Chris Paul partner

Cade Cunningham

2020.10.23 05:08 eduvina Cade Cunningham

I think basketball gods will side with the Thunder this time. We've seen it happen with New Orleans in Anthony Davis (Chris Paul left) and Zion Williamson (AD left). We've seen it multiple times with Cavs (Lebron left). I believe they will side with us this time after Russ' departure.
An Oklahoma guy playing for Oklahoma is just too good a story for us. He's a PG and he's replacing Russ. Just like Ja replacing Conley or KLove/KAT replacing KG. Point guard is our best player.
Best part is our guards are solid af. CC and SGA. Our 1-2 punch, just like their number.
With the amount of cap space we'll have while they're still on rookie contracts, it's gonna be interesting at the very least. SGA extension will be up and he's our highest paid player by then. We can add another star to pair with Cade and SGA! Then we have a solid defender at Dort on a very very cheap contract. We have landed a prime PG and almost prime Melo at their peak. We have landed a rising Oladipo as well. We can definitely bag a superstar with all the assets we have and the cap space.
Yes it's not a great market but our culture, competitiveness, and great management will attract a star into our fold. 2-3 years from now, my bet on adding is Joel Embiid. But the realistic one we can get is within Gobert tier which is not bad for us still.
Cade is a superstar in the making and he has SGA as his partner. Very versatile and talented. So exciting for the Thunder
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2020.10.23 00:38 TheTipOff Time to Shave the Beard — Are James Harden’s Days in Houston Numbered?

James Harden will go down as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, maybe even the best. But with the departure of both Coach Mike D’Antoni and General Manager Daryl Morey, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Rockets begin to rebuild without the help from one of the franchise’s all time bests.
For years, the Rockets under GM Daryl Morey have gone all in into trying to win a championship. From trading for James Harden in 2012, to signing Dwight Howard in 2013, trading for Chris Paul in 2017, and finally Russell Westbrook in 2019, Houston has never backed down from a challenge. This was never more apparent than during Golden State’s complete domination of the NBA landscape from 2015–2019. Outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston seemed to be the only team willing to challenge the Warriors, and they pushed them to their brink; culminating in a 3–2 series lead over them in the Western Conference Finals in 2018. If it wasn’t for a Chris Paul hamstring injury and a historic choke job in Game 7, the Rockets may have advanced and taken down (a very weak) Lebron James and Cleveland Cavaliers to win a title. But here in 2020, on the bank of a 4–1 second round loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, those days could not be further away.
Now the Rockets have a huge decision to make, just one summer after trading for superstar Russell Westbrook and half a season into going all in on “micro-ball”, it could be argued the Rockets should tear it all down. Do they finally cave in and commit to a rebuild — leading to them (most likely) parting ways with both Russell Westbrook and James Harden? Or do they give it another try? Or is it a combination of the two
How can the Rockets stay competitive?
Rocket's Depth Chart
The biggest trademark of this Rockets group is the fact that they push the idea of “pace and space” to the extreme. With the second fastest pace, the highest three point attempted percentage (half of their shots being threes), and with no traditional center in their rotation, they looked to offset the lack of size by overwhelming teams with their shooting. And in the beginning, it was working. Clint Capela was traded from the Rockets to the Hawks on February 5th 2020, and between then and the restart, they went a respectable 8–5. That period included impressive wins over the top seeded Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz and the Celtics again (this time in overtime). However, things changed in the bubble and the Rockets only went 4–4 in the seeding games, before being pushed to the brink by an over performing Thunder team, and then eventually losing to the Lakers in 5. It is important to note it was rumored that both Russell Westbrook and James Harden had COVID-19 during the hiatus, potentially leading to them not being as fit as possible for the playoffs.
During that Lakers series, it became more and more apparent that the Rockets advantage in shooting was not going to offset the humongous size differential. For context, the Rockets lined up with 6'5" PJ Tucker at center, while the Lakers lined up with 7'0" JaVale McGee. Even when the Lakers “went small” by benching both McGee and Dwight Howard later on into the series, the height between Markieff Morris (6'8"), Anthony Davis (6'10") and LeBron James (6'8") just tortured the Rockets. If the Rockets want to stay competitive, they’re going to need at least a competent center.
Houston doesn’t need to break the bank for a big guy, they just need a big who can, simply put, be big. Looking at the Boston Celtics for example, they’re also a team hinged on the play from their guards and forwards. But what sets them apart from the Rockets is that they have an adequate enough big man rotation between Daniel Thies, Enes Kanter, Grant Williams and Robert Williams. They all provide them with enough size so that the Celtics do not get battered inside every night. Even taking a look at the Rockets biggest enemy, the Golden State Warriors, where even during their dominant rule over the NBA, they never had a true dominant big man. There are a plethora of big options on the free agency market that can all come in and play 15–20 minutes a night and do their job.
Is trading Russell Westbrook possible?
Going back to that semi-dominant run the Rockets had at the beginning of their small ball era, Russell Westbrook was at the heart of it, playing the best basketball of his career. In the month of February, Westbrook played in 8 games and averaged 33.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, while shooting a staggering 55% from the field — a level of efficiency almost unheard of in Westbrook’s career. This was due to the increased amount of space he had to attack without Clint Capela on the floor. With Capela on the floor, the Rockets had two non shooters (him and Westbrook), making it easier for opponents to help on Harden. Without Capela however, Westbrook saw more spread pick and rolls and had more space to attack than ever before in his career — and the results were positive.
Big Man Russ
However, all of that went out the window the moment the playoffs started. Westbrook missed the first 4 games of the playoffs as he nursed a quad injury, and he never looked the same once he came back, averaging only 17 points on 42% shooting in 8 games. At this moment in time, the Westbrook on display pre lockdown seems like a distant memory, and his value is dropping lower and lower. Westbrook will be owed as much as $46 million a year under his current contract (assuming he picks up his player option in 2022–23), which ends when he turns 34.
All of this is coupled with the fact that the Rockets have zero tradable assets to package alongside Westbrook and that it seems more and more likely he will be sticking around for at least next season. However, that may not be a bad outcome for the Rockets, because if any team is equipped with the shooting to space the floor for Westbrook, it’s them. They’ve proved they can build a team that gets the most out of him, it’s just a matter of developing it in the right way, and before his eventual decline (which depending on who you ask, may have already started).
The Big Question: Where does that leave James Harden?
James Harden is the life that drives this Houston Rockets team. From the moment he became a Rocket in 2012, he has exploded onto the scene, winning 3 scoring titles, the 2018 NBA MVP, the 2017 assist title and 7 All Star nods. He’s accomplished almost everything you can ask of a player from an individual standpoint. When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, Harden is among the NBA’s all time best. Harden is one of only 4 players to win 3 straight scoring titles since the NBA-ABA merger in 1979, the others being George Gervin, former teammate Kevin Durant, and arguably the greatest ever, Michael Jordan. And there’s no reason to think Harden can’t rack up another couple before he eventually retires. With that being said, and for as good of a scorer Harden is, he does have a couple big flaws in his game.
One big criticism of Harden in the past has been his defense. There are countless clips on the Internet of Harden in his days with the Thunder and early Rockets days of him not moving on defense at all, suggesting he’s a poor and lazy defender. But to his credit, he has stepped up in a big way the past couple seasons. Ironically enough, this is most highlighted most in (what used to be) the one game where no one played defense — the All Star game.
DPOY Sequence by James Harden
Another big criticism of Harden is that he stands around on offense if he doesn’t have the ball, making it easier for the defense to zone up the weak side. However, the Rockets do have a fair share of plays that get Harden coming off screens and running into a catch, but it is a fair criticism of him to say he doesn’t help his teammates if he doesn’t have the ball. This is even more pressing of an issue when Westbrook also needs the ball in his hands to be more effective, due to his low three point percentage (career 31% and 26% in 2019–20). This begs the question; How good could the Rockets be if Westbrook had the keys to the offense? Building further on that, how good could the Rockets be if they had Westbrook and another All Star level piece who compliments his game as opposed to Harden?
The last time Westbrook had full control over an offense, he won MVP in 2017, while averaging a 31.6 points, 10.7 assists and 10.4 rebounds per game, breaking the single season record for triple doubles (42). However, the Thunder did get bounced in the first round of those playoffs, funnily enough to the Rockets, and on top of that, it may be too much to assume Westbrook will play to that capability three years later. However, what that Thunder team didn’t have was another All-Star caliber piece to give Westbrook some help, and that’s the type of player the Rockets would demand back in any potential Harden trade.
What could a James Harden trade look like?
Harden for quality phili role players
Star swap with Phili
One potential rumored destination for James Harden are the Philadelphia 76ers. In this scenario, a trade package would either be formed around All NBA center Joel Embiid, or around former All Star Al Horford and any combination of Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle. In either case, the Rockets would be reloading rather than rebuilding, giving Westbrook a big who can play off his strengths better than the ball dominant James Harden. It’s important to note all of these suggested trades are not set in stone, but rather mere estimations of potentially the value the Rockets could get out of Harden.
Another interesting trade partner for the Rockets could be the Indiana Pacers. With a log jam in the front court with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis plus the rumored exit of Victor Oladipo, the Pacers could send one of those bigs plus Oladipo (and potentially another piece) to the Rockets for Harden. No matter the trade, it would seem likely the Rockets would be getting a talented big man, assuming they would want to move away from the micro ball experiment.
Big Balls Pacers Trade
On the flip side, if the Rockets wanted to continue to play small ball while also shopping James Harden, an interesting trade partner could be the Los Angeles Clippers, in order to potentially reunite Westbrook with former teammate Paul George. George, who also had his struggles in the playoffs this year, played his best basketball alongside Westbrook in Oklahoma City, finishing third in MVP voting in 2019. Of course, the Clippers would need to give up a couple more pieces in order to obtain James Harden, but having the defensive minded George playing alongside Westbrook again could spark the Rockets into a new era.
Harden for every Clipper except Kawhi
However, a trade like this would have it’s issues. For one, Paul George and Russell Westbrook never made it past the first round in either of the two season they played together, losing to Utah and Portland in 2018 and 2019. And as previously mentioned, both players are coming off poor showing in the playoffs, suggesting they may not be the best fit alongside one another if the Rockets hope to make it deep in the playoffs. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it could be a very interesting trade that could give the fans in Houston something new to cheer about. On top of that, the additions of Zubac and Shamet give the Rockets some young pieces that can grow in the future. This is desperately needed in Houston considering their youngest player is 23 year old Chris Clemons, who played 9 minutes in 33 games this year.
The Verdict: Will James Harden be traded?
The short answer: probably not.
The long answer: it depends on the direction the Rockets choose. With inexperienced Rafael Stone being promoted into Morey’s job, it may suggest the Rockets want to start anew, but it will probably come down to who they hire as a head coach. If they go with a more experienced coach (either Van Gundy brother), it may signal their decision to run it back. But on the flip side, if they go with former player Sam Cassell, it may signal the beginning of the rebuild.
At the end of the day, James Harden will go down as one of the greatest Rockets of all time — with or without a title to his name. It would seem silly for the Rockets to just give up on him when he wasn’t the issue for the Rockets in the playoffs (averaging almost 30 a game in the playoffs just passed). However, with almost no assets and 0 young pieces on the roster, if the Rockets do choose to rebuild, pawning off Westbrook and Harden might become necessary in order to avoid becoming one of the worst franchises in the NBA in the foreseeable future.
In any case, changes will be coming to the Houston Rockets. Whether that be geared towards tearing the foundation of this team down, or making slight tweaks, keep an eye out for what a new front office could do to the Rockets. As for James Harden, he should feel relatively safe about his position in Houston, but in the NBA, you just never know.
*all stats were found on unless stated otherwise
*game footage and photos used are not owned by me, they are property of the NBA is used for educational purposes
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2020.10.22 18:00 SaintRidley Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 16, 1988

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
1-4-1988 1-11-1988 1-18-1988 1-25-1988
2-1-1988 2-8-1988 2-15-1988 2-22-1988
2-29-1988 3-7-1988 3-14-1988 3-21-1988
3-28-1988 4-4-1988 4-11-1988 4-18-1988
4-25-1988 5-2-1988 5-9-1988 *
  • The big stories this week really won’t hit until late in the issue, so read down I guess.
  • [NWA] The Midnight Rider angle lasted just a whole two weeks after his initial arrival. The whole thing began just four or five weeks back with a baseball bat and punching Magnum T.A., and all that work was wasted when they pulled the plug. The Midnight Rider gimmick just wasn’t working, so they did an official announcement that Paul Boesch convinced the NWA board to reinstate Dusty. All the panicked decisions lately leave Dave with the impression that the NWA is in worse shape than they seemed to be a few weeks back, and things don’t look likely to change any time soon. More of a surprise to Dave than the fact that it wasn’t working is the fact that they did it so quickly when the angle was supposed to last through the summer. He thinks that has to be hard on Dusty’s ego. So them setting up a feud between Dusty and Barry Windham when the logical feud should be Luger and Windham seems a desperate move to placate Dusty. And there’s no predicting what the NWA will do next, because the people in charge don’t seem to know what they’re doing week to week.
  • Ex-NFL star Steve Courson makes his pro wrestling debut this week at a Pennsylvania independent show. He’s barely trained and being rushed into the ring to capitalize off his NFL fame. The guy was a heavy steroid user back in the NFL and admitted as much, and his career ended due to health issues a couple years ago. Nevertheless, he’s got an anti-steroid book about to hit bookshelves. Seems carny enough for the business.
  • Roddy Piper showed up at Don Owen’s April 30 card in Portland. Billy Jack Haynes’ rival promotion debuted on May 7 and starts its tv program on May 14. Haynes claims he didn’t delay a week due to Piper’s April 30 appearance, but because his ring lights were late in arriving. They were lighting Chris Adams’ ring, I’m sure. Anyway, Piper showed up in the interview area and never entered the ring, and when Mike Golden told Piper to scram during his interview, Piper acted passive and backed off to help put Golden over. Golden then produced a contract for a match on May 7 and tried to goad Piper into a match, to which Piper retorted he’s lost a lot of weight and isn’t a fighter anymore, only to finally get into it with Golden after more taunting and Golden spitting on him. Fans left with the idea that Piper would fight Golden, but Piper never appeared on May 7 and no announcement of them having a match took place.
  • Variety Magazine reports that all the weekly pro wrestling shows have dropped out of the top 15 in syndicated ratings. So the real story is the way that the wrestling shows made it into the top 15 in the first page. The WWF network had 5 shows, Crockett network had 4, and All-Star Wrestling network had at least 6, and each of those packages added up the ratings of all the shows in them and reported that rating. Compare to say, Wheel of Fortune, which is just the one show, and so you had the combined ratings of anywhere from 4-6+ shows trying to act like all the shows in that package were competitive ad space to a show like Wheel or Jeopardy, which is unfair to those single shows that pull in massive ratings. Anyway, those who calculate ratings have done away with those network packages in their calculations to level the playing field, so WWF isn’t getting ahead of Oprah and her single show’s 9 rating by combining five shows to pull a 10 rating anymore. Superstars, which is definitely WWF’s most watched show, doesn’t even come close to the top 15 on its own. For Dave, this isn’t a big deal, other than that it’ll be harder to track ratings, which are the best way to measure interest at the moment. Dave’s tv industry contacts think this is a big blow to wrestling as an industry, however, and more damaging to Crockett than McMahon since Vince has sold most of his ad slots for the year already. Nothing has materially changed, but advertisers are going to see wrestling as less hot, and their places in the top 15 have been taken by shows like Love Connection, Star Search, and Hollywood Squares. A wrestling network package might offer the same number of viewers, but advertisers look at the rankings to decide what’s hot, and wrestling’s not going to appear there anymore, and their ads in trade publications won’t be able to boast WWF or NWA as among the highest rated networks in syndication. Long story short, Promoters are going to have to chase advertising dollars rather than advertisers chasing promotions, and that spells an eventual downturn for the business.
  • [NWA] Clash of the Champions II, called Miami Mayhem, has been announced for June 8. Dave gets the feeling that it won’t be as hot a show as the first Clash and that those in the company think they might have given away too much on the first and thus hurt themselves at the gate. Dave thinks they did indeed give a lot, but they also failed to take advantage of a lot. Like, the barbed wire match was the end of a feud and they didn’t even know it because despite the heels being beaten quick and clean, they’re still running the match when there’s no point in continuing the feud. Dave thinks they had a lot of momentum coming off the first clash and they squashed it by downplaying everything in favor of the now-aborted Midnight Rider angle.
  • Randy Savage is now being billed as Undisputed WWF Champion. They’ve dropped the word “heavyweight” and Dave’s been told they’re planning to no longer use it, for whatever that’s worth.
  • WWF is working on a bunch of non-wrestling specials. Kind of like the Slammy Awards in the way they’ll sell the shows and in their hopes for ratings. Dave hopes not similar in terms of quality, at least.
  • Managers Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart, and Frenchy Martin appeared on WWF’s May 7 Boston house show. No idea if it’s just certain New England cities they’ll appear in or what, but yeah, that’s the update on the managers at house shows thing.
  • Dave and his friends were joking that Ultimate Warrior vs. Andre the Giant would be the worst possible match this generation. Lo and behold, Dave found out that they put that match on a few weeks back in Switzerland on a European tour. Dave asks “What did the Swiss ever do to Vince McMahon?” I can't find anything from Switzerland, but I did find a clip from Italy on that same tour.
Watch: Andre vs. Warrior
  • Dave saw the program for the Central States April 28 show in Kansas City and it’s the funniest thing he’s seen in a while. The program talks about the Freebirds (supposed to be coming in) and says they’re managed by Michael Hayes, and it has a picture of Hayes taken from their original heel days in Georgia in 1980. Bob Geigel runs the promotion and makes his own programs, and it’s good to see how up to date he’s managed to be.
  • Ken Mantell sent a letter to every promotion except WWF and NWA offering for World Class to work with them. World Class isn’t running a full-time schedule, so Mantell’s looking for ways to get his guys out there, but they only have a couple guys with any significant name value. Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Terry Taylor, and maybe Chris Adams could give a boost to a promotion getting into things with a local babyface, but just sending Taylor and Adams to have a match against each other won’t help anyone (they did that for the May 2 show in Memphis). Talent sharing isn’t helpful to the other promotions unless they can do a tv angle or work several shows rather than a one-off date (with the rare exception of a Michael Hayes date in Atlanta, or Gordy doing an independent show with a match against Brody or Abdullah).
  • [Memphis] Eddie Gilbert beat Jerry Lawler on May 2 to keep Missy Hyatt’s hair on her head. The finish saw Lawler punch Paul E. Dangerously (who manages Gilbert in Continental) after Missy failed to distract Lawler with her open shirt trick. Dangerously showed up when Lawler went after her, and then Kenny Dee, who was managing Lawler, threw powder in Lawler’s eyes, leading to Gilbert getting the pin. Money wound up changing hands from Dangerously to Hyatt to Dee after the match, so Kenny Dee is a newly minted heel manager.
  • Also in Memphis, the Iceman King Parsons vs. Kerry Von Erich match from the same show got little reaction. People came to see Lawler and Gilbert, not them, and Dave still doesn’t understand putting this match on and billing Parsons as a world champion when the next show is Lawler vs. Hennig for the AWA World Title. It’s just undercutting that match to act like the WCCW title is a world title and then turn around and go “Well here’s a different world title” and being very inconsistent in their recognition of world championships.
  • More on the special referee poll for the May 9 LawleHennig match. They’re running the poll from a 1-900 number (which means a cost of $1 per phone call), so the company was profiting off the poll. That explains the amount of promotion they were doing saying that Larry Hennig was winning the poll by a narrow margin due to fans in Minnesota flooding the line with votes for Hennig. They were doing no such thing, but it’s a smart way to bilk the local fan base. In Memphis, they run their tv show live, so when it started at 11 am, they did a segment where they said the poll would close at noon (Hennig still leading the results) to keep fans voting until the last minute, even doing another segment at 11:45 am. At noon, Lawler came out and acted all serious with his best Bad News Barrett impression and said he was afraid he had some bad news. “Bad news for Curt Hennig, that is,” and announced Jackie Fargo was the winner of the referee poll. Dave guesses the reason for the charge is probably to drum up enough money to pay Curt Hennig enough to be happy, but this sure is a new way to try and make money off wrestling.
  • There’s a newcomer in the Oregon territory named Steve Austin. No, he’s not stone cold, but he’s also used the name Steve Winters (Dave believes this is his real name), and he’ll wind up wrestling for Stampede in the future under the name Lance Idol. Dave’s seen him a bit before in his early days in the Bay area and recalls him being a good worker trying to emulate Ray Stevens in style.
  • Don Owen’s May 7 show had the best case for allowing blading that Dave has ever heard of. They had a Northwest Tag Title cage match with Steve Doll and Scott Peterson beating Avalanche and Mike Golden to regain the titles. Owen believes you need blood in a cage match, while the Oregon commission has banned blading, so how do you suppose Owen got around the issue? Mike Golden got bloody hardway, and they wanted Peterson to bleed too, so they had Golden and Avalanche try to hardway Peterson with potatoes to the forehead. Dave hears they did some 14 hard punches to Peterson’s head and none of them opened him up. One did bust up his nose a bit, though. This is what happens when blading is banned and wrestlers feel the need to get color - they’re going to be really unsafe and hurt themselves.
  • Tatsumi Fujinami beat Vader by countout on April 27, in a show that drew 5,000 in Osaka. For comparison, All Japan’s Brody/Tenryu match there last month drew 4,000. Fujinami had vowed to retire if he couldn’t beat Vader, so they kind of had to have that finish if they wanted Vader to keep his monster aura without honoring a retirement. Anyway, Dave isn’t sure if this is legit or just an angle, but Fujinami is being reported as trying to make a play for the top spot now that Inoki’s foot is broken. He’s even got a new haircut to symbolize his change from being a young disciple of Inoki to being his own man.
  • All Japan Women’s May 15 show has a hell of a triple main event lineup. At the top of the card you have the Crush Girls vs. the Jumping Bomb Angels. Then you have Mika Suzuki vs. Kaoru Maeda for the jr. championship (not a weight class, but rather a title exclusively for wrestlers with under 2 years experience). Lastly, Erika Shishido and Nobuko Kimura defend the AJW tag titles against two of the standout rookies from the class of 1987 who are getting their first crack at major exposure, Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada. Erika Shishido, by the way, is a 17 year old from the class of 1986 and the company has big plans for her as a future heel star and partner for Bull Nakano. You may know her better as Aja Kong.
  • Windy City Wrestling drew remarkably well, drawing $40,000 at International Amphitheater in Chicago. It’s the largest gate Dave’s ever heard of for an independent promotion. The card had Col. DeBeers, Candi Divine and Debbie Combs, Paul E. Dangerously, Buddy Rose and Doug Somers, and a bunch else going on. Based on ticket prices, they pulled an audience of over 4,000 people. The promoter sold the show to the venue for $10,000, so they made a big profit on the event. WWF has taken notice and already there’s talk of them running the same venue, because they believe it may tap into a different crowd than the Rosemont Horizon.
  • [Stampede] Owen Hart’s reign as North American champion has ended as of May 6. He dropped the title to Makhan Singh, whom he beat for the title on April 10, 1987. Definitely a step toward Owen’s departure from the promotion here, as his last match with Stampede if he does go to the WWF will be on May 14 before he does the IWGP series for New Japan. Owen did agree to go to the WWF for a masked gimmick, either a Tiger Mask or Mighty Mouse type, but he’s apparently having second thoughts, perhaps related to a personal goal he supposedly has of having the match of the year with Ric Flair. Sadly, Owen’s never going to get that match. Bret and Davey Boy Smith are pushing hard for Owen to come to WWF.
  • Heading to Stampede is Steve Blackman. Blackman’s done some jobs for WWF in the past and is kind of a powerlifter type. He’s being paired with Brick Bronsky, whom Dave describes as an untalented lifter type (Dave rates the May 7 Edmonton match between Kerry Brown and Bronsky at -3.5 stars and calls it one of the worst matches Stampede will ever have), and their team name is the Abortion Alliance. Jeezus, Bruce.
  • A new women’s wrestling promotion is supposed to start up, doing tapings at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Wendi Richter and Misty Blue are said to be the top stars and Gordon Solie is said to be on board for announcing, and there’s supposedly tv contracts lined up.
  • Ted Turner is working on a new cable station called TNT. It’s gonna have a lot of MGM movies and sports events, and probably eventually some Crockett wrestling. The FCC is expected to change some regulations, which would put WTBS back to only being Atlanta-local and all the superstations will revert to local tv.
  • Looks like a lock that Financial News Network will be taking on Continental by the end of the month or early June. As for a deal with New Japan, that seems to be on hold, as neither side could come to an agreement.
  • Lawsuits corner. WWF is suing FNN over their Hulkamania package. Larry Sharpe is suing Bam Bam Bigelow for breach of contract. Sharpe was Bigelow’s real manager back in Japan.
  • The best match on an independent show in Brooklyn on April 29 saw Lou Fabiano (a former WWF jobber) team with Cactus Jack against George Skaaland and Tom Brandi. Cactus Jack is a trainee of Dominic DeNucci, and Dave hears that he’s a top flight worker.
  • Word is that Futahaguro (real name Koji Kitao), the yokozuna who got kicked out of sumo, is reporting to the Monster Factory in New Jersey to train under Larry Sharpe. He’s in New York this week on other business (mostly talk shows), so no definite word, but that’s the rumor coming out of the area.
  • The Von Erich Parade of Champions drew an estimated 7,000 fans. Dave anticipates a more accurate estimate and gate next week. The show was… Let me just give some highlights. The first match was terrible. The second match was mostly rest holds and had no heat, and after winning the match Mike George grabbed the mic to make sure the fans knew he was recognized as World Champion in Kansas City. Nobody cared because nobody cares about the Kansas City promotion. Steve Casey was supposed to challenge Eric Embry for the light heavyweight title, but he came in 1.5 pounds over the weight limit. After the crowd heckled Embry, he agreed to a non-title match, which Casey won in 19 seconds. That extra weight made all the difference, I reckon. Bill Irwin vs. Black Bart was fair. Then you had Michael Hayes vs. Terry Gordy in a triple tower of doom and Dave says that while there was heat, the gimmick’s a total dud because you can’t do any moves or take any bumps the way it’s all structured. They then gave the crowd something good, as Terry Taylor beat Chris Adams to keep the Texas title in a great match. The Texas roundup in the triple tower of doom, on the other hand, was the opposite of great. If Dusty plans to actually use this concept, he’s got a lot of work cut out for him, because not one fan in the building understood what the hell was going on. Bruiser Brody carried his match teaming with Kevin Von Erich against Buddy Roberts and Solomon Grundy, and nobody cared about Kevin. They had to replace Schaun Simpson with Terry Gordy due to injury suffered in the Texas roundup for the Wild West/Texas tag title unification match, and Gordy/Simpson won by disqualification. It’s unclear if that makes the Simpsons Wild West tag champs and Gordy/Simpson Texas tag champs, or if it unifies the titles on the Simpsons, or what. In the end, Kerry Von Erich regained the WCCW title. Nobody cares. World Class is every bit as fucked as WCW in 2000.
  • Dave’s got the lineup for the second Clash, and he thinks the NWA is now afraid to put on a hot show. Windham vs. Ricky Santana, Koloff vs. Al Perez, Dusty vs. Larry Zbysko, the Garvins vs. Rotunda and Rick Steiner, the Fantastics vs. Sheepherders for the U.S. Tag Titles, and Blanchard/Anderson defending the NWA tag titles against Sting and Steve Williams. No Flair, Luger, or Road Warriors in sight.
  • When the NWA announced Dusty’s reinstatement, the reaction was pretty negative. After a moment of silence, one woman cheered and two more joined her, and they were swiftly drowned in a chorus of boos.
  • Night 2 of the Crockett Cup grossed $115,000 at the gate. The Cup as a whole managed a combined gate equal to the merch sales gross at Wrestlemania.
  • They’re building a new Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it’s supposed to open in the fall. Word is that WWF will get the first two shows there and Crockett will be relegated to the 2,500 seat Charlotte Park Center, since the old Coliseum building will be torn down. WWF can’t run the existing Coliseum for the same reasons Crockett can’t touch Madison Square Garden, but the new Coliseum has different management with no relationship to Crockett, so they’re going to give WWF a chance.
  • Gordon Solie and Mike Graham’s new Florida Championship Wrestling has opened up and did their first tv taping on April 30. They’re looking to run five days a week in central Florida starting real soon.
  • Antonio Inoki’s injury has led to New Japan declaring the IWGP Title vacant. Tatsumi Fujinami battles Vader on May 7 for the title. Seems to be a lot of behind the scenes tension between Fujinami and Choshu as well. Fujinami walked out after the April 27 show, leaving only Choshu of the original four top draws in the company.
  • Tiger Mask (Mitsuharu Misawa) is getting married on May 10 and will unmask for the wedding. He’s marrying movie star Tomomi Shiina. After the wedding he may stop wrestling as Tiger Mask and go back to his real name.
  • As soon as TNT is available in 30 million homes, Crockett’s tv will be moved there. All kinds of rumors are swirling about Crockett and Turner, but as far as Dave’s aware no firm deal of any kind has been reached.
  • The NWA, Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan, and the city of Albany are all being sued for “torturous acts and personal injury” by 16 year old Mike Strickland. Strickland alleges that on February 9 he was patting wrestlers on the back when city police officers working security for the show seized him and arrested him, then took him to a secluded area where Rotunda and Sullivan “wilfully, intentionally and purposefully assaulted and attempted to commit violent and illegal physical injury” on him and that the police did nothing to stop the beating.
  • Dave wants us to know that although it was extremely predictable, he found the Midnight Express’s party on the WTBS show really entertaining. Yeah, when you have a cake in wrestling it winds up in the heel or announcer’s face, but the banter between Cornette and Stan Lane was really fun.
Watch: Jim Cornette gets caked
  • Ted Turner’s got some kind of package deal he’s pitching, using the July NWA ppv as incentive to get cable systems to buy in on TNT. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Dave understands that the cable companies will likely get a higher share of revenue for the PPV from the show than the usual 50/50 split, and Dave says this show is really do or die for Crockett.
  • Abdullah the Butcher and Kamala no-showed Jerry Blackwell’s May 8 show. They had turned down a spot at the Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions to do that show, so that’s ironic.
  • ”JERRY LAWLER PINNED CURT HENNIG TO WIN THE AWA TITLE ON 5/9 IN MEMPHIS BEFORE 9,500 FANS." The match was apparently “not great” and saw Lawler win by grabbing Hennig by the knees and kangaroo flipping him headlong into the ring post for the pin. Great reaction to the finish, but yeah, Lawler is the new AWA champion. More on this next week.
Watch: the finish to Lawler vs. Hennig
  • One letter writer chimes in that “loser groups” like GLOW and POWW don’t deserve time in the Observer. In fact, he hopes they lose their time slots in New York and Boston to Continental and Memphis to give WWF real competition. Yeah, because those groups are going to be able to do that.
  • Still a bunch of letters sniping back and forth about Clash vs. Wrestlemania. One says they can’t believe anyone could think FlaiSting was the best match they’ve seen in years. Another says that for “Vince McMahon to put WWF fans through that show constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.” As usual, wrestling fans are level-headed and gracious in their disagreements. It warms my soul to see us carrying on this proud tradition of sober discourse on reddit in 2020.
NEXT WEEK: AWA Champion Jerry Lawler, reports from Texas Stadium, Fujinami becomes IWGP champion, Oregon-Washington Wrestling Federation debut show, and more
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2020.10.22 08:21 BlackBaron_3 I think a lot of teams that performed poorly will take giant leaps this upcoming season. What teams do you have on your radar?

I'm eyeing the Suns, Grizzlies, Hawks and Cavs.
The Suns came out the gate firing during the beginning of the the season but lost their momentum as quickly as it came. Then the bubble happened and my God I've never seen them so perfect. It pains me they didn't make cut at the end regular season.
As for the Grizzlies, all I can say is that Ja Morant will probably be one of the most dominant individuals his his draft (I find this draft class a bit subpar but that's an opinion for another time) By placing the right pieces around him and J.J.J they'll be a formidable duo in the near future.
Eventhough Trae Young to massive steps individually, I was still disappointed with the overall performance of Hawks. You can say that Collins' suspension also contributed to their poor performance. With the addition of Capela who could be a potential 'lob-partner' for Young they may be able to turn the corner.
For a moment at the beginning of the season the Cavs actually looked decent but as Chris Paul would say "shit went bad real quick." The following months can only be described as incompetence and frustration plus the chemistry between players and the current coach at the time was toxic to say the least. The only redeemable thing at the time was Colin Sexton's improvement across the borad but it was overshadowed by two other over-performing guards within his draft class. Before the season came to a hault the changing of the coach and the starting PG seemed to have given the team a kick in the right direction. I don't think Drummond will sign with them btw.
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2020.10.21 14:30 daprice82 Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Oct. 14, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002 6-17-2002
6-24-2002 7-1-2002 7-8-2002 7-15-2002
7-22-2002 7-29-2002 8-5-2002 8-12-2002
8-26-2002 9-2-2002 9-9-2002 9-16-2002
9-23-2002 9-30-2002 10-07-2002
  • It's been 6 months since the brand split and we open with an analysis of how it's gone and the answer is not great. Dave wants it to work. In theory, it should give more talent TV time, let them slow-burn angles, create more stars, and foster healthy competition. In reality, it hasn't worked out like that at all. Guys like RVD, Benoit, Kane, Jericho....all of them are worse off now than they were 6 months ago when the split started and are no closer to breaking through that glass ceiling. Edge and Mysterio are the only two who seem to have benefitted by WWE making an actual effort to push them up the ladder but they aren't past that glass ceiling yet either. Everyone else is pretty much exactly where they were before or worse. Bubba Ray, Booker T, Lance Storm, Christian, Rikishi, Eddie Guerrero....all still mired in midcards. The only real main event top level stars WWE is building around lately are Undertaker, Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Lesnar, who is the only real "star" that has been created since this brand split started. Other top stars from 6 months ago like Austin, Rock, Hogan, and Vince are gone or off TV. Ric Flair has been reduced to doing comedy jobs to Rico. And Chris Jericho, who main evented Wrestlemania 6 months ago, is back to the midcard.
  • And when you look at it from a business perspective, it's even worse. Live attendance from March to September has dropped over 50% and is the lowest it's been since December of 1996. Raw ratings in the last 6 months have dropped from 4.93 to 3.54, which is almost identical to the same 6-month drop WCW had when Nash took over booking during the first half of 1999. But at least WCW had the excuse that WWF was putting on amazing competitive shows on the other channel. WWE doesn't have that excuse in 2002. No competition bringing them down, just their own incompetence. Of course, there are other factors at play. They didn't expect to lose Austin the way they did. You could argue that losing Rock hurts, but he was around all summer and even held the WWE title for a month of that time and ratings continued to fall, so how much was he really helping? Dave goes on a big rant here about all the problems facing WWE right now holy shit it feels exactly like 2020. Let's cherry-pick a few lines: "The creative process works best with long-term storylines that fans feel they can invest in, and building characters that don't let the fans down. Vince changes his mind every week, so that makes that aspect difficult to impossible [...] Those backstage in Vegas remarked how amazed they were at how they were literally redoing the script as the show went on." Anyway, WWE doesn't have many more big cards to play. The Invasion has been done. NWO has been done. Hogan came back. Bischoff came in. None of it has worked. What's left? Scott Steiner can't hold up to the WWE schedule. Goldberg refuses to do the WWE schedule. Austin is on the outs and who knows how much his return would really change things anyway? The solutions aren't external. They have to fix the internal problems now and that's writing better shows and creating new stars. This piece goes on and on but it's just Dave rehashing what we already know about the creative issues that started plaguing them in 2002 and haven't gotten better in 18 years.
  • It's time to talk about Bob Sapp. He's a former WCW Power Plant trainee who only made one appearance on WCW television, in a backstage promo on Thunder to promote a Tough Man contest on FX during the dying days of the company. The interviewer was Lenita Erikson, a singer from the 90s who was rumored to be the secret girlfriend of a high-ranking TBS executive (Dave doesn't name him here, but pretty sure it's been revealed as Brad Siegel in years since) and she looked completely strung out on drugs, but was still given a gig on WCW TV for a few minutes. Anyway, they pushed Sapp as if he was a huge football star and hyped him up as the next big WCW star. But he never appeared on WCW television again. He worked a few NWA Wildside shows but that was it. When WCW folded, he got involved with MMA and kickboxing and here we are. Just one year later, Bob Sapp is a phenom in Japan, and with less than a year of training, he capped off his rise with a stunning victory this week over the greatest heavyweight kickboxer in history, Ernesto Hoost. Following the victory, he shot an angle with Manabu Nakanishi for their upcoming NJPW Tokyo Dome match, which will be Sapp's first pro wrestling match in Japan. And just like that, without ever having wrestled a match in Japan, Bob Sapp has become the biggest wrestling attraction in the country and will likely be what saves this Tokyo Dome show from being a disaster (which it was looking to be until this K-1 fight and the following Nakanishi angle).
WATCH: Bob Sapp is interviewed on WCW Thunder
WATCH: Bob Sapp vs. Ernesto Hoost (highlights of both their fights, we'll get to the 2nd one in a month or two)
  • Just as the Bob Sapp thing was helping NJPW build momentum for the Tokyo Dome show, Kensuke Sasaki had to go and ruin it all by announcing he's leaving the company. Sasaki has spent his entire 16+ year career in NJPW and has been a major star for much of the last decade, a 3-time IWGP champion, and was one of the top four stars that carried NJPW throughout the record-setting business in the 90s, even though he never quite reached the success or ability as Muto, Chono, and Hashimoto. Publicly, Sasaki has said he is upset over the way NJPW handled the planned Pancrase match he was booked for against Minoru Suzuki, claiming that NJPW pulled him from the match against his wishes and replaced him with Jushin Liger. He put in his notice with the company and an attempt to talk him out of leaving failed, so NJPW has pulled him off all advertised shows.
  • After a trial that lasted more than 2 weeks, a jury took only 4 hours to rule in favor of WWE and concluding that Nicole Bass did not suffer any sexual harassment. The jury gave statements afterward saying they felt Bass was lying about her claims that Steve Lombardi (Brooklyn Brawler) had groped her and rubbed himself against her on a flight in 1999. Despite it being a crowded flight, Bass was unable to come up with any witness to corroborate the story. Vince and Linda McMahon, Jim Ross, Triple H, and Rena Mero (Sable) and others all testified. WWE attempted to introduce evidence showing Bass doing softcore porn bondage wrestling videos and video of her multiple appearances on Howard Stern's show, but the judge blocked that. Sable and Alicia Webb (Ryan Shamrock) testified on behalf of Bass, in particular about claims that wrestlers would frequently go into the women's dressing rooms uninvited. In particular, Webb testified that Triple H once came in while she was using the bathroom. In his testimony, Triple H claimed he couldn't recall such an incident. Bass claimed that Triple H was a frequent intruder into the women's locker room. Triple H denied purposely intruding but did admit to being in there at times due to his relationship with Chyna but he was always invited and always knocked and made sure everyone was clothed before he entered. Everyone on the WWE side noted that Bass was a terrible wrestler, which is why they say she was fired, with Jim Ross testifying that she couldn't even take a simple back bump properly. Ivory testified and admitted she had shot down a lesbian storyline between her and Bass, saying, "I told them I don't have anything against lesbians, but I don't want to be a lesbian on TV, especially if Nicole is going to be my girlfriend." Anyway, that's pretty much it. Jury didn't believe her and ruled unanimously against Bass. Also, one final unrelated note, Triple H testified that his downside guarantee on his current WWE contract is $400,000 in case you were curious.
  • Lots of issues with Chyna and NJPW. The promotion has to push her prominently because she's Inoki's pet project and he owns majority interest in the company. But no one likes working with her in the ring and she's rubbing people the wrong way by pitching ideas and giving advice on how they should be doing things and giving off the vibe that she thinks she knows more about wrestling than the Japanese do because she was a big star during WWF's peak. But they're all stuck with her because Inoki.
  • Brian Adams, formerly known as Crush, will make his professional boxing debut on an undercard match at an upcoming event in Las Vegas. Randy Savage will be in his corner. He's 36, which is too late for him to ever make any kind of serious attempt at being a boxer, and they're mostly selling this on the hype that Savage will be in his corner more than anything (Adams ends up getting injured in training and never actually has a pro boxing match).
  • Ring of Honor and XPW held competing shows in Philadelphia on 10/5, less than a mile apart from each other. Each group drew around 400-450 fans. During the week before, XPW began offering more money to advertised ROH stars to come work the XPW show instead. Some guys earning $100 for the ROH show were offered $500 to do XPW. Homicide's tag team partner Boogalou was the only one who accepted the offer and worked the XPW show under a mask (hope it was worth it, ROH never used him again). As the ROH show was going on, XPW called up Steve Corino (who was working the ROH show) and offered him $1000 to leave and come to the XPW show right then and do a run-in. He declined. This has resulted in former rivals ROH and CZW beginning to work together, out of a mutual desire to get rid of XPW. In another note from the ROH show, Insane Clown Posse showed up the day of the show and asked if they could work a match and they did. Crowd didn't like it at all and chanted, "Don't come back!" at them when it was over.
WATCH: Insane Clown Posse in Ring of Honor
  • Superstar Billy Graham's liver condition has worsened and he's still in desperate need of a liver transplant to survive much longer. A benefit show was held for him this week, with WWE and even Arnold Schwarzeneggar sending memorabilia to be auctioned off. WWE and Graham have had major issues in the past but to Dave's knowledge, things have patched up between he and Vince. Anyway, Brian Christopher showed up to the card and demanded his usual $1,500 fee. But he (and everyone else) had previously agreed to work this show for free since it was a benefit show. When Christopher was told he wasn't being paid, he left. Road Dogg (or BG James as he's called in TNA) also no-showed. Surprisingly, New Jack volunteered to work the show to make up for the no-shows, since he happened to be in the area. Good fella, that New Jack.
  • TNA has a TV deal! Barely. They will start airing a weekly show on Tuesday nights on Urban America Television, which consists of 60 low-power TV stations scattered around the country. The show will be called TNA Xplosion. This is little more than buying your way onto syndicated TV networks, as other promotions have had similar deals that amounted to nothing. So this isn't really going to mean shit for the company but it's something I guess. In the meantime, TNA is spinning its wheels, waiting to see if this big influx of money that everyone keeps waiting for will come through.
  • Nothing much to the latest episode of TNA's weekly PPV. Russo is primarily scripting interviews and being kept away from the overall storylines and angles. Scott Hall missed last week's show, calling the day of and saying his ex-wife left him with the children and he has a custody hearing so he can't leave them. They were understanding but at the same, c'mon dude. So then for this week's show, he called a couple of days in advance and gave the same reason. Sorry, got the kids, can't come to work. Considering he's only working one day a week and this time he knew in advance, they were less understanding. The last time Hall was on TV, his over-the-top fake selling and complete lack of taking anything serious made it clear he doesn't prioritize TNA right now.
  • There was a story in Milwaukee where a gang of teenagers beat a man to death that made national headlines. One of the teenagers admitted that he held the man in what they called a "cripple cross face hold" to allow the others to beat the man in the face. The teen confessed that he learned the move from watching Smackdown.
  • Notes from Raw: Dave calls it an episode of Murder She Wrote because the episode ended with Triple H accusing Kane of murdering someone named Katie Vick 10 years ago. Dave doesn't have high hopes for this angle (oh Dave, you naive young thing, just you wait). They aired a vignette for Batista debuting on Raw, with no attempt whatsoever at explaining why/how he's jumping ship from Smackdown. Anyway, the long-term plan is for Batista and Orton to join with Triple H and Ric Flair in a new Four Horsemen-type group. The whole show was gimmick matches because they were in Vegas and had a roulette wheel to pick all the stipulations. Godfather was also on this show, with once again no explanation as to how or why he was moved from Smackdown (non-kayfabe reason is because he's well-known and loved in Vegas). A four-team TLC match gets 4.25 stars and the crowd was going insane for it. Lots of people ended up banged up when it was over, with Bubba Ray getting the worst of it with a serious concussion and he's been pulled from all current bookings (yeah this is pretty famous for the fact that you can see Jericho talking Bubba through the finish of the match).
WATCH: Chris Jericho walks a concussed Bubba Ray through the match finish - 2002
  • Notes from Smackdown: another excellent show, with every segment serving a purpose and furthering a storyline, with some great wrestling to boot. Edge vs. Angle gets 4.25 stars and another 4 stars for Mysterio vs. Benoit. And the only other notable thing was the beginnings of a Torrie Wilson/Dawn Marie feud that saw Wilson's real life father Al Wilson debut (and here we go...)
  • Various news and notes: Hogan is being sued by someone for a boat he sold on eBay for $65,000, with the buyer claiming Hogan lied about the condition of the boat. Paul Bearer is leaving the company to spend more time with his wife who has been battling breast cancer. New York Post ran an article about ad rates for TV shows. Out of the top 135 network shows, Smackdown usually ranks somewhere in the middle each week in ratings. But they have the 5th lowest ad rates of any prime time show, more evidence that no matter how popular wrestling is, advertisers still see it as something that only poor people watch and aren't willing to spend as much money on it.
NEXT WEEK: WWE's collapsing viewership, NJPW Tokyo Dome show fallout, Brock Lesnar vs. Lennox Lewis negotiations, and more...
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2020.10.20 02:31 DemiBot_Tcal It's time to admit that I've been deceived about Ukraine. I cheered on the impeachment trials, but now I'm pissed about how much I was mislead.

The NYPost's slow drip of the Hunter Biden leak has pushed me down a rabbit hole I did not expect. Yes, the timing is obviously politically motivated, yet that doesnt make the contents any less significant or any less damning to me. The narrative that I was lead to believe was incredibly far from the whole truth.. Only sharing for anyone else like me who was believing a wildly inaccurate narrative.. Some of this was just for context, but a lot of it are things I've only recently learned.
Sorry if its a bit scattered, there was a lot of things I didn't know. Maybe everyone else already knows all the details, if so, I apologize for wasting your time.
It turns out, they're all crooks.
Burisma is a Ukrainian natural gas company that was founded and ran by a man named Mykola Zlochevsky, who was basically the poster-child for corruption.
The SFO investigator Richard Gould claimed in the April 2014 court hearing that Zlochevsky’s dual position in Ukraine as both a politician and a businessman gave “rise to a clear - wilful and dishonest exploitation of a direct conflict of interest by a man holding an important public office - to an abuse of the public’s trust in him”.
“May 13, 2014: Burisma Group announced that Hunter Biden [and Devon Archer] would be joining its board. Around that time, Burisma’s founder, a former government official named Mykola Zlochevsky, was under investigation for alleged money laundering by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.”
Zlochevsky is still suspected of bribery and other crimes by several different countries. (His whereabouts are currently unknown.)

Viktor Shokin was the Prosecutor General of Ukraine in 2015-2016. He was leading an investigation into Zlochevsky and Burisma.
According to him, "On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of [Burisma], but I refused to close this investigation.”

So Burisma.. The same company that sent Hunter Biden $83k every month to do nothing?
Hunter Biden sat on the Burisma board from April 2014 (while the company was already under investigation) until April 2019.”

So we know Hunter Biden was on the Board of Directors at Burisma while they were being investigated by Viktor Shokin.. Well here’s where it got interesting to me..
Testimony from sworn affidavit of former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin:
“6. ...[President] Poroshenko asked me to resign due to pressure from the US Presidential administration, in particular from Joe Biden, who was the US Vice-President. Biden was threatening to withhold USD$ 1 billion in subsidies to Ukraine until I was removed from office…"
“7. The official reason put forward for my dismissal was that I had allegedly failed to secure the public's trust. Poroshenko and other state officials, including representatives of the US presidential administration, had never previously had any complaints about my work, however. There were no grievances against me or any allegations that had I committed any corruption-related (or, indeed any other) criminal offenses. Biden never stated anything of the kind either…”
“8. The Truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings ("Burisma"), a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors. I assume Burisma...had the support of the US Vice-President Joe Biden because his son was on the Board of Directors.”
“9. On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the criminal case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company, but I refused to close this investigation. Therefore, I was forced to leave office, under direct and intense pressure from Joe Biden and the US administration. In my conversations with Poroshenko at the time, he was emphatic that I should cease my investigations regarding Burisma. When I did not, he said that the US (via Biden) were refusing to release the USD$ 1 billion promised to Ukraine. He said that he had no choice, therefore, but to ask me to resign.”

- December 8, 2019, former Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by a reporter whether he knew of Hunter Biden’s activities during his tenure as secretary of state in the Obama administration
“I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No,” Kerry told the reporter regarding Biden’s position on the Burisma board. “What would I know about any—no. Why would I know about any company or any individual? No.”
However, Kerry’s former chief of staff David Wade testified to the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he informed Kerry personally of Biden’s role at Burisma. Wade received an email on May 13, 2014, from Kerry’s stepson, Chris Heinz, telling him that Hunter Biden and associate Devon Archer had joined Burisma.
- On 27 February 2020, a Ukraine court forced a probe into Biden's role in firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
John Kerry and Devon Archer are the ones who made me realize this isn't just about Joe and Hunter Biden..
When I looked at John Kerry is when I started to get pissed.. This wasn't just your run of the mill "pops looking out for his boy" type of corruption.. This is definitely something bigger than just Hunter and his father..
Archer was definitely the redpill for me.. Who is Devon Archer?
Devon Archer: John Kerry’s fund-raising superstar and close associate of Hunter Biden.
April 16, 2014: Devon Archer had a private meeting with Vice President Biden at the White House late into the night, according to White House records.
April 21, 2014: Biden, then vice president, visited Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, in a show of support for the country’s government amid rising tensions with Russia.
May 13, 2014: Burisma Group announced that Hunter Biden [and Devon Archer] would be joining its board. Around that time, Burisma’s founder, a former government official named Mykola Zlochevsky, was under investigation for alleged money laundering by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.
May 20, 2014: Burisma hired David Leiter, the former chief of staff to John Kerry, a week after Biden announced he was joining the company, according to lobbying disclosures.
Dec. 8, 2015: Biden visited Kiev again and spoke out against bureaucratic corruption. Biden threatened to withhold loan guarantees unless Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was removed. (Sometimes a jokes writes itself)

And then I learned about the company BHR Partners... SUPER SKETCHY!!
Founded by Devon Archer, Hunter Biden, John Kerry's son Chris Heinz, and Whitey Bulger's nephew James Bulger. lol
"BHR a private investment fund founded in 2013 by Bohai Industrial Investment Fund Management Co., Ltd., which is controlled by BANK OF CHINA LIMITED"
"BHR was founded in 2013, by two Chinese-registered asset managers, Bohai Industrial Investment Fund and Harvest Fund Management, and two U.S. organisations, Thornton Group LLC and Rosemont Seneca Partners."
"According to the Wall Street Journal, "Bohai is China's oldest private equity firm, having launched the country's first yuan-denominated fund in 2006....Thornton Group is a Boston-based cross-border investment advisory firm founded by Michael Lin and James Bulger, son of former Massachusetts state Senate President William Bulger.[3] Rosemont Seneca is a Washington, D.C.-based investment and advisory firm, founded by Devon Archer, Christopher Heinz, and Hunter Biden"

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney's top adviser, Joseph Cofer Black, joined the board of Director for Burisma

Mitt Romney says probe into Biden son is not a legitimate function of government

"There’s speculation that Joe Biden might consider Mitt Romney as secretary of state.

Nancy Pelosi (This part seems unrelated, but they are odd coincidences.. Pelosi's companies have also had several questionable land deals and gov't contracts) Coincidentally, like Hunter Biden, Paul Pelosi Jr also has a way of receiving overpaid positions that he is wildly underqualified for.. and also had a cushy position at companies working in Ukrainian energy..

“The firm InfoUSA, headed by major Clinton backer Vinod Gupta, has placed Pelosi's son, Paul Pelosi Jr., on its payroll – even though he has no experience in the company's main business activities, NewsMax has learned.”
Just four weeks after Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House this past January, Gupta and InfoUSA hired her son as a senior vice president. He told NewsMax InfoUsa pays him $180,000 a year.
Even though his job with InfoUSA is considered full-time, Paul Pelosi continues another full-time job, as a home loan officer at Countrywide Home Loans, part of Countrywide Financial, in San Mateo, a suburb of San Francisco.”

“BOOM: Nancy Pelosi's son Paul Pelosi Jr. (who went to Ukraine in 2017) was a board member of Viscoil and executive at its related company NRGLab, which DID ENERGY Business in UKRAINE!”
Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi Jr. in NRGLab video from 2013
Another video from NRGLab posted on the SAME DAY confirming their business dealings in Ukraine.
Viscoil Holdings is now suspended in California. As of 2010, it listed two managers: David Strawn of Escondido, California and SERGEY SOROKIN of MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Another company co-founded by Nancy Pelosi's son charged with securities fraud

Pelosi's companies have also been involved in some very questionable land deals and government contracts, though I misplaced the links so I may just make a separate post on those.
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2020.10.18 15:04 readingrachelx Housewife highlights/Daily shit talk - October 18th, 2020

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2020.10.17 06:20 KagsTheOneAndOnly [Tjarks] The Rockets barely went over the luxury tax (just $3.65 million over) in their one season (2015-16) as a taxpayer. (Meanwhile,) the Warriors spent $49.63 million in penalties over the last five seasons, while even the small-market Thunder spent $33.73 million.

Daryl Morey Found a Way to Succeed With One Hand Tied Behind His Back by Jonathan Tjarks

Unlike his former lieutenant Sam Hinkie in Philadelphia, Morey was never allowed to rebuild through the draft. He took over a title contender with two future Hall of Famers (Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady) in 2007, but both suffered career-ending injuries during the next few seasons, devastating blows that should have forced the Rockets to start over. But Alexander never agreed to let Morey try his hand at the Process, instead forcing a rebuild from the middle of the standings. Morey’s only goal from 2010 to 2012 was to stay above water; he won 34 to 43 games those seasons and then pounced when the Thunder made James Harden available.
Harden and Morey didn’t just change the NBA in eight seasons together. They did it with one hand tied behind their backs. Harden went from being part of a Big Three with two other top-five picks in Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) to one with Chandler Parsons (a second-rounder) and Jeremy Lin (an undrafted free agent). Houston never drafted in the lottery during Harden’s time there. They won on the margins, constantly churning their roster and winning enough that other stars (Dwight Howard and Chris Paul) wanted to play for them.
But there was always something missing. The Rockets never paired Harden with a frontcourt player who could be the focal point of the offense. Houston was forced to make do with fairly limited personnel for much of the Harden era. Just compare his supporting casts with Steph Curry’s. Harden never had his version of Draymond Green, much less Durant. He had no pick-and-roll partner who could make the correct reads in four-on-three situations, or draw a double-team and kick the ball out to him. He mostly played with 3-and-D players who needed him to spoon-feed them open shots.
That’s why Morey had to reinvent the wheel when it came to designing an offense to hunt for the most efficient shots. He was running a shell game, using smoke and mirrors to overcome a lack of elite personnel. No team has won an NBA title since the turn of the millennium without at least one player 6-foot-7 or taller who averaged more than either 18 points or three assists per game. A team starting Clint Capela and P.J. Tucker up front shouldn’t have been able to win 65 games. Conventional wisdom about the Rockets confuses causation with correlation. They didn’t come up short in the playoffs because they were running gimmicks; those gimmicks are the reason they were deep in the playoffs in the first place.
But getting 90 percent of the production for 50 percent of the price ended up backfiring once they got there. The Warriors exposed Houston’s lack of versatility, most famously when the Rockets missed 27 straight 3s in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2018. Morey was criticized for not having a Plan B when his team went cold from the perimeter, but he couldn’t have asked limited offensive players like Ariza and Tucker to take pull-up jumpers, break down defenses off the dribble, or hit cutters out of the high post. Building a team with established veterans who play fundamentally sound basketball on both ends of the floor costs a lot of money.
And that was the one thing that Morey never really had. According to the cap numbers at Spotrac, which go back to the 2010-11 season, the Rockets barely went over the luxury tax (just $3.65 million over) in their one season (2015-16) as a taxpayer. The Warriors spent $49.63 million in penalties over the last five seasons, while even the small-market Thunder spent $33.73 million. There was no excuse for Houston to not open up the checkbook. This is a franchise located in the fourth-biggest metro area in the U.S. that has had a superstar in the prime of his career. Alexander sat on his hands while Houston’s rivals went all in, counting on Morey’s ability to use advanced statistics to turn water into wine.
This refusal to spend money became farcical once Alexander sold the team to Tilman Fertitta in 2017. Fertitta spent so much money ($2.2 billion) to purchase the Rockets that he may not have had the liquidity to go into the red to build a title contender. Houston was a laughingstock around the league for the amount of juggling it had to do to stay under the tax. The best example came at the trade deadline last season, when Morey used a future first-round pick to shed the salaries of Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. There was no basketball reason for the move. It was just done to cut costs. It’s not that Knight and Chriss would have helped the Rockets. But there were certainly a lot of better things that Morey could have used that pick for...
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2020.10.09 21:20 Embiids_chick_fil-a Which is the best pick and roll duo in the NBA

I was looking at some stats for NBA playtype pick and roll where I looked at roll man and ball handler. However, these stats do not account for if someone is a roll man or if another player is a ball handler. For example Trae Young is a ball handler on the PNR for 15.7 possesions a game and averages 0.98 PPP, however you wouldn't know if the roll man was John Collins or Dwayne Dedmon. The talent of the other partner on the PNR can effect how effective the other is in the play such as having a roll man who is a lob threat or a ball handler with a quick release and good enough shot to shoot right off the screen.
Some notebale duos I found in the play were
Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside (didn't include Nurkic due to not enough games):
Dame: Poss: 13.7, PPP: 1.15, EFG%:56.6
Whiteside: Poss: 3.7, PPP: 1.16, EFG%: 60.3
Trae Young and John Collins:
Trae: Poss: 15.7, PPP:0.98, EFG%:56.6
Collins: Poss: 5.1, PPP: 1.31, EFG%:68.2
Luka and Porzingis:
Luka: Poss: 13.1, PPP:1.04, EFG%:55.7
Porzingis: Poss: 3.1, PPP: 1.17, EFG%: 56.9
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert:
Mitchell: Poss: 11.6, PPP: 0.95, EFG%: 49.8
Gobert: Poss: 3.5, PPP: 1.22, EFG%: 64.6
Chris Paul and Steven Adams:
Chris Paul: Poss: 8.1, PPP: 1.08, EFG%:57.2
Steven Adams: Poss: 2.4, PPP: 1.29, EFG%: 68.9
I'm going to end the list here, but there are a LOT more duos you could add here like Walker and Theis or LeBron/Rondo and Davis.
This stat is not perfect as it does not account for how the times where the play is breaks and the ball handler or roll man is forced to pass out to another guy, however, a player with a higher frequency in the play with more possessions with it would indicate that it is an effect play to run with them.
I think the best pick and roll duo currently is Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside/and/or Nurkic. Lillard is explosive and is effective when navigating on an on ball screen. His gravity is also very high due to his ability to shoot it from deep and off the dribble: this makes it a MUST for the defender to go over the screen. With his explosiveness he can easily get to the paint with a trailing defender behind him and it helps that he has a strong finishing ability.
Due to him being so fast a defender can not hesitate to chase Lillard down, however, he'll sometimes immediately stop and go into the shooting motion to get the defender to make contact while they have full momentum chasing him down(We saw this a couple times during the Lakers Blazers series and it was infuriating to watch at times). Whiteside and Nurkic are more or less big bodies that help Lillard on the screen with Whiteside having a better ability to catch lobs and Nurkic having the better ability to finish when covered.
ICE or Hedge are popular ways to guard Lillard on the PNR and is effective if done correctly, however, it could allow for the roll man to get an easy bucket or cause both defenders to be out of position of the roll man re screens.
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2020.10.08 18:03 SaintRidley Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 2, 1988

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
1-4-1988 1-11-1988 1-18-1988 1-25-1988
2-1-1988 2-8-1988 2-15-1988 2-22-1988
2-29-1988 3-7-1988 3-14-1988 3-21-1988
3-28-1988 4-4-1988 4-11-1988 4-18-1988
4-25-1988 * * *
  • [NWA] The biggest story of the week is Barry Windham turning on Lex Luger to join the Four Horsemen on the April 20 WTBS taping. They made it meaningful. Windham and Luger were challenging Tully and Arn for the tag titles and they posted Luger, who bled for the first time in seven months. And Windham tried to make the tag on two occasions, but Luger wasn’t there, and J.J. Dillon got in his ear and with a bit of encouragement he lariated Luger so Arn could get the pin. Luger and Brody doing clean jobs in the same week has Dave joking the Road Warriors will be next. Anyway, Midnight Rider followed Windham into the heel dressing room and was jumped by all the heels, who unmasked him. But the faces saved him before we could find out who this mysterious enforcer of what’s right could have his face caught on camera. Windham rode off in the Four Horsemen’s limo holding the mask to close the show. Given the cards they’ve got set up all around the country for May, Dave thinks this must have been a spur of the moment thing, but by all accounts it came off fantastically.
  • The Crockett Cup, on the other hand, did not come off fantastically. At least not on the first night. Totally disorganized is the phrase Dave uses. The wrestling was excellent and the second night was a very good show, with the exception of having a half full arena. The first night had nearly a full house. The only good thing about the show, aside from the wrestling, is really that the right team won. Dave reviews both nights. Anyway, main things of note: Tony Schiavone announced at the beginning that Windham had pulled out and that Luger would pick a new partner, which everyone assumed would be Midnight Rider and would lead to them going to the end. The bracket was a mess and basically wasn’t really used. The first match was a forfeit since The Green Machine didn’t make it to the building on time (he was there by 8 pm when the tickets said the show would start, but the show started at 7 so yeah). Music miscues happened, the Mexican delegation was Curtis Thompson and Gene Ligon in red versions of the Cruel Connection’s outfits, and the Japanese team was Johnny Ace and John Savage because the actual Japanese team “missed their flight” or so they said. Steve Williams and Ron Simmons took on Rick Steiner and Mike Rotunda at the point the intermission should have happened and was supposed to be the final second round match according to the program, but yeah let’s roll with it. The crowd cheered the announcement that Ron Garvin was injured (following the use of the spike by Kevin Sullivan in the aftermath of the Prince of Darkness match, which meant Sting had no partner. Well, Lex Luger’s looking for a partner, so here we are, the beginning of Sting and Luger as the worst best friends. The final match of night one should have been the Midnight Express vs. the Varsity Club, since they were the only remaining teams left not to have second round matches. For some reason we got the Midnights vs. the Sheepherders instead, and this counts enough, because it’s how the Midnights made it to the quarter finals. Oh, and Flair, who won Most Hated Wrestler by the PWI this past year, gave a promo and got a standing ovation. Very hatred indeed.
  • And that’s just night one. But before night two, Dave talks about Ricky Steamboat’s gym in Charlotte. Dave went to pick up some t-shirts because those make great gifts. Well, the guy at the front desk refused to sell Dave anything because it was 5:01 pm and the gym was closed. “I flew in from California just to buy t-shirts” was not a convincing argument either.
  • Anyway, night two of the Crockett Cup began with announcements, and the crowd was buzzing because word of Barry Windham’s turn was starting to get around. But since it hadn’t aired, pretty much everyone was going off secondhand information. Anyway, the first announcement had to do with Garvin’s injury and the crowd cheered again. Then they announced Windham was out and had joined the Horsemen, and people were beside themselves hugging and cheering this news. And when Sting and Luger were announced, the women in the audience punctured everyone else’s eardrums. Night 2 sees a much improved quality of matches. The Fantastics vs. Varsity Club get 4 stars and Dave notes they had the best opening match he’s seen in years. Sting and Luger beat the Midnights in a 3.75 star match and Dave praises Sting (not “one of the elite workers in the world yet” but definitely on his way). Road Warriors vs. Powers of Pain used the over the top DQ Dusty finish they used last month for Midnights/Fantastics in the same arena, and Dave can’t believe the booking there. Arn and Tully beat the Fantastics in a 3.5 star match.Flair and Nikita Koloff had a completely predictable, watchable, ho hum match. The finals saw Sting and Luger beat Arn and Tully in another 3.5 star match, and Luger put some work into this one (he wasn’t in much at all in the earlier matches, and he blew up after 10 minutes in this one.
  • Dave guesses that the reason the finals drew so poorly comes down to a few factors. Nobody believes the $1 million prize, for one thing, and tournaments don’t draw without a really strong bracket. Nobody cares about Flair vs. Koloff. Midnight Rider isn’t doing anything for anybody and they put all their tv energy into that. The Crockett Cup has a three year history and has yet to sell out a building once. It’s time to re-evaluate. Fewer teams and matches would be a good start, and that would allow a meaningful world title match on night one. Getting outside teams would be good too because it would provide some drawing power by putting on the show people the crowd is not used to, but easier said than done.
  • Akira Maeda’s UWF sold out its debut show for May 12 in 15 minutes. Dave thinks this might be a record for pro wrestling. Fans camped out on April 15 outside the Korauken Hall box office to get tickets the next morning, and more than 6,000 fans were turned away once the show sold out. This news is forcing some re-evaluation of opinions on UWF. With this, Maeda is now the hottest guy going in Japan. It’s leading to demand for UWF to have television, and Tokyo Channel 6 wants to broadcast specials. They’re looking at the 11,000 seat Ariake Coliseum for August. Dave personally thinks UWF will attain a cult following for its hyper-realistic style, but it’ll lose the mainstream general public because of the lack of flash, high flying, and showmanship. That said, a Japanese reporter told him that if Maeda becomes “cool” in the eyes of Japan, he’s going to be “cool” regardless of what his style is and people will follow what he’s doing. If something is “in” in Japan, everybody follows it, according to the reporter. UWF gaining a following will likely hurt Baba and Inoki because they’ll look fake by comparison, and it’d wreck any plans WWF might have of entering the Japanese market beyond a week’s tour a year. Money shouldn’t be a big issue - they only have six wrestlers on contract and two front office people, so they can reinvest profits into the company heavily. That said, they only have three guys (Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, ad Kazuo Yamazaki) with name value, which only gives them three options for main events, so staleness is a possibility. Only time will tell.
  • War is brewing in Oregon and Roddy Piper has thrown a spanner in the works. He’s appearing on April 30 for Don Owen. Piper turned down lucrative offers from the WWF and NWA in the past year, so this definitely feels like a personal favor to help out Owen, who gave Piper his big break in the late 70s. Even when he worked for WWF, Piper refused to work in Washington or Oregon because they weren’t Owen’s shows right up until the end of his career, when he worked a couple shows in Seattle and Tacoma after Owen had given up running those cities. He even worked Owen’s 60th anniversary card in 1985 when he was the top heel for WWF. Piper’s appearance has forced Billy Jack Haynes to push his debut card back a week to May 7, and Owen’s bringing in Tom Zenk and Curt Henning for that night.
  • [All Japan] Bruiser Brody jobbed clean by pinfall to Jumbo Tsuruta on April 19 to lose the International Title. The finish was a back suplex and it’s the first pin he’s taken in Japan since 1980.
Watch: Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Bruiser Brody
  • [WWF] The April 30 Saturday Night’s Main Event was taped on April 22. Results saw Beefcake beat Danny Davis and cut his hair. This was supposed to be HonkyTonk vs. Beefcake, and they ran ads for it all the way to the last minute, but Honky didn’t wrestle Beefcake. He did work both the taping and the taping from the night before and never dropped the Intercontinental Title, though. Duggan beat Hercules by DQ. Demolition beat the Bulldogs by DQ in a non-title match. Ted DiBiase beat Don Muraco. Randy Savage retained the WWF Title against One Man Gang. Andre the Giant squashed Jake Roberts, who got his heat back after the match with the snake.
  • Former Atlanta promoter Paul Jones passed away on April 17 at the age of 86. When they announced his passing at Jerry Blackwell’s tv taping in Marietta for his promotion some fans cheered because they thought the announcement was about the NWA manager Paul Jones.
  • There’s a movie called Tokyo Pop coming out shortly and a few joshi have non-speaking roles. Bull Nakano is among them. It’s apparently not a very good movie, and not worth it if you just want to see Bull.
  • The Edmonton Athletic Commission has warned Stampede that no spitting, swearing, or brawling in the crowd will be allowed going forward.
  • [Stampede] Wayne Hart and Gary Allbright (the latter to make his debut as Volcan Singh) injured their knees in training. Referee Hermann also has a bum knee that’s keeping him out, so yet another brother (Ross Hart) is filling in.
  • Apparently Owen Hart is having second thoughts about going to WWF. Three Japanese tours a year and working the rest of the year apparently seems pretty satisfying to him.
  • On April 23, Memphis formally announced a talent trade deal with World Class. Jerry Jarrett has taken over as booker for Memphis from Jerry Lawler, and he made the announcement that the Von Erichs, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Chris Adams, Terry Taylor, and “World heavyweight champion” and “first Black World champion ever” Iceman King Parsons would be coming in shortly. World Class has cut down Fort Worth shows to every other Sunday, which frees up some Mondays to come over to Memphis for work. Most of the guys in World Class could use the dates, because just working for World Class means they aren’t making any money. TV fans had no reaction to this, apparently.
  • [Memphis] Downtown Bruno called out Jerry Lawler on tv on April 23 while dressed kind of like Ric Flair. This led to Robert Fuller jumping Lawler from behind and putting a noose on him and dragging him around before choking him over the ringpost. Jeff Jarrett made the save. Continental did the same angle in Birmingham on April 18 with an airdate of April 23 with Tony Anthony and Tom Prichard, and since some cities get both shows some are upset at Fuller and Bruno doing it and copying the deal. Nobody seems upset at the whole lynching aspect, just at the copycat thing.
Watch: Robert Fuller hangs Jerry Lawler
  • Continental’s version of the noose angle got a lot of heat. Dirty White Girl/Lady Mystic (she’s used both names) came out with a black eye and pleaded with Gordon Solie to get Tom Prichard through two whole matches, with the idea that Tony Anthony (whom she valets) punched her. Eventually Solie gets Prichard and Anthony sneaks up behind him and handcuffs him then ties a noose around his neck and drags him to the ring where he hangs him and blood comes from his mouth. They destroyed the old set during the brawl, which is leading to the rename of the promotion as the Continental Wrestling Federation and the building of a new set.
Watch: Tony Anthony hangs Tom Prichard
  • Continental is doing a tournament in late May for a new CWF champion. Whoever holds the title will also be number one contender in the area for the AWA World Title, which Continental now recognizes as the world championship of record.
  • [All Japan] Brody and Tenryu’s title unification match drew 4,400 fans out of a capacity of 7,000 and ended at 30 minutes in a double countout. Since Brody dropped the title to Tsuruta, that means that the big une 10 Budokan Hall show will be headlined by Tenryu putting up the PWF and United National titles against Tsuruta’s International title.
  • All Japan’s ratings have dropped significantly since being moved from prime time to Saturday nights at 10:30 pm.
  • May 20 to June 26 are the dates for this year’s IWGP tournament in New Japan. Announced names include Billy Gaspar (Bob Orton), Owen Hart, Adrian Adonis (who has lost something like 80 lbs according to those in touch with him), Mr. Pogo, El Canek, Dr. Wagner Jr., and more.
  • New Japan is doing a big show at Ariake Coliseum on May 7. Inoki will defend the IWGP title against Vader, and Keiichi Yamada will challenge World Karate Association champion Don Nakaya Nielsen for his title. Nielsen had a famous match in 1986 against Akira Maeda which really helped establish Maeda’s popularity. Dave thinks it’s likely Yamada will be the first pro wrestler (to his knowledge, anyway) to do a job to someone from a different sport in one of these mixed matches, which would set Nielsen up for another mixed match in August against a bigger name wrestler.
watch: Nielsen vs. Maeda from 1986
  • Antonio Inoki gave a guest lecture at a school recently and a kid asked him if he could beat Giant Baba. Inoki said if he met Baba and couldn’t beat him, he’d kill himself.
  • WWF won syndicated ratings again for the week including March 27, taking third place overall with a 10.9 in 255 markets. Crockett got 6th place with an 8.4 in 183 markets, and All-Star Wrestling Network got a 5.6 in 164 markets. These numbers are for the weekend of Clash and Wrestlemania, and WWF predicts a new record for the following week, but we’ll see how that works out for them.
  • Adrian Adonis has either threatened to or already gone through with filing a lawsuit against the AWA over his ankle injury in January. That injury cost him a tour of Japan
  • There was an angle in Southern Championship Wrestling on April 17 where Mr. Atlanta knocked out Mr. Wrestling II and tried to unmask him. Out of nowhere comes a second Mr. Wrestling II to make the save. They’re calling the new guy Mr. Wrestling, and he’s being played by Joe Powell. Interestingly, over a decade ago Powell worked as an imposter Mr. Wrestling II.
  • Nearly everybody Dave said was gone from WWF in the past couple issues is still around. Outback Jack and Mike Sharpe were on tv recently in jobber roles, while Terry Gibbs and Craig De George did tv interviews. And even Hulk Hogan appeared as a surprise on April 21 to squash Boris Zhukov. He’s not booked for any other shows until the end of May, but obviously that doesn’t mean as much with the surprise appearance on the table.
  • Harley Race was hospitalized and had to have a foot of intestine removed.
  • Butch Reed was apparently fired along with Sika and S.D. Jones.
  • At the Superstars taping, Savage vs. Andre for the title was the dark match. It went three minutes and Andre choked Savage from the jump, and the fans just chanted for Hogan the whole time. Savage got DQed for hitting Andre with a chair when he started chasing Elizabeth.
  • Mel Phillips has been replaced as ring announcer by Mike McGuirk. Aside from messing up a couple tag team introductions, she did a good job on her first day.
  • A possible hint for the role of Big Bubba Rogers. Jimmy Hart said he’s looking for a bounty hunter to get Beefcake for what he did to Hart’s hair, so that might be him.
  • Dave responds to a letter asking him not to cover POWW or GLOW and requesting his opinion on the long-term effect of Wrestlemania IV sucking. Dave thinks it’s obvious at this point that Wrestlemania won’t have much long-term negative effect and that Crockett has already squandered whatever positives they had coming out of Clash by failing to realize that building the entire show around one person is the opposite of what they should do. Like a skilled politician, Dave argues that Vince can tell everyone his show was a success so often and convincingly that they forget, while Crockett too often fails to follow through and correctly take advantage of anything they manage to get hot.
  • Another letter heaps praise on the Malenko brothers for not needing a gimmick. “The Malenkos have a gimmick called wrestling, a term that seems to be forgotten, but as long as the Malekos are around there is still a chance it won’t be extinct.” I like me some Dean Malenko, but “guy who wrestles good” is a terrible gimmick if you have nothing else going for you, and Dean’s no font of charisma. There’s a reason he had a ceiling.
  • Owen Hart is rumored to be debuting for WWF in July as a masked wrestler with a gimmick something along the lines of Tiger Mask in terms of appeal to children. Dave thinks this would work great if he had people capable of working at his level and if WWF would let him do his good moves rather than try and quash his style to keep the rest of the crew from looking bad. And thus we have the first early mention of the Blue Blazer.
  • WWF is thinking of running a Randy and Elizabeth tv special. Dave thinks it might be a possible head to head against Crockett’s July ppv. Not until Summerslam 1991, Dave.
  • Starting with Survivor Series, WWF will be on tv in France.
  • Dave speculates that Crockett turned Windham due to unimpressive house show attendance. The April 17 Charlotte show drew “one of the smallest crowds in years” and the April 24 show at the Omni only drew 1,400, or less than 10% capacity, for what was an excellent show. Dave heard from someone in attendance that the Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics was a five star match. They had three shows booked for May, but after how poorly this show did, they cancelled two of them.
  • Crockett’s July ppv is tentatively scheduled for July 10. That’ll be the first Great American Bash ppv, and Dave’s guessing that they’ll keep the same plan for the main event and go with Flair vs. Luger.
  • Finally, the most important news of the year is in. WWF’s new tv announcer is Sean Mooney. He used to produce This Week in Baseball and co-hosted Light Moments in Sports with Joe Namath.
NEXT WEEK: WCCW announces card for Parade of Champions, Oregon war heating up, April 30 Saturday Night’s Main Event, Wrestling telethon in June, transcript of hour 1 of Bruno’s radio interview, and more
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2020.10.06 13:55 ZandrickEllison Offseason Blueprint: the Oklahoma City Thunder fought off a rebuild for another year, but a new era will be necessary eventually

The NBA Finals are starting to heat up, but there are now 28 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs and wait for next season to start.
For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
step one: back it up but don't blow it up
By all accounts, the Oklahoma City Thunder blew it up. They traded Russell Westbrook, they traded Paul George. BOOM goes the dynamite. The ember and ashes scattered all over the wreckage, signaling the end of an era of playoff contention.
However, the team didn't get the memo. Chris Paul and company emerged from the flames, walking tall and proud and unscathed. Their 44-28 record was actually better than the prior season (with Westbrook and MVP candidate George). While they didn't win in the playoffs, they gave the Houston Rockets all they could handle in a tough seven-game series.
If the Thunder wanted to run it back, they could be a good team again. But to what end...? Another R1 loss? It's hard to envision them being the favorite in a first-round series out West, which should be as strong as ever.
To be clear, making the playoffs and losing in R1 isn't an awful fate. If you're a small market team like OKC, it's a reasonable goal and a lifeline for your franchise. Maybe Sam Presti and the team want to keep chugging along as long as possible and use their new draft picks to supplement the team.
Moreover, blowing it up (for real this time) isn't going to be terribly easy. Chris Paul still has a massive contract ($41M + $44M player option.) Steven Adams is still on the books for another year at $27.5M. Dennis Schroeder is on the books for $15.5M. If your goal is to bottom out, it could be hard to scramble and find appropriate trades for them all.
Still, taking a step back feels like the most reasonable plan. Chris Paul has rehabbed his reputation and trade value and may actually be on the positive side of the asset ledger now. If you trade him, you also allow more of an opportunity for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to slide back to a PG-SG role. According to basketball-reference, SGA only played 6% of his minutes at PG this year. He's capable of playing "up" as a SG or SF, but you'd be taking away the size advantage that represents one of his better virtues as a guard. If OKC is going to be a good team in 2022 and 2023 and beyond, Gilgeous-Alexander will likely be playing a lead guard role.
Even though CP3 looked good this year, it's never easy to trade someone with a $40M contract. The trade partners may be limited. Allegedly, the New York Knicks are considering it (for whatever reason.) Philadelphia and Milwaukee would make more sense as "win now" teams. Who knows -- maybe a team like Miami or Orlando decides they need Paul to help push them to another level. In any circumstance, I'd expect the trade return to be modest. You may get a mid to late R1 pick -- you may get nothing at all. But the decision to trade CP3 or not should have more to do with finding a direction for the franchise than haggling for prices.
step two: embrace the youth movement and prep for the long haul
If the plan is to take a step back (which Sam Presti has not signed off on yet, by the by), then the trickle down effect could be felt across the roster.
If the team isn't pushing strong for the playoffs next year, then re-signing FA Danilo Gallinari doesn't make much sense. He's played well enough over the last two years to justify close to $20M a season in a short-term deal. The Thunder can utilize that to potentially swing a "sign and trade" for him. Teams like Portland would love to have a sweet-shooting forward like that on their team. Presumably, OKC can get an additional R1 pick if they trade Gallo and take on a bad contract in return.
Losing Gallo would also open the door for more minutes for current-rookie Darius Bazley. On paper, Bazley struggled as much as you could expect from an inexperienced 19 year old (who just turned 20 in June.) Still, the "eye test" suggests an athletic kid with good stretch potential. If the Thunder push their timeline back, then developing Bazley will become more of a priority for them.
As long as we're taking a step back (call it peeling off layers as opposed to a total teardown), then the Thunder can float offers for Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams as well. However, trading them isn't mandatory. They're both 27 years old, which is a stark difference from Chris Paul (35) and Gallinari (32).
Even if we lose some veterans, we can see the outline of a team that makes sense here. You'd have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as a focal point combo guard. You'd have People's Champ Lu Dort as your go-to defender. You'd have Darius Bazley working his way into a potential starting role down the road. Still, this feels more like a supporting cast than a perpetual playoff team. OKC may be one signature star away from completing this next phase.
It'll be hard for Oklahoma City to draw in that future franchise player in free agency, and it'll be hard for them to do with their draft pick this year ( # 25). Fortunately, they're going to have a lot of swings at the plate in the years to come. They own their own picks after this year, as well as a boatload of future R1 picks via the Westbrook and George trades.
Overall, this is a team that needs to be thinking with a long-term approach. Even if they want to roll it back and try to make the playoffs this next season, they'll need to start the next era eventually.
step three: get back out on the dating market and get re-married
The uncertainty about the future (and perhaps the inevitability of the rebuild) helped spur coach Billy Donovan to travel elsewhere. In his place, the team will need to find a coach who has the patience and skill set for a long-term plan.
We haven't heard much about the Oklahoma City coaching search, which makes sense since they are not likely to spend a ton to find a big name. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if they default to someone like current assistant Mo Cheeks as a cheap placeholder. If the team decides to keep the core together, an experienced coach like that makes some sense.
More likely, they're try to find a younger coach who can take the reins for the foreseeable future. There are a ton of quality prospects in that ilk. Among them: Ime Udoka (PHI), Stephen Silas (DAL), Wes Unseld Jr. (DEN), Nate Tibbetts (POR), Jay Larranaga (BOS), Chris Fleming (CHI), Darvin Ham (MIL), Nate Bjorkgren (TOR), Becky Hammon (SA), and Alex Jensen (UTA). Bigger names like Kenny Atkinson and Dave Joerger make some sense as well, although they'd be more expensive given their prior experience.
Given the supply and demand, the Thunder can take their time and be thorough in their search. They need to find someone who can be in lockstep with Presti going forward. In a sense, Presti is going to have to go on a bunch of speed dates and propose to someone at the end of the night. They want this marriage to last for the next 5+ years or more.
Without the benefit of being in the room for those interviews (or having any basketball experience at all), it seems like Ime Udoka would be at the top of the list. While he doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's been knocking on that door for some time. He's built up a good resume, with experience as a player, as an assistant in San Antonio, and as an assistant for Team USA. He checks the box for a developmental coach, but also would have some credibility as a former player to connect with veterans like Chris Paul (if he stays put.)
step four: prepare for the future with more modern basketball as well
With Chris Paul taking the lead role, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a good team. They were also an old-fashioned team by the standards of their offensive shot distribution. They finished 27th (out of 30) in three-point attempts. It made sense for this team to take advantage of their midrange game when they had CP3 in tow, but that needs to change if they play without him in the future. Not hitting threes puts you at a natural disadvantage. It's no surprise that -- as talented as the team was -- they only finished 16th in offensive rating this year. They arguably outplayed Houston in the playoffs as well, but 3s are going to beat 2s in a larger sample.
Increasing your 3PA isn't going to be easy if the team loses Danilo Gallinari in free agency (or sign-and-trade). They don't have great shooters lined up waiting in the wings either.
Practically, there are a few steps that OKC can take to increase their three-point shooting. For one, they need to limit the amount of defensive stoppers they have in the rotation. Free agent Andre Roberson still has a lot of defensive potential, but he's never going to be a great offensive player. Now that you have Lu Dort locked up under a team-friendly contract, it doesn't make a world of sense to double dip with another defense-only player. If Roberson wants to re-sign for a very cheap deal, that's great. But realistically, his days with the Thunder may be over.
Similarly, SG Terrance Ferguson needs to step up his offense in order to merit extended minutes. He's a solid defender, but he's a 3+D player who hasn't been hitting threes reliably. Last season, he sagged to 29% beyond the arc. Ferguson is still a young player (age 22), but next season will be his 4th in the NBA. Unless we see signs that he's going to get notably better, then he may need to have a reduced role. Effectively, OKC needs to pit Ferguson and Dort against each other to see who justifies minutes. Playing both (and/or Andre Roberson) is going to make their offense tougher sledding.
Free agent center Nerlens Noel is a trickier proposition. On face value, he's another player with limited offense that won't help boost the team on that end. Still, the fleet-footed Noel has always been undervalued by the NBA, so the Thunder should keep him as long as he's at his typical bargain prices.
All in all, the Thunder will need to add more shooting and more offensive talent eventually. As nice of a story as their 2019-20 season turned out to be, it was more of a bridge to the future than a permanent fixture.
previous offseason blueprints
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2020.09.30 14:28 daprice82 Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Sept. 23, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002 6-17-2002
6-24-2002 7-1-2002 7-8-2002 7-15-2002
7-22-2002 7-29-2002 8-5-2002 8-12-2002
8-26-2002 9-2-2002 9-9-2002 9-16-2002
  • We open with the fallout from last week's HLA segment and the Billy and Chuck wedding. WWE surprisingly got some positive news coverage for being a progressive company with a breakthrough gay marriage on TV and talked about how Billy and Chuck as gay characters weren't being sent out to get heat from the crowd and get boos. Even GLAAD got involved, with their spokesman appearing in numerous media outlets to praise WWE for the characters. Dave seems pretty surprised by all this, given the fact that Billy and Chuck are absolutely designed to play for laughs and, at least a few times, to play on people's homophobia for heat. This is also the same company that gave us Goldust, who's gimmick for years was getting crowds to chant the F-word at him while everyone he wrestled acted grossed out. When they turned Goldust babyface, the first thing they did was have him cut a promo and establish that he's not gay so fans would cheer (and indeed, they did). And that's pretty much what happened here. As this angle blew up and got so much publicity, Billy and Chuck became babyfaces and the blow-off to the wedding was once again, "We're not actually gay." That, as WWE of course expected, got the biggest pop of the night and the show ended without the promised wedding.
  • Turns out, GLAAD was none too happy to have been duped. "The WWE lied to us two months ago when they promised that Billy and Chuck would come out and wed on the air," the GLAAD spokesman said in an interview after the angle aired. In fact, he said he spoke with WWE the day after the wedding was taped (but before it aired) and claims that WWE again lied to him and told them the wedding had taken place. GLAAD has a ton of egg on their face, with multiple media outlets calling them fools for allowing themselves to be tricked by WWE. Bill O'Reilly talked about it on his show, trashing WWE and claiming they were mocking gay people (who is this guy and what have they done with Bill O'Reilly?) but O'Reilly also went further when he found a way to tie this into the Lionel Tate case. O'Reilly said that Tate, "flat out admitted he killed a little girl because he was watching wrestling," which Dave says is patently untrue and unfair (ah, there he is). From wrestling fans, the reaction to the angle seemed to be pretty much....meh. It was a midcard wrestling angle that had a pretty great Eric Bischoff reveal, but otherwise, Dave doesn't think wrestling fans give a shit about Billy and Chuck any more or any less than they did before (he's not wrong. Everyone remembers the Bischoff reveal but Billy and Chuck were back to doing nothing of note almost immediately after). Dave references an old Jake Roberts promo. The promo is about a boy who picks up a dying snake and nursed it back to health, only for the snake to bite him when he was healthy. When the boy asked why, after all he had done for him, the snake replied, "When you picked me up the first time, you knew I was a snake." In other words.....this is WWE. What did GLAAD and all these other media outlets expect to happen?
  • Then on Raw, the other story....the lesbians. This didn't get nearly the same mainstream coverage as the Billy and Chuck angle, but it was no less controversial. TNN executive vice president Diana Robina stated publicly that they had concerns about the segment and had a talk with WWE about it after the fact. Instead of shying away from the angle, WWE is moving forward with it, even releasing 2 images on their website for HLA t-shirt designs. One of them was a silhouette of two women with HLA. The other one, a little less subtle, was a cartoon of a tongue on a red box. On WWE Confidential, Vince McMahon addressed the controversy saying that the women in their underwear was fine, but perhaps the making out and rubbing on each other was "a bit much." Speaking of Vince, Dave says he looks like the stress of business declining has gotten to him badly since he was last on TV, he looked haggard. The kissing and rubbing was edited off the show by almost all of WWE's broadcast partners outside of the U.S. But otherwise, he defended the entire thing, saying their goal is to shock people and he didn't understand why anyone would think the lesbian angle was a desperate ratings grab, claiming everyone in TV pulls stunts for ratings sometimes. Well, for what it's worth, it didn't work and, in fact, after the lesbian segment, ratings plummeted for the main event like never before. People stuck around for the lesbians, but then they turned off the TV in record numbers after.
  • CMLL's 69th (nice.) Anniversary show is in the books and only notable for two things: Negro Casas losing a hair match and getting his head shaved. And after the match, a fan ran into the ring and attacked Tarzan Boy. The crowd thought it was an angle, but nope. Tarzan Boy jumped up and "made a comeback" on the guy until security dragged him out. (About the 13 minute mark)
WATCH: Negro Casas vs. Tarzan Boy - CMLL 69th (nice.) Anniversary Show
  • After some rocky financial times that reminded many of ECW's dying days, Puerto Rico's WWC held its 29th Anniversary show with hopes that the show would be a success and give the company a desperately needed financial boost. Well, WWC is in the midst of a vicious competition with IWA, which has become the #1 promotion in Puerto Rico and, in an effort to hurt WWC's show, IWA decided to run its own event in another arena 30 minutes away at the same time, headlined by WWC's former top star Ray Gonzalez (still wrestling under a mask as Fenix, even though everyone knows it's him). The decision to keep Gonzalez under the mask for now, aside from the contractual legal battle with WWC, is because IWA's business is good right now. So why mess with something that ain't broke? The idea is that, if business starts to go down anytime soon, then they can do a big unmasking angle with Gonzalez and boost business again. No sense blowing their load now. Anyway, both of these shows were outdoor events and Mother Nature decided to have a little fun by making it pour rain on both of them. WWC was counting on a crowd of 10,000 or more in the big stadium and thanks to the storms and the IWA competition, they only drew 1,300. By the time they got to the main event, only 300 or so people remained, the rest driven away by the weather. Twenty miles away, IWA fared much better, drawing 6,000 fans to their show in the rain. WWC held indoor shows later in the week, including a complete re-do of the Anniversary show, and it drew well. But all the promotion, the TV hype, the publicity and mainstream coverage was all geared toward promoting the outdoor show and it was a disaster. To say this weekend was a devastating blow to WWC would be an understatement.
  • Remember how last week Dave looked at top draws based on who had headlined the most PPVs with 1.0 or higher buyrates? Doing the same thing this time, except it's looking at wrestlers who have headlined shows that drew 30,000 or more fans. Shinya Hashimoto, Keiji Muto, and Genichiro Tenryu are all tied for first with 11 each, followed by Hogan, Inoki, Nobuhiko Takada, and Atsushi Onita. Hogan is the only non-Japanese wrestler on that list.
  • Lucha Libre star El Sanguinario passed away last week at age 33. He reportedly was having trouble breathing and then collapsed and was pronounced dead of a heart attack at the hospital. Sounds like he was a midcard dude in AAA for a lot of the 90s, Dave recaps his career. Dropping dead of a heart attack at only 33 is some scary shit.
  • The family of a wrestler named Brian Ong, who died while training at All Pro Wrestling's training school in May 2001, has filed a lawsuit against the promotion and its owner, Roland Alexander. The lawsuit alleges that Ong was training with a 7'3 wrestler who weighed 400 pounds when he suffered a fatal injury. The only wrestler who fits that description is NJPW's Giant Singh (better known these days as Great Khali), who was indeed training at the APW school around this time in 2001. The lawsuit claims Ong suffered a concussion earlier in the practice and instead of getting medical treatment, he was told to continue practicing. The suit claims the 5'7 Ong was put in the ring against Singh and after taking a flapjack bump, hit his head on the mat again and lost consciousness and never woke up. 911 was called and Ong died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The lawsuit claims Ong wasn't provided with protective gear or proper supervision and that the mats were not adequate cushion. It also argued that Ong should never have been put in a "match" with someone so much larger than him. Dave is flabbergasted that this story somehow stayed secret for 16 months and says the few people who must have been involved clearly tried to keep it quiet. He notes other well-known instances of trainees dying in wrestling schools, most famously an incident in NJPW's dojo in the 90s.
  • Raw did the 2nd lowest rating it's done in four years. Even worse was the pattern of viewership, with fans dropping off in droves. In fact, Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy for the IC title lost almost half a million viewers, which is almost 10% of the total audience that bailed on the show in the middle of the match. "If anyone thinks RVD is over because of crowd pops, boy are they mistaken," Dave says. Probably shouldn't get your hopes up for him winning the title from Triple H at the next PPV. Meanwhile, Smackdown's rating was the best it's done in awhile, likely from all the Billy & Chuck publicity.
  • Rumor is AJPW and Fuji TV have reached an agreement that would see AJPW finally back on TV. They've been without since losing their TV deal after the NOAH exodus. AJPW is holding a retirement party on 9/30 for Motoko Baba, where she is planning to turn the promotion over to Keiji Muto. The idea is that Muto will then announce the new TV deal as his first act as new AJPW President.
  • Bob Sapp is under contract to K-1 and they loan him out to PRIDE. But as you can imagine, NJPW and AJPW are both trying to sign him as a pro wrestler (they both end up using him).
  • NJPW announced the lineup for its upcoming Tokyo Dome show and it appears to be pretty underwhelming. It's headlined by IWGP champion Yuji Nagata vs. Kazuyuki a non-title match. Dave doesn't understand the logic behind that, especially when they need all the help they can get trying to put fans in the Tokyo Dome. He runs down the rest of the matches and just blows right past Masahiro Chono vs. Chyna without even commenting on it. He even recaps a few shows with angles building up to the match which included Chyna shoving a birthday cake in Chono's face (a cake in wrestling always ends up on someone in America but it's never been done in Japan that Dave can recall) and another instance where Chyna hit Chono with a lariat and a brainbuster. He just recaps the facts, without a single word of opinion. I expected Dave to be shitting rage-bricks over this.
  • Speaking of the dismal shape of this company, NJPW debuted a new, fake Great Muta, since they own rights to the name apparently. This "Muta" is a blond American wearing a mask and is part of Inoki's group of guys. Fans did not give a remote shit about this Muta and Dave thinks those who don't learn from history (fake Diesel and Razor) are doomed to repeat it. Man, Inoki never heard a bad idea he didn't like, huh? Anyway, this show was in Nagoya which is usually an easy sellout for NJPW but for only the 2nd time Dave can recall in the last 20 years, it was not a sellout.
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan slipped off the top rope doing a moonsault and landed on his head in a scary botch last week. Tenzan said later that he thought he was going to die in that moment. Dave has seen the photos and said it looks scary, with Tenzan landing right on his head similar to how Hayabusa was paralyzed. But Tenzan only missed a week or so of action and is back working, although he's not 100% (I've heard people talk about this botch before but I can't find video or even a picture of it).
  • Messiah returned at a CZW show in the old ECW Arena and cut a promo about his thumb getting cut off. Firstly, he talked about it now being the CZW Arena and not another promotion (in reference to XPW claiming it was theirs). He also showed off his missing thumb and cut a promo about it not being a work. He said he wouldn't name who he thinks did it, but says they didn't get the job done. The crowd started chanting "Fuck Rob Black!" to which Messiah told them not to even say that piece of shit's name and got them to chant CZW instead. Sounds like Messiah wasn't naming names, maybe for legal reasons, but it's clear that he (and everyone else) believes Rob Black was behind the attack. The America's Most Wanted episode featuring this story is scheduled to air this week.
WATCH: Messiah returns to CZW
  • Dave says there's a lot of ex-WCW wrestlers out there struggling right now. When WCW first went under, a lot of them (who weren't signed by WWE) were still able to use their name value to get decent work on the indies. But with the business drying up, a lot of those indies going under, less places to work, and the economy struggling, and time passing by, a lot of guys who were making 6-figure incomes a couple years ago in WCW are suddenly finding it hard to pay their bills.
  • TNA appears to be getting an influx of new money, because they increased their budget significantly for the 9/18 show and are planning to bring in bigger name stars. Scott Hall, X-Pac, Marcus Bagwell, and Road Dogg are all supposed to be there, along with NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and Saved by the Bell star Dustin Diamond (and this is the first whiff of that new Panda Energy money we're gonna be hearing a lot about soon).
  • Notes from Raw: Dave says the only way to enjoy Raw these days is to find things he can laugh at, which is how he used to get through Nitro. This doesn't sound like it's gonna be a glowing recap. Bischoff opened the show saying Raw won't be a boring, formulaic show like Smackdown, which was immediately followed by Triple H coming out and cutting the standard opening segment 20 minute promo. Dave jokes that he ate dinner and still had time to watch a short movie because this promo went so long and even gets in a jab about Triple H manipulating the show because he's "banging the head writer." Dave came packing heat this week. Rico (fresh off switching to Raw) beat Flair in a 4 minute match and instead of putting Rico over like he accomplished something, they had Triple H berate Flair (who is facing Jericho for the IC title at the next PPV) about how he's washed up and even a lowly nobody like Rico can beat him, which is a pretty great way of burying both Flair and Rico at the same time. Booker T vs. Test was so bad that Dave jokes that he thought Jackie Gayda had possessed Test's body. This really is reading like one of Dave's snarky 2000-era Nitro reviews, where he wasn't even pretending to be nice or objective. This show sucks and he's determined to let us know. RVD tapped out to Jericho. Dave thinks it's good that babyfaces sometimes tap out to heel submissions, but RVD is challenging Triple H for the world title on PPV in 3 days. Having him tap out to someone he's not even feuding with 3 days before that match is basically the dumbest possible finish. Triple H gave RVD a pedigree after the match for good measure (and then, he will of course be beating RVD at the PPV and moving on. Triple H Reign of Terror era is in full effect at this point). To be fair, later on in the show, RVD did come back out and attack Triple H and leave him bloody in the ring. But don't worry. Valiant babyface Triple H overcame the odds and still managed to get back up and beat Jeff Hardy in 5 minutes to end the show. Dave also notes that Jeff Hardy, once again, looks terrible these days (drugs are bad, mmm'kay).
  • Notes from Smackdown: it was in Minnesota and the crowd was super into Lesnar. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero make a great tag team and had an awesome match with Edge & Cena. Dave thinks Cena needs a new look, the little shorts aren't good. They also called Cena "the rookie" half a dozen times in this match and Dave thinks that's the kiss of death for a new guy. Anyway, the big angle of the show was of course the wedding of Billy and Chuck, which ended with a hell of an angle with Bischoff as the minister in disguise. Dave says Rico and Bischoff in particular were amazing during this whole segment. And of course, the show ended with Brock Lesnar threatening Undertaker's pregnant wife backstage (needless to say, if you've never seen the Billy & Chuck wedding angle, it's a must-see classic).
WATCH: Billy & Chuck wedding
  • Bradshaw will be out of action for about 6 months after tearing his bicep on Raw. He continued to work his match and even did a run-in later in the show, but flew to Birmingham the next day where he was diagnosed and underwent surgery that same day. Meanwhile, Faarooq is not injured, he's just sitting at home because creative has no ideas for him right now.
  • WWE does seem to have interest in Nathan Jones now that it looks like his legal issues in Australia are going to be cleared up. He'll likely be sent to OVW first because he's nowhere near ready for prime time yet (lol, nope. He never worked a match in OVW. Vince took one look at him and said, "Gimme that big motherfucker!" He works a few months of main roster house shows then straight to TV).
  • This week on WWE Confidential, they basically told the history of the Big Gold Belt (now known in WWE as Triple H's World Heavyweight Title). They talked about how the NWA title kinda morphed into the WCW title and Dave, of course, can't let that one slide without briefly touching on the real story of that split. Lots of interviews with past champions like Flair and Booker T and Big Show. They also had Bischoff on and everybody talked about certain guys who weren't worthy of being champion (everyone buried Goldberg, for instance) and Bischoff claimed Sting was never 100% committed to wrestling. Booker T claimed DDP's success was all manufactured and they pretty much said DDP was only ever the champion because he was friends with Bischoff.
  • There's some backstage friction between management and the UnAmericans group. It's a bunch of little small issues. Vince wanted them all to dress the same and have a matching look. And since Lance Storm doesn't have long hair and can't grow it anytime soon, Vince wanted Test and Christian to cut their hair short like his. As you can see, neither of them has done so yet and that didn't go over well. There was also an issue because they wanted more security when they were leaving the building after the flag burning angle at MSG. That led to them being told that they are being given a golden opportunity and if they're scared of getting "too much heat" then maybe they don't deserve to be in that spot.
  • David Flair is being sent to work some indies over in the UK. He's still signed to developmental in OVW, but he's been on the bubble for awhile and may not make it past the next round of cuts. Same kinda goes for Eric Angle and Horace Hogan and Dave says all 3 guys have been spared thus far more due to their last names than any other reason. But Dave doesn't have high hopes that David Flair is gonna last much longer.
  • Latest on Steve Austin is that he's focused on fixing his marriage and has no interest in coming back to wrestling right now. He recently called off his divorce filing. As for WWE, they've been marking down Austin 3:16 shirts to as low as $3 bucks at live shows and word is they've been selling like crazy. Seems like WWE is trying to get rid of its stock of Austin merch.
  • Dave found a newspaper interview from 2000 back when Brock Lesnar first got signed to WWE. He admitted in the interview that he doesn't really care for the fake punches and soap opera aspect of wrestling, but WWE is the only game in town, so that's what he decided to do. When talking about the business, he said, "It's in my mind, but not in my heart." In other words, what we've always known: Lesnar's here to get PAID. Period.
  • Various WWE notes: the Island Boyz got a lot of heat for how rough they were when beating up the lesbians on Raw, particularly the poor girl that got a brutal thrust kick right to the ribs. New England Patriots new offensive lineman Stephen Neal once beat Brock Lesnar in the NCAA tournament finals in 1999. Chris Jericho's band Fozzy's new album has only sold 11,000 copies which has to be a disappointment given how much it's been mentioned on WWE TV. Vince McMahon was listed as the #386th richest American in Forbes, with a net worth of $570 million (down from $700 million last year). Howard Stern claimed Vince McMahon offered him a deal to do a WWE appearance but said the money wasn't good and said after the Billy & Chuck wedding debacle, he wouldn't appear for WWE for less than $2 million. Josh Matthews from Tough Enough debuted doing backstage shilling segments on TV.
  • And finally, a metric ton of letters in this issue. Over the years, the letters section has dwindled down to almost none, but there's a bunch in this issue. Let's see if there's anything noteworthy. Former St. Louis wrestling announcer Larry Matysik writes a long letter to talk about the style of wrestling that Sam Muchnick promoted in that territory and whether it would work today. Then there's several letters about the Todd Martin essay a few issues back regarding racism in wrestling. Lots of interesting notes in here. One guy says it's a good thing Jesse Ventura's political enemies never dug into old wrestling footage and found some of his comments during the 80s. Also says he has a tape from pre-WM1 of Paul Orndorff calling Mr. T and other black people "porch monkeys." And finally, lots of thoughts on the Observer Hall of Fame. Several people upset that Shawn Michaels didn't get the votes because he obviously deserves it. Someone else writes in about Ring of Honor and says their shows he's attended have been some of the most unexpected, surprisingly awesome shows he's ever been to, with multiple MOTY candidates on every show. It's kinda cool getting to re-live the days when ROH was getting buzz simply for putting on quality shows month after month.
  • And finally, someone else writes in to argue that Undertaker isn't nearly as special as WWE portrays him. Says Undertaker had a brief main event run in 1991, and then spent the next 5 years in midcard feuds. Wasn't until 1997 that he got back to the top again, and even throughout the Attitude Era, he's always been 2nd or 3rd fiddle behind Austin, Rock, and at times, even Triple H. And during those years, he's been involved in some of the worst drawing feuds and most embarrassing, poorly written, dumbest angles in WWE history. The only time he was a top draw was when he was feuding with Austin in 1998-99 and, let's be honest, Austin could have sold out a stadium against Brooklyn Brawler at that point. The Wrestlemania he headlined was the lowest WM buyrate in company history, he's never been a proven draw on his own. He's also pretty much never been that special as an in-ring wrestler either. He's been a popular character because he's been extremely protected, rarely selling for anyone, and always booked to come out on top in his feuds, but that's all WWE booking, not anything to do with Mark Callaway being great. So all in all, WWE's claim that Undertaker has been a top star for a decade doesn't really jibe with the facts and the author of this letter doesn't really understand why anyone thinks Undertaker has had a HOF-level career (you know, my gut feeling is to argue against this because it's Undertaker and he's a legend, but when you step back and try to look at it objectively....the guy kinda brings up some good points. Obviously, some of Taker's best years were still ahead of him. But in 2002, it's kinda hard to argue this. We all loved the gimmick as kids, but what had he ever really done at this point that made him stand ahead of anyone else?)
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Death of Flyboy Rocco Rock of Public Enemy, WWE Unforgiven fallout, more on Brian Ong death, Nicole Bass/WWE lawsuit goes to trial, and more...
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2020.09.30 07:42 Lamont-Cranston The Koch/Republican network

I do not believe what is going in America has to do with Russian interference, I believe it can be much more clearly explained and understood as powerful domestic interests asserting their control.
The Koch/Republican network is taking - over - state - legislatures across the country: closing voting stations in minority areas, purging voters, engaging in extreme gerrymandering of districts and efforts to oppose this through popular ballots are restricted, disenfranchising voters, engaging in "vote caging", preventing students from voting, enacting nebulous signature mismatch rules, as well as onerous1 2 Voter ID laws1 written by ALEC, a group that also hosts gerrymandering tutorials, changing the rules of governance to make their control permanent and legal, and at a Council for National Policy seminar the need to bring back 'poll watcher' intimidation tactics has been discussed.
Should they manage to lose elections in spite of all these efforts they vow to redouble them using lame duck sessions before the changeover to impede the new government, strip Governors of power, and reassign legislative authority; some become angry and paranoid and start advocating violence, others brazenly admit what they are doing. A Heritage Foundation fellow addressing the Council for National Policy candidly admits that Republican Party results would be hampered by Voting Rights protections and non-partisan districting. In states they no longer have a majority they simply resort to wrecking the legislative process.
On the other hand in North Carolina despite having gerrymandered the legislature and congressional districts they have bizarrely insisted on engaging in unnecessary electoral fraud.
All of this is being carried out by state legislatures, Secretaries of State, Attorneys General, and Governors1 the Kochs have contributed to and directed their network of fake grassroots fronts like Americans for Prosperity to campaign for them in elections and many are members of ALEC. Some even come directly from the Koch network. Once they have achieved office and solidified their power with this campaign they begin a new second campaign of serving their powerful backers introducing legislation written by ALEC - ALEC is a policy institute/'model legislation' generating body staffed with industry lobbyists and elected representatives, it was founded in the 1970s by Paul Weyrich, also the co-founder of The Heritage Foundation and the Council for National Policy and who famously declared at a meeting of Republican Party representatives that he did not want everyone to vote and that in order for the party to win elections they need fewer people to vote, today it is heavily funded by the Kochs and Koch Industries is on its corporate advisory board, and it coordinates with their fronts through the State Policy Network and Americans for Prosperity campaigns for its members - that personally benefit Koch Industries like limiting liability claims on its subsidiaries and freezing renewable energy and efficiency standards, labor and industrial and environmental deregulation, tax cuts for the rich which coupled with supermajority laws is the cause of the drop in rural healthcare and education funding, which is then used to rationalize the privatisation of education through charter schools and push resegregation, stack the judiciary, oppose and even criminalize Dark Money disclosure, criminalize oil pipeline protests, and gerrymander Congress so their preferred candidates get in.
A byproduct of this process is religious fundamentalists and extreme far right elements gain positions in state legislatures through serving elite corporate interests and use the enormous legislative power now amassed to carry out their own agenda.
You fight this in the court and either they've stacked them or the judges rule in your favor and they just try again and replace the judges for the next round. If it goes to the federal courts either they rule in their favor or its litigated for so long the courts declare its too late to change. Meaning that in North Carolina a 50.3% electoral result grants them 10 of the 13 Congressional seats, and in Wisconsin they gain 63% of the state legislature on 46% of the vote. So of course they now try to delay changing for the 2020 election. In Georgia a judicial election was simply cancelled and the new judge appointed by the governor. All of this is being carried out under the accusation that other people are committing voter fraud, which courts have dismissed as conjecture.
Now they're doing the same thing nationally. Trumps Vice President1, Secretary of State1, and administration positions are staffed with Koch cronies. More are being appointed to the Federal Reserve, regulatory and oversight positions at the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior where they shut down reports by declaring "science is a Democrat thing" and at the EPA where they usher in corporate friendly deregulation benefiting their former employers and endangering lives, the FCC, and NOAA. And supporting his Supreme Court nominations123.
Key components of the Trump administrations policies come straight out of the Koch agenda. Trumps original tax plan while it did include numerous taxcuts for the rich also included a Border Adjustment Tax that would have rendered them revenue neutral so as not to add to the deficit and encourage domestic manufacturing. You have to give the devil his due. After lobbying from the Koch network this was removed and the Paul Ryan plan was pure taxcuts for the rich, increasing the deficit by a trillion and personally saved the Kochs a billion dollars. The attacks on Medicaid and food stamps, rollback of auto emission standards, attacks on environmental regulation, and disastrous cutbacks to the CDC all come straight from their playbook. They spent 400 million on the 2018 midterms and across the country they are lobbying for 'right to work' laws and organising campaigns against Public Transit ballots.
The question Trumps Commerce Secretary wished to include into the 2020 Census regarding citizenship status originate from the same Republican strategist that designed the REDMAP gerrymandering initiative and his own research concluded the question would favor rural white citizens over others via intimidating minorities into not participating, ensuring Census data would be skewed allowing for district boundaries to be further gerrymandered as well as Electoral College votes + federal spending to be apportioned incorrectly.
What else do they want, how far does this go? A key influence on the Kochs was the economist James McGill Buchanan who advocated for "locks and bolts" to be instituted in government to limit the publics democratic ability to influence it so that the free market can be free. Like state legislatures requiring a supermajority to raise taxes or to approve cities funding public transportation, and gerrymandering legislatures and disenfranchising voters to gain that majority. The ultimate goal is to hardwire this into the Constitution itself and the Koch network has been active in campaigning for a Constitutional Convention. They have three items on the agenda for it already:
And now amidst the chaos of 2020 President Trumps administration and state Republican law makers are trying to introduce a range of measures to prohibit mail-in voting and other initiatives like trying to restrict providing assistance to others to get to polling stations to restricting ballots from being received after Election Day to restricting early and mail-in ballot counting to only begin on Election Day to simply demanding they not be counted because reasons, attempts are being made to demand the result be called on Election Day, and to cap it all off the USPS has had key mail sorting infrastructure shut down or dismantled which will delay the collection and delivery of mail-in ballots – all adding up to ensure many mail-in votes would go uncounted due to being delayed or a lack of time to process them. Now there are reports that they are trying to get electors appointed to the Electoral College that will disregard the results.
I do not know yet how much of this comes from the Koch network, certainly the attempts to deter mail-in voting have many familiar faces and groups, and how much from the Presidents own pathology. But his rhetoric and efforts are certainly built upon the anti-election and anti-democratic infrastructure they have developed and the baseless voter fraud gaslighting groups like ALEC and the Heritage Foundation generated to justify it all.
In any other country you'd call this a soft coup.
How do you stop this?
You can't vote them out, the gerrymandering and disenfranchisement ensure their minority has a majority of power.
Where is the Democratic Party while this goes on? In 2018 their biggest concern was avoiding scary words and creating the... BoomerCorps. Now in 2020 amidst a variety of disasters their focus has been on calling President Trump fat, saying he has "doggy doo" on his pants, and harping on about alleged Russian interference.
So what the hell do you do?
submitted by Lamont-Cranston to AmericanFascism2020 [link] [comments]

2020.09.23 15:30 ZandrickEllison Offseason Blueprint: The Houston Rockets are playing an entirely different game than their peers -- but will history remember them more like Nintendo or Sega?

The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, watch the Conference Finals, and wait for next season to start.
For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Houston Rockets.
Last night I watched a documentary about the video game battle between Sega and Nintendo called Console Wars (based on the Blake J. Harris book), so that may bled into my brain and into this particular entry.
step one: trust your Tom Kalinske
When Sega found itself lagging way behind the curve, they made an unconventional hire in executive Tom Kalisnke. Kalinske didn't have any video game experience, having come from Mattel where he dealt with Barbies and He-Man toys. Presumably, rival execs rooted against him. Still, the man had a magical touch when it came to marketing and a vision of the future that went against the grain. The hire turned out to be a home run.
The same can be said for Houston's Daryl Morey, perhaps the first true "nerd" general manager. Other GMs learned to adopt analytics; Morey was born in it, molded by it. He's so far ahead of the curve that other teams still haven't learned to catch up yet. There's a rudimentary stat called "MoreyBall" which adds your three pointers and free throws and then divides by your twos. The league average is about 1.00. Houston Rockets are at 1.51, by far the highest mark in the league.
These Houston Rockets just got stomped by the old-school (in contrast) L.A. Lakers, which many believe showed the flaws in their approach. I disagree. The Lakers had Anthony Davis and LeBron f'ing James. Those are two beasts that are nearly impossible to match up with. In contrast, the Houston Rockets had James Harden, a wobbly Russell Westbrook, and a shaky supporting cast. Their style of play didn't lose the playoffs for them; their style of play kept them in the playoffs as long as it possibly could before superior talent won out (against these Lakers and against Golden State prior.)
Knowing that, the Houston Rockets need to adjust and make over their roster, but maintain their fundamental approach and style of play.
step two: keep speeding it up like Sonic the Hedgehog
In their battle against Nintendo, Sega found an ace in the hole in the form of super-speedy Sonic the Hedgehog. It provided them a huge surge in the marketplace.
When the Houston Rockets traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, there were plenty of theories as to why. Was it a personality clash? A financial consideration? Tilman Fertitta being a frittata?
To be fair, there are some logical, basketball-related reasons as to why Westbrook may have been a better fit for the Houston brand of basketball. Chris Paul is still an awesome player, but he plays at a more deliberate pace, slowly targeting midrange shots like it's Duck Hunt. In contrast, Westbrook is the "Sonic" of point guards, going so fast that he can sometimes veer out of control. After making the swap at PG, the Rockets' pace jumped all the way from 27th (with CP3) up to 2nd this year. That's more in line with James Harden and the smallball approach.
Going forward, the team needs to maintain that identity as they look toward a new coach. Completely reversing course and trying to slow it down or go "big" would be a mistake. We want to find the next Mike D'Antoni, not Mike D'Anti-toni.
For me, two potential coaching prospects immediately jump to mind: Kenny Atkinson and Chris Finch.
Atkinson is the more familiar name, and the easier one to link to this job. His first job as an assistant actually came under Mike D'Antoni, and he's learned to play with a "pace and space" approach. His Brooklyn Nets routinely finished in the top 5 in three-point attempts. It's confusing to me why Atkinson hasn't been a hotter candidate in the marketplace yet given his resume, but he'd fit in easily here.
I'd also say the same about Chris Finch, a lesser known assistant in New Orleans. Finch has a spectacular resume as a head coach in smaller leagues, and has served as a top assistant for Houston, Denver, and now New Orleans. Through it all, his offenses play fast. I happen to like Atkinson and Finch a lot for any team, but I like them for this team especially. Of course, that's operating under the presumption that the Rockets are looking for a younger, cheaper version of Mike D'Antoni, and don't want to reinvent themselves entirely.
step three: don't bust like Buster
When you're locked into an intense competition with your rivals, you can't make missteps like Sega may have when they based their boxing game around new sensation (!) Buster Douglas.
Similarly, the Houston Rockets don't have much of a margin for error. When you're playing small and you're playing fast, you're going to exhaust your players. You need to give them some solid reinforcements. The fact that Houston had poor depth was a death knell for them, especially when Danuel House decided to play his own game of Leisure Suit Larry.
Finding capable depth for Houston is never going to be easy given the fact that they're paying a combined $82.5M for James Harden and Russell Westbrook next season. Their role players are also aging. At the start of next season, P.J. Tucker will be 35 and Eric Gordon will be 32. They have some free agents like Jeff Green (age 34), Thabo Sefolosha (age 36), and Tyson Chandler (age 37.) Help is needed, ASAP. Send AARP while you're at, too.
Trading Eric Gordon would make a lot of sense. For a "shooter," his shooting comes and goes. He only shot 31.7% from beyond the arc in the regular season, and only improved that to 32.2% in the playoffs. And if Gordon isn't knocking down shots, he's a potential liability overall. At 6'4", he has limited size for the wing, which has contributed to some problems the team has in terms of defense and rebounding.
Unfortunately, trading Gordon may be easier said than done. He has an obscenely long contract that will pay him $17M next season, $18M the following year, $19M the next year, and $21M all the way in 2023-24 (when Gordon will be 35 years old.) The Rockets may have to attach picks to get rid of a contract like that.
Sadly, the same may be true for Russell Westbrook. He actually played well for the Rockets this year (pre playoffs), but his contract is fatter than Mario after a pasta dinner. He'll be paid $41M + $44M + $47M (player option). Given his particular skill set, you worry about how he'll age. If the team can flip Westbrook and turn him in 2-3 decent players, they have to consider that. However, I'm just not sure where that trade partner is coming from. The team should listen to offers if they arise, but they shouldn't plan on that coming into fruition.
step four: look for help anywhere you can get it
At the tail end of their fight against Nintendo, Sega ended up passing on an outside firm whose technology ended up becoming Sony PlayStation. Whoops.
In order to avoid the same fate, the Houston Rockets need to scour the Earth, looking for potential help. As mentioned, it won't be easy. They have over $120M committed on their cap sheet already, and no draft picks in 2020. It's going to be slim pickin's.
Still, savvy teams have managed to find rotational players in circumstances like that before. The Miami Heat found Duncan Robinson, the L.A. Lakers found Alex Caruso. Heck, these same Houston Rockets found Danuel House (a legitimately good player, and apparently a good playa as well.) If the Rockets can add a credible 7th and 8th man, they'd feel much better about their chances. Better still, they'd be able to give stars like James Harden some rest. Harden's been a horse in Houston, but if he ended up missing 20+ games, things could get ugly fast.
So where is this cheap help coming from? Some may have to be internal. Ben McLemore has always flashed athleticism and shooting talent, but he still needs to iron out his consistency. Perhaps having another year in the same situation will help him get even more comfortable. I'm even hopeful the team may get some solid minutes from David Nwaba. He's limited offensively, but he's a good defensive player who may pair well with James Harden.
Going forward, I'd like to see the Rockets develop more players in that mold rather than patching together over-the-hill veterans like Band-aids. Former Rocket Isaiah Hartenstein may be worth bringing back to the building. P.J. Dozier (DNE) may be playing himself out of their price range, but he's an intriguing project. I like the ball movement skills of Harry Giles (SAC) and Theo Pinson (NYK.) Perhaps forgotten veterans like Mo Harkless (NYK) or Noah Vonleh (DEN) would take a cheap deal in order to play in the Houston style and buoy their stock for next year. Finding forwards with good size is paramount; this team was partially constructed to beat Golden State and now the Lakers appear to be the biggest threat out West.
The desperate need to DEVELOP talent also speaks to the need for the next coaching staff. Kenny Atkinson has a good reputation in terms of player development, which is going to be crucial as the team tries to manufacture depth around Harden and Westbrook -- not only for this next year, but for the next several years to come. If the Rockets fail to do that, they'll lose this console war and have nothing to look forward to but a Blake J. Harris retrospective in 30 years time.
previous offseason blueprints
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2020.09.22 10:30 mediuqrepmes [OC] Comprehensive list of possible Chris Paul trades with every other team in the league

Here’s my overview of the universe of possible CP3 trades. I’ve gone through each team’s cap sheet and identified how a Chris Paul trade could be constructed. Wherever possible I’ve proposed one or more specific trades.
To trade for Chris Paul’s $41M salary for 2020-21, most teams will need to send at least $33M in outgoing salary to make the trade legal under the CBA’s salary matching rules. The exceptions are the handful of teams that have significant cap space.
I focused on what works cap-wise. For the most part I omitted specific draft picks. The list is comprehensive, so there are teams here for the sake of completeness that make no sense as CP3 trade partners. For every trade, Chris Paul is the only player OKC is sending out; including additional OKC players in the trade configurations would have made this writeup too long. Some players are so obviously unavailable (e.g., Doncic, Steph Curry, LeBron) that I omitted them from potential trade constructions.
Golden State:
Los Angeles Clippers:
Los Angeles Lakers:
New Orleans:
New York Knicks:
Orlando Magic:
San Antonio:
All numbers are courtesy of Spotrac and Bballref.
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2020.09.22 02:31 NoYeezyAtWeezyHeezy All Album Releases for Summer (June - August) of 2020

Below is a list of all the albums and EP's that were released in June through August. If there are any I missed or anything you think should be added, let me know and I'll gladly add it because I'm sure there are many I have missed. I've linked all of the ones that there have been album discussions if you would like to go leave your thoughts or rank the album. Also leave a comment below if one or multiple albums stood out to you for the month. Enjoy!

June 1st

June 2nd

June 3rd

June 4th

June 5th

June 7th

June 9th

June 10th

June 11th

June 12th

June 13th

June 14th

June 18th

June 19th

June 20th

June 22nd

June 26th

June 27th

June 30th

July 1st

July 3rd

July 4th

Dissolver No. 7 - Star Spangled Punch
Oak Grove - Must You Have Love Handles Before You Have a Handle On Love?
Victor Camozzi - Black Dog

July 8th

July 10th

July 17th

July 20th

July 23rd

July 24th

July 27th

July 31st

August 1st

August 6th

August 7th

August 10th

August 11th

August 12th

August 14th

August 15th

August 18th

August 19th

August 21st

August 22nd

August 25th

August 28th

August 29th

submitted by NoYeezyAtWeezyHeezy to CountryMusicStuff [link] [comments]

2020.09.21 20:44 skip2myluka Why the Mavericks' 2020 Offseason is So_Freakin_Important

Why the Mavericks' 2020 Offseason is So_Freakin_Important
The Mavs took a major leap this season, going from the lottery to a mid-playoff seed. That said, the Mavericks should be even better next season—with or without major roster changes**.**
For the first time in a long time, MFFLs can feel good about the trajectory of the team. But, despite projected improvements, the team is at least a high-level piece away from contending for a title.
Most of the speculation around the Mavs adding talent focuses on 2021. That summer, Tim Hardaway Jr. and several other contracts come off the books.
However, it seems to me that opportunities in the 2020 offseason are being treated with complacency in the current discourse.
Much of the reason for the focus on 2021 derives from the latest Dallas big-fish free agent target:
The Giannis-to-Dallas clamor is reaching a fever pitch.
Th absurdity of the Mavs FO putting a lot of chips into this plan cannot be overstated. We have seen how well dry powder and superstar chasing has served us in the past.
If the Mavericks were not as close to a championship as they were, this kind of restraint would make a lot more sense.
But, given that the Mavs are a relatively small piece away from a contention-level roster, does it really make sense to forgo a perfectly good offseason just so we can put our roster improvement chips all-in on a Giannis pot with incredibly long odds?

I find it useful to think about Luka’s time in Dallas in terms of ‘eras’.
Eras, in this sense, can be loosely defined as some period of team continuity in roster, coach, style etc.
For example, most recently, the Warriors completed two eras—pre-KD, KD—and have begun a third—post-KD. You could also say that each Lebron destination is an era of its own. Dirk’s 20 years in DFW came with its own set of eras (Pre-Star, Nash, Avery Johnson, Kidd, Monta, Lottery).
If we map ahead a bit, the outline of a 10+ year career for Luka with several distinct ‘eras’ begins to come into frame.
Luka Eras
True NBA greats get no developmental years. For better or worse, Luka is on the clock right now. The goal of Luka’s rookie contract era should be a simple, yet daunting one—win an NBA championship.
In pursuit of that goal, however, it is important to understand the dynamics of coming eras and how to best position the Mavs for sustained success. It is also important not to undervalue each year the team has an opportunity to compete for a championship.
Let’s take a look at what the ‘Eras’ of Luka Doncic basketball could look like from a roster management perspective:

Era 1 in Focus: Rookie Contract
While it seems like the timeline for 21 year-old Luka Doncic is just beginning, life comes at you fast. Having star talent in their youth does not absolve a team from hard decision making; just ask the Pelicans, Sixers, and Bucks of late.
The early, tough decisions the Mavs must face center on building a contention-level team around Luka before his max extension. At that point, Luka will be more correctly compensated for his impact with the 30% designated player max contract.
While most Mavs fans are justifiably excited about the prospect of opening space in the 2021 offseason, it also seems that many may be mis-pricing just how fast it will close—with or without new talent.
At the start of the 2022-23 season, Luka’s max extension (which he can sign next summer) is going to hit the books. At that point, Luka and KP will be eating roughly 60% of the Mavs cap.
In addition, the Mavs will have key role players locked in to team-friendly multiyear deals representing another 25-30%.
Filling out the roster with 10-25% of the cap will be an uphill battle. Filling it with the pieces needed to vault this team into the title conversation will be near impossible.

While it seems like the Luka Doncic timeline is just beginning, life comes at you fast

Luckily, The Mavs have two offseasons, ‘20 and ‘21, before their window for adding significant talent without gutting their depth closes on them for several years.
The Mavs don’t want to put all of their eggs in the Giannis 2021 basket without doing due diligence on roster upgrades (especially ones that vault us into a contender) in the coming offseason.
Why? Well, because waiting for Giannis and the spoils of 2021 puts a ton of undue pressure on executing within the tight window of one year of free agency.
This is why the 2020 offseason should be treated with the importance it deserves.
Let’s do a basic inventory of the Maverick stables:
If we look at high-level team needs, the obvious culprit is defense. The Mavs were a misbalanced regular season team in '19-20; sporting the league’s most efficient offense and 17th most efficient defense.
The Mavericks are especially light on defensive guards and wings. They can find more balance by acquiring defense-minded perimeter players. But, they must also commit to prioritizing their defensive personnel in the rotation.
With that in mind, It is essential that any significant piece brought in to flank Luka and KP be a two-way player.
Given they have $35m locked up between KP and Maxi ($50m if you include Powell, Boban, and Cauley-Stein) it’s highly unlikely the team will look to invest more in the frontcourt—so look for the Mavs to avoid any big attached with a significant price tag. Pour one out for the Ibaka and Millsap truthers (seriously though, these are inferior players to Maxi Kleber…).
In terms of adding personnel, the best archetypal fits are a secondary live-dribble creator (ideally one who can put pressure on the rim) and a two-way perimeter player with plus-shooting or plus-defensive equity.
It would be an added bonus if one or both of these players translated into Luka’s next era, or if the Mavs are able to draft starter-level talent for that era in 2020 or 2022.
To recap, before Luka’s rookie extension kicks in (2022-23) we’d like to generate:
  • A two way secondary creator for this and the next era
  • A two way perimeter player for this and the next era
  • A draft pick who turns out to be a starter in the next era
Free Agency:
Free agency is probably the most interesting route the Mavs can take to acquire the coveted ‘third & fourth guys’. The 2020 class is generally light but has some impact guys that fit the Mavs needs (Vanvleet, Dragic, Bazemore, Grant, Crowder, Temple, Bogdonavic, Ingram, Melton). The 2021 class offers up some interesting non-Giannis opportunities (Lonzo, Oladipo, Richardson, Dinwiddie, Hayward, Porter Jr, Oubre, Lowry, Conley, Isaac, Bridges, Anunoby, Hart, Caruso, Trent).Trade:
Using one or more of their assets (2020 #18, 2020 #31, Brunson, Maxi, DFS), the Mavs could look to upgrade via trade. The Mavs could opt to snatch up veterans who want to compete at a high level (Paul, Lowry) or younger core pieces (Lonzo, Gordon).
To open up more room in free agency, the Mavs might look to attach 18 and/or 31 to dump the contracts of Hardaway, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, and/or Dwight Powell.
The 2020 draft is an interesting one as the Mavs could trade one or both of the 18 and 31st picks for salary cap relief or in a package for a useful piece.
Alternatively, the Mavs could look to add a future piece by using or packaging their picks to move up in the draft. Because the Mavs do not have their first round pick in 2021—and because most draft picks after Luka’s 1st era will be traded for win-now pieces—my preference is to draft players for the future in 2020 and/or 2022.

2020 Offseason
The biggest reason I’m an advocate for being aggressive in the 2020 offseason is this:
I don't want the Mavs don’t squander a perfectly good opportunity to make a run at a title as soon as next season.
This is not to say that I want the Mavs to make moves that jeopardize their future ability to compete for titles—but many of the opportunities to vault us into contention next year don’t necessarily dilute long-term prospects.
The latest murmurs are that the salary cap could come in at a similar figure to ‘19-20, or around $109m. We'll use that figure for modeling purposes here.
Going in to the offseason, let’s see how the Mavs stack up in terms of assets and distressed contracts:
Depending on whether the Mavs were interested and able to move Hardaway, Powell, Wright, and/or Jackson in concert with their FRPs; and whether WCS opts out; the Mavs could have between $3m to 48m + the MLE ($9.2m) this summer to add talent.
While going through the options, a lot of you are going to ask why [player’s name] isn’t included on the list. They’ve been filtered out, is why. Here’s a handy legend—to be eligible as “worth pursuing for the Mavericks”, you must:
  • Defend at a high level on the perimeter (seriously folks, we need defenders)
  • Shoot the 3 well and at a high volume
  • Not be a big
As mentioned, the most significant move the Mavs can make towards winning a championship as soon as next season is adding a (two-way) secondary live-dribble creator. With that in mind, here are the potential moves at the Mavs disposal, ranked by expected value.

‘A’ Moves: Field a Contender in 2020

A1) Sign Fred Vanvleet @ $90m/4
For all intents and purposes, the Mavs are free agent players in 2020 if they want to be. There is no excuse for the Mavs not aggressively pursuing FVV this summer.
In my opinion, this is the sole no-brainer unrestricted free agency decision in 2020. Vanvleet is 26, so he fits the Mavs timeline and should not lose much effectiveness on his next contract.
He is also a perfect fit: A secondary three-and-D playmaker who can defend at the point of attack, switch, hit threes off the dribble, drive and kick, and who possesses a championship resume. I especially like the fact that Vanvleet can defend so well up and down the lineup.
Vanvleet would also become the de-facto locker room leader for this team and add a sense of grit and toughness to the team.
The Mavs should pursue an agreement at around $22-23m per over four. If FVV agrees, the Mavs can make room by stretching Tim Hardaway Jr and/or by looking to find a trade partner for he or Delon and Powell’s contracts.

For all intents and purposes, the Mavs are free agent players in 2020 if they want to be.

A2) Draft Hayes and Trade for Paul
Killian Hayes is the type of prospect where I think you gamble on him becoming a core piece during Luka’s prime. I’ll discuss why I like the idea of drafting a point guard from this class so much in a later article.
If you look at the theoretical package for a guy like Chris Paul—a top 10-15 player in the league in ‘19-20—its peanuts. The Mavs could probably package Brunson, Delon, THJ’s 2021 expiring, and Powell for Paul and filler.
This move would give their depth a hit (though, to be fair, Brunson and Powell missed the playoffs, and Delon garnered DNPs), but replace THJ with Chris Paul and you’d have a hard time convincing me the Mavs aren’t title contenders.
Paul’s contract aligns well with this iteration of the Mavericks’ role players. And the money that the Mavs should be able to open up post-Paul is significant, ~$50m in 2023.
While I am fond of several other point guards in case the Mavs stay put and don’t move up for Hayes—Kira Lewis, Tyrese Maxey, Cole Anthony, and Tre Jones—I don’t have quite the same confidence mortgaging the near-future on Paul without Hayes.
A3) Trade for a Veteran
If the Mavs are want to be aggressive in pursuing veterans in 2020, the design space for adding talent becomes a lot more interesting.
Guys like Lowry, Jrue, Hayward, and Dipo would require Hardaway, possibly Kleber, DFS or Brunson, and one or more of the Mavs’ draft picks.
This is a gamble. Dallas would potentially need to re-sign these guys and/or hope they don't deteriorate too much. Otherwise, we could be looking at a tough cap situation until the end of KP’s deal.
A4) Trade for a Like-Age Piece
The Mavs have a number of trade chips: THJ’s expiring contract, DFS, Kleber, Brunson, and the 18 and 31 picks in 2020. I think the Mavs would look to package THJ and any number of Brunson and draft picks to go after the players in this grouping.
I suspect this will be the route many Mavs fans prefer. But consider this; the group of players in this list are roughly between the 65th and 100 best players in the league. Fred Vanvleet is a top 50 player, Jrue and Lowry are top 40 players, and Paul is top 15.
Targets & Proposed Trades:
  • Lonzo Ball, 23 1yr $8m (RFA in 2021) [Kleber + Brunson + 31]
  • Aaron Gordon, 24 2yr $35m [THJ + 18]
  • Josh Richardson, 26 2yr $22m (PO in 2021) [THJ + Brunson]
  • Otto Porter Jr. 27 1yr $28m [THJ + 31]
  • Gary Harris, 25 2yr $40m [THJ + 31 or Brunson]
  • Kelly Oubre, 24 1yr $15m [THJ + 18]
  • Josh Hart, 25 1 yr $1.8m [Brunson + 18]
  • Tomas Satoransky, 28 2 yr $20m [Delon + 18]
  • Bogdan Bogdonavic, 28 Sign-&-Trade [Kleber]
  • DeAnthony Melton, 22 Sign-&-Trade [Delon + 18]

‘B’ Moves: Remain Competitive and Flexible for 2021

B1) THJ Opts In, Fill Out Rotation in Free Agency
The key consideration here is that anyone added from this group would need to be comfortable with a one-year deal, because multiyear agreements would eat in to our ability to add talent with cap space in 2021.
The exception to this case is if we were to nab one of the aforementioned players. If we had already used the space on a Fred Vanvleet or Chris Paul, then we can afford to make a multiyear tender at the full MLE ($9.2m). At that point, a lot of these wing names become much more interesting.
Goran Dragic Would he take a one year deal at the MLE to play with Luka? Tough to tell at this point given the Heat’s success.
Kent Bazemore Baze is exactly what this team needs injected into its second unit. A versatile wing who can shoot, defend, and put the ball on the floor a bit for 20mpg.
Garret Temple Temple is a sneaky interesting move if he’s interested in a one year deal at the MLE. I think he would slot right in to the starting point guard role as an off-ball guy with a bit of size who can defend, shoot, and make some reads as a secondary guy. Age (34) is prohibitive in terms of thinking beyond 2020-21, but a nice stopgap option.
Jae Crowder Does he take a one year MLE? I doubt it. A multiyear MLE, though, seems like it might be in his range. I do wonder if he still feels shortchanged by his first stint here.
Justin Holiday
Wes Matthews
Derrick Jones Jr. Derrick Jones Jr. is a very interesting young prospect who I think could have success as a roll man next to KP and Kleber. I don’t know if he’s a guy I would want to assign long term money to given shooting concerns.
Jerami Grant I think Grant would be somewhat interesting. I just find him too similar to both DFS and Kleber (and probably prefer them both, slightly) to really find him all that valuable. His market may just end up being a multiyear mle.
Bogdan Bogdonavic I like Bogdan, I really do. Unfortunately, I don’t see him fitting in as a 3rd guy type due to a lack of defense; and as a sixth man, its unclear to me that he is an upgrade over Seth Curry. He’ll certainly cost more.
I know this move is a Mavs fan favorite but I don’t see how he makes much sense. Additionally, Bogey is restricted, so we’d need to make space before we can hand him an offer sheet.
DeAnthony Melton Melton is the more interesting RFA option in my opinion. Unlike Bogey, I could see Melton being a long term starter next to Luka. He is also 22 to Bogdan’s 28 and he will very likely cost less to attain. If the Mavs can clear a little space, I would be making inquiries into his availability at the MLE or perhaps a bit higher over 4 years.
B2) Extend Tim Hardaway Jr.
This option seems highly unlikely. The extension of Hardaway needs to be done with the expectation that his new contract could be dumped “for free” at a moment’s notice.
Any contract that makes THJ feel made whole after turning down what is effectively a 1y$19m extension would need to include bigger and longer term money than the Mavs should feel remotely comfortable giving him.
The Mavs would need to extend Hardaway at something like $10-11m per year over 3 (at most) to make the contract bulletproof tradable (in the case they need to make space in ‘20 or ‘21 for a talent upgrade).
The replacement of Hardaway seems inevitable as his $19m expiring contract represents the best opportunity to upgrade on talent before Luka’s extension.
If the Mavs decided to extend Hardaway at a market rate extension based on last year’s production (3-4 years at 14-15+ per year), I fear this could be the single most damaging move to the early Luka timeline.
Consider this—because they lack significant draft assets after this year, the Mavs could be stuck in a loop where they are unable to add high-level talent because they cannot move a multiyear overpay to an aging shoot-first guard. This compounds a similarly unmovable Powell deal.
Extending Hardaway to a large deal could mean that the Mavericks are essentially stuck in the same lineup configuration as ‘19-20 for the next 3-4 years…yikes.
As is, it’s highly likely that Hardaway will not be extended by the Mavs.
If the Mavs are to draft, combining the picks to move forward as much as possible would be beneficial if it meant a shot at one of several players (Hayes, Vassell, Anthony, Kira).
Otherwise, the Mavs should look to draft best non-big available at 18 (with an eye towards Kira, Maxey, Pat Williams, Poku, Tre Jones) and potentially look to add an impact upperclassman at 31 (Bane, Mich St guy, Syracuse guy, Cassius Winston).

Key Dates
2020 Dates are up in the air, I will update these as they change:
-Draft: Nov 18 (tentatively) -Free Agency Begins: TBD

Looking Ahead to 2021
As mentioned, most fans have an eye toward 2021. I understand. But, imho if the chance to grab Fred Vanvleet is there, we MUST do it and not think twice.
If we can collectively sidestep the Giannis fever dream, the rest of the contenders don’t actually look so great.
Oladipo, 29, is the next best fit and most often mentioned. But Victor has struggled to stay on the court the last few seasons. Does it make sense to lock up $60m in two players who might not be available for Luka when the playoffs come? Likewise, Do we want to pay big bucks for an athleticism-dependent player entering his 30s?
Are consolation prizes like Josh Richardson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Otto Porter, or Kelly Oubre upgrades over Fred VanVleet? I personally don’t think so. I could get behind saving the space for Lonzo or Isaac—but they’re restricted, so there’s no guarantee we’d even be able to land them if we did garner interest.
Second tier RFAs like Anunoby, Hart, Trent, and Caruso could make valuable starting pieces. But, as with other RFAs, there is no guarantee mutual interest would even yield a signing. Last ditch fill-ins like Tim Hardaway Jr and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be available, but these outcomes all sound incredibly disappointing in the context of adding central talent for the post rookie-contract Luka era.
This class just doesn’t have much for the Mavs unless you’re counting on guys like Lebron, Kawhi, Paul George, or Anthony Davis joining the Mavs. I’m not.
Wrapping Up
Consider one more thing—Giannis might not even make it to free agency in any practical sense. If Giannis signs the extension this summer or quickly re-signs with the Bucks, the opportunity cost of not pursuing Fred Vanvleet or a veteran third option becomes much higher.
Lastly, IF Giannis IS interested in the Mavs next summer, making a move to clear space—EVEN if we utilize future cap space in 2020— should be relatively simple.
My assumption is the Mavs could move Porzingis and/or FVV rather easily if need be.
Go Mavs.
[P.S. If you're interested in receiving my Mavs essays in your inbox, sign up here]
submitted by skip2myluka to Mavericks [link] [comments]

2020.09.21 19:51 OldmanRevived I saw two movies (Residue, Blackbird)

First up was Residue
"Residue" is like no other film I've seen, and yet I feel right at home in it. It seems to be going nowhere, and knows every step it wants to make. It is a constant, almost kaleidoscopic experience of discovery, and we try to figure out what the film is up to and it just keeps moving steadfastly ahead, fade in, fade out, fade in, fade out, making a mountain out of a molehill.
The movie doesn't tell a story so much as try to understand a man. Like him, it is constantly observing, and it possesses a generous spirit in those observations. Jay (Obi Nwachukwu), has just returned to the Washington DC neighborhood where he grew up. His family moved off the block in hopes of escaping drug-dealing activity, and later, Jay fled entirely - moving to California for college, where he studied filmmaking. Now he's back, intending to make a movie about his old street. He is welcomed by a white resident who tells him to turn down his music or he'll call the police.
For-sale signs litter the street. Realtors leave repeat voicemails at Jay's parents' house, eagerly offering cash for their home. Jay lurches through the neighborhood, searching for friends at the homes or on the corners or stoops they once occupied. How long Jay has been away is not mentioned, though it is long enough for him to return to a place he barely recognizes. Too many of his friends have either moved away, or are dead, or in prison; his girlfriend, his few remaining friends, his parent's friends, the old men of the neighborhood - all seem to have resigned themselves to slowly being pushed out.
The spaces in "Residue" feel full with absence. They carry memories, and the film has a hypnotic way of slipping in and out of them. As Jay recalls his childhood, young versions of himself and his friends aren't confined to flashback scenes; they sometimes slide into the present-tense places he occupies. Elsewhere, city images of violence and festivity mesh together, sometimes nearly indistinguishable from each other.
The movie plays out in a raw and unpredictable fashion. Director Merawi Gerima differs from some indies in the formal calculation that goes into his composition and editing. Gerima is in no hurry to get anywhere. He will rest on a shot to allow it to reveal itself; shots aren't the impatient hurrying along of a story. Notice how some of his travelling shots seem to dictate the movements of characters, rather than following them. The course of Jay's normal day pauses for moments of looking and, more importantly, listening.
There's a fraying sense of connection, and Jay’s confusion and rage over the gentrification of Q Street can't help but spill over. One friend named Demetrius is elusive, and Jay's insistence on asking about him makes people suspicious. No one knows, or at least will admit to, his current location. In another scene, Jay walks through the woods with a friend, Dion (Jamal Graham). They reminisce about old times amid this greenery, but it’s soon clear that he and Dion are actually in the visiting room of a jail, and that the restful environment is in Jay’s imagination.
There is not much of a conventional narrative, and the story is populated by dozens of small, well-observed moments of human behavior, such as the relationship between Jay and his girlfriend Blue (Taline Stewart). At the end there is a scene of sudden emotional truth that explains nothing but feels like it does. I think the key is to understand that Jay is not the one with the problems, but the kind of person who, by being completely and mysteriously on his own wavelength, causes the uncertain people around him to insist loudly and with growing unease on how certain they are of themselves.
It's tempting to look for some deeper meaning in the movie, but such an endeavor would be folly. The deeper meaning is what we see - what Jay sees and experiences every day. Is it enough? It is if we make it so. "Residue" is still not a complete success - it is odd and off-putting when it doesn't want to be - but as a study of loneliness and need, it evokes a tender sadness. Gerima does a lot with a little. His characters seem divorced from the ordinary society of their cities; they're loners and floaters hurtling through the deserted streets. They are like couriers on a mission to nowhere.

Next up was Blackbird
"Blackbird" is one of those movies in which nosy but well-meaning relatives try to force a reluctant family member to embrace a truth that is obvious to everyone except her. In this case, the truth is that we cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed forever by grief over the death of a loved one. Why do I always root for the recalcitrant family member?
The setup involves the family's matriarch, who decides to end her life before a debilitating disease overtakes all of her bodily functions. The mother is Lily (Susan Sarandon), married to the ever-watchful and affectionate Paul (Sam Neill), a doctor who knows better than the rest of his family why his wife wants to die now. At this point, Lily has lost the use of one arm and walks with a limp. In a shorter amount of time than she might hope for, the disease will paralyze her, and she doesn't want to live to see that day. She has set a date for her demise, and will take a lethal dosage to die in her sleep after a final 48 hours.
Lily has planned a big reunion, a final get-together, with the whole of their family. First is her daughter Jennifer, arriving early with her husband, Michael (Rainn Wilson) and son Jonathan (Anson Boon). The younger sister, Anna (Mia Wasikowska), has been incommunicado for a while, and further roils things by unexpectedly bringing her romantic partner, Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus). The final person in the mix is Lily's long-time friend Liz (Lindsay Duncan), who has spent decades as an honorary member of the family.
The movie gets right to the point in establishing these assorted dynamics of familial dysfunction. The two sisters immediately get on each other's nerves, as Anna can't stop screwing up and Jennifer can't stop conspicuously judging her for it. But in general, personal agendas are suspended to honor Lily's wishes, which include ordering that Christmas be celebrated Saturday night, complete with deluxe holiday dinner and decorated tree, though it's still autumn.
The rest of the story merely observes how they proceed under the stress of knowing this will be the last time they'll be together as a whole family. There is possibly a good movie to be found somewhere within this story, but no: "Blackbird" is a turgid melodrama with the emotional range of a sympathy card. This is one of the most confused and conflicted serious movies in a long time - a film that feels great passion about its subject matter but has no idea what it wants to say or how to say it.
Genuine issues - such as the family's insecurity and the Lily's reaction to the end of her days - are glossed over. But there is more than enough time for each character to have a soap opera subplot. They are each given one characteristic: the caretaker, the screw-up, the control freak, the dull guy. Lily doesn’t need the extra late-breaking drama, and frankly this drama doesn't, either. It seems unnecessary, like an extra hurdle planted at a track-race finish line just to see if another runner or two can be made to stumble.
The movie is really about the Sarandon character. Here she has to be unreasonable for half the movie and courageous for the rest; there's not a rest period where she just gets to be this woman. These performances are, at best, great (Neill, Winslet, Taylor-Klaus, Sarandon, and Wasikowska) and, at least, provide us with a strong sense of personality (Wilson, Boon, and Duncan). The movie provides big roles, but doesn't surround them with the screenplay support they need; the result is that awkwardness when characters express emotions that the audience doesn't share.
"Blackbird" was written by Christian Torpe, based on his screenplay for the 2014 Danish film "Silent Heart," which was not released in the United States. While he no doubt elevated the sophistication of the dialogue, these are people whose lives are gripped in the mighty vise of plotting. The skill of the actors, who invest their characters with small touches of humanity, is useful in distracting us from the emotional manipulations, but it's like they're brightening separate rooms of a haunted house.
submitted by OldmanRevived to MLPLounge [link] [comments]

2020.09.21 18:04 javiturkey314 Best Horford Trade Partner

I've been seeing a lot of articles going around lately saying that our best trade partners would either be the Kings for Buddy Hield or the Thunder for Chris Paul but then I came up with an idea, the Clippers lack frontcourt depth and I believe Horford would be a perfect fit for them and could also be a glue guy for them (like how he was for the C's). I also would love to see a Lou Williams return. Is there any way that the contracts can line up though?
submitted by javiturkey314 to sixers [link] [comments]

2020.09.19 14:07 chitown_nation Bucks, Suns, Jazz, Pelicans, Knicks, Mavericks, and Nuggets are all interested in Thunder guard, Chris Paul [Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson]

Reported by Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson via Twitter.
Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson has tweeted over the last few weeks about teams interested in the veteran guard, Chris Paul, and these 7 teams are said to be the most interested.
The Bucks are said to want a top tier partner for Giannis, after crashing out of the playoffs in just 5 games to the heat in the ECSF.
The Suns were undefeated in the bubble, however still missed out on the playoffs. They could look to add some veteran experience and leadership to the roster to make the push next year.
The Jazz lost in 7 games in the first round, despite having a 3-1 lead. Donovan Mitchell would have a solid vet in the backcourt to partner with him.
The Pelicans were disappointing in the bubble and also missed out on the playoffs. The Pelicans could be looking for a reunion with Chris Paul.
The Knicks rumoured trade package for CP3 is: Elfrid Payton, Bobby Portis, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, 2021 2nd round pick via Hornets & 2021 1st round pick via Mavs.
The Mavericks took the Clipper to 6 games in the first round despite Porzingis getting injured during the series.
The Nuggets remain impressing everyone in the bubble, coming back, a record, two times from 3-1 down in a single playoff run.
With the Thunder parting ways with their head coach Billy Donovan, and the reports coming out of OKC, everything is pointing towards them hitting rebuild, exceeding expectations and making the playoffs before losing in game 7 to the Rockets. Chris Paul has a huge salary, $41m in 2020-21, $44m in 2021-22 (PO). Paul also impressed this season, coming 7th in MVP voting, while averaging, 17.6 ppg, 5 rpg, 6.7 apg.
Which one of these teams would best suit CP3? Which team do you think will offer the best package? Post some mock trades below!
submitted by chitown_nation to NBA_TradeDiscussions [link] [comments]

2020.09.15 01:33 MightySilverWolf Unusual Batting Feats


Brian Lara's 400*. Don Bradman averaging 99.94. Sachin Tendulkar scoring 15,921 Test runs. Chris Martin scoring 12*. The batsmen who achieved these Herculean feats have all gone down in cricket history. However, these are not the only batting performances which exist. There are multiple cases in which a batsman has achieved something unusual, or even at times truly unique, yet they do not get recognition. This post is dedicated to all those batsmen who have managed to achieve what few others have achieved, regardless of whether those achievements are good or bad.


There are ten methods of dismissal (formerly eleven) in cricket, but of these, only five can be considered 'normal': Bowled, caught, LBW, stumped and run out. One could also make a case for hit wicket, and it's common enough that I don't think it counts as being truly unusual. What about the other five, then? Has any batsman in international cricket been dismissed through any of those methods? Thankfully, Wikipedia has a list which I highly advise you to check out, so I'll just be summarising in this section.
First, there's obstructing the field. Only one batsman has ever been dismissed obstructing the field in Tests, and that batsman is Len Hutton against South Africa in 1951. After striking the ball, he noticed that it was about to land onto his stumps and thus bowl him, so he used his bat to strike the ball a second time and protect his stumps. This is actually a legal manoeuvre for a batsman provided that it doesn't prevent a fielder from taking a catch; unfortunately for Hutton, there was a fielder nearby who was ready to take a catch, so he became the first (and so far only) batsman in Test history to be dismissed obstructing the field.
Interestingly enough, there have been seven instances in ODIs of batsmen being given out obstructing the field. In all of those cases, the batsman in question obstructed throws from fielders in order to avoid being run out, in contrast to Hutton who obstructed a catch in order to avoid being caught. In three of those cases, the batsman used his bat or his body to deflect the ball away from the stumps while out of his crease, and in three other cases, the batsman changed his direction of movement while running in order to block the ball. Ben Stokes was out obstructing the field in the most unusual way, however, when he pulled a Maradona and used his hand to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps in a 2015 ODI against Australia.
There have been two instances of a batsman being dismissed obstructing the field in T20Is. Jason Roy was given out in a 2017 T20I against South Africa for changing his direction of movement while running, and Maldivian cricketer Hassan Rasheed was given out obstructing the field in 2019 for...I don't know, actually. It's pretty hard to find articles on bilateral T20Is between the Maldives and Qatar. If there's anyone here who is an expert on Maldivian or Qatari cricket then I'd appreciate finding out more about this incident.
As for handling the ball, this has happened ten times in international cricket (seven times in Tests and three times in ODIs). In 2013, the Laws were changed so that only the striker could be given out handling the ball and even then only before he had finished playing his stroke (strikers handling the ball after the completion of his stroke, and non-strikers handling the ball at any time, would be given out obstructing the field). In 2017, this method of dismissal was removed entirely and instead came under obstructing the field.
I won't go through all the players, but I will pick out some particular highlights. South Africa's Russell Endean was the first batsman in international cricket to be dismissed handled the ball in 1957 when he used his free hand to knock the ball away from the stumps, but according to a later interview, he actually wanted to head the ball away at first; I don't know whether that's actually against the Laws, but given that they didn't wear helmets back then, I can't imagine that it would have ended well. Michael Vaughan was the last player to be dismissed in this manner in Tests back in 2001, and Zimbabwe's Chamu Chibhaba holds the distinction of being the last cricketer to be dismissed handled the ball in international cricket after he was given out for handling the ball in an ODI against Afghanistan in 2015.
This post is about unusual feats, however, and when it comes to being given out handled the ball, there is none more unusual than the story of Australia's Andrew Hilditch. In a Test match against Pakistan in 1979, following a wayward throw from a fielder, Hilditch (who was at the non-striker's end) decided to return the ball to the bowler. It's actually against the Laws for a batsman to return the ball to a fielder without that fielder's permission, and controversially, the bowler (Sarfraz Nawaz) decided to appeal, which led to Hilditch's dismissal. This would be the only instance in international cricket of a non-striker being given out handled the ball, so Hilditch takes the biscuit when it comes to this unusual method of dismissal.
Retirement is rather unusual in that depending on the situation, the batsman can be considered out or not out. Generally, retirement occurs due to injury, in which case the batsman is considered 'retired hurt' and is entitled to return to the crease upon the fall of a wicket or upon another batsman's retirement. This situation is not at all unusual. What is unusual, though, is a batsman retiring for reasons other than injury, and unless there is some other acceptable reason for their absence (which I'll talk about shortly), the fielding side has the right to prevent them from returning to the crease, in which case they are retired out.
This has only occurred three times in international cricket. In a Test between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2001, in which Sri Lanka demolished the then-new Test nation of Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan captain (Sanath Jayasuriya) retired Marvan Atapattu after he scored his double-century, and later in the same innings, retired Mahela Jayawardene after he smashed 150(115). Obviously, this move was criticised by some for breaching the spirit of the game, and these are the only two instances of batsmen being retired out in Test cricket. The other such instance in international cricket is when Bhutan's Sonam Tobgay was retired out in a 2019 T20I against the Maldives (something about the Maldives and unusual dismissals for some reason), but I can't find any further details of the incident.
Now, this post is generally meant to be a light-hearted celebration of unusual batting achievements, but this next story is rather more sombre. In a 1983 Test between the West Indies and India, Gordon Greenidge was on 154* in the West Indies' first innings when he received news that his daughter was dying; he retired in order to be able to visit her, and she sadly passed away two days later. Although Greenidge had not been injured, he was given as 'retired not out' due to the tragic circumstances. To this day, this is the only instance in international cricket of a batsman being given retired not out.
Hit the ball twice and timed out are perhaps the most unusual dismissals of all in the sense that no batsman has ever been given out for those reasons in international cricket (not yet, anyway; there's a first time for everything). There was one instance, however, in which a batsman could have been timed out in Test cricket, but ultimately wasn't.
The Law states that a batsman must be at the crease within three minutes, else they can be timed out. In a 2007 Test between India and South Africa, Sachin Tendulkar was due to come in at #4. However, he had temporarily been off the field during South Africa's innings, and he still had unserved penalty time when two Indian wickets quickly fell, meaning that he couldn't bat at #4. As a result, India, who were confused by the whole ordeal, didn't send out a batsman for six minutes until Sourav Ganguly finally arrived at #4. Both the umpires and South Africa's captain, Graeme Smith, agreed that an appeal would be against the spirit of the game, but had Smith appealed, this would have been the only instance in international cricket of a batsman being timed out.

The Best Since Bradman

It's common knowledge among cricket fans that Don Bradman holds the record for the highest Test batting average, at 99.94. However, this isn't strictly speaking true. It is correct to say that Bradman has the highest average among batsmen who have played a minimum of twenty innings, but among all batsmen, Bradman only comes in at a measly third (what a fraud). Who are ahead of him, then?
Firstly, let us dispel with the notion that a batsman who is never dismissed has an infinite average. That is not true. A batsman who is never dismissed has an undefined average, since it is impossible to have a batting average without any dismissals. Pakistani off-spinner Afaq Hussain holds the record for the most Test runs scored without being dismissed, having scored 65 runs in four innings.
Looking at batsmen who have been dismissed, however, we come across West Indian wicketkeeper Andy Ganteaume in second place. The poor lad struggled to get into the Test team because of his slow scoring rate in tour matches, but an injury to Jeff Stollmeyer forced the selectors to play him against England. In his only Test innings in 1948, Ganteaume hit 112 but was criticised (once again) for scoring too slowly and was subsequently dropped; he would never play another Test match. Still, he can lay legitimate claim to having a higher Test batting average than Bradman, which only one other batsman has achieved.
Who's the best since Bradman, then? With a minimum cut-off of twenty innings, we have Adam Voges, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, all Australian, two of them still active international cricketers. As is tradition at this point, the batsman with the highest Test batting average of all time is an active Australian cricketer, Kurtis Patterson to be precise. He forced himself into the team after scoring twin centuries in a tour match and although he only scored 30 in his first innings, he scored 114* in his second to end up with an average of 144.
Australian fans go crazy over Smith and Labuschagne, declaring them to be the best since Bradman. Little do they realise that they have in their ranks a batsman who is not only statistically better than Bradman but who is also statistically better than the GOAT Test batsman Andy Ganteaume.
How about ODIs, though? Who has the highest ODI batting average of all time? I'll give you a hint: He's a Dutch player. No, it's not Ryan ten Doeschate; it is, in fact, Max O'Dowd. He scored 86* in his first innings followed by a score of 59 in his second innings to end up with an average of 145. South African Irish cricketer Curtis Campher comes in at second with an average of 127.
Who has scored the most runs in ODIs without being dismissed, though? Well, let me ask you a different question: Who is England's greatest ever ODI player? If you said Jos Buttler then you'd be wrong. By law, anything that Buttler can do, Foakes can do better, and Ben Foakes does in fact hold the record for the most runs in ODIs without being dismissed, having scored 61* in his only ODI innings. Buttler would never.
In T20Is, the greatest ever batsman is someone who you probably haven't even heard of. Chris Gayle calls himself 'Universe Boss', but the true Universe Boss is surely the guy who averages 126 in T20Is. Enter Portugal's Najjam Shahzad, who scored 27* in his first innings, 46 in his second and 53* in his third. Not only does he have the highest T20I average of all time but he's also improving with every innings, so it won't be long until Portugal becomes a powerhouse in T20I cricket thanks to megadaddy hundreds from Universe Boss Najjam Shahzad.
If Shahzad is the Universe Boss, however, then Saudi Arabia's Mohammad Adnan is the Multiverse Boss. He holds the record for the most runs in T20Is without being dismissed, scoring 14*, 38* and 8* in his three innings. Not only that, but he has a career strike rate of 193.54, so he doesn't waste time. Give this man an IPL contract already.

Duck, Duck, Goose

Ducks and golden ducks are not unusual in and of themselves. That doesn't mean that scoring a duck or golden duck can't still be unusual feats, however; it all depends on how those ducks or golden ducks come about.
You might be aware that New Zealand's Geoff Allott holds the record for the most balls faced for a duck in Tests, having faced 77 balls against South Africa in 1999 (he also holds the record for the longest duck, having batted for a whopping 101 minutes). What about the other formats, though? The late West Indian batsman Runako Morton holds the record for most balls faced for a duck in ODIs, having scored 0(31) against Australia in 2006 (unsurprisingly, the West Indies lost that match). Morton took 56 minutes for his duck, which is also an ODI record.
T20Is are where it gets juicy, however. Canada's Sandeep Jyoti holds the record for most balls faced for a duck in T20Is, scoring 0(12) against Zimbabwe in 2008 (it was a close match, though, as Canada only lost by 109 runs). In terms of minutes batted, however, Zimbabwe's Brendan Taylor holds that record, having batted for 19 minutes in a T20I against South Africa in 2010 for a five-ball duck; Jyoti, by comparison, batted for 15 minutes.
The record for most balls faced for a golden duck By definition, golden ducks involve the batsman facing exactly one ball. However, who took the longest time for their golden duck?
In Tests, that accolade belongs to Bangladesh's Nazmul Hossain, who spent 14 minutes at the crease against India in a 2004 match before being run out for a golden duck. England fans were probably waiting in anticipation for a superb knock from the #3 batsman, Martyn Moxon, when they were 47-1 against Australia in a 1985 ODI, but after 19 minutes of tension, Moxon was dismissed LBW off his first ball. In a 2015 T20I between England and Pakistan, Pakistani opener Rafatullah Mohmand somehow conspired to spend 17 minutes at the crease before being dismissed LBW in the third over for a golden duck; amazingly, he was only two minutes away from equalling the record for the longest duck in T20Is!
What if a batsman just doesn't feel like scoring runs, though, and ends on 0*? Obviously, batsmen can end on something like 0*(0) or 0*(1) or 0*(5), and that wouldn't be too unusual. The truly remarkable feats are when a batsman plays a marathon innings and yet still finishes on 0*. Some of these players put Geoffrey Boycott to shame.
Firstly, let's consider Tests. In 1968, England scored 351/7d in the first innings and bowled Australia out for 78, forcing them to follow on. Cricinfo states that Paul Sheahan 'never completely mastered the art of crease occupation', which is a bizarre claim to make about a player who faced 44 balls in Australia's second innings without scoring a run, thus not only securing the draw but also setting a record which remains unbroken to this day. His marathon innings took 52 minutes, which is a joint record along with New Zealand bowler Danny Morrison's 0*(30) against South Africa in 1995.
Fun fact: Had Jack Leach not scored that single at Headingley while still remaining not out, he would have broken this record having batted for 60 minutes, yet assuming that he completed his final over, he would have only faced 20 balls (fewer than half the balls Paul Sheahan faced). I think this demonstrates just how effective Stokes was at farming the strike.
Moving on to ODIs, Zimbabwean #11 batsman Chris Mpofu (who averages 2.85 with the bat) holds the record here, having scored 0*(20) in a tenth-wicket partnership of 12(38) against Bangladesh in 2006. His partner was the #10 batsman (and Zimbabwe's captain) Prosper Utseya, who certainly didn't prosper with his 21(42), thus stranding Mpofu 80 balls short of his dentury. Who holds the record for the longest 0*, though?
Picture the scene. It's March 2019 and Sri Lanka is struggling in an ODI against South Africa. It's the first innings and Lasith Malinga has been run out for a duck, leaving Sri Lanka on 131/9 after just 33.4 overs. Everyone knows about Kusal Perera's incredible 153* earlier that year, but what happened next, while not nearly as impressive, was nonetheless incredible. #9 batsman Isuru Udana and #11 batsman Kasun Rajitha put on a tenth-wicket stand of 58 runs from just 34 balls. Udana ends on 78(57). Rajitha ends on 0*(9), having batted for exactly half an hour. South Africa still won comfortably, but Rajitha's immense innings saw him enter the history books as having scored the longest 0* in ODI history. Udana's innings was alright as well.
Finally, in T20Is, the record for the most balls faced for a 0* is held by Bermuda's Rodney Trott, who scored 0*(7) against the Netherlands in 2019. Cricinfo doesn't know how long it took, however. For that, we have to look towards India's Yuzvendra Chahal, who took 15 minutes for his 0*(4) against Australia in 2019. Solid contribution from him.
All these feats are just in one innings, though. Some batsmen go above and beyond that and spend their entire career not scoring runs (either that or they don't know what a batsman's main job is). Two Sri Lankan players (Ishara Amerasinghe and Dinuka Hettiarachchi) hold the joint record for most balls faced in Tests without scoring a single run, both having faced 25 balls. In fact, the entire top four is made up of Sri Lankans; clearly, a significant proportion of Sri Lankan cricketers view run-scoring as optional. Hettiarachchi (who Cricinfo reckons is an all-rounder despite an FC batting average of 9.55) beats out everyone when it comes to minutes batted, though, having batted for 39 minutes in Tests without scoring a single run.
Bangladesh's Harunur Rashid holds the record for most balls faced in ODIs without scoring a run, having faced 17 in total. However, we have to look to our old friend Rajitha to find the player who's batted the most minutes in ODIs without scoring a run; he has batted at least 32 minutes, almost all of which comes from his partnership with Udana. Portugal's Sukhwinder Singh has faced nine balls in T20Is without scoring a run, which is the record, but Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mathew Sinclair both hold the joint-record for having batted seven minutes in T20Is without scoring a run.

Diamond Ducks Are Forever

Ducks and golden ducks aren't too unusual for the most part, but diamond ducks (in which a batsman is dismissed without facing a single ball) are. Think of what needs to happen for a diamond duck to occur. The player can't be a striker for obvious reasons, so bowled, caught, LBW, stumped, hit wicket and hit the ball twice (all of which can only apply to the striker) are out of play. Timed out is out of play as soon as a batsman enters the crease. This leaves just three possible dismissals for a diamond duck: Run out, obstructing the field and retired out. The latter two almost never happen, so diamond ducks almost always occur due to run-outs.
There have been 153 diamond ducks in ODIs and 53 diamond ducks in T20Is, so in those formats, diamond ducks aren't that unusual. This makes sense, of course, as run-outs are more likely to occur in those formats. Tests are where diamond ducks count as an unusual batting feat, as there have been in the history of Tests only 29 diamond ducks that we know of. Chris Martin holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only cricketer in the history of Tests to be dismissed for a diamond duck twice (one of which came in his final Test innings, which is a perfect summation of his batting career).
Most of these diamond ducks have of course come through run-outs, but there have been seven international diamond ducks (three in ODIs and four in T20Is) which have come through stumpings. On the surface, this shouldn't be possible; how can a batsman be stumped without facing a ball? The answer is simple: Leg-side stumpings. In white-ball cricket, any leg-side delivery tends to be given as a wide, and the odd thing about wides is that they do not count as a ball faced by the striker yet the striker can be dismissed stumped or hit wicket off of them. This would explain why this kind of diamond duck has occurred seven times in LOIs yet has never occurred in the history of Test cricket.
FWIW, there has yet to be an international diamond duck from a method of dismissal other than run out and stumped, but it is theoretically possible for a batsman who is dismissed hit wicket (off a wide), obstructing the field or retired out to achieve a diamond duck. Will any batsman be brave enough to make history and try to achieve what would be a unique feat by being dismissed for a diamond duck through one of these modes of dismissal? We'll have to wait and see.

Specialist Six-Hitters

So far, this post has been focusing largely on defensive stalwarts, but those are boring to watch. Everyone knows that real cricket is about walking up to the crease and hitting sixes from the get-go, so this section will be dedicated to those players who consider a strike rate under 600 to be too defensive. No score illustrates this mentality better than the rare 6*(1), so let's start with that.
In all the Tests throughout history, only once has a batsman finished on a score of 6*(1). The year is 1993 and Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya enters the crease with his team five wickets down but needing just four runs to beat England. Phil Tufnell is the bowler who is trying to take his wicket and help pull off a miracle for England, but Jayasuriya is having none of it and promptly smacks his first delivery for six. As far as Tests go, Jayasuriya's 6*(1) is a true case of batting scorigami (maybe I'll do a cricket scorigami post at some point).
As for ODIs and T20Is, a final score of 6*(1) is more common as you might imagine. In fact, it has occurred nine times in ODIs and thirteen times in T20Is. It appears to be the case that when a batsman is dismissed on the penultimate ball of the first innings, the batting team will send out a specialist six-hitter to get the job done. Credit goes to Afghan wicketkeeper Shafiqullah and England all-rounder Chris Jordan for being the only two players to achieve this unusual feat twice (Shafiqullah has achieved it twice in T20Is whereas Jordan has achieved it once in ODIs and once in T20Is).
A 6*(1) is probably my second-favourite score, but you know what my favourite score is? 6(2). I don't think any score illustrates the dual nature of batting quite like this one does. You can be dominating a bowler and smashing them for six one moment, then the very next moment, you can find yourself dismissed by the same bowler. It's poetic. It represents not only the duality of batsmen but the duality of man himself; you can be breezing through life one second then you could be rock-bottom the next. 6(2) is not just a score; it is a representation of life itself, cricket's ode to the erratic nature of mankind's existence.
Much like 6*(1), 6(2) has only occurred once in Test cricket, in 1958 to be precise. The West Indies were 401 runs behind Australia heading into the third innings and they required a miracle just to stay in the game. A 179-run partnership between Walcott and Sobers gave the West Indies hope, but they then proceeded to collapse from 244/3 to 283/8. In comes Frank King at #10 with his team needing over a hundred runs just to make Australia bat again. Not wanting to go down without a fight, he heaves the bowler for six off his first ball. Alas, his very next ball results in him being caught, but one cannot fault King for his effort in the face of certain defeat (apart from the fact that he had Everton Weekes at the other end, but we'll just ignore that).
This scoreline of 6(2) has occurred ten times in ODIs and eleven times in T20Is. No batsman in international cricket has ever achieved it twice. The first player to achieve it twice will thus have their names etched in the history books for their unique feat.
South Africa's Mangaliso Mosehle deserves special mention, though. He has achieved the ultimate cricket scorigami: His score of 6(1) against Sri Lanka in a 2016 T20I is the only such score in the entire history of international cricket. He came in at #6 at the end of South Africa's ninth over and hit his first international ball for six. He was then run out as the non-striker in the next over, leaving him on a score of 6(1). Not only did his team win the match, but Mosehle achieved what no other batsman has achieved before or since. Truly, his name must be counted among the likes of Lara, Tendulkar and Bradman for this one-of-a-kind feat.
In cases such as 6*(1) and 6(1), the batsman was left with a strike rate of 600. Can it go higher, though? Has any batsman done better than 600? For the first question, the answer is surprisingly yes. It is indeed theoretically possible for a batsman to finish an innings with a strike rate greater than 600. If he hits a ball for three and the fielding side then throws the ball to the boundary, the number of runs scored off of that delivery will be 3 + 4 overthrows = 7. This is how it would theoretically be possible for a batsman to conclude an innings with a strike rate greater than 600.
Does this mean that there is a batsman out there who has struck at a rate greater than 600? Unfortunately, no. Though it is doable, it has never happened in international cricket. The highest SR ever achieved in an international innings is 600; that includes Mosehle, all the players who have scored 6*(1), and Afghanistan's Dawlat Zadran, who against Oman in 2016 scored 12*(2) to win his team the T20I by three wickets with three balls remaining. He clearly did his job as specialist six-hitter very well indeed, for he is the only batsman in international cricket to have finished an innings with a strike rate of 600 having faced more than one ball.
Since no batsman has struck at greater than 600 in an innings, it stands to reason that no batsman has struck at greater than 600 over their career. Has anyone struck at exactly 600, though? Is there a batsman who hit their only ball in international cricket for six?
No-one's done it in Tests, that's for sure. The batsman with the highest confirmed career strike rate in Tests is Australia's Fred Freer, who hit 28*(21) in his only innings for a career SR of 133.33. However, Bill Howell (also Australian) may have had an SR of up to 205.88, though we don't have full ball-by-ball data for his innings.
In ODIs and T20Is, the records are undisputed. South African pace bowler Johann Louw holds the accolade in ODIs, having scored 23(7) in his only innings for a career strike rate of 328.57, and Bahrain's Qasim Zia hit a four off his only international delivery to take the record for the highest career strike rate in T20Is.
As you can see, not only has no batsmen ever finished with a career SR greater than 600, but none have even managed to finish with an SR of exactly 600. To strike at greater than 600 over the course of an innings would be unique in international cricket; to strike at exactly 600 over the course of a career would be truly special; to strike at greater than 600 over the course of a career, however, would be the holy grail of unusual batting feats. The player who manages to achieve that would surely go down in cricketing folklore for all eternity.

To Be Or Not To Be On Strike

All of the aforementioned batting feats require that the batsman has actually faced a ball. What if that's not the case, though? What if a batsman's dedication to weirdness is so great that they do not even bother to get themselves on strike? Or, perhaps more accurately, what if a batsman's dedication to weirdness is so great that they do not allow their partner to take the strike?
That is precisely what happened in 2012 when England faced Pakistan in the first Test of the tour. With Pakistan on 319/9 in their first innings, Adnan Akmal evidently didn't trust his partner Aizaz Cheema to face even one delivery, with the result that the two batsmen put on a 19-run partnership for the tenth wicket despite Cheema not facing a single ball. What makes this notable is that Cheema batted for 20 minutes without facing a delivery, which is a Test match record. Amusingly, Cheema ended his career with five innings batted, five not-outs, a high score of 1*, 23 balls faced and a strike rate of 4.34.
As for T20Is, I must admit that I am rather bemused. Afghanistan's Amir Hamza holds the record for the most minutes batted in a T20I innings without facing a ball, having batted for 10 minutes against the Netherlands in 2013. However, I'm confused as to how he managed to achieve this. Afghanistan's ninth wicket fell on the final ball of the nineteenth over, and so Hamza's partner faced the first ball of the final over. However, Hamza was also run out for a diamond duck on the first ball of the final over. This means that the gap between the end of the nineteenth over and the beginning of the final over was 10 minutes. How is that even possible in a T20I? Cricinfo isn't helping me at all here.
Now for the reason I wanted to make this post in the first place. This particular innings took place in 2017, during an ODI between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand had set the Aussies a target of 287 and the chasing side found themselves facing certain defeat on 226/9, with only Marcus Stoinis and Josh Hazlewood left at the crease.
What happened next was nothing short of spectacular. Stoinis somehow managed to farm the strike with such effectiveness that immediately prior to the final ball of the 47th over, the two batsmen had put on a tenth-wicket partnership of 54 runs and needed just six more runs to win. The kicker? Hazlewood didn't face a single ball. Stoinis had faced every single delivery in the partnership. Australia's innings finally ended on the final ball of the 47th over when Hazlewood was run out for a diamond duck while attempting to take a single, but if Stoinis had pulled it off, it would surely have been one of the greatest ODI innings of all time.
All in all, Hazlewood batted for 26 minutes, which is by far the longest innings by a batsman without facing a single ball in the history of international cricket. When I first heard about this stat, I couldn't believe it; I found it so unusual and so unique that I decided to look for more weird and wonderful batting feats, and that's how this post came about. Hats off to specialist non-striker Josh Hazlewood, then, for inspiring me to do this.
You might think that any batsman who faces zero balls in an innings can only end up with a score of either 0 or 0*, and if you think that, you'd be right. Nonetheless, while searching through Cricinfo's database to find the weirdest batting feats out there, I came across this scorecard. Apparently, this is due to a scoring error as the scorer incorrectly neglected to count the no-ball as a ball faced. The fact that this is the only such instance of this happening in Cricinfo's database supports this theory.
Hazlewood's achievement was superb, but even he only managed it in one innings. How about over an entire career? Who holds the record for the most minutes batted over a career without facing a ball? Unfortunately, Cricinfo won't let me find that out for Tests, and the ODI and T20I data present nothing at all unusual (the record is 2 minutes for ODIs and 5 minutes for T20Is, in case you're wondering).
Matches played is somewhat more interesting. Once again, Cricinfo won't let me do this for Tests, but India's Jaydev Unadkat holds the record for the most ODIs played without facing a single ball, having played in seven ODIs. However, he's also never had to bat; if we restrict our search only to those who have batted at least one innings, Lance Gibbs and Pakistan's Mohammad Khalil come out on top, both having played three ODIs without facing a ball.
The West Indies' Krishmar Santokie holds the record for the most T20Is played without facing a single ball, having played in twelve of them (talk about specialist bowler!), although India's Mohammed Shami and Scotland's Hamza Tahir are closing in on that record, both having played in eleven T20Is without facing a single ball. Unlike Unadkat (and Shami and Tahir, for that matter), Santokie actually batted in one innings (against Ireland in 2014), though that would be his only international innings with the bat.

Extra, Extra!

I don't think Extras gets enough credit. The dude's been batting for 144 years and yet no-one praises his longevity. This final section will thus be dedicated to the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Extras himself.
Despite his long and illustrious career, Extras has only top-scored in 19 completed Test innings. The lowest such score came in 1924; England scored 438 in the first innings while South Africa could only manage 30, with Extras scoring a swashbuckling 11 to lessen South Africa's humiliation. The skipper, Herbie Taylor, was the next-highest scorer with 7; a true captain's knock from him. Extras' highest score was a 76 for Pakistan against India in 2007 (he had also scored 38 and 41 in India's two innings, so it was a good match for him), but this was not the highest score in the innings.
In total, Extras has top-scored in 39 completed ODI innings. This includes a 2004 ODI between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, in which Extras scored 7 of Zimbabwe's 35 runs (tied with Dion Ebrahim for Zimbabwe's top scorer that game). Extras has also scored three half-centuries in ODIs, his highest score of 59 occurring twice in 1989 and 1999, both for Pakistan. For some reason, Extras just really loves scoring for Pakistan.
Extras has top-scored in 10 completed T20I innings, the lowest of which was once again a score of 7, this time coming for Turkey against Luxembourg in 2019 (Turkey scored just 28 runs in that match). Extras has never scored a half-century in T20Is, with his top score being 39 for Czechia against Turkey in 2019.
That's strange. This Extras fellow, despite having a 144-year-long batting career, has never scored a century, or even approached a century. I personally think that he's been given enough chances and should be dropped. I've heard that he can't even field or bowl, so what's the point in having him in the team if he's not scoring?


When discussing impressive batting feats, a lot of people place emphasis on comparisons: Who has the better average? Who has scored more runs? Who has the better strike rate in white-ball cricket? Who has the better beard? Who has the lower dot-ball percentage when batting in the third innings of the second Test in the series on a Tuesday with a lead of 100 runs or more?
However, the most unusual achievements in the art of batting tend not to derive from excellence in the craft but rather from unique circumstances which lead to bizarre stats or scorelines. To achieve what no batsman has achieved before in international cricket, even if it's something terrible such as becoming the first batsman in the history of international cricket to be out hit wicket for a diamond duck, is impressive in its own way. Also, the subsequent memes can be pretty funny.
I hope you enjoyed the read. Next time, I'll be doing the same thing but for bowling. Get ready for first-ball wickets and economy rates of 0.
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2020.09.14 17:59 TheTipOff How can the Bucks retool and contend for a championship?

Addition By Subtraction: Firing Coach Budenholzer
One of the biggest issues Milwaukee ran into with the Miami Heat was how ruthless Miami was in exploiting Milwaukee’s drop pick and roll coverage. Miami came into the series the best three point shooting team in the regular season, while Milwaukee was the worst team at defending the three; a recipe for disaster.
While the blame for this type of defensive scheme can be put on the coach, Coach Bud has proven in his two years in Milwaukee that he is the right man for the job. With a combined record of 116–39 in his two regular seasons, he’s elevated the game of Giannis and the rest of the Bucks to elite status. It would be silly for Milwaukee to fire the coach that has taken Giannis to an MVP level (and Khris Middleton to an all star level) and risk upsetting him before his impending free agency in 2021. On top of this, many sources close to the Bucks do say Coach Bud’s job is relatively safe for now.
Likeliness: 2/10
Adding Some Veteran Talent: Chris Paul
Chris Paul was in a unique situation this year where he was playing for a playoff team (Oklahoma City Thunder) that does not have him in their long term plan. The 35 year old point guard was first linked with a potential trade to the Bucks right after the Bucks were bounced from the playoffs.
Bucks trade for Chris Paul
Though the Bucks could trade for the All-Star point guard, in order to match salaries, it would most certainly mean parting ways with their own All-Star, Khris Middleton — one of Giannis’ closest teammates. On top of this, the Thunder would most likely not just accept Middleton on his own as he comes with his own massive contract and does not line up with the timeline of the other Thunder youngsters (Middleton is 29 while for example, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is 22). Someone like a Donte DiVincenzo would have to accompany Middleton plus another asset like a first round pick in order to convince the Thunder to make this trade. The issue with the Bucks has with a Chris Paul trade is that the Thunder holds all leverage with Paul’s market value being as high as it is right now. However, if the Bucks want to see past the fact that they’d be paying Chris Paul 40 million dollars until he’s 38, they could risk it and go for it, though it doesn’t seem like the most calculated risk.
Likeliness: 4/10
More shooting means Less Problems: Buddy Hield
Amid all the mediocrity in Sacramento this year, one of the few bright spots for the Kings was the continued strong play of Buddy Hield. Hield put up a respectable 19.2 points per game on 40% from 3 in 72 games this year and could have the type of shot creation and some of the ball handling ability the Bucks could be looking for — at a less risky price than Paul. On top of this, Buddy Hield has expressed some disgruntlement in Sacramento, potentially making his price even cheaper.
Bucks trade for Buddy Hield
If Hield is able to force himself out of Sacramento, the Bucks could be able to provide the Kings with potentially a suitable package centered around Donte DiVencenzo. The 23 year old guard from Villanova could potentially be a long term partner in the backcourt to De’Aaron Fox as he can defend other guards well and can shoot the ball at a decent clip (34% from three on almost 4 attempts per game this year). The Kings also get an expiring contract in Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez who they can either flip to a contender or keep to help space the floor for their guards and Marvin Bagley. However, this trade is hinged on two things; 1. How high are the Kings on DiVencenzo? and 2. How much do the Bucks believe in Buddy Hield to be the “final piece”?
Likeliness: 5/10
Throwing Caution to the Wind: Devin Booker or Bradley Beal
Devin Booker and Bradley Beal are very similar players in very similar situations — two incredibly gifted scorers without much help from their teams. The only difference being the Wizards are looking to make another playoff push once John Wall comes back from injury and the Suns are looking to build upon their 8–0 bubble run to make the playoffs in the next couple years. However, both have previously expressed their discontent with their respective franchises about the lack of winning, and the Bucks could take advantage of that in try to swing big.
Bucks trade for Bradley Beal
Bucks trade for Devin Booker
In either case, it would be an almost certainty that the Bucks are forced to part ways with Middleton to make salaries and quality work. The Bucks will be heavily tied down financially with the Middleton max deal, Giannis’ potential supermax deal, and the Bledsoe and Lopez extensions. In the case of Washington, a reshuffle of wings could be the best option for them if they look to push for the playoffs one more time John Wall on the roster. If Bradley Beal wants out in Washington, perhaps Middleton could be a decent alternative. With the Suns, however, they’re looking to build for a couple more years and waiting for the aging rosters in the West above them (Los Angeles Clippers, Houston, Lakers, etc) to drop off before making their own push. Coupling this with the recent MVP level play of Devin Booker this would mean the Bucks would have to throw in another young piece to complete the deal. In any case, however, either deal seems almost impossible because of how much of a risk this is for the Bucks, and how much this hinges on either Beal or Booker wanting out.
Likeliness: 1/10
Bucks do some convincing: Turning to the Free Agency Market
At the end of the day, the Bucks front office may believe that the internal growth within the roster (of players such as Divencenzo and Pat Connaughton) plus some more low key signings could be enough to make it out the East. In this case, this would make the free agency period of 2020 exponentially more important, as it’s effectively the last chance for the Bucks to prove to Giannis they can continue to build a championship level team.
One of the Bucks biggest weaknesses is at the point guard spot. Of course, this would not be such a big issue if the Bucks had decided to pay Malcolm Brogdan in free agency last summer instead of extending Eric Bledsoe, but that’s in the past.
One potential guard they could pursue is Raptors combo guard Fred Vanfleet. This would not only weaken a direct rival in Toronto, but it would also give the Bucks another ball handler and someone who can create their own shot when Giannis is sitting. On top of this, a Giannis-Vanfleet pick and roll with Middleton spreading the floor could be deadly for teams to handle. Other cheaper options the Bucks could look at are Goran Dragic, Jordan Clarkson, Jeff Teague or Reggie Jackson. Something to keep in mind is that spending on one of these guards would most likely end the tenure of Eric Bledsoe only a year after signing his extension, something which may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Another potential free agency path the Bucks could look at is adding more wing depth.

Starter 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Eric Bledsoe George Hill Donte DiVincenzo Frank Mason III
Wesley Matthews Donte DiVincenzo Kyle Korver Sterling Brown George Hill
Khris Middleton Pat Connaughton Sterling Brown Kyle Korver Wesley Matthews
Giannis Antetokounmpo Ersan Ilyasova Thanasis Antetokounmpo D.J Wilson
Brook Lopez Robin Lopez Ersan Ilyasova D.J Wilson
Looking at the Bucks depth chart from this year, the Bucks lack quality at the wing spots (aside from Khris Middleton). Signing another wing shooter and sliding Middleton back to the 2 guard and Matthews on the bench gives the Bucks more depth. One big option they could pursue is Danilo Gallinari. This gives the Bucks more shooting at the 3 spot and more size. On top of this, this gives the Bucks the option of closing games with Giannis at the 5, as Gallinari can slide to the 4 and Matthews can come in for Brook Lopez. This added versatility could be incredibly useful in series’ such as against Miami where more shooting would have helped Giannis when he ran into Miami’s “wall defense”. Other options the Bucks could pursue are Joe Harris, Otto Porter Jr, Davis Bertans, Jae Crowder, or Kent Bazemore.
This option is a lot more low risk low reward as it keeps the same core group of players that lost to Miami. However, what it does is keep stability to the franchise and puts trust in Giannis and this group of players, which would help in keeping Giannis in Milwaukee — as that should be the Bucks top priority.
Likeliness: 8/10
At the end of the day, the Bucks are not in a terrible position. They have an above average coach and a decent group of players surrounding the (soon to be) back to back MVP and current DPOY — a top 5 player in the NBA. They just so happened to run into the 1 team that was coincidentally built to handle Giannis and the Bucks (Miami). Whether it be firing the coach or making a big trade or working savvy deals in free agency, it’s safe to say the Bucks will be back next year and will be challenging for the title, and if you’re Giannis Antetokounmpo, that’s almost all you can ask for in the team that drafted you. The Bucks put faith in Giannis when they drafted him 15th in 2013, it’s time Giannis puts that same faith in the Bucks.
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