Would You Play?

This past Saturday a tragic accident happened to Isiah Thomas and his family.  Isaiah Thomas sister, Chyna Thomas was killed in a car acicident the day before the Celtics first round game against the Chicago Bulls.  This was shocking news to the Thomas family and everyone around the league, fans, players and organizations.  Isaiah still played in Sunday’s game with a heavy heart for his sisters passing.  Fans and players were very kind and supportive of Isaiah before, during and after the game.  The Celtics had a moment of silence for the Thomas family before the game started.  Usually Isaiah is the hype man for the Celtics but you could obviously tell that he wasn’t the same player o
n the court.

Both teams were feeling for Isaiah but when the ball tipped off all friendships and the mourning came to a halt.  Isaiah scored 33 points in Sunday’s matchup but the Celtics fell short to the Bulls taking the first game in the series.  As expected Isaiah did not show up and refused any post-game interviews.  Many reporters and NBA analysis tipped their hai (1)ts to Isaiah’s decision to play.  The issue going forward is the struggle and the sinking in of what occurred.  Isaiah will need more and more support as the series goes on.  The sadness will continue to grow as he goes home, goes to the funeral and sees all of his family and friends there that will make the emotions grow and make the comeback harder and harder.  The Celtics organization and the fans will have to support Isaiah in and out of the gym to have their leader take them to the next playoff series.

I can only imagine the turmoil that Isiah is going through.  He is an icon in Boston and a leader for the Celtics.  He will not be able to beat the Bulls by himself in his certain situation.  He will need more and more support as everything starts to sink in.  Prayers go out to the Thomas family and Isaiah especially as he performs in front of thousands of people that are counting on him to lead his team to victory.

Another Knee Injury For Derrick Rose, What Does The Future Hold?

Derrick Rose entered this season with the upmost confidence in his return as well as turning around the Knicks mojo this season. Rose believed the Knicks were one of the “super teams” on the rise of the N.B.A. even after the rough seasons the Knicks had gone through previously. After several injury enduring seasons in Chicago, he would prove, in his first season with the Knicks, that he could reclaim his spot as one of the league’s top point guards. And he would lead his teammates deep into the postseason.

Rose’s return was a big deal for me because I have followed him throughout the years and I want to see him succeed because of his hard work ethic. I have also gone through season-ending injuries and can definitely understand the frustrations Rose has. But, the Knicks season has gone anywhere but forward this season as they have struggled and Rose has become the latest casualty. He was ruled out for the season on Sunday after test scan revealed that he had a torn meniscus in his left knee that would require surgery, with weeks of recovery to follow. It is truly sad to see someone work so hard for their job and have it blown away due to a tear to the knee over and over again.

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Derrick Rose Blows Knee For The Fourth Time

Rose’s career has been non stop with operations. It will be the fourth knee operation of his career, all of them within the last five years. He will now enter free agency with a renewed reputation as a talented but known to get hurt easily player, and it seems highly unlikely that any team will offer him a long-term deal this summer. It is just hard to judge him as he continues to tear his knee so I can understand why teams would be very hesitant on taking a chance on him even though he is a great player.

With a lottery pick in an upcoming draft loaded with top of the line point guards, the Knicks should be able to pick a replacement for Rose, whose career in New York may indeed turn out to be a very brief one. He was once a star who leapt over the league, but he is now onto yet one more injury rehabilitation.

The Best Job in the World

There is a man who has what every man in America wants, and that is to fill in to be someones partner at the Masters.  You probably know the Jeff Knox story by now, or at least are familiar with it. Knox who is 54 years old, is the Augusta National Golf Club member who has the prknow-newivilege to tee up if an odd number of players make the cut, as was the case on Saturday when he was paired with Jason Day, the third-ranked player in the world. Knox has won the Georgia Mid-Amateur three times, and he holds the Augusta National course record from the member tees, with a 61!  Some of the players even ask him for advice when playing the course.  On Saturday Knox was three over when finishing the front nine compared to Day’s even score.

Although Knox is not there to beat the pros at their own game.  He is supposed to keep the pace of the round flowing smoothly and to record his partners score.  For instance on holes 2 and 7 Knox was awarded gimmies for missing his short putts just to keep the flow of the round going smoothly.   Also even if he wins a hole, his partner still tees off first.  Knox’s scores aren’t recorded officially and there are no pictures or interviews that will be taken of Jeff at any time during the round or after.

Jeff Knox knows the course like the back of his hand.  He has played Augusta National a countless amount of times.  Because he is a member he gets to play whenever he wants and has put his knowledge to put up a fight against the best in the world.  He supposedly defeated Rory McIlroy that last time he played a round at the Master47707e33d103dd4a5486eb2ae67780dfs.  Jason Day on Saturday was nervous the day before when he figured out who his partner was.  Who wouldn’t be? He has put up staggering numbers that are better than more than half the field.  We can only imagine if he practiced as much as the pros what kind of records he would display.  Even though he has the all-time course record at 61 that is better than the men we look up to as fans and this man we have never heard of has put up better scores.

Jeff Knox has arguably the best job in the world.  Whoever partners with Jeff Knox better bring their a game or they will be embarrassed by a 54 year old man.

Very Superstitious

I will start this off by saying that prior to this year, I was not very knowledgeable about baseball to say the least. All I knew was what I learned from playing baseball on Wii Sports. The 2017 season at Samford has brought a much better understanding of the game, strategies, and the guidelines of the sport itself for me. After reading a few posts from some of the baseball boys in our class, I began learning a little bit more about some of the aspects, the bullpen in particular, including all the fascinating yet questionable ideas, beliefs, and stories it entails. Eager to know a little more, I did a little bit of research and came across a viral video for the second time.

Bullpen Prank Call

If you can’t tell through the screaming and excitement of these baseball players, they prank called Texas A&M’s bullpen and told the coach to get pitcher A.J. Minter up and ready during a game against Stephen F. Austin. After ending the phone call, the TV screen showed the coaches beginning to change pitchers and the boys erupted in disbelief that they actually accomplished getting a player hot. The athletes behind this unbelievable phone call come from Eastern Oklahoma State College. Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time they’ve gone viral for a crazy baseball inspired video. They have one more that went viral a whole year ago.

Pregame Ritual

This fanatical video is actually what sparked my interest for writing this post- why do we as athletes participate in crazy warm up routines and why are they routine? Is it for good luck? What happens if we do a part of it wrong or not at all? Why are athletes so superstitious?

Every athlete has superstitions, ranging from mild to severe. If you watch any sport, every player at least performs roughly a series of different motions, twitches, or repeated patterns. Batters typically draw a little “X” in the dirt or perform a number of swings before stepping to the plate. Volleyball players bounce, dribble, spin, and hit the ball numerous times before they serve it; same way with basketball players. Often, if a player messes up, it’s because they “didn’t dribble the ball exactly 6 times” or their “right foot wasn’t three fourths of the way past this specific line on the field”. These are very mild representations of superstitions and rituals that we as athletes find necessary to perform before we execute a usually simple athletic move. It can go as far as having to wear the exact same pair of socks or underwear every game or even doing a recurring pregame ritual such as the Eastern Michigan State baseball players.

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We sometimes see these things simply as “good luck” but really, it goes much further than that. It can more so be viewed as an illusion of control over what we are doing. A New York Times Article found that “George Gmelch, a professor of anthropology at the University of San Francisco who has studied superstition in baseball for decades, says that superstition indeed tends to be more prevalent in areas where there’s a lot of uncertainty”. This is directly reflects athlete’s situations: we don’t know if we’ll win the game, or if we’ll make the serve, make the free throw, or whether we’ll hit the ball or get a strike. These rituals provide confidence and help cope with uncertainty that all humans- not only athletes- generally dislike. It manipulates our belief in what we’re capable of and how well we can perform it. There is a term for this, broadly dubbed as self- efficacy.

What is cool about athletes in particular, is that we typically understand that these rituals don’t actually work and they don’t really determine the outcome of the game. However, the rituals are so engrained in our heads that it honestly isn’t worth the risk of not performing them. There is no cost, seemingly only benefit from doing so. On that note, an experiment conducted in 2010 found that after a superstitious thought or behavior occurred, it actually did lead to subsequent performance improvement- self- efficacy. So when in doubt, luck it out.

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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

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 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)

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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

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 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)

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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

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 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)

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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

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Notes:

1: CBSSports.com

2: Stats from ESPN.com

From the Desk of Michael Jordan

Growing up, we’ve been trained and conditioned to believe that the goal of life is to succeed. To advance to the next grade we must “pass” all our tests, our parents aspire to see us “flourish” as adults, and countless virtuosos recite the mantra: “failure is not an option”. Society trains us at a young age that failure is not something to be proud of, nor is it something that we should ever want to encounter. However, Michael Jordan says otherwise. “To learn to succeed, you must learn to fail”.mj 1

Michael Jordan, a man who has been dubbed with countless awards, possesses two Olympics gold medals, and arguably is one of the best basketball player ever, believes in failure. A man who has seen an astonishing amount of success has also seen an astounding amount of failure. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed”. What is it about failure that has such a negative connotation to it? Is it the embarrassment and the humiliation? Or maybe the frustration and mental defeat that comes with it. Obviously all these traits come with failure, but without them, there is no room to grow from the person you are today. If Walt Disney gave up on his dream after the editor of the Kansas City Star told him he lacked imagination, our childhood would have been deprived of countless experiences and there would be no infamous Disney World, nor Disney Land. Failure is a necessary toxin that we must endure. In the absence of hitting extreme lows and major highs, it’s impossible to evaluate progress and success.

Without regard, one of the biggest issues about success is that there is always somebody better. “We all fly. Once you leave the ground, you fly. Some people fly longer than others”. Honestly, this whole statement is so defeating. How can we possibly want to achieve success, knowing that ultimately, somebody is still being bigger and better than we are? One thing to remember is that it can be taken one of two ways. It can either be taken as a check in the L column or it can be used positively to create a better you. “Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation”. As an athlete, winning of course is the best: it’s thrilling and places you on a pedestal you never want to step down from. Furthermore, I don’t know many other athletes who take pride in beating the easy teams. It’s the tough, robust, power teams that people want to beat. Bigger and better teams have things that you lack. It isn’t a bad thing because of how much can be learned from them to implement into oneself, making them better.

Being okay with failure is to be perpetually dissatisfied with all you do. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. There are so many who are quick to surrender to the fear and anxiety that failure holds. But there are also some who embrace that pain and who are motivated by it. “[Michael Jordan has] failed over and over and over again in [his] life. And that is why [he] succeed[s]”. In conclusion, if we all want to eventually reach a point of success and be a little like Mike, clutch the failure close to you and use it as a ladder to climb even higher than anyone could think.mj 2

 

USA

The World baseball classic has been going on for the last eleven years. It has been something that baseball fans look forward to watching; as it brings a different culture to baseball because it is an entire nations coming behind a team and supporting them. This year the USA had finally made it to the Finals which is the First time they have ever done that. Even though the USA and Japan are the only two countries to have professional baseball the USA up until now has never ever made it to the Finals to have a chance to win. This was the case up until 2017 when the USA team beat the Puerto Rico in a winner takes all game. The did so in a big way beating Puerto Rico 8-0 bringing back the Gold for the USA to hold onto for the next four years until the World Baseball Classic.

With the championship being a one game series which is different than the MLB Marcus Stroman was able to shine throwing a no hitter through six innings of play giving up a hit in the seventh. Which was amazing playing against the best players from Puerto Rico one of the other countries with unbelievable baseball talent. I saw on twitter after the series that Stroman was getting some beef for not throwing for his native country , but his response was he did it for his mother which was touching because she is from the USA. Stroman got the MVP for the world classic which was much deserved, it is tough to do what he did in any game  of baseball and for him to shine like he did makes it even  that much better.

The type of energy and passion it brought to me while watching this game with amazing. Here is my favorite picture from the experience that I feel sums up the feeling that I received from the game. USA basebal