Posts Tagged ‘Comparisons’

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

The new-look Houston Rockets have yet to take the floor together as a collective unit, yet James Harden is ready to board the hype train by comparing his current roster to perhaps the best one he’s ever been a part of.

Harden has just one NBA Finals appearance on his resume. It came back in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who fell in five games to the Heatles of South Beach. So are this year’s Rockets as good as that Thunder squad?

“Both teams are similar as far as talent and versatility, a mixture of vets and young guys. Both are very, very, very talented,” Harden told Vice Sports’ Michael Pina. “Now, obviously, the difference is we were younger back then, but both are good.”

Harden was in his third season in the Association when Oklahoma City advanced to the Finals, and hadn’t blossomed into the full-fledged megastar he is today. He was, however, honored as the Sixth Man of the Year for his contributions during the 66-game campaign, averaging 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists coming off the bench.

Equipped with a young Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, as well as established veterans Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins, and Nazr Mohammed, the Thunder had the pieces in place to be a mainstay in the Finals picture. Harden, though, was shipped off to Houston that summer after failing to agree to a contract extension.

Bringing in Chris Paul to run the point single-handedly reshaped the Rockets. Not only does it pair Harden with another All-Star in the backcourt, but it also took a bite out of a core that had just increased its season win total from 41 victories to 55, with Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell going to the Los Angeles Clippers.

CP3 is indisputably the best player Harden’s had on his team since his days in OKC, which helps explain why he’s so optimistic about the Rockets’ chances moving forward, and why he’s willing to make such comparisons. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson, and big man Nene are at least still around, while Houston added depth at the wing positions by signing both P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Ultimately, the ’12 Thunder will have the edge until Harden’s Rockets compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy themselves.

 NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Boston Celtics

When a beloved, high-profile NBA talent elects to take his talents elsewhere in free agency, they’re mostly met with a barrage of negativity from their former fan base and media for a business decision they had every right to make.

But when management moves a player who had every intention to stay around for the long haul, there’s not nearly as much outrage, if any.

All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas feels as such about his move to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thomas said he hopes his trade from the Boston Celtics will open up eyes about the double standard, while using Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors as a prime example to support the other side.

“I actually think this was a good lesson,” Thomas wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “Not only for me, but for the league as a whole. And for the fans and the media, too, you know, just in terms of how they talk about guys changing teams.

“I was thinking about that last year with KD and his free agency – about how people gave him such a hard time for doing what he felt was best for him and his future. How they turned him into a villain, just for doing what was his right to do as a free agent in this league. Suddenly, it was, ‘Oh, he’s selfish,’ or, ‘Oh, he’s a coward.’ Suddenly, just for doing business on his end, and doing right by himself, he was portrayed as this bad guy.”

Thomas added that the pain of being shipped off by the Celtics still lingers to this day, and that loyalty is really “just a word” if players who displayed his level of commitment can be sent packing.

“I want them to see how my getting traded – just like that, without any warning – by the franchise that I scratched and clawed for, and bled for, and put my everything on the line for? That’s why people need to fix their perspective,” Thomas wrote.

“It’s like, man – with a few exceptions, unless we’re free agents, 99 times out of 100, it’s the owners with the power. So when players are getting moved left and right, and having their lives changed without any say-so, and it’s no big deal … but then the handful of times it flips, and the player has control … then it’s some scandal? Just being honest, but – to me, that says a lot about where we are as a league, and even as a society. And it says a lot about how far we still have to go.”

Nonetheless, Thomas says there’s “no hard feelings” with Boston, although he’s still hopeful the basketball world will look at what happened to him and perhaps think twice the next time it wants to pile on a departing free agent.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are preparing for anything when it comes to their Week 1 opponent.

Scheduled to play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Bucs know they have a challenge on their hands in the form of Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler.

“He’s a strong-armed, quick-release guy, stand in the pocket. He’s been a little streaky in his career and when he’s hot, he’s red-hot. We’ve seen him light teams up,” Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said to the media Monday.

Then Koetter invoked the name of one of the game’s greats when speaking about Cutler.

“This week, he’s Joe Namath to us. He’s the greatest quarterback because he’s the one we’re playing this week,” he said.

Cutler is known to have the same approach to fitness Namath once had. In fact, upon signing with the Dolphins this offseason, Cutler said – that as a quarterback – he doesn’t have to be in “that great of cardiovascular shape.”


Wrestling fans concerned about WWE’s association with US President Donald Trump have been protesting outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre ahead of SummerSlam weekend, according to Gothamist.

The company will host its second-biggest show of the year from the New York borough on Sunday night, 24 hours after the annual NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn show.

And whilst it has been making local headlines for Triple H’s cameo appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show, a group of NY residents have organised a rally after a controversial week for the White House.

The President provoked strong criticism from sections of the press when he was said to have hinted at similarities between Neo-Nazis and counter-protesters following scenes of violence in Charlottesville last weekend.

Noting that WWE has effectively cut its ties with Hulk Hogan after a tape of its former poster-boy using a racial epithet emerged two years ago, the protesters have suggested that Trump should accordingly be removed from the Hall of Fame.

John Stevens, among those leading the calls, told Gothamist: “What Trump has done is remarkably worse than what Hogan did, since he’s dividing the country by siding with neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”

He went on to suggest that, by having Trump remain a part of its Hall of Fame, WWE is – in effect – endorsing his brand of politics.

Another fan, Stephen Miller, is quoted as saying: If they choose to leave him in the HOF I will question whether or not I’ll continue to watch their product.”


Kyrie Irving is done playing second fiddle.

The four-time All-Star reportedly asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him, and one of the major reasons cited is he doesn’t want to play with LeBron James anymore.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin, and Brian Windhorst elaborated on the nature of James and Irving’s relationship, indicating James’ tendency to dominate the ball left the 25-year-old point guard feeling underutilized and yearning for more touches, even though he led the team in shot attempts and usage rate last season.

The issues aren’t limited to the hardwood, either, as Irving is believed to be jealous of the special treatment James receives from the organization. For instance, some of the four-time MVP’s associates are permitted to work for and travel with the team, while Irving’s close friends cannot.

The dynamic scoring guard – who averaged a career-high 25.2 points in 2016-17 – wants to be the No. 1 option on a squad like Damian Lillard and John Wall are for the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards, respectively. That was his expectation when he inked a five-year extension in 2014, but James announced he was re-joining his hometown club just a few days later.

ESPN’s sources also indicated the two Cavaliers stars had several lengthy and intense discussions last postseason before they were ousted by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The All-Star duo planned to hash things out at the conclusion of the campaign, but they didn’t.

So, following a third consecutive Finals appearance, Irving told Cavs owner Dan Gilbert he wants out, and listed the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Minnesota Timberwolves as his preferred trade destinations.

Any team hoping to snatch him up should be prepared to give him the reins to the franchise.


How excited is Rob Pelinka about the potential of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 2017 draft class that he saw in summer league?

“It’s kind of like if you go on YouTube and you think about Taylor Swift when she was 16 years old (playing) her first song,” the general manager explained on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Thursday. “It’s her guitar, it’s her in a little studio, and you watch it and you listen to it and you say, ‘Wow, this is going to be a special thing to follow and a really cool narrative to unfold.'”

Pelinka sees some of that early T-Swift magic in this year’s No. 2 pick, Lonzo Ball, as well as No. 27 pick Kyle Kuzma and No. 30 pick Josh Hart. If the Lakers’ young core, including previous blue-chip prospects Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, can combine for as many All-Star appearances as Grammys Swift’s won since breaking onto the scene a decade ago – 10 – Pelinka will be a happy man.

“I think it’s going to be a really cool phenomenon to watch unfold, much like the trajectory of a young artist that develops,” Pelinka said.


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott continues to draw high praise after putting the league on notice during his standout rookie season.

Prescott, who earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after being thrust into the starter’s role, drew comparisons to one of the all-time greats by none other than Hall of Fame linebacker Charles Haley.

“You know what? Dak reminds me of Joe (Montana),” Haley said to Newy Scruggs of NBC 5. “He’s funny. He’s charismatic. They had something to prove. They had a chip on their shoulder. That meant the more I’m around him, he has so much confidence …

“He came from nothing, like me. So guess what? What can you do? How can you hurt someone that came from nothing, that had to pull himself up from the bootstraps and walk out on the stage wearing that star on his head and go? What can you say? What can you do?”

Haley – who won five Super Bowls during his career with the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers – played with Montana from 1986-91 and is as good as an authority there is on the legendary quarterback.

There’s still a long way to go in Prescott’s career, but perhaps he’ll join Haley and Montana in Canton if he continues to develop like he did during his rookie campaign.