Westbrook or Harden!

If you’re living and breathing in 2017, you’ve heard the talk: Westbrook vs. Harden for MVP. Both players are having incredible seasons, playing at historic rates. Ex-player Kobe Bryant struggles so much to pick a definite winner that he argues there should be a “Co-MVP” award for the first time ever. Before I give my input on the winner, let me first say “Co-MVP? This is the NBA, not UPWARD sports. There ARE winner and losers.”

The votes are already in and will be revealed by Drake at an awards ceremony June 26. To prevent a Steve Harvey situation, I think it’s important that I give my opinion on who should be the 2016-2017 regular season MVP.

Standing at 6’3”, weighing 200 lbs from the University of California in Los Angeles, number zero, RUUUUUUUSSSEELLLL WESTBROOK!!! There is NO question that Russell Westbrook, in my opinion, is the MVP.

 

 

brook.gifThe Rockets improved to 55-27, third place in the West after finishing 41-41 last season. The Thunder finished 47-35, sixth place in the West after going 55-27.

Westbrook finished the season averaging a triple double, 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists. Harden, in a switch to point guard, averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 assists.

Below, I’m going to address a few fan tweets and give my take on why Russell Westbrook is most deserving of the award.

BHazMr. Hazouri, you tried to refute the argument that Russell has very little support players surrounding him. I would simply have to disagree. Neither player is on a “superteam” like our friends in the Bay and in the Land. But based on support players alone, the Rockets have Lou Williams and Eric Gordon coming off the bench, averaging a combined 33 points per game. Westbrook has the help of Victor Oladipo on the wing and the Stache bros in the post, but they don’t bring that much offense. The Thunder, with Russ on the floor, averaged 107.9 points per 100 possessions, whereas when he is on the bench, they only score 97.4 points per 100. The latter is similar to the 10-win 76ers from 2015 (96.6). The Rockets, with Harden scored 111.8 points per 100 possessions versus 106.5 points without Harden. That being said, Mr. Hazouri, the Rockets are better statistically than the Thunder, even without Harden on the floor.

JPeeds.pngDr. Pederson, it was your audacious statement that actually prompted me to give my input on the subject. You are correct in your statement, but far from convincing. James Harden did lead the NBA in double-doubles this year with 64 total. Right behind him, though, in second place is Mr. Westbrook with 62. As for triple doubles, the gap is significantly larger. Westbrook finished the season with 42 triple doubles compared to Harden’s 22. As you always say, “To effectively persuade an audience, organizations must provide evidence that coincides with the audience’s existing beliefs”.

KirkDr. Kirkpatrick, I appreciate your tweet, but refuse to buy your argument. When it comes to the crunch time of games, defined as the final five minutes with the game within 5 points either way, Russell Westbrook is an absolute monster. We all remember the game against the Denver Nuggets on April 9 where Russ willed the Thunder to victory. He scored 18 of his teams’ final 21 points, including the buzzerbeater from 35 feet out. In the crunch time of games, Westbrook leads the league shooting 44% from the field and points per 100 possessions, at 72.4. During these final minutes, OKC is +24.9 points when he is on the court.

Please provide your comments below if you agree or disagree but don’t @ me.

Statistics from ESPN.com

 

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Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials

My sport is your sport’s punishment. Running. It’s hard to meet someone who enjoys running, let alone does it for competition. It typically has such a negative connotation and people are scared of it. What if I told you I loved it? What if I told you I hated it?

I am a runner and a member of the cross-country and track team at Samford University. People ask me, “What do you do besides run?” and honestly it’s just that. We do run and we run a lot. Our season starts the last few weeks of May and continues for the entire year, ending in the second week of May. It all starts, though, in the summer. For the entire summer, we train, train, and train. IMG_1424It’s 7 days a week, running anywhere from 70-100 miles in a week. We’re up super early trying to beat the summer heat. Some days it’s slow and other days it’s fast. We do this every week throughout the entire summer, fall, and spring whether it’s at the beach or before school or before a date with the girlfriend.

Everything in running builds off each other. Spring builds off Fall and Fall builds off Summer. Senior year builds off Junior year, which builds off Sophomore year, which builds off Freshman year. College training builds off high school training. All of summer is in preparation for cross-country. A wise coach once said, “November is won in June.” In laymen’s terms, you’ll never be achieving personal bests or winning championships in November if you did not put in the work in June. After cross-country is a brief break between seasons, but still preparing for the upcoming Indoor track season. Despite being “indoor” track, there’s hardly much indoor about it. Fortunately, training in Alabama is not that bad, but honestly you never know what to expect. Similar to cross-country, everything done in the indoor season leads up to a conference championship in late February. After indoor season comes outdoor track or as some say, the best time of the year. From March to May, it’s the pinnacle of everything you’ve been working for since the hot summer days.

Running is all about the cycle and routine. Everything is the same, day in and day out. Every day, it’s waking up at 5:30 and sleepily starting the run. After anywhere from 10-12 miles and properly stretching and driving back home, you quickly rush to class often forgoing the shower and eating a half-hearted breakfast. IMG_1687The worst part is often class. Your body is usually toast after working hard for such a long period of time and then you have to force yourself to stay awake and focus. Class ends and you can finally go home and catch a quick nap if necessary, but don’t blink, because at 4 o’clock it’s practice time again. You’re in the weight room really focusing on your core, balance, and other areas to help your running form. Your body is sore from previous day’s run and you force yourself to sit in the cold tub. Repeat this process for 5 days and the week is finally coming to a close and for most people that’s a time of celebration and relaxation, but for runners, it means one thing: Sunday long run. On Sundays, this is one of the most important days in the week of training. Consistently having a long run makes you stronger physically and mentally. Most weeks it is anywhere from 14 up to 19 miles. On some days time passes faster than others, but regardless, it’s two hours of doing the same thing over and over.

Running, in my opinion, is 75% mental and 25% physical. Some days I’m telling myself “This is terrible, just stop. Why do you do this? What’s the point?” But there’s something about crossing the finish line knowing you’ve gave your best effort. During a race or during practice, everyone is hurting and struggling around you, but you know you have to stay strong mentally first and your body will follow. Muhammad Ali said it best when he said, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” IMG_2181.JPGFrom a runner’s standpoint, that directly correlates to training or to the race. Some days it’s terrible and extremely boring doing the exact same thing over and over, but nothing beats the feeling of crossing the finish line in success knowing you given it your best effort. Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials.

 

What If…

A Hypothetical NCAA Basketball Tournament

March Madness is coming to an end and with Gonzaga and North Carolina playing tomorrow in the College Basketball National Championship, it is only fitting to imagine a “What if” tournament with some of the greatest teams that NEVER played together. With college basketball’s “One-and-Done” rule, players are allowed to “declare for the NBA Draft once they’ve competed a year of college or been out of high school for a year”.1 This rule has hurt the current system of college basketball due its new players coming and going every year. But what if, we made a bracket consisting of some of the best “one-and-dones”, which school would win the tournament? Below are four teams, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and Texas, all prominent teams affected by the “one-and-done” and are now collaborated into a dream team. Each team will be broken down against their opponent in a tournament-style bracket to determine the most dominant “Could’ve Been” team from the past decade.


Semi-Final 1: 2010-2013 Kentucky Wildcats vs. 2006-2008 Texas Longhorns

Unknown-1

 Kentucky

Point Guard John Wall (SR)
Shooting Guard Brandon Knight (JR)
Shooting Guard Eric Bledsoe (SR)
Power Forward Anthony Davis (SO)
Center DeMarcus Cousins (SR)
Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SO)
Forward Terrence Jones (JR)
Forward Willie Cauley-Stein (FR)
Guard Archie Goodwin (FR)
Forward Nerlens Noel (FR)

Unknown

Texas

Point Guard DJ Augustin (SO)
Shooting Guard Daniel Gibson (JR)
Small Forward PJ Tucker (SR)
Power Forward Kevin Durant (SO)
Center LaMarcus Aldridge (JR)
Guard AJ Abrams (JR)
Forward Dexter Pittman (SO)

This matchup is very intriguing. Obviously, everyone knows Kentucky and being notorious for pumping players into the NBA. For Texas, everyone recognizes Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge. Although, they are both very talented and having lucrative NBA careers, it’s hard to see how Kentucky would lose this game. With the athleticism of John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, combined with the inside brutality of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, they would be extremely difficult to stop. Not to even mention the strong bench with five notable NBA role players. Their depth and size gives them the edge and it’s not even close. Score: Kentucky 85 – Texas 71


Semi-Final 2: 2014-2015 Duke vs. 2007-2009 UCLA

Unknown-2

 Duke

Point Guard Austin Rivers (SR)
Shooting Guard Rodney Hood (JR)
Small Forward Justise Winslow (FR)
Power Forward Jabari Parker (SO)
Center Jahlil Okafor (FR)
Guard Grayson Allen (FR)
Guard Quinn Cook (SR)
Guard Tyus Jones (FR)

Unknown-3.jpeg

UCLA

Point Guard Darren Collison (SR)
Shooting Guard Jrue Holliday (FR)
Small Forward Russell Westbrook (JR)
Power Forward Luc Mbah a Moute (SR)
Center Kevin Love (SO)
Guard Josh Shipp (SR)
Forward Alfred Aboya (SR)

Again, another very exciting matchup. This is a relatively young Duke team based on professional experience. From UCLA’s standpoint, everyone knows Russell Westbrook and what he is capable of doing every single night. That being said, UCLA gets the upset here almost single handedly due to Westbrook. Winslow is a good, scrappy defender, but would be unable to slow down #0. This Duke team would be very exciting with the athletic Jabari Parker and outside shooting of Rodney Hood and Allen, Cook, and Jones, off the bench. The Bruins just have too much offense for  the Blue Devils to slow down. Even if the game was close, who can stop Russell Westbrook in the final seconds? Score: UCLA 92 – Duke 84.


Championship: 2010-2013 Kentucky Wildcats vs. 2007-2009 UCLA Bruins

images-2

 Kentucky

Point Guard John Wall (SR)
Shooting Guard Brandon Knight (JR)
Shooting Guard Eric Bledsoe (SR)
Power Forward Anthony Davis (SO)
Center DeMarcus Cousins (SR)
Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SO)
Forward Terrence Jones (JR)
Forward Willie Cauley-Stein (FR)
Guard Archie Goodwin (FR)
Forward Nerlens Noel (FR)

russell-westbrook-and-kevin-love

UCLA

Point Guard Darren Collison (SR)
Shooting Guard Jrue Holliday (FR)
Small Forward Russell Westbrook (JR)
Power Forward Luc Mbah a Moute (SR)
Center Kevin Love (SO)
Guard Josh Shipp (SR)
Forward Alfred Aboya (SR)

UCLA enters the game off a fiery performance from Russell Westbrook, getting past a good Duke team. Awaiting the Bruins is not a good, but a great Kentucky team. Kevin Love is a good defender, but both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins would prove to be too much. Wall, Knight, and Bledsoe will get up and down the court fast and match the energy of Westbrook. As good of a passer as Westbrook is, the goal is still to keep the ball out of his hands and make his other teammates make shots. The “Bigs” of Kentucky will do what they do best and that’s protect the rim. Between them, they averaged 6.09 blocks per game2 combined for their current NBA teams. The game will be competitive, but in the end, there’s no way Kentucky loses, even in the madness of March. Score: Kentucky 74 – UCLA 69

Unknown-4

Notes:

1: CBSSports.com

2: Stats from ESPN.com

Listen Up Adam Silver

Dear Commissioner Silver,

With the recent success of the NBA, the Collective Bargaining Agreement complete, the new apparel deal with Nike, and the growing talent of the league, I have been hearing rumors and speculations of possible expansion. I would like to address these rumors and hopefully provide some insight to get the metaphorical ball rolling and hopefully see some potential changes. It has been 13 years since the last expansion team in 2004 with the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets). The expansion is closer than expected. I’m hearing that the earliest expansion could occur is the 2018-2019 season, but ideally it would occur in the 2019-2020 season. Below I would like to present you with some potential locations and then some pros and cons with the whole idea of expansion.

Potential Teams

Seattle TweetAccording to you, Mr. Silver, Seattle is the front-runner for a new team. Many people, like myself initially, were confused when you mentioned them, but it really seems to be a great possibility. When Kevin Durant and crew left in 2008 (surprise, surprise), the city was devastated, but the fan passion is still there. Basically, from what I’m hearing, the ball is in Seattle’s court and it’s merely up to them, following a few changes to KeyArena.

Another potential buyer will be Mexico City. On January 12 and January 14 of this year, the league hosted two regular season games in Mexico City. The first game was between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks and then the Phoenix Suns versus the San Antonio Spurs. Both games sold out the 22,000-seat Mexico City Arena. The fan interest is there and the league has been doing events there for 25 years. They definitely should be considered #2 on the list.

KFC.jpgA third city to consider is the city of Louisville, Kentucky. In an already thriving area of the country with Louisville and Kentucky college basketball, they are a pretty reasonable city to consider. The biggest thing they have going for them is potential facilities. Ideally, the new NBA team would play at the KFC Yum! Center and share occupancy with the Louisville Cardinals. They would also be centrally located and make travel and scheduling easy among the conference.

Some other cities to look at would be Vancouver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh.

Pro: Money, Money, Money

Kobe Bryant Stack of Cash SalaryThe main pro I can see from expansion is the revenue influx it will bring. In 2004, Charlotte paid a $300 million dollar expansion fee, but it is speculated that a new expansion team would be minimally $750 million dollars and all the teams will profit. The expansion fee would be divided equally among the other 30 NBA teams, each receiving roughly $50 million or even more for both expansions. Financially, that is almost too good to pass up. More teams are going to equal more revenue long-term, but short-term, I’m hearing some buzz that owners are not too thrilled. They already receive 1/30 of NBA revenue, but to add two more teams would decrease the revenue to 1/32 per team. I have been in contact with owners like Miami’s Pat Riley, Dallas’ Mark Cuban, and New York’s Phil Jackson. I am working hard at insuring that ultimately this expansion would favor them and their organizations, though I can see their initial fear. NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal once said, “I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money, money. I just to want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” Sorry Shaq, but for the NBA it’s all about money, money, money.

Cons: Landscape of the League & Talent Dilution

I have also been hearing some questioning, mainly from the media, about the future landscape of the league. With the potential of 32 teams, they want to know how this will affect the landscape of the NBA? Currently, the NBA is a body of 30 teams, in two 15-team conferences, with 6 five-team divisions. Ideally, the NBA should look to add two western teams, which would push the Memphis Grizzlies rightfully to the Eastern Conference. That would then have 16 teams in each conference and it is probable that the divisions would dissolve. Based on this alone, again, Seattle and Mexico City appear to be the front-runners.

Steve Kerr Tweet

I have to warn you, Mr. Silver, to be careful of the talent issues in expansion. With adding two new teams to the league, the league is susceptible to diluting the player talent. Teams like New York and Brooklyn are already struggling on the court. If two more teams were added, would players want to play in a new market or continue to go to the successful markets of Golden State or Cleveland?

Poppovich Tweet

If I remember, you did say the following in regards to expansion, “There are so many great players in the league and that’s one of the issues with expansion. Even putting aside the financial notion of selling equity and whether if it’s additive to the leagues as a whole to add more teams, the question becomes is it dilutive in terms of talent. And that’s something that I’m focused on as well.” Coaches and Players all around the league voiced their opinions via Twitter. I definitely agree with you but the problem will not merely be filling out rosters, rather being successful from Day 1 and having superstar talent. Let’s be honest, do we really think LeBron would take his “talentos” to Mexico City?

Sincerely,

Paul Richardson

Pictures from Daily Express, VIP Net Worth, WPFL.org

 

 

Gold Bond, Pampers, and the NBA

Fresh off the NBA All-Star Weekend and we are half way through the NBA season. The headlines for the weekend could be the pathetic dunk contest on Saturday night or the lack of defense on Sunday night, but let’s take a look at some business deals that occurred throughout the weekend involving several marquee players.

Gold Bond has recently announced that they will begin sponsoring the Houston Rockets suffering from extreme cases of saddle sores due to constantly riding James Harden’s back. This summer, Harden signed a four-year, $117 million contract extension with the Houston Rockets. Gold Bond recently received several complaints via Twitter and other Social Media outlets from current Rocket players. Just this weekend, they produced a statement saying, “We have agreed to a 4 year contract with the entire Houston Rockets organization providing products and treatment to the players. We see this as a attainable market to help out NBA teams that seem to keep riding on the backs of their superstars and suffering from rashes and the itchiest of problems.” Honestly, if it were not for EVERYTHING James Harden has done, I would not even put them in the playoff picture! Eric Gordon, the winner of the JBL Three-Point Shootout tweeted, “Thankful for the dub, but shoulda finished it earlier had I not been suffering so bad…#goldbond”

gold-bond

Pampers released a new line of adult diapers during the All-Star Game on Sunday night. The featured photo on the new diapers will include Golden State Warriors, Point Guard, Stephen Curry. On the packaging, it says, “Ever wet the bed on your big day? Don’t worry, the Warriors blew a 3-1 series lead.” You can buy your limited Steph Curry Pampers at your local Walmart or Target for a limited offer of $24.99 per 100 diapers. Hurry while supplies last!

steph-curry

If you are the slightest sports fan, you have been aware of the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drama. If have a social media account, you are bombarded with the KD-Russ drama. Heck, if you’ve even been alive in the past five months, you are aware of the KD-Russ drama. That being said, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, is doing a special break from the normal show and for Season 53, starting on June 1, will document the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook drama in a never-before-seen drama.

westbrook-durant

Judge Judy, the famous court case TV show, will be running a special court case with the two sides: Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson. The two have had a roller coaster type season with Carmelo’s mediocre performances and the Knick’s struggling record. There have been talks of “Carmelo here”, “Carmelo there”, “Carmelo everywhere”, yet he remains in New York. With the trade deadline approaching, expect Judge Judy to revoke his no-trade clause and make the decision on whether or not Carmelo lands in Cleveland, Los Angeles, or stays in New York. You can watch the newest episode on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. on the CW or stream it through the CW App.

        carmelo judge-judy

During the media interviews at the All Star Weekend, Kyrie Irving made the bodacious comment “This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat.” The media has erupted in disbelief, kids all around the country are questioning what they believe, and Pythagoras is rolling in his Greek grave. Due to the egregious statement, Hooked on Phonics (HOP) has verbally committed to work with Kyrie after practices, during travel periods, and pregame. Having only completed one year at Duke University, they want to help him become more than a basketball player, but a well-educated member of society. The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed in contract to pay HOP $500,000 for their services throughout the remainder of the 2016-2017 season and playoffs.

kyrie

Stay tuned for more breaking NBA business and sponsorships news.

Death, Taxes, and Kawhi Leonard

If you ever get a chance to watch SportsCenter or the NBA on TNT, you are constantly ambushed with “LeBron James this,” “LeBron James that,” “Russ vs. KD,” “Carmelo vs Phil Jackson,” blah, blah, blah. It’s the same stories, night in and night out. For me, though, I watch basketball, particularly the NBA, focusing specifically on the athletes and their incredible skills and talent. In my opinion, one of the most underappreciated and least respected players in the league is Kawhi Leonard, the starting Small Forward for the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard is a growing force in the NBA, but still seems to not receive the attention he truly deserves.

Kawhi is the epitome of the San Antonio Spurs Organization: selfless yet a winner. Coached by Gregg Poppovich, the Spurs are consistently one of the best teams in the NBA. Playing alongside veterans like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi has slowly been developing his skills and thriving in the system. In 2011, he averaged a mere 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Flash-forward to 2016-2017, where he’s leading the San Antonio Spurs, currently second in the NBA, while averaging 25.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. He led the Spurs to a 2014 Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won the 2014 and 2015 Defensive Player Award, after locking down other superstars night in and night out.

With all the success he’s already achieved at such an early stage in his career, why is it that we do not focus on him as much? (Is it because the cornrows are going out of style?) No, it’s because he isn’t flashy or he isn’t arrogant. He simply gets the job done. “I don’t like to bring attention to myself. I don’t like to make a scene,” Leonard says. He does not have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. He never argues a foul or demands for the ball. His teammate Tony Parker said, “Kawhi has never asked or expected anything. He doesn’t say much with his mouth. He does all of his talking with how he’s worked for the whole team.” Everything he does is focused on being great, on becoming the best he can be. Coach Gregg Poppovich said about Leonard, “He wants the greatness badly. He doesn’t give a [rip] about the stardom.” He spends hours in the gym, perfecting his craft and becoming better.

The key question, though, is how far will Kawhi Leonard go in his career? The answer is however far the San Antonio Spurs go. He is the rudder to the USS Spurs, guiding their success. Should the media give him more praise and attention? Maybe so, but he doesn’t want it. Should Israel Gutierrez interview him more following games? Again, maybe so, but only because his contract requires it. Where will you find him in the summer? No, not on a Banana Boat with LeBron James, but back in the gym in San Diego working to be the best.

Statistics from ESPN.com