We told you all about this earlier in the week. Last night, during the Thunder-Clippers game, Brad Brucker hit a half-court shot to win $20,000. It was the second time in a week this had happened. Something is in the air.
Jay Z was there, in Oklahoma City, with Beyoncé; the crowd went wild. Darren Rovell wrote about whether MidFirst Bank is properly insured for this kind of half-court hot streak; Rumble started rumbling; somewhere in East Orange, New Jersey, a woman's collection of fine china started flying out of its Tuscan curio cabinet; in Washington, President Barack Obama felt a cold breeze blow through the Oval Office; and in New York, Leonardo DiCaprio was suddenly gripped by the need to take his girlfriend on a Citi Bike ride. And even though DiCaprio KEEPS TAKING GIRLS ON BIKE RIDES, this time it was different. The cosmos was in flux; it's like we're all living inside of Gravity, except WE'RE THE INUIT DUDES ON THE GROUND TALKING TO SPACE SANDRA BULLOCK. It's all happening. The gale forces of the universe are blowing!
If there was a Year 1 winner when the Nets moved to Brooklyn, it was the Modell's on Flatbush Avenue that sits across the street from the Barclays Center. What was formerly a rundown sporting goods store with little on the shelves transformed itself into a bright beacon of fluorescent light featuring row upon row of apparel sporting the logo of the borough's newest franchise.
Ninety minutes before Brooklyn opened its 2013-14 home schedule against the Miami Heat, a few dozen people milled about Modell's. I asked a casher if Nets stuff was selling fast. "Of course. It's the first day of the season. They are going to buy it all," she told me in an optimistic tone that sounded like the party line. I looked around. They were not buying it all. One guy inquired about two Nets hats; almost everyone else seemed more interested in purchasing soccer balls or asking about the length of the crew socks. An employee stocking the shelves said it wasn't nearly as busy as the season opener last year. His take: The jerseys were too expensive and no one had any money. If the Nets won, however, the fans would come back after the game to buy something.
Every now and then, we will attempt to write the worst sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about LeBron James and a culture stuck in neutral.
MIAMI — LeBron James has impressed me plenty over the past few years, but not this week.
Did you hear the latest? This past weekend King James was going to see his buddy Jay Z at a rap concert, and he got stuck in horrible traffic. Even Kings struggle like the rest of us, right? Puhleeeeze. LeBron made a call, and within minutes this millionaire superstar had cop cars clearing traffic, and his chauffeur was speeding down the wrong side of the road. Headed the wrong direction, on the other side of the road, all the little people staring as he glided past. Funny, isn't it?
Sometimes we write the metaphors, sometimes life writes 'em for us.
These are the times we live in, I guess. As LeBron narrates video of the incident on his Instagram account: "Light police escort on the wrong side of the street. Headed to the big homey [Jay Z] concert, JT. Holla."
The video currently has more 86,000 "Likes" on the Internet.
Dwight Howard has been a Houston Rocket for four weeks. I sent him some text messages.
Me: hey. You read that thing about LeBron if he was a football player? Think you could make it in the nfl? Dwight: didn't see it. Gary was sick. Me: what? Who's gary? Dwight: gary's my reader. Me: your what? Dwight: my reader. I don't read. Me: :/ like, you don't know how? Dwight: of course I know how, prick. I just don’t want to. Gary reads everything to me. He just follows me around and reads everything. I never do it. Me: man, you're like goddamn Hakeem from Coming to America Dwight: haha. Right. Funny. (Terry's not laughing. He's never seen it.) Me: Terry? Dwight: Yes. Terry. I don't type. Terry's the guy that types for me. You don't have a Gary or a Terry? Me: bro, how much money do you think normal humans make a year? Dwight: I don't know. A Jared Dudley-worth? Me: dude Dwight: Ewww. You make less than Jared Dudley? A Chris Andersen-worth? A Sebastian Telfair-worth? No. no way. Me: :/ Dwight: YOU MAKE LESS THAN SEBASTIAN TELFAIR??? He made less than $2M last year. I heard he had to fire his reader. What about your reader? Omg did you fire him? How do you know what's on tv or what's on a menu? You're living like a caveman. Shea, what's the difference between you and a monkey? Really. Me: i hate you
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. Here, you'll find takes on all the big free-agency transactions of the last few days, along with some of the not-so-big ones.
“It was on the Fourth of July,” Howard said. “That’s when I felt it was Houston. I was in Colorado. It seemed like every person that I met was from Houston. It was just so ironic. I’d walk around. Someone would ask for a picture. They’d give me a business card and it would say Houston on it. I was like, ‘Is everybody in Colorado from Houston right now?’ It was unbelievable. … I was like, ‘You know what, this has to be from God.’ You pray for things to happen. You pray for signs, for God to show you things. It just seemed like, this was it.”
So this whole thing, this whole will-he-or-won't-he, and if and when he does, where-will-he … all of this got settled by one chance encounter, like something ripped from an unreleased Frank Capra movie about a giant moron who goes up a mountain to decide what to do with his life, and finds a moment of clarity with a complete stranger. Word is he had an eye patch, wore himself salty sea dog facial hair, and spoke with a lot of "ARGGHS" added to the end of his sentences. But, man, isn't it weird that there happened to be a guy walking around the streets of Aspen, just as Dwight Howard was taking his Independence Day constitutional, and these two wayward souls bumped into each other and found common ground?
"You're thinking about going to Houston? Aye! Arggh! I be from Houston, matey."
In case you were busy preparing for the first day of summer by getting all of your mosquito bites out of the way up front, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
In what can only be described as the culminating erotic explosion of basketball magnificence, the Miami Heat clinched their second consecutive NBA championship with a hard-fought 95-88 Game 7 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Wait, I'm hearing there are other ways to describe this NBA Finals: a roundball symphony, so hole-stuffingly great that the idea of playing another season next year as is currently scheduled is a dubious proposition only because hot damn, hot damn; the ascension of LeBron James to the status of a deity who shall hover over this great nation we call the United States of AmeriBron, shooting orange laser beams out of his eyeballs at our most vile criminals to keep us safe in a time of societal unrest; Tim Duncan's personal debunking of the Horatio Alger myth, which would suggest that any man can pick himself up by the bootstraps and reach the pinnacle of American society, because oh how does old Timmy D not leave that series with a ring in a world where hard work is given its just rewards; and a series in which Chris Bosh cemented his status as the player most likely to be enshrined at Springfield with a collective shrug so ambivalent that it dislocates the shoulders of every NBA fan and pundit alike.
Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off ninth-inning home run as the Detroit Tigers stole a win from the AL East–leading Boston Red Sox, 4-3. "Oh I'll steal it back," said Boston closer Andrew Bailey, who allowed the home run. "By hook or by crook, I swear I'll get us this win back." But Bailey's attempts to do so, first by hiring internationally feared jewel thief "The Dingo," and then, after the Dingo was apprehended outside of Geneva, by dangling a wire hanger over sleeping Detroit manager Jim Leyland's head with no specific purpose in mind, both proved to be fool's errands.
May and June are just about the only months when there's nothing to talk about regarding the NFL. Mays is doing the heavy lifting with his Warning series, but we wanted to make sure you were fully aware of some of the truly stupid NFL news stories floating around this week.
So let's take a look at some of the headlines from the past week or so that have made life more fun.
The NFLPA Goes to War With Jay-Z
This is so, so stupid. From NFL.com: "The union is planning to send a letter of inquiry to Roc Nation Sports agent Kim Miale to gather more information about Jay-Z's involvement in courting [Geno] Smith. The recently instituted 'runner rule' prohibits agents from having colleagues or friends who aren't NFLPA certified agents present for recruiting meetings."
It's the second time this year the players association has investigated Jay's involvement in recruiting a player. And Jay-Z was at that meeting. You know he was. Everyone knows he was. Geno Smith's adviser said he was (before backtracking), and Geno Smith posted a picture of himself on Instagram. With Jay-Z. At that meeting.
But here's the thing: Jay-Z is not really a "runner," is he? He's a business, mannnnn. (Literally; he owns part of the agency.) So, maybe there's a point to this investigation that I'm missing, but it sure seems like this is a way for the NFLPA to harp on technicalities and appease rival agents who are upset that Jay-Z is suddenly a threat to steal their clients. In that case, there are two responses. First of all, having Jay-Z looming as a threat only ensures that agents will take better care of their stars for fear of losing them, so the NFLPA's doing everyone a disservice by trying to chase him out of football. Second and more importantly, the NFLPA needs to see the forest for the trees in all this.
I used to live on Horton Road in Manchester. The back alley of the terraced house backed onto Maine Road, Manchester City's former home in Moss Side. On game days I used to enjoy the time delay of hearing a muffled roar through the window, followed a few seconds later by the audio on the radio: "And there's been a goal at Manchester City!" I recently wrote about the intimate distance of Sir Alex Ferguson's choreography following me from Manchester pub TV screens to Brooklyn laptops, but the affective experience of that surge of sound is just as much a part of my emotional memory of Manchester football.
With Ferguson retiring, David Beckham and Paul Scholes following suit, and Roberto Mancini being fired, Manchester's been on my mind recently. But now it's "over here," as Manchester City and the New York Yankees have teamed up to form New York City FC. Manchester's in America.
Manchester and America are a fascinating mix, partly because America is one of the few land masses big enough to cause slight unease in the average Mancunian's assessment of his city as the center of the universe. When I think of previous encounters between Manchester and the U.S., such as Tony Wilson telling a bemused group of New York music journalists to "wake up, America — you're dead!" as he introduced the Happy Mondays. Somewhere in the mix there's always a faint air of hurt bewilderment on the Manchester side at any air of indifference on America's part.
In part 1 of 2, Bill tells Jalen and Jacoby his conspiracy theory of a Jay-Z and Lebron James business merger. Then they talk NBA Playoffs, and Kobe's future. In part 2 of 2, Bill, Jalen and Jacoby talk NBA Playoffs, Kenyon Martin's comeback, and whether Jay-Z, Obama, or Michael Jordan would get the best table at a nightclub. In the bonus video after the jump, Simmons pitches Jalen and Jacoby his theory that LeBron James and Jay-Z are setting the table to team up under the Roc Nation Sports banner.
The order of events that have made up the Jay-Z–Brooklyn Nets narrative:
1. "Jay-Z buys New Jersey Nets, moves team to Marcy Projects." (False.) 2. "New Jersey Nets move to Brooklyn, Jay-Z buys team." (Nope.) 3. "New Jersey Nets become Brooklyn Nets, Jay-Z is minority owner in team." (BLACK.) 4. "Jay-Z with very small percentage of team ownership, but EIGHT STRAIGHT BARCLAYS SHOWS, MARCY STAND UP." (Oh, minority as in "small." But how small?) 5. "Jay-Z owns 1/15th of the Brooklyn Nets" (Not quite ) 6. "Jay-Z owns 1/15th of 1 percent of the Brooklyn Nets." (There it is.) 7. "1/15th of 1 percent = .067 percent." (Yo, that's real small.) 8. "Hov is selling his shares, and that's only 350,000 dollars." (Accurate. Also: wow.)
Before Jay-Z took the stage September 28, on the Barclays Center's opening night — before he christened the building, before he consummated his home borough’s ascendance — we got a short video ticking off a selective list of Brooklyn’s accomplishments. “1862: BROOKLYN RAILROAD BEGINS OPERATION” and “1893: BROOKLYN BRIDGE COMPLETED” and “1895: BROOKLYN MUSEUM FOUNDED.” We saw “1913: EBBETS FIELD OPENS” and “1945: JACKIE ROBINSON JOINS THE BROOKLYN DODGERS” and “1949: MARCY PROJECTS BUILT.” And then the jouncy jazz riff playing under the montage cut out for the bone-crunching guitars of “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” and a string of Brooklyn babies were trumpeted: Basquiat, Biggie, Jordan, Aaliyah, Tyson, ODB, and Adam “MCA” Yauch, born in downtown Brooklyn in 1967. Twenty seconds later — before the montage picked up speed beyond decipherability, as if to suggest the borough’s simply overwhelming success rate — we saw Yauch again, along with The Beastie Boys: “1986: LICENSED TO ILL RELEASED.”