No, this won’t be about what sports celebrity is fighting with a clickbait journalist. Well, not entirely. I think I’m going to do a little variety riff on our open thread here because there’s a few things I’d like to discuss. I don’t want to have to derail any particular discussion that happens to pop up with some arcane blog etiquette. So, without further adieu, let’s jump right in.
Athletes vs. Politicians
I don’t want to specifically bring up the most recent flap between Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Donald Trump. If you’re interested in the contents of this most recent weenie click war, the contents of it are here.. On this particular topic I’d just say that Lebron James is pretty justified in his comments, because, well, it’s his right as an American and his market base rewards this behavior from him. In addition, Ingrahm sounds like a complete dipshit (to me), but I’d like to take a step back and get everyone to the conclusion that she is a disingenuous, disinterested talking head that is simply pandering to her market base. this is also her right. It also appears to be something her market base rewards her for, because she’s employed and in good standing at Fox.
What this leads me to is the discussion of just how disingenuous it is to allow either side to inject politics into entertainment (this means you, Fox bots). Lebron James doesn’t know me, he doesn’t share my cultural identity, my economic situation (he’s going to probably go down as one of the wealthiest sports entertainers in history, if not wealthiest individuals), and he doesn’t represent my politics. Not specifically. We share some views, and if he says something I agree with I say to myself “ok, I agree with that” or not. I think the same should go for Ingrahm. “But, Dredd!! She’s a political pundit, not a dumb jock! It’s her job!!”
I disagree. Ingraham is an actress. She is an entertainer. She doesn’t give one single f*ck about any of this, in my opinion, and she’d bend down and kiss James ass with cherry chapstick on if it meant he’d agree to do an interview with her. James, for his part, is making these comments at a time that he is under scrutiny for his team’s performance, where he’s going to play next year, and is somewhat sinking in relevance because there are more talented teams in bigger markets taking the front pages of sports bloggers.
Without turning this into a complete tirade, please allow me to just throw a few points out here for shits and giggles:
Disney Bought Most of Sports Recently. In the Fox-Disney merger, Disney gobbled up ALL of the local sports networks, for the most part. They did not purchase the “fox sports” entities of sports gossip like Colin Cowherd, and the rights that particular entity owned, like football.
Fox kept the NFL. Interesting, huh? The news network that told you the NFL players protesting was treasonous, and had a president support the claim actually wanted and retained the rights to what NFL they had. They then doubled down after the merger and bought Thursday Night Football. Why would the “patriot” station want a bunch of ungrateful black athletes that won’t dance on command for the president, won’t stand for the anthem and pretty much stick a finger in the eye of Fox’s very unquestioning audience? Why would Fox want a business they wrote for months had been sacked by bootstrappy, patriotic jingoists that took their stars and bars currency elsewhere? I’ll leave you with one more interesting fact along these lines.
A meaningless NFL game that really is the least important event in the entire genre of professional football, beat everything else in its time slot for views. Everything.
I’ll leave this to you to see if your myopic worldview is the image of your Pepe the frog, MAGA hat twitter account “fighting the culture war” sacked the NFL, or if Ingraham is simply speaking her mind to a stupid athlete to “shut up and dribble” except for their athletes.
Ask yourself “what sport does Fox not have one foot in the water for anymore?” Just throwing that out there.
Basketball’s Continued Evolution
If you haven’t heard of the Golden State Warriors by now, I can’t relate. You are some Fugazi thing to me and not a person, really.
They are not only probably the most efficient team ever assembled in basketball history, they are also re-writing the book on how the game is played. When I was a kid, we admired athletes for the seemingly amazing individual feats they possessed. Jordan could jump out of the stadium, Shaq was the first big man to be a proportioned spectacle of a man and we admired the athletes that slashed to the rim risking themselves for a bucket (and possibly a free throw too).
The Golden State warriors changed all of that. you got a big man? The warriors will pass around him to the weak side, beating the slow clod on the weak side. You don’t guard out to the perimeter? You’d better start. You got 110 points on 65 shots? We’re going to make it a goal to take 100 attempts every game.
They injected a little moneyball into the game, and really scrutinized analytics of players, more than anytime I can ever recall. Now we want “stretch” players. Combo position players, bigs (4s and 5s) that can shoot the three and stretch the floor. Combo guards are a premium; and guys shooting percentages are every bit a statistic that dictates their success in the league. Teams count on the statistical success of feeding you the ball to plan offenses around, and really who to sign contracts to.
You saw it more with this year’s NBA trade deadline, than with any deadline I’ve ever witnessed. Almost no one moved, except for a gimme (in my opinion) to the Cavs. They moved six players, marginally improving their time by getting younger. Not better by the numbers. What really took precedent this year was a salary cap that has crippled almost every team that signed mid level talent in 2016, when the salary cap expanded. It’s made what’s now becoming a game a golfer might recognize more (an accuracy game, and a game you can look at with numbers) and injected more mathematics into it. Half of the game is off the court now, with savvy front offices doing gymnastics with contracts. They fit together players by statistics, and with very little regard to positions anymore.
This is really impacting the game, because people everyone would’ve jumped at a couple of years ago just simply did not get a sales call at contract time. It’s more economical to let people walk than it is to roll the dice by paying them under a contract. this also is going to make this year’s draft very interesting in much the same way. We’ve got a 2018 draft class full of bigs, and bigs are slowly being evolved out of the game. They are not coveted unless they run fast, can run an offense, handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. Bigs like DeAndre Jordan just didn’t find a home at the trade deadline, because no one could really figure out what to do with someone whose whole life had been training for a dinosaur’s position.
I don’t know where any other team intends to beat the Warriors by copying their strategy, though. They drafted risky prospects, keeping them below the cap. they emphasized attempts from three and shooting accuracy as a strategy to win with efficiency, and emphasized ball handling over athletic concepts like individual speed. They’ve likely sacked Lebron James career, because like Charles Barkley he’s found himself a victim of his zeitgeist, in a league where a marquee talent isn’t worth as much as five guys that can get into a space on the court where they’re accurate and shoot you out of the court.
It’s also made positions that were legitimate almost useless, and rendered defenses extinct.