True Basketball Crime: Justice for Gary Payton II

Green laced a pass ahead to Payton, who had slipped into a crevice between Memphis’ transition defense. A split second later, Payton was sprawled on the hardwood, clutching his left arm in agony. Payton’s injury would later be diagnosed as a fractured left elbow delivering a blow to Golden State’s rotation. His playoffs may be over. Now Warriors fans, who’ve harbored Draymond Green for nearly a decade, are adamant that Dillon Brooks should face justice for his crimes against basketball.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was especially animated about Brooks’ mid-air foul of Payton.

“I don’t know if it was intentional but it was dirty,” Kerr said. “There’s a code that players follow. You never put a guy’s season or career in jeopardy by taking someone out in mid-air and clubbing him across the head and ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow.”

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Disclaimer: The individuals mentioned in this piece cannot and will not be charged in a court of law. Our only jurisdiction is the NBA Disciplinary Process. Although, we do reserve the right to drag both parties in front of the Slam Dunk Contest judges for a sham trial.

Ultimately, the NBA will be the final arbiter of justice here. The league will soon decide Brooks’ intent and if his action was worthy of more punitive justice or if his ejection from Game 2 sufficed. A second suspension would essentially be a 2-game suspension, given that he only played three minutes in Game 1.

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Is Dillon Brooks a revenge-seeking head-hunter who saw an opportunity to knock the snot out of a player who made Morant’s life harder? Or was this a crime of fast-break passion, executed on the fly with adrenaline pumping? Short of an admission of guilt from Brooks, all NBA P.I.’s can do is watch the replay over and over again in super-slow-mo(the most common description for Brooks understudy, Kyle Anderson’s style of play), fill in the puzzle pieces and search for clues a grand basketball jury could indict on.

However, it’s essential to know the backstory and how the loss of Payton will affect this series. Like Will Smith being exhausted by Chris Rock’s Jada Pinkett Smith jokes long before the Oscars, tensions were already high. Green spent the past 48 hours explaining his assault on Brandon Clarke via any medium he could find, including TNT’s Inside the NBA, which felt like Hannibal Lecter discussing the texture of flesh over a nice Chianti.

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Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have been trying to send a message to these Warriors for at least three years now. Last May, the Grizz ended Golden State’s season in the play-in game. Their real obsession is with Andre Iguodala, a Grizzlies persona non grata for never playing a game for Memphis, has helped fuel their ascension. Conveniently enough, they may have his full attention now. With Payton out of action for the foreseeable future, Golden State will be relying more heavily on Iguodala if he is cleared to return for Game 3.

During the Warriors’ demolition summer of 2019, Iguodala was traded to Golden State with the understanding that he’d be bought out or traded to a contender. Dillon Brooks in particular, took offense to Iguodala’s refusal to share wisdom with theirs young roster, singling him out every chance he got. Even after Iguodala was traded to the Grizzlies, Brooks was the most scorned by Iggy to the point that it started giving off Eminem “Stan” angry letters vibes.

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Brooks was still mentioning him in press conferences as late as March.

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Their backgrounds on different sides of the Oregon State-Oregon Civil War adds circumstantial evidence the league office should take into account. There was already some grease between them and any country lawyer worth his JD could get that evidence admitted.

Ultimately, Brooks’ foul has changed the tone of this series. Payton will miss a significant period of time rehabbing his elbow, robbing Golden State of their poor man’s Marcus Smart. It’s not as brutal as Zaza committing manslaughter on Kawhi Leonard’s ankles in 2017, but in a series decided by razor-thin margins between two teams in the penthouse of the NBA hierarchy, the adjustments that Kerr makes could be the difference. Winning is the best elixir. Even if Brooks isn’t levied a suspension, there’s more than one way for Golden State to earn justice for The Mitten.

Tyler Herro deserves a better celebrity BFF than Jack Harlow

At 32 minutes a game off the bench, he gets starters’ minutes. However, like Gregg Popovich did with Manu Ginobli, Erik Spoelstra brings in Herro after a few minutes of crisp sets and good looks, and ups the pressure. At their peak, those late Tim Duncan Spurs teams that hung with and eventually beat the Heatles were an unrelenting force of offense that overwhelmed teams over the course of 48 minutes.

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This Miami team is light years behind those San Antonio teams offensively, but the deployment of Herro and Ginobli is similar. And when the Kentucky product has everything working, like Manu on a heater with the Spurs, it’s really fucking hard to beat them.

During Herro’s three years with the Heat, his team is 39-16 when he goes for 20-plus points. When he doesn’t, they’re 65-48, according to StatMuse. That’s a .700-plus win percentage compared to a .575 win percentage. He averages 26 points a night in those 20-plus point games and only 12 in the non-20-point performances.

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That 14-point variance is almost as alarming as the 3-point percentage going from 48 percent when he’s feeling it to 32 percent when he’s not. That could have something to do with the aforementioned difficult shots, but again, this isn’t the 2014 Spurs, they’re more likely to need a bail-out 3 than get a wide-open look from the corner.

During the game I attended, a late-season drubbing of the struggling Bulls, Herro played the part of victory cigar. Remember when Derrick Henry was a backup on those loaded Alabama teams, and he’d sub in late in the game to run over tired opponents and run up the score? That’s what Herro reminded me of that night: An obscene luxury that turns a tight contest into a blowout.

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I don’t think Jack Harlow’s BFF is the NBA version of King Henry, but I do think opponents feel just as helpless when it’s happening in real time.

“Like, really? We’re getting dry humped by Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry on the other side of the floor, and now Boy Wonder is going to do a White Mamba impression? Fuck my life.”

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Give Herro a little more time to improve his consistency and become a proper celebrity endorser, and maybe the next time you see a member of the Heat in a national TV ad, it’ll be for a product with more brand recognition than the official beer of middle-aged mountain bikers.

Budding Grizzlies-Warriors rivalry is highlighted by maturation of Ja Morant

But Morant is the key in this series. If he can show up consistently in every game, the Grizzlies have a great shot at beating the Warriors and moving onto the Western Conference Finals. I’m not saying Morant needs to score 40+ each game, but he can’t have some of the same games on the road as he did in the Minnesota series. In the three road games against the Timberwolves, Morant scored a combined 44 points. That won’t cut it against Golden State.

Because of Morant’s swift elevation in the league, this matchup is beginning to look more like a long-term rivalry with every game these teams play. Going back to last season’s play-in tournament, Morant and company sent Steph and the Warriors packing, eliminating them from postseason contention. During the regular season, Memphis beat Golden State in three out of their four games. As good as the team is around Morant, he’s the catalyst, and they’ll only go as far as he takes them in the playoffs.

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This series also has something for the fan that loves a more physical product. For the old-school fan that loves to reminisce over the ‘90s style of NBA ball, we haven’t forgotten about you. Memphis and Golden State have played two games, and there have already been two ejections. Game two got chippy less than three minutes in when Dillon Brooks took a swipe at the head of Gary Payton II on a layup attempt which caused Payton to come down on his left arm, fracturing his elbow. Not a great play, but the referees got it right, ejecting Brooks. Being physical is one thing, but that went a little far.

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Just seconds later, Draymond Green took an elbow to the face that caused him to miss the rest of the first quarter. Then, he flipped the crowd off for booing him in typical Draymond fashion as he walked to the locker room to have his eye stitched up. I’m pretty sure he’ll be hearing from the commissioner’s office about that in the form of a fine. But hey, Green makes $25 million a year, so he’ll be fine. His words, not mine.

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While I don’t see the Grizzlies having enough firepower to win this series, I think they’ll be able to push it to at least six games. I think these teams will likely end up in each other’s way for the next few years in the western conference. Similar to the OKC Thunder and San Antonio Spurs a little over a decade ago. Memphis will eventually vanquish Golden State, but it won’t be this year.

Where the rest of this series is concerned, I feel like the refs will be on high alert due to all the rough play during the first two games. Any foul that has even a hint of excessiveness will likely be called flagrant from here on. One thing to watch out for is Green, as he already has two flagrant points in these playoffs. If Draymond commits another flagrant two foul (or two flagrant ones), he gets an automatic one-game suspension. Everyone remembers how that worked out against Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals when Green got suspended for a game in that series.

Budding Grizzlies-Warriors rivalry is highlighted by maturation of Ja Morant

But Morant is the key in this series. If he can show up consistently in every game, the Grizzlies have a great shot at beating the Warriors and moving onto the Western Conference Finals. I’m not saying Morant needs to score 40+ each game, but he can’t have some of the same games on the road as he did in the Minnesota series. In the three road games against the Timberwolves, Morant scored a combined 44 points. That won’t cut it against Golden State.

Because of Morant’s swift elevation in the league, this matchup is beginning to look more like a long-term rivalry with every game these teams play. Going back to last season’s play-in tournament, Morant and company sent Steph and the Warriors packing, eliminating them from postseason contention. During the regular season, Memphis beat Golden State in three out of their four games. As good as the team is around Morant, he’s the catalyst, and they’ll only go as far as he takes them in the playoffs.

This series also has something for the fan that loves a more physical product. For the old-school fan that loves to reminisce over the ‘90s style of NBA ball, we haven’t forgotten about you. Memphis and Golden State have played two games, and there have already been two ejections. Game two got chippy less than three minutes in when Dillon Brooks took a swipe at the head of Gary Payton II on a layup attempt which caused Payton to come down on his left arm, fracturing his elbow. Not a great play, but the referees got it right, ejecting Brooks. Being physical is one thing, but that went a little far.

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Just seconds later, Draymond Green took an elbow to the face that caused him to miss the rest of the first quarter. Then, he flipped the crowd off for booing him in typical Draymond fashion as he walked to the locker room to have his eye stitched up. I’m pretty sure he’ll be hearing from the commissioner’s office about that in the form of a fine. But hey, Green makes $25 million a year, so he’ll be fine. His words, not mine.

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While I don’t see the Grizzlies having enough firepower to win this series, I think they’ll be able to push it to at least six games. I think these teams will likely end up in each other’s way for the next few years in the western conference. Similar to the OKC Thunder and San Antonio Spurs a little over a decade ago. Memphis will eventually vanquish Golden State, but it won’t be this year.

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Where the rest of this series is concerned, I feel like the refs will be on high alert due to all the rough play during the first two games. Any foul that has even a hint of excessiveness will likely be called flagrant from here on. One thing to watch out for is Green, as he already has two flagrant points in these playoffs. If Draymond commits another flagrant two foul (or two flagrant ones), he gets an automatic one-game suspension. Everyone remembers how that worked out against Cleveland in the 2016 NBA Finals when Green got suspended for a game in that series.

The NBA is always best with celebrity fans, but Jack Harlow needs to do better

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What most certainly wasn’t clever was him playing a joke on a camera operator. The cameras that broadcast the games are humongous so there were a bunch of switches exposed. Here, Harlow did the thing that is being demanded that fans stop more than anything else, he did not keep his hands to himself.

Harlow took it upon himself to play with some of the knobs on the back of the camera, knowing that the person focused on their job and wearing headphones won’t feel or hear him messing with things he has no business touching. I know he’s only 24, but while young enough to still make many terrible decisions, this is something that is supposed to be out of a person’s behavior by puberty. Don’t bother people at work, and don’t go around pressing buttons and flipping switches and touching things that don’t belong to you. He would not appreciate it if that cameraperson pulled Jerry Seinfeld and retaliated by heckling him at work, or in this case pressing random buttons on the mix board while he’s trying to record. The cameraperson had a sense of humor about the situation when she found out what happened. She doesn’t want much from Harlow in return, just a snack with possibly some honey mustard sauce.

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Harlow did not publicly apologize, however, he is on the record saying that he’s got her on the chicken fingers. Public, don’t you let him off the hook for this. She needs a basket of 12 with extra sauce and a note.

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Overall, Harlow’s NBA fandom has been a plus. The game has always been at its best when celebs are close to the game literally and figuratively, making the games giant pop culture events. Now, he just needs to select better games, and keep his hands on his refreshments unless his arm is going around a fan who wants a picture or some dap hugs with the players after the game.

The NBA is better with you around Jack, you just need to act right. 

History should remember Isaiah Wong as a hero, not a villain

Both sides have made up, as Ruiz tweeted that the “deal remains the same, however, as I said day one I will help him (Wong) get other NIL Deals.” With the introduction of NIL, student-athletes that had always been unpaid workers in a billion-dollar industry can finally make some legal money for themselves. And the first time one of them tried to negotiate their contract, the same crowd of people that once claimed that these athletes “deserved a bigger piece of the pie,” got pissed off when one finally asked for one.

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And to make things worse, some were concerned about how Wong’s decision would affect Miami coach Jim Larranaga, as if a 72-year-old coach who signed a contract extension in March, and who has been able to land two standout guards in Charlie Moore and Nigel Pack in back-to-back seasons through the transfer portal, would be crippled in his ability to field a team.

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Anybody that has ever made a dollar due to capitalism, believes in self-worth, or has ever claimed that student-athletes deserve more should be ashamed of themselves if they did anything other than champion Wong for what he may have been “allegedly” feeling or the words and actions of his agent. However, this reaction should have been expected. This is what happens in America every time a group that’s been disenfranchised for decades tries to balance the scales. Because as much as people claim they want equality, they always find a way to object to it when it’s time to make it happen. People love ideas more than execution.

In 1971, Spencer Haywood changed basketball, and people were pissed that a player had the audacity to take his case against the NBA to the Supreme Court. He eventually won, and his case opened the doors for high school and college players to enter the draft where they could make money without staying in school for four years. And while Haywood’s story is often overlooked, he’s one of the most important people in the history of basketball. I hope history remembers Isaiah Wong the same way. 

NFL Draft Day provides a welcome rebuke to the NBA’s player empowerment era

Then he just posted “wtf” when Tyler Linderbaum was taken at No. 25. Jackson later clarified the acronym-ed cursing wasn’t about his new center, but I think everyone knows what he was referring to. NFL front offices are Nick-Saban-cutting-scholarship-players ruthless every offseason, and occasionally during the season.

On the other side of the spectrum, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray seems to be overjoyed by news of a reunion with his old Oklahoma Sooner target.

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Bringing in a relatively risk-free wide receiver is probably the most placating an NFL team will do. Do you recall when Tom Brady thought he could retire and then join the Dolphins once the Bucs released him, but Tampa found out and said, “Fuck that, if you’re playing, you’re playing for us”? He was able to call a few shots with the Bucs because he’s the greatest quarterback of all time, and even then the team still pointed to a contract.

Pats fans absolutely took Brady’s side in his power struggle with Bill Belichick. However, the Hoodie seems to take pleasure in casting a child’s favorite toy in the fire.

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The only people who believe Aaron Rodgers is the greatest QB ever are Packers fans, but their own franchise has started filing his roster suggestions in the garbage, which isn’t a bad idea. (Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers were the last humans on Earth who thought Cobb wasn’t washed.)

Here’s everyone’s favorite angst-filled football player — who has definitely never overreacted to the Packers and held them hostage with demands — on the Pat McAfee Show on the day of the draft reacting to the team trading Davante Adams.

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“It was a little surprising with Davante — obviously when I made my decision, I was still thinking he was going to come back. I was very honest with him about my plans and my future and where I saw my career going, as far as how many years I want to play. But I felt like he was going to be back, didn’t obviously turn out that way but I have so much love for Tae and appreciate the time we spent together and definitely wish him the best with Derek [Carr] in Vegas. But that’s a big hole to fill.”

Can we bottle that despair and sell it? Bears fans would bathe in it. Rodgers opting to air his grievances on Draft Day is nothing new, and my guess is Green Bay isn’t surprised and doesn’t care. “Cool, man, you said you were coming back, so go make cringe-inducing commercials and shut the fuck up while we run the team.”

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And wait until you read what Ryan Tannehill had to say about the Titans moving his best target in A.J. Brown to Philly. … Guys? What’s going on? I thought we had a reaction tweet? … What’s that? Tannehill sucks and no one cares what he thinks? That sounds a little harsh, but I’ll allow it.

I don’t know why I find blatant disregard for a QB’s feelings so refreshing, but it’s like an olfactory reaction to a pizza place you haven’t been to in forever.

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It could be that I’m pro player and always root for them, so when team mismanagement happens, I instinctively want to blame the GM or president of operations. Now, I have to take into account a player’s influence when criticizing them instead of just their game, and breaking down LeBron’s acquisitions like he’s Brian fucking Cashman makes me want to pivot to accounting.

Or it could be that seeing millionaire athletes throw tantrums is hilarious.

Sorry, I’m done yelling at the TV. I’ll just go back to intermittently napping and occasionally rousing to wonder who got picked, grunt approval or disapproval, and nod off again.

Draymond Green follows up Bill Simmons’ bad take with one of his own

Simmons half-heartedly backtracked, but the tree of hot takes must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of podcasters and tyrants. Draymond’s rebuke was off base — “What work has [Simmons] done in his life that qualifies him to have a say in an NBA players salary?” — but it wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Also, there’s no correct side here because both are wrong. Simmons’ claim that wins should be taken into account when voting for Rookie the Year is like judging a restaurant by its profits, and not its food, in the first few months of opening. Give him a sec, man, damn. This isn’t the MVP. The Houston guard put enough good food in the window not to be summarily dismissed.

That isn’t an endorsement of Green either because if he’s beside himself with his usual outrage over whether Simmons is qualified to determine how much a player makes, he should take it up with the NBPA and the owners because that stupid ass awards-contract clause isn’t a new thing. Broach the subject with players’ association president CJ McCollum on his podcast if you’re so irate.

And if Green is going to attack a media member’s credibility because they never played in the NBA, maybe go after a guy whose obsession with the league doesn’t border on a clinical disorder. I guarantee there were worse ballots submitted than the one Simmons filled out.

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Taking a side in this debate is akin to picking between steamed broccoli and steamed asparagus, only if steamed broccoli and steamed asparagus had huge followings. I know saying, “Who gives a shit” is as dismissive as Simmons’ comments on Jalen Green, so I hope my apathy wasn’t overt enough to send you elsewhere for this clickbait.

At least this article(?) wasn’t just Green’s quote copied and pasted into a post. There’s a semi-thought out analogy in there and a play on the Thomas Jefferson quote Ed Harris recited in The Rock to go along with the abundance of anarchy.

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Anyway, what’s for dinner? I sure hope it’s not steamed broccoli and asparagus. 

How many wrongs make a Jay Wright?

While Rivers writhed over painful memories like a boyfriend reminded of all the times he forgot anniversaries, the scornful eyes of 76ers fans should begin wandering. Rivers is a fine coach, the same way Alex Smith was a fine quarterback or Mark Jackson was a fine coach.

After the clock hits postseason time, Doc has been Doctor Death when his teams face adversity. His teams disintegrate. Of the 13 teams who’ve blown 3-1 leads, Rivers has coached three of them. He vociferously defended his 8-seed Orlando Magic losing a 3-1 lead, but his worst self-inflicted wound was Rivers not closing the deal on Tim Duncan by refusing to allow family on the team plane. His 2015 Clippers squad was suplexed by Josh Smith in Game 6, then blown out in Games 5 and 7. The 2020 Clippers seemed disinterested after taking a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets. If his team slips on another banana peel and cracks its skull, Rivers can’t be back on that sideline.

Last week, Jay Wright resigned from Villanova after 21 years at the helm, beckoning a new age for college hoops. The keyword is college hoops. Wright talked about lacking the same fire he once had to lead Villanova at his retirement press conference. Wright, who I presume follows the 76ers, disclosed that he’s keeping his eyes and ears open for any overtures.

During an appearance on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max show, Wright admitted that the next level is in his sights. “I’d be lying” if he said he hadn’t thought about coaching in the NBA. “Not right now. That was something I always thought about,” Wright said of his NBA ambitions. “My experience with the Olympics kind of scratched that itch. … I kind of feel like I did it a little bit. And I loved coaching those guys.”

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Jay Wright has been a candidate for every Philadelphia opening since he interviewed for the job in 2009. Jay Wright is the 76ers sneaky link. He’s always lingering in the background. Not in a creepy manner, but it’s a small world and they keep bumping into each other. The 76ers have been in the gym, got their teeth fixed and spent a decade building their brand. Wright would be crazy not to give them another look or at least send a smoke signal to the current 76ers ownership.

From the sound of it, he still has hoops in his bone marrow. Obviously taking a chance on a college coach is a risk. Aside from their shared love for pinstriped suits, Wright isn’t a John Calipari archetype who relies on rah-rah college enthusiasm and recruiting to excel. He’s got twice as many national championships as Calipari while developing a slew of fringe draft prospects and the occasional mid-first rounder.

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In 2014, Billy Donovan made the leap from Florida to Oklahoma City and now has his wagon hitched to the Chicago Bulls. Wright is already down the street. Villanova is only 28 minutes from the Wells Fargo Center. Wright is from Pennsylvania, he played at Bucknell, joined Villanova as an assistant two years after their storied title run, then followed Rollie Massimino to UNLV, and spent seven years running Hofstra’s program before returning to Nova.

Most importantly, the 76ers might need him to come in and give the 76ers the oomph they’re currently lacking. Psychologically, he is a Zen master for a team that always seems on edge and weighed down by expectations instead of having fun on the floor. Offensively, Wright could fix the broken rotations and bring fresher wrinkles to the offense than the vanilla sets Doc Rivers runs for Embiid and Harden. Wright’s Nova teams were the college facsimile to the Kerr-era Warriors teams, while Rivers is still riding the coattails of success from an era that feels like a millennium ago.

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After all those raised expectations the Harden trade brought to Philly’s season, a first or second-round loss nearly a decade into The Process wouldn’t suffice. That would be akin to Rivers serving a dead roach to the health inspector thus far. The whole operation would be shut down, and that reality’s pressure is obviously affecting Rivers.

Of course, much of this is akin to starting an autopsy on some drunk who just fell asleep on a slab. Maybe Doc will find his team’s pulse. In the long Process saga, maybe this is the point where the Philadelphia 76ers veer off their path as a dark comedy and triumphantly make a run. However, that type of positive blind faith isn’t what Philadelphia is known for. In addition to being one of the winningest coaches, Wright is arguably the most emotionally intelligent coach in basketball. The Sixers and the fan base could use that sort of an emotional lift. Until then, they’ll have to grind out another painful postseason.

The MLB has reached critical stupidity with these new baseballs

He doesn’t specifically state what’s wrong with them, so allow me. Apparently, the new balls, combined with the crackdown on illegal substances, are a lot harder to grip to the point that fastballs are getting away from pitchers. Pete Alonso has been hit in the head twice this season, including again Tuesday night.

The Mets in general have been hit by pitches more than any other team this season. It could be that opponents are annoyed that the Mets actually appear to be good and are beaming them out of spite, but when players and managers are more upset with the balls than the guys hurling them, there’s a problem.

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Buck Showalter and catcher James McCann were similarly critical of the new equipment, with McCann suggesting the league works with the players to figure out a solution (per USA Today).

“Sit down with players and see what players want,” McCann said. “Don’t take opinions of people that aren’t the ones on the mound trying to throw it. Don’t talk to somebody who’s not trying to stay in the box when a guy’s throwing 100 miles an hour and doesn’t have a feel for the ball. That’s the answer is talk to the players and see what the best result is.”

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While that’s a good idea, it’s the middle of the season, so there’s not a ton of down time to conduct R&D to dial in carry rate and seam height. The reason I brought up the NBA is because when it was evident that the rollout was a failure, they just went back to the old ball. Baseball doesn’t have one old ball, they have at least a handful of old balls (hehe), so it’s hard to decipher which one they’re supposed to bring back.

Max Scherzer said he felt like he was throwing a cue ball after a particularly cold night in San Francisco on April 19. And a new experiment is not unusual for Scherzer, who last year told NBC Sports that there has been a number of variants in recent seasons.

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“The ball has been changing for me the past five years. So who knows what the ball is gonna be. They say it’s gonna be deader, there’s been times it’s been livelier, who knows. We all are gonna have to deal with it so for me, mistakes are always gonna get hit. Whether it’s a home run or not, you’re still paying for it. You gotta be on top of your game and worry about what you do with the baseball, how you’re delivering the baseball vs. what the nature of the baseball is.”

See, that makes sense: Worry about not making mistakes and live with the outcome when you serve up a meatball. When the issue becomes more than how far a ball flies and seeps into the territory of toying with pitches traveling 100-plus miles per hour, a change is necessary. Any option is better than the current one, so pretty much take your pick and play out the remainder of this season with it.

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There are a ton of archaic rules in baseball, but perhaps the most egregious is that there’s no standard for the ball. We talk about them in eras like they’re the 3-point line or the forward pass. This is the one aspect that should be a constant.

Imagine if the NFL was like, we need more verticality, and implemented one of those Nerf footballs with the tails on it. Everyone would rightfully lose their shit. There was a report that the MLB switched balls in the middle of the season last year. The league doesn’t know what it wants; its desires are subject to change more than a child walking through Toys R’ Us and often dictated by logic on par with that of an 8-year-old.

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I agree with McCann’s idea that the players and the league should collaborate to find a logical standard. (I also agree with his take on foreign substances. If the MLB is going to insist on this unpredictable orb, at least allow pitchers to use products naturally occurring in baseball like sunscreen and rosin to get better command.)

Bring in a group of veteran pitchers, batters, and catchers and provide them with a variety of choices, and let them pick out their favorite. No one has a better feel for what should or shouldn’t be a home run, or how much spin is borderline criminal than the players.

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Debating which ball is the best ball is an argument typically reserved for a group of people trying to discern which basketball is ideal for a game of pickup — and they’re able to come up with a winner after a few dribbles and a couple jumpers. I know baseballs are a different subject entirely, but if eight strangers can decide that the slightly used Spalding is the best choice and still play a game in less than an hour, then a bunch of people who are paid to figure out which baseball is ideal can do it in less than 150 years.