Sean Miller Is Right About Storming the Court, so Here’s a Proposal to Fix It

Photo Credit: Kelly Pressnell/Arizona Daily Star
Photo Credit: Kelly Pressnell/Arizona Daily Star

They’re not gonna keep ’em off the field tonight! – Rod Bramblett

The wild, wacky, impossible-to-figure college basketball season continued on Wednesday night with ninth-ranked Arizona’s loss to Colorado.  But we’re still talking about it two days later, and not for the right reasons.

You can watch the end of the game here, but this is the important part: Colorado’s students stormed the court and Sean Miller, Arizona’s head coach, complained about it.  A lot.

This is what he had to say:

I have no problem being a great sport, but eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan, and they are going to punch the fan out of self-defense. And only when it happens will everyone take a deep breath and say, ‘We have to do something to protect both teams.’

I don’t like whining in sports, but I particularly don’t like whining from coaches.  I don’t appreciate it because it often detracts attention from the game itself.  In this case, though, Miller absolutely has a point and his comments reflect a greater concern in college sports about player and fan safety during field and court stormings.

So what precedent does Miller have for his comments and frustration?

The public debate about rushing the court and field was, at least in part, brought about by legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.  After an upset loss at Virginia in 2013, this is what Coach K said about the fans’ rushing to the center to the floor; see if you can find the similarities between his comments and Miller’s:

Look, do you know how close you are to — just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches.  I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re a [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.

Both coaches were and are right here.  Player, coach, and fan safety is a huge issue when thousands of fans are rushing to the same place at once; it would still be an issue if only a hundred students rushed at the same time, so you can only imagine the risks involved in having this occur on such a frequent basis with so many people involved.  It’s almost like America’s equivalent of the Running of the Bulls.  The only caveat here, though, is that Pamplona is not just the location of the rush in our country; it’s a tradition, a way of college sports life, and a near-nightly occurrence.

However, since rushing the court is such a tradition, how can we still have it happen and also make it safer for all involved?  It’s not nearly as complicated as you think.

First of all, there should always (always) be more than a sufficient amount of security at these games.  The reason I say this is because I watched the video of the end of the Arizona-Colorado game about four times over, purely in an attempt to find security guards and/or an organized security force.  I found neither of these things, which, quite simply, is nothing short of horrifying.  Besides from the fact that security would’ve been really helpful in organizing the student rush, the point of having security guards is to answer to conflicts in the stands that invariably spring up over the course of a game.  Because of the lack of security presence, there was no control over anything going on the stands; what if something far, far worse had happened that night?  Thankfully, nothing else did.  But it could have.

Anyway, these security guards would be deployed to line the front of the student section to make sure the court storming is orderly and safe.  This would occur when it is clearly established that the upset could occur (well before the game is over).

The other thing that I noticed from the end of the Colorado game is that the rush of the court was nothing more than a moshpit in the stands, with students pushing and shoving one another to get down to the court.  With this, there is obviously the risk of people getting caught underneath the pile and suffering serious injury.  By using the rule of common sense (rocket science, right?), the students could use space in front of the student section, if it is available, to stand for the final minutes of the game.  That way, there won’t be any issues with students pushing from the back to get to the front.

The final piece of the puzzle that must occur before the storming is that all players, coaches, referees, and anyone else who could be at risk of injury must leave the floor.  Until this takes place, absolutely no student should be allowed to set foot on the floor or field.  This goes back to the gripes of Miller and Coach K: with this plan, players won’t need to punch fans out of self-defense; they won’t be able to.

After everyone leaves, the students can rush.  They must do so in a safe manner (obviously) but once the rush starts, it’ll basically be the same court/field storming we’ve come to know and love.  Yes, some of the spontaneity will be lost, but it is way more important to protect everyone than to have sports’ equivalent of the release of the latest iPhone on a nightly basis.

With all of these being said, when will we see any proposal like this actually be put into effect?  Miller voiced concern for the fact that the Pac-12 has done little to nothing to fix this problem, but it isn’t like the NCAA has done very much to rectify this, either.  Think about the NCAA as the national government of the United States and each conference as the states of the Union.  While states’ rights are a vital piece of the governing puzzle in this country, there are some matters in which the national government simply has to supersede the states. In this case, the NCAA has to flex its power over the conferences (especially the major ones) and create a policy that is fair and just to all parties involved.  If and when they do, college sports will be a better place.  But don’t hold your breath waiting for it; this is, after all, the NCAA we’re dealing with.

This is my proposal to help coaches, players, and fans stay safe in the event of a storming.  It isn’t perfect; nothing in sports is.  But it is a step to rectify the problem that is the Running of the Bulls storming of the field or court.  It would keep everyone safe and the students would still get the most out of this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

However, no matter what is wrong or right with this proposal, we can all agree that something needs to be done about this disaster. Because that’s what it is; an unabated disaster that could lead to far more serious problems in the future.

And until something is done about this unabated disaster, we’ll see more ugly scenes like the one we saw in Boulder on Wednesday night.

Live Updates of NBA Trade Deadline

 

Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA Today
Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo/USA Today

The NBA trade deadline is today at 3 PM Eastern Time.  I’ll have you covered here with updates and analysis throughout the day; please check back here all day for more!

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3:44 PM ET

And that’s a wrap.  Thanks to everyone for reading and let’s do this again next year!

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3:25 PM ET

Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston has already dealt Joel Anthony:

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3:23 PM ET

To be very frank with you, I’m not 100% that this could be true.  But it comes from Dan Woike, a reputable source with the Orange County Register:

This move is all kinds of wow.  The winner in this move is probably Los Angeles, as the Clippers have been looking to move Lance Stephenson all week.  And look what they got for him:

I’m not so sure about this trade for the Grizzlies.  They give up a solid player in Green for a massive personality in Stephenson, one who doesn’t quite fit their roster at the present moment.  They’re not a contender and really had no need to make this trade.

But they did, and they just executed the biggest blockbuster of the 2016 trade deadline.  Holy schnikes.

UPDATE: Per Marc Stein, the Grizzlies get a cherry on top of the deal:

 

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3:09 PM ET

We have another trade, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

The Bulls’ backcourt has been very crowded for the last couple of years, with Derrick Rose, Aaron Brooks, Doug McDermott, and others. The odd man out in that rotation, invariably, was Hinrich, and now he’ll be the backup point guard on a Hawks team that needed one after this morning’s trade of Shelvin Mack.

Atlanta makes a good pickup while the Bulls shed some salary.


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3:01 PM ET

It’s after 3:00, but the trading is not yet officially done.  I’ll be here until the dust settles.

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3:00 PM ET

Dwight Howard is staying in Houston, according to this anti-Woj Bomb:

While this seems like it could be a surprise, teams simply did not want to give up their futures for Howard.  Even though he is one of the most talented big men in basketball, teams like the Hawks, Heat, and Celtics deemed that he wasn’t worth the high asking price Houston GM Daryl Morey was requesting.

The Houston Rockets will remain broken for another two months.

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2:55 PM ET

Ryan Anderson was one of the most pursued players in trade talks this week, so it’s at least somewhat surprising to see him pulled back by New Orleans now.  However, New Orleans couldn’t get the right deal for him and so he will remain in a Pelicans uniform until at least this summer.

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2:47 PM ET

WE HAVE ACTION!

In Morris, the Wizards get a player who can score off the bench and shoot at a decent clip from deep as they try for one last push to the playoffs.  If you’ll remember, Morris went berzerk when his brother Marcus was traded to Detroit last summer.

This move is best for both sides, no matter what the Suns receive in return.

UPDATE: This is what Washington is giving the Suns:

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2:17 PM

Wojnarowski coming in hot with some more news:

It’ll be interesting to see if Portland keeps Roberts or flips him as part of another deal.  We’ll see what happens.

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2:05 PM ET

Here’s another potential trade, coming to us from Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

This is another trade that is basically a lateral move.  Napier would see more playing time in Chicago while Brooks could mentor Elfrid Payton in Orlando.  An interesting move for both sides.

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1:59 PM ET

The last sentence is the key part.  Dwight Howard isn’t fully entrenched in Houston just yet because Daryl Morey can find the right deal in a heartbeat.  If he does, D12 will be playing in another city at the end of today.

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1:56 PM ET

Looks like the Cavaliers are done for the day:

This isn’t a huge surprise.  They’ve done enough today and it looks like they have decided to keep the rest of their team intact for the rest of the season.

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1:44 PM ET

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Bucks and Timberwolves have discussed a deal involving Ricky Rubio but neither side can find traction:

Such a deal would likely involve Michael Carter-Williams as well.  The trade would essentially be a swap of point guards who can’t shoot, which is why the mere discussion of this deal is puzzling.  Rubio doesn’t offer very much to Milwaukee that Carter-Williams does not, but it would be interesting to see what Jason Kidd could do with him as his starting point guard.

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1:28 PM ET

Now it’s official, as Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post is reporting:

Solid, safe move for the Thunder.  Foye can step in and contribute right away, and it is unlikely that the Thunder give up very much to get him.

UPDATE: We now know what the Thunder are surrendering:

It’s still a good move for Oklahoma City.


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1:23 PM ET

Like Wojnarowski reported this morning, Atlanta is probably going to stand pat this deadline.

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1:17 PM ET

Not a huge stunner here:

The Mavericks haven’t been linked to any major trades and there isn’t very much they can do to overcome the top three teams in the West. This shouldn’t come as a surprise and Donnie Nelson is making the right decision here.

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1:13 PM ET

Well, so much for Anderson Varejao’s playoff experience:

The Blazers are getting a first-round pick from Cleveland out of the deal, so they’re not coming out fo this entirely empty-handed.

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12:58 PM ET

And….. another one:

Mack will be a solid point guard for the Jazz and could maybe even start for the team if Trey Burke struggles.  Solid, although somewhat nondescript, move for Utah.

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12:55 PM ET

Action is heating up as we approach the 3:00 PM trade deadline:

Foye would be a home run for the Thunder as they are already one of the deeper teams in the league.  He would add to this depth and provide a steady presence as one of the best locker room guys in the game to boot.

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12:50 PM ET

We have ourselves another trade!  This one comes to us from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

This seems like a no-brainer for the Cavaliers.  Varejao is playing the least minutes of his career this season and has rarely seen the floor behind Timofey Mozgov.  In Frye, the Cavaliers get a player who can stretch the floor, something Varejao could not do.  Frye’s presence will give Cleveland’s offense one more serious perimeter threat, something that could help new coach Tyronn Lue’s fast-paced offense.

Varejao will give a young Portland roster legitimate playoff experience, which the team lacked with the obvious exception of Damian Lillard.

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12:42 PM ET

It turns out Houston did get something of worth out of their trade with the Pistons:

It’s very likely that Houston will get this pick this year, as the Pistons could very well make the playoffs.  At worst, they’ll probably be at the back end of the lottery, which would add even more value to the pick for Houston.  Also, if Detroit continues to improve over the next two years and stays out of the top ten of the draft, they would surrender their first round pick to the Rockets.

Maybe this wasn’t such a bad deal for Daryl Morey and the Rockets after all.

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12:28 PM ET

The Motiejunas-to-Detroit deal is now official, but Stan Van Gundy was also able to get another piece as part of the trade:

To recap: Van Gundy fleeces the Rockets of Motiejunas and Thornton, all while only giving up Joel Anthony in the process.  This was a steal because Detroit gets two players who can come off the bench and contribute immediately to a team that is on the verge of the playoffs. As the late Jack Buck once said, “Pardon me while I stand up and applaud.”

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12:21 PM ET

Here’s another intriguing move that could go down this afternoon, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reports:

Motiejunas is a 41% three-point shooter this season, and Anthony only plays four minutes per game.  For a team that is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, this move could help.

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12:11 PM ET

WE HAVE A TRADE!….. but it doesn’t mean very much.  Jarnell Stokes is going from Miami to New Orleans, as reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo’s The Vertical:

This is nothing more than a cap-saving move for Miami, as all they are acquiring in the deal is a protected draft pick.  But it’s the first trade of the day, so let’s go sufficiently nuts.

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11:32 AM ET

It looks as though things are changing on the Ty Lawson front.  Back to Wojnarowski:

If Lawson is not moved to Utah or bought out, it would seem as if the Rockets would have no other choice but to keep him.  It’s not like the team can command very much for his services, especially given his poor play this season.

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11:28 AM ET

It looks like the Atlanta Hawks are standing pat, per Adrian Wojnarowski:

So that means Horford, Jeff Teague, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kyle Korver would all stay in Atlanta.

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10:33 AM ET

This is an interesting one.  While this news doesn’t necessarily have to do with the trade deadline, it probably takes one team out of trade discussions for today.  As first reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo:

This is an excellent hire for Brooklyn, as the Spurs executive will get the chance to rebuild the Nets’ roster from scratch.  It won’t be easy and it will likely take a couple of years, but Mikhail Prokhorov has brought in the right man for the job.

As for the immediate impact on today, the Nets will likely lay low and not make any deals.  That means keeping Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young, two players who were thought of as potential trade targets for contending teams.

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10:26 AM ET

While the Boston Celtics could reasonably make a blockbuster deal today, it looks as if they aren’t willing to give up primary assets for an elite big man.  Via Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:


Trading for Howard or Horford would likely mean parting ways with a part of their young core, which includes Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder.  Even though the team is third in the East right now, going for broke this year probably isn’t the smartest idea.  Boston would have to go through the Cavaliers just to win the East and then would have to beat either the Spurs or Warriors in the Finals.  Both scenarios are unlikely, so this is probably a good decision by Danny Ainge to keep his young squad together… for now, anyway.

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9:46 AM ET

The Rockets clearly want to move Dwight Howard, but who is going to take him?  No one yet, as USA Today’s Sam Amick is reporting:

So while Houston will try to find a deal for the enigmatic big man, there may not be any suitors willing to trade for his services.

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8:57 AM ET

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Ty Lawson may be the first domino to fall today, as the Rockets have reportedly had enough of the troubled point guard:

Stein is also reporting that the trade with Utah would involve Trey Burke.  Such a move would need to involve other pieces because Houston is over the salary cap and the difference in the salaries of Burke and Lawson is almost $10 million.  Therefore, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see a third team get involved; if not, Utah would need to move other pieces to complete the trade.

Either way, Houston is committed to moving Ty Lawson.  His days as a Rocket are over.

Five NBA All-Star Break Observations

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada/USA Today
Photo Credit: Kyle Terada/USA Today

The NBA All-Star Break is here, and needless to say, the first half of the season provided us with an array of storylines. The Warriors have gotten off to the best first-half start of all-time (48-4) and need to win 25 of their last 30 games to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a regular season; additionally, Stephen Curry is the surefire MVP of this season. There’s also the Kobe Bryant retirement tour, which will conclude on April 13 with a home game against the Jazz. Kobe played in his last All-Star Game this Sunday, against two players (Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis) who were four when he played his first in 1998.

However, despite popular opinion, there are other happenings in the NBA besides from Kobe, Curry, and the Warriors. So here are five observations as we head into the second half of the season.

Who, What, Where, When, Kawhi: The Spurs Are Historically Good Too

Photo Credit: Edward A. Ornelas/San Antonio Express-News
Photo Credit: Edward A. Ornelas/San Antonio Express-News

The above headline isn’t actually something I came up with: I heard Mark Jackson say it on an ABC telecast of a Spurs game a couple of years back. Anyway, what has made the Spurs historically good this season has been their defense. And yes, the Spurs to date have been a historically great team in NBA history.

This is why: they’ve allowed 91.8 points per game this season. There have been 100 teams, including this year’s Spurs, that have surrendered fewer points on average over a full season (and amazingly, twelve are Gregg Popovich-coached San Antonio teams). Out of those 100 squads, the Spurs have the best winning percentage of all of them (.849). At this rate, they’re on pace for 70 wins, two short of the current record.

If that won’t convince you of San Antonio’s historical greatness, this will: no team in NBA history has ever scored 105 points per game and allowed less than 92. The Spurs would be the first, and they’re on that pace as we speak (scoring 105.0, allowing 91.8). If that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is, especially in a season like this.

In addition to this, the team has added LaMarcus Aldridge since its last title run. Kawhi Leonard is having the best season of his young career. And there will always be the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. This Spurs team is one of the most historically dominant ever, particularly defensively. This and other reasons is why they can absolutely beat the Warriors come playoff time.

Live on TNT, They’re Flexing: The 6IX Will Be Crazy This May

Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports
Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Don’t look now, but the Toronto Raptors are within three games of the Cavaliers for first place in the East.

When I wrote my NBA preview just before the season, I thought the Raptors could be the second-best team in the East. The reason why was because of Kyle Lowry, who I thought could help the team take the proverbial leap in the Eastern Conference after his offseason weight loss. Sure enough, the point guard is having the best season of his career, helping propel the Raptors to second place in the Eastern Conference and legitimate championship aspirations.

However, the real leap the Raptors have made has come on the defensive side of the ball. After being tied for 18th in points allowed a season ago, general manager Masai Ujiri signed defensive stalwart DeMarre Carroll away from the Hawks. The move hasn’t yet paid dividends for Toronto, as Carroll may miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. So how have the Raptors improved so much on defense?

By playing the game at a very slow pace, that is. Their 93.3 pace is actually faster than last year’s, but their defensive rating has leaped from 25th to 9th. With the improved defense and the slow pace, the Raptors are built perfectly to win in the Eastern Conference playoffs, in which the games are generally lower-scoring and played at a slower tempo. If they reach the Conference Finals, they would most certainly play the Cavaliers, which would be a very difficult matchup. However, they’ll have a better chance of making a run this year because of their defense, their higher seed in the playoffs and the better first-round matchup that results from it.

Also, they likely won’t have to deal with Paul Pierce this time around because he is in the Western Conference. That’s a good thing.

Houston, We Have a Problem: The Rockets Really Are Broken

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports

If you subscribe to the notion that conflict works, you may not want to watch the Houston Rockets anytime soon.

The Rockets are a team in conflict. There is living, breathing proof of this; just ask Jason Terry:

It is horrible. The team, believe it or not, went to the Western Conference Finals a season ago, and while teams improve and fall off from year to year, the Rockets’ descent has been nothing short of stunning.

Their coach realizes it, too. JB Bickerstaff, Houston’s interim coach after the Kevin McHale firing, had this to say about his team and their chemistry:

We’re broken. It’s that simple. We’re a broken team, and we all need to use this break to figure out how we’re going to impact change. If we don’t want to impact change, then we need to be made aware of that, too, and we’ll go in a different direction.

“We can’t continue to go out and play this way. It’s easy to see it’s a fragmented bunch. You can’t win that way.

The Rockets can’t win this way, and they haven’t. At the All-Star break, they’re 27-28, out of the playoffs, and in no position to make a run at a championship. There’s also the minor problem of Dwight Howard.

The team is reportedly trying to ship him and the remaining two years on his contract to another team. Howard’s name has been linked to discussions with the Hawks and Heat, and a deal with the latter would likely involve Miami center Hassan Whiteside. The Rockets look like they’re trying to finish a deal before Thursday’s trade deadline, and whether they can or not may help define the future of the franchise for years to come.

But with or without Howard, this year’s version of the Houston Rockets are just one thing: broken.

Celtics Climbing Up the Topsails of the East

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Moving on to things that aren’t broken, the Boston Celtics have been one of the NBA’s pleasant surprises this season. Currently, the team is third in the cluster that is the Eastern Conference and in a position to host a playoff series this April. Whether or not they finish there remains to be seen, but even though Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish aren’t walking through that door, the team has still exceeded expectations without sacrificing their future as of yet.

The reason why is simple: a solid core of young players paired with the coach who, in my opinion, is one of the best in the NBA: Brad Stevens. Under Stevens’ tutelage, the team went from 25 wins in his first season to 40 wins and a playoff appearance a season ago. This season, they’re on pace for 47 wins and the third seed in the East. How did this happen?

Last December, the team traded Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks for Jae Crowder and other assets. Crowder is now the third-leading scorer on the C’s. Then, the team would acquire Kings guard Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline. With these two players, Avery Bradley, an improved Evan Turner, Kelly Olynyk, and Marcus Smart make up the existing Celtics core. This core could come into play when the team tries to sign a major free agent in the stacked summer of 2016.

But let’s enjoy this season for what it is in Beantown: a renaissance of the Celtics and the emergence of a team that could make some noise come playoff time.

The Cavaliers’ Locker Room Won’t Be Smelling Like Champagne in June

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Time for a real talk. If and when the Cavaliers make the NBA Finals, can they realistically beat the Thunder, Spurs, or Warriors in a seven-game series?

Honestly, my answer would be no. The team they would have the best shot against would obviously be Oklahoma City, but even they would give the Cavaliers a serious run for their money; they could also give Cleveland another Finals loss. And if the Cavaliers end this season with another one of those, then they’ll have to seriously look in the mirror and assess their chances, as they are currently constituted, of ever winning a championship.

This is why I’m pessimistic about the team’s title hopes: they don’t play fast enough. Remember how I talked about the Raptors playing a really slow pace? Well, the Cavaliers play slower than the Raptors. While the Cavs’ pace is remotely near that of the Spurs, their ball movement is not. Also, the pace of the Thunder and Warriors is way faster than Cleveland’s. Translated: any of these teams could run the Cavaliers out of the building on any given night.

So when Steph Curry talks about the visitors’ locker room still smelling like champagne, he has a point. He also could be foreshadowing what the future holds for the away locker room at Quicken Loans Arena when another Western Conference team gets to celebrate an NBA championship.

Because the one team that definitely won’t be celebrating when all is said and done this season is the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Last Thing Johnny Football Needs Is Just That: Football

Photo Credit: James Allison/Icon Sportswire
Photo Credit: James Allison/Icon Sportswire

Warning: article will touch on mature subject matter and violent themes that may be disturbing for some readers.

Johnny Manziel’s NFL career is in serious trouble.

This is not due to his on-field play; rather, it’s due to yet another off-field incident, one much more serious than all the others he’s amassed in his short college and NFL career.

News of this most recent incident was reported on by Dallas television station WFAA 8’s Rebecca Lopez.  These are the harrowing details:

The ex-girlfriend of NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel told police that the Heisman Trophy winner told her “shut up or I’ll kill us both” after forcing her into a car, hitting her, and dragging her by the hair.

On Thursday, News 8 learned harrowing details of last week’s alleged assault of Colleen Crowley by Manziel, who is currently on the Cleveland Browns roster, but is not expected to return next season.

This is easily the worst in the long line of Manziel incidents, ranging from fake ID to middle fingers to rehab to the first domestic dispute with his girlfriend and muchmuch more.  It’s obvious he has a lot of talent; he showed this throughout his college career and even in brief periods during the last two seasons in Cleveland.  However, his off-the-field exploits have always been his undoing, and anyone who knew about his problems in college could have foreseen a self-implosion at the professional level.

And the problem is, the people closest to him did.  This is what Johnny’s father, Paul, said in August 2013 in an ESPN article about how his son’s life could fall apart:

“Yeah,” Paul says one evening, driving in his car, “it could come unraveled. And when it does, it’s gonna be bad. Real bad.”

He imagines a late-night call, and the cable news ticker, and the next morning’s headlines.

“It’s one night away from the phone ringing,” he says, “and he’s in jail. And you know what he’s gonna say? ‘It’s better than all the pressure I’ve been under. This is better than that.'”

While one would hope that his statement would be proven untrue, Johnny came very close to fulfilling it last weekend.  And he’s not out of the woods yet: his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, was granted a restraining order against him today.  Additionally, the Dallas Police Department announced Friday that it was opening a criminal investigation into the domestic violence and assault allegations.

So why have things gone so far off the rails for Manziel recently?

Well, the short answer to that question is that they always have been. Going back to his college days, there was a little bit of a wild side to him; this manifested itself in the way he played on Saturdays.  After missing the first half of Texas A&M’s 2013 home opener against Rice, he returned in the second half and did this:

While the Aggies won the game and eight more that season, the incident was firmly etched in the minds of many in the NFL and college football.  For some strange reason before then, however, he wanted to get out of College Station, sending (then deleting) this tweet from June 16, 2013:

Bulls— like tonight is a reason why I can’t wait to leave College Station… whenever it may be

In reality, though, this was probably one of his bigger mistakes.  Yes, he had gotten in trouble with the law and the NCAA, but football has always been the one constant in his life.  And quite frankly, let’s face it: Texas A&M enabled much of Manziel’s shenanigans since the time he arrived in College Station because they realized his talent.  For crying out loud, Manziel basically built them a new football stadium, made the university and athletic program a boatload of money and got almost nothing in return…. except a free pass on many of his transgressions.

That’s where this whole problem began.  If Texas A&M would have had more of a no-tolerance policy with Manziel, he may have realized the consequence of his actions a long time ago.  They could have suspended him for a full game or more for his NCAA violation in the summer of 2013.  They did not.  They could have suspended him in the wake of the fake ID incident the summer before that.  They did not.  They could have taken the opportunity to change Manziel for the better.  They did not.

Which is why the last thing he needs at the present moment is football.  His entire identity in life has been football; just look at his nickname.  Without the football, he’s just Johnny.  That is to say, he’s nothing.  I’m not saying this from the standpoint of actually knowing him personally, and I can’t pretend like I do.  However, I can say that Manziel needs some kind of wake-up call.  One that doesn’t involve football.

And at this point, it’s really a personal issue for him.  It was strictly a personal issue when he reported to rehab last winter to get himself clean; football was pushed to the backburner, as it should have been then and should be now.  His father says that he has turned down rehab twice in the past week.  He also says that “if they can’t get him help, he won’t live to see his 24th birthday.”  The problem with that comment, though, is that Paul Manziel is kinda sorta part of the problem here.

This is how I’ll put it: everyone has different parenting methods that work.  Parenting doesn’t seem to be a one-size-fits-all type of thing. But why on earth did Paul Manziel out his concerns through the press?  Has he even said these things to his own son’s face?  I understand that he is concerned about his son’s well-being, and he should be.  But if I was Johnny Manziel and my father said that for everyone to hear, I would not be happy.  At all.

Also, why does the elder Manziel talk about “they” when he talks about getting his son help?  Isn’t that responsibility on him and his family?  We’ve already established that the Browns are moving on from him; while they should help Manziel, they really have no professional obligation to do so, like they did last year.  And if none of his friends are going to intervene, then it’s up to Johnny Manziel’s family to help him.  It’s almost like his father doesn’t want to take any initiative in fixing his son’s problems.  While it should be up to Johnny to sober up, someone else in his life needs to help him realize this.  And at this point, it doesn’t look like that person is going to be Paul Manziel.

Obviously, Johnny Manziel needs a lot of help.  He needs to get his life turned around in the worst way.  If he doesn’t, it’s going to be bad. Real bad.

And maybe, just maybe, losing football will be the critical wake-up call he needs to get his life going in the positive direction.  Because his livelihood and well-being are what he needs more than the game or anything else right now.