Saturday, June 22, 2019
The Ringer – "LeBron James Needs to Hold Up His End of the Bargain"
"LeBron has already put an incredible number of miles on his body. He is no. 15 in NBA history in career minutes played in the regular season (46,235) and no. 1 among active players. No. 2 is Vince Carter (45,491), and no. 3 is Pau Gasol (41,001). LeBron is in uncharted territory; Michael Jordan retired at no. 28 (41,011) on the career minutes list. He will pass Kobe Bryant for no. 7 (48,637) in his 69th game next season if he averages the same number of minutes (35.2) he did last season. And all of those minutes don’t count the playoffs, where he is no. 1 (10,049) among all players, active and retired. LeBron has made the Finals nine times and has never lost in the first round in 13 appearances. It shouldn’t be possible for him to keep up his same level of play for much longer. But it will be fascinating to watch him try.
Jordan and Kobe never got the chance to compete for a championship in their late 30s. LeBron pairing up with AD is like if Jordan had played with Tim Duncan after his final title with the Bulls, or if Dwight Howard had been healthy and in his prime when he teamed up with Kobe. The only players as old as LeBron is now who have been stars on a championship team are big men like Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. LeBron, as a perimeter player with the size of a big man, might be able to age more like those two 7-footers than MJ and Kobe. He’s as big as Karl Malone, who started on a Finals team at 40. The Lakers are hoping that LeBron and Davis will flip the dynamic between Magic and Kareem on its head. Kareem was 37 when he won a title with Magic, then 25. He won two more at 39 and 40 because Magic was 27 and 28.
The odds are against the Lakers’ new duo. It’s hard for players, even ones in their primes, to stay healthy after making deep runs in the playoffs every season. Look at how banged up the Warriors are after five straight trips to the Finals. LeBron knows that better than anyone. Wade was 29 and Bosh was 26 in their first season with LeBron. Love was 26, and Irving was 22. All four have dealt with significant injuries after so many trips in the playoffs next to him. LeBron has never formed a Big Three with anyone close to as old as he is now. He didn’t risk his prime by pairing up with an older star. Davis is risking his. Forcing his way onto the Lakers was a huge gamble for a superstar who could have picked any team. LeBron sold Davis on being his costar. Now he has to live up to his end of the bargain."
Thursday, June 20, 2019
ESPN – "Let Zion Williamson choose where he wants to play next"
"There are any number of environmental or chemical factors present in "unhappiness" -- social media is certainly one, mental health conditions that go undiagnosed and untreated are likely another. One less obvious feature present in the lives of young NBA players is that the vast majority of them are playing in cities, for bosses, with co-workers and on behalf of brands they had zero influence in choosing.
In the NBA, a first-round pick who shows promise is effectively under the control of the team that drafted him for the first seven seasons of his career. This means that in the most formative years of their professional development, the most talented young men in basketball are given no agency to decide what most of us take for granted: where we will live, work and put down roots in our adult lives."
"Proponents of the draft generally maintain that it's the only way to ensure fairness in a 30-team league in which some of those teams are far more appealing homes than others. When a prodigy like Zion Williamson declares himself eligible to play in the NBA, the fairness of allowing him a say in where he'd like to play must defer to the fairness of giving the league's failing teams an infusion of talent.
Williamson, though, might entertain ideas about what kind of coach he'd like to play for, or the kind of city he'd like to live in, or the types of teammates he'd like to share the court with. Given that Williamson is a player with uncommon force whose output will need to be managed carefully, he might not want to entrust his body to just any medical and performance staff.
In a league where the product is the talent, why do employers get to interview the potential employees, but not the other way around? As Williamson embarks on building a global brand for himself over a career whose prime will come and go in about a dozen years, he might even have certain standards about what kind of person or businessman an NBA owner should be. Why is disqualification a one-way street, whereby no team has to employ a player whose character it finds questionable, but no incoming rookie has the right to dismiss an owner he and his family might think is sketchy?"
"Imagine a system in which incoming rookies enjoyed the power to choose -- say unrestricted free agency. Critics contend that such a setup would concentrate the best young rookies on established and/or sexier franchises. But in a restrictive salary-cap system, a capped-out team doesn't have the resources to offer Williamson what he'd command in free agency. The Warriors would be every bit as hamstrung in pursuit of Williamson, Ja Morant or any other top-five pick as they are in chasing Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.
Would the Lakers be assured a top-three talent every year by virtue of being the Lakers? Who knows, but under the current system, the most recognizable brand in North American professional sports drafted the No. 2 pick three years running from 2015 through 2017, and are slated to pick fourth this season. If rookies were free agents, the Lakers would not only have to win prospects with the power of persuasion, they'd also have to pay them something close to market value."
"For those who believe that unrestricted free agency would be too punitive toward the NBA's doormat teams or less alluring markets, the league could develop a "matching system," like the National Resident Matching Program (or NRMP or "The Match"), which labor economists continue to regard as a remarkably effective model for assigning incoming talent to employers who need it.
How does it work? Every year, graduates of medical school -- the nation's future doctors -- rank the places where they'd like to be resident physicians in order of preference, while the medical institutions rank the graduates they most want to hire. An algorithm then processes the choices and issues the matches. The most talented young doctors are frequently paired with the most prestigious institutions, because there's often mutual interest.
But as Alvin Roth, who directed the redesign of the NRMP in 1995, writes in "Who Gets What -- And Why," The Match is a system in which "no applicant and residency program not matched with each other preferred each other to their assigned matches.""
Friday, June 14, 2019
Nike.com – "Nike Heads to Hawkins for Debut Stranger Things Collection"
Stranger Things 3 Trailer
Lego Stranger Things
TV Living Rooms as Ikea Ads
Adweek – "Burger King Is Creating an Upside Down Whopper for Stranger Things Season 3"
The Next Web – "Netflix is launching two Stranger Things games"
Sports Illustrated – "The King Maker: Why Rich Paul Will Own the NBA Summer"
"Turning point. The standard Rich Paul story has its cinematic hinge moment: In the spring of 2002, Paul was about to board a flight to Atlanta at Akron-Canton Airport when the 17-year-old James, traveling with friends to the Final Four, spotted him wearing a vintage Warren Moon jersey. They got to talking. Plane landed, and at baggage claim Paul directed James to his supplier, the Atlanta memorabilia store Distant Replays, and told him to drop his name. A friendship struck, a career made.
The Moon jersey is the tale’s talisman: What if Paul had opted for a Fran Tarkenton? Or no jersey at all? But just as important is what happened later that night in Atlanta. A friend gained Paul entry to Sean (Puffy) Combs’s roped-off section at Club Kaya; a member of James’s posse saw him there and figured—wrongly—that he must carry serious clout in hip-hop culture.
Days later Paul was home on his couch in Cleveland when Distant Replays called to say that Paul’s new pal was in the store, buying a 1987–88 Magic Johnson authentic jersey. And in retelling the legend yet again, Paul’s eyes widen and he hits the emphasis button. “LeBron’s buying Magic’s jersey. How crazy is that?” he says. “It all comes back full circle, right?”
But something about the fairy-tale nags. “It’s all random,” Paul says. Yes, he was only 21 then. But he’d also bought his first house at 19, persuaded Distant Replays owner Andy Hyman to tutor him on the business, and at the time was making so much—up to $10,000 on a good week—selling vintage jerseys out of his car trunk that he was scouting Cleveland malls for a spot to open his own store. Hyman estimates that he’d been approached by at least 100 others, “but Rich really did stick out.”
“He was willing to put whatever it took to be a success, and convinced me that he was worth investing my time,” Hyman says. “He doesn’t take no for an answer.”"
"Money used to be the primary marker of that power, but with the advent of the rookie wage scale in 1996 and ensuing restrictions on max salaries, the expression of clout—and of an agent’s skill—shifted.
“That changed the perspective,” Tellem says. “If the salaries are roughly similar, what can a player control? It’s no longer financial. Where he has his say, then, where he has some control, is in the choice of where he plays and with whom he plays.”"
Monday, June 10, 2019
SportsLogos.net – "Toronto Raptors"
SportsLogos.net – "Studio Stories: Naming and Designing the Original Toronto Raptors"
"The Toronto Raptors started play in the NBA in 1995, offering up a movie-inspired dinosaur name and clad in purple, red, black and white. Getting to that point, though, was primarily driven by then-owner John Bitove and his family’s love of the “Jurassic Park” movie, says Tom O’Grady, then the creative director for NBA Properties and now partner and chief creative officer of Gameplan Creative in Chicago.
“When the movie came out with the ferocity of the evil villain being 6-foot-tall raptors, that echoed in everybody’s thought process,” O’Grady says. “And there was not a professional team named after dinosaurs. We all felt like it was a cool direction to go.”
Sure, Toronto officially offered up a bevy of names on which the fans could vote. The listed included the Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas and Terriers. The Huskies, thanks to the historical use of the name in the city, had some draw too but was discarded early. The Hogs played off Toronto’s “Hogtown” nickname, and Dragons was considered, as O’Grady says, almost as a placebo.
Three nicknames started to take hold for Toronto, the Raptors, Dragons and Terriers. “The owner and his family fell in love (with Raptors),” O’Grady says. “They did focus groups for a sanity check, but deep down John Bitove wanted Raptors as the name and something had to happen to dissuade that.”"
"Then came the colour. “We were having a hard time stumbling on a colour that nobody else had,” O’Grady says. “That is hard. Then we focused on what is a colour combination that might go together that nobody has.” Initially that meant, for Toronto, purple, green, black and bronze, all with a green raptor. Then just before the final approval from Bitove, the design team received a call from the owner that some of the investors were pushing back that the logo didn’t represent Canada."
"“Without question, it was the most polarizing project I’ve worked on,” O’Grady says. “You were either all in or all out.” And with the split almost always falling with anyone over 40 years old all out and those younger all in, the team knew they were on to something, even in the highly conservative sports design market that was Toronto.
In the end, though, those who grew up with the design adored it, O’Grady says. “It was designed for them,” he says, “and they owned it.”
That initial look did sit dormant for about 15 years after the initial design gave way to tweaks, but then Mitchell & Ness recreated a Vince Carter uniform a few years ago, which O’Grady credits with restarting the interest in the nostalgia of the original design (it also has become one of the top-selling designs for the company). Toronto then brought the original design back to the court for a series of throwback nights in to celebrate their 20th season in 2015. “It was coming back from extinction with a second life,” O’Grady pans. “Now you have people asking why can’t we wear purple uniforms for at least one NBA Finals game?”"
Action Network – "Rovell: How Drake Landed Retro Dell Curry Raptors Jersey"
The Toronto Raptors Original Dinosaur
ESPN – "Who is Kawhi Leonard?"
By Tim Bontemps
"When he was working out at San Diego State in 2010, between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he got word that Ariza -- then firmly entrenched as an NBA player, and already having won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers -- would be working out on campus.
So Leonard sought out Ariza, who had come to work out with his trainer, former Aztecs guard Tony Bland, and asked to take part. Ariza agreed, and found himself immediately impressed with how Leonard handled himself.
"Man, my first impression of him was, 'This kid is here to work, period,'" Ariza told ESPN with a laugh. "No matter what."
That summer in San Diego, Ariza was putting in plenty of work. Every day, he would get in the gym twice -- once early in the morning, and then again in the evening. It was a grueling schedule, one Ariza thought would put him above and beyond anyone else.
There was only one problem: Leonard.
"I prided myself on being there first person in all the time," Ariza said. "And, when I got there, he was already there. He'd done everything he needed to do, and he was ready to work out again. ... When I saw the work ethic he had, I knew he was going to be special."
Leonard was motivated to show up early to test himself against an NBA player. And Ariza wasn't just any NBA player. He was someone Leonard respected -- but also someone who didn't overwhelm the young forward on the court.
"Trevor was big for me in college," Leonard said. "Playing against him, I just felt like I held my own at the time.
"I probably won a game. I don't remember. ... [but] I was fortunate he would let me work out with him."
Leonard might not remember, but Ariza certainly did.
"He was winning one-on-one drills that we were playing. He didn't win them all, but he wanted to," Ariza said with a laugh. "He went as hard as he could every single time. ... He has that edge to him that you need to be the caliber of player that he is.""
The King of the North Is Coming (6/1/19)
Steve Kerr and the Warriors' 5th Straight NBA Finals (5/27/19)
The Toronto Raptors' First Trip to the NBA Finals (5/27/19)
Kobe Breaking Down Kawhi Leonard Game Tape (4/25/19)
Masai Ujiri Traded for Kawhi Leonard While in Kenya With Barack Obama (7/21/18)
Kawhi Leonard's On the Road Diet (3/10/17)
Sunday, June 9, 2019
New York Times – "If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home?"
"The number of airline passengers worldwide has more than doubled since 2003, and unlike with some other pollution sources, there’s not a ton that can be done right now to make flying significantly greener — electrified jets are not coming to an airport near you anytime soon."
Seattle Times – "The ‘flight shame’ issue comes home to Rick Steves"
"The carbon cost of flying is so steep that in Europe it’s led to a new movement that the Swedes call “flygskam.” It translates as “flight shame.” The premise is: fly less, or even, don’t fly at all.
The idea has taken off enough in Europe that flygskam was the talk of an airline conference last week. Headline: “Airlines scramble to overcome polluter stigma as ‘flight shame’ movement grows.”"
Friday, June 7, 2019
Monday, June 3, 2019
Honda Website: 2019 Honda Passport – All-New Rugged Midsize SUV
Car and Driver Review: "The Passport is back—but this time, it's a far cry from the rebadged Isuzu SUV that wore this name in the 1990s—and it's quite good. This new model is larger than the CR-V and is essentially a smaller version of the three-row Honda Pilot. The Passport goes up against crossovers such as the Ford Edge, the Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Nissan Murano—and is better than all of them, too."
July 17, 2020
Written & Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson (the next Batman), Elizabeth Debicki, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh
Plot has been described as "an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage."