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Zach Naidu

Naidu: A call for morality check on NBA

Over the past decade, the NBA has championed itself as the moral standard in professional sports. While FIFA is routinely riddled with corruption and the NFL consistently bungles social issues like anthem protests and personal conduct violations, the NBA has racked up brownie points with its apt handling of player empowerment and social justice issues. The most notable PR success occurred when Commissioner Adam Silver banned former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life in 2014, forcing him to sell the team after racist secret audio recordings were released to the public. That makes what has transpired over the past three weeks with the Daryl Morey Twitter saga all the more perplexing.

The Cautionary Tale of Andrew Luck

While I was doing more research for this column, I came across a clip of Luck walking off his home field shortly after the retirement news broke, booed by his own team’s fans who hadn’t even given him an opportunity to explain himself.

Naidu: Thank you, Dirk

Not going to lie, this sucks. Dallas Mavericks’ legend Dirk Nowitzki is likely playing his final two career games within the next 48 hours – with his home finale tonight against the Phoenix Suns. “Impending retirement” provides an insufficient phrase to describe the waning days of Dirk Werner Nowitzki’s decorated career. Dirk has meant so…

Naidu: A(AF) bone-crushing reality

The Alliance of American Football kicked off last Saturday night to what many have called a rousing success from a ratings perspective. The league’s inaugural game between the San Antonio Commanders and San Diego Fleet attracted 2.9 million viewers. This topped the NBA’s marquee game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder (2.5 million), a matchup that features the league’s two most recent MVPs.

Naidu: A Super Bowl preview, of sorts

Super Bowl Sunday is only two short days away. There are many things up for debate about Sunday’s matchup. Can the Rams high-octane offense keep it up against scheming savant Bill Belichick? Will the Patriots offensive line be able to hold off Aaron Donald? Will Tony Romo call a single play incorrectly?

Naidu: Fear the beard

James Harden wants you to know. He’s damn good. Often times, once a NBA player has reached his 6th or 7th season, his reputation is fully-formed. Rotation player, starter, all-star, elite (top 10-12), and super elite (top 5). The super elite class is the hardest to break into. In recent years, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant have firmly held places in the super elite class, with Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Harden hovering around the final two spots. For years Harden has been categorized as an elite player, winning an MVP last year. However, multiple playoff failures despite stellar regular seasons dominate Harden’s reputation.

Naidu: Parity in the NBA

Well, Adam Silver, you have your wish, tanking is dead. Six weeks into the regular season, the Western Conference standings are bunched up in a seemingly unprecedented fashion.

Naidu: No stars in Boston

Bold Prediction: The Boston Celtics won’t make the NBA Finals. Bolder Prediction: They won’t even make it past the second round in their conference.

Naidu: The mistreatment of Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery, former wide receiver for the Stanford Cardinal and member of the Stanford class of 2015, made a crucial mistake last Sunday. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, the undefeated Los Angeles Rams kicked a field goal to take a 29-27 lead over Montgomery and the Green Bay Packers. On the ensuing kickoff, Montgomery fielded the ball just inside the Packers end zone and returned it to the 21-yard line only to fumble and give the Rams possession.

Naidu: Not my World Series

This is not the World Series everybody wanted.  A matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers could not feature two more vintage blueblood franchises. The Dodgers haven’t won in three decades, but they’re still six-time World Series champions – they’re still the team that housed legends like Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson. The Red Sox are no stranger to the limelight and World Series rings either, winning five years ago, with three championships since the year 2000.

Naidu: My Mavericks

As a sports columnist for The Stanford Daily, I always try my best to cover material that piques the average Stanford sports reader’s interest. Thus, the diversity of Stanford’s student body means I must strive to cover timely topics that appeal to a variety of fan bases and sports.
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Naidu: Tanking will prevail, unless…

The NBA will never completely fix its tanking problem. Last Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery is a perfect example why. It took them three years of losing more than 57 games, but the Phoenix Suns finally landed a number one pick – a pick that perhaps could prove to be a pillar of future success for what was once a perennial contender. In the grand scheme of things, three losing seasons for a franchise-altering talent is trivial. Just look at the Philadelphia 76ers.

Naidu: passion of The Phantom – and sports

As I sat in the audience for the matinee showing of Stanford Light Opera Company’s production of The Phantom of the Opera, I couldn’t help but fight back a few tears. I had seen a fair share of Broadway shows before, but never had I felt such an emotional pull by any one of those professional performances. The reason was clear – the lead, Miles Petrie performed with so much passion and conviction. Miles made me believe he truly was the Phantom of the Opera, and I was experiencing firsthand what true tragedy and heartbreak feel like. The ordeal elicited feelings reminding me of why I love sports: the raw passion.

Naidu: Appreciate the Warriors

I’m not saying you need to like to them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t hate them. All I am saying is that if you truly love basketball, you have no choice but to appreciate the Golden State Warriors.

Naidu: Bite your tongues

This week’s column was supposed to be about Colin Cowherd. About how out of all of the sports analysts and radio/talk show hosts, he was the one people should listen to and why. But then Game 6 of the Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder occurred Friday night, and something that has happened far too frequently transpired once again: a player lashed out at a fan.

Naidu: Leave the playoffs alone

The NBA has a few quirks in its system. The most salient of which is the lack of competitiveness at the bottom of each conference – where teams seemingly don’t field their best possible roster in order to have a worse record and, in turn, pick higher in the draft – more commonly known as “tanking.” The NBA’s playoff format is another hotly contested topic. Most recently, commissioner Adam Silver has entertained the idea of having a one through 16 seeding across conferences rather than each conference seeded one through eight.

Naidu: Just one fist pump

Records aside, Tiger Woods is the most talented golfer the world has seen. He won 14 major championships in 11 years. He was rocked by scandal and suffered major injuries in the prime of his career a decade ago. If Woods’ body had held up and he had been able to be as steadily competitive as he was in the first half of his career, he’d have upwards of 20 major championships – well past Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.

Naidu: Confessions of a fan

I have not always been a faithful football fan. For a few years, I did not support the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, for the majority of high school, there were many times I rooted against the only football team I had ever loved. I rooted against the very team I cried over when it fell in an upset to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the 2007 season. I turned my back on the team belonging to the only city I ever lived in before college.

Naidu: In the moment

Olympic hockey player Jocelyne Larocque has undergone some unwarranted criticism following her Canadian team’s loss to the USA women’s hockey team in the gold medal match. During the medal ceremony, cameras captured the moment Larocque had her silver medal placed around her neck, only for the Canadian defender to remove it immediately in disgust.

Naidu: Officially wrong

Following his basketball team blowing a 12-point halftime lead to the Kansas Jayhawks, West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins made a very different yet insightful comment about the state of officiating in sports:

Naidu: It’s not just business

Last week, shortly following Super Bowl LII, New England Patriots’ long-tenured offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels officially agreed to become the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts’ official Twitter account tweeted the news, formally announcing the hiring of one of the brightest offensive minds in the game today. The news came as a…
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