As I watched game 3 of the NBA Finals I began to realize something that could change the outcome of this series. Stephen Curry is incredible. Without question the best marksman the game has ever seen. He has rewritten the necessary skills needed to make it into this league. However, I finally see what Pippen and Barkley have been eluding to all season. Get physical! As evidence shows us throughout the first 3 games of the finals. Curry can be rattled. Smack his arms, bump him in the post, and foul hard. The Jordan rules have evolved into the Curry rules.
Whether it was Irving, James, or Shumpert. Curry clearly looked frustrated and ineffective. This is where coaching and execution can determine the outcome of a series. Clearly game 2 was decided in the hearts of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They looked defeated and the series was anything but tremendous. I was writing an article about Lebron James needing a heart transplant. I was unable to complete the story due to some more pressing matters. I knew I was right and this was the missing ingredient that would turn the series around. Then around the second quarter 5 minute mark I realized something. Steph Curry cannot handle physical play. He is a pure shooter with the instinct of an assassin. He is also human and has flaws.
I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it sooner. Apparently I wasn't alone. It seemed as if the NBA had no answer for this baby faced assassin. He destroyed the league on the way to an unprecedented unanimous MVP vote. He was as clutch as Jordan in his prime. This was no fluke and we should all get used to this. Right? As the veterans from different eras called out the league for it's weakness and lack of physical play. Analysts made fun of them and compared them to elderly people yelling to get off their lawn. It's so hard to remember those days when Reggie Miller was just as deadly and just as feared. What did the Bulls do to stop Reggie? Surely Curry wasn't the first shooter of this caliber.
Then as I watched game 3 I was brought back in time. Scottie Pippen happened to Reggie Miller. Defense on the perimeter happened. Adjustment is part of any great team. Dennis Rodman shut down Shaq. Paul Pierce stopped Lebron on his way to at least 2 Finals. It was at this moment that I realized that the Cavs had found the recipe. Perimeter defense, fresh bodies, and half court offense. These Warriors are the embodiment of today's NBA. There is an answer to this new style of basketball. Physicality, relentless pressure, and different looks on defense.
In the end it comes down to execution by the players on the court. You have to be willing to fight for every possession. You have to believe in your team and the game plan. There is no one player that can match these Warriors as a whole. As a team the Cavs can win this series or lose this series. Steph Curry is a shooter. Shooters depend on rhythm and consistency. When your arms are burning and you can't get a good shot. You lose focus mentally. This is the answer and the only hope for these Cavaliers. Contain Curry and you can win this series. Are they strong enough to maintain this for 7 games? I don't know what's in the hearts of these players. How bad do they want this? One thing is for certain. This series just got a lot more interesting. This is where legends are born and trends die. God I love this game!!!!!
As a life long boxing fan I watched the Salido vs Vargas fight on HBO. Like most nights in boxing these days I was left with a growing level of disgust at the outcome. If you watched the fight you saw the best and worst of boxing all in one night. These two Mexican warriors made their ancestors proud. They came out from the opening bell and gave every ounce of heart and will that a human being could possibly give. The action was incredible and the momentum seemed to swing with each combination. This is what people want to see. Finally, a great night for two upcoming fighters. Wrong!
Vargas was the favorite coming into the fight, but it was expected to be a brawl. I felt like Salido was the aggressor for most of the fight. I also thought Salido looked stronger and wanted it more than Vargas. As the fight reached the later rounds I started getting a funny feeling in my stomach. Please don't mess this up boxing. This is too good to mess up. After the 11th round I turned to my friend Mike and said I can't believe this. They are going to call this a draw and throw this on a PPV card. After the 12th round I knew I was right. My friend thought I was crazy. I explained that Vargas was a Golden Boy and this is how the business goes. They won't give him the win because it would raise eyebrows. They also won't give him a loss because it costs De La Hoya money. So what do they do? Draw! We have to do it again and make more money on a bigger card. The disgust on Salido's face said it all. This is boxing in it's ugliest form. The heart and soul that was displayed in the ring deserved an outcome.
In the MMA world things were exploding. Nate Diaz slapped Dana White to some Tupac, Diaz and McGregor 2 was set for UFC 202, Brock Lesnar was rumored to be added to UFC 200, Henderson went out on top, Cruz defeated Faber, Dana White told Mayweather he's waiting, and Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold in stunning fashion. MMA gave Boxing a lesson is business 101. Give the people what the want and let the fighters decide the outcome. As I hold on to boxing for dear life the UFC is calling my name. I hope and pray for Golovkin vs Ward, Garcia vs Thurman, Wilder vs Fury, Spence vs Lara, and on and on. Around midnight last night as I drove home from the local cigar shop I became more and more frustrated with the sport of boxing. I finally came to see that all of these fights would have already happened in the UFC.
I am sorry boxing but you are losing one of your biggest fans. I can no longer turn a blind eye to the corruption and greed of the sport. Boxing fans are the best fans in the world! We wait years and years for fights. We search and find upcoming talent to latch onto and watch them grow. Only to see them reach stardom and go into protected mode. In the UFC fighters reach stardom and are forced to fight the best to maintain that stardom. The promoters in boxing are all about scamming the fans and protecting their assets. Thank you Dana White! Thank you for giving us the best product available. I can see it as clear as the KO that Bisping delivered to Rockhold.
Now here comes the sad truth. I love you boxing, but I am done waiting for you. I never wanted it to come to this. I am now ready to invest my time and money into a sport that cares about ME. I will still follow boxing because I can't just stop cold turkey. However, it is time to embrace the future. I drove 30 minutes to the cigar shop to watch boxing and I drove home thinking UFC. The UFC is rising to new heights and boxing is falling to new lows. The UFC is the future.
Whether it's on ESPN First Take, NBA on TNT, or NBA on ESPN. Where ever Stephen A. Smith is, emotions are sure to override the production. I am a sports junkie that reads and watches much more sports than any normal human being should. ESPN is a sports conglomerate and it's hard not to find yourself checking their website or watching their channel.
On First Take every morning you can see Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless battle it out over the trending topics of the day. I am also a huge fan of the show like most people. However, within the last year or so Stephen A. has started to rub me the wrong way. I don't know when it happened exactly, but now that Skip Bayless is leaving I'm thinking about tuning out.
Every morning as they greet each other on First Take it's like a pat on the back party. How good Stephen A. looks, and how he is VIP at whatever arena. Confidence is great. Cockiness is a killer. I can't remember the last show that didn't start with 3 minutes of discussion about his ensemble. Also, as a person who dreams of having a job talking about Sports I detest the whining about what his job entails. As a professional you must always be cognizant of your attitude and the way you are being perceived. Apparently, Stephen A. Smith is not bound to this and just behaves as a child constantly seeking attention and yelling over people at will.
This behavior extends to his moderator Molly Qerim just as it did with Cari Champion. He is often rude and condescending to his female counterparts. I don't know if it's because he doesn't respect women or if he just doesn't respect these particular women. So many times I have seen him speak over Molly and raise his voice to deafen their stance on the topic. His take on issues regarding regarding domestic violence and the role of athletes is always emotional and doesn't have any depth. His thoughts are surrounded by how the athlete can get back on the field. Rather than how can we help people who are victims and how can we get the athlete the appropriate help. I have never seen seen Stephen A. turn to Molly and say we need to hear your take on this issue. I have heard him do this with Cari Champion only on one occasion.
Game after game of these NBA playoffs I watch Stephen A. Smith post game coverage with fellow analysts and former NBA players. They all seem so uncomfortable and on edge standing next to him. Also, once given the opportunity to speak everything goes off the rails. He gets louder and the thoughts get more disorganized. He starts making points off topic and cutting everyone else out. I am a very emotional person myself, but we all need to stay focused and maintain professionaliam in our daily lives. Why is he exempt?
His takes are rarely steeped in facts and almost always smell of bias towards particular athletes or teams. His love affair with Kobe Bryant, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Dwayne Wade are obvious and a glaring weakness in his ability to report accurately. His reaction to 2016 NBA player rankings was dripping with bias and emotion. Kobe Bryant being ranked 93rd caused Stephen A. to unleash and call people ridiculous, crazy, and stupid. These are his coworkers! Guess what? They were right!
In the end, I have profound respect for his profession and I will not say that Stephen A. doesn't belong. However, I will say this. Stephen A. Smith needs to grow up. Stop being a diva. Most of all you must remember that you are part of a team and not above the profession or it's standards. My eyes can only take so much more of your unprofessionalism. People made you who you are and they can take that away. So instead of bragging about Tom Ford shoes and beach homes that most of your audience can't afford. Act like you've been here before. Please, please, please, be a professional.