Witten

Jason Witten to retire

Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten announced his planned retirement on Friday. Reports suggest he is leaving the football field to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast booth.

During his 15 year NFL career, the 36-year-old Witten solidified himself as one of the best tight ends in the history of the game. As a reliable pass-catching option, and an above-average blocker, the lifelong Cowboy was a two-way weapon that Dallas will surely miss in 2018-2019.

Career and future

Witten is only the second tight end in NFL history to record more than 1,000 catches. He owns the second most receiving yards and receptions for a tight end in league history, while also coming in at fourth in the all-time receptions list for players at any position.

Witten ends his career at 1,152 receptions and 12,448 total yards, both Cowboys records. His other Dallas records include most receptions in a game (18) and most consecutive games played (239).

He will be taking Jon Gruden’s spot on Monday Night Football, as Gruden left to coach the Oakland Raiders. This is no small task, as Gruden was known for his notoriously in-depth commentary and breakdown of routes and coverages.

Witten

Jason Witten will join ESPN’s Monday Night Football after announcing his retirement on Friday. (Photo by Khampha Bouaphanh/TNS)

As Witten’s old teammate, Tony Romo, has proven, though, sometimes going straight from the field to the booth can result in great color commentary. Romo, through his first season as a broadcaster, has made a name for himself predicting plays before they happen. Probably due to the fact that he knows today’s game and players better than most, having played against them recently. Witten could continue this trend, as his football IQ is sky high.

The 11-time Pro Bowler is destined for Canton, and will certainly go down as an all-time Cowboys great. The leadership will be sorely missed, as Dallas’ core is getting younger and younger. Retiring without a Super Bowl appearance, this may not be the last time we see Witten on an NFL sideline, however.

Featured image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Dallas Fuel

Dallas Fuel: Another player uses homophobic remarks

Another Dallas Fuel member has been caught using a homophobic slur/comment on his personal stream. ESPN has outed Taimou, or Timo Kettunen, for using such language on his Twitch stream. Reportedly, this comment comes from a player-submitted support ticket to Blizzard. This report was submitted on January 23rd, yet this is the first hearing of it for many. The Dallas Fuel were unaware of the ticket and incident until being alerted by ESPN and their coverage.

Overwatch League Code of Conduct

Dallas Fuel

Source: Blizzard Entertainment and Overwatch League

Félix Lengyel, xQc, missed all of stage one after making a homophobic comment towards fellow Overwatch League player Muma, Austin Wilmot. At the time of his ban, Overwatch and the Overwatch League had yet to reveal a code of conduct for the players. However, both the Fuel and League understood that such behavior could not be tolerated. As of February 21st, Overwatch and the Overwatch League have set standards for conduct and rules of competition.  The rules for conduct are as follows:

  • Observe the highest standards of personal integrity and good sportsmanship
  • Compete to the best of their skill and ability at all times
  • Comply with all applicable laws at all times
  • They will not engage in any activity or practice which brings him or her into public disrepute or scandal
  • Not engage in any form of harassment or discrimination
  • Not place bets on any games, matches, or tournaments involving Overwatch
  • They will not make any false, defamatory, libelous, or slanderous remarks, comments, or statements
  • Not use or attempt to use any bugs or exploits in Overwatch

With a code firmly in place now, what will happen to Taimou? Blizzard Support’s response to the report ticket doesn’t seem to really claim much. Their response was, “Due to privacy/security concerns, we will not be able to discuss specifics like how we investigate these or what actions we will be taking from here. Rest assured, however, this has not been ignored.” For being reported over a month ago, it sure seems like it has been.

Other OWL Players that received Discipline

Blizzard has suspended xQc before. He was suspended for a week in December, following a breakdown during streaming in which he decided to throw games. Blizzard also suspended his account for three days in November after he misused the reporting system. Three suspensions in three months for xQc. He is not alone however. Blizzard’s biggest suspension hit Su-min Kim, Sado, of the Philadelphia Fusion. In an attempt to raise more money for his family, Sado was boosting other accounts for money. Handing out a 30 game suspension, Sado will miss the majority of the first season. Shanghai Dragon’s players Chao Fang, Undead and Junjie Liu, Xushu, were fined by their team, Shanghai Dragons, for sharing an account. This violates Overwatch and Blizzard rules, and the league determined the fine was punishment enough.

Looking at the bans and fines given to players, there becomes a real discrepancy between the Fuel players and the others. The others have violated a rule in place to prevent unfair advantages of other players. Taimou and xQc have crossed a line where their comments constitute harassment towards other players.

The Fuel Perspective

Dallas Fuel

Source: Overwatch and Dallas Fuel

Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail has issued comments about team conduct before. He spoke before xQc’s stage one ban, stating, “Things that we don’t tolerate are pretty standard in the workplace. You can’t go around saying racist slurs, harassing people, getting physical- whatever. It’s a code of conduct of civility and humanity.” The Dallas Fuel received praise for their handling of xQc’s comments towards Muma. Blizzard enacted a four game ban, along with a $2,000 fine on xQc for his comments. The Fuel were not content with that, and extended his suspension for the remained of stage one. They clearly wanted to send a message to both xQc and the league that this behavior should not be tolerated. A strong message, one that apparently did not reach teammate Taimou.

Is there a streaming problem for the fuel?

Dallas Fuel

Source: Robert Paul and Blizzard

Two different members of the Dallas Fuel have now used offensive language, more specifically a homophobic slur, while streaming. The Fuel have some of the biggest streamers in Overwatch, with Seagull, xQx, Effect and Taimou; all prominent members of the streaming community. Their personalities are what have attracted a lot of fans to the team, but now they seem to be making the team look bad. Streaming is a hard business, you face constant scrutiny and trolls from viewers, and often act out. Some of this acting is what draws in bigger viewers.

However, now that these players are professional on a big stage, they must conduct themselves as such. Whether they’re playing at Blizzard Arena or from the comfort of their home, everything they say matters. Sure they didn’t ask to role models, but by becoming professionals, they are. Players in every sport must conduct themselves to a professional degree, in public, in private, and most importantly on camera. The Fuel and Overwatch League have yet to issue a statement regarding Taimou’s actions. Did Blizzard deal with xQc so swiftly because he directed his comments toward another OWL player? Blizzard and Overwatch must respond to Taimou’s words against an unprofessional player much in the same way, or they will send a message that so long as their not a professional player it doesn’t matter. It all matters.

 

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rivalry

Ranking today’s best NBA rivalries

Rivalry, whether friendly or not, is integral to every sport. Duke vs. UNC. Packers vs. Bears. Frazier vs. Ali.

The 2010s have brought on a new era of NBA basketball. And with a new NBA come new rivalries.

Essentially gone are the days of low-post elbow throwing and using the three-pointer as a last ditch effort. Assists and 30-foot shots are the order of the day for the best teams in the league. Feeding the post is an afterthought.

“Hero Ball” hasn’t completely disappeared, though. We see people like James Harden and Anthony Davis come up with 50-point performances seemingly at will. But as we saw with Allen Iverson during his time with the 76ers and LeBron James during his first finals run with the Cavaliers, that kind of play can’t hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

So in the spirit of recognizing that we are living in a new era, here are the NBA’s most prominent rivalries as they stand today.

5. Joel Embiid’s Twitter account vs. Everyone

It’s no doubt that every era of NBA basketball has had its fair share of huge personalities. With the advent of social media, fans are treated to the intricacies of player personalities in a way they’ve never been.

Joel Embiid embodies this in a way few other pro athletes could ever hope to. The 23-year-old uses his social media presence to hit on celebrities, grow his personal brand and, of course, get under other players’ skin.

rivalry

Joel Embiid hyping up the crowd during a game. (Photo by Steven M. Falk/Philly.com)

He has tweeted asking Ben Simmons to dunk on Lonzo Ball so hard that his dad (LaVar Ball) will run on the court to save him. During the preseason, he started beef with Hassan Whiteside, saying that they had to take him off the floor so he wouldn’t foul out trying to guard him. After a win against the Timberwolves, he effectively destroyed Karl-Anthony Towns in the comment section of his Instagram post.

Embiid has a backlog of tweets asking Rihanna out on dates. He manufactured a fake retweet of President Donald Trump voting for himself to be included on the All-Star roster. TJ McConnell, his own teammate, said he’ll never play PlayStation with Embiid again, due to his trash talk. McConnell said it was so brutal that he wanted to throw his controller.

No one is safe from Embiid’s crosshairs in this rivalry. Not even his own teammates.

And these are just some highlights of Embiid’s young, but already prolific, trolling career. If practice does indeed make perfect, then Joel Embiid may end up being the best NBA trash-talker of all time.

4. Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

Daryl Morey, GM of the Rockets, has made no bones about what their goal for the 2017-2018 NBA season is. He said on a December 21st appearance on ESPN’s The Ryen Russillo Show that the team was, “basically obsessed with [the question] ‘How do we beat the Warriors?'”

The Warriors knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. That, alone, is enough to give birth to a rivalry. But an explicit statement by one of the most powerful people in the organization that his team’s main goal is to beat one specific team is a thrown gauntlet.

Seeing as Houston won the season series against Golden State 2-1, the plan is coming into fruition. Of course, it doesn’t mean much until the teams meet in the playoffs. But by adding Chris Paul, the Rockets have a fantastic offense that looks built to hang with the vaunted Golden State attack. James Harden seems to be on a mission, as he’s running away with the MVP race. The role-players on the team fit the system perfectly, and the addition of a veteran like Joe Johnson bring an air of confidence to their play.

It’s safe to say that, whatever happens in the playoffs, this rivalry is here to stay. Win or lose, the Rockets will still have the Warriors in their sights while trying to dominate the Western Conference.

3. Zaza Pachulia vs. Everyone’s ankles

It may seem silly to count this as a rivalry, but with the evidence mounting, it has to be discussed.

On May 14, 2017 during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Pachulia fell on Kawhi Leonard, causing him to aggravate an existing ankle injury. Leonard would miss the rest of the series as the Warriors swept the Spurs in four games.

rivalry

Kawhi Leonard lies down in pain directly after the infamous Pachulia closeout. (Photo by Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

During February 24th’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors center executed another questionable fall on top of Russell Westbrook. He claimed his leg was hooked by Nick Young, but it seemed as if the fall was aimed as he landed on the reigning MVP’s legs.

Stephen Curry, Zaza’s own teammate, had to leave Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks after accidentally stepping on Pachulia’s foot, causing him to injure his ankle.

Now, that last one obviously wasn’t intentional. Who in their right mind would want to hurt their own teammate? Especially considering Curry is one of the three best players in the league. It seems to fit the narrative that Pachulia puts forth, of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But true accidents aside, one cannot deny that Zaza has a reputation of being one of the dirtiest players in the league.

Reputation and the “Pachulia Rule”

Zaza used his back to slam Nikola Mirotic to the ground during a playoff game during his time with the Bucks. He tried to trip Udonis Haslem while playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Pachulia even got into a heated exchange with his current teammate, David West, after some questionable elbow movement while he was a Maverick. And those are just some of the transgressions in which he’s been implicated during his 14-year NBA career.

It’s hard for someone to truly deem every one of these actions “dirty.” Most of us have never played a minute in the NBA. So how could we speak to his intentions during every questionable play?

For fans of the sport, the old adage of “I know it when I see it,” applies here. Since every conceivable angle of every play is covered, it is easy to make a judgement call from the couch. But watching them over and over, and in slow motion, solidifies whatever opinion one may have already formed. But, again, with this mountain of evidence, it’s a no-brainer to think his intentions are questionable at best.

The NBA has even instituted a rule, dubbed the “Zaza Pachulia Rule,” which allows referees to call a flagrant foul if a closeout during a jump shot is deemed too extreme. This was due to the aforementioned Kawhi Leonard controversy. The Westbrook fall, however, did not fall under that purview. The NBA deemed the fall legitimate, and no action was taken.

This didn’t stop people like Kyrie Irving from calling the play “unacceptable.” His teammates stood behind him, but it seems as if most NBA players and fans agreed that it was unnecessary. And thus, a rivalry between a mediocre center and the rest of the league rages on.

2. Players vs. Officials

The relationship between NBA players and officials has never been as contentious as it is this season. Players are constantly berating the officiating, regardless of whatever fines may incur. Officials are exasperated with the constant barrage of claims that they aren’t doing their job well enough.

Technical fouls have experienced a massive spike during the 2017-2018 season. Draymond Green leads the league with 14, while other hard-nosed players like Dwight Howard and Russell Westbrook aren’t far behind. A surprising stat, however, is that Kevin Durant currently sits at third-most in the NBA with 12 technicals. He’s certainly a competitive, fiery player, but he’s not known for behavior worthy of a technical.

rivalry

Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors butts foreheads with a referee on his way to an ejection. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Associated Press)

Over the All-Star weekend, there was a summit between NBA referees and players, intended to patch relations between the two parties. Although there is no official transcript of the meeting, it is said that frustrations by both sides were vented.

The “Respect the Game” rules instituted by the NBA about eight years ago were mentioned heavily. In-game communication was also a focal point, as some officials felt as if explaining certain decisions would only make things rougher on them. Fans will never know everything that was discussed, or how heated the exchanges were, but as the season goes on, we will see how effective the meeting was.

Seeing as how players and officiating are the two most important parts of the game, how this rivalry shakes out will have an impact on the sport at every turn.

1. Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

How about a good, old-fashioned team rivalry for the number one spot?

Of course this is the best rivalry in the NBA. These two teams have met in the last three NBA Finals, which is a record. We all know this history behind this historic three year stretch. It’s not news to anyone except the completely uninitiated.

With Cleveland’s struggles and midseason roster shake-up, it seems as if the Eastern Conference might be up for grabs again. While, in the West, the Rockets have their aim firmly on halting the dynasty.

rivalry

Cleveland and Golden State in a heated mid-game exchange (Photo by Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

If these two teams meet again in the 2018 NBA Finals, it will be because they both earned it. Not because they coasted through the playoffs like they have the previous three years. That will automatically make it more exciting than last year’s finals. The Cavaliers might have a chance to even up the finals series, which would completely alter how we view this juggernaut Warriors team in the future.

Cleveland cannot seem to get it together against the Warriors in the regular season. In their eight tries since 2015, they have only pulled out one win against Golden State. But that seems irrelevant viewed through the prism of another potential finals matchup.

The Warriors have something to prove, too. Signing Kevin Durant was, and still is, seen as the rich getting richer. Winning two titles in a row, and three of the last four, will hush (but not silence) these sentiments.

NBA pundits spend so much time talking about Cleveland and Golden State because they are the league right now. No matter what fans think, it quite literally cannot be covered enough, because, until further notice, they are the reigning conference champions.

This is the most exciting rivalry in sports right now. And now, with new layers and new challenges, things can only get more exciting from here.

Featured image by Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

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MLB pace of play

MLB makes strides to shorten game time

Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball made strides towards bringing down game time this week. Some of the rules put in place include only six mound visits a game, shortening time between innings, timing pitching changes and monitoring instant replays more closely.

Trouble finding common ground

MLB pace of play

Tensions between the the players and MLB are largely thanks to Scott Boras and the free agent market. (Photo from Bleacher Report)

What is interesting about the current process is that Manfred is open to pretty much anything. Since taking the position of commissioner, Manfred has made it known that pace of play will be a big focus during his tenure. The problem for him is that he is getting pushback from the players association.
In 2016, the MLB told players to keep one foot in the batters box at all times. This would limit the time used up by players taking their time in between pitches. At first, the players went along with it and honored the new rule.
However, in 2017, they were more reluctant to playing along with the new rules. We did not see players honor the one foot in the batters box rule nearly as much.
Manfred has expressed interest in reaching common ground on the matter. The goal at the moment is for them to get the average game time down to 2 hours and 55 minutes in 2018. The league hopes that the measures they are taking will get the job done.
The reason why the league is focusing so much on pace of play is because they want to bring in a younger audience. The average teenager or young adult does not want to sit down and watch baseball for over three hours on television. Speeding up play is the best way to re-engage a younger fan base.
Manfred has become open to hearing what the players have to say. Rather than going to extreme lengths and changing the game, he is open to all sorts of ideas. The thought is that the league and players work together in order to solve a problem that faces baseball as a whole. The only problem is that tensions between the two are the highest since the strike in the mid-90s.

Will a pitch clock be implemented?

MLB pace of play

The pitch clock has already been tested at the minor league level (Photo from MiLB.com)

For the time being, no. However, that does not mean that it is still not on the forefront of their minds. A pitch clock seems like the best way to shorten games, but the players are giving this idea a lot of push back.

A solid argument against the pitch clock, mentioned by Jayson Stark of ESPN, is that players are already pitching under the 20 second mark that would be on a pitch clock. Out of 155 starting pitchers that threw over 750 pitches, only three averaged more than 20.9 seconds per pitch with no one on base. Those three were Sonny Gray, Matt Garza and Yu Darvish.

The issue with this is that it does not factor in runners on base or relievers, which would be an interesting stat to look at. The later parts of the games tend to take longer due to the heightened circumstances. Either way, this does not completely discredit the argument for a pitch clock to shorten game time.

What else can be done?

The fact that the MLB is shortening time between innings means that they are very serious about fixing this problem. They are sacrificing a fair share of revenue if they are cutting down the amount of air time sponsors get between innings.

Some other measures that baseball can take are limiting the amount of pitching changes, cutting down mound visits even more or potentially putting on a runner at second to start out every inning in extras.

These solutions are all one that could potentially change the game fundamentally. The problem is that the game may have to change in those sort of ways in order to make this work. It would be ideal if game time was closer to two hours and 45 minutes within the next ten years. Whether or not it is will be up to how the players react to it though.

 

Featured image from CBS Sports

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Deliver us from Manziel Mania

The gauge of greatness is measured in time. For the league’s most heralded superstars, their careers have been evaluated, scrutinized, criticized and praised, all in accordance of time. Some superstars find solace in individual recognition while others define their legacy along with the team’s they coveted. That success comes in waves or spurts. Some might see success fairly early in the career, cashing in on a team’s expectations on the individual. Other might be left to stay on the sideline in their anticipation for one day to sitting on that illustrious throne (ex: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady).

But for all players that set foot into the NFL, the vast majority don’t achieve much. Some don’t ever find their rightful place to call home. Even when all arrows lead up, some players can’t just get pass the hump. For those, we wonder what if and how. For example, the spotlight of our discussion, Johnny Manziel.

Johnny Football

Johnny Manziel was one of the most electrifying college football  players in history. With a strong arm, vision, ability to move around the pocket and scrambling prowess, Manziel was a legitimate threat to defenses. What critics frowned upon either being too small to play in the league or downright reckless, his fans praised his ability to be instinctive and play with heart. Despite being only a three star recruit out of high school, with performances against heavily loaded Southeastern athletic conference bill, Manziel was able to reach heights unlike before.

Getty Images

In his first year starting as a redshirt freshman, Manziel went on to break many records in the SEC and for NCAA. He became the first freshman to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season. After an amazing year, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy, the youngest in history.

After completing his third year at Texas A&M, Manziel would forgo his last two years as a college athlete and pursue a career in the NFL. But the critics came on hard about whether drafting Manziel was wise. As the success came in heaps, so did the pressure to stay on the up-up. During his stay at Texas A&M, Manziel  was center stage for a number of controversies. From suspect tweets wanting to leave College Station to Manziel being suspended for allegedly receiving payments for signing autographs. Even when before Manziel became starting quarterback at Texas A&M, the redshirt freshman at the time was arrested and charged with three misdemeanors. After pleading guilty with failure to produce identification, the other charges were dropped and Manziel was named the starting quarterback for the Aggies.

An Inevitable Downfall

(AP Photo)

Despite his size and the nature of his game on and off the field, the… Cleveland Browns selected Manziel in the first round as the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, for Manziel, the trouble didn’t stop. Honestly, it got worse. Even though Manziel proved that he was able to see playing time on the professional level, his off field antics kept him off the field. After a season that showed promise for the young quarterback, it unfortunately led to an early ending for Manziel after suffering a concussion and he would not return for the 2015 season. The day before the Browns’ final game, Manziel was seen in a Las Vegas casino. The next day, as mandatory for all concussed players, Manziel failed to appear in front of the team medic.

Ugly, Ugly, and more Ugly

Not too long after, Manziel saw a string of problems going forward. In 2016, LRMR, a marketing agency that represented Manziel, reported that they would no longer work with him. Later that year, after only two months representing him, Manziel’s new agent removed Manziel from his itinerary of represented clients. Manziel stayed in the negative light due to an ongoing investigation by the Dallas Police Department. The investigation included a claim of domestic violence against Manziel’s former girlfriend. According to the victim, Manziel had forced her in a car, pulled her hair and threatened to kill her and himself. Manziel eventually accepted a plea deal that included counseling and monitoring by the state for a year or face prosecution.

From then, Manziel spent the next year at the bottom of bottles alleging an alcohol addiction. Manziel was also on record for abusing drugs, however, which drugs were never specified. In the beginning of the 2016 season, Manziel was suspended by the league for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. Soon after, the Browns released Manziel. In addition to the death of his playing career, Manziel’s supporters had concern of his well being.

His father, Paul Manziel, told ESPN, “”He’s a druggie. It’s not a secret that he’s a druggie. Hopefully, he doesn’t die before he comes to his senses. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. I’m doing my job, and I’m going to move on. If I have to bury him, I’ll bury him.” After a year of counseling Manziel found out that he was suffering from bipolar disorder and is now medicated.

A Bright Future

Johnny Manziel sat with reporters from ABC News discussing his new outlook on life. He talked about getting engaged, following his recovery and embracing his roots. All which see that point to a comeback. First and foremost, this article is not an advocation for Manziel’s defense. A lot can point to his downfall from his upbringing or his destination in Cleveland. Manziel came from a wealthy background, received more recognition than players that had worked harder and (or) were better, played in the NFL and threw his life away because of his sense of entitlement.

With that being said, the boy can play, which means a lot in this day and age of football. The Browns were looking for a player when Manziel needed a sense of mentorship. A franchise that is arguably the worst in NFL history didn’t have enough leaders for a kid like Manziel. From what he was in the past and his tenure with the Browns and how we see it today, no one can be surprised at the outcome.

(AP Photo | DAVE MARTIN)

What’s Important?

At the age of 25, despite not playing football for about two years, Manziel is more than able to make a comeback in this league. For the ones that see it as impossible, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Manziel had been offered with a chance to play in the Canadian Football League and for Manziel, that is a good enough platform to show his skills and the progress he made as a person during his hiatus.

Manziel is a good player that allowed his personality and behavior off the field inveigle who he was on the football field. Some might believe that that attitude gave him that star studded ability. That is for us to see going forward. The prospect of Manziel joint the NFL one day are pretty high depending on his performance in the Canadian Football League. Fortunately, Manziel is in no rush. At 25, a start in a career would be he usual for an NFL quarterback. Manziel has already seen the good, the bad, and the ugly and seems to be looking towards the right path.

Like always, only time will tell whether Manziel would be ever to step up to the plate. Fortunately, the pressure is as high at it can get for him. To being able to take care of himself and live an honest life should be enough as his top priority. Football should definitely come second unless it is paramount for his recovery. What people will say, fans and doubters, shouldn’t matter as his destiny lies in only one person’s hands. For Manziel, well, he has a lot of time, none for mistakes but much to prove his rightful spot in this league or at least his place in our universe.

 

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Mbah a Moute

The Fresh Prince of Cameroon

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the stalwart defensive combo forward for the Houston Rockets, is a prince. Let me repeat that: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a PRINCE. Now LeBron may call himself the King, but he isn’t a prince. I watched the Rockets play the Cavaliers on ESPN on Saturday, February 3rd, and ESPN displayed a graphic that stated that Mbah a Moute is a Prince in his home country of Cameroon. I was shocked, as I feel like this is something that should be discussed more in length as it’s not everyday that you find out an NBA player is also a prince. It is time to put some respect on Prince Mbah a Moute’s name.

Mbah a Moute was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1986. Although he was raised and lives in Yaoundé, he has a really close relationship with the town of Bia Messe. This is the town where his father, Camille Moute a Bidias, is the chieftain and where Luc is a Prince. His father is also a government official who is the General Manager of the National Employment Fund of Cameroon. Being a prince isn’t all that what you might expect, Mbah a Moute says.

Mbah a Moute

The family of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute cheers him on at a UCLA game in 2007 (Wally Skalij/Getty Images)

“I don’t really have any power, I just go to different meetings and traditional events, I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to make any decisions. That’s all my Dad.”

Mbah a Moute per ESPN

He grew up playing soccer, and didn’t touch a basketball until he was twelve years old. He taught himself how to shoot and dribble by playing at a street hoop on a lamp post. After playing for a little over two years, he made the Cameroon national youth team at 15 years old.

After being discovered while playing for the inaugural NBA Basketball Without Borders camp in Africa, he was able to get noticed enough that he got a scholarship to go play at Montverde High School in Florida. He then received a scholarship to go play at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. There, he played with fellow successful NBA players Russell Westbrook, Aaron Afflalo, Jordan Farmer, Kevin Love and Darren Collison. He accomplished the rare feat of starting in three straight Final Four’s in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

When he came over to America, he knew only a few words of English and still had a very raw offensive game. This didn’t stop him from excelling on the defensive end, usually guarding the other teams best player while at UCLA. He also led the Bruins in rebounding his freshman year. The Bruin fans loved his energy and passion, and even dedicated a fan section to him by calling themselves the “Cameroon Crazies”. This is a knockoff of the Duke Blue Devils fan section and dedicated to his home country of Cameroon.

He was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the seventh pick of the second Round of the 2008 Draft. As a second round pick, he wasn’t expected to contribute much, if play at all. He quickly became a fan favorite in Milwaukee for his defensive effort and his rebounding ability. After sending his first 5 years with the Bucks as a great wing defender, he bounced around in the 2013-2014 season playing for the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves, not getting much playing time with either team. He signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2014-2015 season. Even though they were one of the worst teams in the NBA, he had a career year scoring the ball averaging 9.9 points per game while also gathering 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He then spent two years with the Los Angles Clippers. This is when he finally developed into a serviceable three point shooter, shooting 37.3 percent from three over those 2 seasons.

This past off-season, Mbah a Moute signed with the Houston Rockets, where he has continued his development into a 3 and D player. He has hit a career high 1.1 threes a game and has made them at a 36.5 percent clip. He has helped Houston turn into one of the better defensive teams in basketball with a 106.9 defensive rating, while also having the best offensive teams in the league with a 115.6 offensive rating. The Rockets are currently 2nd in the Western Conference behind the Golden State Warriors.

Mbah a Moute at a Basketball Without Borders Camp practice (CNN)

Mbah a Moute has career averages of 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.9 steals per game on 45.3 percent from the field and 33 percent from downtown.

Mbah a Moute is the 2nd player ever to play in the NBA from Cameroon. The first was 7-0 center named Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje. He played only 44 games over three years for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2001-2004 before fizzling out the league. In his work with the Basketball Without Borders program, he helped discover Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center and social media icon Joel Embiid and Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam, both of whom are also from Cameroon.

Mbah a Moute has one of the most interesting backstories in the NBA, and no matter how it turns out, he still is a Prince. Not many people in the world can say that.

 

Featured photo by: Getty Images

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Locodoco

Golden Guardians Fire Locodoco After Innapropriate Comment

On Friday, the Golden Guardians fired their Head Coach, Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-Seop after only two weeks of play. Following on from this, ESPN has reported today that his early termination came about after he made an inappropriate remark directed at a female member of Riot’s Esports staff.

According to ESPN’s report, Locodoco took part in an interview with Riot that was to be broadcast during an NA LCS live stream. Before the interview, he made a comment off camera which, both Riot and The Golden Guardians deemed unacceptable. This was in violation of The Golden Guardians parent company, The Golden State Warriors, strict zero-tolerance policy. The Warriors went onto fire Locodoco on Friday.

In his stead, the Guardians have promoted assistant coach Tyler Perron to Interim head coach. They are now actively looking for a replacement head coach. When found, Perron will return to his original position as assistant coach.

Golden Guardians are currently sitting at the bottom of the NA LCS standings at 0-5. They are the only team that has yet to win a game. The question now is will a change of coach help the Guardians position, or will they continue on their downward spiral.

CREDITS

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Heroes of the Dorm is back

Blizzard announced Monday that Heroes of the Dorm, the aptly named college Heroes of the Storm Championship was coming back in partnership with Tespa in 2018. It will be available to every college in the country and they will be broadcasting matches weekly thanks to a new partnership with Raycom Sports on twitch and mlg.

It has been announced that there will be more than $500,000 of scholarships available and other prizes according to Blizzard’s official release. There will be regional play that leads into a 64-team bracket, which sounds similar to March Madness. These 64 teams will be seeded based on their regional records.

Blizzard has been making many esports moves in the last few years. With so much attention going over to Overwatch league, which is heading into its third week. This announcement for Heroes of the Dorm may come as a surprise to some. Blizzard and Tespa agreed to work together as Tespa already had a good foundation for college esports.

Heroes of the Storm has always been lurking on the fringes with viewership numbers putting them somewhere around 12th on Twitch.tv according to sullygnome.com.

In the past, Blizzard has seen promise for Heroes of the Dorm as it was on ESPN and it was actually controversial. People may remember the Colin Cowherd rant against esports when this was happening.

Some believe this was one of the last straws that broke the camel’s back for Cowherd as he left ESPN just a few weeks later.

Since then, Heroes of the Storm has taken a back seat to Overwatch and Hearthstone in viewers and seemingly overall until this announcement. It will be interesting to see if Blizzard leads the charge or if Tespa takes control. With college esports on the rise it is also possible that the viewership numbers go up. Also with the huge amount of scholarship money being offered one can imagine that the playerbase will also increase.

For anyone looking to sign up can at www.heroesofthedorm.com

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Jaromir Jagr

Is it time for Jaromir Jagr to hang up the skates?

The man is a legend. As the oldest current player in the NHL at 45 years old, Jaromir Jagr has had a phenomenal, record-breaking career.

The man’s name is painting the record books. He is top-five in the categories of regular season goals, OT goals, game-winning goals and games played.

He is classified right alongside the most elite like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who aren’t bad company to keep.

THE LAST TWO SEASONS

Jaromir Jagr

Jagr during his time with the Florida Panthers.
(Photo from News At Speed)

Jagr’s 2015-16 season was an incredibly impressive one. It would be an impressive one for any player in the NHL, let alone someone his age. With 27 goals and 39 assists, Jagr was a force to be reckoned with. As the Florida Panthers’ scoring leader, they were forced to re-sign Jagr even with his age in question.

The next season saw a slight decline in production for Jagr, going down to 16 goals and 30 assists. By no means are those embarrassing figures, but perhaps the Panthers saw this as the beginning of the end for Jagr.

Postseason Jagr found himself in free agency with limited interest from teams, and no offer from the Panthers.

CURRENT SEASON

On Oct. 4, 2017, Jagr signed a one-year deal with his first ever Canadian NHL team, the Calgary Flames.

The young Flames really seemed like they could use the guidance of a seasoned NHL veteran like Jagr. Sure they have Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan, but they don’t quite fit in with the company Jagr keeps.

It’s safe to say that Flames fans and players were excited to see a legend come to Calgary.

“He’s one of the best to ever play the game. We’re getting a legend,” Michael Frolik said, according to ESPN.

Coach Glen Gulutzan said that Jagr’s hockey IQ was through the roof and would bring a lot to the team.

He even had a fan club based in Alberta called “The Traveling Jagrs.” Considering that they started the fan club before Jagr came to Calgary, they were pretty excited about the signing. (Video from Sportsnet)

Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived. Jagr’s numbers have plummeted during his time with the Flames. He’s been hindered by injuries likely due to age, which have caused him to miss many games this season.

With only one goal and six assists this season, it seems as though Jagr’s hopes of playing in the NHL until he is 50 are being quickly stripped away.

The Flames have now gone into talks about working on an exit strategy for Jagr. It is unsure at this time whether or not Jagr is in agreement with the Flames, but only time will tell.

IS IT HIS TIME

As a hockey fan and lover of all great legends, I would really hate to see Jagr go. Just purely because it is going to be so sad to see an end of an era.

As a reasonable human being and former athlete myself, I say it is time. To play any sport until nearly 50 years old takes a major toll on the body. To play hockey specifically until that age is a feat of immortals. Well, almost.

Jagr had two pretty stellar years before this one, so it is likely no one will even remember this season should he choose to end it here.

I would hate for him to go out like Chris Chelios and just battle a little too long to stay in the big leagues. Granted, nothing will take away Jagr’s accomplishments, not even one or two bad seasons.

The NHL will surely miss his presence as will the young Flames, at least from the hockey knowledge perspective. But I don’t think that Jagr has much time left in the NHL, if any at all.

 

Featured image from SB Nation

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Tokido’s masterful play at Evo 2017: Advanced Street Fighter V

Victor “Punk” Woodly entered into the grand finals at Evo 2017 unscathed. Fourteen contests all resulted in Punk victories, leading into his date with destiny. The six straight wins in top eight seemingly signified the passing of the guard to a younger generation of American born players. But, to the behest of the American crowd, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi had different plans.

Evo 2017 tokido

Tokido. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo

Early on, Tokido meeting up with the conceded best player almost felt inevitable. Punk was busy disposing of players in winner’s bracket, while Tokido was cruising through the loser’s bracket and gaining momentum. Both players stood out among the rest of the top eight. Their level of play just looked significantly higher than the rest.

It’s important to realize the fact that Tokido and Punk played not only earlier in the bracket, but earlier in the week in training sessions at Justin Wong’s house. Reports from Wong and other members of the fighting game community say Tokido not only took it to Punk, but beat him 10-0.

However, Punk got the best of Tokido in winners quarterfinals with a quick 2-0. At the time, the win didn’t feel any more significant than any of Punk’s prior victories, but it seemed to light a fire under Tokido. And fighting under the scrutiny of elimination made Tokido turn on the Murderface.

Tokido’s Top 8 Run

As a result, Tokido, who’s known as one of the five gods of street fighter, upped his game. Despite a close 3-2 win over Ryan “FChamp” Ramirez in a tough matchup for Akuma, his punish and neutral game were clearly coming together. Tokido usually has stretches of brilliance but it’s not often that we see it all come together like at Evo.

A combination of good enough defense leading into heavy 40% combos made it tough on every opponent. Yes, Itazan Zangief took Tokido to a last game, last round scenario, but that’s the Akuma and Zangief matchup. As James Chen pointed out over commentary, every round in that set was either distinctly in one player or the others favor. It never got to a last hit situation.

Soon after getting through Itazan’s terrifying Zangief, Tokido was just gleaming with confidence. The hint of a smile on Murderface’s grin suggested that Evo had been decided and now everyone needed to sit back and enjoy the show. Ryoto “Kazunoko” Inoue gave it his best effort in loser’s finals, but fate had seemingly already been decided.

Tokido was the last player Punk wanted to face

It’s true that Punk, however confident and talented he may be, definitely wanted to avoid Tokido. Even if it’s just practice, getting constantly blown up by a player can leave a lasting impression. It’s almost a little brother complex. And the 32-year old who had failed at obtaining his ultimate goal of winning the Main Street Fighter game at Evo had to teach the young man a lesson.

Evo 2017 tokido

Punk. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo

In addition, Punk was attending his first Evo ever. Tokido has been playing Street Fighter while Punk was still in kindergarten. So, when Punk finessed his way into grand finals, Punk had to be aware of potentially having to face a red-hot and experienced Tokido.

The result? 6-1 in favor of Tokido, and it never really felt that close. In a year of Punk sweeping through everyone, Tokido made him look completely lost. And as the set continued, Tokido grew stronger and brought out more deadly Akuma setups. Keep in mind, Punk didn’t drop a game until Grand Finals. That’s how badly Tokido was in his head.

Nevertheless, Tokido earned the champion title by playing truly beautiful Street Fighter V. I don’t think I’m alone in the idea that what we saw from Tokido on Championship Sunday was the game being pushed to an even higher level. Punk and Tokido are carving their own path. And it looks and feels like they’re standing alone at the top of the mountain.


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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/Evo