing. Many notable players were passed on by the team choosing first, including Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant, and while there are some greats chosen first overall, the NBA draft is always full of surprises. This year is the first year in a long time that Knicks fans like myself have something to look forward to, as the Knicks actually own a top five pick. The Knicks have been known for their years of boneheaded picks and terrible management, but that could all change in an instant. The Knicks have expressed a desire to draft Duke Center, Jahlil Okafor with their pick, but it seems like the fourth pick owned by the Knicks may be too high to grab the highly touted freshman. I would love to see the Knicks draft a versatile player like D’angelo Russell, but if he too is not available, they may find themselves making another boneheaded Knicks move. I am pretty excited about tonight’s draft, I have my hopes set high for a positive move by the Knicks, I just don’t want to see my dreams dashed by more of the team’s poor management decisions.
The NBA season has come to an end, and it was quite an exciting finish. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in a matchup for the ages, and as I predicted they managed to do it in only six games. I was thrilled by the play of both teams but what really caught my eye was the play of Lebron James. He showed that he is worthy of the title of best player in the NBA, but unfortunately he had to face off against the best team in the NBA. The Warriors won against all odds, as their staring lineup was absent of a tall center piece, and they managed to play their brand of basketball without worrying about what the analyst considered to be the most important aspect. I have said plenty of times, even within this blog, that I am not a big fan of basketball, but I think I may finally waver on that stance after watching this exciting series. Every moment of the every game during this NBA finals was exciting, I found myself glued to the screen as I watched the world’s best players on the leagues biggest stage. While the Cavaliers lost, they have much to look forward to next season, the team is young, talented, and hopefully still the home to Lebron James. If the Cavs can stay healthy and learn to play better as a squad, they will be championship contenders next year. The Warriors, a team full of young stars, managed to win this title, and based on their skills and fluidity they may become the NBA’s next dynasty. I am excited for the future of the NBA and I hope to see more teams emerge as championship competitors in the coming years.
The NBA finals starts tonight, in this evening’s game the Warriors will face off against the Cavaliers as they start a seven game series. Both teams are extremely talented but this game is highlighted by the presence of the league MVP, Stephen Curry, and the league’s former MVP and best player, Lebron James. The Cavaliers have been running on all cylinders this season, as the return of Lebron James has made this once terrible team a solid championship contender. Lebron is a unique basketball player, he is much faster and more athletic than players his size, and he has a basketball IQ that rivals the greatest players who ever graced the court. It would be hard for any team to face such a daunting task as neutralizing Lebron James, but I honestly think the Warriors have exactly what it takes to succeed. The Golden State Warriors are a team on a mission to disprove the doubters, they were the best team in the NBA this year, and they have the MVP, as well as one of the runner ups for the defensive player of the year award on their team, but they are still not recognized as the favorite to win. In each series the Warriors have played during the playoffs, television analysts gave reasons why they wouldn’t win. The Warriors are a team of shooters, they tend to play outside of the paint, and they don’t have a dominant big man, they basically lack what a “championship caliber” teams has, but they are primed to break the mold. Stephen Curry is a fantastic player, his skill set is not exactly unique, but the aptitude he has for the game makes him one of the best players I’ve ever seen. Curry has the ability to dribble the ball out of tight coverage, and shoot from anywhere on the court, unless the Cavaliers make Lebron guard Curry all game, they will have an difficult time winning this series. These games are going to be competitive, and both teams will be sure to play their hardest in order to take home the trophy, but I have to choose the Warriors to win in seven games. The Warriors have shown they are tough, and they play team basketball, every player on the team knows his place and they have been successful for it, I expect that this team solidarity will be the X-factor in the series and the Warriors will find a way to win a tough last game by a small margin. The teams are set and the starting whistle is about to be blown, I look forward to an exciting end to the NBA season and I hope to see the Warriors come out on top.
The NBA playoffs are underway, and it is finally time for the real season to begin. I have said before that I am not a big fan of professional basketball but the playoffs is the time when I find the season most watchable. In this post I will keep my predictions simple and just state my winners for each conference. In the west coast I have the Golden State Warriors winning, this team has it all, shooters, defensive studs, and a great coach. Steve Kerr has shocked the league by coming in as an overpaid first time coach, and taking the Warriors to the top of the league. The Warriors were a good team last year, but they have really stepped up to an elite team this year, and become the archetype for the perfect basketball franchise. My choice for the east is a bit more difficult, the teams in the east are good but any team can win in this wide open conference. The only team that really impressed me from the east is the Atlanta Hawks, however they have lost a large part of their defense with the season ending injury to Thabo Sefolosha. The Hawks were my late favorite to win the championship, but now I have the Hawks losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the eastern conference finals, since they no longer have the complete team needed to deal with the play of Lebron James. I believe the NBA finals will be competitive, but I can easily see the Warriors defeating the Cavaliers in five games. I am aware that many may find my prediction absurd, but if the Cavs get a chance to play a sixth game, they will win the finals in seven. Lebron James is just too good at coordinating an offense, and with the cache of talented veterans on the team, I am sure they would not go down without a legitimate fight. The teams are set and the playoffs have already begun, so far it looks like this will be one for the ages.