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Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Following a fan vote which understandably, if unjustly, selected Kobe Bryant to the start for the Western Conference All-Star team, Draymond Green was the odd man out. His all-existence teammate Steph Curry was an easy choice; Klay Thompson was likely to make the cut anyway, having been an All-Star in 2015 and the acknowledged second-choice weapon of the Golden State Warriors’ attack.

But what of Green? Indeed, he was an almost unanimous selection of pundits and the like to make this year’s squad, and sure enough, Thursday’s edition of NBA on TNT made room for the announcement of All-Star reserves, with Green among the most prominent. The man who once favorably compared himself to Al Gore is, finally and deservedly, an NBA All-Star.

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Since he announced his retirement, effective at the end of this season, Kobe Bryant has played more like the Kobe of old than the broken shadow he has become. The “Kobe of old” here is the Bean, the player who came off the bench and won a Slam Dunk contest before ever winning a championship. In those days, through 2006 in fact, Kobe sported the number 8.

Since undertaking his own re-branding a decade ago, he has worn the number 24. Like any decent American sporting organization – because this is how we choose to honor our favorite athletes in this country, for better and for worse – the Los Angeles Lakers will eventually hold a jersey retirement ceremony for Kobe. What number they will retire, however, has sparked debate, with Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak saying it could even be both 8 and 24. Plenty of teams have retired the same number for two different players, and plenty of players have had their number retired by multiple teams, but if Kobe has both of his numbers retired by the Lakers, that may set a new precedent.

The question is, if Kobe Bryant is the Greatest Laker Ever, why stop at just the two numbers he actually wore?

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On Sunday in Charlotte, a quarterback led his team to a 31-0 first half lead, one that team nearly squandered entirely, before securing a victory. The quarterback is his league’s MVP, and his team has been consistently – and rather quietly – the best in the league this season by no small margin. His celebrations have prompted equal parts resounding support and agitated ire, the latter of which hounds the player for his childlike enthusiasm, charisma-as-arrogance and, mostly, his stellar play, the likes of which the sport has never seen previously.

Meanwhile, on Monday night in Cleveland, a joyous band of star shooters thoroughly tore down the greatest basketball player of his generation in the arena in which they celebrated their championship seven short months ago. The centerpiece of that squad, a point guard from Charlotte, is his league’s MVP and, barring something unforeseen, will be again. Aside from a small pocket of rage which seemingly only comes from contrarian people with a noticeably absent agenda otherwise, the American public and media have resoundingly accepted this team for its childlike enthusiasm, charisma-as-arrogance and, mostly, its stellar play, the likes of which the sport has never seen previously.

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“He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.” – David Bowie, “Starman

But for the hopeful benevolence of one of the oligarchical Spanish soccer clubs in 2000, we would never have arrived here. A trial, a napkin contract and several seasons of sustained brilliance in one of the world’s foremost leagues and, indeed, the world’s foremost footballing continent have brought us to the only conclusion possible. With his fifth FIFA Ballon d’Or award arriving on Monday, Lionel Messi is the greatest soccer player ever.

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In 1953, North and South Korea signed an armistice.

In 1961, South Korea had an income per capita of just $80 per year.

In 1988, the Seoul Olympic Games prompted South Korea to import its first bottled water.

In 2006, Foreign Minister Ban-Ki Moon was appointed Secretary General of the United Nations.

In 2010, South Korea ranked 15th-highest on the Human Development Index.

And then, in 2013, South Korea had its first McRib season.

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