Wednesday, February 1, 2017

There are only two players with three Super Bowl MVPs: Joe Montana, a four-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers; and Tom Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. 

There’s a lot riding on Super Bowl LI. The Atlanta Falcons are looking to win their first ever championship, something they failed to do during their previous (and first) visit to the big game 19 years ago. Matt Ryan and his high flying offense, supported by an underrated defense, are expected to put up a lot of points. But win? It seems most people are counting on the Patriots, led by Bill Belichick and Brady for the last 16 seasons, to win championship number five, all since their partnership, which was a bit of a lucky stroke, began.

Whether Brady is an actual cheater or not hardly matters at this point. Put the Tuck Rule, Spygate, Deflategate, and any other grievance you have with the Patriots behind. None of it will matter but to a vocal few if he wins his fifth Super Bowl, which would likely also come with a fourth Super Bowl MVP award, setting himself apart from Montana and everyone else. Terry Bradshaw also won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but no one ever mentions him among the best QBs of all time.

Each full decade in the Super Bowl era had its team. The 1970’s were about the Steelers. 80’s were all 49ers. The 90’s were the Cowboys time. The Patriots however, look like a team capable of owning two consecutive decades, revolving around two who might be the greatest in NFL history at what they do. The Pats won 3 Super Bowls in the first decade of the new millennium, also losing in one. They’re in their third Super Bowl in six years, hoping to become the first team this decade to win the big game twice.

Championships, whether it’s fair or not, give a player’s legacy a massive boost. Brady, even with all the talk about his greatness having more to do with Belichick than his own undeniable talent, will put chatter about players like Montana, Peyton Manning and who knows who else to rest. He’ll be the only player with five Super Bowl rings. Unless Matt Ryan and co. can do something about it. Maybe Brady is already the best. He’s tied for most accomplished in what many consider is a more difficult era to repeat and maintain success.

There’s a matter of team legacy. The Pittsburgh Steelers have six Super Bowl titles. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have five. Next in line are the Patriots, Giants and Packers with 4 each. The Niners are the only other team to pick up their titles so quickly. The Patriots can go from a mostly obscure franchise with very little influence on the national chatter and the overall NFL scenery, to arguably the most successful franchise of all time in the National Football League. It’s difficult to comprehend at times, because the team’s history, or the good parts of it, are attached to the same two names, happening in a relatively short timespan.

Personally, I don’t think Brady is the best quarterback of all-time. I put Montana ahead of him. I think Manning was the better quarterback too. But it probably doesn’t matter. The numbers will help make that decisions in the future, and Brady is 60 minutes of football before he can finally set himself apart from everyone else. A lot of non-Patriots fans might not be too happy about it, but the ‘Patriots Way’ has led him and Belichick to so much success, it’s hard to imagine an alternative ending to their Super Bowl clash with the Falcons, who can play a huge part in reshaping, or at least delaying history.

Images: Source

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Any draw leaves teams and fans with conflicted feelings. Liverpool are still on a long stretch without a win, but at least they didn’t lose, drawing 1-1 with Chelsea at Anfield despite an early and controversial goal by David Luiz, as Antonio Conte’s men seem on the guaranteed way towards winning the Premier League title.

Chelsea took the lead in the 24th minute with a thunderous, cheeky free kick by their Brazilian centre back. Liverpool’s wall and goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, were still organizing their defenses when Luiz decided to take the kick, expertly slotting it home through the post. Legal? Yes, but not exactly clean play.

Liverpool equalized in the 57th minute, when James Milner headed a ball into the box and Georginio Wijnaldum was there to stun the Chelsea defense and bring life back into the Anfield stands.

In the 75th minute Diego Costa expertly drew a penalty kick after getting clipped inside the box, but his execution from the spot was poor, with his shot stopped by Mignolet. 

Both Liverpool and Chelsea managed to add a couple of chances in the final 15 minutes, but nothing too noteworthy, in a match that was balanced and even for most of its 90 minutes, leaving Chelsea well clear of everyone else at the top of the table (9 points above Tottenham and Arsenal), while Liverpool will remain inside the top 4 for at least one more week, regardless of what Manchester City do tomorrow.

Image: Source

Sunday, January 29, 2017

With his 18th Grand Slam title, Roger Federer proved once more he’s the greatest ever to play the game of Tennis. It was fitting that to end his long drought in the Australian Open and in major tournaments in general, he had to beat Rafael Nadal in five grueling, epic sets.

The one thorn in Federer’s claim to the monicker “Best Tennis player of All-Time” was his record against Nadal. Still is to some. But in the world of sports fans, it’s always about what have you done for me lately. And Federer ending his streak of losses to Nadal in best-of-five matches, beating him in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2007 Wimbledon final, might have been bigger than winning his 18th grand slam title.

Why actually? Nadal still leads their personal rivalry 23-12, with a 6-3 lead in Grand Slam finals. If the two meet on the red clay at Paris in a few months, Nadal would be a massive favorite to beat Federer there in yet another final. But somehow it wouldn’t matter. Nadal proving he’s better than Federer on clay won’t change the dynamic of this rivalry, only emphasise a quality in it there’s no denying. But while Federer has at least five titles in each of the non-Clay grand slam titles, Nadal, sometimes due to injuries, has shown incredible inconsistency when it comes to picking up back-to-back championships outside Paris in June.

Grand Slam championships have more weight than anything in any of these ‘best of all-time’ discussions, and Federer just took another step towards immortality. Doing it at his age, after almost five years of Grand Slam championship drought, against an opponent he has had so many mental and technical difficulties against over the years? It gave this final one of the best storylines of all time. It wasn’t as good of a match as their finals in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but sometimes it’s not about the quality of tennis; it’s about the story. Think of the Cubs vs Indians, game 7. Best baseball game ever? Hard to say. But it had to be the biggest one, with the most riding on it, exactly for that reason: Story.

It’s impossible to say what’s next. Nadal’s knees and Federer’s back make them underdogs in an ATP tour run by Andy Murray, a suddenly sliding Novak Djokovic and late bloomer Stanislas Wawrinka, who I see as a favorite against almost anyone on the tour except for Federer, who he has a weird mental block when facing. But the 2017 Australian Open taught us that the era of the Big Four in tennis isn’t over yet. Djokovic’s incredible run towards Federer’s record has slowed down and suddenly it’s not so easy dominating like before. Murray had a strong finish to 2016, but it’s hard seeing him picking up the title in Paris. Wimbledon and New York look a bit more likely, but that’s very far down the road. 

I think Nadal showed something in this loss that a lot of Federer fans ignored over the years. They hated Nadal. It’s a problem comparing anyone to Federer, not just because of his ability. Federer, when he’s in the zone, is truly creating poetry and art while swinging his racquet. And Nadal’s tennis was the perfect antidote to it. Things flipped in this match. Federer’s backhand wasn’t an issue anymore. In the fifth set, Federer put enormous pressure on Nadal’s serve, and looked like the fitter player. Nadal look human. He’s aged very quickly in the last few years. He was at his best when speaking to the crowd inside the Rod Laver arena after the match. Humble, poised. He’s almost always been that way, but for many Federer fans, this win helped them see things like they really are. It’s alright to be a massive Federer fan and appreciate the greatness of Nadal, who might suddenly see an opportunity to improve on his 14 Grand Slams, only with a wider gap between him and Federer once again.

Whether this will motivate Federer even further and give him some sort of boost in what remains of his career also remains to be seen. There doesn’t seem to be a waning in his hunger for wins and championships. The question is how much more his body can give him. A full season, with an ample amount of rest? More than just 2017? It’s impossible to say. The best tennis player of all-time is showing remarkable longevity, on par with his excellence on the court. If we learned anything from January 2017, is that the old guard, chiefly Nadal and Federer, refuses to make way for new names. Some of those who have been waiting for over a decade are already past 30, and received some bad news. Federer, as long as he’s healthy, isn’t going anywhere.

Images: Source

Saturday, January 28, 2017

What’s better for the NFL: The Atlanta Falcons winning their first ever Super Bowl or the New England Patriots winning their fifth during the Bill Belichick – Tom Brady era? The answer depends on your definition of NFL.

Because if it’s Roger Goodell, the answer might not be what you expect. I don’t think Goodell harbors anything against the Patriots specifically. It’s always easy to forget he works for the owners, and represents the majority interest. His decisions against Brady and the Patriots weren’t born out of thin air. The had basis and some logic behind them. Whether or not it makes sense considering how the league treats other offenses? That’s not the point. 

So why would Goodell want the Patriots to win? Because dynasties and huge teams are excellent stories, which means ratings. Think of the NBA. Part of the ratings renaissance in recent years is LeBron James himself, because of the villain role he’s taken, but not just that. It’s the legacy in the making. A great story being told. Last season, against the defending champions Golden State Warriors, with the best record in any NBA regular season, turning into villains themselves, it created the perfect story, giving the league it’s highest Finals ratings since the Michael Jordan days.

And while parity is great for the NFL in terms of healthy organizations and trying to sell the idea that anyone can win the Super Bowl (10 different winners in the last 10 seasons), that isn’t what drives people to watch. The Patriots’ “evil empire” is a much better and more interesting storyline. The Falcons winning their first? Great story, and elevates someone like Matt Ryan into a whole new level of historical appreciation, but the Falcons don’t have the national appeal the Patriots have. But maybe it starts something. Remember what the Patriots were before Belichick came along?

The Dallas Cowboys are proof that big names are what drives the NFL. The Cowboys haven’t won the Super Bowl in 21 years, yet they remain the biggest ratings and attendance draw in the NFL; the world’s most valuable sports franchise. Maybe it says something about Jerry Jones and his ability to market the brand of a team that hasn’t made one conference championship game in over two decades. Maybe it suggests that old habits die hard. 

The NFL is also its fans. It’s hard to believe that anyone outside New England wants the Patriots to win. Maybe Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers fans too, but those are small pockets of the NFL’s fanbase, compared to what the rest of the nation feels like about the Patriots. There are also fans of teams like the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, who don’t want to see the Patriots either match them in Super Bowl championships or leave them behind. These things matter, even to fans who weren’t even born when some of those championships were won.

Predictability is never good. If the Patriots win, it probably means it wasn’t such an interesting Super Bowl, because the initial balance of power seems skewed. Overall, it’s probably preferable to see one more team join the club of Super Bowl champions instead of the Patriots claiming another decade to themselves. On the other hand, it gives more people another reason to hate them, which makes the stroy for them and against them much stronger. As we said in the beginning, there’s no one true answer, and it all depends on where your allegiances lie. 

Image: Source

Midway through the 2016-2017 NBA season, when everyone is gushing over the All-Star selections, there are teams trying to figure out what went wrong. Six teams stand out in their disappointment level so far this season: The Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers. We’ll try to see what went wrong in comparison to the lofty expectations.

Chicago Bulls

The recent set of troubles in Chicago, which included Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade calling out their teammates for their effort, followed by Rajon Rondo responding to them via Instagram and putting himself one step closer towards getting thrown off the team, isn’t that surprising. The Bulls were looking like a rocky build during the offseason. But it still should have been better than a sub. 500 record (23-25 at this point), barely hanging on to 8th in the East, with a negative -0.4 net rating. Butler is a star, Wade is doing well, but everything else, especially Rondo, is well below expectations, and it might explode into a million pieces, including the firing of Fred Hoiberg (and maybe other higher-ups) before it gets any better.

Detroit Pistons

After a 44-38 record last season, which meant a first playoff appearance since 2009, the Pistons were expected to go a bit higher. Right now they sit behind the Bulls in the East with a 21-25 record, featuring one of the worst offense in the NBA, 21st in offensive rating. Reggie Jackson is often attached to trade rumors and he missed about 20 games early in the season, while not producing what he gave the team in the previous season and a bit. Andre Drummond is kind of stuck, Marcus Morris remains inconsistent, and the bench isn’t giving this team the boost it needs. SVG was dreaming of an Orlando Magic 2.0 scenario, but for now Drummond isn’t becoming the defensive presence Dwight Howard was, while the crew around Drummond isn’t as good as the one Van Gundy had in Florida.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are 24-22, 6th in the East, so things aren’t that bad. But they fired Frank Vogel in the summer and hired Nate McMillan instead. The plan was a more offense oriented style. Quicker basketball. More points. Less isolations and offensive rigidness. But by shifting philosophies the Pacers lost their defensive uniqueness (18th in the NBA) while struggling to find consistency on offense (16th in the NBA). Monta Ellis is entering the final stage of his career (8.3 points per game), Jeff Teague isn’t scorching like in the beginning, Paul George has been shaky at times. Al Jefferson hasn’t been as useful as they hoped, and the Pacers seem to be a team stuck in the middle or just above it, for at least one more season, hoping their change in style sets in successfully eventually. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have climbed back from their awful start thanks to the top heavy form in the West, but they’re still a disappointment, especially on defense, compared to the promise in the air when Tom Thibodeau signed on. Ricky Rubio hasn’t been traded, yet, but he remains an issue offensively due to his inability to shoot the ball from outside the paint. The team relies too heavily on Towns, Wiggins and LaVine, while Gorgui Dieng shouldn’t be a 32-minutes a night player, Shabazz Muhammad will never develop into more than an inconsistent bench scorer, Kris Dunn might not be the point guard answer they’ve dreamed of, and Nemanja Bjelica sums up a bench that is struggling giving an extra something to a hungry team. Ranking 23rd in the league defensively is quite shocking considering the personnel and the coach, but the team losing too many close games has probably hurt them more than anything else.

Orlando Magic

The Magic were a short-term build this offseason to make the playoffs. Frank Vogel was brought in to add a defensive touch with his postseason experience. Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green. The Magic didn’t think about the future, but about making the postseason for the first time since Howard left. It’s not looking good right now at 18-30, a worse winning pace compared to last season. The offense is 29th in the NBA and the defense isn’t much better. Vogel has too many big men and not enough shooting, with Green proving to be the biggest disappointment, while Aaron Gordon remains someone who is probably being played out of position. He’s an OK small forward, but could be a very good power forward, something the Magic don’t need right now.

Portland Trail Blazers

Winning 3 games in a row has put the Blazers within reach of the 8th spot in the West again. But after a close to magical 2015-2016 regular season, the Blazers are struggling to find anything positive beyond Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, two highly productive guards who won’t be in the All-Star game. Not new for Lillard, new for McCollum, learning about how often Blazers players get snubbed. But focusing on a more team oriented theme, missing Faruq Al-Aminu for a while and not getting him in his previous season form has hurt this team on both ends of the floor. The Festus Ezeli injury, the disappointing producing from Alan Crabbe and especially Evan Turner; the Blazers can live with a subpar season, but they have a huge problem heading into the offseason unless they pull off some trades to even out the roster and make their wage bill look a bit more manageable. 

Images: Source

Friday, January 27, 2017

In the eptimore retro final, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will play in the final of the 2017 Australian Open, making a surprising final chapter (probably) to their immense rivalry, as the clash for the 9th time in a Grand Slam final.

The two stars, both surprising almost everyone by making it this far while both Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray got knocked out quite early, will play for the 12th time in a Grand Slam match. Nadal has the massive advantage, 9-2, including 6-2 in finals. It’ll be the second time they play each other at the Australian Open final. They faced each other in four French Open finals and three Wimbledon finals. Federer hasn’t beaten Nadal in 5-set match since 2007, losing his last six against Rafa in Grand Slams. Here are the photos to show how it all happened, most of it in the previous decade:

2006 French Open

The first Grand Slam final clash between the two legends occurred at the 2006 Roland Garros. Once again, like all of their meetings in Paris and most of them on clay, Nadal was just too much for Federer. He dropped the first set before taking 3 in a row, denying Federer the chance of becoming the first player since Rod Laver to be simultaneous champion of all four slams.

2006 Wimbledon

Federer Nadal 2006 Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal showed everyone he’s more than just a clay player, but his lack of a massive first serve and inability to make it his own game against Federer on grass made it a relatively quick final, ending in less than 3 hours, with Federer winning in four sets, including 6-0 in the first.

2007 French Open

A year later and nothing changed. Again, it was Nadal and Federer in the Roland Garros final, and it was once again Nadal, at this point still a champion only in the French major, the winner after four sets. This was the third time in four years that Federer missed out on the perfect slam season because of a loss at the Roland Garros. 

2007 Wimbledon

Nadal gave Federer a lot more problems in the sequel to their first Wimbledon final, but Federer’s serve won his two tiebreakers to win the first and third sets. It seems that losing 2-6 in the fourth gave him the extra umph to fend off Nadal for good and win the fifth set 6-2, winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

2008 French Open

Third French Open final in a row of Nadal beating Federer, but this one was setting up something even bigger. It was also Federer’s worst loss in a slam final, taking only four games before losing the third set 6-0.

2008 Wimbledon

One of the best finals ever at Wimbledon has a ‘what if’ around it because of the no-playing-at-night at the time at the All England club. Nadal, fresh of destroying Federer at the French Open, won the first two sets 6-4. Federer came back with two tiebreak wins to force a fifth set which also went to the Wimbledon-style tiebreaker, won by Nadal 9-7, with the sun setting. Federer rushing the play while Nadal slowing it down made a big difference, but if Nadal had any sort of mental block against Federer on grass, it was broken that afternoon.

2009 Australian Open

Roger Federer came to a startling realization in early 2009: Rafael Nadal is better than him, and might deny him from breaking the Grand Slam record. Nadal beat Federer for the third straight time in a slam final, beating him in 4 hours, 23 minutes 5-set classic which had Federer in tears. Turns out Nadal didn’t have a very good year after that, while Federer completed his Career grand slam and broke Pete Sampras’ record, only he didn’t do it against Nadal.

2011 French Open

Rafael Nadal won his sixth French Open title as he beat Federer in four sets. The first two were tiebreakers, then Federer took one, but Federer at this point couldn’t really physically cope with Nadal’s extra wind, losing the fourth set 6-1. In 2011 Federer failed to win a single Grand Slam title, a first for him since 2002.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

In a scene usually exclusive to sports films, basketball player Akil Mitchell suffered a horrific injury, as his eye came out of its socket in a game between the New Zealand Breakers against the Cairns Taipans.

Mitchell was taken to a hospital in Auckland, and according to the Breakers general manager, there was some damage to the eye but it seems that the injury isn’t as severe as initially feared, and vision should be restored. For now, Mitchell has returned home, and will undergo further medical examinations to make sure there’s no long term damage to the eye and to his eyesight.

The incident occurred with 7:53 remaining in the final quarter, probably due to contact with Taipans player Nnanna Egwu. All of Mitchell’s teammates looked like the color left their faces as they dispersed in horror, while Mitchell was rolling on the floor in shock and agony, waiting for treatment to arrive.

Image: Source

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The New England Patriots will make a record 9th Super Bowl appearance in SB LI. For the Atlanta Falcons, it’ll only be their second time in the NFL’s modern championship game, hoping to get out of the club that welcomes teams without a Super Bowl ring.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are rightfully considered as the biggest Super Bowl losers, for making it four straight years to the championship game and losing each time. Their most famous loss was the first one following the 1990 season, when Scott Norwood’s famous “wide right” field goal left them stunned as the New York Giants walked away with a 20-19 win. That choke-job was followed by losing to the Washington Redskins and two years in a row to the Dallas Cowboys.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals Super Bowl history includes two visits to the big game in the 1980’s, twice losing to Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. The first came in SB XVI, as the Bengals overcame a 20-0 halftime deficit to make a game out of it, but score their final touchdown without enough time to try and win the game. Seven years later in Super Bowl XXIII it was Montana’s drive in the final 3 minutes that snatched the Bengals’ victory in the last moment.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have never made it to the Super Bowl. Winning more than 5 games in a season is a sign of success and progress for them, and it’s happened just twice in the last 11 years. In the 80’s, they made a few conference championships games and there are obviously some great seasons with Jim Brown and 1950’s championships. But they’ve never been to the Super Bowl, and they seem light years away from making one.

Houston Texans

The youngest organization in the NFL, the Texans haven’t been to the Super Bowl. They haven’t even been out of the divisional round. It took them almost a decade to make the postseason for the first time, something they’ve been doing quite regularly in the last six years, but they haven’t been able to get very far.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Another AFC South team, which is the division with the fewest Super Bowl winning teams in it (just one, the Indianapolis Colts). The Jags, like the Texans, have never even played in the Super Bowl. They have, however, made it to a couple of AFC championship games during their Tom Coughlin era, once losing to the Patriots and the other to the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee Titans

The final team in the cycle of AFC South suckiness, the Titans were previously the Houston Oilers, a team with two AFL championship games, before the Super Bowl era. As the Titans, they made it to the Super Bowl once, losing to the St. Louis Rams, with Kevin Dyson trying to reach the end zone, stopped by Mike Jones in one of the more memorable Super Bowl plays, nicknames ‘The Tackle’  or ‘One Yard Short’.

Los Angeles Chargers

It’s really weird writing Los Angeles Chargers. Now that’s it over with, the Chargers are the only AFC West team without a Super Bowl victory. They did make the Super Bowl once after the 1994 season, only to get blown out by Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers. The Chargers have had some good seasons since with pretty nice playoff runs, but the Super Bowl didn’t come knocking on their doors a second time.

Philadelphia Eagles

From the only team in the AFC West without a Super Bowl ring to the only team in the NFC East, which is an exceptional bummer, due to the nationwide following teams in that division have, and the combined 12 Super Bowl championships between the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins. Three time NFL champions, the Eagles have been to a couple of Super Bowls, losing to the Raiders in SB XV and to the New England Patriots 24 years later in SB XXXIX. 

Detroit Lions

The Lions aren’t the only team in the NFC North to miss out on the joy of winning a Super Bowl ring, but they are the only franchise that has never made the trip. Worse: In the entire Super Bowl era, the Lions have a single postseason win, coming 25 years ago. 

Minnesota Vikings

Like the Buffalo Bills, the Vikings have played in 4 Super Bowls (not consecutive) and lost each one. All their SB visits came in an 8-year stretch (1969-1976) with losses to the Chiefs, Steelers, Dolphins and Raiders, scoring more than a single digit number just once. Their vaunted defense of the era got them far, but not to the holy grail of American Football. 

Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl LI will be the second time the Falcons play in the Super Bowl. Their first visit was 18 years ago, losing to a repeating Denver Broncos team. Since then they’ve made it as far as the NFC Championship game twice, and are hoping to leave the Panthers as the only team in the division without a Super Bowl ring.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers arrived into the NFL along with the Jaguars, and have made it to a couple of Super Bowls. One after the 2003 season, losing to the Patriots and an Adam Vinatieri field goal. The second one came last year after a 15-1 regular season, as their Cam Newton led offense couldn’t figure out how to beat the Denver Broncos.

Arizona Cardinals

One of the least successful organizations in the NFL, with sporadic playoff appearances over the years. One shining moment stands above: Their appearance in what I believe is the best Super Bowl of all-time, SB XLIII, where a terrific performance by Kurt Warner was almost enough to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Almost.

Images: Source

Monday, January 23, 2017

Losing streaks, occasional wins, developing players, lots of frustration. In between all of this, the Brooklyn Nets season took another hit when Sean Marks revealed that Jeremy Lin is going to miss at least 3 more weeks as his left hamstring injury resurfaced, striking for the third time this season.

Lin, with the NBA reaching its halfway mark, has played in only 12 games. The Nets, the 9-34 Brooklyn Nets, the worst team in the NBA, have played 31 games without Lin, and now figure to be without their best player, the player their entire system was supposed to be built on, until late February, and maybe into March. When you realize how much is left in this NBA season, who knows, maybe it’s better to simply shut Lin down.

Lin played in the first five games of the season, with the Nets going 2-3. He pulled his hamstring in the fifth, a win over the Detroit Pistons. He missed 17 consecutive games before coming back, played 7 more, and re-injured the hamstring during a win over the Charlotte Hornets, his former team. He has missed 13 games since, in which the Nets are 1-12. He’s averaged 13.9 points and 5.8 assists per game in his short time on the court.

From the looks of things, it’s going to be difficult putting together a Lin top 10 list like we did last season, although you never know. Maybe he does get at least one whole month of consecutive basketball this season. We don’t know how close he was to coming back this time, and it’s impossible to tell through the veils of secrecy what the Nets are planning to do with him in terms of reactivation this season.

The team itself will continue to roll with the punches. Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead will split the point guard position, Caris LeVert will continue to develop as a player (and he’s been doing nicely recently), Brook Lopez will post nice numbers and the Nets will probably try to find someone willing to cough up a draft pick for Bojan Bogdanovic. Beyond that, there’s not much to do. The Nets won’t trade Sean Kilpatrick (unless someone offers a first round pick and perhaps something more) and the rest of the players yet to be mentioned are either untradeable, or won’t fetch anything worth taking at this point of the season.

This was supposed to be the season Lin finally establishes his place in the NBA as a star starting point guard. It’s not that he hasn’t proved he’s that good before, but this was supposed to be his job, without any competition. Putting aside Kenny Atkinson’s weird motion offense ideas, a healthy Lin could have made his first All-Star game. But I guess that’s all in theory and hypothesis now. Whether Lin returns this season or not, the burden of proving how big of a star he can be; how good of a leader he can be for a team on the rise, will be on hold until next season.

Image: Source

As expected, the memes a day after Tom Brady and the New England Patriots made mincemeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers, had more to do with Alarm Gate and the Patriots cheating than anything else.

That’s how it works. The Patriots have a reputation for cheating, and also this weird karma that any big win or game will have something out of the ordinary happen in its proximity; in this case, the Steelers hotel fire alarm going off the day before the game. Then there was a fire alarm of something of the sort in the stadium before the game.

But beyond superstition and conspiracy theories, the Patriots got the job done. Belichick once again found himself an unlikely hero, in this case Chris Hogan, and the Patriots made the most of the Steelers taking their time to settle in. By the time they got comfortable in the game, there was no way for them to cut into the Patriots lead.

This will be the 7th Super Bowl for the Patriots in 16 seasons. The Brady-Belichick tandem could make history by winning their fifth Super Bowl together. If it wasn’t already established that they’re the greatest duo in the history of the NFL, their Super Bowl matchup with the Falcons could finally do it.

Images: Source
Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!