Hiring Jacque Vaughn Was the Right Call for the Brooklyn Nets

Sometimes boring is better.

And it doesn’t get more boring than the Brooklyn Nets hiring Jacque Vaughn to be their new Head Coach.

After Steve Nash, who never should have been brought back this season to begin with, and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to part ways last week, rumors immediately began circulating that owner Joe Tsai wanted to replace Nash with current suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

It’s one thing to erroneously add water to a grease fire, like the Nets did when they traded for Ben Simmons. It’s another thing to try and put out a grease fire with a completely separate grease fire.

Ime Udoka is suspended for an entire season for allegedly carrying on a drama-filled affair with the spouse of someone else in the organization, with the added bonus of the affair also being with a subordinate. The rumors of Udoka’s willingness to leave the Celtics might not have been a surprise to anyone that cringes at the thought having people that were caught up in what Jada Pinkett-Smith would call “an entanglement” having to be in an office together, but the Celtics players were definitely caught off guard, and Udoka not getting the Nets job adds another level of drama to what’s going on in Boston.

While Udoka would have been a home run hire on the basketball end, between his personal life, Kyrie Irving’s personal beliefs, Ben Simmons’ personal vendetta against shooting the basketball, and Kevin Durant’s personality online, there might have been one too many issues to overcome.

Enter Jacque Vaughn- the most boring, but dependable, hire the Brooklyn Nets could have made. 

Jacque Vaughn was a steady and solid point guard at Kansas that benefited from having several first round picks around him, like Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag, Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce. Despite never averaging more than 11 points and 7 assists per game in college, he was able to put together a 12-year NBA career.

The NBA has a long history of decent role playing guards with a solid college pedigree going on to be championship coaches. The obvious ones are Pat Riley and Steve Kerr, but you also have Rick Carlisle, Ty Lue and Doc Rivers. 

There’s something about guys that get the absolute most out of their talent as players that have the ability to unlock the same trait in others. That’s not to say that Steve Nash didn’t maximize his talent, he went from Santa Clara to winning multiple NBA MVP’s. But Nash was a star in college, and a lottery pick for a reason. He had elite base-level talent. We can’t just be saying that every good thing a white player accomplishes in this league is due to hard work.

But let’s get back to talking about the guy that ironically ended Steve Nash’s college career by holding him to 1/11 shooting in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Jacque Vaughn.

Not only does Vaughn have the credibility of pushing himself past the limit of what he should have been able to accomplish in the NBA, he also has the credibility of having gone up against both Michael Jordan and LeBron James in separate NBA finals. How many coaches can say that?

Vaughn has both played in a playoff game as a member of the Nets, as well as coached the Nets in the 2020 playoffs after Kenny Atkinson resigned. He’s been around as a Nets assistant for the last seven years, so if anyone is aware of all the issues facing this franchise, it’s gotta be him. 

Sure, Jacque Vaughn’s first go-round as a head coach was a disaster, but he was in his mid-30’s and trying to make an Orlando Magic team relevant that had Aaron Affalo as one of its best players. Not even Phil Jackson would have had a chance down there. 

Sometimes it takes a coach getting an early shot and failing to find their footing. Just look at what Monty Williams has been able to do in Phoenix after flaming out in New Orleans.

The Nets have arguably the most talented starting five in the East, and have obviously been missing a focused, steadfast, diligent locker room voice to channel that talent into wins on the court. 

I’m not saying Jacque Vaughn is going to win this team a title, but now that his point guard’s suspension is coming to an end, if he can get Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons all rowing in the same direction, he’ll have worked a basketball miracle and earned himself the respect that he’s long deserved. 

Let that sink in. 

Kyrie Irving’s Suspension Is Ending, But We Still Need an Explanation For Its Length

It might be coming to an end, but we still need to talk about the length of Kyrie Irving’s suspension.

On November 3rd, Kyrie Irving was given a suspension of a minimum of five games. He missed

The reason for the suspension is that he had posted a link to a documentary that made the case that African Americans were of Hebrew heritage, and that the reason that’s not common knowledge is that there has been a century’s long cover-up that includes exaggerating the Holocaust. 

It was definitely something that Kyrie Irving needed to clarify, and when given the opportunity, it became clear to any honest observer that the only information that Kyrie had retained from this so-called documentary is the overall concept of black people in America having a much richer history than just being the descendants of slaves, and that he felt no need to apologize.

I’ve talked before about the factors that make people like Kyrie Irving search for meaning in their ancestry, and even got into the fact that as an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, there are millions of white Americans that actually do believe that the Book of Mormon teaches Irving’s heritage goes back to lost Israelite tribes. 

The backlash has never been about whether anyone believes they have Ancient Hebrew Heritage. The backlash was about whether Kyrie believed the anti-Semitic tropes presented by the film, and whether there has been a Jewish conspiracy to keep black people down.

That particular unanswered question might have justified Kyrie’s initial suspension, but Nets owner Joe Tsai said that he’s met with Kyrie and his family, and that ” it’s clear… that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group.”

Well if it’s so clear, why wasn’t Kyrie Irving back on the court right away?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “Whether or not Kyrie Irving is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”

Maybe Adam Silver is right here, but his own track record in this area makes Kyrie’s continued suspension at the hands of the Nets seem rather excessive. 

Back in 2011, the NBA dropped a $100,000 hammer on Kobe Bryant for shouting a gay slur at at a referee. Kobe was allowed to apologize and make it clear that what he said was not a reflection of his feelings toward the gay community. David Stern was commissioner at the time. 

After Adam Silver took over as commissioner, Rajon Rondo did the same thing, calling a referee a gay slur in a much more aggressive manner. That official responded by publicly coming out of the closet as gay in an effort to help NBA players realize the impact of their words. And on top of that, Rajon Rondo lied about what he said, and only apologized on Twitter after witnesses and video review showed that Rondo was lying. 

Rondo received a one-game suspension amounting to an $86,000 fine. 

Kyrie is seven games and almost $500,000 deep in fines, has offered another $500,000 to the anti-defamation league, and is going to lose out on tens of millions of dollars in Nike endorsement deals

And in the words of Joe Tsai, does not hate Jewish people OR ANY GROUP.

The suspension was objectively excessive. It was historically excessive. And at the end of the day, it’s all because Kyrie Irving watched a documentary that it’s extremely clear he didn’t comprehend, and posted a link to it without context. 

Look, if a baseball pitcher posted a link to a place where he bought a “I love the KKK” t-shirt, we’d all be demanding answers. But if the answer was earnestly that he’s not racist, but instead that he’s just a little bit dumb and thought the K’s stood for strikeouts, how much punishment would be necessary before he was allowed to take the mound again?

The longer this suspension went on, the more backlash Adam Silver and Joe Tsai are risked. LeBron James has already called for Kyrie Irving’s reinstatement. NBPA president Jaylen Brown has taken it a step further, publicly blasting Nike and pointing out that Joe Tsai’s investment in companies that supply China with the technological means to spy on, and ultimately persecute, it’s Uygher Muslim population.

Influential players being willing to take on both of the NBA’s traditionally bulletproof untouchables- Nike and China, to get Kyrie Irving back on the court, is something I guarantee no one has a plan to handle.

It’s as simple as this- once it was determined that the comments cam from a place of ignorance and not malice, they should have immediately let Kyrie play, and do the work of learning about the very real history of the persecution of the Jewish people while on the court. 

Let that sink in.

Kyrie Irving is a Searcher, Not an Anti-Semite. So What is Kyrie Searching For?

Put your listening ears on and open up that third eye because we need to talk about Kyrie Irving.

If you’ve been living under a rock, then you may or may not be surprised to find out that Kyrie Irving is sitting out right now, again, without being paid, for reasons completely unrelated to basketball. 

Life’s three guarantees: death, taxes, and Kyrie Irving being so gifted at basketball that he gets bored and engages in things that keep him from being able to use his gift.

But I think we’re all being a little hard on Kyrie, don’t you? And if you don’t, still stick with me, and see if you can’t put yourself in Kyrie’s shoes for a moment.

Which… technically, you can’t do anymore, because Nike is ending their relationship with him.

But I digress.

I don’t want to relitigate Kyrie Irving’s past comments about the earth being flat, or that employer-mandated vaccination was the world’s greatest oppression. But I do have to mention those things if for no other reason to establish two things-

1) None of the strange stuff Kyrie Irving has ever made news for saying were his own original ideas. They all came from somewhere other than inside his own head.

And 2) You don’t accidentally stumble into endorsing alternative ideas. You have to be actively searching for them. 

Kyrie Irving is a searcher. And this time, the thing he found has people accusing him of being anti-Semitic.

Kyrie Irving posted a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America,” a movie that Ronald Dalton Jr. fashioned after his own book by the same name. The movie was on Amazon, and Irving didn’t provide any commentary about how he felt about the film. 

The main idea presented in the film, which includes and easily verifiably false quote from none other than Adolf Hitler, and the batshit crazy claim that the Holocaust was exaggerated 20 times over, is that black people in America have been lied to about their lineage as African slaves, and are in fact, kidnapped Hebrews.

The idea that dark skinned people in America can be traced back to “lost” Hebrew lineage is not a new idea. There are families six or seven generations deep in the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. Shit, it’s not even a “black idea.” Next time you’re hanging out with a Latter Day Saint friend, ask them what a Lamanite is. You’ll find out that nearly 2% of the entire population of the United States believes that Native Americans are also Hebrews

And Kyrie is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, so chances are there are a lot more white people that believe Irving is a Jew than there are black people.

But back to my point- every black family in America has at least one member of the family, or at least a family friend, that might not call themselves a Black Hebrew Israelite, but they certainly have what I’m going to call “Hotep theology.”

If you’re a white person watching this, let me make this relatable. You know that uncle you have that resembles the Randy Quaid character in Independence Day? Well, we have our own version of that same uncle. 

And Hotep theology, while it can be harmful, usually comes from well-meaning people that just want to participate in a pride-filled heritage and have a connection to where they come from. 

They’re searchers, or at least they were, before they became militantly attached to their ideals.

And that brings me back to Kyrie Irving. The searcher. Born in Australia. His mother, who was mixed race, passed away when he was four. He was raised going to Catholic School, in a family of world class athletes, of which he ended up being the best. His stepmother is a strong black executive business woman in a world with far too few of those, and despite her not being married to his father anymore, he still made her his agent. 

Kyrie Irving was brought up in such unusual circumstances that he was never going to be what anyone would consider normal. And not only was he cut off from his mother, tragically, he is also a black man in America. 

Talk to a white person about where they come from. And I’m not talking about the ones that are super into genealogy and can name every ancestor going back 15 generations. Just think of a friend, call them up, and ask if they know anything about their heritage. 

They’ll probably say something like “My dad’s Irish Catholic, my mom’s family goes back to Sicily, which sounds Italian but it isn’t.”

Imagine knowing where you come from, much less how you got here, and that history includes free people, perhaps oppressed, but likely free, making the decision to come here.

Maybe you take that simple knowledge of being able to trace a thread backwards for granted. The truth is, and I’m not saying this to make anyone feel guilty, but a lot of black people in America can’t even trace their family histories back to a forced arrival, because for generations and generations, black offspring were passed around by their owners like Pnini Select trading cards. Sure, there are some property records out there, but it’s not like there was a Slavery Carfax.

The truth is, America created people like Kyrie a long time ago, when it cut an entire people group off from its history for the sake of capital gains. Some of the things Kyrie is searching for can’t be found, so when someone comes along to tell him and people like him that they’re more than just the product of the American South’s need for cheap labor, that they’re not only special, but chosen, and connected to a greater story-

is Kyrie Irving really the monster we’ve made him out to be for wanting to believe it?

Should he have shared it without context? No. 

Should someone in Kyrie Irving’s life be working with him diligently on media literacy? Absolutely. 

But is Kyrie Irving, one of the most charitable athletes in the world, who has donated more to progressive causes than most liberal people will make in three lifetimes, an anti-Semite because he thinks he’s got Hebrew heritage?

No, and if you’ve put yourself in his shoes, you know that he’s hearing the question “are you an anti-Semite” as “Do you hate yourself?”

And if we know one thing about Kyrie Irving, it’s that he likes Kyrie Irving, at least enough to always be thinking about the question “who the hell is Kyrie Irving?

Look, maybe you disagree with the take that we’re being too harsh on Kyrie. And I get the dangers of the ideas Kyrie is endorsing by sharing this film without context. History has taught us to stand on guard for language that delegitimizes or villainizes the Jews, because when we haven’t, the results have been one of our history’s greatest stains.

But hopefully you can digest the idea that Kyrie means well, and is simply on a quest to piece together his place on an earth that he recently realized was round.

Maybe what I said here today helped reshape your view of Kyrie Irving, and if that’s the case, you have more in common with Kyrie than you thought. 

You can both be influenced by videos on the internet.

Let that sink in.

Why Your Favorite Eastern Conference Team Won’t Win An NBA Championship This Year

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Eastern Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.

Ever since Michael Jordan retired the second time, the West has run the NBA, winning titles at a 2-to-1 rate. LeBron did most of the heavy lifting, but every once in a while a plucky team would rise up and make the East proud. I’m talking to you, Toronto. 

Well with the NBA season kicking off this week, I’m here to tell you why this won’t be one of those years. 

Here’s why your favorite Eastern Conference team is closer to falling apart than they are to an NBA Championship.

Let’s start with last year’s #1 seed Miami Heat, where Erik Spoelstra is in his eighth consecutive season of convincing Pat Riley to pay Udonis Haslem to hang out with him on the bench and protect him from Jimmy Butler’s mood swings. This team has a top seven that are a danger to everyone in the NBA, including themselves. They might outsource you, they might shut you down, or they might collectively miss 200 combined games due to injury like they did last year. Granted, a lot of that was due to Victor Oladipo, who is, *let me check my notes here* STILL NOT HEALTHY.

Some say the Heat have lost a bit of last year’s edginess with PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris both moving on, but with Tyler Herro getting paid means we might see triple the post-three-pointer Elvis lip curls, and that’s plenty enough edge for everyone.

And what about last year’s Eastern Conference champion, the Boston Celtics? Surely they’re ready to build on last year’s success right? It’s not like they had a drama-filled offseason that included floating their second best player, Jaylen Brown, in trade talks… or suspending their head coach for an entire season for cheating on his actress wife with a team employee?

I’ll give the Celtics this, adding Malcolm Brogdon was an underrated move, and Jayson Tatum is the closest thing to an MVP candidate that the East has outside of Giannis. But this team is only going as far as Robert Williams’ knees will take them. If I’m Boston, I’m only playing my defensive stopper sparingly until the playoffs.

Speaking of Giannis, what about the Bucks? Surely the team that still looks exactly like the 2021 NBA champions has a shot, right? 

And the answer is no. No they do not. The coach is still Mike Budenholzer. The team still doesn’t play defense. They’re gonna live by the three, and die by the three, and if they want to live, Khris Middleton has to find his stroke the way that Jrue Holiday did. If Middleton continues to fall off, no amount of uncalled offensive charges on Giannis is going to save this Bucks team.

Now, I’ve mentioned two teams that failed to hold on to PJ Tucker, so what about the team that added him- the Philadelphia 76ers? They’ve got the best center in the NBA in Joel Embiid. James Harden decided that he wants to actually be in shape this year because Tyrese Maxey is effortlessly running up and down the courd making him look bad. And Tobias Harris gets paid more money than God so he must be good, right?

The problem is that the chemistry on this team stinks, and it might take the team moving on from Doc Rivers in order to fix it. What’s Mike D’Antoni up to these days?

Last but not least, let’s talk about the Brooklyn Nets. Apologies to Bulls fans, Lonzo Ball’s knee is too much to overcome. And apologies to Toronto. Me not loving you isn’t the problem. Kawhi Leonard not loving you is your issue. Blame him. 

And you can tell I’m not a Knicks fan, because I’ve made it this long without bringing up Atlanta and Trae Young.

The Brooklyn Nets have no excuse not to run through the Eastern Conference, but they’ll find one. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are so busy looking for ways to make NBA fans mad that they forgot that the easiest way to piss everyone off is to win games. Despite KD’s tantrum this offseason, the Nets roster is actually impressive. Sean Marks should get credit for adding TJ Warren and Seth Curry, who can get you 20 apiece on any given night when healthy. People are saying this team can’t rebound, but give Day’Ron Sharpe 30 minutes a night and he might lead the league. Plus, Ben Simmons 6-10 ass isn’t doing anything else, make him crash the glass. 

Do I have any faith in Steve Nash? No. He’s terrible. But this team is good enough to overcome that and win it all. 

But they won’t. By March, Kyrie will be protesting the existence of leather basketballs as a form of animal cruelty, KD will have found a way to force a trade to Phoenix, and Ben Simmons will have been memed to death for all the times he passed the ball from under the basket to a triple-teamed Joe Harris. 

The Eastern Conference has the most talent it’s ever had. They have no excuse to not produce a serious contender this year. But they won’t.

Let that sink in.

Why Your Favorite Western Conference Team Won’t Win An NBA Championship This Year

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard

We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Western Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.

Every year, the delicate dance begins of basketball’s most gifted multimillionaires balancing fragile and insatiable egos against psychopathic levels of competitiveness and drive.

If we’ve learned one thing about today’s NBA, it’s that a championship window is only opened by talent and teamwork, but that same window can be slammed shut for a million different reasons. 

Today I’m here to with a full glass of Haterade to explain why your favorite Western Conference team is much closer to falling apart than they are to hoisting up the gold ball. 

Let’s start with my beloved Lakers. After several months of trade rumors, not only is he still on the team, the Lakers brought in his on-court nemesis Patrick Beverly, and might even start Pat Bev over Russ. Is Westbrook ready to run the bench unit for the good of the team? Will Anthony Davis’ body hold up? Is winning still the most important thing to LeBron James? Is there ever going to be a day when Dennis Schroder shows up to work and isn’t remined that he fumbled an $84 million dollar bag? This Lakers team has so many question marks that the Riddler could wear them as an outfit.

And what about the defending champion Golden State Warriors? Jordan Poole is going to get mocked in every arena he goes to, and don’t think it’ll just be the fans with something to say about him eating a punch. Is Draymond Green ready to spend an entire year playing big brother and defending a teammate from slander that he helped create? More importantly, does Draymond Green have the stamina to not get sensitive himself about being the only core piece of the Warriors team that isn’t locked up long-term? The Warriors need Draymond to be volatile on the court to keep other teams off guard- they don’t need internal volatility off the court. As Draymond goes, the Warriors go.

And what about the other so-called contenders in the Western Conference?

The Mavericks lost Jalen Brunson. Don’t underestimate the attitude that a two-time NCAA champion brought into that locker room. They don’t beat the Suns to advance to the conference finals without him. Now you’re going into a season with your second and third best players being Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr? Yikes.

The Phoenix Suns gave Deandre Ayton his money, but not without pissing him off first. The one thing this team had going for it was its chemistry, and now Ayton’s comes to media day acting like a very rich grouch, Jae Crowder is sitting at home waiting to be traded, Cam Johnson had negotiations with James Jones break down, and Devin Booker and Chris Paul were on opposite ends of the choice to speak out about the Robert Sarver reports. It’s a good think Cam Payne and Mikal Bridges like to dance, because with chemistry like this they’ll be dancing their way to the seventh seed. 

The Utah Jazz blew their team up after winning the Northwest division because their stars couldn’t get along, and now they’re in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Good luck with that. We all know you’ll end up picking a Gordon Hayward close with the 8th pick.

The Nuggets believe they’re the Warriors, like Jamal Murray taking two years to heal from injury is the same as Klay Thompson. But your team still doesn’t play defense, and your title chances are as fragile as Michael Porter Jr’s back. And I’m sorry Denver, but Nikola Jokic isn’t getting a third straight MVP on a 45-win-team. 

And what about Memphis? I like the Grizzlies- they’re in a sweet spot where the team is young, they all have friendly contracts, and they seem to like playing together. But they’ve never come into a season with expectations, and expectations can be suffocating when the national media starts to pick apart your flaws. When Jaren Jackson Jr. returns from his foot injury in a couple months, and he doesn’t improve his 40% shooting from the field? What then? What about the next time Ja Morant threatens some random stranger who is trolling him online? 

Last and least, we have the Clippers. Look, I’m happy to see John Wall happy and ready to roll. He’s only played in 40 games in the last three years, while bringing in over $120 million in salary. His story goes a long way to show that money doesn’t buy happiness. I’m rooting for him. But the Clippers are still the Clippers. Kawhi is healthy, for now. Paul George is healthy, for now. But the track record of those guys makes me feel like it might be smart money to wager on Norman Powell as this team’s leading scorer. I’ll take the Clippers seriously when they do something serious. Until then, they’re still just the Clippers.

Let me know if you think I’m Wrighster or Wrong about your favorite Western Conference team’s chances. Or let me know if you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan and you’re mad that I didn’t take your team seriously enough to include them. 

All I know is that if my team can’t be happy, I don’t want to see any of your teams happy. And if my Lakers do find a way to figure this out and get another title, I get to see your team unhappy either way.

Let that sink in.

2022-2023 NBA Season Predictions

Joel Embiid asks for high fives from the crowd.

Tonight marks the start of the 2022-2023 NBA Season. Wait, what? The season always sneaks up on me, but this time, I’m ready for it.

It was a wild offseason full of blockbuster trades (Donovan Mitchell), trade demands (Kevin Durant), and trades that broke our brains (Rudy Gobert).

Has the NBA ever been more talented than it is now? Seriously, there are marquee players on almost every team. But, if you thought tanking was bad in the past, wait until you see what happens this year as teams position themselves for Victor Wembanyama and Scott Henderson.

Shall we make some NBA season predictions?

NBA Key Storylines

Draymond Green vs. The Warriors: The punch heard ’round the world might be a death blow to the Warriors dynasty. Draymond’s punch isn’t something the team will forget in the short term. After the recipient of the punch, Jordan Poole, and Andrew Wiggins received contract extensions, Draymond is now the meme of Will Smith in an empty room. I trust Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Steve Kerr to be professional about it, but this situation is something to keep an eye on.

The Circus in Brooklyn: On paper, the Nets could win the NBA Championship. In reality, they have a long way to go. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted out this offseason, and yet both players return to a roster that was swept by the Celtics in the first round. It’s only a matter of when, not if, the team will implode.

No Ime, No Problem?: The Celtics were prime for a return to the NBA Finals until Ime Udoka received a yearlong suspension. Now, I don’t know what to expect out of Boston. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the two staples and the addition of Malcolm Brogan is an upgrade at the point guard position. However, Robert Williams is out until December at the earliest and Al Horford has a lot of miles on his legs. The Cs should figure things out on their way to the playoffs, but I don’t trust them to beat teams like Boston or Philadelphia.

Eastern Conference

  1. Philadelphia 76ers
  2. Milwaukee Bucks
  3. Boston Celtics
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Toronto Raptors
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Chicago Bulls

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks over 76ers

You can say this about a lot of teams when it comes to injuries, but if the Bucks had a healthy Khris Middleton, I believe they make the NBA Finals. If the Bucks are healthy this season, they have the pieces to win the Eastern Conference. They return virtually the same roster from a season ago, and they will add Joe Ingles to the rotation once he returns in 2023. I like the Sixers’ additions of P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton to add much-needed toughness to the roster. Embiid will be an MVP favorite, but it will not be enough to catapult the Sixers past the Bucks in the East.

Western Conference

  1. Denver Nuggets
  2. Golden State Warriors
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Memphis Grizzlies
  6. Dallas Mavericks
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. Los Angeles Lakers
  9. New Orleans Pelicans
  10. Sacramento Kings

Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Clippers

The Draymond Green saga could be a major thorn in the Warriors’ side as they look to defend their title. There is a possibility that Green gets dealt at the deadline. However, if Green can suck it up and play through the turmoil, the Warriors are in a prime position to repeat. Steph and Klay will steal all the headlines, but another year of Poole and Wiggins will add to the team’s chemistry. If Jonathan Kuminga can take the next step and James Wiseman can take a (literal) step, the Warriors will represent the West in the Finals.

NBA Finals

Bucks over Warriors

Giannis puts on his crown and wins his second ring.

NBA Awards

MVP: Joel Embiid

Rookie of the Year: Keegan Murray

Coach of the Year: Michael Malone

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Jalen Brunson

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Poole

Check back next year to see how right (or wrong) my predictions turn out!

Leave your NBA season predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro.

LeBron James Breaks NBA Tradition To Set The Stage For Vic Wembanyama

The NBA is notorious for being a two things-

First, it’s a big, dysfunctional family. 

Second, nothing about the NBA is as consistent as one generation hating on the next. It’s almost a right of passage. 

That tradition of being a hater is what made LeBron James’ comments about the up-and-coming #1 overall pick, 7-foot-4 Giannis and Luka hybrid Vic Wembanyama, so refreshing. 

LeBron James said Wembanyama was well beyond unicorn status, calling him an “alien,” and saying that he’d never seen somebody combine that much height with fluidity and grace, and finished by calling Wemby a “generational talent.”

Now, that term “generational talent” gets thrown around a lot, but LeBron should know better than anyone what it actually means. It’s a player, whether at a certain position, or that can play multiple positions, that only comes around once every 20-25 years. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a generational talent at center. It can be argued that we didn’t see another center change the game like Kareem did until 23 years later when Shaquille O’Neal was drafted. 

Magic Johnson redefined what an NBA point guard could be when he came into the league in 1979, and Steph Curry found a way to completely change the entire way basketball is played as a point guard when he came into the league 30 years later.

Michael Jordan was thought to be beyond generational, with players in his mold springing up all over the country, and even some like Kobe Bryant achieving similar heights of greatness, but 19 years after Michael Jordan was drafted, a young man from Akron, Ohio came into the league with the makeup it would take to forge his own legacy as a generational great, worthy of NBA Mount Rushmore status. 

And in the years since LeBron James has been in the league, there has been a lot of discussion as to the next player we’d see that would not only redefine basketball on this court, but also the way we talk about basketball. Europe has given us several contenders- the last four MVP’s have gone to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, with Luka Doncic’s scoring ability simultaneously taking the league by storm. 

There were whispers that Zion Williamson, a Charles Barkley-Shawn Kemp hybrid, could be the one. And enough people believe that the real post-LeBron generational talent has been amongst us all along, moving from city to city, getting into five Twitter battles between every 35-point offensive outburst. And maybe it is Kevin Durant, that’s another debate for another time.

For LeBron James to bestow that crown on Vic Wembanyama a full year before he ever sets foot on an NBA court means something. That’s more than hype. That’s real recognizing real. 

But let’s zero in on another thing LeBron James said that illustrates his place in basketball as not only a generational talent, but a generational person.

As I said before, a common thread in NBA circles is the elevation of the era you played in, and cherry-picking examples from that era to explain how the up-and-coming generation might not have experienced the same success they did. 

When asked how all this hype surrounding Vic Wembanyama reminded LeBron of his own time as “The Chosen One,” as he was dubbed by Sports Illustrated at 17-years old, LeBron James reflected on how much more difficult and chaotic things are today than they were in 2003.

LeBron’s exact words were “Thank God I didn’t have social media. I can’t imagine how my life would have been different or what would have transpired… I’m happy I didn’t have social media, and I’m happy I was from a small town like Akron, Ohio.”

LeBron James knows better than anyone what these young stars are facing because he’s the only NBA player in the GOAT debate that lived as much time outside of the Social Media and Embrace Debate era as he has lived inside it. He knows that Vic Wembanyama doesn’t have that luxury, and that hundreds of thousands of people, including me, are already talking about whether he’ll live up to the hype, a full year before he even has the chance to start the multi-decade process of proving himself. 

LeBron is the first superstar to be able to pay proper respect to the up and coming generation, while also expressing gratitude for not having to carry the same burdens at the same age. Maybe it’s because he has sons that are already experiencing this, or maybe he’s just uniquely empathetic and appreciative of his era. 

Whatever it is, if LeBron James is willing to break NBA tradition to give a young “alien” a King’s blessing, Vic Wembanyama must be really special.

The Fight Between Jordan Poole and Draymond Green Might Be Exactly what the Warriors Need

We need to talk about the fight between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole.

Let’s get two things out of the way- violence is rarely ever the answer for solving problems, but not all violence is created equal. 

The word violence has become an all encompassing term from everything from military aggression to just not speaking up about an issue. 

Silence is violence? Really?

In sports, you’re taught that in order to be successful you have to be aggressive. You’re told you’re going out there into battle. As an NFL Tight End, I had to “fight” for my spot and “dominate” my assignment off the line of scrimmage. All of this involved some kind of violence or violent imagery. 

I went through plenty of training camps, and the purpose of those camps was to get everyone on the same page through competition, and to establish a pecking order. I saw my share of physical altercations, and participated in a few myself. 

For the most part, if your purpose in challenging someone is to uphold a standard, or establish a personal boundary, once the conflict is over, two men that are out from under the influence of surging testosterone are going to find a way to re-establish a connection and find common ground. 

It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced the phenomenon, but as a man, sometimes what it takes to get on the same page is to eat a punch, or serve one up yourself. 

Andre Iguoadala took to Twitter and explained that what happened between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole was family business. Chris Haynes reported that Poole’s behavior has changed as his payday nears, and that’s a believable situation I’ve seen unfold in person time and time again. 

We all know Michael Jordan punched Steve Kerr, and believe it or not, Shaq tried to fight Scott Skiles. As long as it’s a situation where the players involved are able to come together, talk it out, humble themselves, and extend forgiveness, the Golden State Warriors might be better for having this conflict play out publicly instead of simmering in the background until one or both players requests a change of scenery.

And the latter is a real possibility- just ask Kevin Durant.

To reiterate, I’m not defending violence. I’m endorsing the process of reconciliation, and the simple fact is you can’t have reconciliation without conflict. 

If Draymond Green had a history of sucker punching players, or if this wasn’t reported to be a “chest-to-chest” conflict, I might be singing a different tune. 

But as it stands, a four-time NBA champion with four All-Star selections and seven NBA All-Defensive team awards punched a 23-year-old role player that has shown flashes that he could be a future star when both players were face-to-face, talking trash. 

Draymond Green has an opportunity to humble himself here, while Jordan Poole has an opportunity to push his ego to the side and move forward. 

If both those things happen, and it helps re-focus this team, which in turn helps re-establish the Warriors dynasty… violence won’t be the catalyst, but reconciliation of violence will be.

Let that sink in.

The NBA Let Us Know Their Real Values With Robert Sarver’s Suspension and Fine

We need to talk about the NBA’s suspension of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver

One year. Ten Million Dollars. 

That’s the penalty for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury’s managing partner after an 11-month investigation that revealed 17 years of Robert Sarver acting cringier than the Scott’s Tot’s episode of the Office.

One year. Ten Million Dollars.

Since it doesn’t look like he’s going to be forced to sell the team, let’s take a closer look at what that ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver.

Ten million dollars bought a pass from Adam Silver for at least five confirmed occasions over the span of 12 years where Robert Sarver had to be reminded by people around him that it wasn’t appropriate for him to repeat the n word, whether it was during a free agent courting session in 2004, or in an angry tirade about Draymond Green’s on-court language in 2016.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of any proper consequences for unnecessarily pulling his penis out in front of a physician, talking about his penis in front of a female employee, and walking around naked in front of male employees.

Ten million dollars bought Robert Sarver out of having to face the music for depantsing an employee in front of coworkers, talking in a sexual manner about his players’ significant others, and getting caught in a lie by the lawfirm that investigated this case about his habit of shouting and cursing at employees. 

Ten million dollars in exchange for the ability to tell a pregnant female employee that she should be at home nursing babies, commenting on another female employee’s breast augmentation, and organizing a lunch for female employees to try and toughen up one staffer that cried about being screamed at.

That’s what ten million dollars gets you. 

Let’s take the NBA’s investigating lawfirm, and Adam Silver at their word for a minute.

Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t a racist. Let’s say that Robert Sarver isn’t sexist. Those two things could absolutely be true. And if they are true, what it means is something equally discomforting-

Robert Sarver is a dangerous idiot. That’s what the NBA wants you to believe. We’re not dealing with a trained assassin here- we’re dealing with a milk-drunk toddler with a loaded gun.

How is that supposed to make us feel better?

And how does it rectify 17 years of damage that a supposedly non-racist, non-sexist, dangerous idiot toddler did?

Adam Silver and the NBA owners want to be able to chalk this up to a locker-room talk culture, and claim that the Suns, and the league as a whole have already begun to get a handle on it.

Putting aside the irony that Robert Sarver was saved from being forced to sell the team by the fact that his own HR department spent over a decade doing anything but their job, the idea that an owner should have ever been a participant in locker room talk leaves out the very important point that owners are not part of the locker room any more than Elon Musk is part of the Tesla factory floor. 

The term locker room talk was popularized when Donald Trump had his Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” tape leaked. In that tape, Trump said, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

Thanks to Adam Silver and the NBA, we know the ‘star’ is Robert Sarver. 

Let that sink in.

A Thank You From a Sports Content Creator to Kevin Durant and the Dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

I want to thank Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.


The months between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of NFL preseason are truly the dog days of summer if you’re in the business of producing or discussing sports content. 


This isn’t a knock against baseball, but even commissioner Rob Manfred will tell you that anything that happens before the all-star break is basically a tree falling in a forest- it’s only making a sound if you’re around to hear it.


And even the MLB All-Star game, the most watched of any sports league’s All-Star game, is less relevant than it’s ever been, with ratings down 71% over the last 30 years.


And that’s the reason that I want to thank the Brooklyn Nets, because when my options on my podcast on iHeart, or my radio shows on SiriusXM and Fox Sports were nothing but baseball, Kevin Durant was there to save the day by demanding a trade with three years and $150 million left on his contract.


When the only topic of the day was what amount of money it would take for a professional golfer to ignore the fact that if Saudi Arabia doesn’t like an American citizen, they can just break out the bone saw, Ben Simmons was there to leave the group chat when people ask him to show up for work.


When the only thing there was to talk about on a random Tuesday in June is Serena Williams struggling at Wimbledon, Kyrie Irving stokes rumors that he’s interested in playing right here in Los Angeles, and refuses to sign an extension that just asks that he show up for work sometimes.


Uneventful Monday in early August? KEVIN DURANT WANTS THE ENTIRE FRONT OFFICE THAT HE HAND PICKED, OF THE TEAM HE DOESN’T EVEN WANT TO PLAY FOR, FIRED! 


It’s hard not to be grateful for this Brooklyn Nets team. They might not be making news for what they’re doing on the court in late spring, but they’re out here dominating the headlines all summer long, whether it’s Kyrie Irving questioning the entire idea of property ownership right before buying a home in LA, or arguing with anyone from Stephen A. Smith to the Barstool sports account, to Kevin Durant picking fights with construction workers and schoolteachers at all hours of the day, and feeding backdoor demands to Shams Charania. 


All to accomplish absolutely nothing, and be forced to suit up together again in 2023. 
All for the benefit of people like me? 


There’s a Douglas Wood quote that says “The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.


But as a content creator, I can definitely feel thankful while the Brooklyn Nets are unhappy. And with today’s announcement that the Nets are running it back next year, I have a feeling I’m going to spend next summer thankful as well.


Let that sink in.