Wow, this is a freaky photo.
Confession: I really hate pretty much every “Let’s debate who was the better player!” discussions. Because they’re not really discussions. We always just talk in circles. We always (particularly when talking about athletes in team sports) use team accomplishments to judge individual players. It’s just a time suck. And no one comes away with a different outlook! It’s never worth the effort.
The current “Let’s Talk In Circles” debate about Michael Jordan vs. LeBron isn’t even a *new* one. But the arguments for either side are always the same. From “Michael never lost a Finals!” to “LeBron beat a 73-win team!” to “Jordan played in an era where the play was more physical” to “LeBron never had a Scottie Pippen!”—it’s all so boring.
So what are we doing today? I, Jordy McKever, will for sure determine (with, like, the best criteria, of course) who was the better…um, dude. Oh, did you think this would be talking about basketball? Oh, come on, I just spent 100 words trashing that kind of debate!
Hercules Strangles the Nemean Lion, Peter Paul Rubens
Half-mortal, half-divine, the Greek divine hero Heracles, better known by the Roman translation, Hercules, is best remembered for his remarkable strength and willingness to carry out seemingly impossible tasks. At the behest of King Eurystheus, the hero is said to have completed the feats which became known as his Labours. Over the course of twelve years, Hercules slayed a lion, stole some apples and captured a vicious dog, among other extraordinary tasks.
Seemingly mortal, nevertheless divine, the Greek guard Giannis Antetokounmpo is becoming known for his remarkable length and ability to carry out heretofore impossible tasks for the Milwaukee Bucks. At the behest of his coach, Jason Kidd, Giannis is undertaking laborious missions of his own, already pushing the boundaries of what a point guard is and can be in today’s NBA.
Let’s say, for instance, you were at the forefront of popular culture in the free world, soon to be deposed and cast to a life of relative reality. If you were to host a party celebrating, commemorating and memorializing the occasion in the United States of America, who would you invite? With a good head on your shoulders, and among your own personal favorites, you would attempt to speak to the populace, who have chosen against you in the years ahead, allocating goodwill while bracing for the impact of an unforeseen, unpredictable regime.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama bestowed what will presumably be the final twenty Presidential Medals of Freedom of his record-setting Presidency, in which he dispensed more than any other in history. The man knows how best to leave a party, it seems. In returning to that question, who would play your societal funeral?
The Man Who Fell To Earth
Every year during the NFL season, the remaining members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins gather to engage in the most obvious display of schadenfreude possible between ostensible peers in the hushed community of professional athletes. On the occasion of the last remaining undefeated team losing its first game of the season, Mercury Morris and company sacrifice a few bottles of Cristal to the sports deities in exchange for their annual moment of relevance, leaving the rest of us to go on mowing our lawns and picking up our children from not-American football practice° while pondering whether the ’85 Bears could’ve beaten the Panthers from this past season.
Watching history be made doesn’t usually feel so… humdrum. For the Golden State Warriors, making history has become as routine as showing up for the morning shootaround. Win #72, against one of the only teams who plausibly stand a chance in any single game, let alone in a seven-game series, felt almost mundane in its execution, and yet it may be the most important victory thus far, Crying MJs be damned.
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?
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes
of the earth will wail.
We knew this was coming. It was written, and now it shall be done. The general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, predicted this a year ago. With a quasi-poem in the Players’ Tribune, Kobe Bean Bryant, arguably the most intense and focused human being ever to walk this planet, let alone play this sport, announced his retirement from the NBA, effective at the conclusion of this season. In light of his throwback, 31-point performance, including a game-sealing shot, let’s take a moment to celebrate one of the greatest, and most divisive, players ever.
Shout out to the fan in the crowd wearing the USA jersey, because he knows who the real winner of this series is. (AFP Photo/Jason Miller)
This is a safe space. Here, you can feel free to admit that you had no idea how we got here, to a 2-1 Cavaliers lead through three games of the NBA Finals. You probably thought the Cavs couldn’t do it when Kevin Love became Kelly Olynyk’s personal Stretch Armstrong action figure. And you definitely thought the Cavs couldn’t do it when Kyrie Irving went down with a fractured kneecap in Game 1. Sure, they had LeBron, but at 30 and in his fifth straight Finals, how much damage could he possibly inflict on his own? People that now say they knew the Cavs would be up 2-1 under these circumstances are liars. It’s alright, you can admit you were wrong. We all were.