Up until last week, Tilman Fertitta had made a mildly bad impression as owner of the Rockets. He gets the “mildly” modifier because plenty of other owners have done the same. He loves to talk to the media, whether it be to publicly doubt Daryl Morey, perhaps the most innovative and successful GM in the league, or complain about his players.
I’ve been thinking lately that I gotta go see a Warriors playoff game. Oracle Arena may be old by NBA standards, but it’s a booming, beautiful house of basketball. Plus, after this year when KD finds a new team, the Warriors dynasty will hopefully reach a merciful conclusion (Merciful to the rest of the league, that is; I hope they crash and burn and all hate each other and Draymond has to be held back from strangling someone). It’s my last chance to watch what will go down as one of the iconic teams in basketball history in one of the sport’s historic landmarks.
I got to listen to Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel talk with Julie Foudy last week for the recording of Foudy’s Laughter Permitted podcast. All three of them (if you don’t know who Foudy is shame on you, but also shame on me because I didn’t know either — she’s a Stanford alum and former US national team soccer standout) shared funny and endearing stories from their athletic careers. The one who stood out to me most, though, was Simone Manuel. She got a little overshadowed by Katie’s star power, which is understandable. But I think she made the most important point of the whole conversation.
Congratulations to Tiger Woods on winning the Masters. While I’ve barely followed golf, I have to admit I was excited he won. I felt happy for him.
The existence of college sports is confusing. Despite holding the student-athlete moniker, college athletes are often treated like professionals. This past weekend, you maybe watched the Final Four for men’s basketball. It was a professional-level spectacle complete with NBA commentators and played at US Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. The NFL, by the way, happens to be the highest grossing sports league in the United States. The second highest? College football. This statistic speaks to our country’s disregard for players’ health in the face of gigantic profits, sure, but it also shows how commodified college sports is.
A team finally took the plunge: the Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a thirteen-year, $330 million contract, the richest in the history of American sports. With any contract of that gigantic value, a player will struggle to live up to the deal. The Phillies, then, are prioritizing dramatic change over spending efficiency.
The NFL made two big splashes in the news in the past week. The first: settling with Colin Kaepernick over his collusion case. Kaepernick, after a career-derailing struggle, triumphed victoriously over the corporate monolith. Or, alternatively, Kap capitulated and let the rich owners buy him out. One such owner made the second splash: Pats owner…
The Anthony Davis saga has me confused. On the one hand, I’m mad that he requested a trade. I don’t want him to go to the Lakers, I don’t want LeBron to manipulate the whole league, I don’t want the Pelicans to have to give up their best player in franchise history, and I don’t want AD to give up on the Pelicans. On the other, it’s about damn time. Since the year after they drafted him, the Pels have consistently made short-sighted, risky moves that lowered the ceiling and didn’t even make them that good in the present. They have given no indication to anyone that they will build a championship-caliber team around Davis and Jrue Holiday (who, by the way, is the biggest victim here). Should Davis waste his prime hoping that they get lucky and stumble into a Western Conference Finals appearance? No. He shouldn’t. Davis is the product of a new era of player control and player movement, an era that is changing how teams build their rosters and how fans think about their teams. This new age of player movement is killing league parity and – here’s the fun part – can also explain the political polarization of our country. Let’s begin.