Monday Musings: Super Bowl LII

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Photo Credit: Ian Baldwin

Today is all about Super Bowl LII. As a huge Packers fan, the outcome of this game ultimately didn’t affect me. Or so I thought. During my time in Philly for college, it was apparent how much that city loves their sports teams. My investment in the Eagles went as far as me hoping they’d win some games so I could get some free coffee from Dunkin Donuts. That said, I’m happy for the city and the fact that they can celebrate a huge victory like this.

Here are a couple Super Bowl articles to check out that are way more articulate than I would be on the topic.

Super Bowl LII Recap – The Ringer

Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over the Patriots was a triumph for the best version of the league’s best team—a version that had been on display for the vast majority of the season. Pederson was brilliant as both a play-caller and play designer, and let the overwhelming talent lining this roster take over when it mattered most. The Eagles may have entered the Super Bowl as an underdog, but they were the superior squad on Sunday night.

Robert Mays is a writer I’ve been following for a while now. He has a great grasp on football and keeping up with every team in the league. His recap is a good one if you just want to look through some of the big moments from the game.

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Underdog Eagles Played Fearlessly Against the Patriots, and Now They’re Super Bowl Champions – SI

These Eagles are a blend of advanced thinking and basic values. They go for it on fourth down and practice hard, and they show Foles that they trust him by letting him rip the ball against a dynasty. Long dismissed any magic formula, saying “The reason we won is we’ve got good people, unselfish people, and we’ve got really good players.”

This article by Michael Rosenberg takes a good look at how the Eagles were able to defeat the Patriots and keep their cool when things didn’t go quite as planned. The Eagles stepped up in a way that many thought they wouldn’t once Carson Wentz was out for the season and their confidence won them a Super Bowl.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Monday Musings: SI’s 2018 Mock Draft

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Monday Musings is back, but things are a little different today. I only want to spotlight one article because Sports Illustrated already started some coverage for the NBA draft next year.

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2018 Mock Draft: First Round Predictions

The aim of our mocks is to project what the first round of the draft might look like if the season ended today, based on which players are trending. Our Big Board (coming next week) will serve as a more definitive, fluid prospect ranking based on our own evaluations. Given it’s November, take the projected order of teams with a grain of salt—we’re simply working off the standings. We won’t waste our time on team needs or best fit at this stage.

Sports Illustrated has some great insight into the college players who could be going in the first round. If you’re like me and can’t find the time to keep up with prospects, give this a read and see who your team could possibly draft next year.

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Review: ‘Cardinal and Gold’ by Steve Delsohn

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Cardinal and Gold: The Oral History of USC Trojans Football by Steve Delshon takes a look at 40 years of the team. It’s an engaging read, and an easy one too. You get a look at the Trojans through the years with commentary from players and coaches. This format helped make the book enjoyable because you get the thoughts and opinions from a lot of various people who were there firsthand. It’s an absolute must-read for USC Football fans, and probably even just college football fans in general. You get a look into the usual rivalry with UCLA as well as the Notre Dame rivalry that have lasted all of these years. Delsohn also did a great job with depicting the various coaching situations throughout the years.

I did have a few gripes with the book. The first was that there felt like a lack of focus on the defensive side of the ball. There could be various reasons why we didn’t get to hear from certain people, but I would have loved to hear about the defense from Troy Polamalu or Clay Matthews; the latter mainly because I’m a Green Bay fan. My second was that it’s an oral history of the program, but only covers 40 years. This wasn’t as big of a gripe. When you have a program as old and as storied as USC’s, it might be hard to get an oral history from any of the players and coaches, since there’s a good chance they aren’t around anymore. These gripes didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the book too much, and that was a huge plus. Overall, it’s a great read and I highly recommend it.

If you’re interested, you can grab a copy of the book via Amazon.

Lakers Announce Summer League Roster

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The Lakers have announced their summer league roster. The roster includes some second year players along with players who have not played for the Lakers before. I think this will give a lot of the second year players some more time to develop and spend more time with Mark Madsen, who has officially been brought on as one of Luke Walton’s assistant coaches, though he’s spent plenty of time with the Lakers in previous years. It will be very interesting to see how the development will transfer into the regular season. Check out the full roster details below.

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The Ringer Launches Website

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The Ringer has officially launched their website. It’s great to see a ton of Grantland writers back on one site. Medium is a great publishing platform to team up with since they’ll provide a nice, consistent reading experience. Definitely check it out, there’s a ton of content up already. The site will be covering, sports, tech, pop culture, and more.

It’s Up To Jeanie

For those of you who may not know, Jeanie Buss has been running the business side of the Lakers for quite some time now, while her brother, Jim, runs basketball operations alongside GM Mitch Kupchak. It’s safe to say that the last couple of seasons have not been up to Lakers standards. Now there will never be another Dr. Buss, but the Lakers need to figure something out and its ultimate up to Jeanie on what to do. Jim stated that he would step down if he didn’t have the Lakers contending again and his time is up on that statement. Does Jeanie fire him this off-season? That will remain to be seen. Until then, I can only give suggestions as to what I think would benefit the team.

The Lakers recently received permission to interview Ettore Messina, an assistant coach for the Spurs. While I may not be too familiar with him, anyone coming from the Spurs camp will likely bring positive things to the Lakers. It’s also been stated that Luke Walton and Kevin Ollie are on the list of coaches they’re interested in. I’m not sure Luke should give up his coaching job with Golden State just yet. Yes, he took over the head coaching position while Steve Kerr was out, but Steve Kerr still gave input and talked to the players. Also, the Warriors did not need players to be developed nearly as much as the Lakers do. Kevin Ollie is currently the coach a UConn and will have more experience with young players and how to prepare them. However, a name I noticed that wasn’t coming up as much as I’d hoped was Mark Jackson. He’s the one who helped build up Golden State and take them far. What caused them to fire him would seem to be irrelevant for the Lakers job. It’s a new team with new players and a team in desperate need of a good coach.

Since Byron’s firing, Jeanie has stated that she was not made aware of his firing. I think this lack of communication is not a good thing for the team at all. Even though Jeanie focuses on the business side, as an owner, shouldn’t she have been aware there were plans to fire Byron before it happened? I think so. And I think this is another reason why I believe Jeanie will ultimately need to make the decision on whether her brother and Mitch will stay and it’s a decision that needs to happen soon. As a fan of the Lakers and of basketball in general, it’s disheartening to see such a lack of communication at such high levels within the organization. I’m not expecting Jeanie to be just like Dr. Buss, but I think she needs to take control of this situation and do what she deems best for the team. I’ll be eagerly awaiting to see what comes next for a struggling Lakers team. Things can’t get much worse from here. I hope.

Lakers Fire Byron Scott

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The Los Angeles Lakers have just fired Byron Scott. The team may or may not end up with a top 3 pick in the draft, but now we know they will have a new coach. With Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau off the market, it will be interesting to see who they go after. I’m hoping for a meeting with Mark Jackson and maybe even Luke Walton if he feels he’s ready to leave Golden State and work with a young, rebuilding Lakers team.

Review: ‘Back From the Dead’ By Bill Walton

Bill Walton had a long, injury filled career in the NBA. In his new book, Back from the Dead, he details his life through mainly college, the NBA, and post-NBA. His time at UCLA shaped the player he would become in the NBA and despite his long career in the NBA, he didn’t play the majority of the time. As a fan of basketball as a whole, this book was enlightening as to the career of a player who not only played before I was born, but who is one I didn’t pay much attention to when perusing through the history of basketball as I eagerly wanted to learn more. This may be in part because as a Lakers fan, I didn’t pay much attention to Walton’s main stints in Portland and Boston. Also, Larry Bird was the man in Boston to pay attention to at the time. Either way, that was a mistake on my behalf.

I was stunned by how many injuries Bill Walton went through and how his stuttering was so bad that he could hardly talk. What was more stunning though, was the way he overcame each of those injuries and the stuttering. He ended up being a commentator for games, which was a huge accomplishment for him. Injury after injury, he continued to get up and try again despite how much pain he was in. While all of this surprised me, it wasn’t the full content of the book. His relationship with John Wooden up until the coach’s death was fascinating to read about. Wooden is considered the greatest coach of all time and a look inside how he worked and how he coached his teams was intriguing and left me wanting to know more about the coach.

The book is well written and the pace seemed perfect. Walton didn’t dwell two much on one portion of his career as a basketball player. He had a brief stint with the Clippers that let’s readers know how hated Donald Sterling was then, as he is today. But who would really be surprised by that? Ultimately, this book was a great read about his career. I also loved the musical aspect that Walton tied in. He spent a lot of time with the Grateful Dead and those stories were a bright spot through the discussion of endless injuries. A lot of great basketball books have been coming out lately, and I’d add this one to the list. You can grab a copy over at Amazon.

Review: ‘Boys Among Men’ by Jonathan Abrams

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Jonathan Abrams new book, Boys Among Men, focuses on high school basketball players opting to forego college and jump to the NBA. Now the rules have changed and the NBA requires players be one year removed from high school before heading to the league. He explores the choices these players made and why they made them. There are stories about superstars and guys who never really made it.

I have to say, this was one of my favorite sports books I have ever read. As a Lakers fan, it of course didn’t hurt that Kobe was a focus in the book. But that’s not the main reason I enjoyed the book so much. Boys Among Men is well written and heavily researched to bring accuracy to the stories told. Abrams conducted hundreds of interviews and put in years of work on the book. It shows and is well worth the time.

The book has a great flow to it. I found myself reading it in large chunks instead of maybe just a chapter or two at a time. The book has been praised by Bill Simmons, Shea Serrano, and more great writers. I needed no convincing to give this book a read. Abrams writing style makes for a smooth read and the placing of the stories works well. The content didn’t focus too much on one person, while it was based largely around a handful. I loved the anecdotes of the players who didn’t become stars but maybe became essential role players. Then there were the stories of those who didn’t even make it to the draft or washed out shortly after being drafted. You get the chance to see the good and bad choices made by players, their families, and even the teams who took chances on high school kids.

I don’t want to give away any huge details of the book. What I will say is that if you’re a basketball fan of any sorts, this book is a must-read. Whatever Abrams chooses to write going forward is content that I’ll be willing to read. You can grab a copy of the book here.