If You Could Only Watch One, Would You Rather See Avengers: Endgame or Game Of Thrones Season 8?

Game of Thrones Season 8 and Avengers: Endgame if you can only choose one

April is going to be an unbelievable month for entertainment. Two of the most anticipated events in film and television history will premiere within 12 days of each other. If you haven’t guessed by now, the two events on everyone’s calendar are Game of Thrones Season 8 and Avengers: Endgame.

The culmination of over a decade of movies and television seasons will come to an end over the next month and a half. That’s a lot of time to invest in two entertainment properties, but Marvel and HBO take up an important percentage of my life. These will be the two biggest viewing events of the year. “Must-see” is an understatement. The longer you wait to see them, the higher the chances it will be ruined for you with spoilers on the Internet. You can’t take that risk.

My question is as followed: If you could only watch one, would you pickAvengers: Endgame or Game of Thrones?

It’s a real catch 22. You can only watch one, and you can never watch the other. You won’t face a harder question all year. As I type out my reasons for each entity, I continue to question myself. It’s that difficult. Let’s break down the reasons to see each one.

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Reasons To See Avengers: Endgame

11 Year Culmination of The First Three Phases in MCU: The first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Iron Man back in 2008. 11 years and 21 movies is A LOT of time to invest in a cinematic universe. You make it this far and you’re just going to give up?

May Be The Last Movie For A Few Popular Actors: It’s no secret that some of the actors in the MCU may want to move on. Chris Evans has hinted many times that his time as Captain America is coming to a close. Avengers: Endgame might be Robert Downey Jr.’s last time as Iron Man as well. I don’t want to miss their final appearances as superheroes that I have come to love.

I Can’t Let Thanos Win: How is your last memory of the first three phases of the MCU going to be Thanos snapping away your favorite superheroes? The purple chin middle linebacker can’t get away with wiping out half of the universe’s population and get away with it. Not on my watch. I need to see Thanos fall.

Reasons To See Game of Thrones Season 8

Final Season: After taking close to a two year hiatus, one of the most influential shows of the 21st century is returning for 6 final episodes. Need I say more?

The Greatest Battle In Television History: Ever since the Night King and Army of White Walkers debuted on the show, you knew what was coming. A battle between the living and the dead was going to take place. Now, we have finally reached the end. Living vs. Dead. White Walkers vs. Humans. The Night King vs. Jon Snow. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Peter Dinklage said that the battle between the living and dead “makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park.” I’m not prepared for this moment.

Dragons Doing Dragon Things: I mean… come on. They’re firing breathing dragons. It’s going to bring me so much satisfaction when the dragons torch the White Walkers.

I can’t miss both of these. It’s an impossible decision, but I’ve managed to come up with a reason that makes sense in my head as to why I’m picking one over the other.

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Books.

I’m not a big reader, but both of these entertainment properties are based on books. Avengers: Endgame is based on The Infinity Gauntlet comic series while Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire series from George R.R. Martin. Here’s the catch. The Infinity Gauntlet was published in 1991. A Song of Ice and Fire has not been completed and at this rate, no one knows when the final two books will be finished. Although both the movie and TV series step away from their original source material at times, the major story arcs in the books are similar in the movies. So if I had to pick one of these to watch, I’m going with Game of Thrones Season 8 because I could read The Infinity Gauntlet comics and even though it would be a disappointing ending, at least it would be an ending. I can’t get that right now with Game of Thrones unless I watch the show.

I’m choosing Game of Thrones. What’s your decision? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @unafraidshow.

How Many Championships Does Bryce Harper Have To Win To Justify His Contract?

Money money money money, money. This past week, Bryce Harper, MLB’s top free agent, signed a record contract worth $330 million over 13 years. This contract became the largest contract in pro team sports history, breaking the previous record of Giancarlo Stanton’s $325M deal. That is a lot of money for one player, but that’s […]

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Five Ways To Fix The Oscars and Increase Viewership

the oscars academy awards black panther a star is born

The Oscars will always be the most prestigious ceremony for films. The actual ceremony will never be in trouble. However, it’s the television broadcast that needs to be fixed. Movie fans will always tune into the show no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the length of the broadcast or the host of the show. The challenge is figuring out how to attract the average viewer to tune into the show.

Last year’s ceremony had its lowest ratings in the modern era with 26.5 million viewers. To fix the ratings problem, the Academy decided to implement new changes to the broadcast, but the upcoming ceremony has been plagued with problems for months now ever since the Academy announced and later, scrapped the proposed award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. Then, the entire Kevin Hart controversy left the show without a host. Now, the Academy announced it will hand out a few awards such as cinematography and film editing during commercials as a way to keep the broadcast under 3 hours. Much to the surprise of no one, it has been met with serious blowback.

Luckily, I have a few ideas on how to fix the Oscars.

1. Start Earlier

Why does the ceremony have to start at 8 PM EST? The Super Bowl, which is usually the highest watched program in the United States ever year, starts at 6:30 EST. Why can’t the Oscars start earlier as well? The average length of Oscar ceremonies since 2010 has been 215 minutes, with telecasts ending between 11:43 PM and 12:19 AM. That’s ridiculous for any telecast. Most viewers are in bed by then on the East Coast. Starting the ceremony at 7 PM EST and ending at 11 PM would be ideal for all viewers.

2. Stream The Ceremony Globally

We are currently living in the digital streaming age. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon produce critically acclaimed films and television while livestreams on social media skyrocket in popularity. Why not take advantage of the digital age? Imagine if the ceremony was streaming on a platform like Twitter or Instagram in addition to ABC. This would encourage more interaction between viewers on social media. Television ads would still sell. Money would still come in. This would be just another way to view the show.

3. Introduce New Rising Star Categories

The popular film category was an example of “right idea, terrible execution.” Popular films can get nominated for Oscars cc: Black Panther. Adding popular, box office hits to the ceremony is smart, but there are better ways to implement them into a ceremony. Take the BAFTAs (England’s Academy Awards) for example. Two categories featured on the show are Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer and the EE Rising Star Award (voted for by the public). If the writing category were added to include all writers, popular stars like Bradley Cooper or Bo Burnham might receive their Oscar moment. The rising star award at the BAFTAs was won by Letitia Wright for playing Shuri in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. If Wright won that award at the Oscars, it would give Black Panther a monumental Oscar win and leave many fans happy.

4. Announce Every Category On The Broadcast

As mentioned above, the ceremony will air categories during commercials. This is not a good idea. This is the Super Bowl for the film community. Although these categories are lesser known to the public, they are extremely respected positions in the film community. By not airing certain categories on the show, the Academy is stating that these awards do not matter. Ask anyone who has ever made a film. Cinematography and editing are two of the most important aspects of a film. Reward these gifted men and women with the ability to have their moment in the sun on live television.

5. Raise Salary For Host

Hosting the Oscars used to be a highly-sought out job. Now, it seems as if everyone far and wide are running from it. The pressure to succeed and deliver ratings as well as the low-pay for a huge workload has led to many entertainers avoiding the gig entirely. Jimmy Kimmel said that he made $15,000 to host last year’s ceremony despite ABC charging millions for a 30-second commercial. The Academy should work with ABC to significantly increase the salary for the host, which my lead to more entertainers saying “yes” to the gig. Months of work and insane stress should be counteracted with a fair, 6-figure payday.

Tune in on February 24 at 8 PM EST to see if any of my rules are implemented into the broadcast!

Who Is The Greatest Athlete Of Your Lifetime?

greatest athlete Brady Jordan LeBron Serena

Tom Brady won his record sixth Super Bowl, which is the most of any player in NFL history. Brady passed linebacker Charles Haley, who won five Super Bowls during his tenures with the 49ers and Cowboys. But is he the greatest athlete of your lifetime and generation? Do Serena Williams, Tom Brady, LeBron, Michael Jordan, Jimmy Johnson, and Michael Phelps make your list?

Brady stands alone on the mountain as winningest NFL quarterback to ever play the game. Over the years, as the wins, records, and Super Bowls began to accumulate, Brady has started to earn the nickname of the “Goat,” which stands for greatest of all-time. For what it’s worth, I do believe Brady is the greatest of all-time in football, but I understand there are many sides to the argument. I did not see Jim Brown play and many believe he is the greatest football player of all-time. I also did not see Joe Montana play in the NFL and many also believe he is the greatest quarterback of all-time. These are all fair points.

However, I’m going to specify the question. Who is the greatest athlete of your lifetime? The answers will all differ depending on what year you were born, but I believe it’s a fair way of determining “Goat-status.” These are the athletes you have watched the most during your time on Earth so it will be easier to narrow down finalists for your selection as opposed to encompassing the entire history of sports.

I was born in 1993 and I have narrowed my list down to four athletes. You can call it my Mount Rushmore of “Greatest Athletes of my Lifetime.” Here are selections (in no particular order).

Tom Brady

Tom Brady / Getty

Am I a prisoner of the moment for including Brady on this list? Absolutely not. Brady has earned the right to be called one of the greatest athletes of all-time. Brady has 207 wins and 60 losses in the regular season, which is a .775 winning percentage. The next closest percentage is Brett Favre at .618. Brady completely separates himself from the pack due to his postseason dominance. Brady has an unprecedented 30 wins in the postseason. Joe Montana is second with 16. Brady is the Goat quarterback in my book.

LeBron James

LeBron James Injury Lakers
LeBron James / Via USA Today Sports

“You bro. Who is the Goat, Michael or LeBron?” Every time I hear this question, I want to gauge my eyes out. It’s unfair to both players because LeBron James is still playing. When his career is over, then start the debate. Anyways, LeBron is currently the greatest living and breathing basketball player on the planet. LeBron is a 3x NBA champion with 3x Finals MVP in nine appearances (eight straight trips to the finals and counting). The 15x All-star and 12x All-NBA First Team player is fifth all-time in scoring with 32,008 points. LeBron easily cements his place on my Mount Rushmore.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams / AP Photo

If I had to describe Serena Williams in one word, I would use “dominant.” Serena has dominated her competition ever since she turned pro as a 14-year-old in 1995. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, which is most in the Open Era and second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court. Between singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles, which is second in the Open Era. Williams has been the world’s No.1 ranked player eight times and has been the No.1 ranked player for 319 weeks total. Perhaps the word “dominant” is undervaluing Serena’s legacy. Serena is a Goat in my eyes.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps / Getty

Unlike the three previous athletes, Michael Phelps might have the best case for Goat-status. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all-time, having won a total of 28 medals in both individual and team events. Now you might think to yourself that because of Phelps’s silver and bronze medal totals, that is the reason why he has the most medals. If that was your belief, you would be wrong. Phelps has 23 gold medals, which is obviously first on the list. The second most decorated athlete in the Olympics is Larisa Latynina, a Russian gymnast, who accumulated 18 total medals. Phelps has more gold medals than any other Olympian’s total amount of medals. Phelps rarely lost in the Olympics and when he did, he’d usually walk away with a silver or bronze. Don’t expect any athlete to break Phelps’s record any time soon.

After laying out all of their cases, who is the greatest athlete of my lifetime?

I may need some more time to think…

Let me know who your greatest athlete selection is in the comments below!

*Disclaimer: I’m not selecting Michael Jordan because I was too young to watch and appreciate his greatness. Michael walked away from the game twice: once when I was five-years-old and then when I was ten-years-old. I simply did not see him play enough even though he is one of the greatest athletes of all-time.

Super Bowl VIII: Best Prop Bets

The Super Bowl is not only the championship game in the NFL, but it’s the championship game for gambling. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest gambling days of the year. In 1991, $40 million was bet on the Super Bowl. In 2018, the total was over $158 million and 2019 is expected to be higher than that.

One of the reasons why the total has grown exponentially is the rise of the prop bet. Prop bets are bets that can be made that don’t necessarily impact the final outcome of the game. Instead of betting who will win the game, gamblers can bet things like score at the end of the first quarter, the coin toss, and the color of the gatorade that will be poured on the winning coach. Prop bets entice and allow non-gamblers to bet during the Super Bowl without knowing anything about football.

Prop bets elevate the Super Bowl viewing experience. What prop bets should you invest in? There are hundreds of prop bets that can be made, but I’m going to break down a few of my favorite ones.

*Odds were taken on 2/2 from Bovada unless otherwise noted*

Gladys Knight Over/Under 1:49 To Sing The National Anthem

The time of the National Anthem is my personal favorite prop bet. There is no better rush than pulling out your stopwatch and timing the national anthem. Type in “Gladys Knight National Anthem” and you will find dozens of articles that evaluate her singing ability and how it will translate to the National Anthem. FiveThirtyEight did on study on covers sung by Gladys Knight and learned that her versions were 7% longer than the originals, which is good for a bonus of 12.7 seconds. Plus, men tend to sing the anthem more quickly than women. I expect Knight to sing a powerful rendition of the anthem that is full of soul and high notes. Bet the over.

Over 1:49

Tom Brady Over/Under 37.5 Passing Attempts

During the regular season, Tom Brady threw over 37.5 passing attempts in only 5 games. However, Brady shattered that number in both playoff games with totals of 44 and 46. In his last three Super Bowls, Brady’s passing attempts average is approximately 53. With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in the middle of the Rams’ defense, expect Tom Brady to get the ball out of his hands quickly as the Pats should elect to throw a lot of short passes instead of runs. Bet the over.

Over 37.5

What Will Be The First Song Performed By Maroon 5?

  • Makes Me Wonder         +EVEN
  • One More Night              +550
  • Moves Like Jagger         +600
  • Animals                           +700
  • Sugar                              +900
  • Girls Like You                 +900

*Lines taken from OddsShark*

Who is ready for some Maroon 5 at halftime? Want to make their performance more interesting? To do that, bet on the first song they will sing! To break down this list, I’m using process of elimination. “Sugar” and “Animals” get the ax because they were not number one hits. I’m eliminating “Girls Like You” because Cardi B is not scheduled to perform. Even if Cardi B surprisingly shows up and performs the song, Maroon 5 would never open with a song that featured another artist. It’s the band’s time to shine, not Cardi’s time. I’m also eliminating “Moves Like Jagger” for the same reason I eliminated “Girls Like You.” Even if Christina Aguilera shows up to perform, it would not be for the first song. That leaves us with two choices, “Makes Me Wonder” and “One More Night.” My pick is “Makes Me Wonder” because it was Maroon 5’s first number one hit and it’s a more upbeat song.

Makes Me Wonder +EVEN

Enjoy the Super Bowl!

How Kyrie Irving is Learning to Be a Leader: LeBron James Helped

Kyrie Irving boston celtics

“There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves.”

The above statement is from Simon Sinek’s Logistics of Leadership, and the quote could not be more applicable to the situation between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, 117-108, in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. Irving leads the Celtics with 27 points, but the top story was not found in the box score. In fact, the biggest story involved Irving’s words, not his play on the court. Irving dropped a bombshell when he revealed to reporters that he sought advice from the unlikeliest of sources. Irving asked for guidance from the same teammate he did not want to play with anymore and forced ownership to trade him away. Not only did Irving request direction from said teammate, but he apologized for his actions.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the teammate that gave Irving advice was LeBron James. 

Irving’s comments stem from the tumultuous past couple of days the Celtics have experienced in the media. After losing to the Orlando Magic this past Saturday night, Irving publicly called out his younger teammates, citing that they have no idea what it takes to win a championship. “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team,” Irving said, via Keith Smith of Real GM. “What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”

Calling out teammates in front of the media is not a trait of a leader and Irving’s teammate, Jaylen Brown, made sure to reinforce that issue. Brown fired back at Irving, saying “It’s not one guy’s fault, it’s not young guys old guys fault, it’s everybody we all have to be accountable and turn this thing around… We can’t point fingers; we just have to continue to empower each other.”

It seems to me that Irving has not figured out how to be a leader, which is why he sought advice from one of the best leaders in the NBA, LeBron James. It’s ironic because the same issues that Irving brings up (lack of experience from young guys, don’t know what it takes to win, etc.) are the same issues that LeBron had when trying to groom Irving into the league’s next best superstar. It seems as if Irving may have learned his lesson (for now).

“I’ll tell you one thing. Obviously it was something that was a big deal for me because I had to call ’Bron and tell him I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips and I wanted everything to be at my threshold,” said Irving after the victory over the Raptors. “ ’Bron was one of the guys who came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it’s like to win a championship. It was hard for him. Sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world. Like I said, only few are meant for it or chosen for it, and I felt like the best person to call was him because he’s in this situation.”

Because of Irving’s call to James, the sports world is breaking down Irving’s comments like it’s the Zapruder film. Both sides have fair arguments. Irving realized that he was the main issue behind Cleveland’s chemistry problems, not James. Maybe Irving has learned his lesson and his apology is sincere and heartfelt. Athletes are people and just like people tend to do, they mature with age. Irving may have realized that LeBron’s leadership and constant push to be better would only benefit the team in the long run.

However, there is the other side of this debate. Irving once again opened his mouth to the public when he could have remained silent. It’s not like any member of the media had word of this phone call between Irving and James. Irving mentioned it unprovoked. Irving’s message may be heartfelt, but one can translate what he said as “Yes, I play with young and immature players that remind me of myself.” That’s kind of a backhand insult, no? Did he need to share that with the public? Did he need to use LeBron James to support his agenda of growing as a leader? Sometimes, the best way to lead is by saying nothing at all, at least to the media and to his teammates on the court. Behind closed doors is when issues over a lack of leadership should be addressed.

For all we know, Kyrie Irving could have meant every word of that apology and that he’s learned from mistakes. The fact of the matter is that the time to talk about leadership is over. Will Irving be a leader or be someone who leads? The choice is his, and the fate of the season depends on it.

Alabama vs. Clemson: How Each Team Can Win The National Championship

Alabama Clemson

Alabama vs. Clemson, Part IV. Sign me up. For the third time in the last four years, the final two teams standing are Alabama and Clemson. That should come as a surprise to no one because these two teams happen to have the two best coaches in Division I football, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney. Both Alabama and Clemson come into the National Championship undefeated and motivated to add to their recent history of success. Both teams can win tonight and here’s how it can happen.

Alabama Can Win If…

Tua is Tua

  •  Tua Tagovailoa is the best quarterback that Nick Saban has ever coached at Alabama. The numbers speak for themselves. 3,671 yards and 41 touchdowns would have been good enough for the Heisman Trophy had it not been for Kyler Murray. That being said, Tua exacted his revenge on Murray as the lefty threw for 318 yards and 4 TDs to defeat Oklahoma in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff. What Tua can do on a football field is special. He can make every throw, keep plays alive with his legs, and change the course of the game at any moment. If Tua is his usual self, it will be a long day for the Clemson Tigers.

Quinnen Williams Plays Like A Superstar

  • Clemson may have the depth at defensive line, but they don’t have Quinnen Williams. The Alabama defensive lineman has had a meteoric rise this past season as he became the best defensive lineman in the country. Williams accumulated 67 tackles, 8 sacks, and 18 tackles for loss. Williams is the best player on the field at all times and is currently projected to be taken in the top 3 of this year’s NFL Draft according to NBC Sports. If Williams wreaks havoc on the interior line, it will be a long night for Clemson.

Good Luck Stopping Alabama’s Pass Catchers

  • The best phrase to describe the Alabama receiving corp is “Pick your poison.” Seriously, this unit is a five-headed monster. It all starts with Jerry Jeudy, who was a first-team All-American and the Biletnikoff Award winner, which is awarded to the nation’s top receiver. After Jeudy, a quartet of talent awaits as Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, Irv Smith Jr., and Devonta Smith all have over 6 touchdown catches each. You cannot stop this group. You can only hope to contain it.

Nick Saban Shows Why He’s the Greatest Coach Of All-Time

  • For my money, Nick Saban is the greatest coach of all-time. Although he’s tied with Bear Bryant for national championships with 6, Saban has won titles with two schools, which is why I give him the edge over Bryant. There’s a reason why Alabama is 55-3 since 2015 and are making their fourth straight appearance in the National Championship game. Saban and the Tide make little to no mistakes throughout the game. No one adjusts better at halftime than Saban. Look at last year as Saban inserted Tua in at quarterback over Jalen Hurts. Most coaches play checkers. Saban plays chess. If Saban throws his headset again, Clemson should give up on the spot.

Clemson Can Win If…

Trevor Lawrence Thrives Under Pressure

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has drawn many comparisons to his idol, Peyton Manning. However, Lawrence has been described as “Peyton Manning, but a better runner.” That’s a lethal combination, and it very well is the winning formula for defeating Alabama. The true freshman took over as the starter for Kelly Bryant in September and hasn’t looked back since. Lawrence has thrown for 2,933 yards and 27 TDs to only 4 INTs. Without a doubt, Alabama will be the toughest defense that Lawrence has faced all season. If the freshman can limit the turnovers and convert on third downs, then Clemson keeps Tua off the field, which may be the difference in the end.

Clemson Defense Proves They’re The Better Unit

When asking the casual fan about the team with the better defense, one might assume that it’s Alabama because of their recent history of dominance. However, that’s not true this season. The Clemson Tigers defense is statistically better than the Alabama defense. Clemson is ranked 2nd in the country in total defense while Alabama ranks 13th. Alabama might have the best defensive player on the field in Quinnen Williams, but Clemson has the better defensive line. Even without Dexter Lawerence, Clemson still boasts two consensus All-Americans in Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins. Add Austin Bryant and Albert Huggins into the mix, and the Tigers defensive line can disrupt Tua and the Alabama offense all night.

Trevor Lawrence via Getty Images

Travis Etienne Finds Success On The Ground

Alabama has depth in the backfield, but the best running back on the field wears orange and white. His name is Travis Etienne. The Clemson sophomore rushed for a jaw-dropping 1572 yards and 22 TDs this season. That’s 700 more yards than the leading Alabama running back. Plus, Clemson has three running backs that average over 7 yards per carry while Alabama has none. If Etienne find success on the ground, then it will open up the offense and put less pressure on Trevor Lawrence

The Clemson Coaching Staff Orchestrates The Game Of Their Lives

Nick Saban is in a league of his own, which is why it’s going to take a team effort from the Clemson coaching staff to defeat Goliath. There is a reason why Brett Venables is one of the highest paid assistants in college football. Venables is the best defensive coordinator in Division I, and he’s worth every penny. Venables’ defense ranked second in total defense and provided the anchor for this undefeated team. However, it all starts at the top for the Tigers. Their success is credited to their energetic and passionate head coach who is the only man to ever defeat Nick Saban in the National Championship. That coach is Dabo Swinney. Swinney has turned Clemson from an average team to a national powerhouse during his tenure. If there’s one coach who could disrupt the Alabama dynasty, it’s Dabo.

Alabama vs. Clemson. Tua vs. Trevor. Saban vs. Dabo. This is the heavyweight fight that college football fans deserve.

Read Up: College Football Playoff Ponzi Scheme

Four Takeaways From LeBron James’ Injury And How It Will Impact The Lakers

LeBron James Injury Lakers

Down goes the King. For the first time since April 12, 2017, LeBron James will miss a basketball game. After suffering an injury to his groin on Christmas Day against the Warriors, the Lakers’ star is listed as day-to-day and is expected to miss a few games, according to ESPN.

What does this mean for LeBron James and his future? More importantly, how will the Los Angeles Lakers handle the injury to their star player? Keep in mind that the Lakers are currently 5th in the Western Conference. Because the race is so tight, a few losses in a row could knock them back in the standings and possibly out of playoff contention.

Here are four takeaways from LeBron James’ injury and how it will impact the rest of the team.

1. The King is Mortal

Contrary to popular belief, LeBron James is a human being after all. One of the most underrated aspects of LeBron’s legacy is his ability to stay on the court. The best ability is availability and no one is more available for his team than LeBron. LeBron has played in 94% of possible games in his career and has never missed a playoff game. LeBron has suffered small injuries to his back and ankles, but this is the first time that he has injured his groin. Although the injury could have been much worse, it’s still a strain to his groin so the Lakers are expected to take his rehab very seriously. The worst thing that they could do is rush him back to the court and put his health in jeopardy.

2. It’s Time for the Kids to Grow Up

LeBron’s importance to the Lakers cannot be understated. In his 16h season at age 33, LeBron is averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. Those are MVP level numbers. There is no debate that LeBron is the leader and catalyst of the Lakers. However, James is set to miss a few games, so it’s time for the young guns to grow up and step up. The Lakers passed their first test on Christmas Day as the team not only held on to beat the Warriors without LeBron in the second half, but they blew out the defending champs in their own building. Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson all scored in double digits to propel the Lakers to a 127-101 victory. Going forward, it’s now or never for Kuzma, Ingram, Hart, and Lonzo Ball. This is their chance to show the rest of the NBA that they can carry the load for Los Angeles while the King is out.

3. Playoff Position Could Take a Hit

Although listed as day-to-day, the Lakers are going to be cautious and patient with LeBron. There is no reason to rush him back since it’s only December and the season is 82 games long. That being said, the Western Conference playoff race is extremely tight. The difference in wins between the first place team and the fifteenth place team is five. The saying “every game matters” is as relevant as ever in the West. As of December 28, the Lakers are fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 20-15. The Lakers passed their first test by beating Golden State, but test two did not go so well as the Sacramento Kings knocked off the Lakers 117-116 on a buzzer beater from Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Lakers were one missed shot away from winning on the road against a tough Sacramento team. The trio of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball combined for 75 points. Things will not become any easier for the Lakers as their next three opponents – Clippers, Kings, and Thunder – are all in playoff contention. If the Lakers go 0-3, it’s very probable that the team will fall out of the top 8. There’s still a lot of games left, but winning without LeBron is of the utmost importance.

4. Time to Show Off the Lakers’ Assets

Imagine you own a car dealership, and you’re trying to sell one of your cars. What are you going to do? You’re going to vacuum it out and make the inside spotless. You’re going to wash and wax the car so that it’s super shiny. You want to show it off to the public, you put it in the front of your dealership for everyone to see. Now, imagine that car was the Lakers roster. It’s no secret that the Lakers want to acquire a superstar to pair with LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are the first names that come to mind as they are both free agents this summer. However, just because the duo are free agents does not mean they will sign with LA. The player that is generating the most noise to LA is Anthony Davis.

The recruitment for the rights to Davis has begun as LeBron had dinner with AD after the Lakers faced the Pelicans game in Los Angeles last week. If you were to start a team today from scratch, Anthony Davis might be the number one pick. The 6-10 forward is averaging 28.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this season. His ability to handle the ball and make plays for his size is so unique that he’s a matchup nightmare. Pair him with LeBron James and the Lakers are cooking with gas. However, Davis is under contract until 2020. Davis is going nowhere this season, but the dominos are ready to fall if Davis denies the supermax extension this summer. If that happens, trade talks for Davis will intensify, and the Lakers will be chomping at the bit to acquire the superstar.

Back to the car dealership. If a trade is the only way to bring Davis to Los Angeles, then the Lakers have to show off their cars aka their young talent. Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lonzo Ball are all young, rising players with star potential. Without LeBron James in the lineup, it’s time to showcase what these four players can do and see if they are capable of leading a franchise. Against the Kings, Kuzma, Ingram, and Ball combined for 75 of the Lakers 116 points, so they’re off to a solid start. If the Lakers can package 2 of those 4 players along with a few draft picks, then it might be enough for New Orleans to send Davis to Los Angeles. A good showing from this core, while LeBron is out, can go a long way when trade talks begin this summer.

Dwyane Wade: The Man Who Helped LeBron James Become A Champion

Dwyane Wade will go down as one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. His impact on the game since his arrival in the NBA back in 2003 will never be forgotten. Wade was known for his “clutch genes” as he always seemed to close out games in big spots when his team needed him most. During the 2006 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat faced a 0-2 deficit to the Dallas Mavericks. Needing to turn the tide, Wade put the team on his back and lead the Heat to four straight wins behind #3’s stellar four-game run of 42, 36, 43, and 36 points.

Winning the NBA Finals in ’06 was an amazing accomplishment, but it may not be his crowning achievement. Wade did something that changed the landscape of the NBA. One player, in particular, cannot thank Wade enough for what he did just a few short years ago.

Dwyane Wade helped LeBron James become a champion.

At the end of the 2009-2010 NBA season, LeBron James was at a crossroads in his career. James was the best player in the league. The numbers supported that as “The King” was coming off a season of 29.7 points, 8.6 assists, and 7.9 rebounds. However, the supporting cast in Cleveland was almost nonexistent. Mo Williams, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, and an aging Shaquille O’Neal were arguably the best players around James that season. Not surprisingly, James and the Cavaliers were bounced from the playoffs in the second round. James did lead Cleveland to the NBA Finals in 2007, but the Spurs were the superior team and made quick work of the Cavs. The comparisons to Michael Jordan started to become lopsided in Jordan’s favor because James did not have that elusive championship. The pressure was on. LeBron knew one thing and one thing only: It was time to win a championship.

In Miami, Wade was in the prime of his career. “Flash” was two years removed from leading the league in scoring with 30.2 points per game. In the 2010 playoffs, Wade averaged 33.2 points per game, but the Heat were bounced out of the playoffs in five games. Wade could’ve gone on with his career as “the guy” in Miami. He still would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. Instead, Wade recruited LeBron and Chris Bosh to travel down to Miami to team up and create “The Big Three.” All three players took less money to come to Miami and form this super team. Players regularly leave teams to become the top dog (Kyrie Irving comes to mind). Wade did the opposite. He invited two of the top players in the game to come to his town and join the team because he knew it was for the best. However, Wade’s biggest act of unselfishness would come a year later.

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James

Skip ahead to the 2011-2012 season. The Heat were coming off of a disappointing loss in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron still could not get over the hump and win a championship. He needed one to add to his legacy and silence the critics who said he could not win the “big one.” This is where D-Wade did the unthinkable.

Wade took a step back.

Wade was still at the top of his game in the prime of his career. He averaged over 25 points per game in that first season with LeBron as a teammate. However, Wade realized that for the team to succeed, he needed to take a step back and let LeBron become the top guy. That’s not an easy pill to swallow for an all-star talent to play second fiddle. Wade lead his team to a championship before, which is something LeBron had not done yet. Miami was Wade’s city, and yet he unselfishly avoided conflict and told LeBron that it was his time to take over. Wade was an unbelievable player, but he was not LeBron, and he knew that. For the good of the team, he let LeBron take the keys and lead the way as Wade happily became his sidekick.

The Heat ended up playing in four straight finals, winning two consecutive championships in the middle of that run. Because of Wade’s ability to do what was best for the team, both he and LeBron added multiple championships to their legacy. Looking back, asking the returning player to step back on his own team and make way for the prized free agent was unheard of, but Wade comes from a different breed. Wade’s selflessness should not go unnoticed. It is a decision that I will never forget.

Dwyane Wade helped LeBron James become a champion and changed the face of the NBA.

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11: The Wild Big Ten West

Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11

The Big Ten East is a two-team race between Michigan and Ohio State. In the Big Ten West, it’s absolute chaos. At the beginning of the year, Wisconsin and Iowa were the two teams that were favored to win the division. It’s the second week of November, and the favorites are now Northwestern and Purdue. The Big Ten has been crazy all year, and there are still some opportunities for more madness in the Big Ten Power Rankings Week 11. Strap in.

Here are last week’s Big Ten Power Rankings for reference.

14. Rutgers (1-8)

Lost to Wisconsin, 31-17

Rutgers only lost by two touchdowns on the road against Wisconsin. In my book, that is a huge win for the Scarlet Knights. I still don’t believe Chris Ash survives at the end of the year, but if they can keep it close against Michigan on Saturday, you never know.

13. Minnesota (4-5)

Lost to Illinois, 55-31

The Golden Gopher offense had a very good day against Illinois. 438 total yards and 31 points are usually enough to win games. However, when your defense allows 646 yards of total offense and 55 points, you won’t win any games. Minnesota will look to play the role of spoiler on Saturday when they welcome Purdue to Minneapolis.

12. Illinois (4-5)

Beat Minnesota, 55-31

Two games ago, Illinois was on the wrong end of a 66-33 beatdown. This past weekend, the Illinois offense exploded for 55 points in a blowout victory over Minnesota. The Illini are a different team with AJ Bush Jr. under center, who accumulated 4 TDs on the day. If Illinois can make it to a bowl game this year, that would be the absolute best case scenario for this team. Illinois travels to Lincoln to play Nebraska on Saturday.

11. Indiana (4-5)

Bye

Indiana has not won a game since late September. During that span, the Hoosiers have lost four games, which were all to Big Ten opponents. Indiana is now in trouble of missing a bowl game. They will look to get back on the winning side with a game against Maryland at home on Saturday.

10. Nebraska (2-7)

Lost to Ohio State, 36-31

I don’t care that Nebraska lost to Ohio State this past Saturday. Besides Penn State and Purdue, Nebraska was one of the few teams to keep the game under single digits against the Buckeyes. In fact, the Cornhuskers lead against the Buckeyes at halftime. This is exactly why they hired Scott Frost. This very well may be a preview of what’s to come. With Adrian Martinez as their quarterback of the future, the sky is the limit. Nebraska plays Illinois at home on Saturday.

9. Maryland (5-4)

Lost to Michigan State, 24-3

Maryland was in a losing situation before they stepped foot on the field because of the D.J. Durkin saga. Putting all of the offseason issues aside, the Terrapins are still a few years away from taking the next step in competing with the best teams in the Big Ten. It came as no surprise that Maryland could not throw for over 100 yards, but their rushing game, which is the team’s strength, was stifled from the start and rushed for an abysmal 26 yards. Maryland travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Saturday.

8. Wisconsin (6-3)

Beat Rutgers, 31-17

Did Wisconsin win the game? Yes, but their performance was subpar at best against an inferior opponent in Rutgers. Jonathan Taylor ran for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. This game also marked the return of Alex Hornibrook under center, who missed last week’s loss to Northwestern. Just like Iowa, Wisconsin will need to win out and hope for a few Northwestern losses to have a shot at the Big Ten West title. The Badgers play Penn State on Saturday.

7. Penn State (6-3)

Lost to Michigan, 42-7

A season that started so promising has now taken a turn for the worst. In their three biggest matchups of the season against Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State lost all three. This game against Michigan was personal as the Wolverines were out for blood after the Nittany Lions humiliated the Wolverines last season. The only thing that Penn State can hope for now is to win out and try to secure a top bowl game. Penn State plays Wisconsin at home on Saturday.

6. Iowa (6-3)

Lost to Purdue, 38-36

In a must-win game, Iowa failed to stop Purdue when it mattered most as they lost on a game-winning field goal attempt. This marks Iowa’s second straight road loss in the final minutes. With the loss, Iowa’s chances of winning the Big Ten West have now pretty much evaporated. However, the Hawkeyes can play spoiler when they welcome Northwestern into town on Saturday.

5. Purdue (5-4)

Beat Iowa, 38-36

And just like that, Purdue disrupted the Big Ten once again as they defeated Iowa with a game-winning field goal. This game had huge Big Ten West implications as Iowa now picked up a third conference loss, which all but eliminates their chances of going to the Big Ten Championship. On the flip side, Purdue still has a chance to make it to the Big Ten Championship but will need some Northwestern losses. For now, all the Boilermakers can do is win out and that starts on Saturday when they play Minnesota.

4. Michigan State (6-3)

Beat Maryland, 24-3

The Spartans are gaining momentum at the right time. Michigan State returned to their old ways with a successful rushing attack and dominant defensive performance in their win over Maryland. If this defense continues to trend upwards, the Spartans will play spoiler in the Big Ten, and that is a real possibility when they welcome Ohio State to town on Saturday.

3. Northwestern (5-4)

Lost to Notre Dame, 31-21

Losing at home to Notre Dame will move you up spots in these power rankings? In an unpredictable season, that’s exactly what’s happening because I learned a lot more about Northwestern in this loss than I have from them all season. I wouldn’t say that Northwestern does any one thing well in particular, but it’s their toughness that stands out for me. The Wildcats play hard from start to finish and more importantly, they keep the game close. The Wildcats could’ve given up down 17 points in the 4th quarter, but they scored two unanswered touchdowns to cut it to a 3 point game. If they beat Iowa at Kinnick on Saturday, it might be time to pop champagne and celebrate a division title.

2. Ohio State (8-1)

Beat Nebraska, 36-31

Ohio State needed to pull out everything in its arsenal to defeat Nebraska in Columbus. Ohio State came back from a 21-16 halftime deficit to defeat the Cornhuskers thanks a 163-yard rushing performance from J.K. Dobbins. Ohio State may be 8-1, but these last two games have been eye-opening. The Buckeyes are not as dominant as many thought, and the absence of Nick Bosa has been a huge loss. The Buckeyes have to figure it out fast because they travel to Michigan State on Saturday.

1. Michigan (8-1)

Beat Penn State, 42-7

Michigan, the Big Ten is yours to lose. After another dominating performance, this time over Penn State, the Wolverines continue to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. If Michigan played Ohio State today, Michigan would win by at least 2 TDs. No team besides Notre Dame has figured out the Michigan defense, and right now, the Ohio State offense hasn’t exactly been a beacon of hope. I don’t see Michigan slowing down anytime soon. Michigan will look to continue its successful season this Saturday when they travel to Piscataway to play Rutgers.

Ohio State vs. Michigan State and Northwestern vs. Iowa have the ability to turn the conference upside down with wins if the Spartans and Hawkeyes come out with victories. If this season has proved anything, it’s that crazier things have happened.