Jurrell Casey Has the Right to Protest and Tennessee Titans’ Fans Have the Right to Make Fools of Themselves

During an interview in London, at an NFL sponsored event, Tennessee Titans’ defensive lineman, Jurrell Casey, made some controversial statements regarding the new NFL anthem protest policy. “I’m going to take a fine this year, why not? I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now.” He further commented that he will continue to protest just as he has for the last few seasons – by standing for the anthem and then raising his fist as the anthem ends. He chose this protest because he did not want to disrespect the flag, anthem, or military.

Evidently, that is not enough for a certain segment of the Tennessee Titans’ fan-base. Social media blew up last night in Titans’ land. Some fans want him cut from the team. Some fans are announcing that if he goes through with this they will no longer support the team.

Conservative talk radio in Nashville has been just as over-the-top in its response. Popular radio Host Phil Valentine tweeted out that if Casey, or “bozo” as he decided to label him, carries out this protest, then he is done with the team. On Nashville Morning News with Brian Wilson, caller after caller lambasted Casey for his disrespect to the flag, anthem, and everything we hold dear.

The problem with all of this should be obvious to anyone paying any attention at all. Granted, paying attention is difficult for some. Nearly every person that I heard call in the radio show this morning was angry that Casey was going to kneel for the anthem. He is not. He stands for the anthem. He stands because he “wanted to be respectful.” He stands and when the anthem ends, he raises one fist in the air. He will continue doing just that. Clearly, that part of his statement and his track record has escaped many Titans’ fans (and radio personalities).

Even worse, many of the callers took cheap shots at the way Casey spoke, with not-so-subtle shades of bigotry and even racism. Look, I am loathe to accuse anyone of being a racist. I think that accusation is hurled about way too often in our society. Sadly, what I heard today reinforced in my mind that it plays a role in this debate. Casey did not choose his words perfectly. It was clearly off-the-cuff and not a prepared statement, and when one speaks that way, there is a tendency to say things less clearly than intended. I won’t say he misspoke, but his message was not delivered as concisely and effectively as it could have been. I am willing to give him a pass on this due to everything he has done in his career and the man he has shown himself to be. Casey’s actions in the past, his off-the field actions, and his overall track-record of integrity should inform everyone of what his intentions truly are.

There were also the cries from fans about how Casey is making nearly $15 million a season to play a game and he should be grateful for that and just shut up, stand up, and play football. It’s amazing to me that those who are ostensibly the most pro-capitalism people in the world would begrudge athletes for making millions in what is one of the most capitalist ventures in the world. Mocking NFL players because they make a lot of money is about the most self-defeating argument available to the conservative capitalist. Playing a sport for a living does not mean you lose your rights to speak your mind.

I have gone on record on my feelings about the anthem protests. You can read those here. To sum up my views: while I agree that players have the right to protest, choosing to do so during the anthem is not productive. It paints them as villains and unpatriotic to too many people. Coupled with the fact that Colin Kaepernick, the player who started all this anthem protest discussion, made incredibly negative comments about the flag after his early protests and from that point on, many fans were going to view any anthem protests in the same light. This remains an incredibly complex and difficult topic. Unfortunately, the loudest voices seem to be doing their best to reduce it to the level where you are forced to pick one of two sides – and both sides are flawed and their arguments are problematic. Frankly, that is irrelevant to this Casey/Tennessee Titans situation. Casey is not disrespecting the flag or anthem. He stands and shows respect during the anthem. His protest is the best possible version of any of these protests because he is still able to express his opinion but he is doing it in a way that cannot be perceived as a slight to the country, the military, the flag, or the anthem. Well, it can be perceived that way, but only by people that are either ignorant or willfully deceptive. Neither of those options are good.

Titans’ fans, be smart. Look at Casey’s career. He has been a model citizen, on and off the field. He has been involved in the community. He has done nothing to deserve mockery or attacks. These types of responses make the fan-base look stupid. They drive a further wedge between players that feel that there are injustices in the country that need to be addressed and the fans that cheer on the team who feel the matter is overblown. As fans, we need to be better than this.




An Open Letter From Molech, God of the Canaanites

Hey guys. Molech here. You might have also heard me called Moloch. Either name is fine…I’m not really that picky about it. I’ll keep this as brief as possible because I know everyone is really busy these days with all the Facebooking, Twittering, and the general feeling of outrage at everything all the time.

When I got into this whole “god” business, it wasn’t really something I planned or thought out. The people at the time decided they needed a new god to serve, someone that was going to help with crops, fertility, and winning battles. You know – the basics. They picked me mainly because I was the only one around who was eight feet tall and had the head of a bull. I have to admit, I do present a pretty striking image. Intimidating is the word people used. In the beginning, they were bringing me goats, and sheep, and maybe the odd cow or two to sacrifice. They would “pass them through the fire”, I would burn them up, and that was that. Full disclosure here: I was and am a gigantic fraud. I never made it rain, helped with crops, or won any battles for anyone. Nope, I’m just an awesome looking bull man. I have no supernatural powers, but the priests decided the people needed something to worship, so I got the gig.

The problem with this whole set up is that after a time, when things didn’t get better for the people, sacrificing cows and sheep didn’t seem like it was enough. That’s when they started bringing out the kids. I have to admit it was a genius move. The people were truly desperate – there was a famine and people were starving – and it seemed like something a power-hungry deity would want. In their minds, sacrificing a few children would save thousands of others. The math made sense.

I don’t believe we need to defend our actions. The peopled did what they felt was necessary to satisfy their angry and demanding god. I will say this though, you people have taken our blueprint and expanded it in ways that we never even dreamed. Yes, children were sacrificed at my altar, but even in those days, the people had to pretend that it was for some greater cause. These days, all pretense has been dropped. Now you are sacrificing your babies for convenience, choice, lack of money, and basically any other reason you can invent. You are really doing it! You have finally gotten a large section of society to believe that killing your babies is not only a good choice but in many cases, the best choice. For crying out loud, you’ve framed it as a basic human right! Hat tip to the evil mastermind that came up with that con. You’ve even defined it as smart family planning and reproductive healthcare. What the Baal?!? I thought we had some pretty devious and masterful ideas back in the day, but that takes the cake.

I guess that is all I’ve got for today. Keep up the good work people. You are carrying on the proud tradition we started thousands of years ago. And you are doing it in ways that make our system look primitive and feeble. Bravo! One of these days I am going to make my comeback and when I do, I am putting all these ideas into practice. I have learned so much. Thank you for that.

Happy sacrificing!
Molech




Warriors Set To Sign Thor, Incredible Hulk to Maintain Their Gigantic Advantage Over Rest of NBA

Oakland, CA–Sources are reporting that the Golden State Warriors, in response to LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers, and just hours after signing highly coveted free agent DeMarcus Cousins, have also reached agreements with several Marvel Superheroes to guarantee they keep their enormous talent advantage over the rest of the NBA for the third year in a row.

So far Thor and The Incredible Hulk have signed 1-year, cap-friendly deals and the team has also reached out to Iron Man and Ant-Man, though the team would have to petition the NBA to be more flexible regarding uniforms to ensure the suits would be part of the deal.

“Things got tense there for a second,” comment Kevin Durant. “I came here to make sure I would have a cakewalk to the championship every year and if the Lakers add Kawhi then my plan would have been legit in danger. Having Hulk in the low post and the God of Thunder flying all over the court, literally, is going to keep us on cruise control all season long.”

“Yeah, it’s all cool,” Commented Warriors’ guard and two time NBA MVP Steph Curry, with his typical boyish charm. “Warriors Assemble! And all that.”

Thor, explaining his decision, added, “I do not know this game of baskets and balls, but upon my honor, I shall endeavor to vanquish all our enemies. I fought for millennia alongside the Warriors Three (Odin rest their souls) and shall now wage glorious battle with the Warriors of the Golden State.”

Hulk had no comment.

In a completely unprecedented move, sources also say Bugs Bunny and Wayne Knight have reached out to the Warriors, hoping their contributions in vanquishing the MonStars 22 years ago will make them attractive potential free agents as well.

Check back here for the latest on this quickly developing story.




Enlightened Woman Leaves Christianity Due to Jesus and the Apostles’ Dehumanizing Language

Portland, Oregon – Emily Van Zant has been a churchgoer all her life, until now. She was born and raised attending church “any time the doors were open,” as she puts it. But recently, the more she reads the Bible, the more problems she has with the tone and rhetoric from some of Christianity’s key figures.

“I tried for a long time to ignore the angry and hostile language that many of the Apostles were spewing. My breaking point was when I realized that this problem originated with Jesus. I decided I could no longer align myself with such intolerant and dehumanizing language and ideology. All people are valuable and created with the spark of divinity. Calling them ‘a brood of vipers’ or ‘white-washed tombs’ was just a bridge too far for me. Shouldn’t we be showing love to everyone, not just those that agree with us?”

Ms. Van Zant joins a growing number of disillusioned ex-Christians who are looking to live out their faith in a more inclusive and tolerant manner. Ms. Van Zant continues:

“I was already struggling with Paul calling Jews “dogs” in Philippians 3:2. But when a good friend of mine pointed out that Jesus called a Canaanite woman a “dog” I knew this sort of intolerance and bigotry was something I could no longer condone. I embarked on a journey of reflection and fact-finding, and I realized this intolerance went deeper than just language. It was foundational to the entire Christian faith. Jesus’ entire ministry and message were built on non-inclusivity, intolerance, and self-centeredness. He actually taught that he was the only way to heaven! The level of arrogance it takes to make that claim is mindboggling. That was his path, and I respect him for that, but you can’t force your path on anyone else. You aren’t allowed to tell other people that their path is wrong. That’s not how this works. More and more people are seeing the truth and coming to the realization that the party is over for Jesus and his good time buddies of intolerance.”

For the time being, Emily Van Zant is on her own path, seeking knowledge, wisdom, and faith in a number of religions and faiths.

“I will keep looking until I find something that works best for me. And once I do, I will be sure to tell everyone how intolerant and bigoted they are if they disagree with me.”




Jurassic Park At 25 And The Marvel Of American Film-Making

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They Spared No Expense

I had just turned 15 when the original Jurassic Park was released on June 11, 1993. While my older brother and his best friend sat at the back of the theater trying to act like they weren’t impressed, my best friend and I were completely blown away by it. If you ask me the most awe-inspiring theater experiences I’ve had in my life, this movie would be on the short list, competing with other sci-fi blockbusters like Back to the Future, Armageddon and Signs.

This, in spite of the fact that the acting performances are, for the most part, blah, which is part of why this movie seems to be a small step behind others of its genre in my social circles. To be clear, Jeff Goldblum is delightful and outrageous (and as a person and actor, he has only gotten better with time), and I always enjoy watching Samuel L. Jackson and the man I’ll always known as Newman go to work on screen. But with no offense to Sam Neill and Laura Dern, the main roles hit me as pretty vanilla.

Hold On To Your Butts 

Yet that doesn’t really matter. The stars of the movie and its subsequent sequels are clearly the dinosaurs and they are real (looking) and spectacular. And so, the original JP has aged extremely well in 25 years because it was so far ahead of its time. Seeing Spielberg’s dinosaurs interact with humans was an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

Two of their scenes caused me to grip the armrest of my theater seat so hard I almost blacked out: the first time the T-Rex shows up and the Velociraptor scene in the kitchen. Movie-making rarely gets that good to me. Spielberg acknowledged a complaint (from his grandkids no less) that it took too long for the dinosaurs to appear in the first Jurassic Park, which he rectified in A Lost World. But in my opinion, the slow pace and calm for the first 30 minutes of the original only highlights the extreme terror of the T-Rex’s debut. The foreshadowing moment when Tim looks at the cup in the back of the vehicle and sees the drop of water every time the as yet unseen King of Dinosaurs takes a step rocks my soul every time I watch. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. Similarly, my heart can barely stand the face-off between the two kids and the Velociraptors after these extremely intelligent predators figure out how to open the kitchen door. It’s gloriously scary. I love it.

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There are other aspects that make this movie exceptional to me: bits of dialogue (when Dr. Malcolm encounters the triceratops dung) and no doubt the main score, which is good enough to be a concert on its own. But this movie raked in the biggest opening weekend at the time and nearly dethroned E.T. for the biggest domestic run ever for one colossal reason: we had never seen dinosaurs look that legit before. It was fantastic, unprecedented cinema.

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“Later There’s Running…and Screaming…” 

With a first installment like the one described above, Jurassic Park as a franchise entered a short list of movie series that get at least one view for every sequel from me, no matter how many there are or how awful they are.  And admittedly I know all of the flaws for The Lost World and Jurassic Park III especially but I still enjoy them and have watched them repeatedly.

In The Lost World there are yet again uninspired performances (even the eventually entertaining Vince Vaughn) except for Jeff Goldblum and maybe the Hillbilly Jack dinosaur expert guy who comes in with the bad guys. But the new angle of having human villains along with dinosaur villains is an interesting twist. And the scene with the T-Rex attack on the crashed trailer, while not as good as the similar scene in the first one, is still riveting. Above all, I love the moment with the freighter carrying the T-Rex into San Diego crashes into the dock because it woke up and killed everyone on board. That’s fun cinema right there.

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“You liked Dinosaurs back then.” “Back then they hadn’t tried to eat me yet.”

No doubt to me and many others, Jurassic Park III is the worst major film to ever have “Jurassic” in its name. As my nephew and mega Jurassic Park fan, Brett tells me, the dream sequence with Dr. Grant on the helicopter is “hilarious and terrible”. It’s like a 5-year old got to write one scene of the plot. But as stated, I still like this movie. William H. Macy is great and as long as there are rampaging dinosaurs, I think I will find some of it redeeming. I particularly love the new species and the scene on the rickety old bridge in the fog. It’s heart-stopping and just a step below the similar scenes in the first one. And I really enjoy the running gag of the satellite phone ringing and how it eventually announces the presence of the enormous Spinosaurus (who had devoured it along with the person holding it) standing out in the open.

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“Maybe you should include that in the brochure. Eventually one of these things will eat someone.”

Jurassic World should have been right up my alley and therefore I saw it opening weekend. The trailer promised a visually stunning thrill ride that would top its predecessors. And as I’ve written before, who doesn’t love Chris Pratt?

But it just didn’t deliver to me. It was visually stunning but it had more boring characters (Owen excepted), the weakest dinosaur terror scenes of the series and it was just a bit too over the top and chaotic at times.The original trilogy’s dinosaur attacks weren’t great because they were loud and untethered, but because they were they were thrilling, unpredictable and even at times humorous. Perhaps I have seen too many of these scenes by this point.

Even though it’s a better movie based on normal criteria, I think I’d rather watch the much panned third one than this one if given a choice. But I still want to watch this movie again. Why? Because it’s incredible cinematography.

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“These creature were here before us. And if we’re not careful, they’ll be here after us.”

And that brings us to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, released widely in the United States today.  To be honest, the trailer for the most part looks like a tired mashup of plots from the previous four movies. And that worries me, since the last volume proves I may be getting a little bit of Jurassic Park fatigue. Yet some of it looks fresh and we do have the return of the inimitable Dr. Ian Malcom. And at the end of the day, it is Jurassic Park. So I will see it. The original broke new ground and set a standard for movie-making that technology had to catch. And while the others have disappointed in general, I doubt I will ever turn down these cinematically perfected dinosaurs chasing humans on the big screen. Maybe this one will live up to the T-Rex sized expectations these movies create.

 

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Why Social Media Died: A Blog Post I Apparently Sent to Myself from the Year 2040.

Guest Post by Jon Forrest

This is crazy. Apparently sometime in the future, we figure out how to send mediocre blog posts back to the past! I know! It shocked me too. It just showed up in my cloud. You should totally check yours. It looks to be from around the year 2040. Good news: the fonts are still pretty much the same. Bad news: my writing doesn’t improve one little bit. (allegedly)

I know most of you were hoping never to be reminded of the social media era again, but I think it’s important for us to remember our past mistakes or else we are doomed to repeat them.

For those of you young and fortunate enough not to remember the “Enlightened Dark Age” as we know it today let me give you a little refresher. Not long after the advent of smart phones, the age of social media began. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (now known as Ursource) ruled the lives of the masses.

It seems ridiculous now but these sites were platforms where people could say things like, “I’m totes dreading the dentist tomorrow.” Then the next day they could post a picture of themselves with their mouths full of gauze. Please don’t ask me why we did it. The old days were weird. Remember this is before Dan Cathy and I became best friends and I automated Chick-fil-A on that one day so it could open on Sundays after church. It was my pleasure. But yeah, we had it rough. They were indeed the bad ole days.

Here are 5 of the reasons it mercifully, finally, thankfully failed.

1. It was an absolutely false representation of our real selves.

I remember when and where I was when I realized social media was doomed. Back in 2018 we had a fast food place called Sonic. We drove cars back then and the unique thing about this restaurant was you could drive your car to small station and hit a button to order your food and have it brought to you by a carhop. They were known for their delicious ice. Yes. Back before we all had dihydrogen monoxide units strapped to our backs we had to drink liquids. We also ate frozen pellets of water for fun. And Sonic had the absolute best frozen pellets.

One hot June day in 2018 when I pulled in and ordered a diet cherry limeade (too much to explain) I saw a girl sitting at one of the tables taking a selfie. “Selfie” is slang for taking a picture of yourself. Selfies were a huge part of social media. This girl at the Sonic took a picture, looked at it with disgust, reposed and took another one. She did this 4 times! She looked so unhappy sitting there with her friend who was also on her phone, but in the selfie her smile beamed as she got the light just right for “exposure’s” sake.

It’s impossible not to compare this girl’s actions to Narcissus who appeared in Greek mythology. We get our idea of Narcism from him. He was so pretty, one day when he saw his reflection in a pool he was unable to leave the reflected image to continue life. Ultimately he died in that exact spot.

This 2018 Sonic version of Narcissus who couldn’t look away from her image was telling people “I’m having a blast here at the Sonic while you live your miserable thirsty life in shambles.” The crazy thing is we all bought it for 20 years! Social media survived this “emperor’s new clothes” lie for 20 years. I can’t explain it. I’m just so thankful some enlightened soul spoke up one day and said, “Hey, y’all know this chick we’re all jealous of is basically just eating a corn dog at the Sonic like the rest of us. Why are we wasting our time ‘liking’ it?”

 

2. We got tired of making photo ops instead of memories and cameras can’t do memories justice.

I do not have a picture of my wife when they opened the back doors of the church and I saw her standing there arm in arm with her dad, but it would not do that moment justice if I did. There was no videographer in the room when the nurse handed my daughter to me for the first time, but I promise if I had a video of that occasion I’d say, “They missed it. That’s not even close to what I felt that day.”

Sure we can see things in 5d QR Crystal Lens now, but even that is like looking through a filthy foggy window compared to the resolution of our minds. God blessed us with that. I’m so glad we realized it sooner than later. I’m just sorry we wasted two decades of memories.

 

3. Although we all enjoy the right to freedom of the press, not all of us should exercise that right.

How do I put this gently? Many of the people I knew in 2018 had ideas that were insane. I’m not talking about my close friends who read my blogs. Those guys… geniuses, but most of the other people who posted on social media were wackos. No, they had wacko ideas in a moment and they shared them.

Proverbs 17:28 is so right. “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” (NKJV) Back in 2018 NO ONE shut his lips and we were all dumber for it.

 

4. FOML finally caught up with FOMO.

In 2004 Patrick J. McGinnis coined the term “FOMO.” Steady yourself. This isn’t going to make sense to you. FOMO is the fear of missing out. We were slaves to these platforms to the point of being unable to stand in line, ride in a car, or simply sit in a chair without looking at our device. Constant checking overtook us. “Finally awake. I better check Facebook.” “Break time. I better refresh my Instagram feed.” “Red light. Wonder what’s on Snap.” “I’m between contractions. Let me update Twitter.”

This is actually one of my posts from 2017. “Just got stung in the belly by a wasp. Not sure if it’s swollen or if I’ve put on a few lbs.” Someone neglected a sunset because he was afraid he’d miss out on that nugget of nonsense.

Fortunately at some point we replaced the “fear of missing out” with of the “fear of missing life.” We looked up from the recipe video our neighbor posted and took our neighbor a plate of cookies. We shut our laptops and topped our laps with the kids we had been yelling at for not holding the pose we needed to get for a post. We laid down our notebook and took note of the books including THE Book that had gathered dust.

We took back life.

 

5. We finally all blocked one another.

You know I’d love to be able to say we experienced this great renaissance of knowledge and that’s the sole reason social media collapsed, but truthfully we all finally got so sick of one another’s baloney we each ended up blocking everyone except 4 followers. And it turned out those 4 remaining “followers” were fake accounts we’d set up to like our posts.

 


Whoa! Look at the time.

There are a couple of other reasons social media ended but I have to get back to work. This country isn’t going to run its self. I probably wouldn’t have agreed to this 4th term if I’d known it would be this busy. Not to mention these people from Time apparently need a new picture every time you win “Person of the Year.” And I have a Kessel run today and only 8 parsecs to do it in.

If I can get this time bending copy machine to load the stupid paper and you’re reading this before 2021 when social media meets its demise, do yourself a favor, beat the crowd and start to ween yourself off of it today.


(Editor’s Note: A big thanks to Jon Forrest for allowing us to run this post today. You can read more of his stuff over at Steal My Youth Ministry Stuff. Trust us, you will love it.)

 




The Great Debate: Jordan vs. LeBron

James or Jordan? LeBron or Michael? LBJ or MJ? This topic has been debated to death on talk radio, on podcasts, and in print. Michal Jordan is considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. LeBron is the one current player who some think could challenge MJ for G.O.A.T. status. I believe the debate itself is a bit short-sighted since it completely dismisses other all-time greats like Kareem, Bird, Magic, Russell, and Chamberlain. Each of the guys mentioned in the last sentence, as well as MJ and LeBron, could lay claim to best-ever status. They all have countless great moments and statistical accomplishments that would bolster their case. They also have minor flaws that we could point out if we wanted to get nitpicky.

The Time Is Right

This article is about LeBron and Jordan though, and I think now is the right time to compare them. They both completed 15 seasons in the NBA so LeBron is at the same place in his career as Jordan was at his third and final retirement. They have each had 15 chances to win a championship, be the MVP, be an all-star, lead the league in scoring, or do whatever else great players do during the course of their career.

Let’s Keep It Real

I will do my best to lay out the case for each guy and point out any factors that I think are important in this discussion. I have been watching basketball since 1982 so I have been a witness to both of their careers in their entirety. I can’t stand hot takes so you won’t find any here. If you are looking for an article that takes an EXTREME position or ignores all facts that go against a predetermined narrative you are in the wrong place. There are plenty of “experts” on Facebook and Twitter (not to mention Fox Sports, ESPN, or sports talk radio) that can provide that for you. I will also attempt to avoid any recency bias and getting swept up with what is happening now while forgetting about the past. That is never a good thing and too many are guilty of it. At the same time, I am not a “get off my lawn” type person. We tend to idealize the past and overlook its flaws. The sport of basketball did not magically peak in 1986 and then go downhill from there. So if you are looking for someone who will say that everything and everybody was better in the 1980s you need to keep looking.

With that out of the way, let the comparison begin.


Rings Matter, But They Don’t Tell the Whole Story

The more simple-minded among us would say that Jordan won six titles and LeBron won three, therefore Jordan is better. Case closed. It should be obvious that this is a very incomplete way to judge greatness in a team sport. Bill Russell won 11 titles. He is clearly the greatest if all we are doing is counting championships. Some may argue that Russell played in a different era so it is not fair to include him in this discussion. Robert Horry (a contemporary of both James and Jordan) won seven titles. I guess that makes him the greatest player of the modern (post-merger) era. No, no it doesn’t. Titles are important and are definitely part of the equation, but they should NEVER be the single overriding factor when determining individual greatness in a team sport. This is not golf or tennis so let’s stop pretending that it is.

Others argue that the fact that MJ was 6-0 in his finals appearances while James was 3-6 should settle the argument. This group is even dumber than the “championship counters” discussed in the previous paragraph. On what planet is making the championship round of your sport and losing somehow a lesser accomplishment than not making it at all? Continuing this flawed line of thinking it is better to be swept in the first round of the playoffs (in order to preserve a perfect finals record) than to lose in game 7 of the finals! This makes absolutely no sense and I reject it out of hand.


You Play To Win the Game!

Winning does matter though, and great individual players in a sport like basketball should contribute to their team’s success. To that end and because so many people are confused by this issue I have developed a simple scoring system to help inform our thinking on these types of debates. I call it the REO Winning Scale™. Jordan and LeBron are the ideal candidates to compare because they were both undeniably great and because both played 15 seasons (to this point). They also played their entire careers with a four-round playoff format which was introduced in the 1983-1984 season. Here is how the system works:

A player is awarded points for how far his team advances in the playoffs each season. Missing the playoffs altogether is worth zero points. In the NBA where 53.3% (this % was higher when Jordan played because there were fewer teams) of teams make the playoffs it is not a great accomplishment simply to make the postseason, so for a great player to miss out altogether is something of a failure. Losing in the first round is worth 1 point. Losing in the second round is worth 2 points. Losing in the conference finals is worth 3 points. Losing in the finals is worth 4 points. Finally, winning the title is worth 6 points. Titles do matter so a bonus point is awarded for that accomplishment.

Let’s see how each player did in his career. First up is Jordan:

 

Let’s look at James now:

By this measure, LeBron has a slight edge in terms of his impact on his team winning over the years. His REO Winning Scale point totals will only go up as his career continues since he appears to not be slowing down or conceding anything to age. We must also acknowledge that Jordan retired briefly during his absolute peak and retired again at the very end of his prime. Those lost seasons would have almost certainly produced more playoff success and possibly even more titles.


Comparing Eras

Another factor to consider is that each of these players played in at least two different eras of basketball. Jordan entered the league when scoring was high and the pace of play was fast. His rookie year the average NBA team scored 110.8 points per game. That season (1984-85) every single team in the league averaged over 100 points per game. By the time he retired the game had slowed down considerably and become more physical. Scoring was way down across the league. During his final season with the Bulls league-wide scoring was at 95.6 points per game and his final season with the Wizards saw scoring drop to 95.1 per game. LeBron came into a very slow paced and physical league, but the pace of play has increased dramatically in the last decade and scoring has as well. Watching a game from LeBron’s rookie year compared to a game now is almost like watching a different sport. LeBron’s rooking year saw team scoring at a near-record low of 93.4 points per game (the second lowest total in 60 years!). There were only two teams in the entire league that averaged over 100 points per game and four teams averaged less than 90. This season scoring reached a nearly 30 year high of 106.3 points per game.

We should also note that when Jordan played hard fouls were not discouraged the way they are now so players were physically more beat up. On the other hand, Jordan never had to deal with constant switching on defense or with zone defenses which were illegal at the time. LeBron has faced legal zones and much more sophisticated analytic based defenses for his entire career. I say all that to point out that one guy did not “have it easy” while the other had to “work for everything he got.” Those who say such things are either very biased or willfully ignorant.


Competition Is Fierce, Until It Isn’t

This analysis would be incomplete if we didn’t compare the level of competition. Jordan entered a very deep and stacked league. With a 16 team playoff field in a 23 team league it was easier to make the playoffs then, but harder to advance. For this reason, MJ went 1-9 in his first 10 playoff games and lost three series before he ever won one. As his career went on and his teammates got better he started winning more. The arrival of Jordan’s prime coincided with the decline of the Lakers, Celtics, and Pistons dynasties that dominated the early part of his career. As those teams and players got older the Bulls took advantage. The league also expanded very rapidly in the late 80s and early 90s going from 23 to 29 teams. The talent pool was spread out and the league was watered down. In addition, many young players were going off the rails as the absence of a salary cap for rookies killed the incentive to get better. The mid-90s through early 2000s when Jordan did much of his winning was not a good time for the NBA in terms of style or quality of play. Jordan’s Bulls were the primary beneficiaries of these events.

LeBron never was able to take advantage of excessive expansion as only one new team has been added in the last 20 plus years. He also played during the massive influx of excellent international players that was just getting started when MJ played. These international players increased the depth and level of competition around the league. Perhaps the biggest thing working against LeBron is that he had the misfortune of playing the latter part of his prime during the Warriors dynasty. He was able to beat them once in the finals, but one team with four of the top 20 players in the league is unheard of and considerably more difficult than anything Jordan ever faced in the finals. One benefit for LeBron is that he has been aided by playing in the weaker conference for his entire career so making repeated trips to the finals has been easier for him that it was for MJ.

Another way of to look at this is that Jordan faced tougher competition on his way to the finals, while LeBron has faced tougher competition in the finals. This would help explain why one guy has more finals appearances, but the other has more finals victories.


Numbers Never Lie, But Do They Settle Anything?

I haven’t spent a lot of time on individual stats because I don’t think we will find any answers there. Look at these regular season numbers and you will see what I mean:

MJ – 30.1 ppg 6.2 rpg 5.3 apg 2.3 spg 0.8 bpg .497 FG% .327 3PT% .835 FT%

 

LBJ – 27.2 ppg 7.4 rpg 7.2 apg 1.7 spg 0.7 bpg .504 FG% .344 3PT% .739 FT%

 

In most categories, both guys got better in the postseason, which is not always the case even for all-star players. Their improved playoff statistics are just another testament to their greatness. Here are those numbers:

MJ- 33.4 ppg 6.4 rpg 5.7 apg 2.1 spg 0.9 bpg .487 FG% .332 3PT% .828 FT%

 

LBJ – 28.9 ppg 8.9 rph 7.1 apg 1.8 spg 1.0 bpg .491 FG% .332 3PT% .743 FT%

 

Jordan was a better scorer. LeBron a better rebounder and passer. This is true both in the regular and postseason. As he ages, LeBron’s per game numbers will almost certainly go down (assuming he is human) while his name will climb higher on the all-time record book. After 15 seasons each though, the statistics for both the regular season and playoffs are incredibly close.


Haters Gonna Hate

As we wrap up this article I should be forthcoming and admit that I never really rooted for either guy. I was never a Jordan fan during his career. While I did root for him to finally win a title when they played the Lakers in 1991 (a lot of that was due to how much I hated the Lakers), I did not enjoy seeing him win throughout the 90s. I have never rooted for LeBron in any of his 9 trips to the finals. I don’t hate his teams nearly as much as I did Jordan’s Bulls, but I have always pulled for whoever his opponent was. I do recognize that both are all-time great players, so hopefully, my lack of fandom for either player will make me unbiased in this analysis.


Are We There Yet?

So where does this leave us? Each guy had a similar impact on their team winning as evidenced by their REO Winning Scalescores. Both guys dealt with and conquered whatever the league threw at them in terms of style of play, pace of play, defensive rules, and physicality. They were both beneficiaries of certain peculiarities that were happening in the NBA during their careers, but they also had some bad luck in running up against all-time great teams that prevented them from winning as much as they could have otherwise.

My take is that at his peak Jordan is still the slightly better player. His ability to seize the moment and his more consistent shooting touch gives him the edge. It also helps that he has no black marks on his resume like James has from the 2010 and 2011 playoffs. Even when Jordan lost in a playoff series he still played well.

LeBron doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit though. He is now 33 years old and has been playing a full NBA schedule since he jumped straight from high school 15 years ago. Somehow he seems to be getting better as he ages. If he can continue to put up comparable numbers to what he has done so far in his career and make a couple more title runs this debate will need to be revisited.

 




Dear Central Florida, Your National Championship is Phony

Being from the Deep South, I have often heard it said that there are three sports seasons: College Football, Recruiting and Spring Football. The fact that many schools put 90,000 in the seats for their spring games, which are broadcast on ESPN, is proof that College Football is a year-round spectacle.

Despite this, I cannot think of many things that would cause me to write about College Football in May. But this is something that should have died in January and it hasn’t.

Central Florida beat Auburn and pretended they were National Champions, having a parade, rings, the whole nine yards. It was cute and similar to what other non-National Championship teams have done in the past (i.e., Auburn 2004). Usually, this sort of thing goes by the wayside in a few days. But to paraphrase a controversial slogan of the times, they persisted.

In part, I blame social media. Somehow Twitter gives the illusion that we have access to celebrities and Facebook gives us a platform to sound off on everything to an ambiguous audience of hundreds of people. And via these extremely popular sites, Central Florida has clearly taken advantage of how no one seems to be able to ignore anything they disagree with. Similar to the “I’m not dignifying that with a response” being a response that dignifies, every time someone argued against Central Florida’s real claim to a fake national championship, they gave more and more momentum to their argument.

Of course, that is what I’m doing. But only because Nick Saban of all people has now joined the fray. Nick Saban is the best college football coach, maybe ever. But he’s also a bit of a whiner. And as such he could not hold back last week on commenting on Central Florida’s National Championship claim, deriding it as only he should have. And I cannot deny that once he joined in, people like me can no longer ignore it. It’s time to weigh in.

Central Florida’s national championship is no more real than the Tooth Fairy. The arguments posited to try to disprove that simply cannot be sustained. Here are a few:

Central Florida beat Auburn, who beat Alabama and Georgia 

The A beats B beats C argument is lame. There now exists on the internet a website that will tell you (if it is possible) how to get from Team A to where they beat Team Z through a series of “they beat B who beat C, etc.” The craziest one I’ve seen? Welch College (my alma mater) beats Villanova in 2018 Men’s Basketball. That’s right, an NCCAA school with a few hundred students beats the NCAA team that dominated the Men’s tournament. Here is the proof:

Here’s the dirty little secret about Auburn 2018: They were a fantastic team, but they lost four times away from home, including to LSU (who lost to Troy at home, if you are a big fan of A beats B beats C). They beat Georgia at home but got romped at a neutral site. Central Florida needs to let this paltry argument go[1. Some UCF proponents, like SEC-hating Twitter clown Danny Kannel, try as well to point to an injury to Auburn’s prime running back as to why the results were different in the two Georgia-Auburn games last year. Blaming injuries is one step above blaming refs.].

 

Central Florida was the only undefeated team 

So was Utah in 2008. So was Boise in 2006. And they didn’t get National Championships either. Why? Because their schedules were not difficult enough. It’s great that UCF could knock off Auburn in the Peach Bowl, but when you play in the SEC and similar conferences, you get teams like Auburn several times a year.

I conceded it’s not fair that Central Florida’s players and coaches cannot control their schedule. But that’s part of sports. It’s not fair that Auburn in 2004 and Penn St. in 1994 got no championship despite running the table against a legit strength of schedule. It’s not fair that the players for Auburn in 1993 had nothing to do with the reason they were on probation and were the only undefeated team in the nation and got nothing.

Sports aren’t fair.

 

Alabama claims titles from years past that are questionable 

There is no doubt College Football has historically had the most convoluted method to naming a champion since the NCAA had never recognized one. If you look back through College Football annals, it is very hairy trying to figure out who gets credit for championships in what year because some schools claim them from non-AP poll and Coaches Poll sources (the two standard championships every year until the BCS). Additionally, teams used to be awarded championships before bowls were played. And is there anything more absurd to sports logic than having two (or more) national champions?

But now we do not have to deal with that. 2014 changed everything. We have a fairer system, and even more precisely, we have a playoff. Even if Alabama’s 1973 Championship is shady (and I’m not arguing for or against it), you cannot apply standards or laws or any similar criteria to modern circumstances. It devalues advancements we have made.

 

Now, to balance some of this out, here are two things I do acknowledge that are not anti-UCF:

  1. We need more teams in the playoff. Even if there were eight, I do not think Central Florida would have gotten in, but I have zero doubt the 8th best team in the nation most years can run through three other Top 8 teams in three weeks. I personally prefer 16. The NCAA tournament in basketball is not devalued at all despite the fact the bottom 32 teams or so have little to no chance to win it, so even if #16 has no chance to run the table, it still makes for more potentially great football.
  2. UCF is likely doing this in part to help with recruiting. I do not mind it in that sense. The problem is I have zero doubt reams of people are truly arguing that they deserve their rings, parade, etc. because they deserved a championship last year. Those people exist mostly because they are UCF fans or hate Alabama or the SEC or just love controversy, which our current political climate proves people are addicted to. The belief that UCF actually deserves a national championship is what I am arguing against.

 

Agree? Disagree? Let us know below!

 

 




The Time Of Our Life: Remembering The Night Seinfeld Ended

“For the rest of our lives, when someone thinks of one of us, they’ll think of all four of us. I can’t think of three people I’d rather that be true of.

[Jerry Seinfeld, to Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards, in the huddle before the finale]

 

It’s something unpredictable
But in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

[Green Day]

 

During the 1997-98 school year I was a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. And every Thursday night at 9:00 I would gather with my brother Ashley, and our friends Shawn Simeral and Bryan Baxley to watch Seinfeld. It was our favorite show. For all of us. Occasionally others joined us and occasionally we would meet up at 8:00 to watch Friends as well, but there was no doubt the night was dedicated to Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. They were a huge part of our week and had been for several years.

Halfway through the year, we got the news that this was it for Seinfeld. This would be the last season. I remember Ashley collecting as many magazines as he could that had this news on the cover. It’s weird to think that back then we got news without Facebook or Twitter. But just the same, the TV show that defined our adolescence was going off the air.

 

 

So, of course, we, like millions of other Americans, had the big finale party. Since school was out for us on May 14, 1998, we had it at our parents’ house. The place was packed. I recall so many details. I was decked out in my black T-shirt that had Wayne Knight on the front saying “Hello, Jerry” and on the back in big block letters said HELLO NEWMAN. I wore it every Thursday back then. I remember sitting in my favorite chair, which was closest to the TV. I remember sneaking a peek at our church’s youth pastor, who was was among the invited guests, when Elaine and Puddy went at it over Hell in a scene during the clip show.

I remember the clip show (now called “The Chronicle”) being cut off short so that the finale could start early because it could not fit into a one-hour time slot. I remember one thing they didn’t cut was a brief, sentimental video with more serious video and photos, including stills of the main characters and empty shots of Jerry’s apartment and Monk’s. “Good Riddance” by Green Day played behind it, a song subtitled “The Time of Your Life”. I remember wanting to cry, which was completely unexpected because anyone who knows the show knows that it was anti-serious 99.99% of the time. They even mocked crying in one episode, with Jerry not understanding what “this salty discharge” was and in real production, the writers and cast adhered to a “No hugging, No learning” mantra at Larry David’s direction.

Yet in the huddle before the finale, we would later learn that Jerry, Jason and Julia all started crying. Because life cannot always imitate art. Michael, the method actor who hated mistakes during filming (which you can see on the outtakes), was the only hold out on emotion. Yet, the lyrics to the Green Day song overlapping those Seinfeld images struck a chord with me because in sitcom terms, Seinfeld did give us the time of our life. And just like Jerry, Jason and Julia, its ending hit me in the feels.

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 3: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander embrace on the set of the show “Seinfeld” during the last days of shooting, April 3, 1998 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

 

As far as the finale itself, I’ve written about it elsewhere and this isn’t even about that. It’s about the event. The night. The hype. The fact that copies of the script were shredded at the end of each day to ensure that it didn’t leak. That people gathered even by the millions in some cities, like St. Louis, to watch on huge screens. The photo below is at Times Square in New York. What an incredible image.

Seinfeld felt larger than life and so its finale absolutely was. TVland went completely off the air during it to honor it. I cannot imagine how badly it would break the internet if it happened today.


I remember after the New York Four were convicted and they had their last moment together in the prison, coming full circle by ending the show with the same conversation that it began with, that I could not laugh at the post-episode scene with Jerry doing his stand-up in an orange jumpsuit, complete with one more Larry David calling out from off-camera moment. It was setting in to me that it was over. After the credits rolled, NBC gave an immediate live thank you to Seinfeld with a picture of the Big Four. If not for the fact I’ve seen the finale many times, I’d probably remember the NBC thank you better than the jail comedy scene. Because it was my sentiment exactly.

 

My brother and I said goodbye to all our friends and I soon went to bed. I never took off my HELLO NEWMAN shirt, a symbolic non-gesture of someone refusing to let go. And as I laid there in the dark and the quiet, I finally did shed a tear. Somewhere between Green Day and NBC’s thank you and the fact that it was finally reality that there would be no new Seinfeld, I felt sad. It was oddly surreal.

In hindsight, I don’t regret feeling that way, but Seinfeld fans cannot truly feel sad these days. In the last 20 years we have gotten the 9-DVD set and its “Notes About Nothing” and other fun extras, continuous repeats of the 180 episodes on TBS, a reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Facebook pages dedicated to doing nothing but quoting the show, memes, gifs, etc. etc. etc. Those of us that have wanted Seinfeld to live on, have gotten that wish. Perhaps only rivaled by The Andy Griffith Show, Seinfeld has thrived after its end. It won’t die. It’s all over the American consciousness daily.

So for that one moment in time, a collision of emotions in reaction to nine seasons of sublime TV comedy occurred. I was there. I’ll never forget it. As far as TV goes, it has always been the time of my life.

 

 

 

 




Young Boy Boycotts Company That Makes Boys Cots.

San Francisco – Tristan Moore, 10 years old, has officially announced that he is launching a boycott. His target? Cots and Stuff, a company based out of Johnson City, Tennessee, that makes, among other things, portable sleeping devices. Young Tristan chose this cot making company for his boycott when he heard about the other boycotts happening all over the country.

Says Tristan, “I didn’t know what a boycott was so I asked my parents and they said I’m only 10 years old and shouldn’t be worried about boycotts. I was still confused about boycotts when I remembered that Mrs. Riding (Tristan’s 4th-grade teacher) always tell us to break words down into smaller parts so that is what I did. Boy Cotts. So I looked around on the internet and found a company that made cots for boys. So now I’m boycotting a cot company that makes cots for boys. That made about as much sense as anything else.”

If that makes little sense, you are not alone. We pressed young Tristan for a better explanation on the boycott.

“Um… I don’t know. There was that lady on TV that people were boycotting and then there was all that Starbucks stuff. It seems like people love to boycott stuff. I thought it sounded fun. But I still have no idea what a boycott does. Maybe someone that has boycotted can explain to me what a boycott is supposed to do. As far as I can tell it’s just a funny word that gets a lot of people angry or excited and then it doesn’t really do anything.”

Maybe Tristan understands boycotts better than he realizes.