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Want to Win Big Money Tonight in Daily Fantasy?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

There are 13 games tonight in the NBA, which can be overwhelming to handle. So instead of my normal article with just picks and strategy, I decided to write about (almost) every game so you can get a feel for all the relevant picks of the night. I left out a couple games, like Bulls at Bucks, because they have almost no viable players from a fantasy perspective. Good luck tonight, and if you have any questions make sure to tweet me @maxjsteinberg.



Probable: Reggie Jackson

Doubtful: Greg Monroe, Spencer Dinwiddie

Reggie Jackson played only 22 minutes yesterday, coming down with an illness mid-game, and he was unable to make it through. He’s listed as probable though, so it seems like he’s feeling better. Jackson has been on an absolute tear since Greg Monroe went out, averaging 50.8 fantasy points (DraftKings) per game in that stretch. His backup, Spencer Dinwiddie, is doubtful as well, which assures Jackson even bigger minutes in this game. His price has risen significantly on FanDuel and DraftKings, but not enough.

Kemba Walker is a great play for Charlotte, especially on DraftKings. He’s averaging 40 minutes per game in his last 3, he’s only $7,500, and Detroit is in the bottom 1/3 in offensive fantasy points allowed this season.


Probable: Kris Humphries

Out: Jason Richardson

Washington draws one of the best matchups in the NBA, facing the 76ers at home. However, I see only two good plays for the Wizards. John Wall has been playing 44 mpg in his last 3 games, and has averaged 57 fantasy points a game in that span! His price on DraftKings is much too low at $8,800. Marcin Gortat has been seeing big minutes as well, averaging 34 in his last 3 games. He’s fairly priced on both sites and should benefit from the 76ers sloppy offense.

The only viable play I see on the 76ers is Nerlens Noel. His price has skyrocketed, and this isn’t the best matchup, but he’s still in play for tournaments. He’s capable of monster games.


Questionable: Travis Wear

Two players on the Nets have been playing very well in their past 3 games: Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. It seems that the Nets have started to run their offense through Lopez, and he’s been averaging 23 points and 9 boards in his last 10 games. Joe Johnson has seen a USG increase (up to 20% in his last 3) and a minutes increase (36 mpg in his last 3). The Knicks are a fantastic matchup for both, and I like their prices best on FanDuel, Johnson especially, who’s only $5,600.

I think every Knick is either overpriced or too much of a risk to play, but I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on Andrea Bargnani. His USG has been sky high recently with no scorers in the Knicks lineup, so he can put up points in a hurry. I worry about his minutes, though.


Questionable: C.J. Miles

The viability of players on Indiana comes down to whether Miles plays. If he doesn’t, C.J. Watson at only $4,400 on both sites is a great play. He played 28 minutes yesterday when Miles went down and had 35 fantasy points. George Hill should benefit as well, with his backup Watson playing some minutes at SG. If Miles does play, however, I don’t think anyone is very fairly priced on the Pacers.

On Boston’s side, I think Isaiah Thomas is a sneaky tournament play on DraftKings. His $5,800 price is cheap for a player who has eclipsed 40 fantasy points several times for the Celtics. But he’s a risk.


Probable: Anthony Bennett

Doubtful: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin

Out: Gary Neal, Gorgui Dieng, Kyle Lowry

Lots of injuries means lots of good plays. Let’s start with Toronto.

You can count on Demar Derozan getting minutes tonight. He’s averaged 40 mpg since Kyle Lowry went down and his USG has been 31% in his last 3 games. He’s priced high, at $8,000 on both sites, but not quite high enough. Grevis Vasquez has a great FanDuel price at only $4,000, and a fantastic matchup against Zach Lavine and the worst defense in the NBA. He’ll be overlooked tonight but I think he’s a lock for 20 fantasy points. Don’t forget about Lou Williams and Jonas Valanciunas as well, both have been better with Lowry out and this matchup against this decimated T-Wolves team is incredible.

On Minnesota, a lot comes down to whether Kevin Martin plays. If he doesn’t, Zach Lavine is solid. His 43 minutes per game and 25% USG are both big numbers for a player who’s priced under $6,000. Adrien Payne is also a nice play with Gorgui Dieng out, priced at only $4,000, but is only a tournament play. And if there’s any indication that Justin Hamilton could have a minutes boost, he’s also a fine play, but coming off an horrible migraine that caused him to miss 5 games, he’s been limited to about 25 minutes.


Probable: Monta Ellis

Out: Nick Collison, Andre Roberson

Russell Westbrook’s price has come down slightly, he’s now $12,700 on both sites. This is a good matchup as well and should be a fast-paced game, but I just don’t see enough great min-salary plays to warrant playing Westbrook tonight. I’ll try to get him in some of my tournament lineups, though. My favorite play from this game is Enes Kanter, he hasn’t been on a great run lately because of some strange games and blowouts, but he’s still underpriced on FanDuel at only $7,000. This should be a close game.

For Dallas, I like (but don’t love) most of their starters. Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler should all be good plays. The Thunder have been playing at a torrid pace in their last 10 games, the over-under for this one is 216.


Probable: Terrence Jones, Jason Terry, Corey Brewer

Questionable: Demarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard

Out: Donatas Motiejunas, Rudy Gay

It looks like Terrence Jones will be back for this game, but coming back from a collapsed lung he’s useless from a fantasy perspective. I think James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Josh Smith continue to see big minutes for the Rockets, and are all great plays, but they’re all priced a little high so don’t go overboard. Smith really disappointed 2 nights ago, but I still have faith in him especially if Dwight Howard sits this one out. His price on DraftKings is fair at $6,700 in this great matchup.

Rudy Gay is out for the Kings, and Demarcus Cousins is questionable. If Cousins sits this one out, the Kings will have a lot of great values. Gay and Cousins are USG hogs. I think Ray McCallum and Omri Casspi benefit most here and are must plays if Cousins is out (as long as Casspi starts). Jason Thompson should also certainly hit value at close to min salary on both sites, and one sleeper I like is Derrick Williams. He may come off the bench but is listed at SF on DraftKings and his USG was 33.6% in his previous game without Cousins. He’s min salary.


Questionable: Darrell Arthur, Derrick Favors

Out: Rodney Hood

Utah is one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA, so I don’t love any Nuggets here. But I do love some Jazz players, particularly Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Their prices are high but this matchup with the Nuggets is one of the most favorable in the league. If Derrick Favors is out, Trevor Booker becomes a must-play. He’s averaged 14.5 points and 8 rebounds with Favors out and is under $4,500 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.


Out: Jamal Crawford

The Clippers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors and are on a back-to-back, so they are 2.5 point underdogs to the Trailblazers here. Blake Griffin is coming off an awesome game, and it’s possible that confidence will help him in an important game. He’s underpriced on both sites. I’m worried Chris Paul may be tired having to handle Steph Curry last night, but his price on DraftKings is exceptional at $9,600 and the Trailblazers have struggled against PGs all year.

My favorite play on the Blazers is Nic Batum, he’s fairly priced on both sites and the Clippers are bottom 5 in fantasy points allowed to SFs. He should benefit from a fast-paced game.


Questionable: Ryan Anderson, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin

Ryan Anderson may be back tonight, but coming off a knee injury he should be very limited. And it’s hard to tell whether Boozer or Lin will play tonight, I think they’re both 50/50.

Anthony Davis has an incredibly favorable matchup here going against Ryan Kelly and an absolutely awful Lakers D. His $11,400 price tag on DraftKings puts him in close to must-play territory.

For the Lakers, Jordan Clarkson, Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington, and Jabari Brown are great plays if Lin is out, but get infinitely worse if Lin plays. Clarkson has a great price on DraftKings especially at only $6,000. I also still like Jordan Hill if Boozer sits, his production has been amazing off the bench.

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You Have to Know How to Wage War to Win the Final Four

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano

The Duke basketball team sailed into the Sweet Sixteen. That may be ho-hum to Blue Devils fans. The hoopsters have been there 28 times before. Twenty-two — think about that for a moment. Twenty-two times the team has been to the regional semifinals under Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The first Division One basketball coach to win over 1,000 games, Coach K is no stranger to coming out on top.

His passion for winning b-ball goes back to his days playing as a West Point cadet. Later, he ran the program at the military academy. Coach Krzyzewski called the academy his  “leadership laboratory.”

Would Krzyzewski have ever become one of the game’s greatest if it weren’t for the foundation of discipline and excellence ingrained in him at West Point?

Great coaches and great generals have a good deal in common. They have to put together a team and a campaign plan. As my fellow West Point classmate General Rick Lynch wrote, they have to “adapt or die.”

In sports, as in war, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

West Point has produced many of America’s finest field generals—including most commanders on both sides in the Civil War.

Eisenhower and MacArthur were academy graduates, as were many senior Army offices overseeing battles from Normandy to Kabul.

But, not every great American combat leader passed through West Point. George C. Marshall, the “architect of victory” during World War II, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute.

Regardless of where they went to school, however, the best ones lived the ideals of West Point — the dedication to “duty, honor, country,” but also the passion never to finish further behind than first.

It is no different at the elite levels of sport. John Wooden may have gone to Purdue and John Thompson attended Providence, but they would have made smart cadets — and probably pretty decent field marshals.

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‘March Madness’ is an Understatement

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Rick Moran

If Thursday’s opening act of the 2015 NCAA Tournament was any indication, college basketball fans better have the local ER standing by with a defibrillator. There has never been an opening round like this one in the history of the tournament — and we’re only half way through.

Two #3 seeds — Baylor and Iowa State — were dropped unceremoniously by #14′s, and a third — Notre Dame — survived by a hair. The University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers delivered the upset against the Iowa State Cyclones while the Georgia State Panthers shocked the Baylor Bears. Those stunning results were almost repeated when the #14 Northeastern Huskies roared back from a 10 point deficit with 4 minutes to go, only to lose to the #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 69-64.

But it wasn’t so much the bracket-busting wins by UAB and Georgia State that made Thursday such a memorable day. ESPN’s Eamaonn Brennan explains:

If you’re like us, you were watching the NCAA tournament today — or this afternoon, or tonight, or at pretty much any point during the thrilling opening Thursday that was. Another game would come down to the nail-biting, hairpulling wire, and you’d catch your breath, check your bracket and think: Man, there were a lot of close games today. This has to be some kind of record, right?

Turns out, you were right. This was, indeed, some kind of record.

* Five games were decided by one point on Thursday, the most of any single day in NCAA tournament history. But that’s not all. Behold the mind-boggling numbers, courtesy of the yeomen at ESPN Stats & Information:

* Eleven games were decided by fewer than 10 points Thursday, tying the single-day NCAA tournament high. Only three tournament days in history matched that number, the last of which came in 2010.

* Nine games were decided by five or fewer points, tying the single-day tournament high — one dating to March 15, 2001.

* Including the five Thursday, as well as Dayton’s win over Boise State on Wednesday night, there have been six games decided by one point thus far in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The record for most games decided by one point in a single NCAA tournament is seven — total. That has happened three times (in 1982, 1990, and 1998).

Oh, and then there’s this:

The entire 2013 and 2014 NCAA tournaments — from the first round to the Final Four — featured five games decided by a single point. Combined!

Most opening round games are mismatches — tune ups for the higher seeds to get the butterflies out of their system and acclimate them to tournament basketball. But yesterday, the lower seeds did not go quietly into that goodnight. They fought, and scratched, and clawed like hell, staying with teams they had no business being competitive against, and giving several of them the fright of their basketball lives.

College basketball fans who prefer that game to the pros will point out that you don’t get that kind of action and excitement at the NBA level. In one sense this is true — the NBA playoffs are 7 game series and one contest usually will not make or break a team.

But when it’s lose one and done, the drama is heightened considerably. Yesterday’s string of heart attack basketball games would be enough to satisfy even the most ardent college basketball fan.

Which is why we have to remind ourselves that it was only the first day of a long tournament.

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Daily Fantasy NBA 2/11: 5 Picks for DraftKings Big Wednesday Tournaments

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - by Max Steinberg

Last week, I wrote an article covering strategy for Daily Fantasy Golf on DraftKings. Golf, in my opinion, is one of the most fun daily fantasy sports, but it’s limited in its profitability because the contests are usually on the smaller side and the tournaments run only once a week. Daily Fantasy NBA, on the other hand, has contests almost every day and hosts much larger tournaments than golf. For example, the $33 NBA Bird tonight has a $150,000 prizepool (awarding $20,000 for 1st place) and even the cheap $3 to enter “Sharpshooter” has a $100,000 prizepool.


Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made in basketball on DraftKings. Daily Fantasy NBA strategy is more complex than Golf, but there are 3 fundamental concepts in NBA that can simplify your strategy a lot, and can make you big money if used correctly.  I’ll give you a quick breakdown of these concepts below.

1. Injuries

The most important information in Daily Fantasy NBA is injury information. Players will sit out games with minor injuries throughout the season, and if that player has a big role on the team, it can drastically change the dynamics of that team. Players who may have not had much of an offensive role may find themselves as the #1 option, and a player who may have normally come off the bench may become a starter and have his minutes double. When I go into my picks below, you’ll see how injuries influence which players I play every night.

2. Matchup

In the NBA, every team plays with a different style and at a different pace. Some teams will be poor defensively, some will be great. Some will have tall, big post players who are good rebounders, some will play small and be vulnerable on the offensive glass. Some will play at a frantic pace, and some will use up every second of the shot clock to slow the game down. All of these factors determine whether a team is a good matchup for a player, and which is a bad matchup. Matchups can drastically affect a player’s fantasy performance, and should always be taken into consideration.

3. Price

The price of the player is the most fundamental but sometimes overlooked factor in determining whether a player is a good play. In Daily Fantasy NBA, each player is assigned a salary and those salaries vary from day to day, based on an algorithm DraftKings has created in order to price players fairly. However, their algorithm isn’t perfect. Some players will be drastically mispriced due to injury or recent performance. Finding underpriced players, and avoiding overpriced players, is the key to creating a great lineup. You may like Russell Westbrook against the 76ers, but if he’s priced at $12,500, he’s simply not worth it even in the juiciest of matchups.

With all of my picks on the next page, I’ll be using the tools on my daily fantasy strategy website, DailyFantasyWinners.com, to analyze these 3 factors and find the best plays. All of these tools are free to use if you’re a registered user, so sign up if you want to do some analysis yourself.

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NCAA Women’s Final Four Set

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

While the NCAA men Final Four teams await their trial by fire set for Saturday, the women are preparing for Sunday games that feature two unbeaten squads, along with two traditional women’s powerhouses.

The first game on Sunday will see unbeaten Connecticut against the Stanford Cardinal while the late game has undefeated Notre Dame against Maryland. UConn took care of 3 seed Texas A&M 69-54 to earn the trip to Nashville while Stanford handled North Carolina 74-65. The two teams played early in the season with UConn winning handily 76-57. The Lady Huskies will be making their 7th trip to the Final Four in a row. They’ll be going for their 9th national title while Stanford has won it all twice.

In 2010, Stanford ended UConn’s 90 game winning streak with a 71-59 victory. Their All-American, Chiney Ogwumike was a freshman on that squad and after suffering some health set-backs during the year, is now fit and in fighting trim. UConn will have all they can handle trying to contain Ogwumike who is expected to be the number one choice in the WNBA draft.

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Countdown to Selection Sunday

Friday, March 14th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show is less than 48 hours away and for a dozen teams sitting on the bubble, it’s crunch time at their conference tournaments.

So far, March Madness has lived up to its billing with several high seeds losing in early round conference play. The most significant surprise was Villanova’s heartbreaking, last second loss in the Big East tournament to lowly Seton Hall. The loss probably takes Villanova out of the conversation for a top regional seed, but the Selection Committee will probably take into account their tough schedule and several good wins on the road to give them a 2 or 3 seed, probably in the East regional.

As always, it’s the bubble teams that attract the most curiosity from fans and give the Selection Committee indigestion. Who is playing themselves into the Big Dance by doing well in the conference tournaments and who is in line for an NIT bid?

SI’s Michael Beller is on the Bubble Watch:

6:30 p.m. — Big Ten: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

The Golden Gophers had just three wins in 10 tries against conference rivals that are headed to the NCAA tournament. Can they get three in the next three days? That might be what it takes to get in, and the road starts against the Badgers. (Follow along here.)

7:00 p.m. — Big East: Providence vs. Seton Hall

Providence surely thought it would be getting top-seed Villanova if it got this far but Seton Hall’s upset scuttled those plans. A semifinal win over the 17-16 Pirates won’t help as much as a loss would hurt.

9:30 p.m. — Big East: Xavier vs. Creighton

The Musketeers appear to be well within the field of 68, but they would remove any doubt with a win over Doug McDermott and the Blue Jays.

11:30 p.m. — Pac-12: Stanford vs. UCLA

Stanford has to be feeling good about its case for the tournament after routing Arizona State on Thursday. The Cardinal split their season series with the Bruins.


ACC: Florida State vs. Virginia

It was simple: A win would have gotten the Seminoles into the field. A loss would keep them out. They lost.

FINAL: Virginia 64, Florida State 51

SEC: Missouri vs. Florida

The Tigers’ only really impressive win this season came at home against UCLA back in early December. They couldn’t add another one Friday against the nation’s No. 1 team, getting routed by the Gators in the SEC quarterfinals.

FINAL: Florida 72, Missouri 49

ACC: Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina

The Pirates were probably going to make the tournament anyway, but their lack of signature wins was cause for concern. After knocking off No. 15 North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals, they move into the lock category.

FINAL: Pittsburgh 80, North Carolina 75

Beller is keeping on eye on these bubble teams this weekend:

Illinois: The Fighting Illini needed to advance to at least the Big Ten championship game to entertain hopes of a bid. Their upset bid of Michigan on Friday came up just short in a one-point loss, so they’ll have to settle for the NIT.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack pulled away late to beat Miami on Thursday, and though they struggled to a .500 finish in the ACC this year, they could create a little bubble chatter with a win over Syracuse in the quarterfinals.

Georgia: The Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament. Could a trip to the finals get them into the field if it includes a semifinal win over Kentucky? Not likely.

LSU: A win over Kentucky on Friday would be their second over the Wildcats this season, but the Tigers likely still need to win the SEC tournament to go dancing this year.

N.C. State may be the one team that falls victim to the Selection Committee’s sensitivity to charges that they fill out the brackets with too many middling teams from big conferences. How many teams from the ACC really deserve to go? 5? 6? Same for the Big 12 and Big Ten. Some teams like Minnesota who didn’t do well in a conference loaded with quality teams might “deserve” to go the Big Dance based on strength of schedule and non-conference record. But most conferences will only be guaranteed their conference tournament champion will make it.

There will be a lot of nail biting by players and coaches on Sunday afternoon.

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College Basketball Polls Unsteady Going into Conference Tournament Week

Monday, March 10th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

There was a general shuffle in the AP poll of the top 25 college basketball teams this week — except at the top.

The Florida Gators at 29-2 received 1610 first place votes to hang on to number one. Wichita State — the first undefeated team to enter post season play since 1991 at 34-0 — came in second.

The rest of the top 25 saw numerous changes from last week, as 18 of the top 25 teams lost — many to vastly inferior teams. These losses may actually hurt more this time of year than they would have a month or two ago. Teams are fighting for seeding in the national tournament and a lower seed – the result of a bad late season loss — that forces you to play a number one or two seeded team in the second round could mean an early exit.

An example of a late season bad loss hurting a team’s seeding; Virginia. The Cavaliers were sailing along, ranked number five and coming off a good win against number seven ranked Syracuse. They have won the regular season championship in the tough ACC and were looking for a number one seed in the tournament.

Then, an inexplicable stumble against a mediocre Maryland team, losing 75-69 and the dream of a number one seed is slipping away. Nothing less than a run to the ACC championship final will redeem them. The Cavaliers dropped to 6th in the AP poll.

Other teams also saw their top seed dreams crumbling. Duke went from 4th to 7th in the AP following a very bad loss to a weak Wake Forest team. Arizona, ranked number three last week fell to 4th following a tough road loss in Oregon.

The poll musical chairs had some winners. Villanova climbed from 6th to 3rd with solid wins over Marquette and Georgetown and a tough road win over Xavier thrown into the mix. And Louisville shot from 11th to 5th on the strength of two good wins against ranked opponents Connecticut and SMU.

Who will be the top seeds in the four regionals? It would seem that Wichita State, who already won the Missouri Valley Tournament, is a lock for one of them. And unless Florida loses early in the SEC tournament, they’re a good bet for another top regional seed.

Beyond that, any two of five teams could fill out the top of the brackets; Arizona, Villanova, Duke, Louisville, or Virginia. The ACC tournament is going to be a wild one with the winner all but guaranteed a top regional seed.

No doubt “March Madness” will live up to its moniker this week as a couple of teams playing in the conference tournaments surprise the experts and play themselves in to the Big Dance. Others, will disappoint.

The only certainty is that if you’re a college hoops fan, you are going to be vastly entertained.

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For the Chicago Bulls, a Season that Defies Reality

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Rick Moran

If you’re a fan of the Chicago Bulls, November 22, 2013 is the second worst day in the history of the franchise. The fact that the cause of the worst day in Bulls history — April 27, 2012 — was exactly the same as the second worst day speaks volumes about the fortunes of the team over the last 3 years.

On both those dates, former MVP Derek Rose went down with serious knee injuries. The 2012 injury happened in the first round of the playoffs against Philadelphia. The Bulls never recovered from that blow, losing in 6 games to the 76′ers after entering the post season as the top seed in the East.

After a full year of rehab, Rose returned to the game rusty, but apparently none the worse for wear. He was struggling, but improving when tragedy struck again, a torn meniscus shelving him for the season. It was a cruel blow for a team aching to prove themselves against two-time champion Miami Heat, who defeated them in a memorable conference championship series in 2012, and the rising Indiana Pacers who proved they could compete with anyone.

Once again, the body blow of losing Rose laid them low. By December 9, they were 8 games under .500 and some fans were openly urging the team to “tank” the season — deliberately lose games so that they could have a better chance at a high draft pick.

But the Bull’s mercurial coach Tom Thibideau wouldn’t allow such nonsense. Taking their cue from their fiercely competitive leader, center Joachim Noah, the Bulls began to claw their way back to respectability.

But then, another blow fell when team management couldn’t sign all-star forward Luol Deng to a contract extension, and traded him to Cleveland for Andrew Bynum — who they summarily released — and a couple of mid-level draft picks. It was a salary dump, nothing more.

Perhaps even more than Rose’s injury, the trade of Deng hurt the team psychologically. It was a sure sign that ownership had given up on the season and was pointing to adding pieces next year to make a run for glory.

For Noah, it was close to heresy. Deng was one of his best friends on the team and for a week following the trade, the usually outgoing center refused to talk to the media. Speculation was he couldn’t trust himself not to go off on management and create a rift that would be hard to heal.

Finally a week after the deal, Noah opened up with a few beat reporters for the local papers. Yes, he was upset, but that didn’t matter.

“The trade definitely hurt,” Noah said, adding that he had spoken to Deng about it. “But we got to move on. I feel confident in this team; we’re working really hard. A lot of people say this is a business and all that but this game is more than a business to me. I put everything I got into this. I feel like Lu was the same way so it was hard for me to digest. But that’s just my perspective, that’s just my side of the story. Everybody has a different job. I’m not mad at anybody. I’m not mad at the organization or anything like that. It’s just that my brother isn’t here anymore. So I just needed a little bit of time to digest that.”

Noah has shrugged off the Rose injury, the Deng trade, the pundits and reporters who say the Bulls can’t win, and the fans who were asking him and his teammates to quit on the year, and has raised the level of his play beyond anyone’s expectations to carry the Bulls to the best record in the East since January 1, 2014.

How the Bulls are doing this having the 30th – and worst — ranked offense in the league is astonishing. But there is sorcery at work here — the rarest kind of magic one can find at the professional level.

This group of middling talents, rejects, youngsters, and veterans actually like each other. They play for each other. They believe in each other. And perhaps most importantly of all, they have bought into their coaches’ belief in them and are currently playing some of the best basketball in the league.

It’s not always pretty. They have no one on the team that can create their own shot, although their candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, Taj Gibson, has developed a nice little low post game. But with the 24 second clock winding down, they’re just as likely to take a wild, 3-point attempt as they are to get a bail out jumper.

It doesn’t matter. Noah has become one of the top passing centers in the league, and in recent games the Bulls have begun to work their offense through him. This has meant fewer bail out shots and more pick and pop jumpers from reasonable range. The results are impressive, at least in the short term.

What of the near future? If the past is prologue, it’s a good bet that no team, no matter where they are seeded, are going to want to play the Bulls in the playoffs:

“When you deal with all the adversity we’ve been through this year, it makes your group that much tougher and stronger,” Bulls leader Joakim Noah said Friday night. “We’re going to be that resilient group, that tough group that is going to be very, very tough to play in the playoffs.”

It’s easy to talk that way now, the Bulls assuming the postseason. That looked uncertain in the first week of January after the Deng trade, when it looked like the team was preparing to head into the lottery. But primarily because of the leadership of coach Tom Thibodeau and especially Noah, the players never questioned where this season was headed.

They were disheartened when Rose went down again in November. They were downright mad when Deng was salary-dumped. But they’ve never done anything but give everything on the floor, and it’s led to win after win. The talent and the luck aren’t like it was back in 2010-11, when everything went their way and they racked up 62 wins before getting beat in the conference finals, but their execution and effort is the same.

They had seven different players average double figures in scoring in February, when they went 9-4 despite playing nine of those 13 games on the road. Noah is the team leader in rebounds … and assists, a pairing you will find nowhere else from the center position. Taj Gibson is having a career season. Midseason pickup D.J. Augustin is resurrecting his career. Accused of running his players into the ground in seasons past, Thibodeau doesn’t have any Bull averaging more than 36 minutes per night

Noah, who at one time in his 7 year career was thought to be something of a goof, with his pony tail, and antics on the court. But the mature Noah is less carefree, more careful in his statements, and very conscious of the leadership role he plays on the team. His intensity is frightening, and he’s not shy about calling out a teammate if he isn’t pleased with their play — or their enthusiasm. Just recently, Noah glowered at rookie Tony Snell who didn’t perform an enthusiastic “chest bump” to his satisfaction.

No, the Bulls will not win an NBA championship this year. They probably won’t get past the second round, given that either of their likely opponents — Indiana or Miami — can most assuredly beat them in a 7-game series. But whoever they play, their opponent will know they’ve been in a war. And who knows? When a team possesses magic, anything can happen.

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There Isn’t Enough Booze in the World, Dennis Rodman

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel


It’s an excuse as old as time. Got caught cheating on your wife? Tell her you were drunk. Unplanned quicky wedding in Vegas? Yup, drunk. Unplanned pregnancy? People have been blaming their state of inebriation for that for thousands of years. But palling around with a genocidal maniac? Well, congratulations Dennis Rodman, that’s a new one.

Shortly after returning home from yet another trip to North Korea (not to the gulags or frozen homes without electricity, just the stadiums and luxury accommodations), Rodman finally realized what we’ve all been saying for months: He’s lost his mind. CNN reports on the basketball star’s new home for the next month: rehab.

“Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination ‘super human’ political figure and ‘fixer’ got the better of him,” his agent, Darren Prince, said Sunday in a written statement. “He is embarrassed, saddened and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words have caused.”

Prince said Rodman is at a facility in New Jersey, one with a “28- or 30-day” program. He said Rodman drank heavily in North Korea during a recent tumultuous trip to the secretive state to play a basketball game with some former NBA stars against national team players from the regime.

“His drinking escalated to a level that none of us had seen before,” Prince said Saturday.

Rodman — the colorful basketball Hall of Famer who won five NBA titles while the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls — said alcohol was one reason he shot from the lip earlier this month and told CNN that an American imprisoned in North Korea since 2012 may have done something to deserve his sentence of 15 years’ hard labor.

After Kenneth Bae’s family complained, Rodman apologized, saying he was under stress and had been drinking when he was interviewed on CNN’s “New Day.”

Sorry, Dennis, but you may have been able to blame the tattoos, the outfits, and the girlfriends on booze, but not this. I’ve written extensively on the horrifying human rights situation North Korea for Commentary and The Federalist, and have unfortunately spent more time than I ever would have otherwise intended writing on Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” in the Hermit Kingdom. It’s about time that Rodman wised up to the fact that it isn’t always the case that “any publicity is good publicity.” CNN reported that Rodman told the media: ”I’m sorry for what’s going on in North Korea, the certain situations.” But he didn’t apologize for his visit.

“Certain situations”? Really? Let’s hope that the rehab facility Rodman is in has a 12-step program. If it does, Rodman owes it to the victims of Kim Jong-Un to make amends.


Image source: Raw Story

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Bombshells and Baby Daddies: How Single Moms Are Destroying Kids and Society, Part 1

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 - by Megan Fox


Former USC basketball star Brynn Cameron has just had baby number two out of wedlock with yet another sports star. Her first baby daddy was NFL quarterback Matt Leinart and the newest addition to her growing family is the child of the NBA’s Blake Griffin. Cameron is neither married nor in a relationship with either sperm-donor. (Rumor has it the stars of the NHL are competing with the pros of the PGA to see who will be next in line for PDA with the leggy blonde.)

While Cameron may not be struggling as a single mother because of her reported $15k a month child support paycheck (from baby daddy #1), the money alone will not protect her children from her stupid choice to raise them without a partner. Worse, Cameron’s lifestyle may seem attractive to her young fans, who will suffer far more harm than she if they follow in her ill-advised footsteps. Time and time again, statistics prove children raised in single-parent homes suffer compared to their peers in stable, married households. And yet, fauxminists still insist that single mothers are superior because they’re fighting the patriarchy… or something equally unintelligent.

In an essay titled “The Increase in Single Mothers is Actually a Good Thing,” Hugo Schwyzer claims that the rise in single motherhood is a result of women having babies with men they find inferior and thus not marriage material. Schwyzer uses an example of a woman whose “boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind.”

Perhaps having sex with him should never have entered her mind.

Why are today’s women so stupid that they allow men they wouldn’t trust to run errands deposit their DNA inside of them? Perhaps it’s related to the lie from the progressive feminists that birth control works and there is such a thing as consequence-free sex. Here’s a secret: It doesn’t and there isn’t.

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Any woman who decides to have a baby without a husband (not a baby daddy or a guy who visits on the weekend) needs to understand she is making the choice to put her baby and society at risk for the unforgivable disadvantages of poverty, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, a life of crime, and incarceration and suicide. The first part of this series will deal with the crippling scourge of poverty.

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The 2012 Lakers: An Autopsy

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 - by Sam Levine

The season is finally over for the Los Angeles Lakers, and it didn’t end well. The team lost in 5 games to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round of the playoffs. It didn’t have to be this way. In two of the games that they lost, the Lakers had a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter. Why did the Lakers blow those games? Because OKC is younger, quicker, more athletic and more talented; and because the Lakers are older, slower and only have one player they can rely on, Kobe Bryant.

Kobe was the only player who played well Monday night for the Lakers. In fact, he was fantastic, scoring 42 points. Pau Gasol was more aggressive than he was in the last couple games, but he did not have a good night, making 35% of his shots. In all likelihood he will be traded this summer. Gasol’s contribution to the Lakers during the last 5 years has been terrific, as he was instrumental in helping the Lakers win 2 championships. In fact, his effort for the Lakers was second to only Kobe Bryant, and for that Pau will forever hold a special place in Lakers fans’ hearts.

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3 Reasons Lakers vs Thunder Would Make Great Television

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 - by Sam Levine

With a win tonight against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers will advance to the Western Conference semi-finals to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. This potential match up will be fascinating and entertaining for several reasons.

First, it will be the first time the two teams play each other since this vicious play:

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Metta World Peace — formerly known as Ron Artest — was suspended 7 games for that elbow, which left OKC guard James Harden with a concussion. It will be very interesting to see how the OKC fans treat World Peace. My guess is not very well.

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Spike Lee at Madison Square Garden

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 - by Herbert London

The buzz in Madison Square Garden during the current New York Knicks basketball season has not been experienced in years. To the amazement of basketball aficionados, a Knicks ticket is a hot consumer item as Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin (before his knee surgery) have converted a lackluster team into a possible playoff team, albeit not one that is likely translatable into an NBA championship. Nonetheless, the early success means that seats on the basketball floor, in what is sometimes referred to as celebrity row, are filled.

One of those seats is occupied at almost every home game by Spike Lee, the filmmaker and avid fan of the Knicks. He is one of the regulars along with Woody Allen, Matthew Modine, and a host of other film personalities. However, Mr. Lee stands apart; he has insinuated himself into the game by cheerleading, confirming referees’ decisions, and engaging in trash talk with opposing players.

Clearly one might ask why Mr. Lee has this privileged position. Should anyone else behave in a similar manner, he would be escorted from the Garden. Is it because he is a highly regarded black filmmaker? Or is it his friendship with the players? Perhaps his yearly purchase of celebrity seats offers license other fans do not receive?

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