Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

The New Orleans Pelicans are in prime position for a quick rebuild – with or without Anthony Davis – after landing the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Recently hired Pelicans executive David Griffin is optimistic that the club can retain Davis despite his trade demand and believes New Orleans can be transformed into an attractive destination for marquee free agents.

“(Davis and I will) probably sit together in Los Angeles at some point around the draft workouts that take place there,” Griffin said Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett. ” … And we’re very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent, and with all of the people here that know Anthony and know what he’s about. We’re very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here.

“And if winning is what he is indeed all about, which we have every reason to believe, we feel confident that we can create – and are creating – the right environment for Anthony and frankly, for high-caliber players of all types to want to be a part of. This is something that we hope creates an energy that recruits itself, and Anthony would just be one step in that process.”

The Pelicans have already made strides in attempting to create a winner in Louisiana, hiring Griffin, a former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, as their vice president and adding well-respected Brooklyn Nets executive Trajan Langdon as their new GM.

With the front office secured and Alvin Gentry preparing for his fifth season as head coach, the organization is turning its attention to the draft. Rumors surfaced last week that Zion Williamson could opt to return to college for another year, but Griffin insisted this year’s top prospects are on board with the Pelicans’ project.

“I’m certain that’s a false narrative relative to the players that could potentially be the No. 1 pick,” Griffin said. “We’ve sat with multiple players that we’re looking at for that first pick. In fact, in the case of Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry and I sat with he and his parents the night of the lottery. … And Alvin and I were also together in interviewing Ja Morant in Chicago as well.

“And I think because we sat with those kids, who are both incredible human beings and all about all the right things, we know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans.”

The Pelicans have reached the playoffs only once since Gentry took over as head coach in 2016 and twice since drafting Davis first overall in 2012.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Tuesday he failed to live up to his responsibilities in 2018 as team captain.

“I lacked in leadership,” he told reporters at organized team activities, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “Because that’s my job as the leader of this team, to get us to the playoffs. I’m gonna need to focus and refocus my energy and time on, how can I be a better leader to get us back to the playoffs?”

The admission came a day after Roethlisberger publicly apologized to former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown for using the media to criticize him during the season. 

A frayed relationship between Roethlisberger and Brown led the latter to request a trade after the 2018 campaign. Roethlisberger said he tried to mend fences with Brown but wasn’t able to connect with him.

“It was hard to process it, because I never knew anything,” he said of the wideout’s exit. “Last time we spoke was on Thursday before the last game. We hugged. We had a great talk. Everything was good. I knew nothing. So, it was hard for me to know anything. Then I heard from a third party there were issues. I reached out to him many times, sent him texts, sent him calls – this is all before the season was over. Never heard back. So I could never really find out what was going on.

“For me, that’s why it was so confusing. I didn’t know where it came from. … I never really saw any of it coming. I would have loved to have had the chance to talk to him. That’s why I said yesterday, whatever I did to offend him, I apologize for it. I tried to do that in person, talk to him. He wouldn’t allow me to.”

Roethlisberger led the league in passing last year, but the mercurial Steelers went 9-6-1 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2013. Pittsburgh suffered from internal discord throughout the season, with Roethlisberger, Brown, and Le’Veon Bell all drawing attention to themselves for various reasons.

In an attempt to develop a tighter-knit locker room in 2019, Roethlisberger noted he’s making a greater effort to get to know his teammates, recently taking a group his lake house.

“You just have to focus on the guys that are here and make sure they are good,” he said. “Everyone I’ve talked to is good with me. … We’ve been attacked from all angles this year, this offseason. We just need to stick together and have each other’s backs.”

Chris Long is no longer an active member of the NFL, which gives the now-retired defensive end the freedom to speak about topics he would’ve been forced to avoid during his playing career.

The two-time Super Bowl winner did just that Wednesday on the “Dan Patrick Show,” opening up about his belief that the NFL should ease restrictions on marijuana and revealing he took the banned drug while in the league.

“We should be headed to a place where we allow players to enjoy what I would not even call a drug – it’’ far less dangerous than guzzling a fifth of alcohol and going out after a game,” Long said, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shalise Manza Young.

“Chances are the player won’t even make it to the club (laughs) to do this sort of thing that we all kind of wag our finger at when we hear about a guy getting in a fight or getting a DUI, you’re never going to read about him sitting on the couch and binge-watching ‘Game of Thrones’ again.

“I think from a standpoint of what’s safer for people and the player, certainly people in the spotlight, it is far less harmful than alcohol, it is far less harmful than tobacco, and at various points in the league’s history, they have engaged in partnerships on different levels with those respective industries.”

Long opted not to make a guess at the league-wide usage of marijuana – which some ex-players have previously put as high as 89 percent – but admitted he regularly used it to help deal with the pressures of NFL life.

“I’m not a dry snitch, I’m not going to put a percentage on how much the league smokes, but I certainly enjoyed my fair share on a regular basis throughout my career,” Long said. “So, you know, and I was never afraid to say that and I’m able to say it more explicitly now: if not for that, I’m not as capable of coping with the stressors of day-to-day NFL life. A lot of guys get a lot of pain management out of it. Toradol did more pain management for me.”

On Tuesday, the NFL and NFL Players Association announced a new initiative aimed at researching players’ pain management, which could potentially lead to a change in the league’s attitude toward marijuana.

Joe Thornton wasn’t ready to say whether he plans to continue his career in the aftermath of his club’s elimination on Tuesday night.

“No. Nope,” the veteran San Jose Sharks forward told reporters, including NHL Network’s Jon Morosi, when asked if he’s thought about his future following the Sharks’ 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

Thornton is a pending unrestricted free agent who will turn 40 on July 2, one day after free agency opens.

He contributed 51 points in 73 games during the 2018-19 regular season, adding 10 points in 19 playoff contests.

Tuesday’s loss ended Thornton’s 21st NHL season. He’s spent parts of 14 campaigns with the Sharks.

The supremely skilled playmaker has signed one-year contracts to remain with San Jose before each of the last two seasons.

Thornton ranks eighth on the NHL’s all-time assists list, and 14th among the league’s all-time points leaders.

He’s also the Sharks’ all-time assists leader, sits second in franchise history in points and games played, and ranks third on San Jose’s all-time goals list.

Despite the Oakland Raiders‘ constant support of Derek Carr, speculation the team would target a quarterback in the draft ran rampant all offseason.

The Raiders ultimately didn’t land a new passer following rumored interest in two of the class’ top prospects, Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, the latter of whom was available with the team’s top first-round pick.

Carr said Tuesday there was a “minus-47 percent chance in my mind” Oakland would take a quarterback, but admitted to finding the process draining. 

“Honestly, it got annoying after a while,” Carr said after the team’s first OTA practice, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “I’m like, ‘Really, they don’t have nothing else to talk about?’ And I didn’t help the situation, trying to challenge people to fights.” (After being criticized by ESPN First Take’s Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman in January, Carr tweeted out for the two TV analysts to meet him in the UFC’s Octagon.)

The 2014 second-round pick appeared to be on track to become one of the league’s best pivots after an MVP-caliber season in 2016. However, Carr’s performance since then has failed to meet expectations, and the arrival of head coach Jon Gruden last year did little to help cement Carr’s place as the team’s franchise player.

Oakland could potentially move on from Carr following the 2019 campaign. Although he’s contracted through 2022 after signing a $125-million extension in 2017, releasing him next offseason would incur a dead money hit of just $5 million versus a cap hit of $22.5 million, according to Spotrac.

Carr, though, is confident he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

“They pretty much said that, literally every time it came up,” Carr said. “If it came up. And we’re not just playing for this year. I’m honestly going to be here for a long time.”

By his own account, LeBron James was stunned by Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation as Los Angeles Lakers president on April 9. Now, almost two months later, it seems James was pleased with Johnson’s now-infamous TV appearance on Monday, in which he eviscerated the Lakers and GM Rob Pelinka.

A source close to LeBron told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that James thought Johnson “did well” during his appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.”

Among other things, Johnson accused Pelinka of stabbing him in the back and questioned team owner Jeanie Buss’s management skills. One figure he did not criticize was James, whom Johnson signed as a free agent last summer.

“I respect LeBron for what he just said,” Johnson said during Monday’s appearance after ESPN played a clip from James’ show “The Shop,” where LeBron wished Magic had notified him of his resignation beforehand.

“I love LeBron, I love his family … but sometimes as a man, you have to make decisions based on your well-being. And I made that decision.”

James spent Monday on the sidelines of the Lakers’ news conference in which Pelinka introduced Frank Vogel as the team’s new head coach. James didn’t speak to media, but Vogel said the two have talked, saying, “I’m looking forward to getting started with him.”

The Monday Night War was the greatest boom period in modern pro wrestling history. The war went back and forth from 1995-2001, when Vince McMahon finally purchased WCW. With the announcement of AEW airing on TNT, it has led many to think another battle is upon us.

One WWE Hall of Famer is looking forward to the ‘war’. Booker T, speaking on his “Hall of Fame” podcast with Brad Gilmore, feels that AEW can try and compete with WWE, but he doesn’t think that is a route the organization wants to go. 

“One thing about companies out there right now is they can bring it if they want to go that route,” Booker stated. “I don’t think they want to go that route. I think they want to carve their own niche and stay in their own lane and do their own thing. That would be the smart thing to do because WWE has the most talent in the world. We got everyone on the roster and it wouldn’t be that hard to flip the script and go a different route. The Ricochet’s, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kingston, those guys can really go. You sit back and say do we really want to let them loose that is the question.”

Booker T worked for WCW during the war before signing with WWE. During that time, WCW beat WWE for 83 weeks in a row in the Monday night ratings. He also worked for Impact Wrestling and competed against WWE again, a fact not lost on the two-time Hall of Famer. 

“I was a part of it when that happened with WCW, during the 83-week run and it was good. But, I’m going to tell you those horses back in WWF(E) started running and I must give to Triple H and those guys man,” Booker explained. “We would be watching it on a monitor and those guys would be blood, sweat and tears man, they were going all out. Me personally, I would love to see the war come back if that’s what we gotta do then that’s what we gotta do man.”

Many have wondered how TNT would use the wrestling product. Many have pointed to the AOL/Time-Warner merger as a reason WCW failed.

“It’s not something they are unfamiliar with, they know what they are going to get out of professional wrestling,” Booker said. “They don’t know what they are going to get out of this product, but they are willing to move in and see if this AEW can bring something new and totally fresh to the table. So many people want to see exactly what’s going on.”

For many pro wrestling fans, competition is something that has made WWE product stale. However, with AEW’s debut event coming up this Saturday and a TV deal already inked, an alternative is on the way. 

“I’ve been listening to a lot of talks saying wrestling is back. If that’s the case man, it’s going to step up everyone’s game everywhere. Everyone is going to have to start thinking in a different direction,” Booker advised. “It’s always going to be sports entertainment. But for me, at the end of the day, the payoff was always going out there and giving it to these guys right in the middle of the squared circle. Giving these guys a moment that they are going to remember for the rest of their lives. I’m talking about a moment that is frozen in time, in their minds because it was something they have never seen before in their lives. That’s what wrestling was and hopefully, that’s what wrestling always will be. Hopefully, the bar will be raised in the weeks and months to come.”

AEW detractors have said they are a long way from being real competition. Regardless, Booker T feels like WWE is ready for the competition and the battle.

“It’s not a competition or anything like that,” Booker stated. “But from a wrestling perspective I know when I was in WCW and I was watching WWF/E, I wanted to be better than those guys. I wanted to know if I could compete with those guys, I wanted to know exactly how good I was. That is where we are right now, the guys are going to have to think totally different as far as How do I make the fans come out here and cheer my name, how do I make the fans think of me as an entity. The this is awesome chant is out the window. Wrestling is back. The war is on and I’m looking forward to seeing exactly what happens with it but from the outside.”