He's Not Staying in Cleveland, That's for Sure.
It has been four days, and the image is still seared into sports fans' collective consciousness.
JR Smith, possibly due to alcohol-induced dementia, decided to run away with the ball as the shot clock dripped down to zero, sending the Cavs into an unwinnable overtime with the Warriors. Lebron was 51-8-8 and his team still managed to lose by double digits. Game 2 offered James no respite. Every time he kicked the ball out, someone on his team would chuck up a brick.
The Warriors on the other hand, were predictably hot, with Steph Curry setting the record for most 3s in a Finals game. Unfortunately for Lebron, it's impossible to cover three players at once. This means on any given play, either Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, or Klay Thompson is going to be left wide when Kevin Love bites on a jab step and trips over his own feet. If Lebron were given four 7-foot scarecrows, and was allowed to place them strategically on the court, it might actually be an improvement.
The Warriors have a commanding 2-0 lead, and it feels pretty safe to say this series is over. In Game 3, back at home, Lebron will probably end up breaking 50 points again. The Cavs might even win that game, but the onslaught will continue. There's no one on the Cavs' roster who can stop Golden State from scoring. Rather than speculate about whether this series will last four or five games, I figure it'd be more fun to discuss where Lebron might end up next year. Spoiler alert: He's not going back to Cleveland.
Option 1: The Houston Rockets (The Easy Road)
James Harden and Chris Paul
When noted crybaby Kevin Durant decided to take his toothpick arms and Slender Man body to the Warriors last year, he set an interesting precedent. It's no longer taboo to create a super team and ruin the NBA in pursuit of a ring. Lebron has gone on record about how he's chasing Michael Jordan's ghost and that the only thing he's concerned with is winning. Houston already has two future hall of famers in Chris Paul and James Harden. They almost got to the championship this year. Of any team in the league, they're the most poised to take a championship next year. Also, Chris Paul is part of Lebron's Banana Boat Crew and James has openly discussed his desire to play with him in the past. That said, all members of the Banana Boat Crew (D-Wade, Chris Paul, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony) are free agents this year.
Option 2: The Los Angeles Lakers (The Number One Rule is to Have Fun!)
The Banana Boat Crew (Left to Right: Wade, Anthony, Paul, James)
This brings us to option two. If Lebron's number one concern somehow shifted from winning rings to playing with his best friends, the Los Angeles Lakers might be the best place for him. They're perhaps the only team with enough cap space to make this dream a reality. To compound this theory further, Lebron recently bought a $23 million home in L.A. earlier this year. The Lakers may only have perennial ass eater Lonzo Ball and a collection of guys from the East Hollywood YMCA, but they have the money to turn the squad into an instant contender.
Option 3: The San Antonio Spurs (The Mr. Miyagi Method)
The other GOAT
Lebron has said it multiple times at this point: Gregg Popovich is the greatest coach in NBA history. On top of this, Pop has beaten Lebron in the finals twice, and Pop's Spurs teams have always managed to stay relevant, even now that they're seriously lacking in star power. If Lebron were given a chance to play with Kawhi Leonard and an amazing coach like Popovich, he'd probably become a better player. Considering he's the greatest player of all time and he almost averaged a triple double during the regular season, there might not seem to be much room for growth. But never underestimate the power of a good coach. If Lebron were to go to San Antonio, he'd become the best possible version of himself. Also, it'd be fun to see the Warriors miss the Finals next year.
Option 4: The Philadelphia 76ers (The Righteous Path)
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons
Philadelphia is, perhaps surprisingly, the sports media's current favorite when it comes to speculating Lebron's future. The team is chock full of young talent like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and considering Lebron wants to sign a long-term contract, the Sixers seem to be the most suitable squad for him. As he gets older and begins to decline in his late thirties, the Sixers' current stars will be hitting their prime. Barring a miracle victory in this year's finals, Lebron needs four more rings to beat Jordan. He's 33-years-old and has, at best, five or six more years as a starter. If he's going to get the rings he desires, he's going to need a team that can help him out, that he can mentor and mold in his image. It doesn't hurt that he and Ben Simmons already have this type of relationship.
Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Popdust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. -- Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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