This series rules

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The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are well on their way to giving fans one of the best second-round NBA playoff series ever. Spoiling the league with Finals-level play in April, including three former MVPs and a horde of complementary All-Stars around them, this series has it all. If you’re here for hoops ingenuity, awe-inspiring talent, exhausting action or even simply, hilarious theatrics, the Rockets and Warriors have every genre covered.

In sport, it’s not always the two best teams who give the greatest show. This year, it might be, if only by coincidence. The Warriors are unanimously the best team on Earth, and although the Rockets aren’t the definitive No. 2, they’re dang close among the elites with the Bucks and Raptors. But it isn’t just the high-scoring offenses, and incredible ball-handling skills alone that make this series so fun.

Both teams have assembled maybe the largest contingent of polarizing celebrity faces ever in a basketball game. Kevin Durant joined the winningest team of all-time. Draymond Green has cussed out everyone reading this blog. Chris Paul has cussed out everyone reading this blog’s favorite player. James Harden’s entire interpretation of his profession offends the masses. Sprinkle in the history of Houston nearly beating Golden State in the Western Conference Finals a year ago before falling victim to a meme-worthy 27 straight three-point misses, and this is the most perfect rivalry where every casual fan has to feel some way about at least one player — and likely multiple players — on the floor. This is why we watch.

It’s only been one game, but 2019’s rendition of this series already has its own narrative. Game 1 saw a narrow 104-100 Warriors win in controversial fashion as the referees missed a number of fouls on three-point attempts, most of which were fired by the Rockets. Head coach Mike D’Antoni admitted postgame that referees told him at halftime that they’d missed calls. “They missed four of them,” he said. “That’s 12 foul shots.”

With foul calls taking the spotlight, the talking point for NBA fans has already been established, and it’s perfect. The discussion has already morphed beyond which team is better or which player is better. The groupthink has, instead, evolved into the legitimacy of referee complaints, and the culpability of a jump shooter in how he lands. Eureka! We’ve reached it. An entertainment profession reaching its peak levels of entertainment past the two hours or so worth of play.

Another underrated aspect of this wonderfully petty series is how well we know each of the best talents on the floor. We know who they are, where they’re from, what they’re about, what makes them tick, how they’ll tick, and how fans will respond when they unleash. In a comic book, for example, a superhero might have a catchphrase. But at Oracle, Draymond gets hit for a technical after he catapults profanities toward a guy with a whistle. And in the final moments of a tight game, Chris Paul gets tossed from the arena for being himself after a perceived miss-call.

This is better than a scripted drama. It’s a real-time one, with everything unraveling how you thought it would with the only shock being when.

There are countless other reasons to love what the Rockets-Warriors series is about and where it’s headed. Durant is in the midst of one of the most magical playoff displays ever. Curry is a treat whenever he touches the ball. Harden’s numbers are coming no matter what. Paul is clawing his way to get the championship ring he perennially falls short of. The Rockets are fighting to validate tough offseason decisions. The Warriors are pulling through what could be their last run of the dynasty era. It’s all thrilling.

The storylines are plentiful, spicy and necessary. The series sporting all of the faces we’ve watched grow into their celebrity selves could, once again, shape how the NBA looks a year from now. That’s why it’s going to be impossible to miss.

This series absolutely and unequivocally rules.


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The heated ending to Game 1 of Rockets-Warriors was a perfect microcosm of the rivalry

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This is going to be one wildly fun series.

The ending of Rockets vs. Warriors on Sunday was a disappointing end to a game that otherwise felt like was the beginning of an incredible series. With a chance to send the game to overtime, Houston missed a shot, turned the ball over and was left complaining for a foul call they may or may not have deserved. Then, they watched Chris Paul get ejected after picking up his second technical foul. It was a strange, frantic finish to a wild first game of this series.

The Rockets played it perfectly. Down three with 21 seconds left in Game 1 against the Warriors, Houston forced a turnover on Kevin Durant. Had they not, they would have had to play the foul game. This steal gave the Rockets a chance to tie the game.

They gave the ball to James Harden, who had iso’d Draymond Green at the top of the key. Harden pushed off, then stepped back and hoisted up a three. Then, he kicked his legs out, thrusting them into Green, who was contesting the shot.

  • First, what a double team. Chris Paul spoke to an official before this defensive possession, presumptively to let him know the double team was coming and that they wouldn’t be fouling. The result was a clutch steal that gave his team a chance to win
  • Second, was that a foul on Draymond Green? I don’t think so. Harden clearly hurls his legs forward. At a certain point, kicking out becomes dangerous to the defender
  • Third, is that not a blatant push-off on Harden before he steps back for the three? I mean, come on, right? It’s obvious now
  • Finally, man that’s a rough way to go. Eric Gordon was rolling. There’s no telling if his next shot would have gone in, had he had a chance to get one up.

That was the brutal ending to Houston’s hopes at stealing Game 1 of their second-round series on the road. The Rockets recovered Harden’s miss, but the ball ended up out of bounds on a botched pass to Eric Gordon. Then Paul snaps at a nearby official, who tosses him for his second technical foul.

The storyline of the game became non-calls on Harden’s jump shots. It’s not the ending Harden gave us earlier in the regular season, when he hit a miraculous three over two Warriors defenders to win it late in the fourth quarter.

This was easily one of the most strange endings to a high-pressure playoff game, and that’s after the Spurs opted not to foul on a must-foul possession before losing Game 7 to the Nuggets on Saturday. Houston wishes it can have this one back.

Now, they’ve got to get ready for Game 2, against a Warriors team that used Game 1 to adjust to their new opponent.


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Al Horford sure looks like Giannis Antetokounmpo’s kryptonite

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Horford shut Antetokounmpo down in Game 1. Is this what we expect for the entire series?

Giannis Antetokounmpo may have been the best player on the floor, but Al Horford was the Most Valuable Player in Boston’s shocking 112-90 playoff win in Game 1 on Sunday. Horford absolutely shut Antetokounmpo down. If the Greek Freak is the NBA’s Superman, Horford, at least for one game, was his kryptonite.

Horford final tally was three blocks against the Bucks on Sunday. But all of them came against Antetokounmpo, including one devastating sequence where Horford blocked Antetokounmpo twice on the same possession. The second of the two blocks may have been the most disrespectful block we’ve ever seen on the MVP candidate. It should have counted as two rejections by itself.

Here’s another angle, in slower motion:

Antetokounmpo earns his name as one of the most dominant players in the NBA this season because he appropriately used his size and strength to dominate opposing defenses. But he was unable to use that brute force to bully Boston’s trio of front court defenders: Horford, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes. Antetokounmpo shot just 7-of-21 from the field. Horford’s consistent defense — both on-the-ball and helping from the weak side — set the tone from the beginning of the game.

We knew that Horford would have to be the savior if this Boston team was going to make a championship run. Irving is an all-world scorer and playmaker, and Boston’s roster is deep with talent at every position. But Horford is the key for the Celtics; he’s the engine that keeps this well-oiled machine running on both ends of the floor.

Horford didn’t just neutralize Antetokounmpo; he also put up 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. He was the difference in a 22-point blowout win in Game 1. And if he plays like this the entire series, he’ll be the difference between returning to the Eastern Conference Finals and falling to the Bucks in the second round.


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Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump’s record on white nationalism under new scrutiny after synagogue shooting

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites).

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, sought to defend Trump’s record during CNN interview: ‘He does think it’s a threat’

The Trump administration faced fresh scrutiny on Sunday over the president’s fraught record on white nationalism in the wake of a suspected hate crime at a synagogue in California on Saturday, which left one woman dead and three injured.

Trump unequivocally condemned the shooting, telling a rally on Saturday evening in Wisconsin: “Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated.”

Related: San Diego synagogue shooting victim died ‘trying to save rabbi’

Continue reading…

Donald Trump | The Guardian


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“israel and germany” – Google News: Israeli leaders mourn death of Holocaust survivor rabbi – Washington Post

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Israeli leaders mourn death of Holocaust survivor rabbi  Washington Post

Israeli leaders are mourning the death of a prominent Hassidic rabbi who survived Auschwitz and championed Holocaust remembrance among ultra-Orthodox …

“israel and germany” – Google News


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Meet the Press – April 28, 2019 – NBCNews.com

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Michael_Novakhov
shared this story
from “elections 2016 russian ads on social media” – Google News.

Meet the Press – April 28, 2019  NBCNews.com

ANDREA MITCHELL: This Sunday, the president versus Congress. President Trump says he’s done cooperating with Russia investigations. PRES. DONALD …


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Kawhi Leonard is showing why the Raptors’ trade for him was no gamble at all

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Leonard’s remarkable performance is a reminder exactly who we’re dealing with, and how much his addition changes the Raptors.

On the same night Kawhi Leonard scored the second-most points in Raptors playoff history, DeMar DeRozan made just one-third of his shots. This is not a direct comparison between the two players because there is no real comparison between the two. It is, though a comparison between Toronto’s future today and its future a year ago.

It’s a vivid picture: Leonard’s remarkable performance against the 76ers immediately followed by DeRozan’s lukewarm showing in a Game 7 Spurs loss. It’s a painting of what Toronto GM Masai Ujiri had in mind when he traded DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a first-round pick for Leonard and Danny Green, despite both being impending free agents.

The Raptors went for gold, trading the face of the franchise to rent an all-world forward — one coming off an injury that limited him to just nine games last season, who also can (and very well may) leave in free agency in July. That gold was in the form of an NBA Finals trophy, and so far, the Raptors look every bit like a team that can win a championship.

Kawhi Leonard legitimized the Raptors this season. Yes, they lost Game 1 of the first round to Orlando, but they rebounded and won four in a row in blowout fashion. The way Toronto picked Philly apart in Game 1 of the second round — remember, Toronto never wins Game 1s — shows that the gamble Ujiri took over the summer might pay dividends, both this season and potentially down the road.

Leonard didn’t just score 45 points — something only Vince Carter has ever done in a Raptors playoff game — but he did it on 16-of-23 shooting from the field. Against a Philadelphia team boasting Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Kawhi Leonard was far and away the best player on the court. He owned the game, and it wasn’t a matter of discussion.

There was nothing the Sixers could do to slow him down. Butler, a premier two-way wing, had no answer. Simmons, who defended him in spots, said he thought he played good defense. Harris’ length offered no solutions, either. The only answer was Leonard, who pick and chose when he wanted to make a shot.

Game 1 against the Sixers was a reminder just how dominant Kawhi Leonard can be. This was the same player who bent the Golden State Warriors to his will in Game 1 of the 2017 West Finals, before his injury allowed the Warriors to come back and sweep the series immediately after. This is the player who won Finals MVP and made LeBron James quake in his shoes. Toronto is banking it can convince Leonard to stay long-term if its season is successful enough. He is the level of player who can decide the Raptors’ trajectory over the next few seasons with one simple decision: stay and win, or leave and win somewhere else.

It’s not all Leonard. Pascal Siakam has been incredible, and was again with 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting against Philadelphia. His emergence as the runaway Most Improved Player of the Year allows the Raptors to dominate on the defensive end. It allows Kyle Lowry to settle into his role as a facilitator, picking his spots as now the third-best player on a championship team — exactly where he should be. Leonard’s dominance, in a way, has allowed Siakam to flourish as well.

The Raptors are doing what they’re supposed to do: make it incredibly difficult for Leonard to reasonably leave this summer. He isn’t going to find a better supporting cast in free agency anywhere else in the NBA. Leaving Toronto would put his desire to win multiple championships against his purported desire to play at home in Los Angeles.

But Leonard, now, also looks like the best player in the Eastern Conference. On a floor with five stars, he was the standout among the standouts. He was the player for which teams have had no answer. He was everything Ujiri envisioned when he traded for him last summer.

That trade looks like one of the best moves the Raptors could have made. It was a risky gamble now paying off in money time for Toronto. Leonard and DeRozan, in a way are opposites: one raises his game in the playoffs, one has always shrinked from the moment, as he did again in his first Game 7 with his new team.

This is exactly Ujiri banked on when he pulled the trigger on this deal. Leonard looks like the best player in an Eastern Conference that racked up stars overnight. If he is indeed that and chooses to stay, Toronto may be on the verge of forming a dynasty.


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Was this soccer goal the ultimate act of sportsmanship, or the dumbest decision of the year?

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You have NEVER seen anything like this in these circumstances.

A Sunday afternoon game between Leeds United and Aston Villa gave way to a moment that will be discussed for generations. In the 77th minute Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa instructed his team to stop defending and give up an uncontested goal, eventually leading to a tie.

The English Championship match had huge ramifications for both sides. With Leeds in third place a win would have guaranteed promotion, marking Leeds United’s return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004. In front of a raucous crowd, with everything on the line it looked like Leeds had secured a path to promotion following a 72nd minute goal.

However, the goal came in controversial fashion. Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia suffered an injury and was down on the field, and while there was no whistle, Leed’s United elected to keep playing — which flies in the face of expected behavior in soccer. Thinking that Leeds would hold up the social contract, Villa was caught watching as Leeds broke down the flank and scored.

Aston Villa were understandably furious, with a brawl breaking out on the pitch, and fingers taking to Twitter to offer thoughts. Many felt that what Leeds did was dirty, others said they were in the right for playing until the whistle — but in the end it was Bielsa who wanted to make right for his team scoring when Villa were down a man, leading to him calling his team to surrender the goal as a make-good.

Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson was so furious at the call from his manager that he became the only player who tried to stop the goal — an act that caught an earful from his teammates who respected their manager’s wishes.

This moment would be wild enough if it happened back in October, but this is April — crunch time of the season, in a game with promotion ramifications. The draw mathematically eliminated Leeds United from qualifying by finishing in the league’s Top 2, and now need some luck in the EFL Championship Playoff where they could be promoted if they win the fixtures.

By the way, in those playoffs … they could be facing Aston Villa again. To make things ever more painful for Leeds United fans: The tie meant that Sheffield United took their spot and secured promotion. Sheffield United is one of Leeds’ biggest rivals.


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BYU Valedictorian Comes Out as Gay in Graduation Speech: ‘I Am Not Broken’ —WATCH

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Matt Easton, a political science valedictorian and practicing Mormon at Brigham Young University came out as gay on Friday in a speech to the entire college.

Said Easton, to cheers: “I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God. I am not broken. I am loved and important in the plan of our Great Creator. Each of us are.”

“Four years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college,” he added. “It is a phenomenal feeling. And it is a victory for me in and of itself.”

Reports Quartz: ‘It is hard to overstate to what extent this speech is historic—and brave. Though openly LGBT students may attend BYU, located in Provo, Utah, its restrictive honor code forbids “homosexual behavior” and “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” Acting on these feelings can, and does, result in expulsion from the university. (Heterosexual couples found to have engaged in “sexual touching” also face punishment, which may include mandatory worship, being placed on probation, or having their diplomas withheld.)’

Easton tweeted later that evening: “I am grateful to @byu_fhss for allowing me to share my authentic and vulnerable self to so many in our college. During my time at BYU, I have slowly come out to my closest family members and friends. However, this is the first time I have publicly declared it. I felt it was important to share both for myself and for the LGBTQ+ community at BYU.”

The post BYU Valedictorian Comes Out as Gay in Graduation Speech: ‘I Am Not Broken’ —WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Trump Rips ‘Third Rate Actor’ Jussie Smollett While Celebrating ‘MAGA Country’ — WATCH

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Donald Trump took a moment at his rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Saturday to tear into “third rate actor” Jussie Smollett. The attack came during a segment in which Trump extolled the virtues of MAGA, or as Trump called it, “the greatest theme in the history of politics.”

“It’s called MAGA country,” said Trump. “I didn’t hear that term until that third rate actor in Chicago went out and he said ‘I was beaten up by MAGA country,’ can you believe it? Now that’s a hate crime, right? He said he was beaten up by MAGA country. Turned out to be a total lie. … By the way, I have to tell you that case in Chicago is a disgrace to our nation. A disgrace.”

The post Trump Rips ‘Third Rate Actor’ Jussie Smollett While Celebrating ‘MAGA Country’ — WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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Trump Proudly Claims That Dumping Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities was His ‘Sick Idea’ — WATCH

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At a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Saturday, Donald Trump proudly claimed that it was his “sick idea” to dump immigrants into sanctuary cities.

Said Trump: “Last month alone, 100,000 illegal immigrants arrived at our borders, placing a massive strain on communities and schools and hospitals and public resources like nobody’s ever seen before. Now we’re sending many of them to sanctuary cities, thank you very much. They’re not too happy about it. I’m proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea. Hey, hey, what did they say? We want them. I say we’ll give em to you, thank you.”

The post Trump Proudly Claims That Dumping Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities was His ‘Sick Idea’ — WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.


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6 reasons the Spurs didn’t foul against the Nuggets in Game 7

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After careful observation there are some good reasons.

The Spurs were so weird, so mind-boggling, so un-Spurs like in Game 7 against the Nuggets that it’s leaving everyone scratching their heads and wondering what the heck happened. After a dramatic fourth quarter comeback Gregg Popovich’s team astoundingly decided not to foul with 28 seconds left on the clock and down by four points.

Our own Kristian Winfield described the moment as a “defensive brain fart,” which is probably the best explanation you can possibly give for what happened. However, after pondering this moment overnight I have a few more ideas.

The Spurs were ready for vacation.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who coast on their final day of work before vacation, and those who pretend to be industrious to cover up coasting on their final work day before vacation.

San Antonio was both in one game. They remembered “hey, if we just drop this one we can be in Aruba by Monday, which honestly — I can’t fault them for.

The Spurs had tickets to see Avengers: Endgame at 10 p.m.

Do you know how hard it is to find tickets right now, especially for an entire NBA team? Overtime would have forced the Spurs to need to find a different showing, and dodging spoilers is already a minefield.

Seasons come and go — the end to this arc of the Marvel Cinematic Universe only comes around once in a great while.

Gregg Popovich saw this photo of himself with Tim Duncan in 1998.


NBAE/Getty Images

I can absolutely see Coach Pop catching sight of this photo in the crowd somewhere and having an immediate existential crisis about the passage of time and what life means. It would have been enough to forget what was happening on the court, for sure.

Nikola Jokic dominating shook the Spurs to their core.

After all, San Antonio is supposed to be the team who finds obscure 2nd round international talent in the NBA Draft and turns them into superstars — not other teams. After dropping a triple-double on them it would have been difficult to continue with the realization someone else chomped your flavor.

They thought it was the third quarter, not the fourth.

Makes as much sense as anything at this point.

The Spurs saw Kawhi Leonard’s box score and got sad.

A career-high 45 points and 11 rebounds will do that to you, especially when DeMar DeRozan struggled to shoot .333 from the field.


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Rockets vs. Warriors Part 2 is here. Is anyone ready?

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The highly anticipated rematch of last year’s West Finals is coming earlier than expected, and we’re STILL underselling the stakes.

Last season’s best NBA playoff series bar none was the epic 7-game battle between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. It was rich in narrative reinforcement and narrative destruction. It had more Xs and Os drama than a basketball nerd could ever reasonably wish for. It had personality and personalities. It had drama. It had rises and collapses (well, one really big collapse). It had it all.

Are we ready for the sequel? Because it’s here. Like, now.

It’s hard to overstate how monumental this second-round series between the Warriors and Rockets will be. Houston was the biggest challenger to the Warriors’ repeat title run last season, and the Rockets have looked so good of late that it may also be the case this season (despite an improved East field). The Warriors certainly haven’t looked unstoppable in the first round — the Clippers gave them a great, competitive and tough series. Meanwhile, Houston brushed aside a team (Utah) considered before the postseason began to be the toughest first-round out in the West.

Losing this series could destroy all talk of these Warriors — the 2017-19 Warriors with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — being the best team ever created. Maybe that talk has already ended, but losing the chance at a threepeat would fully annihilate it. Losing this series could totally change Durant’s summer calculus, and the Warriors’ decision tree on Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins. Losing this series could really affect Curry’s reputation, fair or not.

Meanwhile, should the Rockets lose, the championship window with Chris Paul gets a little tighter and Daryl Morey presses a little harder to add another star via pluck and ingenuity. James Harden’s case for best player in the world loses a little steam. Houston would look forward to this summer’s potential Warriors upheaval with glee and hope, but you sense the Rockets really want to prove they can beat this version of Golden State really bad. They’d lose the chance if Durant leaves.

For all the complaints about the inevitable Warriors, the Rockets almost beat them a year ago and have another chance at it this time around. That it’s happening so early in the postseason shouldn’t minimize how important the series looks. Consider too that while the Blazers have looked good and the Nuggets won’t be easy outs, this is considered the rightful West finals: the winner of this series will be favored heavily to make the NBA Finals. It’s been a few years since this has happened in the Western Conference, that what we’ll see in June is decided before Mother’s Day. But it looks to be the case here.

This series is going to be everywhere. The officiating talk is going to be endless and nauseating. We’re going to have the two-time defending champs and the reigning MVP both complaining about getting no respect. Pundits are going to ask if the Warriors’ dominance is bad for basketball (no), if Harden’s playing style is bad for basketball (no), if Moreyball is bad for basketball (no), if all the ref-working and whistle complaining is bad for basketball (yes).

All of that chatter is going to be annoying. But the basketball — yes, the basketball will be good.

The Rockets have looked like themselves for a few months now. I don’t know what Chris Paul did during his injury lay-off, but he looked 45 years old before he went out early in the season and looked like Chris Paul when he returned. (Wait, was he out the same time as LeBron? Wasn’t Carmelo Anthony already out, too? Did they secretly record Space Jam 2 this winter? Did CP3 actually get body-snatched by the Mon-Stars?) Harden has somehow been even better than he was as MVP last year, even though he may not win MVP this year. He’s certainly dipped deeper into his true basketball self. He’s more James Harden than ever.

The rest of the Rockets are less frightening to opponents, though P.J. Tucker has been supreme glue and Austin Rivers is a nice twist on the rotation. With Cousins’ sad injury, the Warriors are relying on guys like Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut, and Alfonzo McKinnie beyond the core four plus Andre Iguodala.

All of these supplemental players will matter — they always matter — but this series will be decided by whether the Warriors can either slow or outshoot James Harden and Chris Paul, whether the Rockets can take either Curry or Durant out of their rhythms without letting Klay explode, how the refs call defense on Harden and Curry, and whether there are any in-series injuries. Perhaps that’s one benefit of getting this series started now: only Cousins has been a casualty of this postseason, and everyone else should be relatively fresh.

Ready or not, it’s just about here. We don’t always get what we want in this sport, but we’ve been waiting for the rematch since the final buzzer on Game 7 last year. Here it is.


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Ronald Ollie’s ride from ‘Last Chance U’ to the NFL

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Let’s talk to key figures from the Netflix show.

Ronald Ollie, the East Mississippi Community College defensive lineman, and Brittany Wagner, the Mississippi junior college’s academic advisor, were the stars of Last Chance U’s first season.

Ollie was the show’s comic relief and, in some ways, its heart. He exemplified the JUCO experience — the consistent grind to stay engaged with schoolwork, fend off homesickness in a tiny town, and get a chance to play football at a higher level. Wagner was the person every JUCO needs: always around for support, but consistently pushing players to make their grades.

Their back-and-forth was the most widely beloved arc of the season. It ended with Ollie, in early 2016, accepting a Division I offer to play at FCS Nicholls State.

Ollie didn’t get picked in the 2019 NFL Draft. He told me following the draft that he was signing with the Ravens, but this report came out later:

Ollie came back into the national picture this draft cycle.

After a March 21 workout in front of scouts generated social media buzz, Ollie confirmed these numbers that had shown up on Twitter:

  • 6’2, 292 pounds
  • A 4.87-second 40-yard dash
  • A 35-inch vertical leap
  • A 114-inch broad jump
  • 22 bench press reps

Some caveats apply. Pro day numbers cannot be verified the same way as NFL Combine test results. There’s no standardized measurement system. Ollie also told me he ran the three-cone drill, but didn’t have his recorded time handy.

Those numbers, though, are excellent. They would put Ollie five bench reps shy of the average for defensive tackles, but otherwise, they say he’s really fast and explosive for a player his size. They look a good bit like the 2016 combine numbers for Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche, a former five-star recruit who became a first-round pick by the Cardinals.

Ollie went into the draft expecting to get picked, however. Only about three FCS defensive linemen get drafted every year, almost all of them in the fifth round or later.

“I have zero expectations,” he told me the day after his pro day. “I’m looking to be an undrafted guy. That’s what I have my mind set on, being an undrafted guy. Just off of being realistic, you know, being real with myself. That’s what I’m looking for.”

I asked Ollie for a self-scouting report, and he offered this:

Explosive playmaker. I would say that, because I still play and fit in the scheme of defenses, and at the same time, I make big plays, like game-changing plays, like I might pick up a fumble and return it for a touchdown, or catch an interception. Defensive linemen don’t do that. Block a field goal and go 84 yards for a touchdown, defensive linemen don’t do that. Regular defensive linemen don’t do that.

I still rush the passer. I still stop the run. I’m just explosive. First step is quick. No lateral movement.

Here’s that 84-yard TD from 2016, which earned Ollie consideration for the Piesman Trophy:

“I’m just hoping that somebody’ll pick up the phone and make a call,” he said.

Someone has.

That Ollie is even on the fringes of the NFL is a hell of an achievement.

When Ollie was a small child, his father killed his mother and then himself. Relatives raised him. A friend from Wayne County in Mississippi, where Ollie grew up, described it on the show as a difficult place from which to “make it.”

As Ollie wrapped up high school, he hoped to play in the SEC. But he didn’t get Division I offers, and he wound up choosing between a handful of junior colleges.

He gets tired of telling the story: He was sitting in his car outside his high school library on National Signing Day in 2014. He had scholarship offers from three Mississippi JUCOs in front of him: EMCC, Copiah-Lincoln, and Mississippi Gulf Coast.

He had no strong opinion, as none was what he really wanted. He “kind of scrambled ‘em up,” he said, and picked one from the front seat: EMCC’s.

His freshman year, the year before Netflix showed up in Scooba, Wagner worried Ollie wouldn’t make it through the curriculum.

“I was really questioning, ‘Is this a DI player?,’” Wagner said. “‘Is he even gonna be close to qualifying for Division I? Does he care enough to put forth the effort? Is he mature enough to handle the pressure?’”

In 2015, Season 1 of the show, Ollie sometimes struggled in school. But by then, Wagner knew he could make his grades if he put his mind to it. The problem was a concussion that limited Ollie’s playing time and potential to get high-major offers.

He got a few FCS offers, including one from Southeast Missouri State. The show chronicled Ollie texting a coach there that he wasn’t interested, at which point Wagner said she “freaked out on him.” Wagner eventually learned Ollie didn’t want to fly to his official visit, having never flown on a plane before. He eventually got over it and made the trip, but he decided to sign with Nicholls State, historically a better program than SEMO.

For a while at Nicholls, he was unhappy that he’d been featured on Last Chance U. He thought the show accurately depicted life at EMCC, but he also thought Nicholls’ coaching staff treated him differently because of his Netflix fame. Ollie and his coaches have since ironed that out, he said, and his view of the show has changed.

“It impacted a lot of people, and I helped a lot of people and [was] an inspiration to so many people. And I’m just thankful for that,” he said.

After 2017, his second year at Nicholls, he wanted to transfer to an FBS program, still seeking the offers he wanted out of high school and EMCC. But none came, so he played his third and final year at Nicholls. He had 13.5 tackles for loss, including five sacks.

Now, Ollie, the player, is part of a small group of Last Chance U players to join an NFL organization.

The first was John Franklin, who started as a QB at Florida State, went to EMCC, then played various skill positions at Auburn and FAU. Franklin signed a deal with the Bears in 2018.

Linebacker Dakota Allen, who played at Texas Tech both before and after his EMCC stint, got drafted by the Rams in the seventh round in 2019. He’ll sign at some point.

Other EMCC alums from before the Netflix show (which filmed on campus during the 2015 and ‘16 seasons) have gotten NFL looks. Ex-Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly is the most recent.

As Ollie tries to make the league, he’s also planning to close out one other bit of business from the show.

He’s a few credit hours shy of graduating from Nicholls. He was on track to graduate this year, but he left school after Nicholls’ FCS playoff appearance — following the fall 2018 semester — to start training ahead of the draft.

Wagner left EMCC in 2017 and now lives in Birmingham, where she has a consulting and public speaking business.

“I will be that nag in his ear,” she said. “Get the degree, get the degree, get the degree.”

There was a time when Ollie was in danger of not getting a degree and miles away from any kind of NFL career. Now, he has a chance to wind up with both.

“He’s been through so much in his lifetime, but specifically in the last three, four years, he’s so much farther along than a lot of guys his age in his majority level, what he’s gone through, and knowing who he is,” Wagner said. “He has really found himself in the past few years, and he’s not gonna make the mistakes that other rookies make, because he’s already made ‘em. He’s already made’ em, and he’s already learned from ‘em.”

If you missed Ollie between the show and now, you weren’t alone.

In 2018, on Valentine’s Day, Wagner adopted a dog. Her daughter, Kennedy, missed Ollie. Wagner called Ollie to ask if the family could name their dog after him.

Ronald Ollie happily approved.


Brittany Wagner

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