Why ‘the alley-oop heard around the world’ was more than just a harmless exhibition play

Before Sunday night, it’s all we thought about since July 4th — that infamous Summer date when Kevin Durant officially announced his divorce from Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder – what was going to happen when they had to play together on the all-star team in February?

Before Sunday night, Russell Westbrook took no prisoners. You were either with him or against him. If you were on the other side of the thin red line, you better be prepared for a relentless basketball Armageddon descending upon you for 48 minutes with no option of mercy.

Before Sunday night, it was basketball blasphemy to even suggest that a play from an exhibition all-star game had significant NBA landscape impact – let alone be the most important play of the season.

That all changed … Sunday night.

When the game tipped off, it honestly didn’t matter if Giannis Antetokounmpo threw down a dunk from half court or Steph Curry swished an 80-foot between-his-legs blind-folded Hail Mary; nothing mattered until Russ and Durant shared the floor.

The two had seemingly avoided each other all weekend:

Whether it was intentional or not:russ3

It was tense. It was just so damn tense. The most accurate way of illustrating the vibe in the building is calling it The Cuban Missile Crisis of basketball. Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Western Conference, was the man with his hand over the button. The fate of the basketball world was at his fingertips. Was he going to launch the nuclear content missiles and play the two together? Or was he going to protect his star player from the wrath of Oklahoma City’s EF5 point guard tornado and bench him before Russ could enter the game?

Remember: with Westbrook, nothing is off-limits.

This is the man who came out with a “Now I do what I want!” Jordan-sponsored commercial shortly after Durant left him:

Who, day after day, would tip-toe the line (but never crossing it) of starting an all-out war with unprecedented precision:

Who tomahawked a social media grenade at Durant on the biggest day of his career.

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HAPPY 4th YALL….🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

A post shared by Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) on

After six months of petty attacks + a few on-the-court skirmishes, there was a part of you that thought Russ, if put on the floor with Durant at the same time, might try and posterize his own teammate.

The thirst for blood inside The Smoothie King Center reminded me of the Coliseum audience in Gladiator when Maximus outduels Tigris of Gaul and sets him up for death. Maximus asks for permission from Emperor Commodus as the thousands in attendance chant in unison: “KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!” regardless of what consequences the action may result in.

Fast-forward to the midway point of the first quarter and oh my god he’s putting Russ in and not taking Durant out. This is it.

Possession after possession go by with the entire world watching the game under a microscope, no declaration of war just yet.

But then Durant got the ball in transition with his back facing the rim. Almost immediately, a fellow West teammate cut towards the hoop and was open for an easy bucket. Who was it? Russell Westbrook, who had just blown by his defender. And then it happened:


Wait a second, did we just witness The Potsdam Conference of NBA basketball? Surely Westbrook was just doing his civic duty of getting buckets no matter where they came from – even via Durant – but did the two JUST SHARE A POSITIVE MOMENT TOGETHER?

The Russell Westbrook I know, or at least the one I thought I knew, would have grabbed that alley-oop out of the air, fell back down to Planet Earth with the ball in his grasp, and punted that sonuvabitch into the 20th row of the upper deck without hesitation. After catching three Ls vs. the Warriors in the regular season, this was his opportunity to perform an act so heinous, so derogatory, so disrespectful — that we would be talking about it for the rest of the season no matter where the two teams finished – and fortify his status as basketball’s Petty Jordan.

On one end of the spectrum you have the crowd who’s happy Durant and Russ finally called a truce and showed some affection for each other, albeit for just one play – cheering like Forrest Gump just got laid for the first time in his life and walked into the house at noon with Jenny’s hickeys all over his neck.

At the other end are the petty Westbrook fanatics, who were likely standing over their televisions screaming like Obi Wan’s “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE, YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO DESTROY [DURANT] – NOT JOIN HIM!” plea over Anakin Skywalker’s burnt corpse.


No matter which side you’re on, one thing is for certain: the pettiness and war of no words between Westbrook and Durant holds no value any more. This storyline is dead. One of the most fun intriguing off-the-court duels in NBA history is deceased and can never come back.

Westbrook certainly tried his best after the game to downplay the magnitude of the moment, telling reporters:

“Oh, that was a question? … He threw a lob and that’s all that happened. He just threw a lob. It’s basketball. That’s it.”

…but it’s all for not. Sure, Durant and Westbrook will compete hard against each other in the future and exchange heated moments – but if this notorious altercation ever happens again:

…we will know the fire in those eyes are just embers, not the raging inferno we’ve believed to have burned for so long. You absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, put on this façade of abhorrence for 7 months and be the first one to break rank.

Some of you are probably reading this and thinking “You’re making a big deal about nothing, they still don’t like each other…” and while I do agree with the latter part of this argument, what Westbrook represented between July 4th and Sunday night was the rebellion. It’s why he’s become arguably the most marketable basketball player on Earth. He took on not only the challenge of winning NBA basketball games without any other all-star on his team, but adapted the rogue mentality of Braveheart’s William Wallace.


Wallace, the vicious military leader responsible for spearheading Scotland’s independence from England, would have never broke bread with Longshanks, even if made King under his rule. It may not be why everyone loved him, but believing in this same sentiment about Westbrook is why I loved him.

The alley-oop heard around the world wasn’t just a harmless exhibition play that carries no weight when the games go back to actually mattering, it was proof that Westbrook’s armor can be cracked. Some may see this as a noble trait, some may not – but I’m not ashamed to admit that a part of me died on Sunday night, and one of the best things to ever happen to the NBA will never be the same.

(h/t @BennettBerry for the Braveheart artwork)

The Basketball Code 10 Commandments

It had been three months since Russell Mosebrook parted the Freeagen Sea and left his former teammate, wingman, and brother – Duranteses — in its wake.


While Mosebrook’s loyal followers would walk to the end of the Earth if so instructed by their messiah, they became increasingly anxious to find a permanent home as they slowly wither away in the desert.

Days pass with no oasis in sight. Hope is not lost, it simply no longer exists.

The Bible

As Mosebrook and his thunderous hoard approach a change in topography, the roster takes shelter in the shadows of Mount Inyoureye. For two straight days, Mosebrook’s peoples wait for him as he scales the jagged peak to consult the almighty Silver sky and climb down to relay correspondence. On the third day, the Silver sky instructs Mosebrook to stay for 40 days and 40 nights to learn the ways of ‘The Code’.


Mosebrook transcribes the word of the Silver sky onto several stone tablets, and after 40 days and 40 nights – he returns to the people who have entrusted him with saving their lives.


Mosebrook has news for his constituents – salvation awaits. However, if any of the people wish to leave the perilous desert, they must pledge themselves to a code for as long as their heart beats – a code of 10 commandments representing honor, respect, dedication, and brotherhood.

It is at this moment that the most sacred basketball fraternity was established.

Commandment #1: Do not worship any other player.


The first law of ‘the code’ is simple: anyone who wears the same jersey as you is your brother. You will stand and fight for them the same way you would protect your family in a dark alley way against an armed burglar hiding behind a dumpster – there are no exceptions.

Likewise, anyone wearing the opposing team’s jersey – doesn’t matter if they are a sibling, spouse, or best friend – they are the enemy. This is battle. You do nothing to help them while there is still time remaining on the game clock, and you go out of your way to make sure even non-code abiding teammates comply.

Commandment #2: Thou shall get thy buckets and talk thy shit


Nothing matters but buckets. Get buckets first, answer questions later. You have no responsibility to anyone else other than the almighty W. Buckets are all that are holy, and supersede every other aspect of life. If you obtain thy buckets, you enforce the word of the code on the non-practitioner whether it is just or not. Put that ball through the net at all costs, it is your duty.

Commandment #3: Remember the Sabbath oath, respect the Basketball Gods


Once a player is initiated into the brotherhood, they are bound to its ideals for eternity. If anyone breaks their solemn vow, they are to be exiled and punished in this life and the next. Thou shall embrace a bucket-getting celebration move and unleash it at their convenience. Use this demonstration to praise the basketball gods who have blessed you with such talent to be the representative of something so sacred. It is an honor and a privilege to be a walking, breathing standard bearer of the code – live your life as such.

Commandment #4: Thou shall pay reparations for those who sacrifice


At times, the code may require you to partake in activities that non-practitioners may deem as inappropriate — inappropriate to the point that you may be punished financially, via suspension, or even face possible expulsion from the association. In the event that the most drastic scenario occurs, take for example:


…an instance when one sacrifices their body, career, and reputation to defend the honor of the code – you pay them back three times over. If a sacrifice is made in your defense costing a brother $100,000, you return them $300,000. If they take the fall for you and go to jail for a year, you give them the best three years of their lives when they get out. If they get suspended and you don’t, you defer all bucket-getting to the sacrificial party for a number of games three times the length of said suspension.

Love the code more than thee loves thyself.



Commandment #5: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor



If the media asks about a controversial altercation on or off-the-court, you say nothing. If an opponent has the audacity to so much inquire about something pertaining to you, one of your teammates, or of the coaching staff – you say nothing. If anyone ever asks about anything that is said in private, the confidence, in a hotel room, inside the locker room, YOU SAY NOTHING.

The language of the code is silence.

Commandment #6: Thou shall covet thy ball


Defend yourself at all times. The Ball is life – both literally and figuratively, it not only represents the tool which permits you to perform the duties of your craft, pay the bills, and provide for your family … but is an exemplification of your purpose on this planet. You do not exist without the ball. This is the code’s holy grail and you will treat it as such.

Furthermore: There are no rules when attempting to gain possession of the ball. It is yours, do whatever you must to obtain it. ‘Dirty play’ does not exist, only weak-mindedness abiding by the rules of a PC basketball culture preaching mainstreamability. They want you to dap up your opponents before tip off, they want you to hug member of the other team after the final buzzer, they want any resemblance of the 1980’s and 1990’s style of play eradicated from the Earth. You are the keepers of what makes basketball great, you are the Balluminati.

Commandment #7: Thou shall not commit adultery


Never, under ANY circumstances, mess with another player’s woman. Past, current, or future. Completely off-limits. When you are a professional basketball player, there are more WAGs than fish in the sea. Find one without a mate, as infraction of this commandment can lead a victim to code-breaking madness.



Commandment #8: Honour thy veterans as thy would honour thyself

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors 

The code-bearers of times past will never be forgotten. Once the code, always the code.

Commandment #9: Thou shall enforce the word of the code to non-practitioners

While the code is selective in its process of initiating brothers, its teachings are spread far and wide across the globe. It is your duty, until your last breath, to spread these commandments to every soul you encounter until every breathing creature on this planet lives by its ways.


Commandment #10: Thy ball shall never lie

 The code does not choose to live by the ball, the ball dictates the code. Whatever action the ball takes is for a purpose. It may single-handedly tarnish one’s talent set if it so decides, it may drive thee mad … it may benefit the ball-bearer, it may enable unlimited power. Accept the ball’s judgment as one would accept the principles of their religion. Do not question the almighty power, as it it always watching, always listening, and always observing whoever is in possession of thee. The ball is the law of the land, it hath never lied nor will it ever. Respect this oracle’s abilities, and thou shall achieve everlasting glory.


May the peace of the code be with you always.

The Definitive Guide of How to be Petty in the NBA

Let’s say you have a falling out with someone – either in person, on the internet, over the phone, whatever. It’s happened to all of us. The interaction of the divorce is civil – you go your separate ways, but, deep down in your soul there is an animosity brewing that is indescribable.

All you want to do is unleash your true disdain for the individual and wish failure upon them. But, for whatever reason, you can’t do it to their face. Instead, you settle for the alternative: petty warfare. These tactics include but are not limited: unfollowing/blocked them on Twitter when muting is an available option, drinking the last of the milk and putting the carton back into the refrigerator, seeing their car in the parking lot of the grocery store and oops my cart accidentally went rogue while putting the bags into my trunk and crashed into their grill, not responding to text messages after sending a read receipt, posting emo song lyrics to facebook which allude to your tiff without actually saying it, and many more…

Now, believe it or not, these sentiments ring true on the hardwood as well. With so many extreme suspensions, fines, and in-game penalties in place for physical altercations in today’s NBA – players just can’t afford to settle their differences the old-fashioned way: with their fists. Instead, the testosterone has been re-distributed to … you guessed it … petty warfare.

Below are the ways NBA players (and basketball players everywhere) exert their disparagement, ranked, using the following scale:

  • Disrespect: How disrespectful is the act?
  • Shock Value: How obvious is that the act was petty?
  • Effectiveness: Does the petty warfare actually have an effect? Did it make the opposition think ‘that was petty’.
  • Instigation: Does it make the opposition want to throw down regardless of the consequences? Is it something that the opponent will remember for the next time the two teams play?


Clapping as opposing teammates argue with each other







Made famous by Joakim Noah on LeBron James, this is the basketball equivalent of when you and your friend are arguing which Star Wars movie is the best Star Wars movie and then some random dude from across the bar comes over, stands about two feet away from your conversation, and starts yelling “THE PHANTOM MENACE THE PHANTOM MENACE THE PHANTOM MENACE THE PHANTOM MENACE” at the top of his lungs until either your debate dissipates or he is acknowledged.


Goaltending an opposing players’ practice shot after-the-whistle






Happens multiple times a game, ultimately the moral of the story here is NO EASY BUCKETS! Doesn’t matter if the buckets are just practice buckets, buckets are buckets and preventing the other team from getting more buckets than you is now and forever the first rule of Bucket Club. This is an act so deliciously petty that players are willing to risk rolling an ankle/blowing out a knee to enforce this sentiment and ensure that their enemy does not gain the satisfaction of seeing the ball go through the hoop. Think about that for a second, because it is 100% true.


Head-butting ball after made layup so it’s not a delay of game






This one can be tough to catch, but, when it happens – it’s glorious. Since the NBA has begun to strictly enforce the ‘delay of game’ penalty, (essentially: don’t grab the ball after a made basket otherwise it will result in a technical foul after the second infraction) players looked for a new way to handle the ball that finds its way into a scoring team’s possession following a make. Some players abide by the rule by just continuing to run back on defense regardless if the ball is in the way of their moving feet or not, some avoid it all costs, others elect to position their head directly under the rim and let the ball hit their skull on the way down, “accidentally” deflecting it away from the inbounding player. While it’s technically legal, it more importantly remains a beautiful, revolutionary display of trolling.


Switching slots with a teammate as opposing player awaits to attempt free throw







A splash of gamesmanship with a sprinkle of pettiness – NBA players are so good and so used to trash talk that getting into their face before a free throw may actually do more harm than good. However, there is an effective way to play mind games with the opponent – just before the ref gives the ball to the foul shooter, the defending team will walk across the lane and switch spots so that the ref is required to either hold on to the ball for an extended period of time, icing the foul shooter standing at the line with his pre-shot routine interrupted, or fetch it and redistribute after it is kicked astray during the swap.


Coaches who don’t make 10 yard walk to shake hands, instead just wave bye to each other







The NBA equivalent of seeing that Tinder hook up at the other end of the bar, you know they’re there and they know you’re there; eventually the two groups you’re with mingle, and now you have to do the whole thing where you meet people, fake smile, and pretend to remember everyone’s names which you’ll surely forget five minutes later.

For whatever reason, you and the Tinder hook up choose not to engage with each other – no hugging, instead: a wave, maybe a head nod, and then dissipation of the group. On your way out, you use your peripherals to make eye contact with the internet dating subject simultaneously acknowledging their existence while delivering the message everything that went down was simply a business transaction.

No time for pleasantries in the world of being petty.


Holding ball after out-of-bounds/jump ball arguing with ref. This act can also be applied to opposing player trying to take out of hands/player who’s holding ball gets mad that opposing player trying to take ball






Refs make bad calls; they’re human; it happens. Players argue with bad calls; they’re human; it happens. Basketball players are petty creatures; they’re human; it happens.

A great way to get even with a referee who made a call you do not agree with, prevent the other team from initiating their offense and make them wait as you finish your debate. That ref is not getting that damn ball until you get some answers. While you’re exercising your first amendment right, you already know what’s coming next: the player trying to inbound the ball for the other team attempts to take the ball from the plantiff and then the overwhelming pettiness hits the fan as the refs break up the skirmish and assess unwarranted technical fouls.


Shooting Hail Mary full court heave split second after quarter end buzzer to save FG %






The rare pettiness that has an effect on your own team! Listen, in basketball, one of the many unwritten rules is if you have the ball with less than two seconds left – you do everything in your power to get a shot off before the buzzer goes off. But this is the NBA, where individuals are paid millions of dollars based on their performance on-the-court, box score, and advanced analytics. One thing that does not help your shooting percentage: shooting full court shots that have an almost zero percent chance of going in.

So, how does one not infringe on the unwritten rule of selfishness while maintaining their statistics? Launch the heave just mere milliseconds after the buzzer goes off, of course. There is nothing more fun than watching these NBA players try their ‘hardest’ to attempt it legally but oh no it once again appears that the attempt came just after the buzzer! Next time!


Wearing an outfit that trolls an individual on the opposing team







A flawless execution of being petty, you don’t even need to do or say anything – simply show up and you win.


Shoulder check on way to foul shot






You can get ejected from an NBA game nowadays for kindasorta-accidentally hitting someone in the head as they attempt a layup. There are few, if any, ways to retaliate without getting fined and/or suspended – the most popular of which, the old-fashioned “this is my walking lane and you are obstructing it” shoulder check. Nothing says “I’m totally ready to trade fists but not here ok maybe later you know what I’ll text you after” than this subtle act of pettiness, which ultimately leads to a lot of finger pointing, derogatory comments about the opponents’ masculinity, and a whole lot of nothing.


Putting your shoe under an elevated jump shooter







Severe scores here for this act because it can cause serious injury – so serious that the NBA has begun enforcing an ‘undercutting an airborne player’ rule where a defender is not permitted to crowd a jump shooter’s air space. However, if I’m playing tight defense and the jump shooter just happens to land on my foot what the hell am I supposed to do about it? It’s the basketball equivalent of the fender bender car accident — you slammed the brakes and didn’t use your turn signal vs. it doesn’t matter whoever is the car behind is always responsible. No-one is ever right it’s just a matter of who can be pettier about the situation usually comes out the winner.


Pointing finger into another player’s face







Emasculation at its finest and the #1 gesture to solicit a response that gets the recipient in trouble with the referees.


Mocking opponent’s celebration gesture







Name a better way to flaunt your dominance over an opposing peon than giving them a dose of their own petty medicine.



Pretending to be so bored with the game you’d rather distribute your attention to something more stimulating






Nothing says petty quite like “you are so inferior we are legitimately bored playing against you.”


Scoring as game clock expires and the losing team is walking off floor






If there is ONE thing you don’t do to give the opposing team bulletin board material before your next game with them, it’s this. The second-most important ‘unwritten rule of basketball’ is the winning team must dribble the clock out when you’re winning by a margin that is so significant, the defense isn’t even fouling to prolong the game. If a player attempts to stat-pad, especially as the surrendering team is walking off-the-court, it is an act of war. Affected players remember this act of complete and utter disrespect longer than their own birthday and immediately label the culprit with a basketball scarlet letter for the rest of their careers.

What’s the first, you ask?


Refusing to help an opponent off-the-floor






Live by the code. Die by the code. If they wearing a different-colored uniform, they are the enemy.

Why New York Knicks Fans Are So Defensive About Carmelo Anthony, What He Represents, And His Legacy

What is Carmelo Anthony?

It’s a question we’ve spent decades trying to answer, but have failed to produce a consensus resolution – responses range from “the best scorer on planet earth” to “overrated high volume shooter who does nothing to help his teammates” while touching every base in-between. He’s one of if not the most polarizing NBA players not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant – can we at least all agree on that?

But why? Carmelo Anthony has never finished better than third in the NBA’s MVP voting, he’s never made it to the NBA Finals, and the teams he plays on, with the exception of the 2008-2009 Denver Nuggets and 2012-2013 Knicks, are irrelevant when it comes to getting serious and talking about legitimate title contenders.

Despite these brutally-true hypotheses, Knicks fans (myself included) will defend this man and his legacy as a superstar to the death. I’m talking Maximus vs. Commodus in the Coliseum only one of us is leaving alive type of seriousness.


The adamant emotion associated with talking about this topic can be mostly blamed on Stockholm Syndrome suffered by believing in and ultimately being let down by the New York Knicks franchise. In more laments terms: think of rooting for the Knicks as owning a rambunctious, won’t listen to you no matter what dog. Other owners look down on and scorn you for being a bad owner, but you know you’ve put in years of time, effort, and care in attempt to make it a more obedient, loving member of your family. You are allowed to discipline your dog, but if another owner and/or stranger implements their will on your pet – despite their good intentions – you’re not listening. In fact, you’re telling them to piss off and prepared to throw fists. All those poops you cleaned up off the carpet, all those times you ran after it escaped the leash, all those shoes you had to re-buy because they were torn to shreds by the pup when you were in the shower — no-one tells you how to take care of this creature other than you.

This is where it starts with the fans – since 2011, when Carmelo was traded to New York from the Denver Nuggets, he has been Knicks fans’ pride and joy for a couple reasons:

  1. We generally believed he would be our LeBron James and resurrect the franchise from six feet under of irrelevance to a legitimate championship contender.
  2. Knicks fans wanted to justify trading a roster of young, fun, franchise-building role players (Gallinari, Chandler, Mozgov) in exchange for one star.


The latter of which is the DNA of everything that encompasses the franchise. For the past 20 years, the Knicks have been chronic abusers of liquidating their assets in exchange for veteran players who never live up to expectations. Subsequently, the Knicks whiff on their talent evaluations like Pedro Cerrano trying to hit a curveball (i.e. Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Antonio McDyess, Allan Houston’s extension) and are stuck under a mountain of bad contracts until they expire and the draft picks they traded to sign said bad contracts return years down the road – just for the process to repeat itself over-and-over-and-over again.

But this one … the Carmelo Anthony trade … this was the one. He’s that good. It was different than all the rest. Melo was a sure-thing. The sure thing. It didn’t matter who else was on the team at the time — if he built it, they would come. We see it every time he plays on the Olympic team, he’s the best player on the floor.


But why doesn’t that success ever translate to the Knicks?

His incredible talent is a two-headed sword for his supporters, because Knicks fans expect him to retire with championship accolades – but instead he has become New York’s Allen Iverson, a perennial superstar cult hero who fans will defend to the death with nothing but game tape to help prove their point. It’s the whole, never-ending “only thing that matters is RINGZ” vs. “you don’t have to win a championship to be considered one of the best” argument.

Every time Melo dribbles around for five seconds and launches an 18-foot contested jump shot (brick) is an 0-for-1 in the box score, and just another instance of “Ball Hog Melo being Ball Hog Melo” to the mainstream audience. In Knicks fans’ opinions, what these viewers don’t see is the Knicks’ pathetic attempt to score using the hilariously archaic ‘triangle offense’, an offensive set which produces Carmelo getting the ball in the corner, heavily-defended, with hardly any time on the shot clock to do anything but shoot a difficult shot.

Even I’m willing to admit this sounds a little whiny. Melo knew what he was signing up for when he signed not one, but two max contracts with the organizations. If he wanted teammates capable of making him better and/or of “elite” status – he could have very easily taken a pay cut (i.e. Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade) and opened up salary cap room for Phil Jackson to go out and assemble a roster that didn’t spend the entire 2015 season sitting on the bench in suits.

In-between these two mindsets is the Melo that everyone knows – a prolific scorer who plays with the burden of the franchise on his shoulders. It’s a blessing and a curse; while his talent is unquestioned, his decision-making notoriously is. When he feels like he has to single-handedly take over a game for his team to come out victorious, stopping ball movement, and singling himself out in isolation — that is the moment when even his most passionate supporters (the Madison Square Garden faithful) turn on him.

Knicks fans love to hate Melo when he does stuff like this, but hate that they will always love him. He is essentially the high school crush who you broke up with at the end of senior year because the two of you were going to different colleges – as bad as you want to move on to something new, you know when you go back home for Thanksgiving break, no matter what your new relationship status is, the two of you are relapsing that whole “we should just be friends” thing and hooking up.

Granted … Anthony, along with Amare Stoudemire, made professional basketball relevant in New York City again. The Knicks have only made it as far as the second round of the playoffs ONCE since acquiring the two, but, where the franchise is now versus before their signings has fans feeling like Forrest Gump in the Mojave Desert as his jogging pace slows to a complete standstill – thousands of miles covered, appearance being a disheveled resemblance of what everyone remembered you as at your best, and now standing in the middle of nowhere with no direction whatsoever.


What’s to make of all this? Knicks fans know what Carmelo Anthony is, what he will be, and what he represents. By no means does “being a fan” of a certain team entitle your opinion to supersede another’s, but, in the case of Melo and the fan base which has turned this recreational sport into religion — ‘The Mecca of Basketball’ – it creates a unique, unprecedented mentality of insecurity, desire, and at times: irrational loyalty.

So, when you bring up this topic to a fan of the team in the future – be prepared to catch the discussion in the corner, only seconds left on the shot clock to make your point, with the expectation to swish the conversation every single time… and you’ll see what it’s like to be consumed by the one of the league’s most exasperating characters.

‘Lord of the Sterning’: The Fellowship of Full-Season NBA Engagement

It began with the forging of the championship rings. Three were given to the Warriors’ front office, immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to the coaching staff, great strategists and craftsmen of Silicon Valley.


And fifteen, fifteen rings were gifted to the players, who above all else desire power. For within these rings was bound the strength and the will to govern the NBA.


But they were all deceived, for another ring was made. Deep in the land of Oakland, in the fires of Oracle Arena, the Dark Lord David Stern forged a master ring in secret, and into this ring he poured his lust for TV ratings, passion to drive corporate sponsorships, and his will to dominate all life. One ring, the ‘Sternring’, to rule them all.


One by one, the free lands of the NBA fell to the power of the Sternring, but there were some who resisted. A last alliance of Cavaliers, Thunder, and Spurs marched against the armies of Golden State, and on the very slopes of Oracle Arena, they fought for the freedom of the Association. Victory was near, but the power of the Sternring could not be undone. It was in this moment, when all hope had faded, that LeBron James, son of Cleveland the Cavalier, took up his father’s sword.



David Stern, enemy of the free peoples of the NBA, was defeated. The Sternring passed to LeBron, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted. And the Sternring of power has a will of its own. It betrayed LeBron, as Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors.


And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half months, the Sternring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared another bearer.

It came to the creature J.R. Smith, who took it deep beyond the velvet ropes of the rust belt.


And there it consumed him. The Sternring gave to J.R. unnatural long partying endurance. For almost the entire Summer it poisoned his mind as he remained unsigned, and in the gloom of J.R.’s cave, it waited. Darkness crept back into the forests of the world. Rumor grew of a shadow in the East, whispers of a nameless fear, and the Sternring of Power perceived its time had come. It abandoned J.R., but then something happened that the Sternring did not intend. It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable: a commissioner, Adam Silver, of Manhattan.


In anticipation of the 2016-2017 NBA campaign, with the power of the Sternring in play, there is a story that needs to be told. A ‘Fellowship of the Sternring’, if you will…

What exactly is the Sternring and what powers does it possess? I’m glad you asked.

You see, the Sternring is as figurative as it is literal. It technically isn’t a real thing; it is a concept that the current bearer of the league (Adam Silver) has in his possession and the ability to unleash its power at any time.

While the ultimate goal has always been and will always be the Larry O’Brien trophy, the forging of the Sternring is an added dimension to the NBA world that empowers the league to compete with its biggest enemies – the NFL & tanking.

As the prologue states above, the Sternring begins in the possession of basketball’s middle-earth kings: the Cleveland Cavaliers. Until they are defeated during the 2016-2017 regular season, the Cavaliers retain possession of the Sternring. As soon as the bearers of the Sternring are defeated for the first time, the Sternring passes to the victors – and this process repeats itself until the final game of the NBA season concludes.

The team in possession of the Sternring:

  • Begins every single game with a seven-point (7-0) lead.
  • Every player on the active roster is granted an additional personal foul to use before disqualification (7).
  • All taunting technical fouls against the bearers are null and void.

As the Sternring is passed around the league throughout the season, ultimately its greatest power doesn’t take effect until the final game concludes.

Whichever NBA franchise is in possession of the Sternring after the 82nd regular season game is played:

  • If out of the playoffs, the bearer is given the opportunity to compete in a best-of-three sudden death series vs. the 8 seed in their conference for the right to play the overall top seed in the first round (teams who qualify: minimum 30 regular season wins)
  • If out of the playoffs, the bearer is guaranteed a top 3 draft pick (teams who qualify: 29 regular season wins or less and must hold the rights to their first round pick, otherwise the guarantee transfers to the franchise holding the rights to the draft selection.)
  • If in the playoffs already, the bearer holds the right to distribute to the belt to a non-playoff team of their choice.

Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself: “What the hell did I just read?” And while I can’t fault you for your confusion, what was just illustrated is the most logical solution to keeping fan bases, with teams out of the playoffs, engaged during the final months of the regular season.

At the end of the year, nearly half (14 of 30) of the NBA’s franchises will not qualify for the playoffs. Of these 14, let’s say two teams in each conference are in playoff contention and “have something [realistically] to play for” the final month of the season.

Fanbases = engaged.

Of the 10 remaining teams after that, ~2-3 are in full tank mode. Let’s not kid ourselves: fans love to support tanking. If you’re not going to win an NBA championship, the season’s “second place” winner doesn’t belong to the team who loses the finals – it goes to the team who wins the lottery. The 7-8 other remaining fan bases (keep in mind, that is ~25% of the NBA) are stuck with little rooting interest as their team doggie paddles in a mud pool of mediocrity and irrelevance. Ask fans of the Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, and/or Denver Nuggets how engaged they are during March and April versus the passion they exerted at the beginning of the season– the answer you’ll likely receive: a huge, gradual decline.

Imagine an NBA where the the underachieving/don’t own the rights to their first round draft pick New York Knicks obtain the Sternring going into the final week of the schedule. All of sudden, the season matters … and the final two matchups are win-or-go-home games with a play-in playoff series within reach. Knicks ticket prices SOAR. TV ratings jump through the roof. Eyeballs and consumption of the product spike – all made possible because of the power of the Sternring.


Imagine an NBA where the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors hold the Sternring and get to decide which other franchise gets the guaranteed top 3 draft selection. Imagine if they hold the rights to another team’s draft pick, choose them, and get to add a top 3 guaranteed draft pick to their already historically-great roster. What’s the strategy behind their distribution decision? Why did the Warriors give _____ the top 3 pick? Did the Warriors just change the future of the NBA for the next decade?

Imagine an NBA where every game down the stretch matters, regardless of who is playing.


Does the Sternring reward failure? Is it essentially the Bernie Sanders economic socialism proposition of the NBA? Yeah, in a sense, it is. The 8 seed in the conference earned their right to be in the playoffs, why should they have to go through a grueling three-game play-in series against a team who got bailed out by some new, radical idea with no precedence?

Because now you’re thinking about it. The very thought of it makes you angry (or happy) depending on which side of the “8 seed deserves the right to be in the playoffs no matter what” fence you’re on. Controversy + unnecessary drama + fully-engaged customers for a longer period of time – traditional business ethics = $$$ for the NBA, and if the association ever wants to eclipse the NFL as the country’s most popular and profitable professional sports league – they’re going to have to find a way to keep every fan hooked for the ENTIRE season … not just until their team falls out of contention in March and/or they don’t have a chance at finishing with the league’s worst record.

Yeah… Fantasy, DFS, and gambling are all viable options available to fans of professional basketball – but you’re kidding yourself if you think these avenues have the same attraction to NBA fans as they do to those of the NFL…

…but don’t lie to yourself: you will check who possesses the Sternring before you check the standings. You will then check the schedules to see if it’s possible for your favorite team to obtain the Sternring before the season ends. You will consume the NBA product from start to finish.

The Sternring is the game within the game. Let it consume you. Embrace the madness.


Police Chase Ending Scoreboard, ROUND 2

oj chase

To play: It’s simple! Whenever there is a televised police chase, simply respond to the “live odds” tweet on Twitter with how you think the chase will end (so that everyone else can see the submissions as well). I will accept submissions up to 10 minutes after the odds are posted.

I will post the odds shortly after I sound the alarm that the “Birds are in the air!!!” – and said odds will obviously reflect the situation: (For example: You’re rarely, if ever, going to see a spike strip end a motorcycle pursuit – thus, it will be the longshot for that specific chase).

Everyone is allowed to place one hypothetical $100 wager per chase, and may only pick one “Chase End” option.

P.S. Congratulations to Round 1 Champion @AlterWhite1 who correctly predicted the outcome of six straight police chases to take home the 2015-2016 Crown!


STANDINGS (as of 7/22), 0 Chases:

NBA Free Agency Report Card

The NBA salary cap has officially risen to $94.1 million, a 34.5% increase from the 2015-2016 season.

As you know by now, the amount of money that free agent players are receiving from franchises this Summer has been unprecedentedly enormous.

Taking into account that a $16,382,979 contract under the $70 million salary cap from 2015-2016 is now the equivalent of a $22,000,000 one this season, let’s grade the verbal deals that have been agreed to thus far:

WHO: Timofey Mozgov


WHAT: 4 Years/$64 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: Your guess is as good as mine. This deal feels like the Lakers are somewhere between “It’s almost midnight on New Year’s Eve and I haven’t found anyone to kiss yet” and “I have 5 minutes to get to the next terminal before my flight leaves” levels of desperation. 64 million divided by 4 years means Mozgov is going to make $16 million per season.

He scored a total of 15 points during the 2016 playoffs. Who the hell are you bidding against at this length and size of deal?

Don’t let that be a knock on his potential, however – he’s actually a nice piece to have on your roster and can be a serviceable NBA center if put in to the right situation for a limited amount of minutes – but for $16 million a year and 15.94% of your total salary cap? Good lord, Mitch Kupchak, what are you doing?


WHO: DeMar DeRozan


WHAT: 5 Years/$139+ Million

WHERE: Toronto Raptors

WHY: Unless there is a new rule that says you have to pay your players one dollar for every missed shot during the playoffs, I’m not entirely sure how or why DeRozan is worthy of a max contract in today’s NBA. Despite his best regular season as a pro (21.5 Player Efficiency Rating), DeRozan has gotten progressively worse each year he’s been in the playoffs (18.2, 15.7, 14.2 PER per postseason), posted a team worst Net Rating of (-14), team worst box score +/- average of -3.4 amongst rotation players, all while leading the Raptors in usage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor) at 30.9%.

On the contrary, the Toronto Raptors made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history – and DeRozan was the spearhead of the team’s success … thus, maybe numbers don’t justify the impact DeMar has on the team + city and he is being compensated for his accomplishments more so than the future.

Long story short: this volume shooter who is a walking, breathing pit of ball movement quicksand now occupies ~20-25.72% of the franchise’s cap space for the next half decade – and I’m not sure how beloved he will be moving forward if this downward trend of productivity continues during his insanely-lucrative contract.


WHO: Nicolas Batum

WHAT: 5 Years/$120 Million

WHERE: Charlotte Hornets

WHY: No “Ok, he’s on our team now and now we have a chance at the championship” superstar is going to sign with the Charlotte Hornets in the near future, so, when you are a mediocre team who has the opportunity to retain the services of a very good NBA player who was vital to your franchise’s success in making the playoffs – you do it – regardless of the price.


WHO: Jordan Clarkson

WHAT: 4 Years/$50 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: The jury is still out on just how good Clarkson can be, but, when you’re the Lakers and can’t even get free agents to respond to your text messages let alone call you back – you take this fair deal for a fair player all day every day.


WHO: Hassan Whiteside


WHAT: 4 Years/$98 Million

WHERE: Miami Heat

WHY: Hassan Whiteside is a phenomenal basketball player who is arguably the most daunting defensive presence in the NBA – when he chooses to be. When he doesn’t or checks out of a game mentally, he is a liability on both ends of the floor unlike anyone else in the league. Until we see if this giant amount of cash retains Hassan’s inner, super-efficient Dr. Jekyl mentality we saw during the playoffs or unleashes the Mr. Hyde that’s made the entire 305 area code want to tomahawk electronics through their window the past couple of seasons, this deal cannot be graded.


WHO: Ish Smith

WHAT: 3 Years/$18 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: One day, the fastest on-ball point guard in the league will develop a jump shot – and when he does: Ish Smith won’t be the best kept secret in the NBA any more.


WHO: DJ Augustin

WHAT: 4 Years/$29 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: Does this mean the Magic are throwing in the towel on the Elfrid Payton project? Hello, waiter … I’ll please have one of whatever the 2016-2017 Orlando Magic are having. Thank you.


WHO: Jeremy Lin

jeremy lin 3

WHAT: 3 Years/$36 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn Nets

WHY: The steal of the offseason was made by … the Brooklyn Nets? And they didn’t trade away their next century’s worth of draft picks to get him at this price? This can’t be right.


WHO: Bradley Beal

WHAT: 5 Years/$130 Million

WHERE: Washington Wizards

WHY: Bradley Beal is good enough to be a max player in today’s NBA – as long as you press pause, scroll down the menu options, and turn off injuries before playing every game. He’ll continue to be a perfect outside shooting compliment to John Wall, for as long as he can stay healthy…to be determined.


WHO: Al Jefferson

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Indiana Pacers

WHY: I hate to be the turd in the punch bowl here, but, everyone is calling this “the signing of the Summer”. While I do agree that $10 million per season for only 3 years is as perfect as a contract gets under the new salary cap numbers, did anyone watch Al Jefferson play last year? Coming off a season in which he recorded the lowest PER rating (18.2) he’s had since 2005-2006, I’m sorry to break this to Pacer Nation, but: “Big Al” is just “Al” now. He looks old, debilitated by his injuries the past couple of years, and his position of ‘traditional on the block big man’ is nearly extinct in today’s style of ‘smallball’ play. Hey, maybe he’ll prove me wrong! Regardless of the outcome, there is a whole lot of potential reward here for nearly no risk.


WHO: Andre Drummond

WHAT: 5 Years/$130 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: “Pay the man. Pay that man his money….”

If this dude can ever learn how to make free throws at a percentage better than 60%… we may be looking at this generation’s Shaquille O’Neal.


WHO: Mirza Teletovic

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Milwaukee Bucks

WHY: 3 years, $30 million for a player who lives beyond the three-point line. Seems pretty appropriate if you ask me.


WHO: Evan Fournier

WHAT: 5 Years/$85 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: I’m sorry but which front office executive’s spouse did Mario Hezonja sleep with to deserve this type of neglect? #FreeSuperMario


WHO: Evan Turner

Evan WTurner

WHAT: 4 Years/$75 Million

WHERE: Portland Trail Blazers

WHY: Harvey Dent said it best: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Welcome to the Evan Turner Experience, Portland, enjoy the ride.


WHO: Chandler Parsons

WHAT: 4 Years/$98 Million

WHERE: Memphis Grizzlies

WHY: Remember that time Dirk Nowitzki took a pay cut to get this guy and his injury-riddled body on the Mavericks? Big gulps, huh? Welp, see ya later!


WHO: Solomon Hill

WHAT: 4 Years/$48 Million

WHERE: New Orleans Pelicans

WHY: Oh look it’s someone new for Tyreke Evans to not pass to.


WHO: Matthew Dellavedova

WHAT: 4 Years/$38.4 Million

WHERE: Milwaukee Bucks

WHY: I’m sorry which of the other 29 teams were going to bid even half of this?


WHO: Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard


WHAT: 3 Years/$70.5 Million

WHERE: Atlanta Hawks

WHY: I can’t believe it, but, a transaction involving Dwight Howard may have actually been a … brace yourselves … GOOD IDEA!? Dwight Howard is what he is: a superstar on the decline who has notoriously not gotten along with nor gelled with any team he’s been on in the past 5 years. He’s a terrible free throw shooter who refuses to use his super-human physique to dominate the paint. He’s lazy, he shows signs of not giving a crap about anything important, and is a consistent underachiever. With all of this said, he’s still Dwight Howard. If the overwhelming, dominant Dwight Howard from 2009-2011 so much as peeks its head out of its shell for so much as a minor portion of this contract – it’ll be worth it, because the Hawks are right there. This feels like the NBA equivalent of Custer’s Last Stand, he’s either going to succeed and be the hometown Atlanta sports hero everyone thought he’d be, or, he’s going to die on the same hill he’s been defending since being traded to the LA Lakers. At a reasonable 3 Years/$70.5 Million – I don’t blame the Atlanta Hawks for giving one last chance to a potential all-world player for this price … and if he’s ever going to be a relevant championship contender again, the best chance is at home where he’s likely most comfortable.


WHO: Mike Conley

Mike Conley

WHAT: 5 Years/$153 Million

WHERE: Memphis Grizzlies

WHY: Where were you on July 1st, 2016? We’re going to tell our grandchildren about the time the NBA’s biggest contract ever was given to a player with a season-ending Achilles injury.


WHO: Jeff Green

WHAT: 1 Year/$15 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: I still have absolutely no clue what the Orlando Magic are doing, but, expiring contracts in the NBA are sometimes as much of an asset as the player themselves are – so, best-case scenario: the old “WTF did you see that? That was amazing.” Jeff Green shows up for more than just one game a week again and provides a much-needed spark to a dormant Magic offense, or, worst-case scenario: this doesn’t work out and they trade him at the deadline and/or let him walk after the season.


WHO: Justin Hamilton

WHAT: 2 Years/$6 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn nets

WHY: The city is under new management.


WHO: E’Twaun Moore

WHAT: 4 Years/$34 Million

WHERE: New Orleans Pelicans

WHY: Congratulations to the New Orleans Pelicans for signing every free agent under the sun that everyone, who doesn’t watch NBA League Pass consistently, has to google to find out who they are.


WHO: Jared Dudley

WHAT: 3 Years/$30 Million

WHERE: Phoenix Suns

WHY: If you disregard the fact that Jared is a completely mediocre NBA basketball player, this is a decent signing!


WHO: Kent Bazemore

WHAT: 4 Years/$70 Million

WHERE: Atlanta Hawks

WHY: From only being known because he was really good at celebrating on the bench … to a $70 million contract … Kent Bazemore’s climb to a desirable basketball asset contract is one of the better stories of the NBA season. Is he worth 17.5 million per year? I mean we’re talking borderline “all-star” numbers here. Maybe, maybe not … but he’s only getting better, and there’s no reason to doubt his high level of play that got him to this point will cease.


WHO: Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

WHAT: 4 Years/$72 Million

WHERE: New York Knicks

WHY: Why? Because Derrick Rose is on the team now, they’re blood brothers, and they are a package deal. It’s the only explanation that a broken down, injury-plagued 31-year-old center who just came off a 29-game appearance season averaging 4.3 points/8.8 rebounds per and a career-worst PER of 14.1 gets a contract of this magnitude. It’s not even the money that’s the problem here, it’s the number of years. Think about it for a second: Joakim Noah won’t be off the books for the Knicks until the Summer Olympics begin … IN TOKYO … AND there is another presidential election going on. He will be THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD! That is social security age in the NBA. I get that Joakim Noah was once great and so great that he even finished fourth in the MVP voting once-upon-a-time…but those days have come and gone, and you have to seriously question who would have signed Noah to a deal remotely close to the one New York gave him if the Knicks didn’t come calling. What exactly is the purpose of this transaction? All the max salary cap spots are gone and any chance at signing Dwyane Wade is gone. I’m gonna be honest: I just don’t get this. At all.


WHO: Joe Johnson

Miami Heat v New York Knicks

WHAT: 2 Years/$22 Million

WHERE: Utah Jazz

WHY: Wait a second … HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? This is way too good to be true. Joe Johnson was arguably the best player on the Miami Heat during the playoffs last year (not named Dwyane Wade) and the Utah Jazz are in dire need of a wing player who can not only create their own shot, but, spread the floor with a legitimate outside shooting threat. The Utah Jazz got JOE JOHNSON to sign a contract for LESS YEARS and LESS MONEY than SOLOMON FREAKIN HILL. We’re done here. Ladies & Gentlemen: Your “Signing of the Summer.”


WHO: Luol Deng

WHAT: 4 Years/$72 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Lakers

WHY: Is he past his prime? Yeah. Is this deal a little rich for a player of Deng’s caliber? Yeah. But the Lakers and their Lord of the Flies island of misfits desperately need a veteran presence in their locker room – and they just got one of the best in Luol Deng. His game may not be worth this money anymore, but, if you include all of the intangibles Deng brings to the table: this is a very fair deal for both parties.


WHO: Jon Leuer

WHAT: 4 Years/$42 Million

WHERE: Detroit Pistons

WHY: Haters will say this is fake.


WHO: Arron Afflalo

WHAT: 2 Years/$25 Million

WHERE: Sacramento Kings

WHY: Congratulations, Sacramento, you just did the impossible – you completed a transaction that made the one the Knicks had last season look like the steal of the century. If this deal is any indication, the Kings are going to Kings and there is nothing you and do to stop it.


WHO: Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo

WHAT: 4 Years/$70 Million

WHERE: Orlando Magic

WHY: If Biyombo doesn’t have the amazing series he had vs. the Miami Heat, what does this contract look like? One digit less, that’s what. The Magic just did the basketball equivalent of giving an Academy Award to a film that’s only released its trailer. Someone please take away Orlando’s keys and call them an Uber because this is getting ridiculous.


WHO: Trevor Booker

WHAT: 2 Years/$18 Million

WHERE: Brooklyn Nets

WHY: What is the opposite of the saying “When in Rome…”? Because that probably applies here.


WHO: Ryan Anderson

WHAT: 4 Years/$80 Million

WHERE: Houston Rockets

WHY: At first glance, $20 million per season is kind of ludicrous for Ryan Anderson – despite his impressive shooting abilities – but then you remember Mike D’Antoni is the coach of this team and any big man who can knock down threes is going to thrive … so, despite the high price tag, this might actually work.


WHO: Marvin Williams

WHAT: 4 Years/$54.5 Million

WHERE: Charlotte Hornets

WHY: Because Marvin Williams is apparently a valuable commodity. I guess you learn something every day.


WHO: Courtney Lee

WHAT: 4 Years/$48 Million

WHERE: New York Knicks

WHY: The defensive-minded, versatile, three-point shooting wing player who the New York Knicks so desperately needed – and hey would you look at that, he’s not overpaid! Who says there isn’t a first for everything!


WHO: Ian Mahinmi

WHAT: 4 Years/$64 Million

WHERE: Washington Wizards

WHY: From thinking they had a shot at Kevin Durant to 4 years $64 million of Ian Mahinmi. Life has never come at you so fast.


WHO: Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers

WHAT: 3 Years/$35 Million

WHERE: Los Angeles Clippers

WHY: Hey give Doc credit at least he’s not even trying to hide it anymore.


WHO: Eric Gordon

WHAT: 4 Years/$53 Million

WHERE: Houston Rockets

WHY: As always, the acquisition of Eric Gordon is always a good idea – as long as you’re ok with him playing half the games, shooting all of the shots, and refusing to play defense unless you’ve got a member of his family held hostage as ransom. Combine this with the fact that he’s on a team with James Harden and coached by Mike D’Antoni — he’ll fight right in!