NY & LA Pt.3 – The Fans

The Fans

New York City – Meritocracy

The fans in the Big Apple ask for one thing: WIN. They don’t mind being the Evil Empire (see: Yankees) or the Underdog (see: Giants), as long as you get the job done. The old adage of “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” applies in to New York sports. If you can ball, you have the love of the masses. If you can’t, you can take the first flight out of JFK. Like New York weather, NY’s sports scene can be scorching one day and snowing the other. The fans are intensely passionate and fiercely loyal, but New York is also a cold, unforgiving place. Just ask Mark Sanchez and he will tell you the cold hard truth: that you’re only one butt-fumble away from being boo’ed in your home arena. Amare and Melo were once touted as New York’s white knights, the saving grace for a long-dead Knicks, and combined with Tyson Chandler, another Big Three. Now, whenever there’s an injury, there’s an endless barrage of  “Are the Knicks better without ____.” Except for Tyson Chandler—he’s great.

P.S. Remember when we loved A-Rod?

Los Angeles – Theocracy
If sports is a religion, for Angelino’s it’s not polytheistic. There is one god. And it is the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe is their Pope and Staples, their Sistine Chapel. Don’t get me wrong, LA loves their other teams, but the Kings won the Stanley Cup and all Los Angeles could talk about was what to do with Andrew Bynum. Clippers are making the best run in their franchise’s history but the Lakers fighting for 8th seed bumps them off the headlines. It’s not that Laker fans aren’t fickle and clamoring for revolution when the Lakers have their struggles (see: Mike Brown, soon-to-be Mike D’Antoni), it’s that they are single-minded in their love or hate of their Lakers. There are no cross-town rivalries. There is no subway series and except for the minority of die-hards and band-wagoners, Los Angeles is Laker-Nation.

P.S. What a wonderful pope he is.

10 Players Who Are Changing the Culture of the NBA

by: sunroot liu

10. Russell Westbrook – The Fashionisto

Russell Westbrook plays balls-to-the-wall basketball. You may question his shot selection, but he plays with an intensity that makes it impossible to criticize his desire to win. He leads OKC in ways that KD can’t with his raw emotion and sheer will. But he’s making headlines a lot for his fashion choices at post-game press conferences. He even drew attention from All-Star Celebrity Game MVP Kevin Hart for his pant selection. He’s an icon in the NBA, a league that increasingly makes it’s on fashion and pop culture.

Honorable Mention: Dwayne Wade, Walt Frazier
Dishonorable Mention: Craig Sager

9. Kobe Bryant – The Renaissance Man
Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is putting up some serious numbers at age 34 in his 17th season in the NBA. He’s proven to the world that he will never age and that shark-juice-cartilage is great medicine for aging knees. It’s impressive alone that he’s scoring at a clip that we haven’t seen in years, but it’s flat-out astonishing to see how he has the ability to completely alter his game to fit his team. Kobe Bryant saw the NBA Memes, flipped a switch and ironically notched Steve Nash-like assist totals for a stretch of games that left everyone in the NBA uncomfortable with the realization that their excuses for stylistic flaws were now invalid.

Honorable Mention: Tim Duncan
Dishonorable Mention: Jason Kidd

8. Jeremy Lin – The Underdog
Jeremy Lin makes the list for more than being the first Taiwanese-American in the NBA. He changes a paradigm of how scouts look at smaller college conferences (Ivy League) and the D-league (I told you that John Wall match-up wasn’t a fluke!). He’s also a sign of how the NBA is growing as a global product into Asia and the power that market, and social media can have in creating phenomena like Linsanity.

Honorable Mention: Wataru Misaka, Yao Ming
Dishonorable Mention: Yi Jianlian

7. Manu Ginobili – The Sixth Man
Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 12.33.06 AM
Manu Ginobili’s career has had a number of twists and turns. Injuries have made this explosive euro-stepping lefty inconsistent in recent years, but who can forget Manu coming off the bench in 06-07 and helping the Spurs win it all? Manu’s role as a superstar coming off the bench has set the tone and given validation to other big stars who don’t start. Who says you have to start to be part of the big three? Manu comes off the bench to provide energy and destroy opposing teams’ secondary squads. Starters too.

Honorable Mention: Jamal Crawford, Jarrett Jack
Dishonorable Mention: J.R. Smith, Amare Stoudemire

6. Derrick Rose – The Freak Athlete
Derrick Rose brings an athleticism and out-of-control explosiveness that makes you question the laws of physics. I’m surprised that his knee gave way last year instead of the floor exploding beneath his feet. His speed and slashing ability made it possible to forgive his lack on an outside shot in earlier years (which, thankfully, he has remedied). We continue to love freak athletes with potential holes in their games (see: below).

Honorable Mention: Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook
Dishonorable Mention: Larry Bird, Steve Nash, Paul Pierce

5. Kevin Durant – The Efficient One
Kevin Durant
I kind of hate KD, but I kind of love him. I hate him for things that aren’t his fault, like his length and his shooting ability. I love him for what his level of play means for the future of basketball. The Durantula plays with ruthless efficiency that makes his stat sheets look like Aaron Rodgers’. His rise to the top of the NBA marks the end of the go-ahead volume shooter and ushers in the age of the efficient scorer.

Honorable Mention: Lebron James
Dishonorable Mention: Monta Ellis

4. Ray Allen – The Specialist
Now that Jesus Shuttlesworth has gone to the Dark Side, I boo him regularly, shouting unreasonably at my TV screen for him to put up bricks. Unfortunately for me and the rest of NBA, he hits that jumper in our faces. Ray has been so good at shooting the three, he’s created jobs for great college shooters to be role players on contending teams. His presence on the floor and how it demands a defender changes the way teams can space a floor. The only caveat is that Ray is more well-rounded than he gets credit for.

Honorable Mention: J.J. Redick, Steve Kerr
Dishonorable Mention: Steve Novak, Jimmer Freddette

3. Dirk Nowitzki – The Stretch Forward
I blame Dirk for it all. I blame him for bringing a European style of basketball that has bigs playing on the perimeter. I blame him for the end of the post-up center and I blame him for making kids like me think that a slow falling fade-away is an acceptable shot. That being said, Dirk is an example of how bigs with shooting ability can pick apart defenses and change how size and positions are traditionally associated.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, any other Kevin you can think of.
Dishonorable Mention: Rashard Lewis

2. Kobe Bryant – The Closer
Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 12.26.46 AM
While Michael Jordan gave the world the first taste of what it means to have your best player be the one who takes the shots at the end, Kobe’s 4th quarter performances put Closer into the NBA’s vernacular and made it a requirement for all aspiring superstars (see: Lebron 2011 Playoffs). Kobe may not have invented hero ball, but he made the Clutch Gene a talking point for pundits and a criteria with which to measure all stars. And yes, this is the second time Kobe’s on this list.

Honorable Mention: Kobe Bryant, Black Mamba, #countonkobe
Dishonorable Mention: Everybody else in this video

1. Lebron James – The Chosen One
I hate Lebron. I hate him for what he did to Cleveland. I hate him for not being in the Dunk Contest. I hate him for eclipsing how great a season D-Wade is having and for taking Ray from my C’s. But I have to admit that he does it all. On and off the court he’s showing a versatility that’s breath-taking and infuriating. He’s expanding his reach off the court while he amazes us on the court. He’s the James Franco of basketball. He’s invented the position of point-forward or power-guard or whatever they’re calling it. Not since Magic Johnson have we seen such skill and passing vision from a guy this size. He can defend all five positions. He can score from anywhere and both his post-game and his perimeter shooting are improving constantly. Not to mention that he’s scoring at an unprecedented efficiency. He’s removing all doubt that he is the second coming. Bastard.

Honorable Mention: Shaquille O’Neal, James Franco, Magic Johnson
Dishonorable Mention: Lebron James, Pat Riley, Miami Heat

Bonus: The Future

Rudy Gay – The Sign of the Times

Unfortunately, Rudy Gay makes his way into this post because of his trade into the NBA’s version of a black hole, Toronto. His departure from a legitimate contender while being the leading scorer is a sign that Super-Teams like Miami have just about run their course in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s the beginning of the end as teams will need to move big-ticket players to avoid getting hit with brutal penalties for going over the salary cap.

Royce White – The Soapbox

Royce White hasn’t played a single game in the regular season, but he’s determined to change the NBA for good. His anxiety disorder affects a variety of player responsibilities (most notably flying) and his refusal to play challenges how the league approaches mental health. White has started to play with Houston’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and time will tell how the NBA will respond to his demand for a mental health protocol.

Why the Jets Will Trade Revis

Why The Jets Will Trade Revis
by: sunroot liu

Rumors have begun to swirl about the Jets trading star CB Darrelle Revis. Revis’ contract is set to expire at the end of this coming season and Revis has all but put the Jets on Holdout Watch 2013. This is why I think Jets management should and will trade him this offseason.

1. The Jets Suck
The Jets have way too many holes in their offense. They need a QB that’s not Mark Sanchez. They need a real RB if they’re ever going to successfully run a Ground-and-Pound offense. They need help in their line since they’ve let go of Bart Scott and they could use some real receivers. A better pass rush wouldn’t hurt either. If the Jets could get some pieces or draft picks for arguably the best shutdown corner in the NFL, they should pull the trigger.


2. Revis is an Ass
Revis has proven that he’s prepared to put himself above the team by holding out in 2010 and threatening to hold out again. Keeping a team on edge and having management worry about him is no way to endear the Jets to him. People often say that the best player on a team sets the tone for it, and while Revis is undoubtedly the Jets’ best player, his me-first attitude isn’t something you would want in the locker-room

3. Revis is an Ass…Part 2
Richard Sherman, CB for the Seahawks, is a young stud gunning for the title of the NFL’s best cornerback. In a recent TV interview, Sherman left Revis out of a list of the top corners in the league, on account of Revis being out this season with a torn ACL. The following Twitter feud ensued.


Sherman pads his argument with stats. Really good stats. Revis argues that he has more Twitter followers. Maybe Bieber can start next year. He has more followers than the population of his home country.

4. yahoo_revisinjury
Revis’ knee blew up. ACL/MCL injuries are a big deal. Despite what Adrian Peterson’s MVP season has shown us, players don’t always bounce back quickly and quite often never bounce back at all. On top of that, the demands on a cornerback’s knees can be more demanding than a running back’s in their need to backpedal and rotate. There’s no guarantee that Revis comes back to be the defensive force that he once was.

5. The Age of The Tight End
As football continues to evolve, we see the rise of complex offenses and teams with a diverse range of weapons. If you take the Pats for example (an AFC East rival), maybe Revis can stop Welker or Lloyd but it doesn’t do a thing about Hernandez and Gronk. It’s great that Revis can shut a guy down, but you wonder if it’s even a good thing that you force QB’s to throw to other players. While I’m not going to make the argument that having a worse cornerback is a better, I think the price tag on Revis, an A+ corner,  versus a B/B+ corner isn’t worth it. Is that marginal cost? I forget


How Tom Brady Made Me Cry

How Tom Brady Made Me Cry
by: sunroot liu

“Here’s Brady with a dog.”

Yesterday, Brady went all-in, flashed his big-giant-balls, and demonstrated what it means to be a franchise player and a leader on and off the field.

This Monday, SI announced that Brady signed a contract extension that will likely be his last, one that has him wrapping up his Hall of Fame career with the Patriots. The contract is worth $27 million over three years. This significant pay cut opens up space for other big ticket players for the Patriots to sign.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence with Brady. On one hand, I hate him for being a little too perfect: the All-American quarterback with good looks and a supermodel wife. On the other hand, I love his story and how even after 3 rings, he still plays with a chip on his shoulder. But on Monday, this announcement made me a bigger Brady fan than I’ve ever been. Let me tell you why.

1. Early Signing
Before Monday, he had two years left on his contract, For the bulk of professional athletes, this means, “hey, we’ll talk in about 23 months.” Sports headlines are inundated with contract disputes and divas athletes holding their teams ransom for big contracts and preferred trade destinations (see: The Dwightmare on Figueroa St.).

Before any destructive rumors or unrest in the locker-room, Tom Brady made a deal. The Patriots could easily have become a team of guys who have to wonder about Brady’s future with the team and answer questions everyday with the media. Instead, they see that their leader is fully invested with their team and hopefully, they follow suit.
“Shhh. Don’t remind them.”

2. Pay Cut
The most striking aspect of this contract is the money. Despite loads of guarantees and bonuses, Tom Brady takes an unprecedented pay cut. For a Top-5 quarterback and arguably one of the best QB’s of all time, Brady takes a salary that may be worth half of what he could be earning. That’s right, half.

If you were to take his future $9M/yr base salary and compare it to what QB’s earned this year, it would put him 18th on the list (yes, below Mark Sanchez). The argument is that he’ll be 38, 39, and 40 years-old for these years (2015-2017) of his contract — to which, I’d say Brett Favre got $12M his last year with the Vikings.

p.s. This pay cut likely gives New England the money needed to re-sign Wes Welker. How many friends do you know who would give up millions of dollars so you can them?

3. Trust
I didn’t grow up watching football. Football and I weren’t childhood friends. I met Football late in life, too late to have the blood allegiances that are born as a child fan. My loyalties were with players and stories. When I began to watch football, my first love was the Patriots. Besides having arguably the most exciting offense in the NFL, there was one stat said in passing during a game that tied me to this team forever.

The Pat’s are number one in the NFL for going for it on fourth down. Despite notoriously terrible failures (see: Pats @ Indy 11.15.09), Belichick continues to play a balls-to-the-wall, high-octane offense that I can only imagine hasdefensive coordinators around the league crapping their pants.

Then occasionally, when their scoring drives get stopped at 3rd down, Belichick says “screw it,” then turns to Tom Brady and says, “go get it.”

Belichick shows a trust in Brady that makes you wonder if Bill doesn’t remember the Ponytail or the Beiber or Uggs. He makes a statement to the world about Brady. This is my guy. (without a creepy tattoo, at that). It’s a level of trust that brings a tear to my eye.Brady returned that trust. He said to Belichick and Patriots management, I trust you to surround me with the right players.

4. “Just Win.”
Tom Brady’s answer to the critics? “Just Win.” Tom Brady posted these two words on his Facebook Monday night. A lot of players say they’d do anything to win, but when the money comes, they feel entitled to the big bucks that come with their talent. Tom Brady turned down money he had every right to claim and said “Just win.”