Escape From New York: Carmelo Is A Knick No Longer

Carmello Anthony Running and All Smiles
NEW YORK, NY –  Carmelo Anthony, #7 of the New York Knicks, is all smiles as he’s running out of  Madison Square Garden in NYC and is on his way to play for the Thunder in OKC.
Carmelo Kyam Anthony is smiling now. He’s smiling because he’s running out of and running out on New York. That’s right, Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick no longer.  Too bad, so sad (for New York Knicks fans, that is). And the really sad part is that he seemed like he never really wanted to be there in the first place. Talk about continuous compunction.   

So let’s get it out there right up front: this has been one of the messier and muddier sports separations in recent memory. Discord, disharmony, and dissonance all led to distrust and the destruction of a viable team playing at MSG, and you could see it a mile away.

The spiritual lesson is eternally, powerfully poignant: always and forever, where there is unity, there is strength. But since there was only disunity and dysfunction in New York, it had to end in disaster, at least for the Knicks. And since one teams’s trash is another teams treasure, it appears that the OKC Thunder are now even more primed to go toe to toe with Golden State for the Western Conference Title.

So much for the color commentary; here’s the play by play:

Anthony, 33, is a ten-time All-Star, but the Knicks are prioritizing a full rebuild centered around Kritaps Porzingis after a tumultuous last few seasons. The team fired Phil Jackson as general manager and replaced him with Scott Perry in July. (And just who is Scott Perry?)  Anyway, New York went 31-51 last season and has not made the playoffs since 2012-13.

In Oklahoma City, Carmelo joins a team that acquired Paul George in the offseason, and reports say George and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook played an “immense part” in convincing Anthony to waive his no-trade clause.

Even after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors in free agency last summer, Oklahoma City went on to win 47 games and make the playoffs.  If the Thunder are able to keep their new stars, they could set themselves up for many more  seasons of sustained success.

Anthony leaves the Knicks with uneven results. They made the playoffs three times during his tenure, including a 54-28 record and Eastern Conference semifinals appearance in 2012-13. But New York never reached the conference finals and had four coaches and one interim coach in Anthony’s seven seasons with the team.

The Knicks have had four consecutive losing seasons – three of them under Phil Jackson’s unproductive run as president. Jackson alienated Anthony as the team tried to go into rebuild mode. Though Anthony may have enjoyed living and playing in New York, he also realized his time with the Knicks was over.

http://www.msn.com/en-ph/sports/basketball/what-does-carmelo-trade-mean-for-knicks-thunder/ar-AAsokPu?li=AA4RHM 

https://www.si.com/nba/2017/09/23/carmelo-anthony-trade-rumors-knicks-oklahoma-city-thunder

So let’s learn the lesson again; in sports and in life, where there is unity there is strength. And when there’s not . . .

You Should Join A Super Team!

Durant Finals MVP

Yes, you should join a super team. Everybody’s doin’ it, right? I mean anybody and everybody in the NBA is jumping ship and breaking rank and joining another team to make a super team. And why not? If KD did it, and Kevin Garnett before him did it, and of course LeBron did it (even though he says he didn’t), then why shouldn’t all of the other superstars do it?

One thing is for sure: super teams win. Durant proved it once again this season. The problem now is, who’s got the superlative super team? Just like there’s only one basketball to share on the court, there’s only one championship trophy; but with the Larry O’Brien, there ain’t no sharin’. 

Truth be told, the first super teams were back in the late 60’s when Wilt Chamberlain flew out of Philly and latched onto the Lakers to help Jerry West beat the Celtics (but they never did.)  Then, Dr. J left the ABA New Jersey Nets to join the 76ers.  They lost to Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and the Portland Trailblazers in 1977 and then lost to the Lakers twice, in 1980 and 1982. Then, the Sixers snatched Moses Malone from Houston to form, guess what, a Super Team!  With all stars like Doc and Moses and Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, the ’83 Sixers were truly a super team.

So fast forward to 2017, 40 years after Doc came to Philly. Now we have multiple super teams as a result of Kevin Durant going to the Warriors to beat the Cavs in this year’s finals.  Since Golden State has four bona fide all-stars, teams are scrambling this off season to grab as many available all-stars as they can to add to their roster in hopes of being a better team. Everybody now needs to be a super team in an effort to dethrone LeBron in the East and KD and Steph Curry in the West.

And just in case you’ve been vacationing on the back side of Siberia for the past week, here’s what’s been happening in NBA Free Agency:

Paul George left Indiana for OKC to play with Russell Westbrook.

Chris Paul left the LA Clippers for Houston to team with James Harden.

Jimmy Butler left Chicago for Minnesota to team with Karl Anthony Towns.

Gordon Hayward left Utah for Boston to play with Isiah Thomas and rookie phenom Jayson Tatum.

JJ Reddick left the LA Clippers to join Philly and their collective cash of young talent, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

AND with all that, the Warriors still got better. Not to be outdone, the defending champions coaxed Nick Young from the Lakers for a one year deal.

 And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So what about you?  What super team are you going to join? No one wants to lose, so why stay with a losing team when you can be on a winning team right now? And why play on a “good” team when you can play on a great team?

Team Trinity from Heaven is a super team. This team wins all of the time, and can defeat any foe.  This team has been winning and whipping and walloping opponents for centuries on end. God the Father, God the Son and yes, God the Holy Spirit have teamed since eternity past and this team is built to win now, and for all time. All we have to do is sign up and sign on, and learn, and execute, the game plan. That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s that easy.

So why not sign up with this sacred, super team today? You’re destined to win with the Godhead. With the triumphant Trinity, you can and will defeat dastardly, diabolical, demonic denizens if you only stop trying to be a superhero by trying to do it all by yourself. 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, with all of his triple doubles this past season, proved one thing: that way just won’t work.

How To Be A Poor Sport

Russell Westbrook Attitude It’s amazing how some athletes can show us how to be both great and gruesome, unheralded and unglamorous, unstoppable and inexorable, all at the same time. It’s incomprehensible how the same athlete can have a triple-double and light up the scoreboard and yet have an attitude and a disposition and a standpoint that sticks out like a sore thumb and stinks up to high Heaven.

And in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook may deserve to be the NBA MVP for 2017, but he also deserves a swift kick in the pants and a round wrap on the wrists, at the least. Westbrook stormed off of the basketball court after his Oklahoma City Thunder team lost Game 5 to the heated and hated rival Houston Rockets.  To add insult to injury, Westbrook is in competition with Houston’s All-star guard — and his former teammate — James Harden, for the MVP Award. 

Sadly, Westbrook could not lose graciously nor could he accept defeat amicably.

And that’s the hallmark and it should be the trademark of every true sportsman. Knowing how to win and learning how to lose is part and parcel of sports.  Since professional athletes are role models (note to Charles Barkley), anything they do and everything they say is scrutinized and analyzed to the Nth degree.

Sports and sportsmanship go hand in hand. https://godandsports.net/2014/05/30/sports-and-sportsmanship-go-hand-in-hand/ For the presumptive MVP to have such a great season end on such a grumpy note does not bode well.  When you don’t win, it’s chivalrous and courteous to shake hands and wish the winner well.  After a loss, moping and muttering and grunting and grumping aren’t acceptable actions for above average athletes. Unfortunately, Westbrook didn’t get the memo. 

The moral of the story is this: even when it hurts, and we’re mad and we don’t like how things turn out, let’s dig deep and reach high and stretch wide so that we can show how to lose with grace. Because just as we wax strong when we win, we gain just as much strength, if not more, when we learn to lose like a good sport.

The Return of Kevin Durant: Why Oklahoma City Is Still Mad — And Why They Need to Get Over It

russell-westbrook-e-kevin-durant-1

We loved seeing them together, on the court, at the photoshoot, and everywhere in between. But now that’s over. That’s all over. And we may never see them together again. And that’s why OKC fans are so hurt and why they’re so mad.

IT’S BEEN SEVEN months and six days since Kevin Durant made his decision to leave town and to break camp and to get out of Dodge, err, I mean Oklahoma City. February 11, 2017 has been circled on the calendar for quite some, and for good reason.

“The Return” comes after Durant gave nine celebrated seasons to the fledgling NBA town called Oklahoma City. Before Durant, this was only college sports territory. Without objection, Durant single handedly put this franchise and this Midwestern urban oasis on the basketball map. But when free agency rolled around, he chose another suitor. So after all of the love and the laughter and the good times and the great games, he chose to ditch them for their hated and heated rival, the Golden State Warriors.

“The Oklahoma City Thunder have moved on, or so they say. Clearly, the city hasn’t moved on, at least not entirely, as aftershocks attest, like T-shirts that read like a math equation: “35-35=0”. Aka, Durant wore number 35 while playing for the Thunder, and his departure, meaning No. 35 – No. 35, equals Russell Westbrook’s Number: “0.”

In addition, the occasional No. 35 jersey with Durant’s name changed or crossed off — still reverberate around town from time to time. As much as there’s celebration and appreciation for Russell Westbrook’s historic run, a trail of smoke lingers.

The two haven’t spoken since Durant left, and probably won’t for some time. Betray Westbrook’s trust and you’re dead to him for a lifetime, whether you’re a reporter, a coach, a friend or a teammate.

Westbrook’s remarkable, historic season has transformed what was expected to be a year of mourning into one of excitement and passion. He has sopped up the sadness, keeping the words “Kevin Durant” mostly out of the mouths of Thunder fans.” Royce Young, ESPN Staff Writer

So what will the reception be like tonight at Chesapeake Arena when Durant steps onto the floor in the house that he built? People are human, and when we are let down and feel betrayed or begrudged, for whatever reason, we hold it against and hold fast onto hurt feelings and let go of any goodwill that may have been generated or said or done. 

So while I understand how OKC fans feel, I’m still a Durant fan. And if you’re a sports fan, you should be too. Durant’s leaving opened the door for Westbrook’s appearing. Westbrook’s wonderful, delightful, breathtaking season full of triple doubles and double downs (on him) and his single handedly picking up where Durant left off is a sports spectacle like none other. And they have an anticipated playoff run.

durant-westbrook

So go ahead OKC fans; go ahead and boo KD tonight. Go ahead and get it out of your system. Any and all sports fans the world over were let down when the one we loved left town.  We’ve all been disappointed and disillusioned by a professional athlete or a sports team or two.

Sports are like life, and life is like sports. We’ve all be let down by a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a good friend or a relative or a boss or too. Welcome to club. Now all you have to do is get over it. The rest of us did, and you can too.

The NBA or the NFL? Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

nba-vs-nfl

The NBA or the NFL? 

Right now, it’s hard to tell which sport is hot and which one is not. Both the NFL and the NBA are intriguing and exciting, heart pounding and foot stomping. Ever since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook split up, the NBA has been hotter than all get out. And on the other side of the ball, the Giants just beat the Cowboys, my pick to win this year’s Super Bowl.

So who’s hotter? The NBA or the NFL? While each compete for high ratings and the top ranking, we get to sit and watch.

Russell Westbrook, Hometown Hero

Westbrook Presser

Russell Westbrook is staying in OKC.  And in so doing he’s become the hero for the hometown, the same Midwest hometown that just lost KD, Kevin Durant, to the rival Golden State Warriors only one long month ago. So what does this say about Westbrook and his dedication and loyalty to his team and his town? It says a lot. It doesn’t hurt that they’re paying Westbrook a whole heapin’ helping of dough, but he could have gotten paid elsewhere, right?

Loyalty and devotion and dedication are almost dinosaurs in this modern age of me, myself and I.  “Lookout for #1” is the theme song for many adolescents (and many adults, too) that have no penchant or proclivity for staying put in a job or a relationship or an obligation over the long haul.  And that indictment is especially true of athletes. Team dedication for the duration and long term commitments and contributions for an extended stay are almost a thing of the past.

A strong sense of duty to a core group and a common cause is part of our DNA. We long to be a part of something and to make a difference somewhere and to be connected to someone. And the lack of stability and steadfastness and stick-to-itiveness is a symptom of our bruised and broken, fragmented and segmented society.

So what is the cure for what ails us? What is the prescription and the panacea for our herky, jerky, restless, and borderline reckless world? Statements about concern and allegiance and faithfulness should be earnest and true, and Russell Westbrook gave all of us all that and some as he announced his decision to stay in Oklahoma City for at least two more years.

Westbrook’s press conference speech has quickly become an instant classic. Asked why he agreed to the extension now rather than wait until next season, Westbrook was emphatic:

There’s no need to wait if you know where you want to be.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:17222093

How thoughtful. How insightful. How profound. And, to take it a step further, I submit this axiom: “If you know where you need to be, and it’s where you want to be, then you’ve really in a good place.” Westbrook went on to say more:

There’s nowhere else I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” Westbrook said at a news conference to announce the deal. “You guys have basically raised me. I’ve been here since I was 18, 19 years old. You guys did nothing but good things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me through it all, and I appreciate it. Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that’s the No. 1 option. Loyalty is something that I stand by.”

Westbook The Hero

Spiritually speaking, our faith in God and our faithfulness to each other are  one in the same. Both together, they should endure and last a lifetime. So fealty and fidelity and honesty and sincerity are not things of the past. They are alive and well and we do well to emulate the example that we’re seeing in Russell Westbrook today.

Why Does Free Agency Cost So Much?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors - Game Seven

Kevin Durant is now a Warrior. Duane Wade is now a Bull.  And Derek Rose is now a Knick. Paul Gasol is now in San Antonio. Al Horford left Atlanta for Boston and Dwight Howard is in Atlanta instead of Houston. Whew! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

News Flash: everything that’s supposed to be “free,” aint — including “Free Agency.”  Every team that lost a player is either hurting or scrambling. Some teams may have gotten better, but many teams certainly got worse, and all teams are spending money like its water. So this is a good thing?

The Oklahoma City Thunder will never be the same. And some say that OKC will never rise again.  Truth be told, some teams, especially OKC, will falter and flounder and stumble and fumble for years to come. Because you don’t win and you can’t win without playmaking players. Your either draft them or trade for them or get them via “Free Agency.”  But at what cost?

I get it that players have the right to move from team to team and get more money than ever before. I do. I absolutely do. But I’m also an old fashioned, fuddy-dud when it comes to keeping a team together.  Because winning is all about chemistry.

OKC could have or should have said to Durant, “We’re committed to you and to winning so we’re going to go out and get the best players to complement you and Westbrook to make sure we have the best chance of winning a championship.” Maybe then Durant would have stayed with the Thunder and he may well have won Oklahoma City an NBA Championship.  But he’s not, and he won’t. And the cost to Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Thunder is incalculable.

So what’s the lesson to be learned? What’s the moral of this story? Where’s the hidden truth in all of this?

Life is about choices and decisions and options and alternatives. And we all hope and pray that we’ll make the right choice and the correct decision and pick the right option and choose the best alternative all the time.  Wishful thinking. But thankfully God is so merciful that He can take even our bad choices and turn them around and allow good to come out of them.  

I’ve found out that some things you pay for twice, and others you pay for over and over again. Some decisions cost you big time. And the sting remains overtime. With some selections you lose friends and make enemies. It’s just like striking out at the plate. But other times you hit one out of the park on a 3-2 count. And sometimes, you get much more than you asked for and you pay next to nothing.

So here’s to making the right choices, every time, all the time, and trusting God to fix the wrong and make it right. Because everything costs something, even when you don’t have to pay.