LaVar Ball

LaVar Ball is The Worst Thing In Basketball

LaVar Ball is one of the most disliked, if not the most disliked person in sports right now. It’s safe to say that LaVar Ball has rubbed some feathers with people over the past year.

He’s said some absurd things for sure. Like how he thinks his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry and could do more on the Warriors and contribute more than Steph does. And then came the Jordan comments.

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time (arguably), LaVar said he could beat one-on-one in his hay day. LaVar averaged 2.2 points in one year at Washington State, the same year Michael Jordan averaged 35 in the NBA and won defensive player of the year.

The comment was one thing, but the fact that LaVar Ball actually meant it and continues to stand by it, is another.

LaVar Ball

LaVar and his son Lonzo after a game last season (Photo/ Richard Mackson).

And now we have the new Lonzo Ball shoes, which are set at $495 a pair as well as flip flops, which are set at $220 a pair.

From a business standpoint LaVar Ball is extremely smart, even though he may not be making the decisions because of that reason. It seems like he’s making decisions based on the fact that he believes his sons are the greatest basketball players of all time.

But he does get people talking about his son’s and now his shoes.  If the shoes where in the $200 range people wouldn’t be talking about them as much as they are now.  So from a business standpoint LaVar Ball is pretty smart, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t obnoxious.

No player has come into the NBA with their own shoe brand, so Lonzo is the first to do that. But, the reason for that is because Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all passed on endorsement deals. Which will make Lonzo, the potential top pick in the draft, a rare exception as many top three picks get endorsement deals.

And it might very well be safe to say it’s because of his dad because LaVar did meet with all three companies to try and get a deal done. None of them bought in.

Longtime Nike executive George Raveling said LaVar Ball was “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.”

It’s true, LaVar Ball is the worst.

What makes it so sad and annoying is not the Jordan comments or the laughable price for his shoes, but how he could be affecting his son’s draft stock.

Lonzo is quiet and doesn’t say much, which is kind of strange, as his father doesn’t stop. Like father, like son doesn’t really apply here. When asked about his father all Lonzo had to say was, “No, I’m not embarrassed. I know how he’s going to act. I just go out there and play. Let him be him.”

For the most part the sports universe has no problem with Lonzo as a whole. Sure, people dislike him for different reasons but nothing like his father.

LaVar Ball

Lonzo (left) is the oldest among the three Ball brothers. LiAngelo (Right) is the second oldest and Lamelo (middle) is the youngest. (Photo/ Google Images).

The draft order has yet to be set but the Boston Celtics are the favorite to get the number one overall pick. Many have argued that Lonzo should be the number one pick, but then that would entail having to deal with his father. The Celtics, who already have all star point guard, Isaiah Thomas, will most likely have Lonzo play behind of along side Thomas.

If you draft Lonzo Ball, you get LaVar and most teams don’t want LaVar.

We’ll have to see where Lonzo lands but if he lands anywhere besides Los Angeles it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

And don’t think this is going to end anytime soon. Even if Lonzo was to get injured and never play again, which we hope doesn’t happen because he seems like a good kid and a good teammate, there are two more Ball kids. And they both already committed to UCLA, which means more LaVar.

In the grand scheme of things, there’s a reason why Michael Jordan hasn’t responded to any of LaVar’s comments.

He’s not worth Jordan’s time.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

Mascots in the LCS

As the world of esports grows, analysts, fans, and sponsors will be looking towards examples from traditional sports for inspiration. They will draw comparisons between the two to figure out where exactly esports are heading. Franchising in the LCS, for example, is one such move towards traditional sports, away from the relegation model League of Legends has become accustomed to.

A somewhat less important, yet interesting topic, is that of mascots. Do teams need mascots? Do mascots belong in the LCS? Will this be part of the scene in the near future? What would their purpose be?

Mascots in Traditional Sports

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Philadelphia Phillies mascot, Phillie Phanatic

Mascots are generally symbolic representations of the teams they tout. From the Phillie Phanatic to Benny the Bull to Big Red, most sports teams have a mascot. These mascots are a physical representation of the team’s name or logo. They are responsible for hyping up the crowd throughout a competition, during slow times, scores, or wins.

It is commonplace for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and hockey teams to have mascots. They are out in the crowd. Part of the live audience experience usually includes getting a hug from or pictures with the team mascot. They sign autographs, and they provide immense brand recognition.

Merchandising around mascots is prominent. Slapping the mascot’s picture or logo onto items makes them collectibles. For example, many NBA fans can recognize Boston Celtics merchandise if it features “Boston” in green letters, shamrocks, Lucky the Leprechaun, or some combination of the three.

Mascots in LCS

The closest example of a mascot in the LCS is Unicorns of Love’s manager, Romain Bigeard. He generally wears a unicorn costume and dyes his hair and beard bright pink to support the team as they compete. Romain is an iconic member of the Unicorns’ team and brand, instantly recognizable.

Romain Bigeard, manager of Unicorns of Love

courtesy of Riot esports

There are plenty of opportunities for other teams to create mascots. Between North America and Europe, there are Phoenixes (Phoenix1), Immortals, Foxes, Aliens (Dignitas), Horses (Team Liquid), Ninjas (G2), Rabbits, Cats (Roccat), Giants, and Snakes (Splyce). The other teams’ mascots would be less straightforward, but something like “TSM Titans,” or “Fnatic Falcons” could be a cool way to expand their brand. The mascot can also be incorporated into creating new logos, jerseys, champion skins, and collectible merchandise.

Mascots could also help solidify a team’s fanbase. Many LCS fans get attached to players, rather than the organizations they play for. And since so many players switch teams in between splits and in between seasons, organizations have a hard time keeping a consistent base. For example, Immortals probably gained some fans when they signed their most recent jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, and probably lost some fans when Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin left. Introducing a mascot onto the scene may be a small way to retain a fanbase by providing a consistent symbol to rally behind, rather than just a simple logo.

What Could Go Wrong?

Individuals who do not closely follow specific sports or teams may find mascots to be cheesy. It may seem immature to grow an attachment to some guy in a costume who peps people up at sporting events, like a Disney World character. Does esports really want to go there?

G2 esports fan with ninja logo mask

courtesy of Riot esports

Another consideration is the fact that League of Legends is a game packed with fantasy characters anyway. Would it make sense to introduce a G2 Samurai mascot onto the scene when similar characters already exist in the game? This could create some awkwardness or show that it is unnecessary for the LCS scene.

Cosplay, where fans dress in elaborate costumes of their favorite characters, is already a huge part of the competitive League of Legends experience. Bringing in mascots could be confusing or over-doing it. Cosplayers already act as League of Legends mascots, in a way.

cosplayers at EU LCS

courtesy of Riot esports

These mascots could also need to span over several esports. For example, Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, and a few others. How can they create a mascot that makes sense in all of those venues? What if the organization has competitions for different games at the same time? Traditional sports do not run into this issue. Los Angeles is home to several sports teams, but they all have different mascots.

Conclusion

Mascots may not help a team win, and introducing them to the LCS scene may present some complications. But, overall, it could be an interesting experiment. Romain and the Unicorns of Love have proven that it can be done. Other LCS teams have straightforward opportunities to bring on their respective hype men.

A mascot could greatly help organizations solidify their brands by opening up new merchandising opportunities and retaining fans that may otherwise leave the team with a traded or lost player. Possibly the greatest gain from a mascot, though, is pure fun. Imagine the broadcast cutting to a video of a fox mascot hyping up the Echo Fox fans after Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham secures a First Blood. That could be pretty cool.


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The Race for Kevin Durant

(Credit:Scott Visy)

(Credit:Scott Visy)

Free agency is right around the corner and we all know who the biggest fish is in this year’s offseason. It is Kevin Durant. The obvious question is, does he resign with Oklahoma City or does he decide to venture off into another city to chase that elusive title? If he decides to leave where will he go? He could pick any destination in the entire NBA that he wanted. Teams would do everything to make room to sign him. Could he go to Los Angeles to be apart of the Lakers glorified and rich history? Does he go to Los Angeles to start the creation of a legacy for the Clippers? Does he find he way to San Antonio to play under one of the greatest coaches ever? There are rumors he will head to the bay in Oakland to play for Golden State or to south beach to play for Miami as well.

He could go to New York to play in the greatest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, and the city dying for a great basketball team. Another likely scenario could be the nation’s capital, which happens to be Kevin Durant’s hometown team. He has shot down all of the rumors about playing for the Wizards saying he has no desire to do so, but it is hard to believe that to be true.

There are pros and cons for each destination and it may be difficult to predict where Durant goes but one thing is for sure; summer ’16 is the race for Kevin Durant.

Durant can go to two teams in Los Angeles. Many players want to play in the city of angels because of the Hollywood lifestyle and the great year-round weather. The Lakers have a long history of legendary players and countless championships. Durant could really thrive in purple and gold. The fans would love him and he could be the next great Laker. One of the cons is the pressure he would have to try and live up to following Kobe. It would be a tall task for any player to take on. Kobe has left a shadow in Los Angeles almost as big as the one Jordan left in Chicago. Another con is the young, inexperienced roster. Going to play for the Lakers would be another rebuild that may take three to four years, and Durant is not at the point of his career where he wants to patiently wait and rebuild and this could be the biggest reason he snubs the Lakers this summer.

If Los Angeles is the city he really wants to be in, he can still play there with the Clippers if the Lakers aren’t enticing enough for him. It would allow him to play for Doc Rivers and possibly with Chris Paul. A major issue is that the Clippers will always be the little brothers to the Lakers, even if they win a title and for that to change they need to win 17 titles. They will never be able to get out from under the Laker’s shadow, Los Angeles is, and will always be a Laker town.

A popular rumor on where Kevin Durant might end up is in Golden State. Playing with Steph Curry would be intriguing for anyone, but the major appeal is that Golden State is on the verge of coming off back to back championships along with breaking a record for wins in a season.  Another reason Durant may want to play in the bay is that Steve Kerr has proven to be a phenomenal coach.  One issue though, is this move would not make sense for Golden State, because to pull this off they would have to do a sign and trade which would mess up the current roster that has been very successful and is still relatively young. Why would they want to mess up the chemistry of this highly successful team? I don’t think they would nor should they. I know in my introduction I said he could pick any destination, but this is the one exception.

Miami has said that one of their biggest goals this offseason is to get a sit down with Kevin Durant. Miami has a lot to offer as a city, with the night life and amazing beaches. Pat Riley is also a legendary basketball mind. He would also get to play in the eastern conference which may allow him an easier path to the finals. With all that said, it is unlikely Durant follows in LeBron’s footsteps and takes his talents to south beach.

Along with all these places Durant can go to he can also play for New York, San Antonio and his home, in the nation’s capitol, but there is only one place for him this summer. Kevin Durant will stay in Oklahoma City. Why would he go anywhere else? He has a team with an extremely talented roster that features big men, shooters and a top five player in the NBA in Russell Westbrook. It will be hard to find a team more suited for a title than the current one he is on. He needs to fight through adversity and continue on the mission he started with the Thunder. It also makes sense financially for him to sign a two year deal with an option in the second year. The reason it is smart for Durant to take this option is because he would be able to opt out in the second year of the deal and then sign a contract worth approximately 200 million dollars.

At the end of the day it will be hard for Durant to find a franchise that is capable of giving him better pieces than the Thunder already have to win a championship. Oklahoma City also allows him the opportunity to make the most money and for these reasons, Kevin Durant will stay in Oklahoma City this summer.

Kobe’s Last Half

The NBA Break is over. After the thrilling Slam Dunk Contest and Kobe’s last All-Star Game, what could be left of the NBA season? Well, let’s see what is left.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (24) kisses his daughter before the first half of the NBA all-star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)

Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) kisses his daughter before the first half of the NBA all-star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Toronto. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)

Most importantly it is the last half of Kobe’s last season. After these 27 games, there will be no more Black Mamba. Here are some of his last notable games.

On February 19, 2016, Kobe will go to San Antonio and play the Spurs for the last time. From 1999-2010 the Lakers and the Spurs ruled the West and the NBA. Both franchises captured 11 Western Conference titles. The Lakers had seven and the Spurs had four. From 199-2010, both teams won the NBA Finals nine NBA championships. Lakers had five, including their 3-peat in 2000-2002. They Lakers also went an addition two times and lost in 2004 to the Detroit Pistons and in 2008 to the Boston Celtics. And the Spurs had four titles in that span.

Courtesy of Ronald Cortes/ Getty Images

Courtesy of Ronald Cortes/ Getty Images

On February 21, 2016, he visits the Bulls and plays Jordan’s old team. The man Kobe, like most, wanted to be like. And Pau Gasol, his former teammate, will back in the building to play Kobe. We predict Jordan will be in the building and Kobe will want to have a great night. Kobe should be well rested on one and a half days’ rest. I’m predicting the Lakers will get blown out against the Spurs and Kobe will be out early in the second half.

On March 10th, he will host the King and the Cavs in LA in his last showdown with LeBron James. Kobe usually doesn’t do great against LeBron but on that night, Kobe could put up a good 30 points. Cavs’s coach Tyronn Lue is also former teammate of Kobe. This will be the last showdown against the debatably best players after Michael Jordan.

Three days later, Kobe will play the Knicks in the Staples Center. Of course Phil Jackson, his coach will travel to LA to see Kobe play. But I could see something bigger happening on that night. I would love to see them bring some of the 3-peat team to the game and the Laker organization will honor them on that night. Kobe, Shaq, Derek Fisher, and Phil all on the court together one last time. That could be one of the more memorable moments of the season, if they could pull that off.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

On April 3rd, he will host the Boston Celtics for the last time. This Boston team might not be the same one Kobe is used to playing but it is still Boston vs. Lakers. In Kobe’s time the Lakers and the Celtics met twice in the NBA Finals and they split back to back championships.

Kobe will play his last game at home against the Utah Jazz on the 13th of April. This game will put the stamp on Kobe’s historic NBA career. All who have ever loved, hated, and respected Kobe will be there. I would not even put it past current players to fly in and watch the game if it falls on a night off for them.

Kobe will be missed by all.

When I Met Bjergsen

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

(Courtesy of dvsgaming.org)

In the summer of 2015, my sister and I traveled to Europe to visit our cousin. We stayed in Paris for a few days knowing we also wanted to explore other places in Europe. Interestingly enough, one night we had a conversation about whether we would wait in a line to get a picture with someone. We unanimously agreed, that no one came to our minds for whom we would wait in a line to ask for their autograph, or to take a picture with them. Later that summer, we decided to go to Los Angeles to visit the NA LCS studio.
I had been a follower of Bjergsen ever since he arrived in NA. I thought he was the best Western player, funny, confident and humble. Since the moment we booked those tickets to Los Angeles, I had my eyes on Bjergsen. I jokingly repeated to my sister if she was ready to meet “Senpai”, obviously referring to Bjergsen.
Weeks of anticipation finally arrived on that Saturday morning. I woke up at 8 AM, which is pretty unusual for me, but with all the excitement, I ran downstairs for breakfast. Unfortunately, the studio did not open until twelve, and those were the three longest hours of my life. My sister finally woke up and I accompanied her for breakfast. I talked all the way through and my excitement was probably felt miles away until we got to the studio at 12:30.
As a Sports fan, I have been to many sports events. I have been to the largest sports stadiums around the world, but visiting the LCS was different. I was in the place where the broadcast of a show that I had watched religiously for a few years took place. To be in a place so special to me was completely surreal.  It was the realization how far I have come along into accepting Esports. It was the convergence of a lot of people I looked up to, with the realization that they are very down to Earth.
At the end of every match the winning team would step outside and take pictures with audience members. We took pictures with all the teams that showed up, but one stood out. As we waited until the line got shorter, the members of TSM looked annoyed by the fact that they had the longest line. When the line got short enough that we did not have to stand under the Sun, I whispered to my sister, “are you ready to meet Senpai?”
There were only two groups of people before it was our turn when we realized that Santorin and Bjergsen did not have their jackets on. At that point, we jokingly proposed each other to ask them if we could put them on for the picture, which we quickly dismissed thinking it was “too much” to ask. As the last group stepped out and it was our turn, I immediately asked them if we could use their jackets, to which Bjergsen replied, “as long as you do not steal them” in his usual sarcastic tone. I tried saying a few other things, but quite honestly, words did not come out of my mouth and I do not remember what else I said. I have never been in love, but I assume that the way that minute played out with Bjergsen is pretty similar. Time stopped, words did not come out of my mouth as I made several attempts, and he seemed like the funniest person on Earth. We put the jackets on, took the picture, and in a moment, they were gone.
Going to the NA LCS taught me a few things. Never think that you have complete control over your body. The best memories we will have are ones that initiated by stepping out of our comfort zone. Finally, League of Legends is the best video-game in the world.

Kobe Bryant Ranked 93rd

(We all know Kobe Bryant is better than 93rd, right? Courtesy of, interbasket.net)

Kobe Bryant: No longer elite, but still a star

Kobe Bryant hasn’t played a lot in the past few seasons with various injuries, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a star.

Bryant was ranked 93 in ESPN’s #NBArank for players in the upcoming 2015- 2016 season and is ranked behindplayers such as Clippers’ shooting guard J.J. Redick and Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic.

#NBArank is decided by a panel of experts who are shown a pair of players and must choose who will have a better 2015-2016 season.

The panel got this one wrong.

If Bryant is sidelined again this season he would be worse than those players, but if Kobe plays he is certainly better than the 93rd best player in the league.

Bryant may not be able to dunk as well or jump as high, but he has a lot of different moves that enables him to score. His iconic fadeaway and smooth jumper will still allow him to score at least 17 points per game, which is better than Redick and Mirotic.

Most of Bryant’s critics say he never passes the ball, but he averages 4.8 assists for his career, which is better than a lot of shooting guards. He is currently 30th on the all time assists lists for the NBA and is only behind four non-point guards: Lebron James, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen and Jerry West.

While some aspects of his game will worsen with age and injury, his passing ability shouldn’t.

Age may affect his defense, but he is a twelve time all- defensive team selection and should still be at least an above average defender.

Another reason why Bryant will be better than the 93rd best player in the NBA this season? He has a lot more help than he did in limited action last season in 35 games.

The Lakers picked point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Russell will be able to penetrate and kick to Bryant or vice versa. Last season they had to start second round draft pick Jordan Clarkson at point guard, who showed flashes of being good, but was a last resort to start for the Lakers.

Power forward Julius Randle got hurt in the first game of the season last year and missed the entire season. He has looked good in the preseason thus far and has a rapport with Bryant. Bryant will be able to run pick and rolls with Randle, which will make both players look solid.

Roy Hibbert is the Lakers’ new Center. Although he has struggled offensively the last season and a half he is stilla good defensive center, who is an upgrade over former Laker center Jordan Hill. Hibbert can defend the rim and help out the Lakers on the boards.

The depth is also better for the Lakers as they have guards Lou Williams and Clarkson, rookie forward Larry Nance and  Center Robert Sacre who will get some minutes for the Lakers. These players will be able to give Bryant more rest and will help the Lakers be successful.

Bryant will not be on the All- NBA first team, but he will be a good player for the Lakers if he can remain healthy.