Ballin’ Out of Control

Since bursting onto the basketball scene last year, the Ball family has been getting plenty of press. While Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo have been getting plenty of attention for their play, their father Lavar has stayed in the news for his boastful nature and confidence that often puts him at the center of controversy.

From his hype over his sons and shoe brand to his confidence in his own playing ability, Lavar Ball’s personality has made him such an entertaining figure in the sports world that the media gravitates towards. And whether you like it or not, he’s going to be around for a while.

When Ball kept bragging about how good Lonzo was, many people thought he was hurting Lonzo’s draft stock by doing this. But instead, it gave Lonzo more attention from fans and NBA players and would go on to be drafted #2 overall to the Lakers, just like Lavar predicted. People laughed when Lavar decided to start a shoe brand for the Ball Family instead of commending him for his entrepreneurial venture. I’ll admit that many of the things he does are questionable in many aspects. But, as much as we don’t want to admit it, the man’s a genius.

Lavar is showing the world that his son can take a different route and can be the first to rock his own unique shoe coming into his rookie year. He is teaching his sons to be confident in everything they do no matter how much the odds are stacked against them. It takes a very confident man to challenge legends like Shaq, Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan knowing he averaged only 2.2 points during his playing career. I see many of Lavar’s antics as part of a genius marketing strategy with a very small hint of good parenting mixed in. Critics complain about Lavar Ball and wish that he would just fade away and become irrelevant but fail to realize that whenever they bring up Lavar in any context they are giving him more publicity, keeping him famous and impactful.

Lavar Ball has stirred up plenty of controversy since rising to prominence and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny the impact he has made in his short time in the spotlight. You also gotta give the man respect for being involved in his sons’ lives and careers to a level that we often don’t see amongst athletes, especially for African American athletes. As much as many of us say we can’t stand Lavar Ball, we just can’t get enough of him.

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Squad Up

Since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors last summer, superteams have been a hot topic in the NBA for a while now. After KD left OKC for a stacked team that was one win away from winning the Finals in 2016 and went on to win this year’s Finals, many have argued whether or not superteams are good for the league. Now as the 2017 offseason kicks into gear, it appears that the superteam building will once again be in full effect this year.

Recently, there have been reports that the Cavs could potentially trade for All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler. Not to mention that the Cavs could be in play for Paul George, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony (add D-Wade to the mix and they might have a banana boat crew reunion in Cleveland). With the chance of the Warriors and Cavs strengthing their already strong teams this offseason, we could see these “superteams” continue their dominance over the league for the next few years.

But what is a super team really? Many of us think that a super team is a team loaded with talented big-name players that can dominate and win games and championships. But we have seen in the recent years that even teams loaded with big name talents did not dominate like many expected they would. After the Celtics traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Nets, we all expected the Nets to win a lot of games and make deep runs in the playoffs. We all know how that panned out. Then we thought the Lakers were going to be a dominant team after they signed Steve Nash and Dwight Howard,  but they barely made it to the playoffs and only lasted a year. Then many thought that after the last offseason, the Knicks could challenge Cleveland’s reign over the East, but they were finished before the season began.

So are super teams really bad for the NBA, or any other league? In terms of competition and parity, yes. It sucks when you know exactly who’s going to be in the championship game every year, which can hurt interest in the event and hurt ratings. Vice versa, super teams can be very entertaining as well. Everyone loves a good fight, and with two teams constantly competing to be at the top, bad blood is bound to form between the two. That sets the stage for trash talk, fights, and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Even though we knew the Cavs and Warriors were going to be in the Finals again, many of us still tuned in to see spats between LeBron James and Kevin Durant or altercations such as Tristan Thompson and David West (minus the mouth to mouth contact).

But in the grand scheme of things, there’s not much we as fans can get mad about. Teams will do what they have to do, even sell their souls to the devil, just to win championships. And players want to win championships during their career, and sometimes they will join teams that will give them the best chance to do so, even if it makes them the most hated person in the sports world.

Warm Welcome

For college students, graduation is one of the biggest days of their lives. These students spent the last four years of their life grinding day in and day out for this day, this ceremony, this moment. For them, graduation is where they are commended for their hard work and receive their degrees. And just as important as the degrees they will receive are the words of wisdom they will hear from prominent figures.

But what good are these words of wisdom if they come from someone who practically paid to be in the high position that they’re in now?

For Bethune-Cookman’s class of 2017, they were given these wise words by the controversial Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos…well at least she tried to anyway. With there already being enough anger over her becoming the education secretary with little to no knowledge or experience in education, the last thing she should be doing is giving a commencement speech at a college graduation. With this in mind, BCU’s graduating class welcomed  DeVos with a cascade of boos and many of the graduating students turning their backs towards her in protest of her speech.  As the boos continue to rain down, the university’s president intervened and threatened to have the student’s degrees mailed to them if the boos continued.

It was like the stars were perfectly aligned for this moment.

This was not just a moment for these graduates, it was a moment for Mary Bethune and her university’s legacy. It was a moment for HBCU students to use their voices to protest a figure that does not have their best interest at heart. It was a moment for African-Americans to stand up against the oppression that this country has put us through and continues to do until this day.

These young men and women stood up against the harm that Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, and the rest of the Trump administration could inflict upon HBCUs and the rest of the educational system in our country.  For DeVos to even be allowed to speak at an HBCU graduation is an insult to the hard work every one of those students put in and to the legacy of Bethune-Cookman University and other HBCUs. And for DeVos to think that HBCUs were created out of school choice shows how little she knows education in this country. The fact that she didn’t know that HBCUs were created due to the fact that African Americans could not attend the same colleges as whites should have automatically disqualified her from speaking at any college graduation, let alone being the education secretary.

 

WOLF Blog Update

For those who keep up with, and support my blog, I would like to inform you that starting next week, this blog will no longer only discuss sports. In an effort to expand my writing skill as well as reach a wider audience, my blog will shift focus to topics such as politics, society, life, music, and a variety of other topics. I will still discuss sports of course, but I want to also have an outlet to express my views on other topics as well. The blog will still be under the domain of wolfsports.org until January 2018, so until then I will work on a new title for this blog. I hope you will continue to support me and enjoy the new articles I will put out soon touching on a wider variety of topics. Thank You.

-Cody J. Dallas

BlackBall

Weeks after the start of free agency in the NFL, many players have either resigned to their team from the 2016-2017 season or found a new team to call home. Since free agency opened back on March 7th, we’ve seen players like Brandon Marshall, DeSean Jackson, and Latavius Murray switch teams. There were also plenty of quarterbacks on the market who signed with new teams this season. As a matter of fact, many quarterbacks flew off the market this offseason. Many except for one: Colin Kaepernick.

I’m pretty sure you heard by now how Mr. Kaepernick decided to not stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against minorities and then after the season ended, he end his protest. Well now even though Kaepernick has ended his protest, teams are still passing up on him for other quarterbacks that aren’t much better than him.

“Well, he’s just a bad football player.” That’s bull. You mean to tell me that a guy like Mark Sanchez can get signed to a team even though the last time he was in a game he stunk it up like the butt he ran into almost five years ago, but Kaepernick can’t get signed? Let me get you to understand that this is the same Colin Kaepernick that led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in the same timeframe and almost did it again a year later. Even though the read offense is all but dead in today’s NFL, Colin Kaepernick still has the talent to play for a team and, with the right coaches and players, run a good offense. And many NFL teams know this.

So why is Mr. Kaepernick still waiting in the unemployment line? Because he has fallen into the same game that other athletes who stood for something fall into, blackball. Guys like Chris Jackson and Craig Hodges who spoke out against injustices in America in a notable way would find themselves informally banned from their pro league, never able to find another club to sign him again (In their case, the NBA). Now Kaepernick has found himself in the same game with the NFL. NFL owners won’t touch him due to the controversy surrounding his anthem protest last season and they’ll use his play as of late as an excuse to not sign him. Yet those same owners will go out and sign guys like Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith and, EJ Manuel. Even Johnny Manzeil might get a second chance after not being in the league for a whole year and he has a chance to play under Sean Payton and mentored by Drew Brees.

Colin Kaepernick’s situation should be a reminder of what happens when black athletes use their platform to take action on injustices in America. Kaepernick’s actions was a spit in the face of the majority white management in the NFL just as Chris Jackson and Craig Hodges’ actions were in the face of the majority white management of the NBA.

The Madness

With almost two full rounds of matchups, the 2017 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is shaping up to be another exciting tourney. After the rounds of 64, we’ve seen teams like the University of Rhode Island, and Mid Tennesse upset higher ranked teams. And with the round of 32 underway, we have already seen the likes of FSU, and even defending champion Villanova fall.  Now with the guarantee of a new champion being crowned, the tourney just got even more interesting.

So far for the Sweet 16, there’s Wisconsin vs. Florida, Gonzaga vs. West Virginia, and Xavier vs. Arizona, with more matchups to form by the end of the day. After losses from Villanova, and Louisville, many fans have already found their tournament brackets busted before sunset yesterday. As the tournament continues, more brackets will be busted as the Sweet 16 showcases matchups that will have fans uncertain about higher-ranked teams making it to the Elite Eight.

Even so, this year’s tournament promises excitement, uncertainty, and heartbreak as college teams watch their hopes of going to Phoenix dashed and fans watch their hopes of having a perfect bracket tear to pieces. As for me, my bracket is down but not out. Even though my matchup up of Villanova vs. North Carolina in a rematch from last year won’t happen, I did have North Carolina winning it all 74-70so there’s still hope.

Standing Tall

Last season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick stirred up plenty of controversy for his decision to not stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. Now, Colin Kaepernick is causing controversy again, but for doing the opposite this time.

Last week, Kaepernick announced that he will end his protest of the national anthem and stand during the anthem next season. Now even though Kaepernick has decided to end his protest, many people are still angry at Kaepernick for ending his protest.

Kaepernick already faced a plethora of hate from what many felt was “disrespecting the country”, he receives more backlash for ending his protest right before free agency.  People think that he ended his protest just so he could have a better chance of being re-signed by the 49ers, or signed by another team during free agency.

Honestly, I think his decision to kneel and now stand during the anthem are both justified. When he protested, he started a movement that brought light to the police brutality issue that America is facing. While police brutality was already a hot topic in the country, Kaepernick’s protest helped bring this topic to a bigger audience. Throughout his protest, Kaepernick was able to bring more awareness while also inspiring other athletes to follow in his footsteps and protest for justice.

And when he decided to stand again, I think at this point he realized that although he has brought awareness to this issue, there are still unarmed citizens being hurt and killed by police brutality. There is but so much a peaceful protest can do.

All Star Beef

Imagine that months after your nasty breakup, you have to work with your ex and her new boyfriend. If this doesn’t describe the situation Russell Westbrook will face with Kevin Durant and his new Warriors teammates at the All Star game, then I don’t know what does.  

After months of painfully awkward shunning off the court, and trash talking on the court, the former teammates must reunite for the All Star game on Feb.19. It’ll be interesting to see how Westbrook will coexist with Durant and his teammates from the Golden State Warriors, but it will also be cool to see them back together again. 

While most of the media may hype this reunion as a potential fight night, I see this happening one of two ways:

A.) Westbrook and Durant will “play nice” with each other, meaning they will work with each other on the court, then act like they don’t know each other once they get to the bench. Expect to see shots of Westbrook sitting far away from Durant on the bench, no handshakes between the two, and trolling from Durant’s Warrior teammates.

B.) They shock the world, and act like the brothers they were in OKC, proving that they were trolling the world with their previous encounters. Or at least put up a good facade of still being on good terms.

Either way, the All Star game will be must see TV to see how Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will work with each other after Durant joined one of the Thunder’s biggest rivals in the west.

One of the GOATS

As much as I honestly hated to see it happen, I knew it was going to happen. The Patriots captured their 5th Super Bowl and Tom Brady further solidified his status as one of the greatest to ever step foot on the field.

Unlike many people, I won’t go as far as saying he’s THE greatest of all time, especially if it’s for winning five Super Bowls because Charles Haley did that a long time ago. But I have to admit, what Brady did on Sunday was legendary. Many thought the Patriots were down and out after Brady threw a pick-6, and they were down 28-3. But for the Patriots to come back, force the first ever overtime in the Super Bowl and win is nothing short of legendary.

While I won’t be quick to say that Brady is the single greatest player in NFL history yet, I will give the title of the greatest QB-coach duo to him and Bill Belichick. Since Belichick became head coach of the Patriots, they have gone on to win 5 out of 7 Super Bowls, win the AFC East 14 times, and win 9 conference championships, all with Tom Brady under center. These two were even on the brink of having the first 19-0 season until the Giants ruined that back in ’08.

All in all, I have to give it to the Patriots. As much as I (along with 90% of America) wanted to see them collapse after Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season, they pushed through and made another Super Bowl run. Now the question is, will there ever be another duo that can dominate the NFL like Belichick and Brady have over the last decade?

Sir Charles vs. King James

50 Cent might want to add this match up to the Chris Brown vs. Soulja Boy card in March: Charles Barkley vs. LeBron James.

LeBron made headlines recently for saying that the Cavs need to add a playmaker to their team already loaded with playmakers. Charles Barkley, never one to bite his tongue, called out James for whining and being inappropriate. LeBron would soon fire back in an uncharacteristic way by calling Barkley a hater and saying “Screw him.”

I understand where Barkley is coming from, he of all people should not speak on LeBron’s situation considering the fact that he has never come off a championship season. But LeBron is just coming off a championship, surrounded by stars like Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, along with a strong supporting cast. Not to mention, they just acquired a sharpshooter in Kyle Korver, so I don’t really see why LeBron is complaining about needing another player. Besides, this is the team LeBron built, so he can’t really get mad about not having good enough players when he was the one that helped bring them all together. The moment he rejoined the Cavs, he pushed them to go out a get guys like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert. I understand that the Cavaliers ‘ recent slide has been frustrating for him, but he’s not making the slide any better by publically complaining about the team’s supposed lack of playmakers. I’m sure LeBron is not a selfish player, but sometimes he can be inconsiderate.

 

 

Photo Credit: lovebscott.com