I fucking LOVE Damian Lillard. I was always a fan of his, but when I read his player’s tribune article Loyalty Over Everything. That’s when I truly became a fan of his forever. The article is long but worth the read. To summarize: Damian Lillard believes in Loyalty, it was instilled by his family, and he’s not going to leave the people he rides with. In an age where every NBA player is thinking about their next team, Dame only wants to win for the team that believed in him and drafted him.
Cut to: Bubble Basketball.
The Blazers are finally healthy, except for the fact CJ McCollum is playing with a broken back (yikes) Lillard has put the team on his shoulders and he’s willing them into the playoffs. Jusuf Nurkic and him have been playing great two-man basketball. Carmelo Anthony has been contributing. Gary Trent Jr. and Zach Collins have been very good. But let’s be real it’s all about Dame time right now. On Sunday Lillard dropped 51 on the 76ers to win 124-121.
This came the day after he missed 2 clutch free throws vs the LA Clippers in a loss that put the Trail Blazers playoff hopes in jeopardy. Paul George and Pat Beverly were celebrating the missed free throws and after the game when asked about it, Dame had this to say.
It turned into a war of words online for a minute, don’t battle with Dame Dolla.
51 points vs the Clippers and my guy still has these idiot pundits running their jaws.
Skip Bayless with a future freezing cold take because on Tuesday in an almost must-win game Dame dropped 61 on the Mavs, his 3rd 60 point game of the season. Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player in NBA history to have three 60 point games in a season.
The return of the NBA has been a bright spot in this shitty pandemic and Dame has been the brightest star of the restart. I really wish his running mate CJ McCollum wasn’t fighting back problems, they need CJ if they want to beat LA, but for the time being Dame is putting the Blazers on his back like Greg Jennings.
We made it, rail riders. We fuckin’ made it. The entire season has been simulated, and we have a champion. Not only do we have a champion, but that champion is the one we deserve. Like I said in the Eastern Conference results blog…was there ever any goddamn doubt?!?!?
The Chicago Bulls are your PBM Covid-19 Ultimate Fantasy NBA kings! They swept the damn Lakers, baby. The Bulls went 16-4 in the playoffs. They fuckin’ dominated this shit, baby. The lone shocker? Allow me to introduce you to your Finals MVP:
Jordan can’t win the award every single time, I guess. MVP-level Derrick Rose is getting his flowers in our simulated universe and it’s a beautiful sight. How lucky is the rest of the NBA, and especially LeBron James, that this guy couldn’t stay on the floor in his prime? Rose could’ve been a top 20 player of all time, people. Basketball fans were ROBBED of some amazing moments by his faulty legs. It brings me great joy to celebrate D Rose via this forum, and I’m stoked his best season shined through in this medium.
…and that’s the end of that, rail riders. Hope you enjoyed reading the content this concept yielded as much as I enjoyed creating it. I’m going to try and deliver more elaborate material such as this throughout the pandemic, and any feedback is truly welcome.
Until next time – wash your goddamn ass, passengers. Deuces.
All aboard, rail riders! Your boy PBM is back to bring you the winners, losers, and key moments from the simulated ultimate NBA league’s Eastern Conference. Let’s jump right to it – here’s the completed bracket:
Was there really any doubt, family? Despite a lackluster regular season (when compared to his Airness’ Bulls standards), Jordan and the Bulls smashed the competition in the playoffs. Barkley and Reggie took them to six, but no one else gave them any real trouble. The false king LeBron James lost in seven to the team he “owns” per his legion of Bronsexuals, and here’s the box score from that contest:
The loss definitely doesn’t fall on Bron Bron’s shoulders as he put in a monstrous statistical performance. Unfortunately, he didn’t have Chris Bosh on his side this time. Bosh’s excellence has been vastly ignored in the annals of NBA history, but not in the PBM Ultimate league. All that said, the biggest subplot from this game was the foul discrepancy. Good God, man. Some AI being hates LeBron just as much as we do here at ATrain Sports!
The other first round happening of note was Russell Westbrook’s Hawks burying the Celtics. Peep Russ’ numbers in the third game of the series:
Shaq and Russ single handily vanquished the Nash / Garnett Celtics. They also participated in the craziest series of the playoffs in the second round vs. Toronto. Two games ended on a buzzer beater, and not one game was decided by less than five points.
Kawhi ties it with :05 seconds left, and Russ answers for the Hawks! One good turn deserves another, and here’s the end of the second buzzer beater of the series:
Kevin Willis with the dagger! Unreal, man. The big man played significant years for each team in this series, and he sinks the squad from his youth with the logo of his veteran self’s organization on his jersey.
I wish I could place some emphasis on another series or game, but Jordan and Derrick Rose wouldn’t allow for it. Almost every game was a blood bath. I’ll be back with the Finals results shortly, loyal passengers. It’s the Bulls and the Lakers for all the glory!
Stay safe, wash your ass, and clean your heads. PBM has the back of all non-filthy fucks during this pandemic.
Happy Monday, rail riders! Mondays no longer have a feel in quarantine, right? No days have a feel anymore and it sucks. If it wasn’t for STL Sports Columnist Ben Hochman’s insistence to use non-stop Seinfeld material in 2020, I’d post Costanza’s understanding of days with feels. Can’t be a hypocrite, family. Let’s get into the real reason we are here and discuss how the western conference unfolded in my ultimate NBA simulation. ALL ABOARD!!!
Last week I unveiled the fantasy rosters of all 30 NBA teams and only hoped I could take it further. Immediately after posting, I remembered a site I used to be heavily involved with called whatifsports.com. This site allows for users to make dream teams in all the major sports – it’s nerd heaven. Twelve or thirteen years ago, ya boy PBM used to mop fools up in simulated NBA seasons. My squads won trophies, people. It was the perfect way to waste time in the corporate office setting. Alas, upon getting out of the corporate world and giving up my oxy addiction meant whatifsports.com leaving my life. Until this weekend…when it returned with a bang!
Whatifsports.com isn’t perfect. It’s not god-level AI. But it is the best free sports simulation available, and I wanted to take this concept further.
I didn’t simulate an entire season in the traditional NBA format – that would’ve taken me until 2025 to do. Instead, I had all the western conference teams play their division opponents six times (three at home, three on the road). Based on those results, I seeded the playoffs. The playoffs were executed in the traditional playoff format – best of seven games in the 2-2-1-1-1 rotation. Here’s who made the playoffs:
The Blazers went on the road to beat the Clippers in a play-in game for 8th slot. The box score is below (whatifsports.com brings the statistical thunder).
I was deeply saddened by how limited this Clippers team ended up being. Steve Francis and Blake Griffin aren’t the best team basketball players and it showed. Pippen and McHale deserved better, and I’m sad about it. However, the biggest takeaway from this game is the Hakeem / McHale battle in the post. The two deadliest post players of all-time went back and forth and rarely missed. The advantage was Dream’s, as he crushed McHale on both sides of the boards.
The rest of the western conference played out in a way which illicited more sadness…I made the Lakers too fucking good. Also, the Sonics flamed out in the playoffs despite dominating their regular season schedule. Bad times all around for ya boy.
I pulled a few noteworthy box scores along the way. Find them below.
Game four of the Spurs / Kings series. TMac did all he could to not flame out AGAIN in the first round of the playoffs. Alas, he was swept. Only TMac could get a Bill Russell team swept in the first round of the playoffs. George Gervin absolutely lit up the Kings’ wings this entire series.
Game six of Lakers / Spurs. The Spurs blew a twenty point fourth quarter lead…ugh. This Lakers team might be the ultimate showcase of how under appreciated Jason Kidd, Pau Gasol, and Anthony Davis really are. I should’ve given them Nash, McAdoo, and Dwight Howard instead – sweet moves, PBM.
Game two of the western conference finals. Look at the FT shooting.
EVEN IN SIMULATIONS THE LAKERS GET ALL THE FUCKING CALLS!
This happened twice in the Spurs series and once more in the finals. The Lakers are going to win my fake league and/or lose to LeBron’s Cavs. Eastern results coming tomorrow. Stay safe, family. Please allow this throwback heat from G-Unit to play me out the door..it’s been in heavy rotation for ya boy this month.
Rail Riders! It’s been too long since I left you…without a dope blog or any content at all to truly step to! This changes now…and it changes in a HAAA-UGE way. Your boy PBM finally sat down and did something he’s wanted to do for years, and the Rona revealed the opportunity. I’ve made the largest cup of lemonade you’ve ever seen out of the quarantine lemons we’re all engulfing. So large that it would take Train three days to lose himself in glasses of it while pelting or losing his precious body armor via the wacky world of fallout.
I sense you’re skeptical. You don’t believe I’ve truly shifted the narrative, correct? Well…how about if I told you I drafted ten-men rosters for every team in the NBA using the traditional snake style and based the order on this year’s standings? How about if I told you I decided to make every single player who’s ever played the game available to be selected?
Here’s how I did it:
The draft order was created using this year’s standings. I manipulated the lottery in order to allow for certain star players to play for the team’s they became stars on.
Throughout the draft I prioritized placing individuals on teams whom they contributed for / excelled on / won titles with.
The all-time greats were placed with purpose…for the most part. That purpose was fueled by irony, intrigue, or historical significance.
Dumb teams remained dumb. I also have a bias against the Nets, so they purposefully made some silly decisions.
The Thunder moved back to Seattle.
Team’s identities / playing styles / management trends were always top of mind, and organizations which reward loyalty were given priority to land a player whom has ties to their franchise.
Without further adieu, here is what unfolded (you’ll see the number in which players were chosen next to their name on every roster). I’ll do some intensive roster breakdowns either later today or this weekend.
Here’s some observations at first glance:
The favorites at first glance are the Bulls, Pistons, Blazers, Hornets, Warriors, Kings, and Clippers.
Just outside of the top teams are the Cavs, Spurs, TWolves, Wizards, Pacers, Sonics, Celtics, Raptors, and Lakers.
The weakest rosters belong to the Suns, Nets, Rockets, and Bucks.
As far as specific players landing on specific teams, here are my initial thoughts on what results are the dopest:
I think Magic leading a Pistons team (he’s from Michigan) built with members from each era of the Bad Boys’ championship runs is an insanely hilarious idea…and it might yield dominance.
I love the Blazers finally landing their elite big man in Hakeem with the fifth pick – pairing him with Dame, Roy, Sheed, and Big Game James gives Dream the chance to prove he’s the GOAT big man.
Reggie and Barkley teaming up in Naptown to beat Jordan is awesome – Barklye isn’t distracted by clubs, good food, and women. Not to mention Ben Simmons giving them each their desired number of looks.
Legendary Celtics’ winners Bill Russell and Dennis Johnson leading a Kings squad loaded with as much talent as they have playoff failures. I basically added TMac and Jokic (along with the aforementioned Celts) to the core Kings squad that was constantly robbed in the early 2000’s).
The Splash Bro’s and Igouyoshi teaming up with Brad Beal in DC. That three guard lineup could eat souls in any era.
Pippen and McHale finally stepping out of MJ and Bird’s shadows with the Clippers. That duo teaming up with some under appreciated all star guards (Deron & Franchise), arguably the most prolific Clipper ever (Blake Griffin), and their beloved threesome of Lou, Trezz, and PBev makes the Clipshow pretty damn vicious.
What guards / wings are scoring on Glove / Klaw in crunch time? The Raps are no joke.
The Hornets don’t trade Kobe, and he gets paired with Bill Walton and Luka. Yikes.
Durant gets to lead an amalgamation of his title winning Warriors squads (sans the fan favorites whom relocated to DC) and the beloved “we believe” team of ’06-’07. Can he handle Baron and Draymond yelling in his face every timeout? If he can, they’re as good as anyone.
The Knicks landed two dudes, one past (Kareem) and one present (Jimmy Butler), to pair with franchise icons Willis and Pearl. It probably isn’t enough.
Darryl Morey used analytics to pair Rick Barry’s efficiency with James Harden’s…and the Rockets get obliterated by 50+ night in and night out.
The two studs who conjure up as many throwback vibes as anyone currently in the league (Giannis & CP3) lead the return to Seattle for the Sonics. The modern Glove – Reign Man aren’t alone…Ben Wallace’s fro, Grant Hill’s versatility, and Devin Booker’s dick round out their nasty starting five.
The Bucks stink because their front office is dumb…they overextend on guys whom are past their prime / poor fits every year. Same goes for the Suns.
N’awlins is the biggest “what-if” unit. Moses and his modern equivalent (Zion) just could be too much for any squad to handle.
Despite all the observations above, the favorites in the clubhouse are the Bulls. The GOAT running alongside both D. Rose and Kemp in their primes is simply incomprehensible. It would probably always look like this…
and DEFINITELY THIS…
Bulls are -150 in fake Vegas, family.
Come back in the next day or so for a simulated season of results, awards, and fake observations. All feedback is desired, welcomed, and possibly dismissed.
The NBA stretch run express train has entered the station, rail riders! Hop aboard and stand clear of the closing doors. Don’t be frightened by the realization that today’s journey will be inspired by none other than ESPN’s Zach “Don’t Call Me an End Theory” Lowe. Despite our deep seeded hatred for ESPN’s coverage of literally everything, the Zach Attack’s format works perfectly for PBM to unveil all the elements of his consistently tumultuous relationship with the national basketball association. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t know if I love what I love more than I love what I hate…it’s weird spot to be in for a budding mental health professional such as myself. But ya know what? Weird is good. Weird is new. And weird is gonna yield a breakdown of my current top ten love’s and hate’s in the polarizing stratosphere of the NBA.
Chip Tha Rip and Bun B – get this fuckin’ party started!
I love Zion Williamson in every way you can. However, what I love the most how he walks during every moment outside of live game play. It’s a hybrid of “March of the Penguins” + “Go to your room, young man!’ Take it away, Chuck!
In addition to the humor residing beside his inexplicable gait, Zion has failed to disappoint in almost every quantifiable way. Peep the young king in action:
2. More Zion! Because using Zion to gaslight LeBron STAN’s from now until eternity is going to be just delightful! Zion has started his career better than Bron, did you know that? Using #numbers and #facts, Zion is officially a better hooper than the Kid From Akron until further notice. Here’s the evidence (which I can guarantee isn’t fake news):
3. I am enamored with Bradley Beal’s electrifying, unrelenting, and inexplicable hot streak that is driving his team towards possibly being the 8th seed in the East. I’ve always loved Beal because he’s an STL guy that plays an effortless style of basketball in the mold of TMac, Manu, and other elite scorers of year’s past. I’m now fully infatuated with him due to his insane competiveness and next-level elevation of each facet of his game. Peep his 2020 game log, please:
The man is a human torch right now. He’s rising his level and competing via peak performance in an era where most dudes would get elective surgery in lieu of playing alongside Beal’s supporting cast. His second best player can literally only shoot 3’s, and his third best player is a rookie from Gonzaga who is constantly overmatched at this natural position. Here’s the current Wizards squad in all their mediocrity infused glory:
Beal’s officially a made man around these parts. Any aggression upon him will be met with equal or more extreme measures from the caboose.
4. Keeping it in STL – I love that Jayson Tatum is making a push for a spot in the top ten players in the league. Tatum has gotten his flowers incessantly via mainstream media, but I couldn’t leave him off the debut love’s.
5. I’m romantically invested in the Clippers savvy deadline moves, continued improvement, and constant one-upping of the Lakers. I’m way more enthralled by the Clips bringing in Reggie Jackson than them trading for Marcus Morris, but the facts are that these two additions have enabled them to run TEN DEEP via two solidified five-man units.
They’re starting PG, PBev, Kawhi, Zubac, and Marcus Morris
The second unit is Trezz, LouWill, Reggie Jackson, Landry Shamet, and Jamychal Green.
The crunch time five includes Kawhi and PG + any 3-man combination of Trezz, LouWill, PBev, Reggie, and Marcus.
Versatility in spades, children. You know who doesn’t have anything close to this roster? The Lakers. You know who plays on Sunday? The Clips v. The Lakers. You know who’s gonna remain undefeated again LeBron’s merry band of buttheads? The Clippers.
Closing out my loves…
6. I love Golden State taking a chance on Andrew Wiggins while also being in position to add Obi Toppin via the lottery. I love even more how Steph is going to run with their young, role player laden roster to determine who fits and who doesn’t for next year’s unit. A starting five of Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Donkey, and Toppin has to be the favorite in Vegas, right? I’m salivating over this team being another squad equipped to dominate Akron’s only son.
7. I love Nick Nurse and the entire Toronto Raptors organization. Ujiri might be a top five executive of all-time, folks. The Kawhi trade + the Nurse hire + drafting Spicy P, VanVleet, Anouby, and Boucher makes one insanely scorching executive hot streak. Celtics v. Raptors in the second round is gonna be a dog fight – Tatum lining up against Siakam to determine best wing in the east has me drooling.
8. I love Charles Barkley’s hatred of the Rockets…”team full of munchkins.”
9. I love the battle for the 8th seed in the West. The Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Kings all have incredible young cores that are jockeying for invaluable post-season experience. Hopefully Jaren Jackson and Brandon Clarke (Grizz) and Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley (Kings) get healthy for the stretch run. I didn’t forget Portland – the Blazers don’t have a shot in hell to make the playoffs, and we’ll get into that shortly.
10. I love Giannis and the Lopez Twins setting the tone the Bucks via WWE inspired pre-game antics.
Shit like this makes me think they aren’t as fatally flawed as they might be.
Here’s where it gets fun, mafuckas! Preemo, Nore, and Blaq Poet – set it off!!
I loathe everything about JamesHarden as a person, as a player, and as a microcosm of our nation’s general insanity. This deserves it’s own blog, kids. It really, really does. In lieu of that happening right now, just watch this compilation of the self-proclaimed MVP doing non-MVP things:
2. I despise Doris Burke’s steadfast commitment to contradicting herself, fellating LeBron, and never delivering anything insightful via her horrfiic commentary. HEY DORIS! SHUT THE FUCK UP, K?!? LEBRON ISN’T IN THE DISUCSSION FOR MVP WITH GIANNIS. THIS IS NOT A NARRATIVE WORTH EXPLORING. IT’S NOT A DOOR TO BE LEFT OPEN. YOU WANT ME TO SHOW YOU WHY? HERE’S GIANNIS’ SEASON COMPARED TO LEBRON’S (keep in mind the Bucks thrashed the Lakers H2H and are 53-9 next to LA’s 47-13).
Doesn’t take a math major to determine who’s having the better statistical season, right? Here’s the kicker though, Doris. Bron might not be the most valuable Laker! His “best teammate” is the third best player when using advanced stats in NBA history! Let’s look at Brow v. Khris Middleton for good measure, Doris:
You know what grinds my gears, fellow travelers? You see the stats WS & WS/48? That means “win shares” and “win shares per 48 minutes.” It’s essentially how much an individual has contributed to his team winning games this season. That sounds like a way to determine a player’s “value” on their respective team, right? It appears as if the Unibrow is rocking around at 9.9 WS and .264 WS/48…wait, what? That’s more than LeBron’s 8.8 WS and .212 WS/48?!?!? RIDDLE ME THIS, DORIS! HOW THE FUCK IS HE THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE WHEN HIS TEAMMATE IS WINNING MORE GAMES FOR THE LAKERS THAN HE IS??!??!? God damn it, I hate her.
(BTW – Giannis is leading the league with 10.3 WS and .287 WS/48)
3. I hate Trae Young’s drowned rat face, but I hate his ridiculous hype machine even more. I guess it’s a hot take to think Trae Young is vastly overrated. If it is, consider me Scalding Smails. I’m going even further with this – Trae Young will NEVER make the playoffs as a team’s best player. You know how I know this? Because he’s never been a winner before…at any level. He’s 38-97 in his two NBA seasons. He lost to a garbage Rhode Island team in the first round of the NCAA tourney at Oklahoma. He never won a state title in high school, people! This clip sums up everything about Trae Young in a swift two minutes:
4. I hate that Dame Lillard is going to miss the playoffs because the Blazers acquired + empowered Carmelo Anthony.
Admittedly, he’s been better as Blazer than a Rocket. But that’s like saying gonorrhea is better than herpes. Here’s his shooting numbers at a glance:
What I want you to take away is that he’s averaging the third most attempts on the team despite ranking 15 out of 18 in shooting percentages / efficiency. He’s also preventing young players like Simons, Little, and Trent from truly developing. I hate Carmelo, and I hope Dame does too.
5. I’m angry and hateful that injuries have not allowed to see the Pacers play to their potential. Oladipo missed half the year and has looked beyond rusty upon returning. Brogdon has been banged up all season. Lamb is done for the year. Turner can’t consitently stay on the court. Their one constant force, Damontas Sabonis, is having his breakout year drift into the NBA ether due to his team’s pseudo irrelevance. And that’s a damn shame.
That’s enough hate…here are my honorable mention love’s to end this obscenely long blog on a positive note.
Chris Paul’s remarkable season in OKC – CP was an All Star and is doing his thing via true excellence as a leader.
Ja Morant trying to collect All Star bodies any chance he can – he’s gonna dunk on an All NBA guy soon. My bet is Gobert.
Bam Adebayo’s emergence as a legitimate stud.
Refering to Kyrie Irving as “the butterfly catcher” with ATrain. Never gets old.
PBM has left the building. Tip your servers, family.
Butler lists his top five hardest defensive assignments as LeBron, Kyrie, Durant, Steph, and Harden. He provides legitimate reasons as to why they challenged him, swallows his pride multiple times, and once again showcases that his attitude towards the game is rooted in the old school ways. This article and his impact on the Heat this season have forced me to reevaluate Butler – I now view him as a top ten guy in today’s league. Butler’s presence on the floor matched has matched the power of his written, and his stock is rising. You know who never, ever helps himself via the written word or any words for that matter? Kevin Durant. You know who else chimed in with a his top five toughest dudes to defend list? Fuckin’ Kevin Durant. This is his list.
In the wake of his nonsense with Kendrick Perkins, you’d think KD would take a breather from expressing his views on things to the public. His insecurity over Twitter gave Perkins enough room to arguably win their exchange, and it became yet another addition to his growing list of media fails. KD’s verbal warfare is the polar opposite of his offensive game on the NBA floor. Instead of countless defenders, it is ALWAYS Durant whom looks foolish. Examples? How about the burner Twitter accounts, his beef with Draymond, his text feud with Chris “Bum Ass” Broussard, as well several other spats that I don’t care to mention? That all said, it gives to context to his terrible list. Even more context can be ascertained when examining the backlash from his infamous move to Golden State after the 2015-2016 NBA season. With all the above in mind, I can firmly see what Durant’s agenda was in listing these five dudes:
LeBron is obvious and necessary. He is a top five player of all time, and he’s been Durant’s chief competition for the true MVP every season of his career. Kawhi is also obvious and necessary – they clashed in the western conference for the majority of each’s career, and they never backed down from each other. Here’s where it gets tricky…why the hell did KD include PG and Lou over his current and former teammates such as Steph, Kyrie, and Harden? You might say, “well, he probably never guarded Steph or Kyrie one-on-one for long stretches of time.” However, if that’s the reason why, it doesn’t add up. Lou Williams is the same type of cover (with lesser handling and shooting than both Steph and Kyrie), and that would mean he too wasn’t Durant’s defensive responsibility for large chunks of time. Combining that thinking with Durant’s inclusion of Paul George over James Harden and his EXTENSIVE history of insecure behavior allows me to really connect some dots. Ready?
Anybody remember any epic Durant / PG duels? Bueller? Let us look at their H2H stats to refresh our memories, shall we? Um, Kevin? He shoots 38% against you. You’re either hyping your own defense too much or you’re overstating PG’s offensive talents. I think it’s the latter, because it makes your mortal enemy (Russell Westbrook) look bad, and it also makes Kawhi’s move to the Clippers look slightly similar to your own highly scrutinized move to the Warriors. The intent to devalue Kawhi and/or justify his own career choices is not hard to see, as it also aligns with him including Lou Williams over the likes of Curry and Irving. Either way you slice it, including Paul George on this list is a joke. The numbers (and sane brains) suggest it should be James Harden in George’s place:
Lou Williams’ inclusion on his top five is even more comical, and when you see the numbers it becomes downright hysterical. Here’s KD v. Kyrie:And finally, here’s KD v. Steph:Kevin – YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS. Either this man doesn’t remember A SINGLE FUCKING THING from the games he plays, or he’s pushing an agenda that is patently absurd. No matter its catalyst, I find this level of ignorance offensive from an all-time great hooper.
We need to discuss Embiid’s placement in this grouping. We’ve established why he most likely isn’t doling out props to his teammates (both past and present). We’ve also established this list as a potential way to celebrate his own defensive chops, correct? With that in mind, he had to include a big man. But why Joel over Giannis? Numbers time!Wow, man. Just wow. Joel’s .373 FG% in their three regular season matchups made his list. Kevin Durant is fucking tone deaf. Let’s see Giannis’ stats:As expected, Giannis has performed at a better clip against KD than Embiid. KD included Embiid because Giannis is the reigning MVP and KD isn’t happy about that. Or maybe he does have the worst memory on Earth. Regardless, I bet when they see each other again Giannis brings the ruckus to Durant’s dome.
Despite all of the above, Durant’s biggest error was leaving a legend off his list. Let’s peep Durant’s H2H with one of the best offensive player of all time, Dirk Nowitzki (14 playoff games against one another):Of all the guys we’ve discussed, Dirk deserves his place on KD’s list the most. Why didn’t he get it? Because Durant is tone deaf, guys. His actions, his words, and the numbers add up to equal an absurdly confused, insecure dude. His attempts to script his own narrative, unlike LeBron, have backfired. His ways have made this meme a large chunk of his legacy:
The NBA is the best league in professional sports, and the start of the season has cemented their alpha-league status. Hip Hop is the best musical art form ever created, and the recent releases have once again distanced its excellence from the likes of country (NFL), indie music (NHL), EDM (MLS), and modern rock (MLB). What better time for PBM to cross-culturally compare the stars of the National Basketball Association with their Hip Hop equivalents? Each comparison is based on their musical success seemingly measuring up to their comparison’s on-court performance (sales/downloads and wins/per-game stats), their personalities aligning, and their flow / lyrical capabilities matching with on-court style and demeanor. The last measurable will be rooted in whether or not the two individuals are “battle-tested” (the great Joe Budden would consider this the most important measurable of all). Without further adieu, let’s get to the most obvious pairing first.
LeBron James is Drake.
LeBron’s regular season totals? They’re the equivalent of Drake’s sales and streams. LeBron’s continued stardom? Drake was also a child star / prodigy. LeBron’s “steadfast” loyalty to Akron and Ohio despite leaving the state for greener pastures multiple times? That would be Drake being the “biggest Raptors fan alive” while trying to celebrate titles with the Heat, rocking rival jerseys while performing in other cities to pander to the fans, and getting the stars of the Warriors names tattooed on his body.
Each man is the self-proclaimed “GOAT” when they’ve been bullied, disrespected, beaten, or outright ignored by their peers and their industry’s respective legends. Each man also has groups of diehard STANs that refuse to cite anything other than their individual numbers to fuel their arguments – this is where the “battle tested” component comes into play. How can both of these dudes think they’re the best of all-time when they both consistently lose to their peers (both young and old)?!? Think about it…
LeBron has consistently taken L’s to Kawhi, Steph, Durant, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, and Dirk in the playoffs. He’s lost MVPs to Steph, Durant, Harden, Giannis, and Westbrook! Right now, he’s not even the best player on his own team. He has one title that stands out as memorable and/or due to this contributions, and his overall NBA Finals record is 17-32.
Drake has been lyrically or conversationally DEMOLISHED in beefs with Common, Budden, Diddy, Pusha T, DMX, and Kendrick Lamar. His wins? Meek Mill and Tyga. Pusha T’s evisceration of him last summer stands out the most, as he even found a picture of Drake in blackface for the single’s artwork.
Wanna know what this makes this even better? LeBron and Drake talked about Drake’s defeat on LeBron’s shitty HBO show.
Listen to the language they use! Drake calls his non-response to Pusha’s brutality his “decision!” He said he didn’t want to let LeBron down by said decision! Who better to discuss how decisions can let people down other than LeBron James, right?
Lastly, each man has left behind no legacy in their respective professions. LeBron has nurtured ZERO young teammates in his career. In fact, he’s traded them all away for dudes who could help pad his stats in the moment. Drake has ZERO young men directly tied to his legacy in Hip Hop. There is no Roc Nation, there is no Death Row, there is no TDE, and there is no Dreamville for Aubrey. While each dude has their diehard admirers, their fellow professionals rarely stand tall for their skills. When they do, it is behind a microphone for clout and/or on a feature to get paid.
I nailed this one, people.
Kawhi Leonard is Pusha T.
Obviously, right? Both men ruthlessly slay the false prophets of their kingdoms in H2H competition. Each man was groomed for success by the legends of their respective fields. Each man has multiple styles to attack their crafts with, and both tend to be extremely enigmatic in their approach. They raise their levels when the stakes are highest, and are ruthless when they do it. What made this comparison fit the most for me was a defect that each man possesses – we don’t get enough content from either one. Kawhi’s “load management” routine is painfully detrimental to his legacy. King Push put out a slamming “album” last year – his first in a minute – but it wasn’t really an album. DAYTONA only had seven tracks and in actuality was more of an EP.
Ultimately, they’re both all-time legends of their craft. Unfortunately, we may remember each one for leaving too much on the table. Here’s their finest moments for posterity:
Stephen Curry is J. Cole.
Two Carolina-raised, soft spoken dudes. Two insanely intelligent dudes who cherish collaboration and love to foster the growth of their younger peers. Two men who don’t tout their individual accomplishments and whom don’t give any weight to individual awards – shit, Cole doesn’t even go to the Grammy’s. Lastly, two dudes who will be remembered as two of the most skilled individuals to ever hoop / rap – Steph is the GOAT shooter, and Cole just might be the most diverse / skilled lyricist to ever rock the mic.
The biggest connection for me is how they each make their fellow players / rappers better. Steph has brought up Klay, Draymond, Looney, and Quinn Cook. He saved or extended the careers of Livingston, Iggy, Bogut, JaVale, and David West. J. Cole’s Dreamville label made arguably the most complete album of 2019, and his labelmates carried the torch. Bas, Lute, J.I.D., EARTHGANG, and Cozz have flourished under J. Cole’s watch. All have ascertained individual success, respect, and relevance while consistently representing J. Cole’s standard for Hip Hop.
Here’s Klay on Steph and a collaboration from the Dreamville core MC’s:
Zion Williamson is DaBaby…I hope.
Nice Segway from that last video to this comparison. It’s actually more of a prediction, because Zion hasn’t shown us anything yet in the league. Stay tuned to see if he can match “Suge” on the floor.
Freddie Gibbs is Kemba Walker.
I really wanted to make Gibbs and Giannis work – especially because Freddie dropped a banger in the Greek Freak’s honor this summer.
Unfortunately, the styles and circumstances don’t quite fit. Freddie and Kemba though? Here’s why I went there:
Both are proven winners with All Star stats – even when they are supported by dipshits. Kemba won titles in UCONN and is currently leading the league’s #1 offense in Boston + dominated individually for the hapless Bobcats / Hornets. Gibbs has made two of the best Hip Hop albums in my entire collection when partnered with the genius of Madlib. He also managed to churn out bangers despite being minimized and ignored while on Young Jeezy’s BMF label.
Kemba is probably the best pure point guard in the NBA. He might even be the only one left in the mold of Zeke, young CP3, Deron Williams, Young Marbury, Nash, Kidd, and other 90’s-00’s legends. Gibbs is definitely the best rapper to be actively recording Hip Hop music. That isn’t saying he’s the biggest star, people. It’s saying NO ONE raps better than him when handed a microphone in 2019. Just like no other PG’s are leading the best offenses in the NBA like Kemba Walker.
No one will ever fuck with either one of these dudes. Kemba is a real one from the Bronx. Gibbs is a real one and a native of Gary, IN. They’ll beat the shit out of their foes if necessary.
Time to enjoy the masters at work:
Other comparisons to come if I have the time later on today…
James Harden is Travis Scott.
Kevin Durant is Kendrick Lamar.
Lou Williams, Pat Beverly, and Montrezz Harrell are Westside Gunn, Conway, and Benny the Butcher.
After ya let Jeru’s poignant words sink in, turn to this random Twitter user’s tweet that was cited today in several Apple News articles:
“No more King James – Chairman James from now on.”
Sheeeeesh! What a rough week for LeBron James, and what an even worse week for his now-defunct “Global Icon” blueprints. In case you missed it, LeBron called Daryl Morey “misinformed” following Morey’s tweets in support of the criminally oppressed people of Hong Kong. Morey did this right before the NBA’s pre-season trip to China (which included LeBron’s Lakers), and it turned to be quite disastrous for the league’s relationship with the Chinese government. Morey’s tweets, albeit ill-timed, were poignant and directly aligned with the thinking of anyone who steadfastly advocates for social justice, equality, and for essential individual freedoms to be available to all of mankind . They were the tweets of a man with a moral code, and someone whom choses civil liberties in favor of big government and/or big corporation’s agendas.
What’s transpiring between China and Hong Kong is one of the few bi-partisan issues allowed by the insanely contentious nature of the modern social scene. In today’s radically divided and fanatically argumentative global political climate, there is almost always two unwavering sides to every major sociopolitical issue. This is what a social systems theorist would call “the divide of two warring factions.” The way to find balance in two warring factions? It’s quite simple, actually. You must try to find or establish a single deviant party – i.e. a person or group of people who’s public sentiment and/or political motivations are indefensible when dissected underneath the cognitive microscope yielded by either side of the equation. LeBron James, by his own hand, has become a single deviant party.
Upon receiving the appropriate backlash for his idiotically insensitive and morally bankrupt stance on the nature of Morey’s tweets, LeBron backtracked his original remarks and stated Morey “could’ve waited a week” to press the send button.
My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.
He did not specify whether Morey waiting to send the tweets would’ve been better for his team’s safety while playing in China, been better for the NBA’s revenue agreements with China, or been better purely in relation to his own commercial interests. The unwritten contextual importance of that tweet is that it aligns with wanting Morey to keep quiet in order to allow LeBron, his Lakers, and the NBA to collect funds now presently unavailable to them for the foreseeable future. It appears as if NBA’s business dynamic with China is seemingly forever altered, which is the negative commercial result generally associated with radical efforts for social change in an extremely capitalist society.
With all of these developments taking form, LeBron STILL hasn’t quieted himself when it comes to this issue. Today on ESPN’s “First Take,” a press conference aired where he once again poorly addressed his verbal miscues! LeBron ate more crow while astonishingly coming across as even more grossly intellectually / socially incompetent. He voiced his growing desire to avoid a “word or sentence feud with Morey,” and did nothing to silence a rather large mass of humanity that is calling him out for his heightened usage of tone deaf, uneducated, and irresponsible language.
Side Note: I believe the expression you were searching for LeBron is a “war of words.” Despite butchering the common tongue, this was the smartest thing you’ve done yet in your most recent, self-created PR nightmare. A “sentence feud” with the MIT-educated Morey is as one-sidedly geared for his strengths as a game of 1-on-1would be for yours.
When searching for a pop culture comparison, I went to back the well of “The Wire.” I’m pretty sure I’ve cited this scene before. I think I did so in terms of either LeBron or Kanye West (my LeBronye blogged has aged really well, BTW) being a corporately designed false idol, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact at hand is that I can find no better on-screen equivalent to capture the current embattled nature of Chairman James. His insatiable ego coupled with his obsessive desire to be proclaimed a “king” and a “global icon” caused him to drift way too far out of his lane one time too many, and most people aren’t watching idly this go around. In the quote below, the socially conscious, self-aware sect of the world is playing the role of Avon Barksdale as LeBron James seamlessly steps into the shoes of the morally reprehensible Stringer Bell:
Side Note: It pains me to compare LeBron to one of my favorite evil characters of all-time. But think of it in these terms – I LOVE great villains. My love for great, self-aware villains is matched only by my HATE for hypocritical, self-righteous “good guys.” LeBron is what I loathe, and his recent missteps finally provide concrete proof his true colors. Also, I feel like I’ve already written this side note in another one of my many anti-LeBron blogs…
Avon’s words are just too damn perfect. They summarize exactly where LeBron rests in his poorly conceived quest towards being remembered as not only the “GOAT” hooper, but also as a brilliant artist, a socially conscious leader of men, and as a globally renowned commercial “icon.” LeBron, by his own hand, is going to be remembered as none of these things by the educated masses. Who are the educated masses, you ask? Those whom generate critical analysis rooted in a sound educational foundation and read critically constructed commentary from a variety of sociopolitical angles fit the bill. Apologies to those only read “practical shit,” but we don’t take to your kind here. It just so happens that PBM fits the lowest of these standards, and I also have appropriately sized platform at my disposal. Tough breaks, Bron.
No matter how hard Chairman James has tried to star as the heroic protagonist of an impossibly uphill personal success story, a journey unlike any before his time, he has succeeded only in creating a confused brand identity that is strikingly similar to a number of other great athletes. In LeBron’s misguided efforts to be remembered as an amalgamation of Ali’s impeccable moral standards and MJ’s iconic commercial value, he has merely become a legendary hypocrite. LeBron tried as hard as he possibly could to be an extension of the legacies of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, and the aforementioned Muhammad Ali – I truly believe he did. Unfortunately, due to his lack of self-awareness and the absence of a legit, foundational education, he wasn’t afforded the wisdom to understand that in order to be mentioned in the same breath of social justice pioneers, you have to sacrifice an inordinate amount of personal commercial gains. Quite simply, in order to be “more than an athlete,” you cannot be driven by your “brand.”
As an athlete and as a brand, LeBron is bound to specific regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies form “the system.” The system’s governing forces are the NBA’s operational modalities (including ethical principles, financial bylaws, and more) the personal viewpoints of the owners of the NBA’s franchises, the NBA league sponsors as well as the individual team sponsor’s stated revenue goals, and lastly the way in which the objectively biased media outlets covers LeBron’s contributions to the NBA (both on and off the court). The athlete LeBron obsessively compares himself to, Michael Jordan, did not transcend these impenetrable, commercially controlled systemic boundaries. He became a stakeholder within them.
Jordan’s form of the impossible (his escape of corporate puppet strings) was never and will never be truly grasped by LeBron. It’s something that is wholly unique to MJ as an athlete (thus making him an “icon). Jordan’s star power and on-court dominance was so incredible that he was able to ascertain enough wealth to become a member/facilitator of the regulatory system described above. That said, there is a largely ignored yet inherently vital component of Jordan’s unparalleled rise to iconic status. Jordan kept his mouth shut in relation to any subject matter outside of what recently transpired on his field of play. He used the system’s respect of that steadfast loyalty to maximize his personal financial gain, and thus allowed for the system to absorb him as one of its cogs. The same system that Brown, Ali, and Kareem consistently advocated against with righteous political actions and social justice advocacy, was and is wholly adhered to by Michael Jordan. This adherence bred MJ’s iconic place within in said systemic constructs, just as being advocates for infrastructural change bred iconic statue for Brown, Ali, and Kareem.
As a reference point, Shaq, Magic, Kobe, and other NBA greats have thrived in or “sold out to” the NBA’s regulatory system in ways similar to Jordan. They have not nor ever will join MJ as a governing member of system that created them. Each accomplished too little on the court, all haven’t matched MJ’s earning potential, and all have done too much in the way of documented public controversy. LeBron also isn’t going to match MJ’s basketball achievements (despite what ESPN or several NBA talking heads will have you believe). MJ dominated like only Russell before him, and had no peers come close to his performance as a winner or his loyalty as a leader. LeBron is ahead of his peers only in terms physical gifts and the cumulative statistical dominance available to him via those gifts. LeBron’s loyalty issues need not be mentioned here…
From a purely financial standpoint, LeBron most certainly can’t match MJ’s iconic earning potential – compare their shoes’ values on StockX or just try and think of the national ad campaigns both men have starred in. Jordan has/had Nike, Hanes, Coke, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties, Chevy, and more. LeBron? I can think of Sprite off the top of my head. Ultimately, a universal understanding that MJ dominates LeBron as an earner is punctuated by acknowledging Jordan’s 1.9 billion dollar net worth. LeBron’s personal fortune, while impressive, is less than a 1/4 of that and rests at 450 million (nestled in between Kobe at 500MM and Shaq at 400MM).
All that information brings us back to the quote from Avon Barksdale, because as of today, both literally and figuratively, LeBron James is both an athlete and a brand without a country. He isn’t smart enough or hard enough to do all of his talking on the court (despite his unmatched physical tools), and he most definitely is not smart enough or hard enough to embody an action-oriented existence built on sacrificing personal gain for socially significant, positively oriented systemic change. In the words of the kids, unsuccessfully trying to trademark Taco Tuesday “ain’t it, bruh.”
Wow. Having rested my case in terms of the basketball court’s verdict on “The Case of the GOAT” months ago, it feels awfully good to finally close his case in the court of public opinion as well. I’ll let you determine your own verdict – PBM’s prosecution rests.
It’s been a minute since my last sports-related blog but NBA free agency came in like a bat out of hell and reset the NBA. This is a glorious day. No longer is it the Warriors (if they stay healthy) and everyone else.
We have Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant to thank for this…mostly Kawhi. The NBA is now made up of 5 types of teams.
We just hit the reset button “process teams”
Up and coming but still too young. (Excited fan base)
We don’t know what we are doing at all.
I want to focus on who I think the “true contenders” are.
True Contenders: WEST
The Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George add star power to a well-coached team with solid role players. In many ways, this team is like the one in Boston that won the title under Doc Rivers. They have a good mix of stars and elite role players. They still need to add a frontcourt player but as we have seen before they can be added mid-season, and I expect the Clippers would be a top destination for any big man that gets bought during the year.
Golden State Warriors: They lost substantial assets with Durant and Iggy gone. Klay might not play at all next year until the playoffs. Still, they add DeAngelo Russell who they can trade if need be. They keep Looney and add Willie Cauley-Stien. This could be a much grimier Warriors team come playoff time and they still have Championship pedigree.
The Los Angeles Lakers: This team is pretty much the 2017-18 Pelicans with Lebron James and Kyle Kuzma on it. So what does that mean? I’m not sure. If Cousins can be healthy and stay on the floor, a team with a 6 man rotation of Davis, James, Cousins, Kuzma, Rondo, and Danny Green is formidable. They are paper thin at guard however and have bad chemistry potential if things go wrong.
Utah Jazz: The Darling of NBA writers everywhere. I need to see it first. Mike Conley is a great addition but I actually think Utah gave up a lot to get him. There are nice pieces in place but they still lack a true superstar. I see them as a good regular season team that will probably lose to a team seeded below them in the playoffs. When I close my eyes I just cannot envision this team playing for the title next year. In this way the might not even be a true contender but NBA writers say they are, and who am I to judge those morons?
Portland Trailblazers: Not much to say except Lillard and CJ with a healthy Nurkic should have a say in the western conference. I don’t know what the Whiteside deal does for them but they no longer have scrub Meyers Leonard and I say that’s addition by subtraction.
Denver Nuggets: A situation similar to Portland’s the Warriors got worse so they look better. Another year playing together this team could take a step forward again. They are still too young to really threaten a title but they need to be on the list in a year where there is no clear giant to slay.
I refuse to put the Rockets on here. Those LA teams would both wipe the floor with Houston in a playoff series.
True Contenders: EAST
*If KD wasn’t injured Brooklyn would probably be #1 in my East ranks but sadly no KD means they won’t contend this year.
Milwaukee Bucks: Teams go through growing pains and last year it happened to the Bucks. A great regular season and a #1 seed did not equal a title appearance. Now, this is a more veteran team, a team with a few battle scars. Oh, and they have the MVP. Losing Brogdon wasn’t great but this is still a very dangerous team.
The Sixers: They would be my clear cut #1 seed in the East if Jimmy Butler was their max contract extension and not Tobias Harris. That didn’t happen. I don’t love this team with Harris but someone has to come out of the East. It’s in the rules. So if you can contend for the East then you are a contender, and Philly is certainly that.
Boston: Kemba led Boston is very intriguing to me. There is something I like about this teams potential just from Tatum and Brown getting better and Kemba being a better fit. A healthy Heyward goes a long way. Losing Horford is bad short term but probably fine long term, the last years of his contract in Philly will be hard to live up too. Boston is probably my favorite in the east and I know Danny Ainge might have a midseason move up his sleeve…Maybe they trade for Brad Beal midseason who knows?
Indiana Pacers: The other NBA media darling is the Pacers. Again I think they have a great regular season and they fall apart in the playoffs. They still seem a player away to me. Most of these East teams do.
Up and coming young teams:
From the West, I see two teams: Dallas and New Orleans. I love New Orleans and I would love to see them in the playoffs. They are too young and unproven to be a true contender but they could and should make the playoffs and give someone (hopefully the Lakers) a hell of a series.
Maybe this is the homer in me but I like the Chicago Bulls roster and how it fits. They made small but good offseason moves by adding Thad Young and Tomas Satoransky to fill in the gaps. The Bulls were a tough out for teams when Lauri Markkanen was healthy and the team was motivated. I am very unsure about the coach but the roster construction has me optimistic.
Atlanta is another team on the rise but they are like the of Bulls last year, still way too young to be anything but back in the lottery.
Reset Button Teams:
Memphis (almost to young an up and coming but not there yet.)
The rebuilding has begun for these three, the reset button was hit with authority. You could argue the Hornets hit the reset button, but how do you reset when you never made the playoffs? They lost Kemba and got nothing for him. The Hornets belong to the…
We don’t know what we are doing at all teams:
not much to say here.
Stuck in NBA Purgatory:
Pistons: Who knows what this team is doing?
Orlando Magic: Just happy to be here and not a worse category.
San Antonio Spurs: How the mighty have fallen.
Miami Heat: I love Jimmy Butler but what a weird move. I thought you were about winning? Better start wooing Giannis now.
SubCategory of NBA Purgatory are teams that I think want to hit the reset button but can’t: