NBA Revamps All-Star Game

The NBA has made a huge change in the annual All-Star game. The league usually had an East vs West matchup but the league is ditching the old system. Now the leading vote receiver from each conference will be named team captains and be able to pick teams players, regardless of their conference onto their team. This years All-Star game in L.A. will be the first ever without an East-West matchup.

This idea had been reportedly discussed for a while now and is finally a reality. There is no set date for the new all-star draft this season, but starters will be revealed on January 18 and reserves will be revealed on January 23. The Western Conference won six of the final seven all-star games under the outgoing format.

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Gauging Lonzo Ball’s Preseason Debut

At the Honda Center on Saturday, a sell-out crowd in Anaheim was decked out in all purple and gold… for a preseason game.

It was not to see a glimpse of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson courtside, nor was it to watch new acquisitions Brook Lopez and Stephen Zimmerman play for the first time in a Lakers jersey. It was to see the number 2 draft pick and Summer League MVP, Lonzo Ball, prove himself to a city that has been left helpless since the departure of Kobe Bryant.

As the Lakers took the stage for the first game of the preseason, all in attendance had their eyes focused on the UCLA star.

Ball finished the night with five points, eight assists and seven rebounds, while leading all Lakers in minutes. The rookie point guard shot just 2 of 9 from the field and saw only 1 of his 5 shots from beyond the arc drop.

From the excess media attention and hype around the Chino Hills native, many expected him to have somewhat of an MVP caliber outing, however, Ball is still a 19 year old learning and growing through each possession, and will only get better as time progresses.

The general consensus on Ball from team management is that he is an exceptional talent, and one that will propel the Lakers into postseason contention once again. The kid’s ceiling is high, and his preseason debut should not distract Lakers fans from the inevitable star that Lonzo will become.

 

National anthem protests surge

There has recently been an upsurge of public protests during the national anthem where people, most noticeably NFL players, kneel as the anthem is sung. This issue first became prevalent when Colin Kaepernick began doing it, receiving much criticism in the process. Now, it other players from various teams have followed his lead. These protests increased exponentially after Donald Trump made derogatory comments towards those that had been kneeling, which upset people and players alike.

Critics of the protests argue that it kneeling during the anthem is an act of disrespect towards the flag, the anthem, the soldiers that fight for this country, and everything that the United States of America stands for. Supporters claim that the protest is not meant to demean the flag or the soldiers. Instead, it is a call for attention, a reminder to the country that, taking into account racism in America and matters such as police brutality, this country is not equally free for everyone. It is, they say, a plea to make this country great for all of its people.

Image credits: Sports Illustrated

The Miami Heat and Josh Richardson Agree to High-valued Extension

The Miami Heat have reached an agreement with guard Josh Richardson on a four-year, $42 million contract extension.

Richardson, a 2015 second-round pick, has quickly emerged as one of Miami’s strongest bench pieces. He averaged 10.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 53 games with the Heat last season, and shot a league leading 40.2 percent from beyond the arc after the All-Star break. 

Richardson’s extension offer comes before that of his draft counterpart- Justise Winslow. His contract extension hints at the likelihood of the upcoming 2017-2018 season being Winslow’s final opportunity to make a strong case in marking his value after underachieving in his first year, and missing the majority of last season due to a torn labrum. 

Miami will look to carve Richardson an increased role in the rotation, and will balance his minutes between both guard positions. 

Richardson will be entering his third year as a member of the Heat, and it’ll be entirely up to him as to whether or not Miami prides itself on this “steal”, or regrets this decision.

Kansas City Chiefs Upset New England Patriots on Season Opener

On Thursday night, the New England Patriots hosted the Kansas City Chiefs on national television for the NFL’s season opener. Before the game the Patriots unveiled their new Super Bowl banner.

However, not all went well that night for the Patriots.

The Patriots were stunned as they were upset by the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots are favorited to win the Super Bowl again this year, according to the Westgate Las Vegas Super Book.

The game was close, and the Patriots had a six point advantage the first three quarters as they leaded 21-27 entering the fourth quarter.

However, the Chiefs’ offense exploded, as they scored another 21 points to win the game 42-27.

Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith threw for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns, a truly remarkable performance.

How will the Patriots bounce back from this week one defeat?

 

 

 

Matthew Stafford Makes History

The Detroit Lions have signed Quarterback Matthew Stafford to a historic 5-year contract valued at $125 million, with $92 million guaranteed- making him the highest paid player in the history of the sport.

Stafford, who is winless in the postseason in the three playoff games he’s been in since 2011, was the number one overall pick in 2009, but quickly sunk to mediocrity in the first couple years of his career under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

Since then, Stafford has notched franchise record numbers, including consecutive years in 2015 and 2016 where he recorded a completion percentage higher than 65%, and threw for more than 4,200 yards.

The Lions have established a staple to their offense with Stafford’s signing for years to come, and will look to him as the cornerstone of their success offensively.

Football is Back! Predictions for Week 1’s Ranked Games

OPINION:

University of Michigan (11) VS. University of Florida (17), Saturday, 3:30 PM ET

Prediction: Although Michigan has lost some great players to the draft, Florida will be without their star Wide Receiver, Antonio Callaway. Florida also suspended nine other players, including their leading running back. Florida has yet to name a starting quarterback, so without any key players on offense one has to wonder how Florida could win this game. On the other hand, Michigan has earned it’s prestigious reputation back as a college football powerhouse by targeting and signing star recruits. I am predicting that Michigan will win this game.

Florida State University (3) VS. University of Alabama (1), Saturday, 8:00 PM ET

Prediction: Both teams are expected to be playoff contenders this season, win or lose. Alabama has 11 players from last years team returning to the field. A team that came within seconds of winning a national championship. With an improving sophomore quarterback, Jalen Hurts, Alabama’s offense could have a chance to stare down the ruthless Florida State defense. However, Florida State has 15 returning players. One of which is Sophomore Quarterback Deandre Francois. Francois is a rising star in college football and is expected to have a great season. This isn’t a battle over which team is worse, rather a battle over which team is better. Although Alabama’s talent is worthy of a championship team, I’m expecting Florida State to come out victorious Saturday by a slim margin.

West Virginia University (22) VS Virginia Tech (21), Sunday, 7:30 PM ET

Prediction: West Virginia comes out with an automatic advantage in this game as their new transfer Quarterback Will Grier, is expected to do well this season. He played six games at the University of Florida before being suspended for drug use. During those six games Grier put up some good numbers and proved to be productive. Running Back Justin Crawford, senior, is expected to have a great season and will prove to be a threat to Virginia Tech. On the other hand, Virginia Tech will be starting red shirt freshman quarterback, Josh Jackson. Virginia Tech won’t be expected to put up spectacular offensive numbers this season due to Jackson’s inexperience. However, the game will be close, but I’m predicting that West Virginia will be able to pick up a victory.