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Golub: The price of imparity

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.

Tan: The NBA’s pre-agency problem

The 2018-19 NBA season, as has been the case since the beginning of the Golden State Warriors’ tyrannical reign over basketball, has been overall lackluster and uninteresting as the Warriors begin to round into form after supercharging their roster with a Demarcus Cousins sized battery to add a little Boogie to their splash. Once again, the regular season feels less like a compelling slate of matchups gradually revealing the quality of each team and more like a preamble to the inevitable desecration of the league by Golden State’s Voltron of a roster.

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.

Golub: Trump’s antics bring power to athletes

A hallmark of the Trump presidency is its fear-based approach to governing.  Dangerous Muslim terrorists; corrupt, colluding fake news media; caravans of violent migrants coming to eat our children and curse our livestock, or something — evidently, Trump has no qualms with fomenting fear to advance his agenda.  (To debate another time: does he have an agenda?) As harmful as this Trump presidency may be, his strategy leans upon tried and true methods of political manipulation. One such example: McCarthyism.

Golub: The wasp and the cockroach

Despite a LeBron-less path to the top of the Eastern Conference, the Charlotte Hornets continue to buzz unnoticed.  They sit firmly in the playoff race at 5-5, having lost a few close games and having stomped some unworthy opponents.  Cardi B’s favorite baller, Kemba Walker, has picked up where he left off last season. He currently averages a cool 28.0 points per game on 46% shooting, to go with nearly six assists per game.  However, for all his accomplishments, Kemba has never gotten his due. Part of the reason might be his inability to beat the best. Heading into this season, Kemba’s team faced LeBron’s team twenty-two times.  Twenty-two times, Kemba lost. Why? Kemba has the chip on his shoulder and flashy handles of a Hornet, but LeBron, poised and composed, is more like a wasp.