Category Archives: NBA

No Love?

By Brody Hickle

Submitted: September 22, 2020 / Published: November 26, 2020

Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The fourth-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.

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In my last article, I wrote about the Black Lives Matter Movement affecting the professional sport leagues across America, especially with the NBA. If you kept up with the NBA, you can see that they took this movement seriously. The National Basketball Association has shown great support to the fallen African American individuals who were lost to police brutality and to the black communities across America.  I wanted to continue focusing on what the media has done as we head deeper into the fall season of sports. The media has brought great attention to the awareness and expects us all to believe that it is right to  bring this matter  into sports. But the question is, does everyone believe in this movement in sports? Obviously, the answer is no. Viewings have gone down due to the offense drawn to individuals from athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.  

It seems right now in the sport world that there are many political judgements coming into sports.  During the beginning of the NBA playoffs, we witnessed less fans watching professional sports due to the protests of kneeling during the National Anthem. In week 1 of the NFL season, the African American National Anthem was played before the National Anthem (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). It created a lot of attention to fans at the stadiums, and the fans at home.  During the Chiefs vs Texans game in week 1, the fans in the stadium booed  the players  loudly, as the players locked arms in the middle of the field (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). This  was  strange to me because they were not kneeling, as the NBA athletes have done.  So statistically, what has this done to the viewings of sports?  

From research, Anne Hendershott (2020) released statistics indicating  that 30 percent of American adults are now less likely to watch sporting  events that  promote Black Lives Matter. However, 21%  are more likely to watch sporting events.  Additionally,  35% of individuals say that they will never watch any event that promotes Black Lives Matter. Now, obviously the NFL, NBA, and MLB are all too aware of this. So, let us look  at  how they have responded.  

NBA coach, Doc Rivers, made an emotional appeal  following the shooting of  Jacob Blake.  In Kenosha, Wisconsin, there was a video recorded by an individual in the neighborhood where Blake walked away from the cops as if he had not done anything wrong. As he reached to his car, the cops shot Jacob seven times in the back. This would cause another protest in America due to the beliefs from individuals that the cops should have been arrested afterwards (Steinbuch, 2020).  

The shooting of Jacob Blake seemed to create many controversies after the incident. Just like the riots, it seems now that the politicians have turned this movement  into  a “left vs. right” subject. For  example, as election year is coming to a close, it seemed from my experience that many individuals Republican views  do not support Black Lives Matter,  while  many individuals with  Democratic views  do. 

Going back to Doc Rivers. Doc Rivers has been a coach in the NBA for numerous teams throughout the years. In his statement, he talks about fear. ESPN staff writer Ohm  Youngmisuk  cited  Rivers ’ words, “All you hear is Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied living in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about  fear.” (Youngmisuk, 2020, para. 3). In  the video, you can see the  emotions that  not only reflect how Rivers feels, but also how much of  the black community  must  feel.  

Now, going back to the Texans vs. Chiefs game that I mentioned before, according to CBS news, JJ Watt mentioned that he thought the booing was unfortunate. He stated that he fully did not understand it. I also learned from CBS that there were two players who did kneel with their fists in  the air in solidarity for social injustice (Fans boo Chiefs, 2020). Even the video they shared before the game promoting Black Lives Matter created controversy.  

One more statistic that I want to share by Sam Amico is that ABC is down 12% of their viewership from last year to this year (Amico, 2020).  ABC does many coverings for the NBA, and it started after the kneeling of the National Anthem. With all of this mentioned, I will now share my opinion with the media towards this matter. I do believe that the media is doing the right thing, promoting the players who believe that everyone deserves justice. I do appreciate them showing everyone why it is important to protest for this matter and why it is more than just kneeling. If you remember in my last article, kneeling is about respect and difference. I will say, however, in some fields of the media, such as social media platforms, I do wish they could share middle ground stating that there are good police officers out there.  Lastly, I believe that this should not be a political issue in sports. I believe that professional sport organizations are doing the right thing. Showing support and solidarity makes you more than an athlete.  With mentioning that there are less fans watching sports from this matter, I believe that those fans should look into the meaning behind the movement before making assumptions.  

References:

Amico, S. (2020, February 14). NBA TV Ratings Plummet by Double digits as Interest Wanes, Insiders say. Sports Illustrated. https://www.si.com/nba/cavaliers/news/nba-tv-ratings-abc-espn-tnt

Fans boo Chiefs, Texans players during moment of silence at NFL opener. (2020, September 11). CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chiefs-texans-fans-booing-nfl-opener-moment-silence/

Hendershott, A. (2020, August 1). New evidence: Key fans unhappy with sport leagues kowtowing to Black Lives Matter. The American Spectator. https://spectator.org/black-lives-matter-protests-sports-fans-rasmussen/

Steinbuch, Y. (2020, August 25). Jacob Blake was Shot Less Than Three Minutes After Police Arrival. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/08/27/jacob-blake-was-shot-less-than-three-minutes-after-cops-arrived/

Youngmisuk, O. (2020, August 25). Clippers Coach Doc Rivers on Jacob Blake Shooting: We Got to Demand Better. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29740593/clippers-coach-doc-rivers-jacob-blake-shooting-got-demand-better

Milwaukee Bucks boycott playoff game, halting sports for racial justice

By Pershelle Rohrer

September 8, 2020

Pershelle Rohrer is a second-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

Milwaukee Bucks players refused to play Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic on August 26 in response to the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23. Their actions led to widespread boycotts throughout the NBA and across the sports world.

Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by a police officer while entering his vehicle, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down (Cohen, 2020). Three of Blake’s six children were inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting. Videos of the shooting quickly went viral on social media, and athletes quickly used their platforms to speak out against racial injustice.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard and National Basketball Players’ Association President Chris Paul sent a message of support to Blake and his family following the Thunder’s Game 4 win over the Houston Rockets, encouraging people to register to vote (Cohen, 2020). Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James asked, “Why does it always have to get to the point where we see the guns firing?” (“Inside the hectic,” 2020, para. 3). Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, the son of a police officer, said, “We keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back” (para. 5).

Bringing attention to social injustice and police brutality in America has been the ultimate goal for NBA players in the bubble since the killing of George Floyd in May. The shooting of Blake reawakened the players’ anger, and teams began to consider boycotting their playoff games in order to raise awareness. The Toronto Raptors were the first to discuss a boycott, considering skipping the opening game of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics scheduled for August 27 (Cohen, 2020).

The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to boycott their game on August 26, participating in pregame warm-ups and media sessions before ultimately deciding not to play shortly before tipoff. Instead, the team participated in a Zoom call with Wisconsin lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes and attorney general Josh Kaul (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). Milwaukee is about 40 miles north of Kenosha, where Jacob Blake was shot.

Barnes said, “They just wanted to know what they could do. I mean, they were very interested in a call to action. They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walkout to be Step 1” (“Inside the hectic, 2020, para. 19).

The Bucks emerged from the locker room after over three hours, speaking to the media about their decision not to play. The Rockets and Thunder planned to follow the Bucks’ lead by boycotting their game, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers discussed doing the same. The NBA ultimately postponed all playoff games for that evening and the following day (Owens, 2020). 

A quote from an ESPN article reflects on the events of the day: “The Bucks didn’t expect to be the thread that caused the NBA to unravel, one player said. But that thread had been fraying for awhile” (“Inside the hectic, 2020, paras. 10-11).

The NBA boycott also led to postponements of matches in the WNBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and even tennis (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). 

NBA analyst Kenny Smith walked off the set of Inside the NBA in response to the boycott, saying, “And for me . . . as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight” (McCarriston, 2020, para. 15). Eleven-time NBA champion and civil rights activist Bill Russell praised Smith’s actions. “I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble,” he said (Bieler, 2020, para. 24). 

Many athletes expressed their support for the boycott on Twitter, including San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.

CBS Sports writer Shanna McCarriston (2020) recognized that the statement was four years to the day from Colin Kaepernick’s first national anthem demonstration against police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since January 1, 2017, just over five months after he began protesting (Guerrero, 2020). 

NPR’s Scott Simon recognized how far protests in sports have come since then. “This week really seemed to be a breaking point. And how did we get from Colin Kaepernick being considered an outcast not long ago to major league sports joining national campaigns of protest?” (Goldman, 2020, para. 10).

Players from all 13 teams remaining in Orlando’s NBA bubble met in the evening on August 26 to determine whether or not to continue the season. Before the NBA restart, Avery Bradley and Kyrie Irving argued for ending the season in order to prevent distraction from social justice issues following the death of George Floyd (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). The Lakers and Clippers voted to end the season, but the other 11 teams decided to continue and use their platforms in the bubble to promote racial equality.

Former University of Maryland basketball star and Harvard Law School graduate Len Elmore recognized the tangible change that the players have the opportunity to create. “Now they have started to take some action, recognizing the frustration that every person of color should be experiencing and certainly that they are experiencing. It’s a watershed moment,” Elmore said on Glenn Clark Radio (Gold, 2020, para. 3). He wished the boycott would have lasted longer due to his belief that the initial restart distracted from the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. He said, “I would like to see the thing last a lot longer. I thought the resumption of play would be a distraction and it wouldn’t change anything and we are kind of seeing that play out now” (para. 15).

Bucks guard George Hill shared Elmore’s concerns. On August 24, he said, “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are” (Owens, 2020, para. 12).

NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman (2020) pointed out that the players ended their strike before they met with the owners about social justice issues, writing “Obviously, players lost leverage with that order of events. But owners have shown they’re at least willing to do what’s necessary to present the league as aligned with social justice, and the strike necessitated a greater showing” (para. 1). 

Despite losing some of that leverage, the NBA and NBPA released a joint statement announcing tangible actions that will be enacted in order to support the movement. They established a social justice coalition to address issues such as voting, civic engagement, and police and criminal justice reform. NBA arenas will be used as voting locations for the 2020 general election. Lastly, the league will raise awareness for voting and civic engagement through advertisements for the remainder of the NBA playoffs (Feldman, 2020).

Chris Sheridan (2020) wrote that, “NBA players agreed to resume their season in a bubble in part because they believed their platform to push for social change could best be achieved through having their message seen and heard on every game telecast” (para. 21). They are finding concrete ways to take action as a result of the boycott, especially by encouraging people to vote. LeBron James established his More Than a Vote initiative in June to help fight voter suppression, and the NBA and NBPA agreement helps create “a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID” (Feldman, 2020, para. 7).

The NBA players accomplished their overall goal: they brought attention to another instance of police brutality and helped make Jacob Blake a household name. On August 27, Andy Nesbitt (2020) wrote, “They are keeping Jacob Blake’s name at the top of all conversations and they are doing their part to bring justice for a man who was shot seven times in the back” (para. 8). The boycott reminded fans of the injustices that were brought to the forefront of American life in May when Floyd was killed and showed the importance of the messages written on the players’ jerseys. The players look to continue using their platforms to promote racial equality and the importance of voting in November.

References

Bieler, D. (2020, August 27). Bill Russell led an NBA boycott in 1961. Now he’s saluting others for ‘getting in good trouble.’ Boston.com. https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2020/08/27/bill-russell-nba-boycott

Cohen, K. (2020, August 26). The day the games stopped: A timeline since Jacob Blake was shot in the back. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29748584/the-day-games-stopped-line-jacob-blake-was-shot-back

evanderkane_9. (2020, August 26). Major statement by the NBA players I’m with it! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/evanderkane_9/status/1298729342994874369?s=20

Feldman, D. (2020, August 28). NBA and players establish social-justice coalition, agree to promote voting. NBC Sports. https://nba.nbcsports.com/2020/08/28/nba-and-players-establish-social-justice-coalition-agree-to-promote-voting/

Gold, J. (2020, August 31). Former UMD basketball star: NBA boycott should’ve lasted longer. 247Sports.https://247sports.com/college/maryland/Article/Len-Elmore-talks-about-social-injustice-in-the-NBA-Maryland-basketball-150909738/

Goldman, T. (2020, August 29). Week in sports: Players strike in solidarity with protests for racial justice. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/29/907384544/week-in-sports-players-strike-in-solidarity-with-protests-for-racial-justice

Guerrero, J.C. (2020, August 29). Timeline: Colin Kaepernick’s journey from San Francisco 49ers star to kneeling to protest racial injustice. ABC7 News. https://abc7news.com/colin-kaepernick-kneeling-when-did-first-kneel-date-what-does-do-now/4147237/

Inside the hectic hours around a historic NBA boycott. (2020, August 27). ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29750724/inside-hectic-hours-historic-nba-boycott

Mathieu_Era. (2020, August 26). FED UP. Ain’t enough money in world to keep overlooking true issues that effect the mind body & soul of what we do. We cannot be happy for self when our communities are suffering & innocent folk are dying.. since George Floyd, there have been at least 20 other police shootings. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Mathieu_Era/status/1298719311066853376?s=20

McCarriston, S. (2020, August 27). NBA boycott: LeBron James, other stars react to players’ decision not to take court for playoff games. CBS Sports. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-boycott-lebron-james-other-stars-react-to-players-decision-not-to-take-court-for-playoff-games/

naomiosaka. (2020, August 26). [Naomi Osaka statement boycotting tennis match] [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/naomiosaka/status/1298785716487548928?s=20

Nesbitt, A. (2020, August 27). The Milwaukee Bucks’ boycott should be celebrated forever. USA Today.https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ftw/2020/08/27/milwaukee-bucks-boycott-celebrated/5642172002/

Owens, J. (2020, August 26). NBA playoff games postponed Wednesday after Bucks strike in wake of Jacob Blake shooting. Yahoo! Sports. https://sports.yahoo.com/bucks-players-dont-take-court-for-tipoff-vs-magic-amid-discussions-of-nba-player-boycott-201058529.html

RealBillRussell. (2020, August 26). I’m moved by all the @NBA players for standing up for what is right. To my man @TheJetOnTNT I would like to say Thank you for what you did to show your support for the players. I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble. @NBAonTNT @ESPNNBA @espn #NBAPlayoffs [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/RealBillRussell/status/1298762120394182657?s=20

Sheridan, C. (2020, August 27). NBA players’ boycott is unprecedented, but 1961 and 1964 offered previews. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissheridan/2020/08/27/nba-boycott-is-unprecedented-but-one-almost-happened-in-1964-and-one-did-happen-in-1961/#621b0bd67ef2

SportsCenter. (2020, August 26). “As a black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.” Kenny Smith walked off the set of Inside the NBA in solidarity with the players’ boycott. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1298752425608785927?s=20

SportsCenter. (2020, August 26). “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.” Sterling Brown and George Hill read a prepared statement from the Milwaukee Bucks players. (via @malika_andrews).

 [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1298764348819673088?s=20

TheTraeYoung. (2020, August 26). Proud to be apart of this League… even more today ! WE WANT CHANGE[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TheTraeYoung/status/1298732388332081152?s=20

WNBA. (2020, August 26). United. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/WNBA/status/1298792243772428288?s=20

Unity in Sports

By: Brody Hickle

July 31, 2020

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Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The third-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.

Everybody remembers their favorite moment in sports entertainment. Whether it would be your favorite team winning the championship of your favorite sport, seeing a walk-off hit in baseball, or anything else for that matter. On July 30, 2020, the New Orleans Pelicans took on the Utah Jazz for their first game since the suspension of the National Basketball Association due to the coronavirus. Before the game started, they played the National Anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner), just like before every sporting event. In that moment, I got to witness what I would judge to be, the most amazing thing I have ever seen in sports. Every player put their arm around each other and took a knee to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Seeing the emotions from the players combined with the music was really eye opening. Here is the video, which was posted by the NBA.

Because of recent happenings with police brutality against African Americans and the realization that systematic racism remains in America, I have strongly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. It all started with the tragic death of George Floyd. Shortly after his death, we started seeing many protests around the country, and there were also many riots.* These protests are still going around the country today. I will say that these protests have really opened my eyes. I will admit that at first, I was a little skeptical about the riots, but after doing my own research around the civil rights movement in history, I started getting a better understanding of the riots.

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We all can remember the former civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I believe that when some think about these riots, we may wonder, “Why can’t we be peaceful?” I thought that at first, but one of my friends who participated in my college drumline, reminded me that he was shot and killed in the end, after what he accomplished from the changes he made. From there, I realized that I am a privileged citizen in the United States, and that changes need to be made in this country. I came across this video that provides an experiment with white and African American citizens in the United States. The article by Korin Miller shows compelling evidence of privilege in the United States.

The Pelicans and Jazz are not the only times we have seen kneeling for the National Anthem. We remember when former star 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick first sat down during the National Anthem, and he was criticized for it. Eventually, he met with a soldier by the name of Nate Boyer who would convince him to kneel instead of sit. I would later come across an article that explains the meaning behind kneeling for the National Anthem, as follows, “Kneeling is almost always deployed as a sign of deference and respect” (Smith & Keltner, 2017, para. 6). Another quote from the article states, “In some situations, kneeling can be seen as a request for protection – which is completely appropriate in Kaepernick’s case, given the motive of his protest” (Smith & Keltner, 2017, para. 7).

If you get a chance to read this article, you can really get a better understanding about the meaning of kneeling, as it is used to protest. When we think about Kaepernick’s situation, it cost his career; however, since the recent tragic events, it seems he is changing the world now. I totally agree that he is. The freedom to kneel, stand up, speak out, or sit down for a cause is everything for which this country stands. Many Americans fought for these ideals and sacrificed greatly for our country.  

Often, others may disagree with supporting the Black Lives Matter movement for reasons such as the riots, or they may think that everything is already equal. But we can tell that is not true. For example, Breanna Taylor who was an EMT, was shot by police during a no-knock search warrant, while she was sleeping. The main target of the police was to arrest her husband, who fired a gun at the police when they entered the apartment. The police returned fire, and unleashed 20 rounds on the innocent Breanna Taylor.

Based upon the above links that I have shared and statements that I have made, I hope everyone gets a better understanding of the meaning of kneeling for the National Anthem, and how it is used as a protest. Changes need to be made. We cannot say “All lives Matter,” until we can all see that Black Lives Matter.

References:

Miller, K. (2020, June 3). As a video about white privilege goes viral again, experts caution it could actually cause more damage. MSN.com. Retrieved from: https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/other/as-a-video-about-white-privilege-goes-viral-again-experts-caution-it-could-actually-cause-more-damage/ar-BB14Z7EB

National Basketball Association. (2020, July 30). YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-PDAiIKDPA

Smith, J.A., & Keltner, D. (2017, September 29). The psychology of taking a knee. Scientific American. Retrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/the-psychology-of-taking-a-knee/

*Editor’s Note: some refer to them as ‘uprisings’ instead of riots.

What to Watch During (and after*) Quarantine

By Griffin Olah

Submitted: April 16, 2020/Published: June 2, 2020

Griffin is a second-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey.

[*Editor’s Note: With apologies to Griffin Olah and readers of Maxwell Media Watch, this insightful entry was submitted during a semester when everything suddenly went online. I should have published it earlier, but hopefully it still provides useful tips for media alternatives to live sporting events in the meantime. N. Spencer].

If you’re anything like me, you miss sports. With COVID-19 shutting down every sports league (we’ll ignore Dana White’s “fighting island”), I need something to quench my thirst for more sports. Luckily, there are quite a few alternatives that can get us all through quarantine while not spending a fortune.

One of the first things I discovered, with the help of Twitter, was the massive MLB library on YouTube. That’s right, Major League Baseball stores broadcasts on both its own YouTube channel, MLB, and on another, the MLB Vault (Langs et. al, 2020). This allows you to go back to see any memorable game in MLB history that has aired on television. Personally, I’ve enjoyed myself watching Game 7 of the 2016 World Series (the game ended with the rain delay), the 2017 Indians winning streak and the wildly entertaining 2019 Home Run Derby match-up between Joc Pederson and Vlad Guerrero Jr. There’s enough there to spend entire days watching baseball, and maybe you’ll even find some hidden gems that you forgot happened.

The NFL has a similar vault of games, but they house it in its own website, NFL Game Pass. Although it usually requires a subscription, the NFL made Game Pass free to all users through May 31, 2020 (NFL.com, 2020). Game Pass has an archive of all games played since the 2009 season, from preseason all the way through the playoffs and the Super Bowl. It also has access to many of NFL Network’s series, including A Football Life, America’s Game, SoundFX and more. I’ve spent a lot of time watching old Browns replays, including the 2018 game against the New York Jets that debuted Baker Mayfield, the 2009 game against the Chiefs that Jerome Harrison played out of his mind, and the America’s Game episode of the 2009 Saints. 

If you aren’t against spending money, however, the ever-popular ESPN+ might be for you. For only $5 a month, you can have access to a massive library of ESPN shows, replays and films. ESPN has streaming deals with many collegiate sports conferences, the NHL, UFC and boxing organizations, allowing many past games and competitions on their platform. I’ve spent hours in the 30 for 30 library and watching old UFC fights featuring Stipe Miocic. If you’re still bored and you want some non-sport action to watch, ESPN+ also can be bundled with Disney Plus and Hulu for $12.99 a month. 

If live action is what you’re craving, however, then eSports might fill that void for you. At the forefront of eSports is NASCAR, with its iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Using real drivers on iRacing, a platform most already use for practice, NASCAR is simulating the missed events of their season (Nicholson, 2020). The simulated races are also aired on Fox, so NASCAR fans can watch just like any other race.

Going along with eSports, the MLB has taken initiative with its MLB The Show Player’s League. Each team has selected one player to represent them through a series of three-inning games on the popular video game franchise (Toribio, 2020). Each player streams their games on their own Twitch page, which works similar to YouTube, so you can hear their commentary in real time. Cincinnati Red pitcher Amir Garrett and Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo have already proven to be both wildly entertaining to watch and incredibly good at the game. I’ve watched some highlights, and I’ll be tuning in whenever Garrett and Gallo take the virtual field again.

Finally, the NBA has attempted to offer another alternative with live action- a HORSE tournament. Current and former NBA and WNBA stars are pitted against each other in the classic basketball game in each of their home gyms (Gartland, 2020). While reception has mostly been negative, with many people claiming the games are too boring or citing internet problems, basketball fans may still be enjoyed. I haven’t tuned into any of the matchups, but if you’re starved for some basketball, it might be right for you. The competitions do air live on ESPN, so anyone interested in watching will have to tune in in real time.

Obviously, there is no true alternative to live sports action, but we can come close. Whether replays are your thing or not, there are tons of options to watch until we get sports back, whenever that may be. Until then, take a look through all of these services and find your favorite, or maybe find something new that’s not discussed here. Either way, good luck with filling your sports void and I hope these can get us all through until the return of sports.

References

Gartland, D. (2020, April 13). ESPN’s NBA HORSE competition was tough to watch. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2020/04/13/espn-nba-horse-tournament-highlights

Langs, S., Simon, A., Randhawa, M., & Catania, J. (2020, March 14). One classic game to watch online from each MLB team. MLB.com. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/news/classic-mlb-games-to-watch-online

NFL.com. (2020, March 18). NFL offers fans free access to NFL Game Pass. NFL.com. Retrieved from: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001106855/article/nfl-offers-fans-free-access-to-nfl-game-pass

Nicholson, J. (2020, March 18). NASCAR launches eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. eSports Insider. Retrieved from: https://esportsinsider.com/2020/03/enascar-iracing-pro-invitational-series/

Toribio, J. (2020, April 10). 30 stars to compete in ‘MLB The Show’ league. MLB.com. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/news/30-stars-compete-in-mlb-the-show-players-league

How “Wonder Boy” Luka Doncic is making an early MVP case

By Pershelle Rohrer

December 15, 2019

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

Luka Doncic may be only twenty years old, but his youth isn’t stopping him from impressing early in his second NBA season. The guard from Slovenia is off to a hot start for the Dallas Mavericks this year, collecting awards and accolades for his play and drawing attention from the media as an early MVP favorite.

Doncic was crowned Rookie of the Year for his performance during the 2018-19 season. He became just the second rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson as the only other player to accomplish the feat (“10 things to know,” 2019). Doncic currently leads the league in triple-doubles (7) and holds the record for the most triple-doubles before his 21st birthday (15). His efforts earned him the October and November player of the month award as well as the Sports Illustrated 2019 Breakout of the Year Award (“Mavericks’ Luka Doncic,” 2019). 

Doncic is playing like a superstar, continuing to “assault the NBA record book” (Owens, 2019). He recently recorded his 19th straight game of at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, breaking Michael Jordan’s record since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. He only trails Oscar Robertson (29 games from 1964 to 1965) in such games all-time (Owens, 2019). He is the second player under 21 to record a 40-point triple-double, joining his idol LeBron James in accomplishing the feat (Rader, 2019). He is third in the NBA in scoring, second in assists, and twelfth in rebounds among all players, practically averaging a triple-double with 30.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game (“Luka Doncic,” 2019).

The third overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Doncic has helped revive a Dallas Mavericks team that finished 33-49 last season. The Mavericks are red hot, having won 10 of their last 12 games en route to a 16-7 record, which is good for third in the Western Conference (“Dallas Mavericks”, 2019). Doyle Rader (2019), a contributor to Forbes, illustrates Doncic’s impact on the organization, writing that “The team looks rejuvenated and the atmosphere inside the American Airlines Center is buzzing and vibrant.” 

Doncic was supposed to be good, but he became a breakout star much sooner than anticipated. He is projected to not only be selected to his first NBA All-Star Game, but he is in MVP conversations already, being mentioned among players such as James Harden, who leads the league in scoring, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, one of the greatest players of all time (Manrique, 2019). 

Doncic could have been one of the rare rookies selected as an NBA All-Star last season, but he was overlooked by the media in favor of veteran players. All-stars are selected through a voting process that includes fans, players, and the media. Doncic received 4.2 million fan votes, which was third only to LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo but he did not receive the media and player votes to qualify as a starter (Golliver, 2019). He was then bypassed by the coaches, who selected the reserves. The media missed out on the opportunity to help send one of the league’s most intriguing young stars to the All-Star game, something that many fans would have loved to see. Like Rader (2019) said, “Everyone wants to experience their own piece of Luka magic” (para. 17).

Despite not being selected as an all-star last year, Doncic is considered a lock for this year’s game by most media members unless something goes drastically wrong. However, they also have the opportunity to potentially make him the youngest MVP in NBA history. Derrick Rose was 22 years old when he won the award in 2010-11. Doncic will be 21 years old at the conclusion of the season, and his current numbers are similar to those of Russell Westbrook in his 2016-17 MVP campaign.

Doncic’s stellar play causes him to receive heaping praise from many media members. Mo Dakhil (2019) writes, “Luka Doncic is running the Dallas Mavericks offense the way a maestro conducts an orchestra” (para. 1). Mike Prada (2019) argues that he is a top-five player this year. Mary Louise Kelly (2019) claims that sportswriters are already suggesting that he could potentially be an all-time great. From the beginning of the calendar year to now, media members have gone from leaving Doncic off the All-Star ballot to considering “Wonder Boy” a legitimate MVP candidate. As the season continues, Doncic’s development is something to watch for as he tries to become the youngest MVP in the history of the league. 

References

Dakhil, M. (2019, December 9). The play that’s turned Luka Doncic into an MVP candidate. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2866004-the-play-that-has-turned-luka-doncic-into-an-mvp-candidate

Dallas Mavericks. (2019). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nba/team/schedule/_/name/dal

Golliver, B. (2019, December 11). Who’s got next? Luka Doncic leads 10 deserving first-time NBA all-star candidates. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/11/nba-all-star-game-chicago-debut-candidates-luka-doncic-pascal-siakam/

Luka Doncic. (2019). Basketball Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/doncilu01.html

Luka Doncic is only 20, but he could be the next MVP of the NBA. (2019, December 5). NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/12/05/785253971/luka-doncic-is-only-20-but-he-could-be-the-next-mvp-of-the-nba

Manrique, B. (2019, November 25). Can Luka Doncic really become the youngest MVP in NBA history? Clutch Points. Retrieved from https://clutchpoints.com/can-luka-doncic-really-become-the-youngest-mvp-in-nba-history/

Mavericks’ Luka Doncic wins Sports Illustrated’s Breakout of the Year award. (2019, December 4). Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/sportsperson/2019/12/04/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-sports-illustrated-breakout-award

Owens, J. (2019, December 8). Luka Doncic passes Michael Jordan for modern-day NBA record. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/luka-doncic-passes-michael-jordan-for-modernday-nba-record-022245607.html

Prada, M. (2019, December 4). The secret to Luka Doncic’s rapid rise into a leading MVP candidate. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/nba/2019/12/4/20993740/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-mvp-race-stats-highlights

Rader, D. (2019, November 22). Luka Doncic is breaking records and making his case for MVP. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/doylerader/2019/11/22/luka-doncic-mvp-breaking-records-triple-double-dallas-mavericks/#5b74310977e8

10 things to know about Mavs’ Luka Doncic, including his signature moment vs. the Rockets, some amazing shots, and more. (2019, May 31). The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/mavericks/2019/06/01/10-things-to-know-about-mavs-luka-doncic-including-his-signature-moment-vs-the-rockets-some-amazing-shots-and-more/

The Return of Gordon Hayward?

By: Max Lewton

October 7, 2019

Max Lewton is a third-year undergraduate student from Cleveland, Ohio. He is currently studying Sport Management with a minor in Journalism at Bowling Green State University. His primary interests are basketball and football at both pro and collegiate levels, as well as baseball.

The 2017 NBA season opener between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics is one that we all remember vividly. Gordon Hayward went up to throw down an alley-oop dunk and came down hard on his left ankle, leaving a roar of gasps from the crowd. The gruesome injury occurred only minutes into the first quarter of Hayward’s Celtic debut and left the whole NBA in shock. Everyone saw how the injury affected Hayward last season. He seemed a step slower than everyone on the floor and just did not seem to have the same leaping ability as before. It was apparent that he was still suffering from the side-effects of the injury the year before. The former all-star is now coming into the 2019 season fully healthy and ready to show that he can still play at a high level.

Of course, Hayward will not be exactly the same kind of player that he used to be. An injury of that magnitude will surely effect his athleticism and speed. However, let’s not forget that prior to his injury he was averaging almost 22 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and almost 40% from behind the arc in 2017 (“Gordon Hayward Stats,” 2019). Gordon Hayward does not have to be a big bodied forward who takes it to the rack as long as he has good shooting percentages. In an article that appeared on Boston.com, Hayward comment on his improved shooting stroke  saying, “I feel like I’m shooting the ball really well, I’m still trying to figure out some of the timing and rhythm on pull-up and dribble jumpers. But I do feel a lot better shooting the ball—even better than I did before the injury” (DeCosta-Kilpa, 2018, para. 14). Hayward can transform himself into a threat from behind the arc, which if he can earn the defender’s respect from out there, he can start taking more people to the basket.

With the emergence of Jayson Tatum at small forward, Hayward will either be the sixth man off the bench or start as an undersized power forward. It really comes down to him finding his true role with the Celtics. Head coach Brad Stevens runs a great offensive system in Boston, and he will be able to find a good role for him. Honestly the level of Gordon Hayward’s play next year could be the deciding factor on whether Boston will actually compete. If he can play like he did with the Utah Jazz, then that is adding another all-star caliber player to Boston’s young and talented lineup. That could make them a legitimate threat to win the East and maybe even contend for an NBA title.

Hayward has the skill set and experience to bounce back and become a respectable player in the NBA once again. It has been two years now since the injury and even though he looked very slow on the floor last year, he will have at least some of the athleticism he once had back. With Boston having a few new faces in the starting lineup this year, Hayward will not only have to prove himself to the rest of the NBA, but to his teammates as well. Boston is a young team full of potential, if he can be that veteran leader to backup Kemba Walker then the team will flourish. Many NBA fans and others have already abandoned Hayward’s comeback, but I believe that he has still got a lot left in the tank.

References

DeCosta-Klipa, N. (2018, October 15). ‘I won’t be the same player’: How Gordon Hayward expects to be different post-injury. Boston.com. Retrieved from https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2018/10/15/gordon-hayward-injury-return.

Gordon Hayward Stats. (2019.). Basketball Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/h/haywago01.html.

Social Media Discoveries Show a Different Story Between Westbrook and Jazz Fans

By David Dietrich

March 15, 2019

On Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz, 98-89. While the showdown between the potential playoff teams was a subject of discussion this week, it was not because of what happened on the court. A video surfaced that showed Thunder guard Russell Westbrook threatening two fans, with very strong language being used. The video can be found below, but there is inappropriate language used throughout.

When asked about his actions, Westbrook defended himself, telling reporters the fan made racially charged comments. “If I had to do it again, I would say the same exact thing, because I truly will stand up for myself, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my dad every single time” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 5). Westbrook and the fan, Shane Kiesel, had conflicting stories about what was said. Westbrook claimed he was told to “get down on your knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 3) but Kiesel told the media he was yelling “ice those knees,” (MacMahon, 2019, para. 6).

After the game, some of Westbrook’s teammates and opponents came to his defense, saying they heard the offensive comments and wanted to know how they were being protected as players. Westbrook and Jazz fans are no strangers to controversy, with Westbrook being criticized last year for slapping at a fan’s phone after a playoff game. It appeared this event would take the same path, with Westbrook receiving a $25,000 fine from the NBA. However, the discovery of Shane Kiesel’s social media posts completely changed the situation.

Because of the strong content, I will not be sharing links to the posts by Kiesel. I will leave it at this: racial slurs, offensive comments, and blatant disrespect are evident throughout. With this discovery, many came to the defense of Westbrook, such as USA Today’s Nate Scott (2019), who writes “The point guard screaming at the fan isn’t just an immature malcontent, especially when the fan allegedly said something horrible and has a history that appears to show extremely racist and violent thinking” (para. 13). Scott also mentions this is “one of those instances where I am glad we have the internet. Fifteen years ago, we would have labeled Russell Westbrook a problem or worse for what he yelled at a fan on Monday night. Today, we can (more quickly and easily) learn about the fan, and begin to understand and empathize with, if not exactly condone, what Westbrook did” (para. 6).

While Russell Westbrook’s comments were very inappropriate, they were nowhere near the level of offensiveness that Kiesel portrayed on social media. Like Nate Scott mentioned, this is a circumstance that was sorted out largely because of social media. Today, social media, especially Twitter, can be a blessing and a curse. With little to no context, we saw a video of an NBA star yelling profanities at a married couple. It is very easy to make assumptions based on this single video, but we are fortunate more information was brought to light. With news being spread as quickly as possible on social media, it is difficult to see the entire scope of every situation. Thankfully, media members in Utah and Oklahoma City were able to investigate the entirety of the situation. Because of their work, we are now aware that the video portrays NBA star Russell Westbrook standing up for himself against Shane Kiesel, a very racist spectator.

Note: The picture below is a screenshot of a statement from the Utah Jazz, which permanently banned Shane Kiesel from attending any events held in the Vivant Smart Home Arena.

Jazz statement

References

MacMahon, T. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatens courtside fan, fan’s wife. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/26234619/westbrook-threatens-courtside-fan-fan-wife

Scott, N. (2019, March 12). Russell Westbrook threatened a Jazz fan, but then we learned about the fan. USAToday.com. Retrieved from https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/03/russell-westbrook-jazz?utm_source=ftw&utm_medium=recirc&utm_campaign=rail-most-popular

utahjazz. (2019, March 12). A Statement from the Utah Jazz. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/utahjazz/status/1105570407598321664

Woodyard, E. (2019, March 11). Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Jazz fans again. Twitter.com. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/E_Woodyard/status/1105297381384368128

Talks of Change Immediate in Wake of Zion Injury

By Drew Gallagher

February 23, 2019

Drew Gallagher is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He is planning to major in Sport Management with a minor in General Business. Drew is a proud native of Aurora, Illinois and is interested in many sports, but focuses primarily on baseball and football at the professional and collegiate levels.

On Wednesday, February 20th, the greatest rivalry in college basketball resumed and there was a lot of promotion put into the game. Less than a half-minute into it though, all that excitement was changed to dread for most Duke and NBA fans. As you probably already know, Duke star Zion Williamson suffered a knee injury that could have very well ended his season and maybe even his seemingly locked position as the number one overall pick in the upcoming draft. Being that Williamson is arguably the most hyped basketball prospect since LeBron James, you can imagine the thoughts going through everyone from basketball fans to NBA executives’ heads after it happened. Luckily for Zion, the injury is now “being labeled as a mild knee sprain” (Walton, 2019, para 3).

If you’re like me – constantly watching sports talk shows and reading sports articles – you noticed a common theme the day after the injury. Analysts seemed to flip-flop between the implications of the injury for Duke and a potential rule change by the NBA. This would include the eligible age to declare for the NBA draft changing back to 18. This would eliminate the “one-and-done” rule given that prospects could declare directly out of high school. The rationale of most analysts was mainly about a player possibly losing out on money if they sustain a career ending/hurting injury in college when it could have been avoided by being in the NBA already.

This talk was of course to be expected after a player of Zion’s ability had a possible career ending injury. It felt like the national media was just waiting for something like this to happen so that they could criticize the NBA for making players go to school for just one year. I find it interesting that they would wait like that because if it was truly as urgent as they all claimed it to be on Thursday, then it would’ve been just as urgent before the injury ever occurred. And yet, talk about a possible rule change only happened occasionally before. Granted, one may argue that since Williamson is as good as he is, the injury finally woke these people up and cemented the idea in their minds.

The media’s continual coverage helped lead the NBA to propose lowering the eligible draft age only a day later. This would be the first step towards changing the rule back to what it once was in the early 2000s. According to Goldberg, “the timing is reportedly coincidental” coming the day after the injury (Goldberg, para 3). I do find it very hard to believe that the injury just happened to occur the day before they planned to report this. The NBA would need to most likely wait to change this rule for good until the new CBA is agreed upon sometime within the next five years.

I do find it very interesting that this sort of talk has been reserved to the basketball ranks and has yet to make it into college football yet. This is surprising when you think about the risk of injury being much more prevalent in the sport of football than basketball. I did hear the occasional discussion about it when Nick Bosa decided to sit out for the rest of his season at Ohio State after an injury, but this talk was nothing compared to the media storm caused by Williamson’s injury.

It was apparent to any sports fan this week that Williamson’s injury caused a huge stir within the sporting community. We will see if the national media keeps arguing for the case of a rule change in the coming months leading up to the draft. My guess is that this talk will not cool down much until then.

 

References

Goldberg, R. (2019, February 21). NBA proposes lowering eligible draft age to 18 after Zion Williamson knee injury. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2821830-nba-proposes-lowering-eligible-draft-age-to-18-after-zion-williamson-knee-injury

Walton, M. (2019, February 21). Zion Williamson injury updated to Grade 1 right knee sprain. NBC Sports Chicago. Retrieved from https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/bulls/zion-williamson-injury-updated-grade-1-right-knee-sprain

The Spurs Team Doctors Will See You Now

By Bre Moorer

Bre Moorer is now a graduate student at Bowling Green State University, where she is studying Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Psychology.  She is originally from Akron, Ohio, about forty miles south of Lake Erie.  Her primary sport interest is basketball – at the amateur and professional levels.

Former Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (below right) is now a Toronto Raptor.  The 2019 NBA free agency run this summer was rocky for the California native.  For the 2017-18 season, Leonard played fewer than 10 games due to an injury that team doctors in San Antonio missed.  At least that is what the reason was early on.

An injury to Leonard’s right thigh kept him out of 2017-18 preseason play, the season-opener, and the first 2 months of NBA action.  It should be known that Leonard was a major part of the San Antonio Spurs organization.  The former San Diego State standout lead the Spurs to their fifth championship in 2014, in addition to winning NBA Finals’ MVP for his outstanding performance.  How did he only play 9 games last season?  Shortly after his limited-minute comeback against the Dallas Mavericks in December, Leonard felt that he was being rushed back.

Leonard is known for his quiet and private personality, but fans could tell he did not feel confident playing yet.  Sometimes Leonard suited up, but most of the time he took a night or two off.  Leonard took it upon himself to travel to New York to get a second opinion on his injury.  He felt like he should have been 100% by then.  NBA analysts wondered why he would embarrass the Spurs staff by refusing the services offered to him for free and in his own backyard.  Leonard was portrayed by the media as bratty and just another professional athlete who was not patient enough after an injury. Sports reporter and well-known Spurs fan Michelle Beadle said Leonard did not have the qualities that a leader is supposed to have.  She even went as far as saying that he is coming off as an “obnoxious diva.”  Leonard took verbal beat-downs from fans, journalists, and social media for not playing and refusing to work with the Spurs team doctor.  Of course, the reserved NBA All-Star did not publicly defend himself, but his decisions would become clear to critics after teammate Danny Green told all.

Just like Leonard, Danny Green (above left) was traded from the Spurs to the Toronto Raptors this summer.  Seemingly before the ink could dry on his Toronto contract, Green said that his end-of-the-season physical examination revealed a torn groin that went undetected by Spurs staff, which lead to Green getting a second opinion while he was still a Spur.  Maybe it is because of the difference in personalities or the fact that Green still managed to play through his injury, but the general public was not as hard on Green for going elsewhere for treatment.  His Twitter mentions were filled with users that claimed getting another opinion on injuries is very common.  It was even discussed on ESPN that Green’s undetected injury may let Leonard’s actions off the hook.  In other words, now that Danny Green had a problem with the Spurs staff, we can believe Kawhi Leonard.

However you look at it, there is an issue that needs to be fixed in San Antonio.  It could be negligence or innocent lack of knowledge, but it is costing players their reputations, health, and market value.

What in The World Was The NBA Thinking?

By Don Collins

Over the weekend, the NBA was buzzing in popular culture. The stars were all out to commemorate the league’s All Star weekend in Los Angeles. Among the festivities, the players and the league organized a video wishing the many NBA fans in China a Happy New Year.

The video montage featured many different NBA players sending their well wishes with some even showing off their linguistic skills by trying out some Chinese phrases. A well-intended gesture until a segment of the video began making the rounds on the internet. The portion that has caused so much controversy includes Philadelphia 76er JJ Redick uttering what appears to be a racial slur.

Watching the outrage that ensued has been for me a calculated effort. One thing I have begun to do whenever anything happens, good or bad, is to let all the facts trickle out and then make a decision instead of rushing to conclusions. I watched the video and, after a few days, reached this conclusion: this is unacceptable, but my outrage does not start with Redick.

I do not know him personally, but everything I have gathered about him during his career is that he seems to be a good person. I believe he made a mistake while trying to say his message. As someone who is beginning to spend more and more time on the air waves, I am learning sometimes you can say something too fast for your brain to process. This is doubly true in a situation where everyone involved is probably on a tighter schedule. His apology, a gesture that nowadays feels more obligatory than genuine, offered an explanation that was consistent with the thinking that he was trying to say too much in one sentence.

My issue with the whole thing is that no one caught this. How can a league that has billions of dollars at their disposal, not catch this in the editing process? Especially when they care so much about the growth of the brand in China. While I do not think JJ Redick is racist toward Chinese people, it was still a slur. I understand if some fans overseas do not ever root for him again or tune out 76ers games.

My hope is that all parties learn from this. American history has taught us more about the immediate people in our country. Had Redick said the n-word, accidental or not, it would almost surely be edited out of an official NBA release. While this incident is an ugly look for the NBA, it can be used as a teachable lesson. Do your due diligence. The time it would have taken for Redick to slow down or even re-record his message could have also been the amount of time needed to edit the video.