I didn’t realize the National Anthem was a banger, NFL

Remember how Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the United States National anthem in 2015 because he was protesting about African-Americans and police brutality? Kaepernick was first sitting during the anthem, but then, started a taking a knee along with former teammate Eric Reid during the anthem, as part of his peaceful protest.

He then also backed up his protest by raising money ($1 million)  to various causes and communities across the country, becoming a hero and an actual “patriot” for many for standing up for what he believed in, unless you’re in a certain base.

Kaepernick is still looking for work, while horrible backup quarterbacks continue to be signed. Even Robert Griffin III got signed by the Baltimore Ravens this off-season, and the last we saw him, he was stinking it up for the Cleveland Browns two seasons ago. 

The narrative about Kaepernick has been written in numerous articles about how he’s a bad quarterback, and that he was asking for too much money. This narrative has been proven to be wrong this week because most teams in 2016 saw Kaepernick as a starting quarterback, if not a guy who should be on a roster. Due to the fact that Kaepernick has a pending case about all 32 NFL teams having collusion not to sign him, I doubt he’ll play in the NFL again. 

Players across the NFL started protesting with Kaepernick about the part of racial injustice, while giving their money (and time) to assist those in these various communities who wouldn’t have a voice. I wrote a blog about how the current President of the United States hates how people “disrespect” the anthem and the flag, which led to misinterpreting a known message by the majority of individuals who don’t watch Fox News every five minutes.

The current president then turned this into a wild weekend in September where he called out these players at some rally and believes that if you exercise your free speech during the anthem, you should be deported (This is the same president that said Nazis were very fine people back in August). 

Yesterday, in a less than stunning fashion, the NFL owners voted for its players to either come out and stand for the anthem, or stay in the locker room during it played. But if you’re out there, you’re going to stand for the anthem and respect the flag because if you dare protest during it, it’s a 15 yard penalty and fined by the league (I’ve been laughing at this for the last 24 hours).

Dan Rooney, the guy who has a rule in the NFL that African-American coaches be INCLUDED in head coaching interviews (you really can’t make this up), said that the gestures such as a raising a fist and linking arms would be considered disrespectful. 

I’ll repeat this for those who probably scrolled and nodded in the beginning —

The protests were NEVER about the national anthem. It was never about the flag. It was never about the military. It was about protesting for African-Americans who continue to be harassed by police officers across this country because of the color of their skin. If the NFL cares about patriotism, then maybe they should started by not accepting payments from the Department of Defense to display their sense of patriotism.

The NFL doesn’t give a shit about patriotism. The NFL doesn’t give a shit about the military. The NFL doesn’t give a shit about breast cancer. The NFL doesn’t give a shit about domestic violence. The NFL doesn’t give a shit about its players because if they did actually care about their players, they wouldn’t have organized this without them yesterday, the players would have guaranteed contracts, and the dreaded Thursday night games would be discontinued due to safety concerns. 

But –

The NFL gives a shit about money.

That’s all owners like Jerry Jones see. Dollar signs. I’ve learned that the owners and people upset about the anthem protests were never mad about the national anthem. I’m generalizing here, but most people upset about the anthem protests probably were buying beer at the concession stands during games, or sitting down on their couch because the National Anthem doesn’t slap (Vince Staples, salute to you).

Most were/are upset because of the message behind it, which, well, this is America, you know, the same country that has a school or mass shooting every six weeks and wonders how it could have been avoided.

I don’t know what’s going to happen this fall with the NFL – well that’s a lie. The ratings will continue to be high. People like myself will probably draft a fantasy football team (I might retire though) just to keep the eyes tuned on it. I’ll still have my eye on my favorites like Juju Smith-Schuster, Adoree Jackson, Odell Beckham Jr, Sam Darnold, and the goat himself, Baker Mayfield.

But as for watching a full game and actually caring? Man, I don’t know. I’m not here to be the moral police, but NFL games have been TERRIBLE in the past three years. You’d be a fool not to believe it. 

The NFL and its owners have the belief that they created a solution when in fact, the owners created a messier situation than they needed to because they want to silence their athletes. Texans owner Bob McNair said in a meeting months ago compared the players to “inmates,” and how these same inmates should not be running the asylum. He made those comments over a protest for people, specifically African-Americans not to be brutalized by police officers. Tone deaf. 

If the original message that Kaepernick had was about the military and how as a country, we should take better of our veterans, then the NFL and it’s fake patriotism ass would have 25 minute gestures before games.

A simple solution would have been not bring this issue back into the limelight if this was uncomfortable for the majority of these owners. Nobody was really paying attention to it anymore. Instead, the NFL created a situation that is a lose-lose for them, aligned themselves as a pinata to the President, and when it goes south in the long run, they’ll have nobody to blame but themselves for terrible crisis management. 

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2018 NBA Playoffs – Part 2 of Round One

Yesterday, I wrote about the Eastern Conference, which can be found right here, today it’s about the Western Conference.

1 – Houston Rockets vs 8 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Watchability – 1.75

The Houston Rockets are the best team in the NBA at this very moment, with the MVP. You want to know when I thought the Rockets would be great? When I saw the point guard I hate in Chris Paul sing the iconic hit “I want it that way” by the Backstreet Boys (They weren’t better than NSYNC) in a state farm commercial with Trevor Ariza singing with him, while the MVP of the league sat there, fed up. Iconic.

Mike D’Antoni builds great regular season squads, but those same squads fail in the postseason, which is unfortunate. It’s crazy how the Rockets this year only lost three games this year with Capela, Harden & Paul in the lineup. I’m amazed by that. Hell of a season. Let’s hope it doesn’t go to waste for them.

Let’s have a standing ovation for the Minnesota Timberwolves for making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. You want to know what I was doing in 2004? I was in the sixth grade at North Whidbey Middle School, wearing baggy clothes, starting problems with my xanga page, and then hooping at Saratoga (I lived across the street from that court. It had double rims and yet, everybody thought I was so good at shooting there because I shot there mostly. No, it was because my jumpshot was better than yours) after school. I’m also positive, the number one song in the country was “YEAH!” by Usher. 

The Timberwolves have Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. You’d think with those three, they would be better but when your coach is Tom Thibodeau, a guy who’s offensive sets scream “go to hell” ball from the late 1990s-early 2000s. It’s sad. I’m not a big Thibs fan as I used to be.

Thibs doesn’t understand the concept of resting his players. Thibs has his old squad of the Bulls in the Minnesota uniforms. The dude even went and signed the remains of Derrick Rose (Cavs fans or Lebron fans, whichever you want to choose from told me that Rose was gonna be a star with Lebron… they sound worse than us Laker fans when we loved Sessions). I don’t understand his philosophy in terms of his rotations, but they’re still around. 

Prediction – Rockets in 4. I don’t think Minnesota is good enough to even compete with Houston, and I might watch one game, let alone a half in this series. Harden is gonna probably average 40. Minnesota fans are very proud to see their team finally in the playoffs and not the lottery, so they’ll be okay with the result.

4 – Oklahoma City Thunder vs 5 – Utah Jazz

Watchability – 5

You know why this ranking is a 5. Westbrook. Mitchell. Rubio. George. Gobert. The leftover remains of Carmelo Anthony. This series has everything you want from average basketball teams. Star power, drama, and fight waiting to happen.

Donovan Mitchell is rookie of the year. Quin Synder might be coach of the year. Rudy Gobert might be the defensive player of the year. Utah lost Gordon Hayward to the Celtics in free agency, and struggled at the gate, but Mitchell put the Jazz on his back, and they’re in the postseason. I didn’t see this coming. I knew of Mitchell due to me following the ACC closely, but every time I watched him play last year, I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it was because the coach he played for (Rick Pitino aka 15 seconds). The spacing of the NBA helped, though.

We know about the Thunder or as I call them, the Zombie Sonics. I don’t really care for them too much. However, I’m here for the outrage and caping ability of what Russell Westbrook brings on the internet.

Russell Westbrook needed to grab 34 rebounds to average a triple double this season. If you’re keeping track at home, he needed to grab 34 rebounds to average another triple double for the season. Bro. How. Westbrook, in HILARIOUS fashion got them, and thus making history yet again. However, this begged the question on the internets – Is Russell Westbrook a stat padder?

I’ll give you an answer.

Yes. He stat pads. It’s not the end of the world that he does. Let’s just be happy that the brodie, the internet’s favorite player although these same people had their narratives rocked when last year, their favorite player would outshoot them in games like another player they would be critical of… you know, this guy. A strange world we live in.

This series gets a 5 alone because we all know Westbrook will outshoot the Thunder in a game, the Jazz will somehow blow two games at home when they could put this series away, and we’re all here to see the corpse of Carmelo Anthony have a random 35 point game.

Prediction – Thunder in 7. I want to pick the Jazz in 6. But… as much as I can’t stand the Zombie Sonics, they should play up to their potential instead of being an average basketball team like they were for the majority of the season. I’m curious to see how Paul George plays. When he’s engaged (and actually getting the ball from Westbrook), he’s a terror. When he’s not, he’s just mentally thinking about how many shots he’s gonna get from the Lonzo next year (I’m actually torn on the whole Paul George/Lakers thing, but I’ll explain that in another blog). 

3 – Portland Trail Blazers vs 6 – New Orleans Pelicans

Watchability – 10000000000

This is the matchup that I think my brother Chris Jones and I will sacrifice the sleep for. I’m actually mad at the fact that game 3 is on NBATV because my god, this series is going to be bananas.

As a PNW lifer, I love Damian Lillard aka DAME D.O.L.L.A (Dame can rap, bro. I’m like not kidding). I love Cj McCollum since he went to Lehigh and did the lord’s work in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. I feel like as a Laker fan, I should hate Portland but since we always beat them in the playoffs, I have a soft spot for them, and that city (One of my best friends lives in Portland for med school and the city is lit. It’s not better than Seattle, though). On the floor, these two have been incredible together, although CJ was okay for the majority of the season. For a stretch, Portland won 14 in a row after the All-Star break, and Dame was a legit MVP candidate, but they came back to earth a bit.

New Orleans was written off for dead when DeMarcus Cousins (BOOGIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) tore his Achilles three weeks before the All-Star game.  I love Boogie, and the fact that people think he’s a problem because he’s ultra competitive (Clay Travis, man fuck Clay Travis) is full of shit. If it wasn’t for James Harden winning the MVP three months ago, I think I’d have Anthony Davis win MVP. The Brow carried this team, and he’s averaging 28 & 11 this season on a team where the only other player I can name is Rajon Rondo (I need to watch more basketball).

Prediction – Trail Blazers in 7This will be the best series in the first round. I’m actually torn but I’ll go with Portland because of the belief that the guard play of Dame & CJ will prevail over Davis, who could average 35/13 in this series. Hopefully, this series will see that the Pelicans need an elite guard to pair with Davis. An X-Factor in this series? Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic won’t stop Davis, but he’ll have the ability to at least make Davis defend a bit more, and be physical with him.

2- Golden State Warriors vs 7 – San Antonio Spurs

Watchability – 0.75

The Golden State Warriors are the defending champs. I remember when the Warriors used to stink. Stephen Curry is my favorite player (and has been since he was at Davidson),  so the Warriors have a soft spot in my heart regardless. I mean, what else should I even say about them other than the fact that they’ve looked pathetic going into the postseason due to injuries and not giving a shit? We know about Kevin Durant. We know about Draymond. We know about Klay Thompson. They’ve supposedly have been getting ready for the postseason, and without Curry in this round, they got the right matchup.

The San Antonio Spurs. Lol. The San Antonio Spurs. I was hoping the Spurs would get the 8 seed and get swept by the Rockets, but this, this is even better. For all intensive purposes, the Spurs having their streak broken of 50+ wins (I want to say it was like 20 years) warmed my heart. No seriously. I took a shot when I saw that. It’s not like I hate the Spurs, but given the Kawhi situation, and how his own teammates are mad at him for sitting out because he was misdiagnosed from their own medical staff and doesn’t trust him… I love it. I really do. Maybe that’s me being petty, I don’t know and to be honest, I don’t even care.

When you let Tony Parker, a man who cheated on Eva Longoria with Brent Barry’s wife be the voice of reason in the locker room, those are the messy problems we deserve.

Anyway, we know about Gregg Popovich, a man I have great respect for on and off the floor. Pop is probably the greatest coach in NBA history considering this is the least talented Spurs team in the last 10 years, and he got them to this point. LaMarcus Aldridge saved his career, and returned back to his All-Star form.

Prediction – Warriors in 4 quartersEven if Curry were playing in this series, my watchability would go from 0.75 to 1. I don’t care about this series. The only way I would be even interested in this series is if my boy Kyle Madson got in our group text and was panicking over the fact that the warriors lost multiple games in this series. If the Spurs somehow do this with this team, then I’m convinced that Gregg Popovich should be the next president. 

2018 NBA Playoffs – Part 1 of the First Round

The NBA season has been ridiculous filled with player beef, basketball twitter arguments over who is the Rookie of the Year (I’m with both of them having it because at the end of the day, it is kinda meaningless considering Michael Carter-Williams won it) and Kevin Durant calling most writers “Blog Boyz” because some of them probably can’t even make a layup with their opposite hands, which led to some dudes crying because they took what Durant said personal, which means he was probably right. What a time to be alive (Am I a blog boy? I can shoot with both hands, run an actual offense, shoot a high percentage from three, and dunk a basketball…. somebody get me connected with Kevin Durant). 

The NBA Playoffs aka the NBA’s second SZN begins on Saturday afternoon. I love the playoffs. I grew up a basketball junkie, where the only thing we would do in my household would watch basketball from late October – Mid June every year (Mom, I know you’re reading this. I love you. Please send my golf clubs next week). The playoffs provide a different type of feel. Everything is high from the pressure, the emotions and the intensity.  You see the game’s best players rise up to their best and some falter within it. That’s what makes the playoffs so great.

I have a scale that’s ranked from 1 through 5 in terms of watchability –  1 = I’m not watching this, and 5 = I’ll watch this regardless of where I’m at. Let’s begin with the Eastern Conference. Part two will be the Western Conference. 

Continue reading 2018 NBA Playoffs – Part 1 of the First Round

I think USC is back. No I’m serious.

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To some, I’m the resident USC Trojans football fan. This whole “actually being a fan” of a team for longer than 1 year is weird to some. Being a USC fan the last 7 years has been stressful. Probation. Lane Kiffin. Steve Sarkisian. It was like Pat Haden had zero clue how to be a competent Athletic Director. Now? Everything is all roses (you see what I did there).

The beginning of last season was tough. I remember when USC blew a 4th quarter lead to Utah. I told my boy Jake that I was “done.” No seriously, I was over it. The last 3 years have been nothing but blown leads and potential. My USC breakdowns on Facebook have been a sight to behold. Everybody rushes to Facebook to see if I’ve had a mental breakdown or if I’m just there to brag (I know the folks in Seattle want my head after Darnold and Co went to Husky Stadium and ruined their perfect season). It’s an honor to rant about Clay Helton every Saturday and banter with everyone, honestly. I should probably relax this year. But I won’t… unless my mom tells me to.

The last time USC played an actual football game was January 2nd. I was there in the USC endzone at the Rose Bowl watching Sam Darnold become a legend while seeing Trace Mcsorley throw one of the worst passes of all-time, then watching former kicker Matt Boermeester (what an idiot, man) kick the game-winner. It all happened in the span of 15 minutes. Riveting to watch. Rose Bowl wins are fun (It was USC’s 25th rose bowl win in 32 appearances). Being there was amazing. Listening to conquest play for 20 minutes straight with tears in your eyes knowing that your squad might be back is sensational. It’s been a long road for the USC program. Shoutout to Paul Dee.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California

Flash forward to 8 months. The USC hype has been really…. strange. It began when I was in LAX the day after the Darnold Miracle. I had a USC shirt on and this random guy comes up to me saying “So National Title next year?” I laughed it off because in my head, I’m thinking “dude, USC just scored 17 unanswered 12 hours ago, let’s enjoy this,” but it being 8 month ago, it’s wild. I forgot how it feels to actually be excited for a season to unfold. The last time I was very excited for a USC football season was back in 2008. Oddly enough, that was the last time I thought USC could also win the entire thing (Oregon State smh). That was when Mark Sanchez wasn’t known for the butt fumble and when Sarkisian was known as this hot commodity because of his “offensive mind.”

Everybody already knows about Sam Darnold. However, I expect Rojo 2.0. (salute to the original ROJO, Ronald Johnson) to break out and have a monster season due to everybody focusing on Sam. The defense will be led by Preseason All-Americans Cameron Smith and Iman “Biggie” Marshall. I expect the defense to be a hell of a lot better than it was last year being that its in the 2nd year of a system.  It’s a beautiful thing to see all of the talent (youth and veterans) come together.

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But back to the hype. I hate how my team is being hyped. Not in this “I think we’re gonna fail” hype. But in the “holy ****, are they that good?” type of hype. It’s funny because 10 years ago, I would be “hell yeah, we’re good and better than you.” After the probation and the loss of scholarships, I forgot what this feels like. Them having the possibility of being this good is weird, but yet, it feels right.

I’ve been reading this stuff about Darnold and I’m nervous for him. Three offensive lineman are gone (two were All-Conference and All-Americans). Other than Deontay Burnett and Daniel Imatorbhebhe, most of these guys are talented but haven’t played a down yet. Maybe he’ll struggle a bit this year. He’s only started in 10 games. He’s really great. Trust me. I’ve seen the arm talent in person and it’s ridiculous. However, let’s temper the expectations with him. That includes myself too. Luckily in these interviews that I read and hear him speak, he doesn’t seem fazed by it. He seems ready for the spotlight.

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I keep it to a unbiased perspective when it comes to USC. Last year, I thought they’d go 8-4. They went 10-3 and won the Rose Bowl. I was close enough. If they didn’t start 1-3, they probably would have won the Pac-10+2 and play in the playoff, given how difficult their schedule was. This year, without a bye week, it gets tricky. Injuries could pile up and they could be done by November. September is a tough stretch with 3 ranked opponents (Stanford, Texas, Washington State) and a very tough Western Michigan squad. I don’t include Cal because the University of California hasn’t beaten a USC team since I was in the 6th grade (That was Matt Leinart’s 3rd or 4th start, I believe). I still don’t know if Clay Helton is a good coach, but I feel better about him calling the shots more than I did last year at this time.

APTOPIX Rose Bowl Football
Southern California wide receiver Deontay Burnett catches a touchdown pass in front of Penn State safety Marcus Allen during the second half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Am I nervous as a fan? Hell yeah, I am. I really think this could be the year but the schedule does this team no favors. Nice job, Larry Scott. I’ll say it here though; if USC goes undefeated in September, there is a great chance that they’ll be in the Pac-10+2 title game. They could be back in Pasadena for the playoff game January 1st and I’ll most likely be in attendance (maybe my mom will pay for my ticket this time…kidding, kidding) again.

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I’m so excited to see this squad play all fall. It’ll be a fun season, at least I hope so. I think USC is back. We’ll find out in a couple of weeks. I believe in Sam. I believe in Clay Helton. I believe in Tee. I believe in Clancy. What a difference a year makes. The optimism is high. Prove that you’re back. Win the conference. Get back to Pasadena. FTFO. Beat the Broncos.

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NBA FINALS GAME 1 WINNERS AND LOSERS

The NBA Finals began last night and just like the NBA playoffs this year, it was another blowout, this time with the Golden State Warriors getting the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the paint (literally and figuratively). Game 1 was close for a bit until the Golden State (more like Stephen Curry) 3rd quarter eruption occurred, leaving folks to wonder if this will even be a series (It most definitely will) and leaving people to wonder if the Golden State Warriors have ruined the NBA with the addition of Kevin Durant (They haven’t).

Game 2 is on Sunday. The hot take machines have been rolling since the game was over on a pull-up three from 30 feet by Stephen Curry in the 3rd quarter. Here are mine, but in blog form.

Continue reading NBA FINALS GAME 1 WINNERS AND LOSERS