The Celtics Have Weathered The Storm

Life Is Easy When You Have Two MVP Candidates On Your Team

Heading into this season pessimism defined the mood of Celtics fans. Some of the reasons for it was understandable: the absence of Kemba Walker to begin the season and the critics poo-pooing Ainge’s drafting order Payton Pritchard, many believed the Celtics wouldn’t even be in the top-six in the eastern conference. 

Yes, really. People are this stupid. Personally, I feel it was a combination of pundits not watching basketball, taking their cues from Twitter and getting distracted by the new shiny objects as the league once again reshuffled its deck while the Celtics returned largely the same as the previous season. Their lone acquisition of consequence in free agency was Tristan Thompson. 

The departure of Gordon Hayward in rather abrupt fashion, pulling the rug out from not only the Celtics who hoped to trade the often injured star, but also their trad partner the Indiana Pacers. To put it bluntly, the Celtics not trading for Myles Turner because Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is an impulsive maniac is why this team is destined to suck. 

While nobody in Boston adores the two big man lineup of Daniel Theis playing power forward while the embodiment of toxic masculinity Tristan Thompson mans the center position, as individuals they’ve done similarly to Turner in the aggregate. 

When Thompson is the lone big his net rating is a healthy plus-17.5 in the little over hundred minutes he’s logged in. When together Theis and Thompson share a putrid negative-19.4 net rating. Keeping current with this trend when Theis is the lone big his net rating an even zero. Which is kind of a big jump given how he’s played the majority of the season out of position. 

The reasoning behind the double big lineups is solely so Stevens can fit all his productive players in their respective roles and maximize the time they’ll see the floor. The logic is sound, then you constantly see teams rain threes over our bigs and dig us into early holes. 

For years Boston fans vexed at the constant issues of not having enough bigs. Now they have three thanks to the emergence of Robert Williams and his unlikely alley-op partner in crime Payton “The Piss Man” Pritchard. 

The once maligned first round pick has acted as a savior for the Celtics. Yes, I understand this team fields two MVP candidates but the donut hole left by Kemba would have been felt if Pritchard wasn’t around. His shooting, his creation for himself and others have been a needed breath of fresh air. Since Jeff Teague has not worked out as of yet, Pritchard has been the difference maker for the Celts being atop of the East. 

Another unexpected bright spot has been the emergence of Semi Ojeleye as a respectable three-and-D off the bench threat is… shocking. Just from the basic stats Ojeleye’s jump caused me to do a double take. Last season he hit only rim, compiling 40/37/87 splits. This season, given a bigger role thanks to the departure of Hayward he’s excelled! 46/42/61. Now his free throw shooting has gone into the toilet, but the story is Semi is one of the reasons the Celtics didn’t beat the Heat last season and now he’s better. 

And lastly: Kemba Walker is back. Potentially tomorrow vs the New York Knicks. For all intents and purposes the Celtics have survived the storm. They are a deeper team than before and possess the tools necessary to better their roster. 

Yes, the Nets are insanely talented and scary, but I implore fans to just be happy and enjoy the ride. Leave the pessimism and hysterics to me. 

Stop Deifying Nerds

Remember working yourself up when the Celtics traded Mattise Thybulle, fans?

Let’s get this out of the way: none of know jack shit about basketball. Not you, me or your favorite Twitter personality and podcaster. And to be perfectly frank: the general managers likely know less than you do, except they were born rich and with the proper connections to ascend the bureaucratic ladder. 

If you’re still reading I’d like to tell you that the NBA has become a dystopian league mired by faux-intellectualism. I can confidently there are only four front offices worth a damn in this sorry league. Toronto, Miami, Boston and Philadelphia. Every other team is run by egomaniac, entitled freaks. 

But if you plugged yourself into the inane and constant chatter of the media they’ll sniff the thrones of David Griffin and Sam Presti for compiling a comical amount of first round picks after trading away their star player. “It’s just like Ainge’s haul for Pierce and Garnett!” they say. Ignoring the fact the Celtics were given lottery picks from Brooklyn people suspected would amount as such at the time the deal was consummated.  

For Jrue Holiday the New Orleans Pelicans traded the All-Star point guard to Milwaukee for five first round picks believing the Bucks franchise star Giannis Antetokounmpo was abandoning ship after this season. Giannis signed a five-year extension three weeks later. With an over abundance of picks the Pelicans have what I consider a war chest that is all quantity and no quality. Meanwhile they turned their noses up at a simple Gordon Hayward and a first. 

Picks late in the first round are more important for the team dealing them than the one that is receiving them. Look at the Celtics. Kemba is out with an injury, Danny Ainge signs 32-year old Jeff Teague and drafts a guard out of Oregon named Payton Pritchard to fill the void. Teague has not panned out. But the Celtics stand a top of the conference due in no small part because the 26th pick has bared fruit from the jump. Obviously Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are reasons one and two for the hot start, but Payton’s role cannot be minimized.

What would Pritchard have meant if the team he landed on ultimately sucked? Part of why he’s good is the talent around him is good. 

But the Pelicans aren’t compiling these draft picks because they have faith in their scouting. They’re doing this for the same reason Sam Hinkie held on to all those picks during his time in Philadelphia: it’s to be the first in line when a disgruntled star hits the market. 

For the life of me I don’t know why people take the wrong lessons from how the Raptors and Lakers molded their championship teams. For Toronto they benefited from the fact San Antonio undersold and didn’t want to tank. Picks were a non-factor for them. For Los Angeles it was the three Ls: location, location, location. 

People point to the Celtics stash, but those were lottery choices. It was Ainge profiting off of teams unaware of various factors the Celtics brass were. Now not every team is going to get four lottery picks for their superstar, but when when I read hypothetical trades centering around Washington Wizards superstar Bradley Beal I usually see a fuck ton of picks involved. “With all those picks the Wizards can jump start the rebuild and maybe draft a player just as good as Beal!”

Or maybe they should just keep Beal and figure it out? Maybe the Pelicans should have just kept Anthony Davis and not give in to the Lakers bullying efforts? Maybe the Spurs shouldn’t have been so spiteful towards Kawhi and let calmer heads prevail? Maybe we should shop overvaluing first round picks if they are in the late twenties and the team getting them is heading towards a long and arduous rebuild?

Life is a delicate balance between Occum’s Razor and the timely phrase “It’s complicated”, in short context matters and picks lose all their appeal when a name is attached to them for a reason. Treating the “treadmill of mediocrity” like death sometimes is the fastest way to landing on one. 

The Frustrating, Stunningly Middling 2020 Patriots

It Isn’t A Nightmare, But It Ain’t A Fairytale Either

Nick Folk’s kick sails through the uprights and the Patriots go from at deaths doorstep to keeping their slimmer than a rail playoff chances alive. It was hardly pretty. In fact it was rather atrocious football, I have yet to understand how we avoided the loss. The simplest answers are the Patriots defense performed a spectacular defensive stand to end the first half, Gilmore had DeAndre Hopkins in the torture chamber, and the special teams gave the stagnant Patriots offense the jolts necessary to score some points. 

For now, the beat still goes on heading to Los Angeles to take on the 3-7 Chargers. Don’t let their record fool you. The only problem this team has is their late-game execution, having loss two contests by one play. I have no idea what’ll happen. Will Cam crack 300 passing yards or will he pick up right where he left off his abominable vs Arizona? No, clue. Frankly, neither scenario guarantees a win or loss with this Patriots team. Everything is so off kilter I’m still more miffed the NFL screwed the patriots back in October when they had their outbreak of the Coronavirus. 

Just about all that could have gone wrong has gone wrong for New England this season. An awful lot of it out of their control. Starting with the drop outs relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. Stars Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower opting to not put their health and their families at risk playing in this horrendous NFL season. This left the Patriots defense missing an extra punch it’s grown accustomed to having. 

When the season began, the Patriots raced out to a 2-1 start and Sony Michel had his best career game vs Las Vegas. Then he went to a strip club and tore his quad. He recently re-entered action vs Arizona but did not receive a handoff despite the team missing Rex Burkhead due to an ACL tear. A seemingly rejuvenated Newton caught the virus and his games were loss due to his body strength not being what it was prior to his diagnosis. Costly loses to Seattle, Denver, Buffalo which came down to one or two plays defined the season for New England. If Cam gets one more yard vs Seattle, if the NFL did not give the Broncos an extra week of down time so Drew Lock could heal from his injuries, and if Cam didn’t fumble during the what would could have been the game-winning drive, they aren’t 5-6 teetering between the seventh seed and elimination. 

The offense was built for Tom Brady, or Jarrett Stidham, as Newton was an addition very late in the off-season. Despite Belichick’s efforts to tailor make the offense solely around Newton’s strengths, the patented short throws Brady made a living off of are something Newton is unable to continue. James White comes out the biggest loser from this experiment. 

No matter what the Patriots do well, the limited abilities of Newton handicap what should be an advantage. Damian Harris is a revaluation and if Tommy was still here, would have opened up the offense so much. But since Cam fails to make those throws to first, accuracy isn’t his calling and he is unable to make the proper adjustments at the line opposing defenses can just throw blitz attack after blitz attack. 

Outside of N’Keal Harry, the wide receiving core is pretty decent. Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers have become good at creating separation and their hands are sure enough. Meyers has stepped up big since Julian Edelman went down early in the season. 

From a top-10 offense in 2019, the Patriots have fallen to a bottom tier squad because the throws Brady used to make in his sleep, Cam can’t seemingly on his best day. 

What lies ahead is uncertain. Do the Patriots give Cam another chance and try to make the offense more friendly to the long game? Do they let Newton hit the open market and give the reigns to Stiddy or look for another quarterback who’ll surely be another find in the bargain bin? 

Nobody knows. The future is uncertain. We are teased with this year with the possibility of making the playoffs providing a needed distraction from all the unanswered questions. 

An Optimistic View On The Celtics From A Pessimist

And all of a sudden, basketball is less than a month from returning. With looming uncertainties and dangers as we’re still in the peak of this pandemic (despite nearing our ninth month), NBA teams will resume running their respective arenas presumably with minimal fan attendance at most; because that strategy has done wonders for the NFL. 

Regardless of my feelings towards the situation looks like we’re in for another action packed, utterly annoying NBA season filled with needless narrative spewing to make us forget the entire world around us is melting.

“Oh, boy looks like my team is doing well to start. Time to check the injury report to see if any of them got sick.” is sure to be a recurring ritual for us. 

But, I digress. Let us talk basketball. Enough about the threatening, looming specter of this deadly virus of which there is still no cure for and we are at the mercy of pharmaceutical industries who’ll choose profits over saving humanity. Where’s Jonas Salk where you need him?

The deal here is simple: the Celtics of 2019-20 fame have returned, excluding the often absent Gordon Hayward. Closing the book on his infamous three year stint filled with misfortune. A consequence in turning over this new leaf is the forward position beyond the Jays appear thin. As second year prospect Romeo Langford showed promise in his rookie campaign, his wrist injury persists and will likely cost him the beginning of the season. Leaving backup duties to rookie Aaron Nesmith and (shudders) Semi Ojeleye. 

Perhaps Nesmith will be better than advertised. Like Langford, he was also supposed to selected higher than fourteenth but his 2019-20 season was cut short to just fourteen games due to injury. He assured the media his foot was now at “100%” and doesn’t anticipate missing any time. 

In forty-six games played for Vanderbilt Nesmith shot the ball pretty well from deep. 41 percent off of 6.3 attempts per game. He is a very bouncy, well tuned player on offense and I am optimistic he’ll pleasantly surprise us if given a proper training camp to get acclimated to the pros. 

Meanwhile in the backcourt, the departure of Brad Wanamaker left a gapping hole on the bench at seemingly the worst time. Kemba Walker is banged up, his knee has constantly hampered his explosiveness and it’s unknown whether he needs surgery or just more rest than three-months. Many have sounded the alarm calling his contract an albatross. Let me be the first to tell you there are many people arguing in bad faith because sports brings out the worst in us. The arrogance to assume we can see how someone will perform in seasons beyond this one is stunning since they’ve been wrong about Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry in the past. 

But will Kemba look lime Kemba THIS season? Probably not. The template for managing this issue is doing what the Cavaliers did in 2016 when Kyrie fractured his kneecap. Sit him for thirty-games, deal with the consequences of not having him for more than half of the shortened season and hope Jeff Teague and Payton Pritchard can hold down the fort. Or maybe Tremont Waters is ready to explode on the scene? 

People panned the Teague signing at the time, but he still has tread left on the tires. He’s an underrated passer and I think he’ll be leaps and bounds better than Wanamaker was. Teague doesn’t have tunnel vision like Wanamaker and is less erratic. Since the C’s hopefully won’t be without one of the Jays on the court at nearly all times Teague will always have options when out there. 

There is not a doubt in my mind when Kemba does return Twitter will light up and there will be op-eds wondering why he doesn’t have the same explosiveness as before and his numbers aren’t as impressive. But, like Kyrie and the Cavaliers, the Celtics need to take this route to ensure the best return on the backend. 

Lastly, there is the adding of Tristan Thompson to the center rotation. While it’s debatable whether Thompson starts over Theis, as continuity is not something to disregard – especially under these circumstances. It is worth noting when Cleveland did trade for center Andre Drummond and relegated Thompson to the bench his numbers dipped significantly, likely hampering his value on the market as the Celtics were able to secure him for the full mid-level exception ($9.3 million) after Hayward’s departure upped the tool from $6.3 million. 

While Theis three-point shot abandoned him in the playoffs, he hit them at a steady enough clip in the regular season to keep defenses honest when he had the ball beyond the  arc. Thompson last year attempted only 23 deep balls, converting in just nine. Perhaps Brad Stevens ups the attempts to fifty or seventy-five in an attempt to add the feature to Thompson’s game, like he did with Aron Baynes. 

Thompson is a skilled dunker, a cutter to the basket and is a fantastic insurance policy for when Theis gets himself into foul trouble as previously we had no backup big we could trust in crunch time. 

The bench went from underwhelming and inexperienced to a balance attack with the signings of Teague and Thompson. On paper, if you simply forget Hayward was on the team, this team is better than what they were the previous year. Only difference is the obstacles are larger. But since home court advantage is minimized, and perhaps non-existent if the NBA decides to return to Orlando and play games in the bubble for the postseason, the Celtics should only worry about securing a top-3 seed and avoiding a dreadful matchup against the conference favorites in the second round. 

Like clockwork we are cold on the Celtics because every other team reloaded with flashier names. Perhaps this won’t be our year, but we’re foolish to believe a team with the Jays in their prime, a good coach in Stevens and a solid bench isn’t going to be a serious threat. 

Since this was largely an optimistic column I anticipate disaster to strike and the Celtics to prove themselves as not up to snuff. Ugh. What have I done!

Too Many Things Are Happening

Robyn Hayward is here solely as an inside joke I’ll probably forget

In five-hours the Celtics fan base went through the gantlet of emotions starting when the news hit Gordon Hayward was signing with the Charlotte Hornets of all teams, leading to mass hysteria from both the fans losing and receiving him. 

I wanted Hayward to return, believing his reputation as injury prone similar to how Danilo Gallinari turned his career around. In the three campaigns Hayward undertook since signing with Boston he’s disappointed in so many ways. In his debut he suffered an injury we’re all well aware of. The following year he was a shell of his former self trapped on a team prone to shooting themselves in the foot. His third and final season began promising enough, until an unfortunate LaMarcus Aldridge screen broke his hand and sidelined him again. Hayward would never regain his stride until August inside the famed bubble in Orlando. Hayward was happy, healthy, and playing at his highest level since his Utah days. 

Then he got hurt – again. 

Bless his heart, he tried to make a comeback for the Heat series (missing the birth of his son in the process) but it wasn’t enough as he was a noticeable step behind the competition. The silver lining leaving the 4-2 series defeat was Hayward helped swing the two Celtics wins and if he was available to play sooner, or never got hurt to begin with, the Celtics probably would have won.

“What-ifs” dominate Hayward’s tenure in Boston and will be his legacy. If the Celtics are unable to win a championship in the era of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown we can point to him as the main reason. It does not help matters Hayward skipped town for nothing. In his defense, the player owes the franchise nothing. His case is special because as a player seemingly on the ascent at the time of his signing, and no history of injuries predating October, 2017, Hayward fell victim to the most unlikeliest scenarios on every occasion bucking historical trends. He really took the “I owe the team” nothing moniker to the breaking point. 

Hayward never played one relevant game. Was never healthy for more than a month and the allure of him was always in the hypothetical. How we treat Romeo Langford is  how we viewed Hayward since his injury. 

If everything went to plan and Hayward would have become an All-NBAer and lead the Celtics to the finals multiple times and at least one championship. Forget the dysfunction with Kyrie Irving. They would have overcome all of that because of him. The Jays would basically be rich men versions of Pascal Siakam. Guys being prepped to lead the next generation, used as aces up the sleeve for a team that doesn’t need a bunch of guys still on their rookie contracts to carry the load. 

Instead, what we got was the comically bad outcome. 

To Danny Ainge’s credit, he didn’t cry in a public restroom at the news of Hayward’s departure (like I did). News hit soon after of Klutch client Tristan Thompson signing in Boston for the full $9,300,000 mid-level exception for two-seasons; followed-up with Jeff Teague signing for one year, presumably at the minimum rounding out the Celtics inexperience and worrisome bench unit. 

Not for a lack of trying, Brad Wanamaker could not instill confidence in fans when it was his turn to drive the car when Kemba Walker needed to take a powder. While Teague’s best days are behind him he is a very underrated passer and since this offense runs primarily through the Jays it’ll play perfectly to his strengths. 

As for Thompson, he’s fantastic insurance for Daniel Theis when he inevitably gets into foul trouble. Game one vs Miami is burned in my mind. Once Theis fouled out the game was over for us. Nobody could handle Bam on that roster besides him. Having Thompson is a massive boost. 

So the Celtics go from handwringing about being capped out, having to pay three forwards (Tatum, Hayward, Brown), an undersized guard people obsess about being an albatross despite the evidence he is anything but (Walker), and another guard due for a bigger pay day down the road (Marcus Smart), and an underwhelming bench unit, the Celtics are more well rounded. 

If rookie Aaron Nesmith and sophomore Romeo Langford can be serviceable and not liabilities then Celtics are beyond golden and should be viewed at as favorites to come out of the conference. Especially with the question marks surrounding the health of Kevin Durant of Brooklyn, Goran Dragic of Miami, and the overall situation regarding Giannis’ free agency in Milwaukee.

The Celtics are the only team in the East with their house in order. Toronto potentially won’t be the same after Serge Ibaka didn’t re-sign;  Aron Baynes never was the most durable player. 

For now the Hayward saga is over. His shadow will loom for maybe a generation here in Boston and his effect on NBA history cannot be understated. 

Nothing Makes Any Sense

Let’s all be honest: Gordon Hayward did nothing these last three seasons and contributed little to the Celtics two trips to the eastern conference finals these past three years. Often injured, when it seems he is about to turn a corner another incident sidelined him for a prolonged period of time.
When healthy Hayward adds the fourth dimension to the Celtics offense. Is he overpaid? Yes. But we’re trying to make the best of a less than desirable situation. Danny Ainge paid for the All-Star Hayward. The A-1 man on a fifty-win squad Hayward. Instead we got Richard Jefferson. That’s what happens when you fracture your tibia and dislocate your leg. You’re likely never to return the same.

Still, like Jar Jar Binks to the Phantom Menace, Hayward remained the key to the Celtics title hopes. When going strong the Celtics looked extremely formidable despite their lackluster depth. I’ll die on the hill if he remained healthy, the way he was playing in the bubble portion of the season, the Celtics coast by Miami and defeat the top-heavy Lakers in the finals. A las, the script could not have been flipped. And as her usual, the misfortune of the Celtics helped their most hated rival. What else is new?

How the Hell Hayward going to turn down $34 million in the middle of a pandemic? I understand he isn’t happy watching his role deemphasized, but, again, you got hurt and opened the door to the Jays. You don’t really need the ball to be awesome anyway. There’s room on the floor for him. But he doesn’t see it like that.

Surely this article will become dated in the very near future. Just because he’s opted out doesn’t mean he’s gone gone. Perhaps he’ll survey the market, find very little interest and come back to Boston on a new deal.
Fuck if I know. Everything is so schizophrenic.

Alternate Wrestling Realities #2

Would the World Wrestling Federation ever build around Mr. Perfect

1987 Survivor Series

– Skip Young def. Dino Bravo
– Demolition def. Young Stallions – Ax severely injured, hip strained and is out for 5 months
– Fabulous Moolah def. Judy Martin for WWF Women’s Championship – Martin suffered a hip strain, is out for 2 months
– The Ultimate Warrior, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana and Rick Martel def. The Iron Sheik, Nikola Volkoff, Greg Valentine, King Kong Bundy and Adrian Adonis
– Magnificent Muraco, Jim Neidhart, The Honky Tonk Man, Bret Hart and Bob Orton Jr. def. Tony Atlas, Brutus Beefcake, Bruno Sammartino, Kevin Von Erich and Junkyard Dog
– Harley Race, Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase def. Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich and Curt Hennig

WWF December Star Wars

– British Bulldogs def. The Wild Samoans
– Desiree Peterson def. The Fabulous Moolah for the WWF Women’s Championship
– Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff def. Skip Young & Tony Atlas to win the WWF Tag Titles
– The Honky Tonk Man def. Rick Martel
– Junkyard Dog def. Bob Orton Jr.
– Jake Roberts def. Bret Hart
– Andre The Giant def. Ricky Steamboat
– Paul Orndorff def. Roddy Piper in a street fight for the I.C Title
– Harley Race def. Curt Hennig to retain WWF Championship

Royal Rumble:
– Paul Orndorff def. Dynamite Kid to retain I.C Title
– Curt Hennig def. Harley Race in non-title match
– Andre The Giant def. Roddy Piper
– Kerry Von Erich def. Randy Savage
– Dino Bravo def. Skip Young
– Jake Roberts def. Ricky Steamboat
– Curt Hennig wins the Royal Rumble, accumulating nine eliminations

WrestleMania IV
– The Iron Sheik, Greg Valentine and King – Kong Bundy def. The Ultimate Warrior, Brutus Beefcake and Tito Santana
– Randy Savage def. Junkyard Dog
– Jake Roberts def. Paul Orndorff
– Noriyo Tateno def. Madusa Micelli for the WWF Women’s Championship
– The Hart Foundation def. Can-Am Connection for the tag titles
– The Wild Samoans def. Skip Young & Tony Atlas
– Honky Tonk Man def. Kevin Von Erich
– Roddy Piper def. Ted DiBiase
– British Bulldogs def. Bob Orton Jr., and Don Muraco
– Curt Hennig def. Harley Race for the WWF Championship
Harley Race’s reign lasts for 12 months and ends at the hands of Mr. Perfect

Alternate Realities of Wrestling #1

What-If Harley Race was WWF Champion?

During a show weeks before WrestleMania III, Jimmy Snuka and WWF Champion Hulk Hogan faced off in a house show title match in East Lansing, New Jersey. Snuka goes to the top rope, expecting Hogan to move he comes down with full force. When Hogan didn’t move his collar bone broke and suddenly the monolith that is the World Wrestling Federation was venerable. 
Vince McMahon hastily readies a still anticipated pay-per-view and make a living without his meal ticket. 
Not all is bleak for the WWF. They bolster a roster of strong individuals, up and comers and legends still with lots left in the tank. 
These are the subsequent cards from the monthly big events from a parallel universe. 
(From March to October of 1987)

– Kerry Von Erich def. Paul Orndorff
– Can-Am Connection def. Demolition
– The Hart Foundation def. British Bulldogs to retain the tag team titles
– André The Giant def. The Crusher
– Jake Roberts def. Bob Orton Jr
– Ricky Steamboat def. Randy Savage for the I.C Title
– Harley Race def. Bruno Sammartino in semi-final of championship tournament
– Roddy Piper def. Magnificent Muraco in semi-final of championship tournament
– Harley Race def. Roddy Piper for vacant WWF Heavyweight Championship
During the match Piper dislocated his shoulder and is out for 2 to 4 months

WWF April Supercard

– The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff def. British Bulldogs
– Bret Hart def. Jake Roberts
– Bruno Sammartino def. Paul Orndorff
– André The Giant def. Jim Neidhart
– Ricky Steamboat def. Randy Savage to retain I.C Title
– Harley Race def. Kerry Von Erich to retain WWF Heavyweight Championship

WWF May Supercard

– The Fabulous Moolah def. Desiree Peterson to retain WWF Women’s Championship; Moolah suffered torn tricep and is out for 5-months. The title is vacated.
– The Hart Foundation def. The Killer Bees to retain the tag championships
– British Bulldogs def. The Iron Sheik and Nikola Volkoff
– Magnificent Muraco def. Ricky Steamboat for the I.C Title
– André The Giant def. Special Delivery Jones
– Junkyard Dog def. Bob Orton Jr.
– Kerry Von Erich def. Butch Reed
– Paul Orndorff def. Bruno Sammartino
– Harley Race def. Brutus Beefcake to retain WWF Championship

King Of The Ring

– Ricky Steamboat def. Magnificent Muraco in a ladder match to regain the I.C Title
– Velvet Macintyre def. Judy Martin to retain WWF Women’s Title
– British Bulldogs def. The Wild Samoans
Skip Young & Tony Atlas def. The Hart Foundation for the tag titles
– Harley Race def. Roddy Piper to retain WWF Championship
– Kerry Von Erich def. Butch Reed
– Randy Savage def. The Iron Sheik In KOTR semi-final
– Jake Roberts def. Paul Orndorff in KOTR semi-final
– Jake Roberts def. Randy Savage in KOTR Championship Match

WWF July Supercard

– Velvet Macintyre def. Judy Martin to retain the WWF Women’s Championship
– Iron Sheik & Nikola Volkoff def. British Bulldogs
– Honky Tonk Man def. Ricky Steamboat for the I.C Title
– Kerry Von Erich def. Randy Savage
– Harley Race def. Jake Roberts to retain WWF Heavyweight Championship


– Jake Roberts & Junkyard Dog def. Paul Orndorff & Adrian Adonis
– Judy Martin def. Velvet Macintyre
– Young stallions def. Orton & Muraco
– Honky Tonk Man def. Ricky Steamboat to retain I.C title
– Hart Foundation def. Can-Am Connection
Skip Young & Tony Atlas def. British Bulldogs to retain tag titles
– André The Giant def. Kevin Von Erich
– Harley Race def. Kerry Von Erich to retain WWF Championship

WWF September SuperCard

– Jake Roberts def. The Iron Sheik
– Roddy Piper def. Honky Tonk Man for the I.C Title
– Brutish Beefcake def. Paul Orndorff
– Bob Orton & Don Muraco def. British Bulldogs to win WWF Tag Titles
– Randy Savage def. Ricky Steamboat
– Bret Hart vs The Ultimate Warrior ends in time-limit draw
– Judy Martin def. Velvet Macintyre to retain WWF Women’s Championship
– Kerry Von Erich def. Harley Race in non-title submission match

WWF Cotton Bowl Extravaganza
– Jim Niedhart def. Kevin Von Erich
– King Kong Bundy def. Junkyard Dog
– André The Giant def. Ivan Putski
– Jake Roberts def. Honky Tonk Man
– Ricky Steamboat def. Randy Savage
– Paul Orndorff def. Roddy Piper to win the I.C title
– Skip Young & Tony Atlas def. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff, British Bulldogs, and Bob Orton and Don Muraco to win the tag titles
– Bret Hart def. The Ultimate Warrior in a submission match
– Harley Race escapes the cage to retain the WWF Championship vs Kerry Von Erich

Celtics Win, Avoid Highway Robbery with Refs

Game 7s in this league are won not by three-point shooting, but how you score inside the paint and rebound. The Celtics averaged 105 points per game, their offense only throwing up one real stinker and that was mostly due to Jaylen Brown having his lone bad playoff game out of eleven. Meanwhile, Toronto averaged a mere 99 points 7. This series shouldn’t have gone seven. A recurring event of critical shots and assistance from the zebra striped menaces infecting games with their personal stamp stretched this should’ve been one sided affair to the fifteenth round. 

This series could have ended in five, if the referees called a defensive violation on Kyle Lowry in the last seconds of game three. Lowry stood in the paint far beyond the three-second limit. The rules said a technician foul should have been issued against the Raptors, and the Celtics head to the free throw line for one shot and the ball. Assuming whomever takes that shot makes it, the Raptors would have to foul. Maybe the OG Anunoby miracle shot still goes in, but it only sends the game to overtime. Kemba Walker had his best outing in game three. I’m confident the C’s wouldn’t have been shaken.
This series could have ended in six. Kemba drives to the rim in the last seconds of regulation, game tied 98 all. Old friend Anunoby hacks Walker and infuriatingly the refs swallowed their whistles yet again. Instead of free throws and an assured series win, the Raptors again are given life. 
Luckily, none of that matters now. Well, not really. Fatigue is a lingering issue. While the Celtics are younger than Miami, their series vs Toronto was more intense than the Heats deconstruction of title favorites Milwaukee. What we saw these last two weeks was the two best eastern conference teams dueling until the very bitter end. Miami stands to benefit from their second round opponent seemingly committing seppuku. 
The entire Celtics staff gave it their all, risking their bodies. Brown sprained his groin. Smart took so many hip checks he’s basically a hockey player. Tatum hasn’t had a good whistle since Nick Nurse bitched to the media after game two. A rare occurrence where complaining about how the officials are managing the games warrants you getting a better whistle. 
Toronto defended their crown with honor and a resiliency I did not expect. How I hate them and am glad Lowry, Fred Van Vleet, Serge Ibaka and OG are out of my life forever. Only player I’ll miss is Pascal Siakam and his spin move creating no separation as the rookie Grant Williams locked him up. For all the admiration Nurse received these past two seasons he surely made two stupid decisions that fundamentally ruined his team. Not playing Matt Thomas after he made his first three-point attempt. He was fresh legs and the C’s didn’t have a prayer in chasing him down. And running isolation after isolation for the pedestrian Siakam because a rookie was guarding him.
Unlike Toronto, the Celtics didn’t have three-point marksmen that could cut a deficit in a lightning strike. The Celtics had to rely on their drive and kick game, which generated open shots – as they always do, but couldn’t knock them down. Brown had an awesome game, scoring 21 on 17 shots, but hit just one of his 7 three-point attempts. Kemba was harasses yet again and Stevens could never free him. Kemba made a couple crucial buckets when it mattered most and all we needed from him was 14. 
Tatum soared to the occasion, notching 29 points and 12 rebounds. He’s a star. And perhaps in the next two weeks we’ll be crowning in the best player in his conference as he stands opposite LeBron or Kawhi Leonard in a finals that’ll surely make us forget society is crumbling all around us. 
Of course, this is the NBA. Unless you have LeBron there is no guarantee you are to get to the final dance. Shit happens. While the East is better than when LeBron was here, it’s become more egalitarian. Last year Milwaukee and Toronto were the final two when everyone had Boston. A year later, nobody had Boston and Miami as the final two standing. Milwaukee and Toronto meeting their ends in the second round. 
Maybe Jimmy Butler is too much for the Celtics. Maybe Erik Spoelstra is a superior tactician than Brad Stevens. Maybe Jae Crowder and Iguodala lock up Tatum and Brown. Whatever happens, this season was a success. Be happy. Enjoy it. 
That being said, the Celtics are either jumping out to a 2-0 series lead or faltering to an 0-2 deficit. There is no middle ground. 

The Best, Worst, and the Most Mediocre Royal Rumble Winners

Best Royal Rumble Winners

1992: Ric Flair
Why: Historic win, did a tremendous job making a short title reign seem longer than it actually was. Flair’s mini-invasion of the then World Wrestling Federation was the closest we’ll over get to Vince McMahon letting amazing outsider gain the upper hand inside his company. 
1994: Lex Luger & Bret Hart
Why: Hokey as hell. Perhaps it would’ve been better to just have Bret win straight up. Luger’s time was SummerSlam, but WWE wussed out. Nonetheless, it set the stage for a unique WrestleMania with two world title matches and Bret to complete his redemption arc 
1997: Steve Austin
Why: It wasn’t the Austin 3:16 promo that initially got the Texas Rattlesnake over. All it did was pigeonhole him in a match against the over the hill Yokozuna at SummerSlam. It was his 1997 run and feud with Bret Hart that shot him into the stratosphere. Initially, Bret was slated to win the rumble, but not to set-up his rematch vs Michaels for the world title he loss the previous year. The ensuing chaotic months leading up to WrestleMania was supposed to culminate in a Sycho Sid vs Undertaker title match – like in real life; and Bret facing HBK in a non-title match. Austin was slated to square off against The British Bulldog. 
The unknowing catalyst for Austin’s victory was none other than Vince Russo. No, Russo didn’t push for Austin to win the rumble. On a WWE Tv show “LiveWire” Russo made it abundantly clear to the audience Bret was going to win the rumble, thus giving away the finish and enraging Vince McMahon. 
So Russo’s flippant remark showing his distain for the ultimate straight-man once again winning the rumble inadvertently set up the hottest wrestler we’ll ever see. Without it there would be no Austin vs Bret feud. The historic submission match never occur and Austin doesn’t turn face. We don’t get, arguably, Bret’s strongest run in the WWE as a heel. 
1998: Steve Austin
Why: It was Austin’s time to shine. His arrival. Nothing more to say. 
2000: The Rock
Why: Same goes for Rock. Though WWE fucked it all up by not putting him over at WrestleMania over The Game. WrestleMania is where stories meet their climax. Never treat the Grand Daddy of them all like a B-list PPV. 
2001: Steve Austin
Why: It’s Austin
2003: Brock Lesnar
Why: 2003 was an odd year for Lesnar. The year prior he took the belt from Rock, was supposed to feud with Triple H, but instead went over on Undertaker twice. Turned face after Paul Heyman betrayed him and aligned himself with Big Show. While his ill-fated face turn didn’t work, Lesnar remained incredibly over with fans and his matches vs Kurt Angle stands on its own. If anyone could have saved WWE from the fall from grace it’s suffered over the last two decades it was Brock. 
2004: [REDACTED]
Why: Nobody won the Royal Rumble in 2004. Curious. 
2005: Batista
Why: Simple enough. Batista languished as Triple H’s muscle long enough and was ready to take on the world as a singles competitor. Imagine how stronger his career would have been if he wasn’t transferred to the weaker brand, or at least remained a heel? 
2020: Drew McIntyre
Why: Hard worker. Salvaged his career at ICW, Evolve and numerous independent promotions until Vince brought him back. McIntyre is a stoic champion carrying himself with a quiet poise and dignity. Like the olden days. 
Worst Royal Rumble Winners; Who Should Have Won: 
2019: Seth Rollins – Kofi Kingston
Why: Rollins as a face was never going to work. He is too whiny and once he embraced his arch nemesis Triple H the night after ‘Mania he lost all credibility to me. Faces rebel against authority, not cozy up to it. Kofi had the momentum. Kofi was more over. His match with Bryan was the best on the card. He needed that win more than the established singles star Rollins. 
2017: Randy Orton – Roman Reigns
Why: An absolute star studded rumble. All the stars align and WWE gets everyone they could have possibly asked for. And they pick the lukewarm, champion one too many times Orton as the winner. Bullshit. Roman vs Goldberg or Bray Wyatt was the way to go. Even that so-so match vs Undertaker could have been salvaged if it was a title match. 
2016: Triple H – Dean Ambrose
Why: Dean was the guy. Roman wasn’t the guy. Dean and Roman should have switched places at ‘Mania. Roman winning the I.C championship and Ambrose conquering Brock Lesnar at ‘Mania.
Or, have Chris Jericho win the rumble and do the same exact thing you did only with Y2J in HHH’s place. Trips puts down talent, Jericho elevates them. 
2015: Roman Reigns – Daniel Bryan
Why: Again, Roman wasn’t the guy. Daniel Bryan never lost the title and deserved another go. Or at least book it as a triple-threat match. Instead, Bryan played ball, did the J.O.B for Roman and all he received was a lousy eighty-day run as Intercontinental Champion. 
2013: John Cena – Brock Lesnar 
Why: In “The Worst Year of John Cena’s Life” he wins the Royal Rumble because bullshit. Fuck it. You had The Rock as champions. C.M Punk still super over. Your franchise in Cena. And a returning star in Lesnar. These four forces should have collided at ‘Mania. 
2012: Shaemus – Chris Jericho
Why: Fuck Shaemus. He sucks. 
2011: Alberto Del Rio – Jerry Lawler 
Why: Fuck Alberto Del Rio. He sucks. 2011 was a solid year for Lawler. Had awesome matches vs The Miz and a title program with Lawler as champion vs Cena as the main event at ‘Mania would have been more enthralling than Miz – as much as I respect him. 
2010: Edge – Shawn Michaels
Why: Edge isn’t a face. Edge is an opportunistic son-of-a-bitch. This was Michaels last rumble and he needed to win to set up the ‘Taker match that should have been for the title. No matter what you did, HBK’s final match was going to relegate that year’s ‘Mania to a one match show.
2009: Randy Orton – Edge
Why: In the “Age of Orton” Randy should have never lost the title he retained in the triple-threat at ‘Mania XXIV until ‘Mania XXV. Either Edge or Rey Mysterio should’ve won. No Triple H. No John Cena. 
2008: John Cena – Randy Orton
Why: Nobody cares Cena was injured and relinquished the title. 
2002: Triple H – Hulk Hogan
Why: Nobody was having Triple H as a face. Case and point the cold crowd for the ‘Mania main event vs Jericho. That wasn’t Y2J’s fault. The invading NWO should have helped Hogan win the rumble and then the title. 
1995: Shawn Michaels – Diesel
Why: Diesel was the man Vince wanted to push. Perhaps Nash was too inexperienced and not talented enough to have a successful title run. But WWE opting for the slow burn would have helped. 
Nondescript Royal Rumble Winners:
1993: Yokozuna
Why: It was okay. Yokozuna had a solid 1993/94. Would have preferred Randy Savage winning the rumble – and then the world title from Bret. 
2014: Batista 
Why: Yeah, it served its purpose – albeit unintentionally. In a perfect world Batista and Brock main event ‘Mania XXX.