A popular belief stemming from the Greco-Roman historian and statesman Cassius Dio is that the rise of Commodus, the son of Marcus Aurelius, to the emperorship of Rome in 180 AD coincided with the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire. Calamitous events would follow for the next three centuries, but as far as Cassius Dio was concerned, Commodus was the first guy stripping floorboard on the renovation.
Setting the tone for subsequent leaders of a similar ilk, Commodus got very into the idea of himself-as-the-kingdom, a personality cultist whose proto-fascism set the stage for his own assassination in 192. Any time you get the chance to be the marker of the end of a quasi-familial dynasty, well, I guess you have to take it.
On the non-hereditary side, reigns of power take all shapes and forms (though, if we’re being honest, if it isn’t in sports, it usually ends in assassination). Many franchises have experienced periods of stupendous success followed by tumultuous lows, but right now, the Golden State Warriors are undergoing the very worst downfall in recent memory.
Odysseus and Polyphemus – Arnold Böcklin (1896)
Canonically, Odysseus ends up becoming immortal. He was always destined to be, of course, but depending on where you go for your Greek epic epilogues, his fate was either a bit in doubt or entirely certain after dying at the hand of his own son, Telegonus. It is less an Oedipus situation and more a Meat-Becomes-Murder ordeal as far as familicide in Greek epics goes, but you can look into it yourself if you are so inclined.
Similarly close to a place called Ithaca, Carmelo Anthony is already a Hall of Famer. He is likely also the most divisive player of his generation, a member of the venerated 2003 draft class and the only player picked in the top five of that class without an NBA championship ring. His legacy has been in question for at least half a decade. Anthony had been out of the league for over a year until Tuesday night, when, carrying an exhaustingly-explained double-zero on his back, he made his debut with the Portland Trail Blazers.
So, yes: you are reading a sports-adjacent blog right now, at this very second. Good for you for spending your time here and not elsewhere! There are desperately few even decent places to be left on the internet, and soon, given we are collectively being pushed all the way into technocratic fascism against our will, there will only be three websites total, all of them having provided enough funding for their governors to shoot themselves into space and away from our dying planet. Killer!
In being here, though, there is a key thing to remember: namely, that without the blogs, blog-esque and blog-adjacent sites that came before us, we would not exist.
As a blog that barely registers as an SEO dog whistle on its best days, it behooves us to mention the very good and great ones in tribute, just so you know where we’re coming from, even if it isn’t necessarily where we’re going. Given that private equity hawks continue to drop good things to their deaths, it also stands to reason that, though assuredly limited in scope, this is a place to remember some blogs.
You may or may not have heard about a female bearcat cub that was born recently at the Nashville Zoo and is, right now, at the Cincinnati Zoo, sitting nameless. Eventually, that cub is going to be the live mascot for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, perhaps the highest honor any bearcat can receive in the state of Ohio.
Today is the very last day for name submissions, for which there are a number of avenues: commenting on Facebook or Instagram seems most effective. We here at TwH want to take this opportunity to announce our choice for that bearcat’s name: Grandma Excellent. This peculiar selection came about in the stupidest, most 2019 fashion.
Bradley Beal, magician – Noah K. Murray, USA TODAY Sports
Along with the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings (who have apparently revealed themselves to be frauds) and, until very recently, the Phoenix Suns (who very well may still be frauds but are enjoying a good run right now), the Washington Wizards are, historically speaking, an NBA team only ostensibly and have a history of producing the sort of spectacular assclownery typically reserved for Stefon’s nightclubs, the bum-rush for Popeyes chicken sandwiches and Congress, all of which can be set to the Benny Hill theme music without much disruption.
On Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, however, the Wizards reached a new low, one to which only one other team in NBA history can stake a claim: they managed to score 158 damn points in regulation in a one-point loss. Their forebears? The 1991 Denver Nuggets, who lost 162-158 to the Golden State Warriors on November 2, 1990. That team won 20 games. When you’re hanging with the post-ABA, pre-Melo Nuggets, you know you’re in great company!
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Continuing their rapid execution of justice against the reign of terror that the Golden State Warriors have afflicted upon the NBA for the past half-decade, the basketball gods unfortunately chose two-time MVP and paradigm-shifting genius Steph Curry as their latest victim in the Warriors’ 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
Emilee Chinn, Getty Images
Wiry tree-man and would-be Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers left the game on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets with what appeared to be a scary lower leg injury.
Ancient baseball titan and NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick of the Washington Nationals did a very cool thing during Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night and then followed it up with a very good, team-wide dugout dance party.
Courtesy of NBA.com
Board Man came; Board Man saw; Board Man conquered, and then Board Man got paid. In winning the championship last season, Kawhi Leonard helped the Toronto Raptors take advantage of the exact circumstances required to beat the last three editions of the Golden State Warriors. He celebrated in kind, reflected on the state of basketball and promptly left town, fishing Paul George out of Oklahoma City and throwing the NBA into unfamiliar territory in the process.
It is refreshing to look upon the league without the particular tint of grey that the KD-era Warriors inspired. There are at least a half-dozen teams with legitimate claims to being title contenders going into this year. So many players moved that it will take some time for the average fan to get acquainted with each roster, something the players themselves are likely still doing. #TheProcess continues, even if the Sixers are among those title-worthy teams.
Soon, you’ll be able to deep-fake your way into believing that your team won the championship last year, and nobody will be able to tell you otherwise because, look, it’s right there on the screen, that really is Frank Ntilikina hoisting a Finals MVP trophy. Until that time arrives, however, we have to look ahead, rather than look back at an unreal past. Maybe we are doing both either way. Maybe the great takeaway is that there is light, somewhere.
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
To get this out of the way up front: the NBA shrinking in the face of one nation in which it has interests – one whose interests happen to conflict with those of what the American ideal is supposed to be, mind you, as it suppresses the protests of people in Hong Kong, facing potential extradition to the mainland, where prisoners’ cases can be ignored entirely – makes the league’s put-on image of empowerment look transparently weak.
That Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sparked the current, ostensibly bipartisan discourse with a fairly innocuous tweet seems to say more about that nation, its insecurity as a world power and its desire for overwhelming power on a world stage, than it does about anyone who has anything to say about it, but the NBA is at some fault here, and commissioner Adam Silver is in an even more unique position than he was when the Donald Sterling circus unfolded five years ago.
With a deep breath – and I know it’s complicated to dig out of that tunnel, even if human rights shouldn’t be – I would like to move on to the Rockets themselves, and the fascinating approach(es) they may take this season in integrating the likes of, ehem, Russell Westbrook into their offense.