Grayson Allen and the Titanic Part Deux

Grayson Allen Wrenching Defeat

Dickie V: “That was Havlicek all the way.” Yup.

The setting: Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mike Krzyzewski’s 69th birthday. Unranked Duke (18-6) leads 61-60 over No. 7 Virginia (20-4). Purported Most Hated White Player Grayson Allen, who looks disarmingly similar to Coach K’s two grandsons and is an 85% free throw shooter, misses BOTH free throws with :27 left. UVA comes down and a Cav makes an awkward, back to the basket layup with less than :10 to play.

Cue Duke inbounds pass. Allen drives left, picks up ball, takes one step, then two (that’s a travel, no?), picks up ball, runs into contact (IMO, good no call since it was a charge if anything), has his right foot come back down (so that’s up and down), releases the shot form about 10 feet, which of course banks in. Duke wins, 63-62.

Great shot. Great ending. A few whistles might have been blown, but hey, it was Coach K’s birthday (I would’ve enjoyed that temper tantrum, though). Not to worry if you’re the Cavs, though. So many Top 25 teams lost this weekend, including two teams ahead of them, that they likely won’t dip.

Keep Reading: #7 Virginia vs. Duke

You Gotta Be Shippin’ Me

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer is building a near exact replica of Titanic, which he is dubbing Titanic II. The vessel, which will have a welded as opposed to a riveted hull, isset to lift anchor in 2018 on a voyage from Jiangsu, China, to Dubai.

Like the original, Titanic II will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes (steerage?), squash courts, a grand staircase, Turkish baths, and a dude who won his ticket in a card game. The original Titanic hit an iceberg, sunk in a matter of hours, killed 1,503 people, and grossed nearly $2.2 billion at the box office. Titanic II will accommodate 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members. Not sure if it will sail under the White Star Line.

Makes you want too replicate an Iceberg.

Source: IT’S ALL HAPPENING! | Medium Happy

Could a budget crisis cause #LSU football to miss next season?

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards insisted he wasn’t trying to scare anyone last week when he outlined the state’s economic woes ahead of a special legislative session to determine a new budget. But of course he was. Otherwise he wouldn’t have uttered the following words in his address to the state’s citizens:

“… If the legislature fails to act and we are forced to proceed with these cuts, the LSU Ag Center and parish extension offices in every parish, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center will close by April 1st and the LSU main campus in Baton Rouge will run out of money after April 30th, as will the Health Sciences Center in Shreveport and LSU Eunice. There is no money left for payroll after those dates. The Southern University System, and University of Louisiana System, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System are in the same boat: without legislators approving new revenue this special session, some campuses will be forced to declare financial bankruptcy, which would include massive layoffs and cancellation of classes.

If you are a student attending one of these universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete, many students will not be able to graduate and student-athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.”

In the grand scheme, the closure of hospitals—something Edwards also threatened as a possibility in his doomsday speech—would be a far greater catastrophe than an interruption of college football in the state. But Edwards is a politician. He knew which button to push. By hinting that the budget crisis could harm LSU football, Edwards turned a state story into a national one and raised the antennae of people from all walks of life whose only commonality may be their love of the Tigers.

Will Louisiana’s budget deficit, which is almost $1 billion this year and could be as much as $2 billion next year, really affect LSU on the field? Probably not. All of Edwards’s dire predictions were things that could only happen if the legislature does not pass a new budget. The legislature will likely pass one. Edwards, the Democrat who replaced two-term Republican Bobby Jindal in January, would prefer for the budget to include the particular tax increases and budget cuts he has suggested. More than likely, the budget that gets passed will involve some sort of compromise between the state’s legislative and executive branches. That’s usually how this type of thing works.

To get a little perspective on the situation, I called a Louisiana native who has worked most of his life in politics. He also might be the world’s biggest Tigers football fan. LSU graduate James Carville helped Bill Clinton win the White House and is on record as saying the SEC title game should be a national semifinal. I asked him if Edwards’s introduction of college football into the budget discussion was representative of the old politician’s trick of re-framing a debate by threatening something that enjoys bipartisan support. “You’re right, it’s a gimmick that people use in politics to grab somebody’s attention,” Carville said. “But it’s not totally a gimmick here. There’s some reality under it.”

Keep Reading: Could a budget crisis cause LSU football to miss next season?

Monday Shootaround: The #NBA is ready for the end of Kobe Bryant


So, we need to talk about the weather because that’s all anyone really talked about this weekend. It was cold you see, really freaking cold. How cold was it, Kobe?

“It’s cold,” Kobe Bryant confirmed on Friday. “It’s really, really cold. Really, really cold.”

And that was before we got to Saturday when leaving one’s hotel felt like a truly courageous act, if not downright lunacy. The funny thing about the cold, the locals all said, was that it had been such a mild winter. And the really funny thing was that it would warm up just when the NBA’s All-Star carnival of marketing delights was set to get up on out of here. What can you do, eh? (No one shrugs about bad weather like Canadians.)

“Nobody believes me,” Raptor guard DeMar DeRozan said. “They think it’s cold like this all the time. But that’s not the truth. You’ve got to take the good with the bad. We’ve got an All-Star Weekend here. Everything’s here. We can’t complain.”

It’s true: no one believed DeRozan, but everyone did complain. The shame of it was that Toronto was a wonderful host city. It’s a gorgeous place, filled with fantastic restaurants and friendly, welcoming people. Everything they say about Toronto was true from the clean sidewalks to the oddly well-organized traffic congestion. No one wanted to be an ungracious guest, so we whined in private, put on Canada Goose jackets and tried to make the best of it. As Adam Silver pointed out, the very point of the game of basketball was to give people something to do when the weather turned brutal.

“Yes, it’s a bit cold here, but I’ve been reading up on James Naismith,” Silver said. “Dr. James Naismith, who, of course, was born in this very province of Ontario. And what I read is when he founded this game 125 years ago, it was because he thought there was an activity needed to keep young boys, young men active on these very cold winter days. And of course, he planned it as an indoor activity. So when I keep hearing about how cold it is, I keep reminding people that’s true, but our events are inside, so no big deal and we’re all enjoying it here.”

Into that frigid atmosphere stepped Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine, who lit up Saturday night with one of the greatest dunking exhibitions any of us have ever seen. Their overtime dunk contest was an instant classic and redefined the possibilities of human flight and creativity.

It came down to a choice between LaVine’s graceful artistry and Gordon’s overwhelming power. Like Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins before them, LaVine’s aerial ballet carried the day, but who cares about the winner after such a show? The dunk contest redeemed everything about the weekend, which up to that point had been lacking in anything so visceral as two dudes flying through the air.

It was Kobe who defined this year’s All-Star experience, and while Bryant was trailed everywhere by an ever-eager international media begging him to say something, anything, in their native language, even that seemed a bit ceremonial. His farewell tour has been so well-chronicled at this point that All-Star weekend was just another signpost on this nostalgic journey through the past.

While Kobe held court, it was impossible to look around and notice who wasn’t here this time around. There was no Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett or Dirk Nowitzki or Paul Pierce. His old nemesis Shaquille O’Neal was a finalist for the Hall of Fame as was Allen Iverson, who was a member of same draft class.

Kobe, fittingly, is the last of his era. He’s the final, most prominent link between the beginning of the NBA’s golden period of Bird, Magic and Jordan when pro basketball transformed itself from a winter activity with a devoted cultish audience into an international spectacle. No American player has carried the NBA’s banner overseas better than Kobe. The modern players referred to Bryant as their Jordan, and in the global vision of the league, he has more than earned that singular title. The stage, for most of the weekend, was his alone.

“This is pretty cool,” Bryant said. “I’m looking around the room and seeing guys that I’m playing with that are tearing the league up that were like four during my first All-Star Game. It’s true. I mean, how many players can say they’ve played 20 years and actually have seen the game go through three, four generations, you know what I mean? It’s not sad at all. I mean, I’m really happy and honored to be here and see this.”

The most memorable All-Star weekends are about transitional moments. At their best, they are a time when one generation rises up to assert itself and its place in the game. At the very least they are a signifier of where the league stands at a moment in history. And so, the NBA finds itself in a curious place. Kobe’s farewell marked the end of one of the most enduring passages in league history and the future feels very much uncertain. The incoming crush of television money threatens to rewrite the landscape in ways we haven’t even begun to comprehend.

“The answer is, I’m not sure,” Silver said candidly. “As I’ve said before, a dramatic increase in the cap, as we’re going to see next year, is not something we modeled when we designed this Collective Bargaining Agreement. We’d prefer a system where teams are managing for cap room, and we’d prefer a system in which stars are distributed throughout the league as opposed to congregating in one market. Whether that will happen with all this additional cap room this summer is unclear to me.”

Keep Reading: Monday Shootaround: The NBA is ready for the end of Kobe Bryant

Weekend Update: #NBA All Star Edition


Dunk the Magic-Dragon?!


“He’s a freak.” It was Saturday morning — about 10 hours before the most exhilarating dunk contest in NBA history finally concluded — when DeMarcus Cousins exhaled, shook his head and declared his prediction for the night’s main event.

“Zach,” he said. “He’s a freak.”

Two years in a row, the main takeaway from NBA All-Star Weekend is that the one person everyone really wants to see isn’t even an All-Star. LaVine isn’t a household name. He’s not even 21 years old and could possibly be the worst defender at his position. But in what’s quickly morphed into one of the most anticipated annual rituals in all of professional sports, the Minnesota Timberwolves guard spends 20 minutes tantalizing millions while at the same time supplying more than any could even imagine to ask for.

Who — or what — is LaVine? Is he “only” the Steph Curry of dunking, next in line on an evolutionary flow chart that connects Connie Hawkins to Julius Erving to Michael Jordan to Vince Carter? Or does he align with Harold Miner and Gerald Green? How much is there to unpack? What else is there to discover?

On Saturday night, LaVine’s epic head-to-head showdown against Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon — who also had some of the greatest dunks in history — somehow obscured those questions while simultaneously nudging them beneath a spotlight. But before I go on to explain, here’s a brief interlude for any who’ve yet to witness one of the most magical things that’s ever happened.

What follows is basically the basketball equivalent of “Apocalypse Now” being co-directed by Spike Jonze and Kanye West, and neither has slept in five days:

Continue Reading: Zach LaVine tops Aaron Gordon in epic slam dunk contest.

Thoughts I Cannot Put Anywhere Else:

  • During pre-game intros, both Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook spurn the bro-hug opp with Canadian Prime Minister Drake. Russ had the best All-Star Game entrance I’ve ever seen (at 2:15 above)
  • Could NBA All-Star Weekend have been more spectacular? It was hands down the best since maybe … forever. No league does exhibition events and games better.
  • Win Butler, an American who happens to be the lead singer in a Canadian band (Arcade Fire), is named MVP in Friday night’s Celebrity Game. Then he gets blocked in the postgame interview by Sage Steele (“So we’re talking about celebrity stuff, not politics.”)
  • That game also featured the NBA commissioner’s brother-in-law.
  • Ernie, Sir Charles, Kenny and Shaq make anything watchable. For example, the Talent Challenge. Subtract their hilarious commentary and answer this: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, what was that?
  • Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on arguably the best dunk contest duel since Michael Jordan versus Dominique Wilkins. Gordon loses to LaVine, but his dunk will have  a more lasting legacy.
  • From a sentimental perspective, the Rising Stars Challenge is my favorite event. I love giving the league’s emerging talent a platform to shine. Anyone else agree?
  • Vancouver Island native Steve Nash opens Sunday night’s festivities reminding all that Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian, invented the game.
  • How awesome was the revamped Skills Challenge, featuring the frontcourt versus the backcourt? And the close finish between Isaiah Thomas and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns winning, took it waaaay over the top for me.
  • The West scores 196 points in a 196-173 win. We are informed by Marv Albert (who works really, really well with Reggie Miller and Chris Webber) that the Air Canada Center scoreboard is not designed to put up a “2” in that spot.
  • Who knew Kevin Hart, a 5-feet-4 comedian and actor, would become the NBA’s No. 1 pitchman? From commercials to coaching to competing to commentating, he was everywhere.
  • I know it was Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star Game and everything, but were two video montages really necessary?
  • ALSO: Why didn’t we know keeping track of how many times Kobe mentioned “trying to stay loose” would be the unofficial drinking game of the night? #OldManProbs
  • Beyond stating the obvious about the All-Star Game’s halftime performance, Sting and the dancers? Nah.
  • Drake’s “Farewell Mamba” leather jacket: cool or creepy? #TeamCreepy
  • Back-to-back All-Star wins for Russell Westbrook (All-Star Game MVP) and Zach Lavine (Slam Dunk Contest). There’s gotta be a Drake versus Meek Mill joke in there somewhere, right?
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves sure put the basketball world on notice this weekend, didn’t they? They have some serious young talent: No. 1 overall draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns, two-time Slam Dunk Contest champ Zach Lavine and 2015 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins. A bright future awaits them, and the loss of their coach Flip Saunders earlier in the season makes that incredibly bittersweet.
  • During a timeout, a 6’1″ white dude in long pants, Jordan Kilganon, performs a spectacular dunk as if he were inside a bouncy house. We’re still not sure how he did it.
  • Paul George scores 41 points. In the final two minutes the West seems to realize that the Indiana forward is just a bucket away from breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s 54-year old All-Star Game scoring record, so Coach Pop has Draymond Green face guard him.
  • Stephen Curry buries a 42-footer as time expires, but TNT/TBS cameras are too busy focusing on Kobe and miss it.
  • West scores big in NBA All-Star Game – The Western Conference shattered the record for points in an NBA All-Star Game with a 196-173 victory over the East. The previous mark was 163 points, which was set by the Eastern Conference in 2014 and tied by the West last year. Interestingly, a record total of 153 points by the West stood from 1961 until it was surpassed in an overtime game in 1984, and the mark was broken only once more over the next 29 years, also in a game that went to overtime.
  • George continues a recent trend, but Wilt’s mark survives again – Paul George led all players with 41 points. But like Russell Westbrook a year ago, George fell one point short of the All-Star Game record set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. Seven of the 12 highest individual point totals in the NBA All-Star Game have been attained since 2011.
  • Chris Paul, Helper to the Stars – Chris Paul had 16 assists for the winning team, and he became the second player in league history to reach the 100-assist mark in NBA All-Star competition. With 106 assists, Paul trails only Magic Johnson (127). It was the seventh time in eight All-Star Games that Paul assisted on at least 10 field goals, setting a record for ASG’s with double-digit assists. Magic Johnson had six such games.
  • Bryant leaves with an All-Star record – Kobe Bryant was credited with seven assists. Assuming Bryant retires following this season, that will be the highest total in the history of the All-Star Game by a player in his final season in the NBA. The previous record was five by Julius Ervingin 1987.
  • Davis is nearly perfect from the field – Anthony Davis made 12 of 13 shots from the field (92%), which was the highest shooting percentage in an NBA All-Star Game by a player who made at least 10 field goals. The previous mark was 86 percent by Tim Duncan in 2000 (12-for-14), although it must be noted that Hal Greer was 8-for-8 from the floor in the 1968 All-Star Game.

Source: Recapping the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, Sting’s Halftime Show And The Joy Of Russell Westbrook

Source: IT’S ALL HAPPENING! | Medium Happy

Source: Elias Says: Sports Statistics – Stats from the Elias Sports Bureau