As first reported by the Marietta Daily Journal, the Braves are leaving Turner Field, the downtown home of the Atlanta Braves since 1997. The team is leaving for a new stadium in Cobb County, an inner northside suburb, for the start of the 2017 MLB season. Prior to Turner Field, erected for the 1996 Olympic Games, the Braves played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, a venue that once stood for decades in Turner Field's current parking lot.
The reason for the move is not complicated. Yes, this is a developing story, with a number of financial and logistical factors involved (the Braves not having control over Turner Field's surroundings; infrastructural repairs; a lease that was running out; the City of Atlanta not willing to put such a significant taxpayer burden in order to keep the team downtown), but none of those truly explains the reason for the Braves' move.
These are among the most important song lyrics of many a childhood and they're from a Gatorade commercial. The Gatorade commercial.
And after a full minute of seeing your hero, this untouchable flying creature, come down to earth to hang out and do normal things like laugh and let the basketball hit him atop the head, you had no choice but to follow the cultish messaging at the end.
"Hey, basketball's back. The Hawks played tonight."
A friend said this to me, but I didn't look up to see who it was. I was sitting on the floor of a bar, hat partially over face, watching texts from lifelong friends fly in, most echoing the same sentiment: "What did we do to deserve this?" It's the only thing left to think at this point. It can't just be the athletes who are at fault. Somehow, the real fans — the diehards who are sprinkled about throughout the transplant-riddled Southern metropolis — have begun to believe this is simply our fate. The "selling our soul for the '96 Olympics" theory? That's one. There are others. But ultimately, no one knows.
Still on the floor, I searched for the Hawks score just to look for something positive and found the answer that I expected.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NBA season? Well, you're in luck! The Triangle is counting down the days for all of us.
One reason to be excited for the return of pro basketball? NBA fashion. It's the gift that never, ever stops giving. Now, finally, after decades of Internet, we have a website worthy of documenting it all.
All I wanted to do was write about sports. I swear.
Sitting in a hotel lobby in Indianapolis, pretending to be waiting for a meeting, but secretly attempting to nap in the corner, I searched this trip's e-mail account for Indiana-related ideas. I didn't have a plan until the following evening, so this gap seemed prime for following a lead and hoping for the best.
The first e-mail I came across was from a man named Mark Cline. It stood out, because a month earlier I'd written a piece about a man named Mark Cline. Was my guy M.C. keeping up with my shenanigans? I couldn't believe he was still —
Different Mark Cline.
That would have been a bummer, had the e-mail not been filled with so much Nap Town passion.
First, you've got to go to Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. This is where they filmed the epic home court scenes for the Hickory Huskers and the town hasn't changed a thing. Knightstown is a 40-minute drive east from Indianapolis on old Highway 40, which is Midwest bucolic beauty at its finest. After walking the court and jacking up a few shots, it should be back to Indianapolis to walk Hinkle Fieldhouse. Home of the Butler Bulldogs, where they shot the final championship scene in Hoosiers, where the real-life inspiration for the movie (The 54 Milan Miracle) actually happened, and flat out one of the best college basketball venues in the country. To finish up the day, I could set up a sit down with the real life Jimmy Chitwood — Bobby Plump — at his dive bar in Broad Ripple where he will talk your ear off and keep you smiling the entire time. A good man with great stories.
Mark Cline: The Sequel had blessed me with a full day's schedule. All I had to do was stay in the Indianapolis area and follow his instructions. This was great. Suddenly feeling the searing side-eye from the hotel front desk attendant, I ceased loitering and got a room.
My initial intentions were not kind. But people change.
After two hours of watching the NBA summer league in Las Vegas, I didn't have one real idea of what to write about, mainly because 95 percent of the NBA players I knew of were not in attendance. I'd watched a portion of one game, and wandered around the arena desperately looking for inspiration, but had nothing beyond an essay titled "NBA Summer League Groupies and the Men Who Love/Just Met Them."
It was a crash course in how to create a narrative.
Arriving in Washington, D.C., on the evening of June 26, I knew only three things about what the following day had in store. One, the trip was in the name Kevin Durant; two, he was unleashing his newest Nike basketball shoes, the KD 6s; and three, time would be spent with him in his hometown.
That last fact is what spurred a completely out-of-the-way, 900-miles-in-two-days detour from Memphis to the nation's capital.
The meeting place was Washington, D.C., but that isn't Durant's hometown. He's from a place called Seat Pleasant, Maryland.
I didn't know how, but Thursday night was supposed to be the most glamorous night of my life. In my head, this was the plan:
Dress self in all-white Miami Heat fan wear, fancier than casual. Acquire seats to Game 7 and cheer for this team that was not my own. Once the Heat pull out a victory, make way to the floor, acquire a championship snapback, and photobomb a few pictures. After this, sneak into the locker room, overhear conversation about the postgame club plans, and race to said club. After standing in line for 45 minutes alone, see a car pull up. It's Mario Chalmers. Leave the line, stand closely behind Mario, and enter club in his wake. Spend the rest of the night with bottles, dancing on tables, ironically to Drake's "Started From the Bottom," and at 6 a.m., once Gabrielle has dragged Dwyane home and Savannah has dragged LeBron home, split a cab with Mario and finally get to my hotel room, smelling like a mixture of champagne and victory. And then, two hours later, wake up, confetti still in hair, and write about the previous night's adventures as a snapshot of the atmosphere of conspicuous consumption that is the Miami nightlife.
I didn't know how I'd pull it off, but I figured most of it would come true if I believed in myself.
Unfortunately, the plan was derailed before it even began.
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.
Letting All the Air Out
Jay Caspian Kang: Let's call them the Great Deflaters. That's what the Heat have done throughout the last two rounds of these playoffs — Chicago and Indiana both came out of the gate with energy and confidence, and in both cases, Miami found a way to slowly, methodically choke the life out of its opponent. At their best, the Heat play with negative dynamics — they take away everything the other team does and wait for the inevitable implosion. I can see why this style can be irritating to watch, especially with the Heat's rampant flopping, which sometimes makes them look like extras in Kung Fu Hustle. Greatness is easier to quantify when it involves something that can be easily quantified — points scored, blocked shots, steals, rebounds, or whatever. It's harder to appreciate a team that takes away because it almost feels like it is cheating somehow. Instead of negating Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the typical fan would rather see the Heat offensively supercede the Pacers. Kobe is an offensive superceder. The Heat are deflaters.
Dwyane Wade is one of the best deflaters of all time. This quality can be called "toughness" or "championship experience" or a host of other things, but what it describes is Wade's ability to control the pace of the game through brute force. It's another side of "clutch" — when Wade is grabbing offensive rebounds, scoring in the post, and dominating the ball in a good way, you can see the opponent shrink up in frustration and ultimately slink away. Wade has done this throughout his career: He (and arguably the refs) did it in the 2006 Finals against Dallas. He did it in the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics. And he did it again last night.
And after months of studying words with my mother whenever I was awake and not in school (breakfast table, drive to school, drive to practice, drive from practice, dinner, before homework, after homework), it was time for the spelling bee.
I don't remember much about the event — because it was 18 years ago — except for three facts: (1) Raven-Symoné was the grand marshal and she was pretty to me, (2) I came in second place, and (3) I lost on the word "wean."
On Tuesday, golfer Sergio Garcia made a comment about inviting Tiger Woods over to serve him fried chicken. Woods responded the following day, via Twitter, noting that the comment "wasn't silly" and was "wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate " The story instantly became newsworthy, with much of the response coming down harshly on Garcia.
Grantland staff writers Wesley Morris and Rembert Browne spent Wednesday e-mailing back and forth about the incident, and then some.
Wesley: What did you think about the fried chicken remark?
Rem: I've been sitting with it all morning. The Sergio comment doesn't even make me mad or rile me up. Maybe it's me becoming numb to really, really tired insults. You?
Chip Kelly has been busy revolutionizing the Philadelphia Eagles. I think it was Lenin who said all revolutions have casualties. The first casualty in Chip Kelly's revolution was Mexican cuisine. Kelly banned "Taco Tuesdays," a staple of the Andy Reid regime (why are you laughing?). It's all protein shakes everything up in Philadelphia now. The second casualty was music. The whole thing. Music is dead. Chip killed it.
The Internet is beautiful, in the sense that certain fads, memes, and obscure pieces of media have multiple life cycles, with each rise to relevancy enjoyed by new generations of online sleuths. Rarely are things that have been dug up true Internet "firsts."
I had to remind myself of that today, as a clip made its way to my inbox that, for a split second, I was sure had never previously been on the Internet.
But of course it had.
Five years ago, on April 13, 2008, NESW Sports posted an article titled "Michael Jordan vs Charlie and Martin Sheen, Video." The post described a show, War of the Stars, and at the end of the description were two video clips.
No, this didn't happen yesterday, and yes, the taker of this clip shot it vertically (a.k.a. YouTube's Kryptonite), but it doesn't matter. Because this is just beautiful.
From the same Dodgers-Giants game this past weekend that included a fan brawl comes this, a clip of L.A. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp signing a baseball and then shedding his Dodgers hat, jersey, and cleats for a fan who, according to the YouTube uploader, is "fighting a tough battle."
According to the uploader, the third-base coach is the one who asked Kemp to come over after the game, which he did, and then some.
It's a short, simple clip, but it's always important to remember that occasionally these athletes, often perceived as in-game heroes, can actually mimic that mystique once the games have ended.