The Triple Double.

As we enter Sunday afternoon in mid-April, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is looking to break Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson’s record for most triple-doubles [41] in a single NBA season. He would also surpass the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for most triple-double games in an NBA career at 78.

Westbrook tied the mark less than a week ago against the Milwaukee Bucks and has come within a fingertip’s reach to the record the past two games. For a mark that has held ground for over fifty years, the sports world should be praising Russ for his accomplishments in pursuit of greatness. But where’s the roar…?

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets

These days, statistics are the main frame of all acknowledgement, the obvious subject to all objects, the element of all forms of measurement of stature in all of sports. If we ever want to provide a highlight of an NBA night, a triple-double normally poses as the stable measurement in statistics. But how do we measure the value of a triple-double when the teams sculpts its game plan to favor a single player’s achievements…?

In a season where he is having to inherit the full leadership role due to the team’s offseason loss of all-star Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook has grabbed the bull by the horns and made the best of it. Some say that this is merely a one-man band and the team is bunch of jackrabbits prancing around one legitimate basketball player. But that’s rubbish. Not only has he led the team to 45-win season, but they have elso established themselves as a playoff team that isn’t going to be an easy play.

Russ has certainly made a fool of those critics who doubted the Thunder of possibly playing more than 82 games. He has become OKC’s foundation and helped craft a well-balanced team that will bring heat to the game’s best teams. In the age of the NBA when we criticize these pro athletes for not being “team players” and goofing on them for their one-on-one play rather than being dedicated towards plays and schemes, we now find ourselves hindering any acknowledgement for them passing the ball. Because assists are so crucial in accomplishing a triple-double, it has become a double standard of criticism from old school athletes and fans to new age.

If we looked at the all-time list of players to accomplish the most triple-doubles in NBA history and we would find atop a nice salt-and-pepper sprinkled mixture of vintage and new:

1. Oscar Robertson, 181.

2. Magic Johnson, 138.

3. Jason Kidd, 107.

4. Wilt Chamberlain, 78.

5. Russell Westbrook, 78.

6. Larry Bird, 59.

7. Lebron James, 54.

Michael Jordan, the “greatest” basketball player of all-time, doesn’t even crack the top ten! Jordan only collected *30 in his 15-year career. [*28 regular season, 2 playoff]

Let’s not forget Oscar Robertson held this record has dated back to the 1961-62 NBA season. The “Big O” also did it in his sophomore year in the NBA…but for a statistical mark to be guarded for 55 years is illustrious and honorable. It’s comparable to the MLB games played mark Cal Ripken Jr. surpassed back in 1995. IRON-ically, that streak lasted for 56 years!!

Rather than criticizing Russ for altering a team’s game plan to attain such a mark that measures a player’s hard work and dedication to teamwork, we should be meriting him. Not only has he led a team to playoff form, but he has also done so in style.

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  • Josh.

The Starting Five.

“If you could make up an ultimate team with the greatest NBA players, past or present, who would be your dream starting five?”

It’s a question that is asked a too often but also a question every basketball fan loves to be asked. The creativity and imaginary capabilities are endless. While some fans teams consist of staple stars, such as Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, others stray against the grain propose legitimate arguments for current stars, such as Steph Curry or Russell Westbrook. Although it is easy to disagree, neither is wrong. This is merely a dream after all.

But what if stitched up the proposal a bit and asked ourselves a little more personal form of the question?

If you could collect a dream team of your favorite NBA players, in the time of your youth, who would be your starting five? [*youth: before turning 18 and becoming an irresponsible adult.]

Now we are getting somewhere in understanding one another.

Do you already have a few extraordinary, colorful names in mind? Are you already exchanging legendary Celtic Larry Bird for another Celtic legend, Paul Pierce? Can you already point out in the stockyard of your friends which one already has pinned bad boys Dennis Rodman and/or Metta World Peace? This question becomes a little interesting once we involve the fun factor and relieve so much emphasis on greatness.

But here we go…

 

THE STARTING FIVE PRE-2003.

PG: John Stockton, Utah Jazz. Who wear short shorts? He wear short shorts. Stockton made wearing short shorts cool during a time when “the baggier, the better” was the trendiest thing. Not only was he old school in his attire style, but he was also old school in his play. This guy holds the all-time record in assists in NBA history with 15,806 in total. Talk about a team players…

SG: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Orlando Magic. If it wasn’t for Jordan or Grant Hill, Penny would have been considered the coolest NBA player in the 90’s. Hands down. Not only did this guy have a fun name, it was electric to watch him and Magic teammate Shaquille O’Neal face off against Jordan and Bulls.

hardaway2

SF: Clyde “The Glide” Drexler, Portland Trail Blazers. There’s no way I’m walking away this conversation without bringing up my love for the Portland Trail Blazers. Born in the southern Oregon, I grew up a HUGE fan of the only professional team of the state. What was great was that they were also a playoff competitor every year in my young years. A major contributor to their success was this man, No. 22, Clyde Drexler. He was not quite on the same playing level as Air Jordan [honestly who was?] but Drexler certainly gave him a good run for his money.

PF: Larry Johnson, Charlottle Hornets. In the 90s, the Charlotte Hornets were what the Oklahoma City Thunder were in the early 2010s. They weren’t the best team in the NBA, but they had suited three all-star elites and gave every good team a fight to the finish. No NBA team wanted to cross paths with this swarm of players. Larry “Grandmama” Johnson was one of the reasons many feared this hive. Despite his friendly nickname, Larry Johnson was everything but a fun competitor. Notorious for being the rock of the group, Grandmama would put players on the hardwood and make them wish they’d stay. [This dream team wouldn’t be complete without a “Muscle”.]

grandmama

C: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets. Now, I must admit. Growing up, I wasn’t too fond of the Houston Rockets. They were a good. Really good. They were also heavy rivals to my favorite team, the Trail Blazers. But Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon was extraordinary. He could put any all-star center into glitch mode. Along with respectable athletic abilities, he was also as humbling of a competitor. No one could speak a foul word on this Rocket legend.

The Masters.

Can we just get straight to the point? We all want Tiger Woods to win. We really do. He has been this generation’s Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, yadayadayada…He’s the living legend of golf breathing upon us. But–

No. Today’s Tiger Woods is not the same Tiger Woods we knew ten years ago. No. He is not the prolific, fierce, resilient beast we knew in past years. No. He cannot drive the living daylights out of the ball and chip it from thirty feet away in the muck of cattails. No…Tiger Woods will not win the 2017 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

tiger

So…who will?

RAWRY!

Mark my words…Rory McIlroy will win the 2017 Masters.

For the past two or three years, the great question of “Tiger, Phil, or the Field…?” has been casted upon us with great annoyance. It’s as if the news media [cough. cough. ESPN] had forgotten that the PGA was in the midst of promoting young, exuberant talent–and they have it! The PGA found the fountain of youth with fresh faces. A pool filled with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy has been stewing beneath our noses and we’ve simply taken it for granted. It’s as if the bartender slid us the finest sazerac and we ignored that subtle hint of absinthe that birades us with character and depth.

And right smack middle of that field of fresh blood…? Rory McIlroy. The kid is rockin’ it. Rory currently leads the 2017 PGA FedEx leaderboard, holding a top-10 spot in three of four tournaments. He already has won 13 PGA tournaments; including a US Open, The Open, and PGA Championship victories. What’s left to fill his resume…? The Masters!

Nobody can deny that the excitement of watching a prowling “Tiger” hunt down it’s prey and defeat the competition is beyond explanation of the expression. It was one of the most exhilarating things to see on a unaffiliated NFL Sunday. Nobody can honestly substitute such action. But on the flip, one cannot simply trash this new generation of Golf. The competition is at an all-time high and that was the ultimate goal spectators were hoping to achieve.

In, 2017, the field is the tight. There is no clear favorite to take home the Green Jacket.

The “gopher” whom will stand alone atop the rest of the field??? Look for a name that won’t buckle under the pressure the Augusta winds will blow upon the leaders. Look for a name that has seen success and will strive under the fire that may burn in the distance. Look for Rory.

Honestly, I would love to see a fresh face like Rickie Fowler to conquer past failures and frustrations and walk away sporting green. It’d be great for the sport. It’d be great for momentum and revenue. The slogan creates itself…“Green is the new Orange!!”

But I just don’t see it. I hope he proves me wrong but I just don’t see it.

Other favorites that strike my fancy to win but just won’t: Austrailian Jason Day, American Dustin Johnson, and my dark horse, American Jimmy Walker.

Let’s cut to the chase–it would be nice to wake up on Sunday and see the legend chase down his prey in that classic red shirt. Hell, these days I wake up on Sundays in great hope of seeing Tiger Woods within reach of contention of the leader. But those hopes come and go neglected. The fans still want to believe. They still exist and there is still a prism of trust that there still passion and fire within the talents of Tiger. But is there any heat in the fire…?

The Boys [of Summer] are Back in Town.

Alas! Opening Day is within a pitching arm’s reach away. The grass is green, the sky is blue [for much of the country], and the ballparks are calling our names. Do we remember what joyous sensations the summer brings to us all?

Who can capture the picture perfect sight of Fenway on Opening Day when every Bostonian carries the smile of success from the Boston Celtics’ playoff run/New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over to April? What about tasting the first two, or three, or four hotdogs at the first game of the season at Dodger Stadium? Can anyone actually put into words the beauty of playoff hopefulness as a Seattle Mariners’ fan the first few weeks of the baseball season? OH! Let’s not forget that there isn’t a feeling more comforting than downing that ice-cold pint of beer as you sit there in that warm, plastic seat at Wrigley on a blistering Thursday afternoon in the dead heat middle of summer. Awwww…the blissfulness of the baseball season.

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The beauty in the craft that the Chicago Cubs cultivated in 2016 that resulted in their very first World Series victory in 108 years was not only memorable, but also breathtaking and monumental. Although it was somewhat expected with the roster accumulated from the years prior, the fact still remains that nothing is absolute when it comes to sporting events–even when it comes to professional wrestling! Not even star-filled rosters the Yankees seem to collaborate every year ever seem to evolve into a World Series title on a routine basis. THOUGH–to see a team that has such a large fan base break out of the longest active championship drought streak in the history of ALL sport and finally accomplish the ultimate goal was beyond anything we as humans could EVER put into exact verbiage. In short, we could resemble it to the David and Goliath story but within oneself…and THAT goes beyond defeating a historical mark. That conquers ALL.

So what will Major League Baseball bring us in 2017?!!?!?

I can promise five things.

TOP FIVE PROMISES OF THE 2017 MLB SEASON.

5. Atlanta is a Stop Nobody Wants: The Braves will be a force nobody wants to face. Aside from their well-seasoned pitching staff that includes Bartolo Colon, RA Dickey, and Jaime Garcia, the Tribe produces threatening youth and all-star veterans to support the arms. Some of those faces include: Freddie Freeman [1B], Dansby Swanson [SS], Brandon Phillips [2B], and Matt Kemp [OF]. Maybe not a World Series contender, but definitely a team that could alter the playoff outlook.

4. The Blue Jays & Red Sox are NOT in the World Series in ’17: There were too many key departures in the captain/leadership steamboat from both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox this past offseason and that will present issues when clutch moments come into play. Although both teams seem strong on a youth basis and have a little team chemistry carrying from the past season, there is still some question marks on who will lead the stead.

3. The Yankees are Light Years Away: This is the most awkward era for New York Yankee baseball…this team is a hot mess of young and old. Yes, they do have potential in the youth department; and yes, they do have talent in the veteran field. But, what in the actual fuck are the Yankees doing? For one, there are no stud sluggers on this roster that will slug the skin off the ball. Two, is there a starting pitcher that is threatening? Better start shipping and finding your stripes, Yanks.

2. Bryce Harper will LAUNCH!: Rebounding off a shaky 2016 second half, Washington National OF Bryce Harper will find his rythym and will produce a .320BA/25HR/140RBI season that will guide a Washington into a matchup with the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series. As odd and redundant as it seems, the kid resembles “The Kid” too much to not rebound from a bad finish of a season.

1. The Cubs May Repeat: Despite the retirement of David Ross and key departures of Dexter Fowler and Travis Wood, the Chicago Cubs seem to be in good hands. For the most part, their pitching rotation is intact and they were quick to replace a key component in Fowler. With the leadership of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant still afoot, the Cubs are a stern threat for a repeating Series run.

cubswschamps

I leave you with this….Go Cubs!

 

 

The Most Electrifying Show On Earth.

Well we have reached that time of the year in which we like to refer to as the PERFECT STORM OF SPORTS!!!

Between the NCAA March Madness Tournament, Opening Day of Major League Baseball, NHL & NBA playoffs begin, AND the legendary Masters Tournament! Talk about a month long orgy for the irresponsible sports addict…

But most will often oversee what can be considered the most electrifying event of the sports entertainment industry. The event in which the most asinine and bizarre series of events will lead the masses to scream to the top of their lungs, “HOLY SHIT!” It’s also the only sporting occasion when one can collect random athletes from other sports involved, such as Mike Tyson and Shaquille O’Neal. Have you figured it out yet? Well don’t worry, stress no more….

 

wrestlemania

Oh. Didn’t know I was a professional wrestling fan? Do Now.

Now, before you jump on that boat of judging and suggesting pro wrestling is simply stupid, crazy, fake, and–STOP. Of course the script is written and the players play within the confines of the agenda but–isn’t it a weird coincidence that the New England PATRIOTS won the Super Bowl within months following 9/11…? Crazy…

 

shamrock2

 

Buy the ticket, take the ride. Tune IN and Freak OUT. April 2, 2017. This year’s card is HUUUUUGE. Here’s just a few matchups currently tabbed in the lineup:

WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg VS Brock Lesner

WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt VS Randy Orton

Undertaker VS Roman Reigns

RAW Women’s Championship: Bayley VS Charlotte VS Sasha Banks

SMACKDOWN Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss VS EVERYONE!!!!

WWE US Championship: Chris Jericho VS Kevin Owens

 

Some won’t see this as the most eye-popping, star-filled lineup in Wrestlemania history; but believe me, I see it going down as the most underrated cards.

and here’s why…

Top Five Bold Predictions that will MAKE Wrestlemania 33.

5. BAYLEY vs CHARLOTTE vs SASHA BANKS: Talent-wise, this is possibly the greatest women’s matchup in Wrestlemania history. Charlotte is considered to be a top-five greatest women WWE wrestler. Sasha Banks has already proven she is an elite show. Bayley is a HUGE fan favorite. This is definitely going to be a fun match.

4. Enzo Amore and Big Cass will FINALLY be Tag Team Champions: Talk about a heavy fan favorite and crowd pleaser. Not many WWE tag teams have come out and provided the type of show Enzo and Cass do. Does anyone remember Road Dogg and Billy Gunn from DX and their legendary run as tag team champions? Yeah, I went there. I draw a firm connection between the two and I can see it being the perfect time for Amore-Cass beginning their own reign.

3. Finn “The Demon King” Balor will return to the WWE: If you were one of the lucky ones to watch WWE Summer Slam in 2016, you would have witnessed one of the bravest performances by a WWE wrestler. Aside from the mind-boggling introduction before the match, Finn Balor held nothing back in pursuit to becoming a young staple of the WWE. During a title matchup [in which Balor won] against Seth Rollins, Finn Balor suffered a gruesome injury early on yet continued to fight through pain and provide an electrifying show for the fans. Few would have carried on as well as he did, let alone AT ALL. The next night, Finn Balor stood tall, humble, and proud as he relinquished the belt back to the WWE as was showered with applause from the millions of spectating fans.

2. AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon will be the Greatest Show on Earth: Huge Egos. Mega acrobatic skills. High Intensity of love AND hate for both WWE wrestlers. This is bound to be a classic performance!

1. Roman Reigns will retire Undertaker: If anyone knows anything about professional wrestling, it’s that the Undertaker is the most feared wrestler to have ever existed. The Deadman, as many refer to him, has been a staple to the WWE for quite some time.  But I believe this is his time.  As of March 24, Undertaker will be 52 and looks to be coming to the end of his career. Who’s to blame him if he was to go? The 300-LB big man has been wrestling since 1984! If I am right–and I hope I’m not–it will be unfortunate that we couldn’t see a young gun such as Finn Balor retire a legend. I’ll leave you with my ideal matchup that could [and SHOULD] happen if they want to properly retire the Lord of Darkness…

Finn “THE DEMON KING” Balor vs. UNDERTAKER in a BURY ME ALIVE Match!

 

 

The Five-Four.

It’s March Madness season, BABY!

Normally, I conduct and countdown a top-five list of a various topic; anything from music to movies to beards. But because of unique circumstances, the notorious NCAA Final Four tournament, I am going to provide a top “four” list. I entitle this,

THE 2017 NCAA MARCH MADNESS FINAL FOUR FAVORITES.

BUT…because I’m OCD and will feel awkward if I leave it at four, I am going to alter it back and round it up to a top-five list.

How?

To complete and round up to five, I will submit my “Cinderella” team. AHHHHH! The “Cinderella” story. The surprise small, non-traditionally school that makes a run and upsets one or multiple higher-ranked and creates this magical, fairy-tale story that many will tell for years to come. Some examples? Wichita State in 2013, VCU AND Butler in 2011, and George Mason in 2006.

Never underestimate an opponent.

Now let’s do this…

4. Arizona. Mark my words: Sean Miller will FINALLY bring a Wildcats team to the Final Four for the first time since inheriting the team from legendary coach, Lute Olson. The Arizona Wildcats  have been one of the quietest top-10 teams of the 2017 season and for good reasons. With Oregon and UCLA hogging all the Pac-12 limelight, ‘Zona slithered through the cracks just to cement themselves as conference tournament champs. Oh, and their four losses of the year? Butler, Gonzaga, Oregon, UCLA. Goes to show how difficult the road to March was for these Cats. But their time is…MEOW.

3. UCLA: Two Pac-12 teams! Count ’em, TWO. To justify, all I need to say are two words, Lonzo Ball…ball. [Ok, three.] Some want to draw immediate resemblance of his play to the style of Steph Curry: a quick, sharp-shooter that can take over games. Only time will tell if this kid can light up the floor like the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’. The team themselves aren’t slouches. Senior Bryce Alford and star Freshman TJ Leaf are just as capable of taking over games as Lonzo. These three led the bruising Bruin team through a vigourous regular season, beating Oregon, Kentucky, AND Michigan. [Mic drop.]

2 Duke: Just typing this sends tremors through my veins. I’m already regretting tossing Duke into this list. Why? It is notorious that the Blue Devils are a MESS if they are ranked anywhere other than the 1-spot. In the past ten years alone, they have lost nauseating games in early rounds: Mercer as a #3, Lehigh as a #2, West Virginia as a #2, and VCU as a #6. What’s on their side? A late-season surge to beat Louisville, North Carolina, then Notre Dame to win the ACC championship. Tough to bet against a group like “Wild Thing” Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and senior captain Matt Jones. Not to mention, the Coach K days are nearing an end. Let’s be honest. You know the legendary coach is on a mission for number six.

1 Kansas: Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk…K….U….! These guys seem to always seem to be a heavy favorite to win the ‘Ship but always find a snag along the way. Last year, Villanova, the eventual champions, knocked the Jayhawks out in the Elite Eight. Believe that these guys have not forgotten. Frank Mason III, captain and heavy favorite to win the Wooden Award, is on a mission to end his college career on a high note. Along with Mason III, Devonta Graham, Joshua Jackson, and Sviatoslav Malkdjflkja;sodifwqerlkj [thats how you spell his name, right?] create a high-calliber force to be wreckin with. Consider the Jayhawks my heavy favorite to cut down the net in Glendale, AZ.

And now, my Cinderella………..

5 Rhode Island: Ranked at the 11-spot, URI will RUIN brackets. They will beat Creighton, upset Oregon in the second round, and possibly find themselves in Elite-8 territory if upset Louisville/Michigan in the Sweet 16. Why should you believe? Why do I? they just beat former “cinderella” VCU in the A10 title game. Follow the signs…

 

 

 

The National Fantasy Football League.

Announcer: “It’s third down and one for the Bengals on the Titans’ forty-yard-line. Bengals are up 20-14. There is twenty six seconds remaining on the clock. Just a kneel down and the game is sealed. Just a few years ago any sane coach would call for his quarterback to lay down like a wounded deer, but in today’s league they play for more than just a team victory. Johnny G. in Charleston, South Carolina needs four more points out of A.J. Green. So the Bengals will march on to make sure A.J. Green receives his targets in the end zone, even at the risk of a Bengals’ loss…”

We, as the spectators of the NFL, are inching closer to a new phase of the game. At the direction Commissioner Roger Goodell and his swine friends got this league going, we could be hearing this come out of the mouth of each announcer on Sundays sooner than the norm acceptance of a robot titillating your carriages. Where did the simple pleasures of watching a game and being able to scream foul language at your favorite team for stinking to high chedder go?

If we’re showing our cards, I might as well reveal what I’m holding. I am just as guilty as the next guy of this obnoxious ritual. As an active member of the “League of Strangers'” for the past seven years, I have spent a greater part of my free time during harsh winters being studious of the arts of managing football players. My wife has probably spent just as much time laughing at me for managing a feux football team.

I’d be a hypocrite if I said I haven’t screamed at the TV for a player opposite the 49ers to run it down their throats and score as will! Hell, just last week I was skipping from hallway to hallway after Cardinals’ running back David Johnson scored twice on their asses. Who am I?!? Ho ho. But don’t consider me too inhumane. Each year I attempt to snag up a couple of San Francisco Gold Diggers so I don’t stray too far away from the home nest. [NOTE: Each year becomes more difficult to support a team that pays for Trent Baalke to run the show.]

On the flip side of it all, participating in a fantasy football league hasn’t been all that bad. There are some perks that many don’t shine light on. Not only the does the satisfaction of winning a few hundred dollars and being entitled Fantasy Football championship have a nice ring to it, but the ties that keep one attached to another helps warm the heart. After moving halfway across the states, it was difficult to keep up with old friends. Because of the league, we excuse ourselves for flooding of text messages on Sunday’s.

I can also high-five myself for containing myself from swimming at the bottom of a barrel. Rather than going out to some annoying chain restaurant/bar and drinking several pints of beer until I can’t remember how piss poor the San Francisco 49ers played that day, I can sit at my own home with my little boy and watch my fantasy team fall to pieces along with my favorite piss poor of an excuse of professional team.

So thank you, ESPN. Thank you for providing me this life of playing manager of a professional team I’ve dreamt about since I was eight years old. Those days of watching hours upon hours of sports and going to my notebook to create the “Ultimate Team” for each and every sport have not gone without worth! My nights of shelving Barry Sanders and replacing him with Ricky Watters actually turned out to mean something.

Who knew the fantasy life could bring so much good?