15 Times Real Life Overtook Sporting Events

There have been many times when the games we love were overshadowed by an event that was tragic and unexpected. Probably more than you would think. I have come up with a list of 15, and surprisingly left out a number of others. Preseason football games were wiped out for one reason or another. Regular season NFL schedules have been adjusted due to conflicts with playoff baseball games. We’ll declare them part of my “Honorable Mention” list.

I am excluding strikes and lockouts. Since I was not born until 1977, I am not including WWII or JFK’s assassination. The NFL played that Sunday (immediately following JFK’s death), but games were not televised due to assassination coverage. Some college games were postponed a day earlier. As I stated, not everything made the list. You might recall another game. This article is already very long. As the kids say, don’t at me. My decision was to only list events from the past 35 years, and I decided to list them in chronological order.

Here they are:

1. Giants-Athletics World Series (Earthquake,10/89)

Allow me to set the scene. It was a Tuesday night. I went to return my Hulk Hogan VHS tape at Video Visions. The World Series had shifted sites for game 3, and San Francisco was minutes away from hosting Oakland. At least that’s what was scheduled to happen. You could imagine my surprise when I found Roseanne on ABC after returning home. This made no sense. What happened to the World Series? Soon I discovered that an earthquake had caused a delay. Well, surely they would start momentarily. Everything seemed fine. People quickly realized that there was extensive damage, and the game was postponed. San Francisco would finally host the game more than one week later. A 49ers game was moved to Stanford Stadium. Since I mentioned Hulk Hogan, a WWF show scheduled for October 20 was also postponed. It took place on October 25. The Canadian Earthquake debuted on television a short time later, but his attack on the Ultimate Warrior actually happened on October 2.

2. NBA Playoffs (L.A. Riots, 4/92)

The suddenly underdog Lakers were playing their first season in more than a decade without Magic Johnson. I liked several players on the team, and told my neighbor we had to somehow get them into the postseason instead of those boring Rockets. An improbable late-season run culminated with an overtime victory in game 82. I found out about their win from Steve Somers after midnight. WFAN didn’t have an update anchor overnight back then. Flashes were recorded, and the host came on when they ended to report late scores. The Lakers then won a thrilling third game against Portland to stay alive. A fantastic watch on youtube. Ernie Johnson had studio duties, but Fred Hickman was preparing to go on as host of Inside The NBA. Announcer Pete Van Wieren, who called the action with analyst Hubie Brown, said that the Lakers would be back in their home building for a fourth game in that series.

It didn’t happen. Riots had already started outside, and game 4 ended up getting moved to Las Vegas. Although game 4 was already scheduled to be in May and finally took place on May 3, the rioting began on April 29. It was already happening during game 3. Fires were set after officers accused of police brutality were acquitted. Similarly, a Clippers contest scheduled for the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was also postponed. Game 4 of their series was played in Anaheim.

3. NBA Finals (Pursuing O.J. Simpson, 6/94)

This is the only example on my list where a sporting event took place as planned. However, NBC either split the screen or completely removed it. I could go off in a million different directions about how ridiculous it was for this to be covered instead of a Knicks-Rockets NBA Finals game. Today, the contest would be moved to an alternate channel. In fact, it could easily be shown on ESPN because ABC has replaced NBC. Even if basketball was still on NBC, one of their cable channels could show the game. Years later, WNBA fans had to suffer. NBC aired coverage of the John F. Kennedy Jr. plane crash. This injustice for basketball fans didn’t get quite as much attention. Anyway, basketball fanatics in New York listened to Rockets-Knicks on WFAN. Houston won in 7, but the Knicks prevailed on this night to take a 3-2 series lead.

4. NHL Playoffs (Columbine, 4/99)

An unspeakable tragedy occurred in Colorado 21 years ago. It took the lives of 15 people and injured more than 20 others. Sadly, school shootings have become almost commonplace in subsequent years. This was at a time when communication was just starting to take off on computers. Teenagers were away at college and messaging people. It really scared a generation of kids, and also scarred them. Although the Rockies and Nuggets had their original schedules adjusted, the major change in sports was with Colorado’s NHL team. The Avalanche were preparing to open up at home against the Sharks. That first round pairing was delayed, and it opened in San Jose. The Avalanche won twice in California to start it off. This series had been changed to a 2-3-1-1 series instead of the typical 2-2-1-1-1 format. Colorado came home and lost a pair before winning the final two games and advancing. Round two was the same story. Six games were played between Detroit and the Avalanche. There were five road wins. Once again, only game 5 was won by the home team. Colorado eventually fell to Dallas in 7.

5. Various (September 11, 9/01)

We all know what happened in 2001. I certainly don’t need to tell people in New York about the terrorist attacks. As it relates to sports, football games were postponed for one week. Similar story with baseball. Week 18 was added to the NFL season for Week 2 games. 2002 had our first February Super Bowl. Shea Stadium was used as a staging area for volunteers and supplies. Personally, I had just started working in New Jersey. My boss called and told me to stay home. In the days and weeks that followed, I drove to and from work. That George Washington Bridge view was forever changed. As years went by, I could see the tribute beams. I had never experienced anything like this. It would be many more years until things were so strange again. Unfortunately, that time is now.

6. Dolphins-Chargers (Wildfires, 10/03)

A scheduled game between Miami and San Diego was moved to Arizona. This game was televised by ABC on a Monday night. Wildfires in California forced the move. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego was used as an evacuation site. The Dolphins won 26-10. Neither team reached the postseason that year. Miami went 10-6. San Diego finished tied for last. The Chargers and Raiders each lost 12 of their 16 games.

7. New Orleans Saints (Hurricane Katrina, 8/05)

Although numerous hurricanes have impacted sports and most notably the NFL, few if any hurricanes that hit the United States drew national coverage like Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans played no regular season games at their usual home in 2005. It sustained significant damage, and also was used as a shelter for those who did not evacuate. The Louisiana Superdome closed for about a year. It finally reopened when the Saints hosted Atlanta in 2006. New Orleans was victorious in an emotional game that was televised nationally on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. I chose to only use one spot on my list for a hurricane. People from this area obviously remember Hurricane Sandy. It also caused extensive damage. The local sports postponement was an NBA game between the Knicks and Nets.

8. SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament (Tornado, 3/08)

The third of four scheduled games on March 14, 2008 at the Georgia Dome was in overtime when the building was struck by a tornado. Alabama and Mississippi State completed their overtime following a delay, but remaining games for this tournament were played at Georgia Tech’s home court. The Kentucky game against Georgia was postponed to March 15, and the Bulldogs prevailed. Georgia then won another Saturday game hours later before defeating Arkansas on Sunday. The Bulldogs captured their conference tournament to earn an unlikely NCAA Tournament bid in unique and bizarre fashion. Georgia was given a 14 seed. They entered SEC Tournament action with a 13-16 record before the amazing run. Xavier ended Georgia’s season when they met in their first round game on March 20.

9. Minnesota NFL (Snowstorm: Roof, 12/10)

Brett Favre’s record streak of consecutive starts ended when he was inactive for the Giants-Vikings game in 2010. Snow caused the teams to play at Detroit’s Ford Field. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s roof collapsed. One week later, Minnesota played an outdoor contest against Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium. Favre sustained a concussion. That was his last NFL game.

10. Vikings-Eagles (Blizzard, 12/10)

Maybe this team was cursed. After having two games moved following their stadium’s roof collapse, the Vikings headed to Philadelphia for their game against the Eagles. Mayor Michael Nutter declared a snow emergency for Philadelphia. The December 2010 North American blizzard caused a rare Tuesday NFL clash. This was the 20th Tuesday game in NFL history, but the first since 1946. When they finally played, new Vikings quarterback Joe Webb ran for a touchdown to help Minnesota upset Philadelphia.

11. Numerous (Boston Marathon Bombings, 4/13)

The Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics all had their schedules impacted by the Boston Marathon Bombings (and subsequent manhunt) in 2013. When baseball finally returned to Fenway Park, David Ortiz made a passionate speech. It was memorable, and also profane. On April 28, a Senators-Bruins game was played after all other NHL regular season contests were completed. This game needed to be played for seeding. Playoff pairings were not finalized until after Ottawa upset Boston. The Celtics only played 81 games, which might have been important if you made an NBA futures wager. Kansas City played a doubleheader at Fenway Park on April 21. That Sunday doubleheader was scheduled because of a postponement two days earlier.

12. Jets-Bills (Snow, 11/14)

Ford Field hosted an unexpected football game on a Monday, again. In the fall of 2014, an extreme weather event moved the Jets-Bills game to Detroit. This happened four years after the Giants and Vikings were moved from Minnesota to Michigan. Both nights featured a Ravens road win. Baltimore beat the Saints in New Orleans on this night. Houston fell at home against Baltimore in the scheduled 2010 ESPN game. Baltimore beat Houston 34-28 in overtime, and apparently the magic number was 34. Ironically, the Ravens defeated New Orleans by a score of 34-27. As for the Jets, they lost 38-3. Both New York teams being involved in these games that were moved to Detroit is another coincidence.

13. White Sox-Orioles (Unrest, 4/15)

In 2015, Baltimore hosted the first ever Major League Baseball game played with no fans. This was because of civil unrest in Baltimore. The White Sox were defeated by a score of 8-2.

14. Clippers-Lakers (Calabasas Helicopter Crash, 1/20)

News of Kobe Bryant’s death broke just before the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. It made for an awkward atmosphere. The next scheduled Lakers game was against the Clippers, and that game was postponed. Players didn’t feel like playing their NBA games. Kyrie Irving chose not to play for Brooklyn. Even announcer Mike Breen talked about how he didn’t feel like working.

15. Everything (COVID-19, 3/20)

The actual sports postponements in this country didn’t start until March. We can only speculate on when things will return to normal. It goes well beyond sports. Still, seeing events that had taken place annually for decades get postponed or canceled has been shocking. At this time, we can’t put final numbers on deaths or postponements. Life is changing by the day. Sports will be appreciated like never before when they finally return.

NBA Draft Broadcast Needs Overhauling

Some parts of the NBA Draft will be frustrating. We know this going in (word to Hubie Brown). There is too much time in between picks. It will likely run past the projected midnight finish. This year’s edition went past 12:30. However, so much nonsense could be avoided. Putting hats on guys when they are not going to be playing for whatever team is on their head has got to be one of the dumbest sports traditions that we have not yet ended. Why do they even need to wear these ugly hats? If getting the proper hat just can’t happen, let the guy go without one. Or, have him wear a hat with the NBA logo.

deandre-hunter-lakers-hat-hawks-nba-draft-trade-rules

ESPN’s SVP has bashed this hat nonsense. He also talked about not knowing what teams people were on. Although sites had the teams that players were going to, at least two did not put Michigan’s Iggy Brazdeikis with the Knicks. Sacramento’s logo was next to his name. Trades are finally announced at the podium hours later. Far from breaking news at that point. The whole thing is awkward.

SVP did not seem to agree with me on my next complaint. Tipping picks is ridiculous. Scott was probably being a company guy by not blasting Woj. Although, he praised him and laughed about it last year. This time was more of a comment about how no thesaurus had to be used because the tweets were all similar. I think the idea is moronic to begin with, but having an ESPN employee tip picks when the show is on ESPN makes it even more insane. Phrasing your tweet so that it does not necessarily guarantee that your information is set in stone just mocks this whole process. I really do not understand any of it. One person tweeted about muting the person tipping picks but still seeing tweets through another account.

In fact, Frank Isola aggravated me last month. The NBA Draft Lottery is supposed to be supervised by people who had their phones taken away. Isola flaunted that someone was able to pass along some type of information. Frank basically stated that the fix was in. It helped narrow down what we would see. In my case, it made me think that either the Knicks or Lakers had won. So, I got my hopes up for nothing. Regardless, that should be kept secret. At least we knew that there would be tweets tipping picks on Thursday. I didn’t think we needed to stay off social media when those envelopes were being opened. The whole thing sucks!

I know I’ll get aggravated again when the NFL says that moves will be made on a certain date or they have been agreed upon but are not yet official. This isn’t strictly a complaint about basketball. It is a stupidity issue. Hopefully common sense can prevail at some point. Until then, I must stay on the flip phone and away from society if I’m looking to be surprised.

New York Knicks, Thank You For This Season

“The 2018-2019 New York Knicks: They walked so the 2019-2020 New York Knicks could run.”

The Knicks finished the 17-65, which officially is the worst record in the NBA. The Knicks traded away their franchise player, Kristaps Porzingis, and upset the fanbase in the process. A lineup of Dennis Smith Jr, Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Luke Kornet, and Mitchell Robinson struck fear into the hearts of many opponents… kidding. The Knicks have won a total of ten games since December 1st.

After all of the losing, I can safely sit here and say I have hope. For the first time in 20 years, the Knicks have a plan.

THE KNICKS HAVE AN ACTUAL PLAN!

Article

The regime doesn’t have Phil Jackson so that’s a good start. David Fizdale is a proven NBA coach who wants to win in New York. Young players like Alonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson (sorry, Frank) developed into quality NBA players with high ceilings. Because of their constant losing, the Knicks will have a legitimate shot at the number one pick to drat Zion Williamson.

Did I mention that the Knicks have room for two max contracts?

Did I also mention that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are rumored to sign with the Knicks?

Batman and Robin. Durant and Irving. It’s time to take back Gotham City.

None of this is possible without the 2018-2019 Knicks. So truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this season. Next year will be our year.

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OR the Knicks will swing and miss in free agency and won’t draft Zion. All things are possible!

NOW HIT THE MUSIC!

NBA Fight: Serge Ibaka Just Tried To Kill Marquese Chriss

https://twitter.com/gswchris/status/1105269698994659329

BY GAWD THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY!

I love a nice NBA fight. I’m not a huge fan of Ibaka going right after Chriss’s neck, but as the father of a kid on my high school basketball team once told me with a straight face, “There are no rules in a fight.” This is the time of year where basketball starts to get “serious.” The “Regular season doesn’t matter” crowd starts to shut up as teams battle it out for a better seed in the playoffs. Teams begin to fine tune their lineups and pick up some momentum before April. As a basketball fan, it’s great to watch.

Back to the fight. It looks like Chriss said something to Ibaka when Serge was on the ground so I take back what I said early. You can go after someone’s neck if they talk shit to you. Talk shit, get hit, and get suspended. That’s the NBA fight game.

The New York Knicks: A Look At The Start Of The Season, What To Expect, And Where They’re Headed

***Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog written by Tyler Cunnington.***

The New York Knicks are a different team than they have been in YEARS. One with a ridiculously young roster, megatons of potential across the board, and most importantly, a coach that cares.

Yes, it has only been four games into the season and yes, they’re 1-3. However, in their last two games, they nearly took down the Boston Celtics and fell short to the Milwaukee Bucks. Against the Celtics, the absence of Gordon Hayward certainly helped New York out, who would not have been able to manage both Irving and Hayward come the 4th quarter. After mounting a comeback versus The Greek Freak and company, going basket for basket in the third quarter, the deep ball eventually buried them in the fourth quarter and the Bucks ran away with it to win by nine. Additionally, if not for the red hot Khris Middleton dropping 30 points on 7/8 from beyond the arc (Middleton is shooting 65% through the first three games.), the Knicks could have found themselves winning on the road versus an Eastern playoff contender.

Using that as a segue — one thing this group has going for them is their defense. There’s a lot of upside. They are 14th in the league in points allowed per game, 5th in steals per game, and 5th in points allowed off of turnovers. Frank Ntilikina, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr. and off-season addition Noah Vonleh have all shown the ability to stay with their man and disrupt opposing teams’ offensive flow, which is a credit to their improving overall team defense. Kanter has been the anchor of the defense, providing rim protection in the paint especially without Kristaps Porzingis, who has been out since February with an ACL injury.

However, 20-year-old 1st round pick Ntilikina out of France (thanks to Phil Jackson before his timely departure from New York) has also developed more since his rookie campaign, showing flashes of great awareness and IQ on the defensive end. By the end of the season, Ntilikina could very well be a primary defender for the Blue and Orange, if not a year from now. In fact, the French Prince (a name donned by NBA Twitter) was ranked as one of the best pick & roll defenders of the 2017 season. Ntilikina’s wingspan and long strides help him get around quickly while covering the passing lanes. Vonleh has used his size, strength, and stamina to stay active in the paint and guard from the perimeter as well as provide a spark off the bench (Vonleh averages 17 min. per game). Note that there’s been no mention of the Knickerbocker’s second round pick Mitchell Robinson, who possesses potential to become a great rebounder and rim protector, or the 2018 first rounder Kevin Knox, who has great length as well. Robinson, however, has been limited after injuring his ankle versus the Hawks in the season opener and hasn’t been 100% during his minutes since — and Knox, who faces a similar issue after spraining his ankle early versus the Celtics two games ago, has been ruled out for three weeks. Both rookies must improve their footwork in order to make the basic steps towards being a good defender, but with Knox turning 19 years old this season, and Robinson coming off a year with no organized basketball – there is PLENTY of time for growth in all facets of their games, not just defense.

The Knicks continue to trend in the right direction this season because of a roster that has bought in to the philosophy of new head coach David Fizdale. The former leader of the Memphis Grizzlies seems to have found a new home at MSG and the players – and fans – have already taken a liking to the new hire. The faster paced offense, running the court in transition, and tenacity on defense are all new styles implemented by Fizdale, ideas that are nothing new to the NBA, but are to the Knicks — which is telling of the success the Knicks have had the past couple of seasons (among other issues and front office decisions). In fact, Fizdale did not start Knox (among other reasons, too, I’m sure) in the season opener because of his defense, and it’s been made clear to players you will need to play both sides of the court to earn your minutes. (And I love it). Getting the ball past mid court quickly, spending more time on the offensive end, and thanks to Kanter and Vonleh, and the newly added offensive rule that adds 14 seconds to the shot clock if the shooting team grabs the rebound – the Knicks have been getting up more shots and scoring more points as a result. Transition has become a new weapon to the Knicks as the youth of the roster allows for speedy breakouts, and athletic finishes — Fizdale also allows any player to bring the ball up. As soon as the Knicks can fully harness their shooting ability (specifically the three ball, especially in the absence of Courtney Lee), it will become even more lethal.

When set in the half-court, the Knicks have found several names on offense that can contribute with double digits in either points or rebounds. Enes Kanter has averaged a double-double every game, including a 17 point, 15 rebound performance against Boston. He’s a force on the boards, and in the paint – even flashing a newly added outside range after hitting a three pointer versus the Celtics as the game went basket for basket during the 3rd quarter. Whether it was wide open or not, the newfound range is an encouraging sign for the big man. Noah Vonleh played well versus Boston, notching 13 boards along with seven points, and scored 11 points and five rebounds against Milwaukee while also covering Giannis in many situations. Trey Burke shows versatility in his shots, slashing to the basket one possession and working the pick and role, while also hitting 16 footers and beyond. Burke put up a stat line of 19 points, five rebounds and four assists versus the Bucks, and nearly a double double with 11 and nine versus Boston. Hardaway has 104 total points which is the third most in the league, and barring an improvement in shot selection and field goal percentage, could sneak in as an All-Star reserve. Shooting guard Alonzo Trier has been a pleasant surprise for the Knicks as the undrafted rookie has already thrown down a soaring poster dunk versus Atlanta, shown range from beyond the arc, and displayed the ability to isolate and score (hence his twitter handle ISO_ZO). Other names that over time can develop a solid offensive game include center Noah Vonleh and second year guard Dameyon Dotson (who scored 14 pts last night). What’s encouraging about the Knicks offense is how much the young players can develop while also establishing their roles on offense without too much pressure to win. On top of it all, they are missing the All-Star talent, and heart of the team, Kristaps Porzingis. The upside of this Knicks team must excite the fans watching at home because, everything that can be accomplished without the Unicorn is an added bonus.

This season is essentially a showcase to garner any free agent interest this Summer. With Kristaps Porzingis fully healthy next year, if the Knicks can perform well this season (“Well” being anywhere from 25-35 wins, or above a .500 record), it could make for an intriguing 2019-2020 campaign with the playoffs in its sights.

The New York Knickerbockers have only played four games, and it may feel like the usual style of losing, but do not fear. This organization is on its way out of the tanking phase. In a few season, the Knicks should return to the exciting brand of basketball many fans remember from years past, whether it was #Knickstape at the start of the decade, or the 1990s. Regardless, fans should not lament another Knicks season but rather welcome it – there’s plenty to look out for this season and you don’t want to miss the start of a new era at MSG.

Official DMR 2018 NBA Season Preview

The 2018-2019 NBA Season starts tonight as teams will fight all year long to lose to the Golden State Warriors in five games in the NBA Finals. If you’re like most fans, you’re hoping for a competitive regular season and entertaining playoffs in order to counteract the fact that the Warriors will win another NBA title. To prepare you for the upcoming season, LordTreeSap and DG listed their over / unders for certain teams, individual awards, and how each conference will finish. Enjoy.

Over/Unders

LordTreeSap:

Spurs Over 43.5 Wins 

The Spurs haven’t won less than 47 games since the lockout of 1998 and that was due to a shortened season. San Antonio notched 47 wins in 2017 with 0 help from Kawhi Leonard. Now, Pop and Co. can move past the Kawhi saga with the addition of DeMar DeRozan leading the Texas franchise to yet another winning season. I loved this bet just a week ago, prior to Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV going down with injuries, but I’m riding with the Spurs until the wheels fall off.

Knicks Under 29.5 Wins

It’s going to be a tough season for us Knicks fans, but it’s ultimately for the best, looking toward better days in 2019. Kristaps Porzingis should be in no rush to return, and with the Knicks owning their first round pick in 2019, this is going to be another rebuilding team. Harvesting the young talent on the roster will sit atop Fizdale’s priorities (besides his smoking wife Natasha). Let Ntilikina, Robinson, Knox, and the rest of the neophytes learn on the job, while keeping the tank moving forward. It’s for the best.

Wizards Over 46 Wins

Throughout the turmoil of 2017, the Washington Wizards still managed to pull out 43 wins, even though John Wall only managed to log half a season. The Wizkids should return to their 2016 form in a weaker Eastern Conference, where they put together a 49-win campaign. Washington quietly retooled their roster, finally shoring up their backup guard spot with Austin Rivers. They also acquired the polarizing yet productive Dwight Howard. Jeff Green could provide support in spots as well. Solid year coming for the win-now Wizards.

DG

Spurs Over 43.5 Wins 

I hate to agree with LTS for fear of a jinx, but this one is a no-brainer for me. The Spurs are the Patriots of the NFL. Until they fall off the wagon, how can you bet against them? Last season was their first “down” year in over 20 years and they still registered 47 wins without Kawhi Leonard. The injury to Dejounte Murray was not ideal, but DeMar Derozan is going to score 25 points per game and lead this team past 43.5 wins. Plus, when in doubt, they have Pop.

Miami Heat Over 43.5 Wins

The Heat won 44 games last year and return almost the exact team from a year ago. However, they are going to be a better thanks to the rebirth of Hassan Whiteside. Last season was a step back for Whiteside and at times, he looked lost on the court. This is the same Whiteside who lead the league in rebounding in 2017. If Whiteside returns to his 2017 form, the Heat will compete for a top 3 seed in the East. Plus, Dwyane Wade’s final ride will motivate this team throughout the year to make the playoffs.

Utah Jazz Under 50.5 Wins

This has more to do with the strength of the conference more than the talent of the Jazz. I love the Jazz. Drafting Donovan Mitchell was a home run for the organization. Just like the Heat, the Jazz return close to their entire core from a 48 win team. However, the West is the superior conference in the NBA and the Lakers, Nuggets, and Pelicans will all be better. I expect the Jazz to win 48 wins again so bet the under.

Individual Awards  

LordTreeSap:

Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+500)

It seems like to win the MVP award nowadays, your season numbers have to be accompanied by a cinematic narrative. LeBron should probably win the award again with his narrative juicy as ever, heading west to lead a possible 50-win Laker team to prominence. AD is definitely in the conversation this year as well, but I’m going with the Greek Freak to take home the hardware. He should be able to dominate a middling Eastern Conference with multiple moments wow fans and voters. A more uptempo system implemented by Mike Budenholzer makes the sky the limit, with a stat line eclipsing 30-10-5 well within reach for the year. Milwaukee just has to win more than 45 games.

Image result for giannis antetokounmpo gif knicks

Defensive Player of the Year: Kawhi Leonard

A rejuvenated Kawhi Leonard should be a treat to watch this year. After only appearing in 9 games last season, the Spurs shipped the 2-time Defensive Player of the Year north of the border to hang with Drake in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. I believe the 27-year-old returns to form in Toronto, leading the NBA in steals and absolutely dominates the rest of the East in his lone year suiting up for the Raptors.

6th Man of the Year: Lou Williams

We’re going back to back (Drake voice) with Lou Williams, who would tie Jamal Crawford as the only player to win the award three times in their career. Sweet Lou was nothing short of unbelievable, playing at the level of a possible all-star leading into the February break. I expect a similar stat line from Lou Will once again, with his unique lead guard role solidified as the top scorer in Clipper land.

Rookie of the Year: DeAndre Ayton

Simply put, Ayton can do it all on the basketball floor. It’s being reported that Devin Booker will actually be ready for the opener, so we could see the next Kobe-Shaq type of duo begin to take shape this year. Amid turmoil at the top of the organization, the Suns have one of the brightest young cores in all of the NBA and should be a fun team to land on for all my League Pass fans out there.

Most Improved Player: Markelle Fultz

After essentially taking a redshirt year to fix his shooting stroke (mindset), Markelle Fultz comes into 2018 as the 76ers starting shooting guard and the expectations are sky high for the former No. 1 overall pick. As someone who was heavily on the Fultz bandwagon coming out of Washington, I’m staying put with him possessing too much talent to not make it work.

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Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens finally breaks through in 2018 with a loaded Celtics team to notch his first of many Coach of the Year honors. Boston should relatively cruise to the top seed in the Eastern Conference and be around the 60-win mark. He’ll ultimately be judged on playoff execution, as most expect this Celtic team to meet the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

DG

Most Valuable Player: Anthony Davis (+300)

It’s time for the “LeBron can win this every year, but let’s give to to someone else” award. If LeBron puts up the same numbers from last year and the Lakers make the playoffs, it’s a wrap. LeBron wins the MVP. However, the NBA loves to reward players on teams that improve significantly. That’s why I’m going with Anthony David. The numbers are there.. Last year, Davis averaged 28.1 points and 11.1 rebounds despite a slow start to the season. If both of those numbers remain the same or improve and the Pelicans snag a top 4 seed, Davis will be holding the MVP trophy at the end of the year.

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert

The Jazz shocked the entire NBA community last year by not only making the playoffs with Gordon Hayward, but defeating the Thunder in the first round. Donovan Mitchell had a lot to do with the team’s success, but the team’s anchor is Rudy Gobert, thanks to his toughness and ability to defend the rim. Gobert won this award last year after only playing 56 games. If Gobert plays a full year and the Jazz are just as successful, he will repeat.

6th Man of the Year: J.J. Redick

This award all depends on if Redick consistently comes off the bench all year. Right now, Markelle Fultz is slated to start for the Sixers. If Redick comes off the bench, his only responsibility will involve putting the ball in the basket. Redick averaged a career best 17.1 points per game last year. However, if Redick becomes the leader of the second unit of a Philly team that wins 55 games, I could see voters rewarding Redick over Lou Williams.

Rookie of the Year: Luka Donic

Dallas, it’s time to meet the foreigner who will lead your franchise for the next 20 years aka Dirk 2.0. At first, I wasn’t completely sold on Luka Donic. I felt that because of his age and lack of playing experience in the US, it would take time for Donic to adjust to the NBA game. After watching Donic dazzle in the preseason, I can safely say I was wrong. Donic is ready for the bright lights of the NBA. Donic was drafted to the perfect system for his skillset in Dallas and will have Dirk Nowitzki as his mentor. The sharpshooter will win over many fans right away.

Most Improved Player: Josh Jackson

First of all, Josh Jackson said he wants to win this award. Motivation? Check. All kidding aside, Jackson has the potential to have a monster season. In his rookie season, Jackson averaged 13 points and 4.6 rebounds. This year, Phoenix should be one of the more exciting young teams to watch with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Jackson has a chance to cement himself as a top ten two-way player this year. Expect both his points and rebounds to improve dramatically. If Phoenix can somehow compete for a playoff spot and Jackson takes the next step to prominence, he will be in the running for this award.

Coach of the Year: Brad Stevens

In my opinion, this is the easiest award to pick. The Eastern Conference now belongs to Brad Stevens. Frankly, this award is long overdue. Stevens has increased his win total every year as the coach of the Celtics. With LeBron gone and Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning from injury, it’s 60 wins or bust for the Celtics. Plus, he’s my doppelgänger so I have to support the brotherhood.

LordTreeSap:

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Milwaukee Bucks
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Detroit Pistons

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Utah Jazz
  5. Los Angeles Lakers
  6. San Antonio Spurs
  7. Denver Nuggets
  8. New Orleans Pelicans

Conference Finals/Champions:

East – Boston Celtics over Toronto Raptors

West – Golden State Warriors over Houston Rockets

Finals – Warriors over Celtics in 6

DG

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Toronto Raptors
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Miami Heat
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Washington Wizards
  8. Charlotte Hornets

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Houston Rockets
  3. Utah Jazz
  4. New Orleans Pelicans
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder
  6. Los Angeles Lakers
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. San Antonio Spurs

Conference Finals/Champions:

East – Boston Celtics over Toronto Raptors

West – Golden State Warriors over Houston Rockets

Finals – Warriors over Celtics in 7

Enjoy the season.

What If: The Knicks Never Traded For Carmelo Anthony?

In February of 2011, the Knicks traded Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick, the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash for Carmelo Anthony. The trade was unpopular from the beginning, if only because Carmelo wanted to be a Knick and was due to hit unrestricted free agency after the season. So, let’s go with the theory here that Melo comes to NY on a max contract in free agency and the Knicks still have all of the pieces they traded.

First, let’s focus on the draft picks that they traded. The Knicks 2014 first-rounder was traded by Denver to Philly. The pick? Dario Saric, who was a ROY contender and is a very solid NBA player. If the Knicks wound up with a better record via the Melo signing, and therefore a later pick, players like Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Zach LaVine, and Clint Capela were still available after that pick.

Next up are the Warriors 2012 and 2013 second round picks. The Warriors second rounder was used on Draymond Green (though Khris Middleton was also still on the board). Imagine that. The 2015 Knicks would have had a roster of Melo, Green/Middleton, and Saric/Harris/Capela (Jokic was taken too late for the first round pick to be used on realistically, as he was still available in the next round. Assuming Amare Stoudemire’s knees still buckled, there’s a situation in which the success of this rebuilt roster would convince a top-tier power forward to commit via free agency to fill out this starting roster. That team has very serious Finals potential.

Now, let’s include the players that they traded FOR Carmelo. Wilson Chandler is still an incredibly useful player in today’s NBA, Ray Felton has morphed into a 3 point weapon and top-tier backup point guard, and Danilo Gallinari has been a very solid player (whilst healthy). The Knicks don’t have the cap space to match Mozgov’s contract and let him go. This is an incredibly solid roster top-to-bottom, and could have been a real challenger in the Eastern Conference. Do they ever win a title in the LeBron-run East? Probably not, but I wouldn’t count them out as the number one challengers to the Heat’s greatness. Adding in some players that they already had or added in the between years (Jason Kidd specifically) and they are a very real problem.

The only major loss is that they probably never are in a position to draft Kristaps Porzingis, but that was an incredibly weak draft so that roster spot is virtually void.

Overall, this trade altered NBA history, especially when it comes to the Knicks, and ultimately might have cost them a shot at a real run at the NBA Finals.


If you have any suggestions for “What If?” holler at me on Twitter @oh_my_gos.