Which players have played on the most teams in each sport?

Adjusting to the environment around you is key to success in any sport. Even with NBA rosters having the smallest maximum roster size of the big four North American leagues with 15 players, there are personnel changes all the time. Imagine having to deal with that in new cities with new teammates and coaches…

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Predicting the future NCAA landscape

As we approach an era where USC kicking off at 9 a.m. Pacific time in freezing November East Lansing temperatures is a very realistic and potentially biennial situation, let’s look at the options for college athletics going forward.

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Kevin Durant wants a new team to front run for

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Hmmm, was the amount of research KD did simply looking at last year’s regular-season standings?

But, we know that Durant has pulled this act before. The first time he was open for wooing, he ended up on the greatest team of all-time, the 73-win Warriors that did that without him. He got a lot of plaudits and confirmation as a true NBA legend and a crunch-time hero for winning games in the Finals that the Dubs would have won without him. So too is his other big accomplishment, a Gold Medal in Tokyo, a bauble that Team USA likely would have found anyway.

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Durant tried to create his own power in Brooklyn, it didn’t work, and now he’s going back to the old playbook of just finding one already constructed. He wants the baby without the labor pains, which we all do in some way. Both the Suns and Heat would probably be stripped pretty heavily to acquire Durant, but that’s not his concern at the moment. And if they are, we’ll do all this again in two years.

And to be fair, Durant tried the hero thing the past couple springs. He couldn’t beat the Bucks alone in 2021, though he came awfully close. He couldn’t come anywhere close to beating the Celtics on his own this past spring. And perhaps that’s enough for him. This new road is awfully easier.

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But hey, as Homer Simpson told us, “If something is hard to do it’s not worth doing.” Durant tried to make the Nets something truly memorable, even noticeable, for the first time in their history. It didn’t work. So now he’s going back to what he knows, running the last lap of the race. Nice gig if you can get it.

Don’t mourn the NCAA being cut out

The main takeaway from USC and UCLA bolting for the Big 10 in two years, other than this:

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…is that this is just another big leap down the road to college football doing away with the NCAA. We’re getting to a point where the Big 10 and SEC will swallow up just about everything, and then they can just ask, “Why don’t we just have our two champions play one another and that’ll be the national champion?”

All the NCAA does now is just hold events and plan parties, and negotiate contracts for those, so why can’t these two conferences do it for themselves? Make them both 24 teams, and let them negotiate their own deals. It’s what the NCAA deserves. 

Slow your roll on the $9.5M in NIL money

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Ruiz and the Gator Collective have both solidly denied that they had any contact with Caspino regarding Rashada or with Rashada himself about these $9.5 million and $11 million deals that are floating around the rumor mill, despite Caspino’s statements to On3 declaring otherwise, and a tweet declaring that the collective was lying. The Gator Collective and a Florida employee actually asserted that Caspino had repeatedly reached out to them, but that they had refused to engage with him, a statement made more interesting by Caspino’s public trashing of the collective following Rashada’s commitment announcement.

So this leaves us with a lot more questions than answers. Is Caspino just lying about the numbers and the deals, making shit up as he goes along as a form of self-promotion and name recognition for his athletes? Or is he breaking explicit NIL guidelines by brokering deals prior to commitment during athletes’ recruiting periods? He’s either lying or violating the NCAA rules — neither of which look so hot for him right now, as his only defense at the moment appears to be accusing everyone else in the situation of lying, which would then mean that he was, in fact, breaking NIL guidelines. Admitting to stretching the truth might be a better move here for Caspino, whether or not he spoke with boosters and collectives during Rashada’s recruiting period, to protect himself, the athlete, and his relationships with other schools going forward, but that doesn’t look like the move he’s going with. 

Sports world selectively reacts to the overturning Roe v. Wade

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Two of the earliest statements from pro sports teams were from the NWSL, with New York City-area Gotham FC and the Kansas City Current chiming in.

“NY/NJ Gotham FC vehemently objects to any rollback of Roe v. Wade and believes reproductive rights are human rights,” the franchise said in an online statement. “Abortion must not only remain legal, it must be made affordable and accessible nationwide.”

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The WNBA’s players’ union also posted a statement condemning the actions of The Supreme Court:

“This decision shows a branch of government that is so out of touch with the country and any sense of human dignity. This is why we say voting rights are critically important and must be protected. We must recognize that when we cast a ballot it is to elect officials and to connect the dots to policies and legislation that align with our values.”

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The WNBPA statement continues:

“Are we in a democracy where guns have more rights than women? This ruling provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities and could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone.”

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Not everyone in the sports world was upset by the decision. Former professional wrestler Kane, whose real name is Glenn Jacobs and is the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, tweeted his support for the strike down.

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As of this posting, no men’s professional sports league had released a statement about the strike down of Roe v. Wade.

The NCAA has a pattern of banning states from hosting championship events after corrupt laws are enacted. North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill and South Carolina’s stance on the confederate flag both saw hosting rights taken away. Similar action is needed from the NCAA to ban states that criminalize abortion, such as Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma, after Friday’s decision.

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That would mean the NCAA softball championships moving away from Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, the NCAA Division I cross country championships finding a new campus and not holding their event in Stillwater, Oklahoma this November, as well as the Division II and FCS football championships departing the Dallas area. 

Girls’ high school sports: The most impactful legacy of Title IX

The generation of women who lived through Title IX’s passage and implementation have witnessed both the promise and its shortcomings. The student athletes who competed at the high school level and earned scholarships that would otherwise have been non-existent used that as a catapult to careers in sports outside its playing fields.

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Melissa Isaacson, who previously covered the Jordan-Pippen era Chicago Bulls in her decades-long sports reporting career, was also one of the early beneficiaries of Title IX — Isaacson started high school in 1975, against the backdrop of its advent. By her senior year, she was a member of Illinois’ third women’s state championship team.

“It’s no coincidence that the stats say that over 80 percent of the C-Suite executive women played team sports. Those stats tell us that it did make a difference. I know for me that it made a difference. It was being given all the tools that little boys have been given for so long that teach them to be successful adults. And then you’re taught to be leaders or you’re a really good follower or team member,” Isaacson told Deadspin.

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Isaacson added. “All these life skills that help you become successful men and we did not get that as little girls, my generation, until junior high and high school and then all of a sudden we were like ‘oh, that’s what they were talking about.’ And it was so great. It gave us confidence to think that someone like me could walk into an NFL locker room, walk into an NBA locker room to enter a profession that’s dominated by men. The idea that anything was possible at that time, that feeling absolutely sent us charging into our futures.”

 Despite the advancements for women that Title IX has shepherded, Isaacson considers the 50th anniversary to be a milestone on the choppy road to gender parity. It also disheartened her over how many more gender issues she expected to be resolved are still bubbling up today.

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“It’s important to use the occasion to look at how far we have not come and how far we have to go,” Isaacson told Deadspin from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, where she is now a lecturer.

“There are women who fought in the trenches during Title IX times like [former Iowa women’s athletics director] Dr. Christine Grant, she was very heartbroken that all these years later we were still talking about these issues.”

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For instance, compliance violations are ignored regularly.

“We don’t have Title IX police running around. It’s one of the few laws where there are people violating it, but can just promise to do better and we are OK,” Isaacson said.

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The passage of Title IX was the genesis of a bevy of collegiate women’s athlete careers. It also spawned a litany of women’s professional leagues that are still in their nascent phases. The NWSL, WNBA and Premier Hockey Federation all feed from a talent pool that Title IX produced. Women’s soccer, basketball and softball have grown immensely thanks to the resources afforded to women’s athletic programs. However, even America’s most accomplished female athletes are shortchanged in other ways that Title IX doesn’t have the range to address.

“If you would have said to us as 17, 18 year-olds, ‘hey, in 40 years, there will be 100s of thousands of men, women and children packing stadiums across the United States rooting for a women’s soccer team’ what would you say?” Isaacson asked rhetorically. “We would have been like, well of course. Are you kidding? When we’re almost 60? And I’m gonna be coach of the Bulls, and my friend Connie’s gonna be GM and Shirley’s gonna own the team. And then if you would have said to us, yes, but in 30, 45 years, all those 100s of thousands of fans are gonna be chanting ‘equal pay, equal pay,’ then what would you say?

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We would have been devastated.”

In 2019, Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw sounded exasperated, telling ThinkProgress, “People are hiring too many men.”

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In 2022, it’s remarkable that a woman has never been head coach at a Division I hoops program and there isn’t even a single active assistant coach on the bench for a Division I program. Yet, more than half of all women’s teams are coached by men. The AIAW, which governed women’s college sports before the passage of Title IX, was put out to pasture when the NCAA began offering women’s national championships.

Title IX gave women a chance, but sports’ patriarchal culture and its institutions have resisted the entire way leaving women, and predominantly minority women, pushing a boulder up a hill. There are no easy solutions. Title IX was merely a tool for women to hack away at the power structure. The resistance is fading at a quickening pace, but there’s still a long way to go.

The next 50 years of Title IX will focus on the female trans athlete

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Caster Semenya & Intersex Athletes Clip | HBO

Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen how much of an impact sports can have on society, as Title IX played a huge role in that. And as we enter the next 50 years, how sports addresses trans-athletes will also have an impact on society. But, what does that say about us that in a moment in which we’re celebrating what legislation did for girls and women, that another group of trans girls and trans women are feeling left out just like it was 1972 all over again?

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There has to be a way to be fair without being discriminatory. And maybe that means we need to change our language so that we start saying “let the best person win” when it comes to sports. Because if not, in 2072 there will be groups of girls and women who’ll still be screaming “Let us play!”

Steph Curry is the black swan

In becoming a black swan, Curry propelled himself into top-10 all-time player discussions. If you glance at any respectable rankings of the top 10 players in NBA history, you could argue each player or ones on the fringe were always destined to be in that conversation. Jordan was being called God in disguise by Larry Bird at the end of his second season.

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Kobe Bryant was a pioneer in the preps-to-pros pipeline. But he was also a Jordan facsimile from whom greatness was expected. Magic, Bird, Kareem, LeBron, Shaq, Wilt, Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Bill Russell were selected first in their respective drafts. The Hall of Fame was a given and leading respective franchises to NBA titles was the bare minimum of their career to-do lists. Oscar Robertson ended his collegiate career as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer and has a Player of the Year trophy named in his honor.

Steph was a mid-major phenom, who fell in the draft because he was too small to play shooting guard and teams were unsure how he would fare transitioning to point guard. His first four years

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were marred by ankle injuries.

At 6-foot-3, Curry is the smallest player in the aforementioned group of greats. If you divide NBA 75 legends into divisions by size, Curry occupies a tier of his own within the ‘6-foot-4 & under’ class. Relative to his size, there’s a wider gap between Curry’s accomplishments and those of Jerry West, Isaiah Thomas, or Allen Iverson than there is between LeBron and MJ or Shaq, Olajuwon, Wilt, or Tim Duncan in the heavyweight division.

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In the ensuing decades, we might witness an undersized superstar guard come along to take advantage of modern spacing and shatter Steph’s 3-point records. And there will be other scoring champs smaller than Curry, but he’s the first below-the-rim guard to be the anchor of a bonafide dynasty.

After Durant left for Brooklyn, the Warriors were counted out again. Their acquisition of Andrew Wiggins was divisive. Bob Myers picking James Wiseman over LaMelo Ball was viewed as a blunder that would sink the Warriors’ trajectory. The league was beginning to catch up to their offense and Curry was in his age-34 season. We should have seen this coming, A lack of imagination once again led too many to count the 3-time champions out.

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The Big 3 of Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson were graciously fading into obscurity during their early to mid-30s. Expectations for Klay Thompson 2.0 were modest after he suffered an ACL tear and Achilles rupture in consecutive years. Before this season, Draymond Green was frequently mentioned as one of the NBA’s most overpaid aging assets. Iggy was traded to Memphis.

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Even all the way up to Game 4 of the 2022 Finals, Golden State retained its black swan status. At the beginning of the 2022 postseason, Curry was slumping like we’d never seen him before. Two months later, he averaged 31.2 points, five assists, 5.8 rebounds, shot 44.2 percent from distance and earned his first Finals MVP. Prior to Game 1, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model gave Golden State a 17 percent chance of beating Boston despite their home court advantage. After four games, those odds doubled to 29 percent. FiveThirtyEight’s Basketball Power Index algorithm blew the Finals worse than they did the 2016 election. Steve Kerr even called their championship, the unlikeliest title of the nine he’s won as a player or coach.

The first title was the launching pad. Charles Barkley’s 2015 proclamation that “jump shooting teams don’t win championships” is emblematic of the popular Warriors sentiment of yesteryear.

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The energy has shifted again.

The first title was the launching pad for Curry’s legacy. His fourth title is a monument to his achievements and probably means more than any title they’ve won. He might be the first black swan to ever surprise so many people twice. Curry’s shooting changed the paradigm for better or for worse. He’s duplicated often, but never replicated. Golden State is back to being touted the favorite for the 2023 title. A fifth ring would make Curry’s case as a top-10 all-time player indisputable.