The Search For Hatred

I want to dive into the NBA offseason real quick. First off, pretty much every TV analyst said this past draft could have been one of the craziest in NBA history (it wasn’t). However, it set the stage for a very lucrative beginning to free agency. Anyways, the fucking Lakers. I’m a Sixers fan, so you can assume I’ve hated the Lakers my whole life. Everyone does, but being a Sixers fan, history tell us to hate the Lakers. I was almost five years old during the 2001 finals and to be honest I remember very little of the Lakers demolishing the Sixers. Knowing about it should be enough to build that hatred, right? But dammit, I didn’t hate them (enough). There was always the “Oh, the Lakers? They get everything, so fuck them,” mindset. But for me there was never a concrete source of this hatred towards them. Enter the 2015 NBA draft and the following period of free agency.

The beginning of the draft was easy to predict. Karl Anthony-Towns was the consensus number one pick. His polished defensive game and potential on offense to go along with his high basketball IQ was too much to pass up for any team. And then there was Jah. Jahlil Okafor was the best prospect going into this past college season, and this kid was is a godddamn house. His post presence is unbelievable, he can move more the average giant, has great passing vision, and he had the second highest field goal percentage in the country last year, probably the biggest “sure-thing” of the draft. The Lakers need a big man, I mean their best center is Robert Sacre; boom, easy Jah to the Lakers at two. The Sixers get the playmaking guard that we need, put that with the Noel/Embiid combo, put some players around that, and eventually bring us to the Promised Land. That was how almost every mock draft was set up…until draft day. SPOILER ALERT: the Lakers don’t take the consensus #2 pick; they don’t take the franchise big man that they needed. The Lakers instead take the guard to play with (stand next to) Kobe and opted to gamble in free agency.

To be fair, it’s the Lakers, they can attract anyone in free agency right? They have one of the best players of all time, one of the most famous franchises in all of sports, a shitload of hardware and it’s L.A. With LaMarcus Aldridge most likely leaving Portland and Kevin Love opting out of his contract with the Cavs, there were two big name big men to help fill the Lakers hole and someone was destined to sign. First, Aldridge. LaMarcus is finally getting to the point where he realizes that Portland probably isn’t the place to win a championship. Yes Lillard is a stud and the two of them with the supporting cast they’ve assembled make up a consistent playoff roster. But Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are gone and it’s not the team to get through the current Western Division and win a title. So you’d think: L.A. has a need for a big man, L.A. needs a home, their initials are the same so sign the fucking paper. But no, Aldridge was underwhelmed by the Lakers presentation and ruled them out and eventually signed with the Spurs. While K. Love never actually met with the Lakers, there was some serious speculation about the possibility of a homecoming. I mean he’s from Santa Monica and played at UCLA. When Love re-signed with the Cavs you couldn’t be surprised. He said he wanted to win, and Cleveland, NOT LOS ANGELES, is the place to do that right now. (Funny right?) I need to point out that all of this secretly made me happy to see the Lakers squirming around free agency finally unable to attract who they need.

So through the most exciting and wild part of free agency, the Lakers are left without a big man. Greg Monroe went to the Bucks, Deandre went to Dallas and then back to the Clips, and a slew of other not as big name signings occurred. With Boogie Cousins so close over in Sacramento, and clearly not happy with his situation there, you’d think the Lakers would be able to make some kind of push for him (but it doesn’t seem like that’ll ever happen). To put it lightly, the Lakers struck out. They bet on themselves by drafting D’Angelo and trying to get a big man in free agency but their attempts at wooing the top big men prospects failed.

Roy Hibbert, encouraged by Larry Bird to enter free agency, decided to sign back with the Pacers and will cost them about $15.5 mil this year. Here come the (purple and) golden child of the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers. When their pitch of “we play in L.A.” “we have 16 championships” “we have Kobe” no longer working on free agents as it has for their entire history, and when winning and rosters seem to be all the more important than traditions and location, it all but looked like the Lakers might finally be in for the long haul on the rebuilding train, waiting to get a franchise big man to fill in the hole they left wide open. Payback for not making the easy, obvious selection of Jahlil Okafor second overall, but instead stealing D’Ang right from under the city who desperately needs a basketball hero; Philadelphia. Nope, the two teams are finalizing talks that would send Hibbert to Los Angeles. You can’t really get mad (in a basketball sense) at the Pacers for this deal because they unload Hibbert’s contract and don’t have to deal with him anymore. Now, while Hibbert isn’t the dominating player he was when the Pacers made their run at the Heat, he’s still a 7-footer capable of taking up space and impacting a game. The fact that a team can make a risky draft pick, then strike out in free agency to prove it was probably the wrong pick, then get bailed out makes me upset. The fact that it was the Lakers makes me furious. It’s about time the Lakers suck.

The worst part about all of this is I think it has a chance to work. I love D’Ang. I went to the game up at State College when OSU came to town just to see him play. As I sat there watching him play, my buzz slowly but surely fading, I thought 2 things: 1. No way I’m staying past halftime, and 2. I want this kid on the Sixers. Luckily there were two surefire big man prospects and two teams that needed big men in front of us, so D’Angelo would surely fall to the Sixers, right? Nope. Sadly the Sixers got the number three overall pick, so once again it was out of our hands and we got fucked, something us Sixers fans have become all to accustomed to. Its brutal to think that D’Angelo should have fallen to us; not could have, should have. But he didn’t, and he is such a Los Angeles player. While I’m not quite sure what that means, he looks right at home in a Lakers uniform. L.A. was clearly the place that he wanted to end up, but shouldn’t have ended up. So, after being a Sixers fan my whole life, it has taken until now, but I finally have that source of my own personal Laker hatred. And I know, every time I see D’Angelo Russell in Lakers purple and gold I will think of what could’ve and should’ve been. One last thing, if that hate is inside you too, let it burn, and let it burn knowing that fans of every of NBA franchise are with you.

Finally, @Lakers, I fucking hate you.


Addressing The Stupidity Problem In Professional Sports

If you stop and think about it and really break it down, professional athletes get paid every day to do the same thing that four year olds do on day-to-day basis: play games. Yes I obviously know it’s not that simple, calm down. But just think about it. At its most basic level, a professional sports league is a group of teams playing a game. LeBron is playing the exact same game that a 12-year-old kid from New York City plays after school each day. The only difference; LeBron gets paid millions of dollars to do so.

Now for an athlete to get paid in the first place, they have to sign a contract that was offered to them. In every job that requires you to sign a contract, all you have to do in order to stay employed and get paid is to follow any rules that your contract includes. That’s it. Really, that’s all you have to do. Just follow the rules and you’ll live happily ever after.

For professional athletes is a pretty fucking sweet deal they are getting. This is how I imagine a conversation between a player and a GM after the player signs a fat extension: “Boss, are you telling me all I have to do is follow these rules and I can make millions of dollars?” Yes, that is EXACTLY what they’re telling you. The GM wouldn’t even respond. He would just shake his head yes and that’s it. That’s how simple it is. Have you ever wished you could have a set of step-by-step directions that tells you how to make millions of dollars? That’s what these pro athletes are getting here. On top of everything, these rules also happen to be unbelievably simple to follow. Things like “Don’t get arrested” and “Don’t do drugs” top the list. Seems easy enough, right?

Now that we have established how easy it is for professional athletes to be and stay successful, we can talk about how dumb some of these players are when it comes to following these rules. And I say ‘dumb’ because honestly it’s the nicest way I can possibly put it when talking about some of these guys. For example, this past weekend the NFL was in the news for its players being really dumb. The news broke last Thursday on July 2 when the NFL handed out a multitude of suspensions, including some of the top players in the league at their positions. Antonio Gates, Sheldon Richardson and Rolando McClain were all suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. (Remember the “Don’t do Drugs” rule? Yup I was thinking the same thing don’t worry.)

To be fair, pro-athletes have been doing dumb shit for decades. Honestly a lot of the stuff people would consider dumb these days weren’t considered to be so back in the day. For example, Wade Boggs claims that he drank 100 beers the same day they had a game. Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter while tripping on LSD is another example. To put those things in perspective, Pablo Sandoval was benched being on his phone during a game, and a few years ago the Boston Red Sox got a lot of heat for drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during a game. Really? People got upset over that? WADE BOGGS DRANK 100 BEERS THE DAY OF A GAME AND NO ONE BATTED AN EYE. I can understand funny stories like this. I honestly don’t even mind Sandoval using his phone mid-game. What I do mind is players doing things to get them suspended or hurt for multiple games that were ultimately avoidable/preventable.

For example this past weekend Jason Pierre-Paul decided that, as a professional football player, it was a great idea to buy a truckload of fireworks and personally set them off. That really wouldn’t have been that bad of an idea as it was the Fourth of July and people tend to set fireworks off that night…except for the fact that he’s a fucking professional football player and fireworks are dangerous as shit. As everyone is well aware of by now, one of those fireworks went off in his hand, causing severe burns and potential nerve damage in his fingers. The man was just franchise tagged by the New York Giants and there was a long-term contract extension offer for over $60 million on the table as well. Well, after fucking up his hand, the contract extension offer was pulled and JPP’s long-term future with the Giants is up in the air.

Nothing in the world pisses me off more than hearing stories like the one about JPP and his fucking fireworks or guys like Josh Hamilton who recently mixed up his cocaine and Vitamin-C (he probably thought they were the same thing). They have one job: Don’t do anything stupid. I mean goddamn, if I had the talent that JPP or Hamilton have, I would make it my priority in life to NOT fuck up. If the Giants walked up to me and said, “You’re really great at football so were going to pay you $60 million a year to tackle whoever is holding the football. All you have to do in order to earn that money is continue to produce on the field and don’t do anything stupid off the field.” Come on, man. If you give me $1 million and tell me its all mine as long as I don’t do anything stupid for a year, you can bet your ass I’m swimming in cash a year later.

It’s pathetic that so many of these grown men continuously fuck up time and time again. I’m sure Justin Pierre-Paul is a great guy and all, but when you start drawing comparisons to Plaxico Burress you need to stop whatever you’re currently doing and start doing the exact opposite. JPP is lucky that he didn’t lose a finger or two, and while he didn’t shoot himself like Plax did, it’s still an all-time bonehead move to blow up your hand with fireworks. Bottom line is, if you’re a professional athlete stop doing stupid shit. Hey pro-athletes, FYI: there are hundreds of guys grinding every day to make it big, and they would gladly take your place if you continue to be stupid. So, stop being stupid so we, the fans, don’t have to watch scrubs come in and replace your sorry asses.

The Key to Making Gains is Not Talking About it

Listen, I get it. I really do. You work out your chest on Monday, do a beach workout on Friday, and probably take creatine every day in between. You have your pump up playlist on Spotify, and probably just bought the new Beats By Dre Bluetooth Power Beats to workout in.

The gym is a magical place. Its made Jen Selter famous, caused me to lose my baby fat, and allowed players like Bonds and McGuire to hit home runs on a swing the average player would pop out to right field with. But actually, it’s a place where anyone can run off some steam, get an early pump in, or just feel good about his or herself.

The word associated with the gym I hear most often is “gains”. The definition of “gains” is essentially the results one wants to see from hitting the gym. Whether it’s gaining weight, losing a pant size, increasing a vertical, or squatting a certain amount, there is always something one needs to improve on.

Honestly, I wish everyone worked out. I enjoy walking into the Penn State gyms and seeing a multitude of beautiful girls on every elliptical and across every ab-mat. The spring break countdown is cool; the social aspect of it doesn’t disappoint, and it’s also a healthy way to spend an hour of a day you’re most likely going to drink away after 9 pm.

I’ve been around the block when it comes to working out. I’ve had trainers, taken classes, worked out on my own, not worked out, etc. Through all my years of working out I’ve really only been able to come to one conclusion about making gains. Yes, everyone has different body types, different goals, and different reasons for going to the gym….However..

The key to making gains at the gym is NOT talking about your gains. I promise you, it will work out better for you in the long run. Yeah, who doesn’t love the occasional snap story at the gym, or the 6 AM rise and grind workout? I’ve been there, you’ve been there, let’s face it: We love other people knowing we’re working out while they’re most likely smothering their faces with bagels and buffalo chicken.

Buuut…you want to make actual gains? Keep the gym talk to yourself. I would love to hear about your 5 team 20 dollar parlay that won you a bottle of Goose at Saloon, or your fantasy football player who had 3 touchdowns. I would love to hear about the girl you bagged the other night, or the reason you bogeyed the last hole instead of birdying it. Just don’t walk into the room telling everyone how much you squatted last Tuesday.

We celebrated America’s birthday this past weekend…and now it’s time to celebrate chest day at your local gym.

Major League Drugs

Athletes around the world are on display for millions of people to see every day and are viewed as role models and even heroes to some. However the fact of the matter is that they are still people just like any of us and need outlets from the stresses of everyday life, like recreational drug use. There is already so much speculation about drug use in professional sports. People all over the world have their opinions and many believe that these professional athletes are using drugs outside of the public eye.

What athletes specifically am I referring to? Just about any athlete. I know what you’re thinking; recreational drug use only pertains to leagues like the NFL and the NBA. Yes, there have been numerous drug busts, arrests and rehab check-ins in both of these leagues, but it doesn’t take much research to find drug use in other sports. As a matter of fact, it only takes a few words typed into google: Drug use in (insert sport here). There are numerous accounts across the board of pro athletes using illegal drugs, from pro golfer Dustin Johnson and Josh Hamilton of the MLB to Sam Hurd of the NFL and Gilbert Arenas of the NBA. And these four examples barely scrape the surface of the actual number of athletes using drugs.

So why not regulate it and make it open to the public?  I propose a world in which athletes are allowed to use one drug of choice throughout their careers. This drug of choice will be worked into an athlete’s contract and that player will be regularly tested to see that only that drug, or nothing, shows up. With regards to the type of drug, an athlete can pretty much choose any drug as long as it isn’t performance enhancing. Then, like any other job, as long as the athlete isn’t getting high while at work then there should be no problem.

This brings about the question: what drugs will athletes choose?

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks would most definitely choose POT! Melo’s style of play is very smooth and he is extremely relaxed on the court while seemingly not giving a fuck about defense. There will finally be a legitimate excuse for the lack of defensive effort and that excuse is POT!

Josh Hamilton and Chris Anderson (aka the Birdman) are going to have a field day with this policy, but also an extremely hard time choosing just one drug, as they are both “jacks of all drugs”.

Sam Hurd, widely known among his peers as both a marijuana and cocaine connoisseur, will probably have to flip a coin to choose between the two. (When this policy is finally implemented, Hurd will have plenty of time to flip a coin in prison).

On a more serious note, I believe this allowance of one illegal substance per player would help solve the problem of drugs in sports. Many athletes right now are using drugs and are able to hide from the public eye beneath a cloud of speculation. However, with this information available to the public there will be nowhere to hide. An athlete will either have to face the shame that comes with being held to a higher standard and using drugs, or just stop doing the drugs. I believe many athletes will choose the latter. Half the fun of doing drugs is knowing that you’re doing something illegal. Overall, this rule change will help clean up the reputations of various sports.