In the modern era, the Spurs have never had to prepare for a season after a potentially franchise-defining loss. After watching the team choke away the last two games of the NBA Finals, I thought my interest in the NBA would never be the same. I had wholeheartedly attached myself to the Spurs as the last crusaders for all that was right in the NBA. Just watching highlights of last year’s series against the Heat and seeing that configuration of black, white, red, and yellow still brings back all the dark feelings. Whether you want to blame Tony Parker’s hamstring, Ray Allen’s uncalled traveling violation, Manu Ginobili’s extended out-of-body experience, or you're just a LeBron truther, we all have to move on.
Instead of pulling away from the NBA, I have chosen to enter this season with higher hopes than ever, with the ultimate rationalization: The Spurs will actually have an easier time getting back to the NBA Finals. I won’t invest in another season letting the media bully me into thinking that the Spurs are too old, or that the supplemental role players are eventually going to let the team down. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that the Western Conference is up for grabs. These are the reasons the Spurs will cruise back to the 2014 NBA Finals, and probably even win.
Tony Parker's Nueve Lounge opened about 15 months ago. Late last week, a very abrupt post appeared on its Facebook page, indicating that Nueve Lounge had closed its doors. Nueve was open the preceding Saturday night, but only a few days later Suite 1101 in the Boardwalk shopping center is vacant, with only a few references to the number nine hanging on various walls.
So the Spurs point guard becomes another professional athlete with a failed business venture. Whether the business was actually failing isn't certain, but the remnants of another athlete exploiting their celebrity to generate local commerce are all over this one. Nueve was one of many "strip mall" clubs that populate San Antonio's suburban sprawl. These bars are meant to attract a wealthy clientele who drive a short distance from their McMansion-filled gated communities to dump their money into strip mall clubs that appear to have been designed by the same contractor that did their ugly master bathroom. Nueve was "perfectly" positioned at the outskirts of San Antonio across from the city's glorified gated community, The Dominion.
When I watch the Tour de France, most of my bros ask me, “What the hell are you even watching?" It’s hard to explain the nuances of cycling and the beauty of the Tour de France, the best race in the sport, without using the ceremonial language that we annually encounter. On top of that, because the American identity of cycling has been so closely tied to Lance Armstrong, most people immediately dismiss the credibility of the sport or its viability in America.
The 100th Tour de France, which ended yesterday, was probably the most fulfilling of my cycling fan life because of the hyper-mountainous race route and the influx of new talent eager to prove themselves in a (hopefully) post-doping era. Chris Froome won, but true cycling fans love every single race within the race just as much as the pursuit of the yellow jersey. Every year you understand a little bit more, and the three-week race becomes the most fulfilling stretch in the summer sports calendar. Most importantly, you begin to understand the amount of pain that a rider must endure to finish the Tour de France, much less finish in one of the four prized jerseys.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
Danny Chau: One hard-fought game that went down to the wire, two remarkable blowouts; two unreal 3-point barrages from Danny Green, three confounding performances from LeBron James, each with a different slant on his ever-changing narrative. The series has been all over the place, and while the Spurs obviously have the advantage at this point, back-to-back blowouts don’t tell us too much about the course this series is about to take. Between these two great teams, the series will likely go to whichever is more consistently aggressive. At this point, that favors San Antonio because there hasn’t been anything more consistent in this series than the hustle and effort from Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard.
Why did everyone want to believe in the Memphis Grizzlies? It was an unlikely collision of forces that led us from "praising the Grizzlies for what they actually are" to considering them legitimate title contenders. It helped that they played two broken, battered teams in the Clippers and the Thunder before moving on to the Western Conference finals. Zach Randolph’s career resurrection is a great story that commentators seem to frequently celebrate. The Grizzlies' "grit and grind" style of play appeals to nostalgic NBA analysts who overrate the idea that the ‘game slows down in the playoffs’ even though generating crunch-time points from the post has basically never happened. The Grizzlies are certainly dissimilar from basically every other team in the league due to their “twin towers” model, but offenses dependent on post play have become too stagnant and predictable. Still, there is one very big reason some believed in Memphis.
Don Draper always advises his clients with an aphorism: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” That's decent advice for addressing a short-term problem about the perception of a brand or company, but it doesn’t do anything to actually solve a business’s core problem. This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have completed their evolution into one of professional sports’ most prolific organizational failures. They have changed the conversation so many times in the past year that they have failed to actually confront any of the problems that have lingered with the team since their last championship in 2010.
Being in a massive market with a built-in fan base does present a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The Lakers are different from small-market teams, whose business models can’t take on the same risks that the Lakers can assume annually and unload several years later. Superstar players are attracted to life in L.A., maintaining the casual fan’s attention with 'buzz-worthy' names and the addition of free agents coming off overachieving seasons. The excessive media attention on the Lakers and Kobe Bryant sometimes makes us wonder why they get special treatment, as if they are any different from the 29 other teams that will come up short every year.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
I don't know if something as unabashedly macro as the Super Bowl could ever be considered a microcosm for anything, but here's what I'd say: It seems almost stupidly fitting, after a season in which the NFL's commissioner displayed an uncharacteristic surplus of political ineptitude, that the league could not manage to keep its own power on. And it seems just as fitting that one of the more entertaining NFL seasons in recent memory climaxed near the goal line, with a quarterback who represents the possibilities of the future ultimately in charge of the game's result. The NFL is great, and the NFL is dysfunctional. It lives in the light, and it lives in the dark. — Michael Weinreb
Manti Te’o’s fraudulent online emotional affair is eerily similar to Chris Webber’s timeout in the 1993 NCAA championship game. Webber’s temporary lapse in judgment ultimately defined his career despite a 15-year NBA run. Similarly, the defining moment of Te’o’s collegiate life may cast an even longer, weirder shadow over his pro career. Never mind that both were college students at the time of the respective incidents — both made timely mistakes with cultural significance that overwhelmed the rest of their public identity.
Manti Te’o is no longer ‘a good locker room guy and emotional leader.’ He is that dude who got Catfished.
Hey, remember the shortened NBA regular season? Now that the playoffs have started, it feels like the regular season only existed to serve as a talking point for diagnosing Derrick Rose’s torn ACL.
The 66-game season was actually a blessing for die-hard and casual NBA fans. There was rarely a night off to forget that the NBA existed, even if it meant a bleak matchup between the Pistons and Bobcats. From night to night, we found out that we didn’t actually care about watching quality basketball, just as long as it felt like the NBA TV B-list player analyst of the night was crashing on your couch when it all ended. We officially learned that practice means even less to fans than it does to a lazy NBA player. We only cared that the NBA is there for us every night, like a friend that we can turn to in order to distract ourselves from darkness and loneliness. Sure, legacies are defined in the playoffs, but the regular season is still a necessary routine that we take for granted when it’s over.
Now that it’s over, we can look back on what we expected out of the NBA season versus what actually happened. For some reason, we thought that the lockout would change the course of the season, but there were few surprises. For instance only two new teams made the playoffs (Blazers and Hornets were replaced by the Clippers and Jazz), but really only one did if you consider Chris Paul to be a superhuman who puts mediocre teams on his back. Here are some more widely accepted-as-reasonable NBA preseason predictions and how they actually panned out.
The NBA lockout is over, and it really just felt like an extended offseason with added resentment. It sort of reminded me of The Decision, except the lockout was way less interesting. The two are similar because fans interpreted them as abstract ideas of debatable business ethics and personal morality. As a spectator, it felt like The Decision ‘mattered’ more, however there was obviously way more at stake with the current labor negotiations. Both were disorienting fan experiences because even our most informed opinions are based on rumors, strategically released information, and the empty rhetoric of people who seemed alarmingly entitled.
Unfortunately, the NBA lockout never produced a seminal moment that was ceremonially officiated by Jim Gray or even resulted in a bitter owner sending out an angry e-mail in Comic Sans. Instead, we will just remember tired, old men in expensive sweaters holding a guerrilla press conference at 3 a.m. on an early Saturday morning. At least it is over, but in a way, the NBA never disappeared, because we kept up to date with players as they managed to stay in the headlines, stay in shape, or stay actively present during the negotiations.
Here are some lasting images from the NBA lockout.
The return leg of the Western Conference semifinal playoff series between the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy is easily the most interesting game that will be played in the history of the league (11 pm EST, ESPN2). I know you might be tired of hearing that case being made for every single game that David Beckham has been involved in, but this time it might actually be true. The match-up involves the league’s richest teams, the most famous players, and the biggest television markets. The story lines behind the game make it just about the most compelling MLS game that a casual fan could finally decide to watch.
Major League Soccer is never must-see-tv for general American soccer fans. It’s not really about the perception of a ‘low quality of play’ as compared to top tier leagues, or the lack of familiarity with the majority of the players. Americans just watch individual soccer matches because they want to feel like they are watching something with ‘high stakes’, knowing that they aren’t going to miss an important moment.
The beginning of the NFL season is an exciting time for mediocre franchises because they can envision success without actually having to achieve it. They can dream of a first-round playoff appearance like it is "their Super Bowl" without having to think about the questions they will have to answer when their team is eliminated.
These are the buzzworthy NFL franchises. Buzzworthy franchises are branded as "unknown" "surprises" that we didn’t expect to do so well.
We celebrate buzzworthy teams for what they can be, solely based on a few random regular-season games. As one of the world’s leading experts on forecasting the authenticity of buzz behind emerging bands, I am familiar with the best ways to analyze and enjoy the buzz behind "what’s next." Kings of Leon, Coldplay, and the Strokes used to be buzzbands, and the quality and context of their product was easier to enjoy before they achieved status as ubiquitous brands that people think they are supposed to like. We want to jump on board the spirit of buzz before a band or a team builds a successful franchise model that they recycle until it becomes irrelevant.
These are the buzzworthiest NFL franchises thru three weeks of action (before they actually become what they are).
There is too much attention and praise showered on the modern elite quarterback. The Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings and Aaron Rodgers of the league are celebrated as genius demigods, just because they can make split-second decisions and deliver precise passes while being chased by gigantic men who spent an entire week figuring out ways to injure them. Blah fucking blah. The more compelling narrative is that of the modern failure. Because when things go wrong for an NFL quarterback, they go spectacularly wrong. And there will be no shortage of that this season. On-field arguments. Botched handoffs. Locker room backstabbing. Seeing that unfold is way more fun than watching Brady sling the ball around for a bit, droneishly drop clichés at the press conference, then go home to the hottest woman on the planet.
This year, we're going to make it even more interesting, using an old trick: adding a draft, a scoring system, and gambling.