The Pressure’s on in OKC

The pressure is on in Oklahoma City this year and it falls squarely on the shoulders of Kevin Durant.  The former MVP is entering his ninth season in the league and is on a team that many believe should represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

It’s time; hell, it’s been time.  This is the year that Durant needs to step up and lead his team to the promise land.  He’s believed by many to be the second-best player in the world on one of the best teams in the league.  Outside of bringing his team to the finals in 2012, the Thunder have had a lackluster run in the playoffs over the course of his career.  Now, it’s not all Durant’s fault; but the expectation is that a superstar of his caliber should be able to rise above the mediocrity on the team, and lead them to a championship.

With that being said, it’s important to keep in mind that he’s playing with one of the top five players in the game; Russell Westbrook.  While many speculate that they can’t win a ring together because of how ball centric Westbrook is, it’s not like Durant is lacking for talented teammates.

I’ve someone that called out Lebron for leaving Cleveland and running to Miami so he could play with All-Stars because he couldn’t win a ring on his own.  Well, he won two in Miami and almost singlehandedly brought the Cavs to a championship last season; Durant has played with the likes of Westbrook and James Harden, and still doesn’t have a ring to show for it.  To be fair, Durant does play in the much more competitive Western Conference, but again, the time for excuses are over; it’s time to get it done.

Believe it or not, I’m a huge Durant fan and supporter.  There was a time early on in his career that I believed he could end up being a better player than Lebron [clearly I was wrong], when their careers were all said and done.  Being such a strong supporter of Durant, it’s getting harder for me to defend him being the second-best in the game with no ring and a lackluster playoff resume.

I believe that this is his last year as a member of the Thunder and it’ll mean more to Durant’s legacy if he wins a championship in Oklahoma City, then if he leaves and wins one with another team.  If he wants to be considered one of the best [ever], then it’s time for him to show up when it counts.

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Pitino Needs to Go

College basketball which has seen its fair share of scandals over the past few years, has found itself entrenched in a new one involving another high profile coach and program.   Rick Pitino coach of the Louisville Cardinals is under fire after a story by ESPN’s Outside the Lines (OTL) reported that sex parties were held for players and recruits during Pitino’s tenure.  The report cited a former recruit stating, “…it was like a strip club.”  In the report OTL also noted that there was a wire transfer from Andre McGee [Pitino’s former director of basketball operations] to an escort service along with text messages confirming the parties; those came from McGee’s cell phone.

Pitino claims to have no knowledge of what happened and he’s had no qualms with putting all the heat on McGee.   He’s known and widely praised by the media as one of the best college basketball coaches in the country.  I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t be considered (by yourself and others) as one the greatest coaches in the country while not being completely involved and up-to-date on everything involving your program.  If you’re a great coach (which Pitino is) then you’d make a point to keep yourself appraised to everyone that your players, coaches and staff interact with on and off the court.

Those that want to come to Pitino’s defense can go right ahead, but you’re wasting your time.  This is Pitino’s second scandal since he began coaching for Louisville in 2001, and this one is much worse.  It’s one thing to have an affair with one of your staffer’s wives, but it’s another thing entirely when a former staffer is holding illegal parties for recruits under your watch.  I understand that there’s no concrete evidence that links Pitino to this scandal, but I find it very hard to believe that he knew absolutely nothing.

Rick Pitino is a Hall of Fame college basketball coach and is considered to be one the best of all-time.  He’s also a world class sleaze-ball that should be fired from his position immediately.  Whether he was directly or indirectly responsible for these parties, he knew something was going on.  There’s no way that a coach who’s considered one of the greatest ever, doesn’t know all the ins and outs of his program.  If it ever comes out that he really didn’t know about this, then he should lose his Hall of Fame credentials because a true Hall of Fame coach, would know everything that ensues within his program.

Minnesota Lynx Win Again; Mya Moore Continues to Amaze

The Minnesota Lynx claimed their third championship in five years after defeating the Phoenix Mercury   Wednesday night.  It marks the third championship in the franchise’s history and the third for its superstar Mya Moore.  Moore, who won three straight National Championships as the All-American superstar for the UCONN Huskies, has continued her run of dominance in the WNBA.

Moore is going to go down as the greatest woman’s basketball player of all-time and she’s just completed her fifth year as a pro.  This is Moore’s resume after five seasons as a pro; 3X WNBA Champion, WNBA Finals MVP, WNBA MVP, Rookie of the Year, WNBA Scoring Leader, and 4x WNBA All-Star.  What she’s done is absolutely incredible and unprecedented.  In all of the major pro [team] sports [NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL] there has never been a player who has matched Moore’s accomplishments in the first five years of their career.

The lack of reaction following Moore’s third championship in five years highlights the discrepancy in the way society views women’s pro sports leagues compared to men.  For example, if Lebron James’ first five years in the NBA mirrored Moore’s, he’d not only be accepted as the greatest basketball player who ever lived, but many would argue that he’s the greatest athlete on the planet.

The only reason I knew that the Lynx won the WNBA Championship, was because I had an alert on my phone.  There were no headlines on any of the major sports sites [ESPN, FOX Sports, Yahoo, etc.]; you had to do a search in order to find the outcome.  I understand that the MLB playoffs had two series clinching games that night, but those major sites always headlined Championship games for the men; why the hell can’t they do the same for the women?

I can appreciate the fact that the WNBA isn’t the most popular of sports, but their superstar player has accomplished more than any other athlete for a five-year span.   If you’re going to headline every time Lebron or Brady does something historic, you need to do the same for a female athlete who does the same.

When Mya Moore retires, she’s going to be considered the greatest WNBA player of all-time; along with being considered as one of the greatest basketball players ever.  Her accomplishments are unmatched and at the age of 26, she still has a long (and no doubt) successful career ahead of her.  If you haven’t paid attention to her before, you should start.  She’s one of the best basketball players of this generation.

Greg Hardy’s Comments Show Lack of Remorse while NFL Stays Quiet

**The issue of rich and powerful men [and women] getting away with committing crimes because of their financial means is much bigger than the NFL but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to strictly focus on them.**

Greg Hardy is a disgusting, volatile, piece of filth that deserves to be rotting away in a jail cell; but because he is a professional athlete with millions of dollars, he gets to walk around a free man.  Does this seem right to everyone?  Is it ok that those who are financially privileged get to get away with committing crimes and those who aren’t millionaires get punished?  Well according to society and the silence throughout the main stream media, I guess its acceptable behavior.

The NFL shouldn’t be allowed to promote breast cancer awareness because it’s nothing but a disingenuous act to try to lure in more female viewers.  They don’t care about women.   If they did, Hardy wouldn’t be allowed on any NFL roster, nor would his volatile remarks regarding Tom Brady’s wife be posted on the NFL’s webpage; the same webpage that has the NFL logo linked with the pink Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon.

Hardy isn’t the first convicted piece of trash to be allowed back into NFL locker rooms and he won’t be the last.  Ray Rice would be on a NFL roster right now if there was any chance that he was going to produce the way he did a few years ago.  Don’t be fooled by the league trying to use Rice as a symbolic figure of what ‘not to do towards women’ because it’s a smoke screen.  If the NFL and the NFLPA (who are just as guilty) genuinely cared about women this should be the new mandate regarding domestic violence:

Any player who is convicted of domestic violence shall be suspended indefinitely.  If said player went through the proper treatment then there could be a possibility of reinstatement.  However, if said player returns to league and is convicted for a second time, he is banned for life.

The wording might need to be polished up a bit, but you get the point.

The NFL should be ashamed of themselves for how they’ve misrepresented women through their actions over the last few years, but they’re not.  All they care about is making money and there’s no denying that they’re making plenty of it.  It’s all about business and even with the negative perception of their commissioner; the league is more popular than ever.

So where does that leave us?

Honestly, it leaves us in the exact same place we were yesterday.  The NFL is going to continue to make billions of dollars and the majority of us are going to remain fans, regardless of how egregious [most of us] find their actions.

The reason?

Because sports fans love their football and nothing is going to change that.

Unfortunately, pieces of trash like Hardy are going to continue to get away with crimes because our society is predicated on money; and if you have it, you have all the power.  Someone like Hardy can show no remorse or a sign of contrition and still get away with committing a crime.  Until the status quo changes, this is going to continue to be the norm.

Chicago Bulls Fans Deserve Better

There’s a little less than a month until the beginning of the 2015-2016 NBA season, and for once Lebron James isn’t dominating the headlines.  Instead, it’s Derrick Rose who has grabbed the preseason headlines; first for making dumb comments and secondly for [surprise, surprise] getting injured again.

Fortunately for Rose and Bulls fans, his injury (orbital fracture) isn’t season ending and he’s expected to return before the beginning of the season.  While that’s good news, it doesn’t change the fact that once again Rose is sidelines with another injury.  It’s become almost routine now for the Bulls to watch their superstar point guard spend a majority of the season on the bench.  Over the past four years, Rose has played in 100 out of a possible 312 games; in other words, he’s played in 32% of his team games.  That’s frightening given that the Bulls signed Rose to a five-year $96 million dollar deal, and all he’s done in return, is model expensive suits on the sideline.

While Rose’s injury is the main headliner for the week, what should be talked about are the dumb/ignorant comments Rose made to reporters regarding his future.  In his first preseason interview Rose gave everyone a glimpse into seeing where his priorities are, stating;

“My mindset was I was working out every day and spending as much time as possible with my son, making sure my family is financially stable. As far as you see all the money they’re passing out in this league — just telling the truth — and knowing my day will be coming up soon. It’s not for me. It’s for (son) P.J. and his future. So that’s what I’m thinking about right now.” (FoxSports.com)

I’ve always rooted for Rose but after those comments, I’ve lost almost all my respect for him.  He sounded like another entitled athlete who clearly has no self-awareness.  The man is in the final two years of a $96 million dollar contract and is in the middle of a $180 million dollar shoe contract with Adidas; and yet his main focus this offseason is to make more money, for his son?  There are no fans in Chicago that want to hear that you’re thinking about free agency two years from now, especially since the majority of your time on this team has been on the bench.  They want to hear that you’re offseason focus was trying to find a way to stay healthy this season and work towards winning a NBA Championship.

A few years ago, Rose was an athlete that many rooted for.  He seemed like a nice, humble kid who was trying to bring a championship to his hometown city of Chicago.  Now, he seems like another self-centered athlete who isn’t interested in playing the game to win, but rather playing the game to make money.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money, especially given that most professional athletes only get one good contract.  But with that said, if you’re a star in any sport and you win, you won’t have to worry about making money, multi-year contracts and endorsement deals will come to you.

Given all the financial success that Rose has had so far in his career but the lack of success in the postseason; shouldn’t his priorities be focused on winning rather than a future payday?  As far as I’m concerned Rose has shown his true colors and if he’s that interested to test the free agent market, let him; the Chicago Bulls fans deserve much better anyway.