Friday, December 5, 2014

How the 76ers could Actually Lose

By Charlie Scaturro

“Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win”

-Gloria Clemente, White Men Can’t Jump

No movie quote better describes the current state of the Philadelphia 76ers than Gloria Clemente’s (played by Rosie Perez) take on winning and losing in White Men Can’t Jump. Though some of the players who currently reside on the Sixers roster weren’t even born when White Men Can’t Jump hit theaters in 1992, her famous quote outlines the mentality that General Manager Sam Hinkie and the rest of the 76ers brain trust has adopted.

The plan, while controversial, is simple: put together an embarrassment of a roster in order to lose as many games as possible thereby increasing the 76ers chances of securing the best possible draft picks (it’s optional for the Sixers executives to watch games from their luxury suites like the villain in Inspector Gadget).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Randy Moss and Outrunning your Margin For Error

By Charlie Scaturro

Randy Moss was one of the most dynamic athletes and enigmatic sports figures in recent history, and even with no shortage of interesting topics to cover from his professional career, the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Rand University” spent little time focusing on the future Hall of Fame wide receiver’s journey in the NFL, and instead concentrated on his time growing up in West Virginia as he navigated his way through turmoil to ultimately end up as one of the greatest receivers of all time.

The fact that Moss did things in the NFL that, in retrospect, seem almost impossible while also serving as a lightning rod for controversy both on and off the field make it all the more interesting that the documentary didn’t highlight much about his professional career.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kevin Durant and the Half Truth about ‘Do What’s Best for You’

By Charlie Scaturro

The phrase “do what’s best for you” gets thrown around all the time by people who care about our well being. And on the surface, the intent behind this advice, which is essentially saying ‘take care of yourself’, comes from the very best places of the human conscience. Even though you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think that, in theory, people should do what they need to do to take care of themselves, it’s always interesting to see how we react when someone actually makes a decision with their health at the forefront of their thought process.

Enter Kevin Durant, who just a few days ago made the decision that he would not play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup citing the need to take a break from basketball, both physically and mentally, in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.

There are those who say this decision is more about Durant’s rumored 300-plus million dollar contract with Under Armour than it is about basketball. Maybe so. There are those who say this decision is more about Durant wanting to protect himself from injury after what happened to Paul George recently. Maybe so. There are those who say this decision is more about Durant simply not wanting to play for Team USA this summer. Maybe so. But it’s also perfectly reasonable to think that Durant would need a break after a grueling NBA season, which involved constant traveling, dealing with the media, and having his every move examined under a microscope, all while working to build himself into a brand off the court as well.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

LeBron James and Too Much of A Good Thing

By Charlie Scaturro

Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
Yeah, it’s another article about LeBron James. You know, the guy holding NBA free agency and your Twitter feed hostage right now. The guy who kind-of-but-not-really-but-probably is the reason why Dwyane Wade opted out of $40 Million in guaranteed money over the next two years to free-up cap space so the Miami Heat could be a more attractive destination for other free agents. The guy who is dominating ESPN and sports radio, even though the NBA season won’t start for another four months.

But hold on, I’m not here to speculate about which team he’s signing with, where Dan Gilbert’s private jet may or may not have been, or about what the hex codes on LeBron’s website mean. I’m focused on the fact that, as a 6’8’’ 260-pound point guard in a power forward’s body who is currently the best player in the world, LeBron has a staggering amount of options in front of him; a situation that some of us might be familiar with, in a different context of course.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Random NBA Draft Thoughts

By Charlie Scaturro

For anyone who thinks David Stern has actually relinquished control of the NBA, the events of the past few days should have you strongly reconsidering your position. For starters, LeBron made his intentions of opting out known a full week earlier than he needed to so potential suitors could beat the crap out of each other as they try to unload draft picks, acquire draft picks, clear cap space, and acquire desirable running mates to entice the best player in the world to sign with them. On top of that, the player whom many had regarded as the number one pick, Joel Embiid, revealed a serious foot injury about a week before draft night that will sideline him for the next 4-6 months.

So now there’s chaos at the top of the draft, executives are running around with lampshades on their head trying to do whatever they can to entice LeBron to join their team, the number of legit trade possibilities is beyond comprehension, Chad Ford has turned to a combination of cocaine and espresso to make sure he can churn out 2 different mock drafts per hour for the 48 hours leading up to the draft, and hell, even the Knicks are acquiring draft picks in trades rather than hemorrhaging them. So really, with all this chaos going on, there’s nothing I could do besides string together some (hopefully) coherent, but random thoughts about the NBA Draft. Here goes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tim Duncan, LeBron James and Myth About Becoming An All-Time Great

By Charlie Scaturro

It’s impossible to watch the Spurs and Heat square off against each other in this year’s NBA Finals without hearing someone mention a legacy, a comparison to Michael Jordan, or what this series means in the context of NBA history.

And when you have Tim Duncan chasing his 5th title, the Heat going for the first 3-peat since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers, and LeBron looking to add another line to what is already one of the most impressive under 30 resumes in NBA history, it’s easy to see why the discussion has been about more than what’s happening on the court.

Given all the potential history that we might witness during the next few games, the most intriguing part of the NBA Finals could very well be that we’re watching two of the best players ever, in Tim Duncan and LeBron James, go head to head in the Finals for the second consecutive year. That’s a significant statement to make, and the interesting thing to me about being universally accepted as one of the NBA’s all-time greats is that this distinction isn’t something that’s necessarily in any player’s control, no matter how great they might have been.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Temporary Escape and Richard Sherman

By Charlie Scaturro

If most people are being honest, they would admit their everyday lives aren’t all that exciting. Whether you’re working a 9-5 or making a living by some other means, there aren’t many extraordinary things we come into contact with during a given week. Which is why it makes total sense that we turn to various forms of entertainment to help us escape from our everyday lives and feel like we’re a part of something big, important, and exciting for a couple of hours.

Few things have done a better job of helping us in our endeavor to vicariously pursue excitement than watching 300-pound men battle for 3-plus hours at a time during the months of September to February. The NFL provides this release and rush for millions of Americans every week, and most things in our culture simply can’t compete.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Our Peyton Manning Legacy Dilemma

By Charlie Scaturro

Wrapped up in the immense buzz surrounding this weekend’s AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Broncos is how much this game means for Peyton Manning’s legacy. It’s been pounded into our heads in recent weeks that one of the most highly decorated regular season quarterbacks in NFL history (perhaps the most decorated) owns a pedestrian, even below average, 10-11 record in the postseason. And naturally, we’ve been trying to make sense of why a player who has been so dominant in the regular season only has one Super Bowl title to his credit. Of course, it does go a bit further than the fact that his brother, Eli, has more rings than he does. Over the years, Peyton’s teams have endured a number of early playoff disappointments after extraordinary, sometimes record-setting, regular season play.

Trying to make sense of this entire exercise has certainly been a difficult thing for us to digest as a sports culture. You could argue that the majority of the blame falls on Peyton as the leader of of those teams, and the fact that his playoff performance hasn’t been up to the impossibly high standard he’s set for himself year in and year out. You could argue that many of those Indianapolis teams didn’t have a defense or running game that offered Manning much help. You could argue that Manning ran into some great teams in the playoffs (most notably, Tom Brady and the Patriots), and couldn't quite beat them.