MJ or LeBron?
The Michael Jordan versus [insert modern star here] debate began anew when the Cavs' Kendrick Perkins and J.R. Smith compared teammate LeBron James to MJ. The MJ vs. LeBron debate »Getty Images
After Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Kendrick Perkins and J.R. Smith said some flattering things about their Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James. Namely, that he could be better than Michael Jordan eventually ... or even right now.
The SportsNation crew? It has some hashtags for that:
Ah, the Michael Jordan versus [insert modern star here] debate. As much as many (most?) people might like to see it retired, or at least diminished, it's not going away anytime soon.
Case-in-point: Kendrick Perkins and J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers players fresh off watching LeBron James' gutsy performance in a Game 3 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks, brought up MJ in the context of their four-time-MVP, two-time-champion teammate.
Perkins, as told to Northeast Ohio Media Group: "The only thing that he's missing is a couple more championships, and then it's a wrap. Right now, we have arguably the best player to ever play the game. I'm just saying, man. I'm not taking anything away from Jordan, but all [James is] missing is titles. A couple of more titles, and that's it."
And Smith, as told to the same publication: "That's one hell of a debate. Honestly, in my opinion, if it's not Jordan, then it's him. It used to be no question. It was a landslide. It was Jordan. Now, you have to consider my boy."
Smith's comments are more measured; if you don't consider James one of the greatest players of all time, you're just a hater.
But Perkins? He's kind of, sort of saying LeBron is better ... if only he had Jordan's six rings.
Some might channel Jason Segel and respond that six rings is THE ONLY ARGUMENT I NEED, KENDRICK!
We prefer a more nuanced view, though nearly every unit of measurement favors MJ as No. 1.
Still, there's time left in LeBron's career, so you never know ...
Ah, the hidden-ball trick. That perfectly legal move that's used -- often to great effect -- to catch a baserunner off-guard and record an out.
On Saturday, it worked in one of the biggest moments possible.
With a 9-8 lead and one out to go to clinch a spot in the Colorado Class 2A state final, Rye High School pitcher Luis "Junior" Ortiz caught a Hotchkiss baserunner with the following:
For Hotchkiss: Ouch. What a way to go out of a hard-fought game that included a rain delay and even a venue change (according to CHSAAnow.com, the new stadium was better equipped to handle precipitation).
For Rye, though, it kept the Thunderbolts unbeaten and gave them a shot at their second state championship in five seasons; they had gone out in this round in the past three season. As for the final, they won a wild 12-10 game over defending champion Resurrection Christian later that day. Rye finished 25-0.
Quotes, via CHSAA Now:
"We weren't real sure if [the hidden-ball trick] was going to work. We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It's a tough play to do, and the guys executed it real well." --Rye coach Stacey Graham
"It was executed on their end. I couldn't yell loud enough [to our runner to go back]. I couldn't quite get my message relayed to the baserunner. You never want a game to end like that, but sometimes that's the way it goes." --Hotchkiss coach Blake Carlquist
Like soccer, "Mad Men" has often been criticized for being too slow and too often pushed on non-converts by overeager hipsters. Both may be overly dramatic at times with unfathomable storylines.
But a good soccer team is a fine-tuned machine consisting of different skill sets and personalities, melded together to form the "beautiful game." And well, that's exactly what Matthew Weiner's multiple-Emmy-winning show did well, too.
So some of us are having a hard time saying goodbye to not only one of the best shows ever, but also to end of the club soccer season (at least for a few months). To help us get through it, we lined up our favorite characters from the world of Sterling Cooper into a soccer lineup. Seemed only right.
Striker: Roger Sterling. Petulant. Overpaid. You can't take your eyes off of him. He's the perfect target man at the top of the squad sheet. Think Mario Balotelli. As Sterling said, "Nobody knows what I'm doing. It's good for mystique."
Striker: Pete Campbell. The wunderkind who's been groomed for this position his whole life and has unmistaken talent, but no one really likes to work with him. "Why can't I get anything good all at once?"
Attacking MF: Don Draper. The man in the middle of it all who stirs the drink -- oftentimes literally if it was an old fashioned. He may demand too much of the credit too often, but with the price tag a player like this commands, "that's what the money is for."
Winger: Peggy Olson. With the Samsonite and Burger Chef accounts, she's proved that her chemistry with Draper in tight spots is unmatched. She may parlay that connection into a big payday for her next contract.
Winger: Sally Draper. A youngster who's had a lot of responsibility hoisted on her before she was ready. But she's the golden child that has superstar written all over her. Doesn't choke easily. Her career will be an adventure.
Defensive MF: Lane Pryce. A good defensive midfielder knows his/her role, doing the dirty work to let the more high-profile teammates shine. And Pryce, an unassuming "hard man" who isn't afraid to take down a snot-nosed youngster, fits the bill.
Fullback: Ken Cosgrove. Hard-working, versatile professional who doesn't need this job, but thirsts for that next paycheck. Atlantic Monthly loved publishing his greatest hits. Struggles in road games at Detroit.
Defender: Bert Cooper. If the old adage that you win championships with defense is true, it's because Bert payrolled it. Rock-solid and dependable, he's been known to play full games without cleats.
Defender: Betty Francis. Like some of the best defenders of all time, Birdie can speak Italian.
Fullback: Joan Harris. Did thankless work on both ends of the field/office.
Goalie: Stan Rizzo. Tim Howard. Gianluigi Buffon. David de Gea. Beards look tough in goal.
Rapper Lil B might not be a household name at the level of Jay Z or Kanye West, but the Bay Area-born man also known as The Based God carries much power in NBA circles.
Which is why the following tweet and subsequent comment to TMZ are big deals.
Go warriors @warriors and let James harden no he doing the Lil B cooking dance if he doing that flickin wrist or whipping he mark - Lil B— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 21, 2015
And, to TMZ: "If Harden doesn't tell what he is doing, which is the Lil B cooking dance, he will be cursed. He needs to stop stealing Lil B swag without showing love."
Lil B of course is referring to this dance from James Harden, which caught on late in the Houston Rockets' season, as well as the rapper's dance from his song "I Cook" (whose NSFW video we can't embed here):
But why is this a big deal? Because Lil B's curses work.
Just ask Kevin Durant.
Years ago the Oklahoma City Thunder star tweeted the following:
I tried to listen to Lil B and my mind wouldn't let me do it....can't believe this guy is relevant— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) January 29, 2011
Lil B was not pleased.
KEVIN DURANT WILL NEVER WIN THE TITLE AFTER HE SAID "LIL B" IS A WACK RAPPER, "THE BASEDGODS CURSE" #THEBASEDGODSCURSE ON DURANT - Lil B— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 26, 2011
So far? One MVP, sure, but no titles, only one NBA Finals trip, and this season an injury that helped keep the Thunder almost incomprehensibly out of the playoffs.
Note: There's a LOT more to this story, including a diss track, a temporary lifting of the curse, a return of the curse, a proposed truce, taking credit for the injury, and much more. Grantland broke it down last year -- warning, much NSFW language -- and Lil B commented on the injury this season.
Now, TMZ says Lil B is giving Harden until after Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors before the curse comes into effect ... although the consequences likely would have to be greater than losing to the Warriors, which is a probable outcome even without a curse.
(But that doesn't mean Lil B is wrong! Please don't curse us, Based God!)
UPDATE: It appears Lil B did not wait until Game 3 to make his presence felt.
Toward the end of Game 2, Harden had the chance to win, but mishandled the play.
People that steal from Lil B will pay now or later all you have to do is pay respect to the original and the leader blind ones will - Lil B— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 22, 2015
Lil B clarified that this is just a warning, but ... point taken.
UPDATE PART II: And apparently it's a point well-taken by at least one NBA franchise. The Atlanta Hawks, one of four teams left standing in the playoffs, aren't taking any chances.
On Friday afternoon, their social media team pleaded mercy to the Based God:
@ATLHawks I got love for the Hawks and Jeff Teague is a beast!! Hawks deserve great things and the city of Atlanta!!! - Lil B— Lil B From The Pack (@LILBTHEBASEDGOD) May 22, 2015