Categories
Sports

LeBron James Now Owns Major League Pickleball Team

You might have heard that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America right now. Everyday there’s a viral clip of a new professional athlete dipping their toes into the sport. NBA superstar and savvy businessman LeBron James has become the latest professional athlete in the mix, as Major League Pickleball announced today that he’s now an owner of a team.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/MajorLeaguePB/status/1575079842105597953?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>
New Owners Join MLP

LeBron James and Maverick Carter led the purchasing group through their LRMR Ventures. Notably, LRMR has ownership equity in Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool F.C. Many believe these ownership assets LeBron James is stacking will one day lead to him purchasing an NBA team, but only time will tell. 

Beyond James and fellow NBA All-Stars Kevin Love and Draymond Green, the new ownership group includes private equity heavyweight SC Holdings. SC Holdings has investments in companies such as Mad Happy, Certified Collectibles Group, Athletic Greens, and much more. 

High profile owners joining the MLP is nothing new, with a few notable owners already in the league. Social media guru and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is the current owner of The 5s, former professional tennis player James Blake is an owner of the Lions, and most recently Drew Brees became an owner in the league.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/MajorLeaguePB/status/1574813930710568960?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>
What’s Next For MLP

The group stage draw for MLP Columbus has completed, with the groups being announced today. MLP Columbus will be the last team competition in 2022, and will take place October 14th through the 16th.

Group A:
BLQK, Jackrabbits, Lions, Florida Smash

Group B:
Ranchers, Chimeras, The Bus, Mad Drop Pickleball Club

Group C:
Hard 8’s, Team Clean, ATX Pickleballers, The 5’s

Categories
Popular Culture

Starting Lineups: Modernizing the Iconic Collectibles

You may have heard that after a 21-year hiatus, Fanatics has partnered with Hasbro and Panini to bring Starting Lineups back, with upgrades for the modern era that include NFT trading cards. We will dive in to that later in the article.

If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, Starting Lineups figures are nothing new to you. In the days before NBA2k and twitter, having a mini-figure of your favorite NBA player was one of the furthest extents that fandom went.

<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/Ci0MLa_pxRg/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

The History of Starting Lineups
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Starting Lineup action figures were actually conceived by former NFL wide receiver John McInally, who was known for his savvy intinution. He was the only player to ever get a perfect score on the Wonderlic test, an aptitude test all NFL prospects are given. In a toy store, McInally noticed all the G.I. Joe action figures, but none of famous athletes. His vision of famous athletes on toy shelves became a reality in 1986, the last year he’d play professional football. 

These figures also wisely included a trading card in the box, as the late 1980’s was in the midst of an explosive boom in that hobby. The combination of a toy and a card made for a perfect pairing, and they flew off the shelves.

In 1989, Starting Lineup released their NBA Slam Dunk Series, which featured NBA legends such as Michael Jordan or Larry Bird. What was special about these action figures is that they were more like figurines. Each player would be shown dunking on an NBA hoop, even with the hardwood beneath their feet. 

By the early 1990’s it looked as though Starting Lineup had issued and sold an action figure of every significant sports star. With a lack of innovation, people began to lose interest in the collectibles. Today, some of the Starting Lineup figurines that have a low population count are heavily sought after by collectors. 

Since Legacy One Inc. acquired the trademark for Starting Lineup in 2017, physical Starting Lineup action figures have generally been exclusive to sporting event giveaways, I.E if you are one of the first 5,000 people in the stadium you get an action figure of the team’s best player. 

Starting Lineups Can Sell For Big Money!

Because most kids decided to rip them out of the box and play with them–or display them on their shelves–some of the figures in the original packaging can be worth quite a bit of money. Even highly-graded examples of just the cards that came in the boxes have also sold for some big numbers.

For now, to illustrate how collectible just the cards have become, check out this list of the top 10 Starting Lineup card sales:

1. Michael Jordan 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup PSA 10 – $15,100
CardLadder

To kick off this list, we have a card from one of the most collected Starting Lineups ever.  

The 1988 Kenner Michael Jordan card is his first with the brand, and it features a young MJ gearing up to make a play in transition.  The accompanying figure has His Airness donning the iconic white Bulls uniform.  However, the card brings in a pretty penny when graded well; check out this PSA 10 copy that sold for over $15,000 in 2021.  

2. Michael Jordan 1991 Kenner Starting Lineup “Dribbling” PSA 10 – $9,300
CardLadder

Our next Starting Lineup card is a rare variation from 1991’s Michael Jordan figure.  This POP 5, yellow-bordered card shows another action shot of Jordan driving to the basket.  The “dribbling” variation, as it is called, has sold for up to $9,300It remains one of the rarest MJ Starting Lineup cards to date.

3. Michael Jordan 1989 Kenner Starting Lineup “One on One” PSA 10 – $7,250
CardLadder

Next, we have Jordan’s second-year Starting Lineup card.  This stunner shows MJ doing a solid impression of the NBA logo.  The card was a part of the “One on One” set, and it came with two figures: Jordan and longtime rival Isiah Thomas.  This PSA 10 copy shown above sold for $7,250 last year, and it’s unlikely that we will see another gem mint copy for sale anytime soon.

4. Michael Jordan 1993 Kenner Stadium Club Starting Lineup BGS 9.5 – $5,925
CardLadder

This card is the first on the list to collaborate with another popular set, Stadium Club.  MJ’s 1992 Stadium Club card is one of his most iconic poses;  we get a glimpse of His Airness as he attempts to posterize Patrick Ewing.  The card is also an extremely tough grade, which may be why a BGS 9.5 copy has sold for as high as $5,925.

5. Michael Jordan 1990 Kenner Starting Lineup “Yellow” PSA 10 – $3,330
CardLadder

Number five on the list is one of two cards used in the 1990 Starting Lineup.  This one, bordered in bright yellow, features a shot of Jordan during his rookie campaign.  Then a 21-year-old, Mike would go on to win Rookie of the Year for the 1984-85 season.  While the card may not have been produced during that inaugural year, it is still very rare and tough to grade. It sold for $3,330 in March of 2022.

6. Michael Jordan 1990 Kenner Starting Lineup PSA 10 – $3,150
CardLadder

The other card in Jordan’s 1990 Starting Lineup showcased his acrobatic skills around the rim.  It is another PSA 10 with a low pop, and it sold for $3,150 in a PWCC auction. While the other card was a callback to MJ’s rookie year, this copy showed 23 as he began his first Finals run.  The Bulls would go on to defeat the Lakers in the following summer, and the rest is history.  

7. Magic Johnson 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup PSA 10 – $2,200
CardLadder

We have reached the first card on this list that doesn’t have Air Jordan on it.  Magic Johnson’s first Starting Lineup also rolled out in 1988, which makes this rare PSA 10 copy a hot commodity.  The series was released when Magic and Bird were still the faces of the league, and both were battling it out almost every year for a championship.  This card sold for $2,200 this year, and it still serves as a remnant of the “showtime” era of basketball.  

8. Larry Bird 1989 Kenner Starting Lineup “One on One” PSA 10 – $2,150
CardLadder

At number eight, we have our first card of Celtics legend Larry Bird.  “The Hick From French Lick” only has a few known Starting Lineups.  His “One on One” set with former foe Magic Johnson is arguably the most popular.  The supplemental card shown above sold for $2,150 back in July, and it currently stands as a POP 14 as a PSA 10.

9. Ken Griffey Jr. 1990 Kenner Starting Lineup “Baseball Extended” PSA 10 – $1,670
CardLadder

This is the only baseball card on the list, yet it makes so much sense to see Griffey up here with names like Jordan, Magic, and Bird.  Junior’s collectible market is well documented, which explains why this POP 1 PSA 10 sold for $1,670 last December.  The corners and edges of these cards are hard to find in such pristine condition, so seeing this copy with a 10 beside it is astounding.

10. Kobe Bryant 1996 Skybox Premium Starting Lineup “Extended Series” PSA 10 – $1,560
CardLadder

Our last spot on the list is the only one to feature the Black Mamba.  Although Bryant’s action figures may not have been as prevalent as Jordan’s, they are still must-haves for Kobe collectors.  This 1996 Skybox Premium rookie was included in all of his rookie Starting Lineups, and it has sold for as high as $1,560.

<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/Ciz1W0RpBnR/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Starting Lineup Re-Launch
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

On September 22, Hasbro + Fanatics + Panini partnered to bring the iconic Starting Lineup figures back to market. They were made available for pre-order only on the Fanatics network of websites.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing back one of the most beloved sports collectibles brands of all time, Starting Lineup, and to be teaming up with Fanatics for its highly anticipated return this fall,” Eric Nyman, President and COO of Hasbro, said in the release. “The fast-growing sports collectibles category presents great opportunities to connect with fans of all ages, and we’ve got many exciting announcements to come from the brand in the months ahead.”

Eight of the NBA’s top players were featured in this launch including:

• LeBron James

• Luka Doncic

• Ja Morant

• Stephen Curry

• Trae Young

• Giannis Antetokounmpo

• Jason Tatum

• Joel Embiid

Gone are the more simple figure designs of the past. These new figures have a futuristic and sleek look, with improved packaging and extremely realistic details–all the way down to each players branded sneakers. For example, LeBron’s figure sports his LeBron 19 Low Nikes.

Also included in the packaging are additional accessories including two pairs of additional hands and a flight stand with base that has the modernized Starting Lineup logo on it.

There will also be a physical exclusive Panini trading card in the box, while consumers will also receive a link via email for digital NFT trading cards–a feature we will get in to greater depth later in the article.

According to Fanatics, these will be shipped to consumers on or around December 1st, 2022.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/sportsmktgguy/status/1573036805544452098?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

So It Comes With an NFT?!
Starting Lineups

Panini recently made the decision to expand to the blockchain in 2022. The company says it did so to carry forward the legacy of Panini Collectibles into the digital era, as well as give users the highest degree of legitimacy for the digital collectible they own.

As previously mentioned, these new Starting Lineup figures will be accompanied by a physical and digital trading card. Each NFT trading card will be sent to buyers via email link. These digital collectibles will contain different rarity levels. Most will receive a common base card, but they might also get a rarer edition.

  1. Red: 1 out of every 100 people who purchase a Starting Lineup will receive a red parallel.
  2. Blue: The blue parallels will be sent to 1 out of every 200 buyers
  3. Green: The green parallels will be sent to 1 out of every 500 buyers
  4. Gold: One lucky person will receive an ultra-collectible one of one gold parallel of each player.

It will be interesting to see how much these cards sell for on the open market, and if the gold parallels top the prices of some of the older Michael Jordan cards we previously highlighted.

The digital Starting Lineup NFT trading card offer is valid on purchases from September 22, 2022 through 11:59PM EST on April 30, 2023 (or while supplies last).

Categories
Sports

Can Patrick Beverley Save the Los Angeles Lakers?

The Lakers’ superpower—as a team, brand, and vibe—has always been their latitude to fail. Whereas other NBA franchises build out wide-branching decision trees and agonize over cap tables, the Lakers have had the privilege of being the Lakers, of knowing that everything will work out, of practicing near the soundstage of Space Jam: A New Age. They can toss off picks and young players in trades with an old monied casualness because no amount of front office bumbling and flubbery can offset the natural advantages of being Los Angeles’ favored sons. At a certain point, when Patrick Beverley and a host of capable role players seem to apparate onto the roster from the ether, falling upwards becomes indistinguishable from success.

Accordingly, even as the Lakers are coming off the least fun season in the history of pro sports, they’re ultimately not that far from catapulting up the standings to reclaim their status as the NBA’s once and future king. After going 33-49 last year, the Lakers entered the off-season with no cap space, no control over any of their own draft picks until 2027, and no more than two demonstrably good basketball players. Objectively, it was truly grim shit—having systematically torched nearly every covetable asset, the Lakers finally seemed penned in by their profligacy. And yet, two months later, why does it feel like the Lakers might be back?

Lost amongst the wreckage of last year’s hardwood Lusitania is the basic fact that the Lakers were decent enough for the first half of the year—they were above .500 at the season’s halfway mark, having gone 21-20 through January 9th. Despite filling out their rotation with dimming, aging stars like a Vegas residency, despite Kurt and Linda Rambis Rasputin-ing their way into control over the levers of influence, despite Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel quiet-quitting by the All-Star Break, the Lakers still sneakily had the bones of a good team.

On an individual level, Lebron James played at an MVP level, and Anthony Davis had his most efficient shooting season since 2018—even the maligned Russell Westbrook was a legitimately productive player for December and January. Things definitely weren’t good, but they weren’t all bad, either. For stretches, the Lakers were able to gin up spacing by sprinkling some heady off-ball screening around the brute-force scoring of—hey, stop laughing! 

To a degree, the Lakers will inevitably improve this year as long as James and Davis play more than 22 games together, regardless of their summertime maneuvering. Still: the summertime maneuvering has been encouraging. Gone are Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and Deandre Jordan; in are Troy Brown, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Lonnie Walker. This week, they shipped out Talent Horton-Tucker for Patrick Beverley, cashing in on Horton-Tucker’s stylish impotence to acquire the NBA’s premier grit merchant. Across these moves, the Lakers have swapped voltage for value and built a more versatile and athletic team as a result. Once Russell Westbrook is inevitably traded (presumably to the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield), they’ll fully complete their transformation from a garish carbuncle into something considerably more streamlined. 

Ever since signing James in 2018, the Lakers have struggled to reckon with what it means to employ Lebron James. James causes a natural misalignment between his team’s long-term and short-term interests as he creeps further into his basketball dotage. Having missed chunks of time with injuries in three of the last four years, James is no longer the indestructible cyborg he used to be. Over the course of a season, there’s a limit on how many minutes he can play and possessions he can commandeer before his body craps out. But over the course of any single game, James should play every minute and commandeer every possession because he’s Lebron James—nobody wants to watch Austin Reeves try to get busy off the dribble while James screens and cuts like an overqualified John Collins. 

As such, the Lakers have resolved themselves to once again let James cook. Whereas guys like Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony require some alone time with the ball to be effective, Troy Brown, Patrick Beverley and Juan Toscano-Anderson are more than happy to be James’s auxiliary staff; their skillset—i.e., playing really hard all the time—doesn’t require much accommodation. This is a familiar formula for a James-led team—in 2020, the Lakers won the Finals because they found the right alchemy of goony try-hards to surround James and Davis; in 2018, a bootless Cavs team made the Finals once James’s teammates learned to stay out of his way. James’s talents are so expansive that he absolves his teammates’ on-ball weaknesses. 

On its own, trading for Patrick Beverley won’t turn the Lakers into a contender—Beverley is a pesky defender and all-around good player but is mostly a monopositional shit-stirrer. Similarly, no realistic package in a potential Russell Westbrook trade would single-handedly save the Lakers. Instead, the Lakers’ bounceback will be sparked by the way that their new roster clicks into place around James (and Davis, to a lesser extent). If last offseason was a manic episode of sheer talent accumulation, this summer has marked an internal recalibration for the Lakers, a transition into a more sensible and more normal team. It’s time for them to become what they always should’ve been. 

Categories
Sports

Where Can You Find The Best Summer Pro-Am Leagues?

As a hoops fan, the dread of no college and NBA action can be a lot until you remember the game is currently getting played in its purest form. Across the country, fans are returning to old-school gyms and playgrounds to watch an assortment of players compete in Pro-Am leagues in gritter but more dynamic environments. And amongst those hosting competitions, a select group stands out above the rest.

<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CgF5IUwPqPX/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Whether discussing Dyckman Basketball or the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, leagues of their caliber possess a “who’s who” of competing players and a memorable attending experience. The latter is why some fans don’t overly care about attending college or NBA games. Why do so when you can walk down your street and watch high-level talent up close for free?

With summer basketball approaching its halfway point, here is our list of the eight-best Pro-Am leagues.

Drew League, Los Angeles, CA
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/reel/CfkSrvIAHvp/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

While the Drew is in the news because of LeBron’s incredible performance last weekend, the almost 50-year-old league has been a staple of nationwide summer hoops and proving ground for several upcoming and established hoopers– especially those from LA.

Dyckman Basketball, Uptown New York City
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CgClAWBO2Md/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

New York City is most undoubtedly known for its hoops history within the parks, and no one is currently hotter than Dyckman Basketball. From all over the world, people are making their way to Uptown to watch the game get played in its grittiest, intimate, yet entertaining way possible.

The Crawsover, Seattle, WA
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CgPeHLvlZew/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Once known as the Seattle Pro-Am and run by former NBA player Doug Christie, “The Crawsover” has been entertaining and consistent like its namesake— Jamal Crawford. During its 14-year-tenure under Crawford’s watch, this league has witnessed Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, amongst other NBA stars, suit up in its uniforms.

Danny Rumph Classic, Philadelphia, PA
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CSUivFkAs2r/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Despite all of the noises made within East Coast hoops because of New York City, summer hoop lovers are fans of the Danny Rumph Classic. This Philly staple proudly represents their city’s basketball movement and attracts star talent– most notably James Harden, Lou Williams, and Dion Waiters.

Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, Atlanta, GA
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/Ce8_RpkuiTx/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Having kicked off their 10th season, the AEBL quickly made a name for themselves as a highly entertaining yet challenging league. On any given night, you’re watching the past, present, and future of Georgia hoopers compete, and you’ll never know when a star will join the party.

Miami Pro League, Miami, FL
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/reel/CgFuaHml84h/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Besides the lovely weather, beaches, and no-state income tax, plenty of college and NBA players are stopping by Florida to play in the Miami Pro League. In recent years, James Harden, John Wall, and Ja Morant have made appearances here and left an assortment of highlights that we still enjoy.

Brunson League, The State of Maryland
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CgKzIMopwJX/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

The DMV, short for Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, has been a hotbed for talent for a long time, with a portion of them coming from Maryland. The Brunson League became the state’s premier Pro-Am after Barry Farms, and the Goodman League held it down for quite some time.

Dreamville Chi-League Presented By Wilson, Chicago, IL
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/tv/CTF7YnvFTW0/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Before Dreamville and Wilson Basketball successfully relaunched the Chicago-based Pro-AM league last summer, the Chi League was one of the best leagues across the country. Once a true battleground for the city’s most immense talents, Chicago fans are now watching the next generation of hoopers take center stage, notably All-Star point guard Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Categories
Sports

LeBron James Returns To The Drew League and Dominates

For the first time in 11 years, LeBron James stepped on the floor of the Drew League and entertained a sold-out gym in Los Angeles, CA, on Saturday. Having last played in LA’s famous Pro-Am league during the summer of 2011, watching the four-time NBA MVP and champion play during this time of the year was a rare sight. But all it took was an invite from Chicago Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan to change that.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/KingJames/status/1548457643114565634?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

DeRozan is beyond a regular in the Drew League; he’s essentially a staple, a walking tradition you expect but appreciate whenever you watch him in that environment. And by having his own team, the MMV Cheaters, the proud Compton, CA native is free to create competitive advantages and unforgettable moments like the one on Saturday.

The Drew League faithful was more than welcoming to James as he walked on the court to a loud ovation. Rocking his signature No. 6 and a pink colorway of his upcoming LeBron 20, the NBA’s second-highest all-time scorer was locked in from the start as he eventually dropped 42 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 104-102 victory.

Whether before or during James’s performance, fans’ reactions to what occurred didn’t disappoint.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1548448651772436480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/KenHeLive/status/1548426051432247302?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

And it was easy to spot the look of amazement (or fear) players had guarding LeBron
<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/KingJosiah54/status/1548415807926857732?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/W_B_Rick/status/1548418969937145856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Which players would you love to see play at Drew League, Dyckman Park, and other famous Pro-Am leagues across the country?

Categories
Sports

Flag Football Gains Greater Momentum Towards Potential Olympic Appearance

In today’s times, a new or existing sport sees an emergence that captures the sports world’s attention; pickleball, foot golf, and competitive tag immediately comes to mind. But the classic sport of flag football is also emerging, and it’s serious enough for the NFL to support its cause of becoming an Olympic sport by 2028 significantly.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/NFLFootballOps/status/1546856946749231104?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

With a focus on growing American football internationally, making it more inclusive, and states such as New York declaring it a varsity sport, flag football has become the helping tool the NFL and others needed. But to make it an Olympic sport?

“When we talk about the future of the game of football, it is, no question, flag,” NFL executive Troy Vincent told the Associated Press. “It’s the inclusion and the true motto of football for all.” A big step for flag football’s reemergence is currently happening in Birmingham, AL– the 2022 World Games. Between July 10th-14th, the NFL-presented flag football competition at the World Games will consist of men’s and women’s teams from eight countries.

Who would you choose if given a chance to build your flag football team, regardless of who it is and why? Below, I have my dream flag football team in a five-on-five setting.

Quarterback – Patrick Mahomes
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/reel/CfcdGHsuyG1/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

There is literally no one else I would want at quarterback than the annual MVP candidate. Mahomes’ arm talent and above-average mobility are all I need to win.

Running back/defensive back – Tyreek Hill
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/tv/CcS5Y8ZF6dD/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

It’s easy to look at Hill’s speed, but he is insanely athletic. And to have that in flag football? On both sides of the ball? Ha!

Wide receivers/defensive backs – LeBron James and Kevin Durant
<code><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hWH4TxpuhU0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></code>

I promise you; there isn’t an answer for how to defend a pair of 6-foot-8 and nearly seven-foot wide receivers who are faster, stronger, and jump higher than almost every other human on earth that isn’t in their league. And Mahomes is my quarterback? #scaryhours

Wide receiver/pass-rusher/game changer – Myles Garrett
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/Cf2du6qJaY9/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

In all seriousness, Garrett *might* be the greatest flag football player ever if he stepped into this environment. More than any player on my team, he has no real matchup from his opposition.

Categories
Sports

What’s Next For Devin Booker and Nike?

Even though Devin Booker’s season didn’t end the way he wanted, his offseason has gotten off to a great start. Just minutes after free agency started nearly two weeks ago, the Phoenix Suns All-Star signed a super-max extension worth $224 million. Then he was named the cover athlete of the NBA2K23 video game. And now? Booker has signed another new extension– this time with sneaker giant Nike.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/Pat_Benson_Jr/status/1545057446778925059?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Having been signed to the ‘Swoosh’ since arriving in the NBA seven years ago, Booker has proven to be a successful investment. Despite what some fans say about him, Booker is well-liked and accomplished–a high-level player who is clutch, hasn’t abandoned his team yet, and is racking up endorsements at the same rate as All-Star (three times) and All-NBA team appearances (Just made his first one this year).

So when considering that and the details of Booker’s latest extension, which is rumored to be six years long, the question is, what’s next for Booker and Nike? Suppose you were to go off the company’s current handlings of their NBA stars (Think LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, for example). Would these following options be the most realistic?

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/NBA2K/status/1545036663872577536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Nike makes D-Book their go-to player to wear new signature sneakers

Similar to what Jordan Brand recently did with Jayson Tatum and the Air Jordan 36, Nike can make Booker their go-to player/litmus test to unveil new signature sneakers.

In his case, it makes too much sense for Booker to be the player revealing new color aways of the late Kobe Bryant’s sneaker line, given their relationship and similarities in playing style.

Does Booker receives his own shoe and collection?

While this option is closer to unlikely than likely, given his lack of a championship, I wouldn’t rule it out– even if he doesn’t win one within the next few years. Like any other shoe company, Nike is looking to build its following line of superstars, especially with LeBron James and Kevin Durant nearing the end of their careers.

A signature shoe and collection is never out of the question as long as D-Book continues playing at a high level.

Nothing changes (for now)

This option only exists because it could very well be the case. Nike doesn’t have to elevate Booker’s stature within the company. Not with LeBron and KD being their long-time acts, Antetokounmpo’s line getting pushed following his 2021 championship run, and Kobe’s on-court legacy properly preserved through his collection.

It’s going to be a lot of fun watching these two sides continue their relationship! Congratulations to Devin Booker once again.

Categories
Popular Culture

Pour Up with these Celebrities who Own Tequila Brands

There’s a new angle to the long-held debate of who is the G.O.A.T.— LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Fans and haters of both legendary athletes have vehemently argued about everything from their stats on the court to who has the best sneakers to which one has delivered the better Space Jam. Now folks can offer their opinions on which baller has delivered the best tequila. Next month, MJ’s Cincoro Tequila and Bron’s Lobos 1707 Tequila will go up against each other for the title of “Best Tequila Reposado.” Unlike with most of the other debates that involve Jordan and LeBron, these two aren’t the only ones competing for the top spot in the tequila game. There are several other celebrities who own tequila brands that are aiming to be the people’s champ.

<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CdJpfXlv_3_/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Tequila is one of the most popular spirits in the world, so there’s no surprise that its popularity has caught the attention of celebrity investors and entrepreneurs. There is a growing number of celebrity owned tequilas founded and funded by moguls in entertainment, international pop stars and iconic athletes.

While some celebrities have simply lent their names to a tequila brand, others have been so heavily involved in the production process that they’ve collaborated with the distillers to create unique flavor profiles. It’s easy to assume that as the popularity of tequila continues to grow, more and more celebrities will get involved in the tequila business. Your favorite celeb may even be next to release a brand of tequila. Until then, you can just drink responsibly and pour it up in celebration of these celebrities who own tequila brands.

Michael Jordan
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CeI5P_3Om7u/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Cincoro Tequila

Price on Drizly: $10 – $3,000 

Michael Jordan knows how to build a winning team. The six-time NBA champion joined forces with the owners of several NBA franchises to create their ideal tequila, Cincoro Tequila. The super team of tequila lovers served up their first bottles in 2020.

George Clooney
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CeHQ8wSstbf/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Casamigos

Price on Drizly: $16 – $133

In 2013, George Clooney and a couple of partners got together to launch the tequila brand Casamigos. Their passion project soon paid off when Diageo purchased the company that the Academy Award-winning actor co-founded for more than $700 million.

Sean “Diddy” Combs
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CV3MQ0xPEpv/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

DeLeón Tequila

Price on Drizly: $26 – $1,311

Sean Diddy Combs is a mogul who has conquered music, fashion, television. He’s even reigned supreme in the spirits industry. Ciroc became a household name after Diddy attached himself to the liquor brand. Brother Love is also behind a line of tequila called DeLeón Tequila. This smooth, high-quality spirit is made out of 100% Highland Blue Weber agave that has been grown on fertile soil located in the Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico.

Kendall Jenner
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/p/CU5qV4opCHI/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

818 Tequila

Price on Drizly: $32 – $100

It’s no surprise that Kendall Jenner has gotten into the tequila game with her own brand, 818 Tequila. The name comes from the area code for San Fernando Valley, which is where she grew up. It’s currently available in three flavours: Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo. She of course announced the launch of 818 on social media, with a post that featured her posing with a bottle of the drink. “So happy to finally share this with you all!” she wrote. Although the launch of the brand was met with controversy, the tequila has received solid reviews.  

Rita Ora
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdMFY4Epn93/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Próspero Tequila

Price on Drizly: $21 – $78 

Singer and socialite Rita Ora added “tequila maker” to her resume in 2019 when she partnered with Conecuh Brands for Próspero. The British entertainer said that part of why she decided to take a stake in the handcrafted spirit that features Mexican and European influences was working with Stella Anguiano. Anguiano created Próspero and is one of the first female tequila distillers. “Stella and her team are incredibly passionate about what they do and have given me the chance to collaborate on a project that celebrates all women,” said the “Hot Right Now” singer.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/reel/CdD2hHbMB3j/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Teremana Tequila

Price on Drizly: $24 – $99

For years Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson asked us to smell what he was cooking. Now he wants us to drink his tequila. The G.O.A.T. wrestler, actor and producer r is a proud owner of Teremana Tequila. Handcrafted in a small town in Mexico, Teremana uses local businesses and traditional practices to create a tasty and sustainable ultra premium tequila. Teremana is said to mean “spirit of the earth.”

Nick Jonas and John Varvatos
<code><p class = "instagram-media">https://www.instagram.com/tv/CeGuIV2p3vi/?utm_source=ig_embed\u0026amp;utm_campaign=loading</p></code>

Villa One Tequila 

Price on Drizly: $10 – $81

The worlds of music and fashion have collided in a variety of interesting ways. Platinum-selling artist and Jonas bro, Nick Jonas and famed fashion designer John Varvatos teamed up on a tequila called Villa One. Known for its bold and unique flavors, Villa One Tequila features notes of dried fruit and toasted nuts. 

Categories
Sports Strength

Five Random NBA Predictions In 2022

In its 75-year history, 2021 will go down as one of the most transformative years in the NBA. Several franchises saw their fortunes change overnight. A once-mediocre franchise became an NBA champion and was led by a player many didn’t expect to become the best in the world. And lastly, the league continued to navigate through a global pandemic. As 2022 is mere hours away from happening, I have five predictions for what could happen in the NBA next year.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/TheHoopCentral/status/1476395275371487235?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Ja Morant will win the MVP

As crazy as this sounds, it will only be accurate when it happens. The former second overall pick is taking that “superstar leap,” that consists of producing a career-best stat line (24 PPG, 5 RPG, 6 APG, and nearly two steals per game), team success (The Grizzles are 22-14), and MVP-like moments— Morant outdueled LeBron James two nights after making a game-winning shot on the road against the 27-7 Phoenix Suns.

Even if Morant doesn’t win the MVP this season, you can expect his name to pop up in the conversation, and he will probably begin the 2022-’23 season on the shortlist of viable candidates who can win the award.

The league’s interest in expansion will come to fruition

For years, the NBA’s reported interest in expansion sparked conversations that have only gotten hotter due to the number of potential teams growing. But with significant support from the general public, especially when it comes to giving the city of Seattle a team again, the NBA could make expansion a reality by the end of next year.

And besides Seattle getting a team, cities such as Las Vegas, NV, and Kansas City, MO have been mentioned as the following locations to receive an NBA team, specifically the former.

Ben Simmons will be traded… in February

Since last summer, the former first overall pick has been in a stalemate with the Philadelphia 76ers, and there have been few indications of when he’ll play for them again. As much as 76ers general manager Daryl Morey wants to get his “bang for the buck” in any deal for Simmons, there’s a reported expectation that the team will trade him by this coming February’s trade deadline.

With a sizable list of teams interested in the three-time All-Star point forward, most notably the Portland Trail Blazers, there will be a loud reaction on the day Simmons gets traded and how much the 76ers received in exchange for him.

Everyone will love an in-season NBA tournament
<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/1474932248440889348?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Even though some people, including a few teams themselves, are still against the NBA’s play-in tournament, the truth is it’s a massive success from both a competitive and entertainment standpoint. The league has been motivated to find a way to make their regular seasons more critical, and they believe a mid-season tournament can help make that happen.

Fueled by several financial and competitive incentives, as well as European soccer’s ability to hold tournaments seasonally within their schedule, commissioner Adam Silver has championed this cause, with hopes it happens between next season and 2024-’25.

LeBron James will retire after the 2022-’23 season

It’s insane to believe that LeBron James and retirement hasn’t been realistic to us NBA fans because of his insanely-high level of play, but as the man himself said on Tuesday, “he is on the other side of that hill.” So given what it takes to play at the level the four-time NBA champion and MVP is required to play at, it wouldn’t be a surprise if James made the 2022-’23 season his last one.

Other than what is happening with the Los Angeles Lakers and their title chances, James will be playing in his twentieth season and could surpass Kareem Abdul Jabbar for most points scored by a player in league history. And minus the historic chance to play alongside his oldest son, Bronny James (who’s currently draft-eligible in 2024), King James doesn’t have much to play for at this point of his career.

Categories
Sports Strength

The Five Things We Learned Most About Sports In 2021

Sports tend to teach us incredible lessons on any occasion throughout a year, but what we learned in 2021 may have been the most taught to us in a long time. If there’s anything I took away from sports this year, it’s that not everything is what it seems, and anything is beyond possible. Below are the five things we learned most from watching sports in 2021.

<code><p class = "twitter-tweet">https://twitter.com/SkySports/status/1476455514888458249?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw</p></code>

Dominance comes in different shapes and sizes

At the beginning of our relationship with sports, we were constantly presented with images of what dominant athletes looked like– all in great shape and deemed “perfect.” But in 2021, the likes of Tyson Fury and Nikola Jokic showed you could achieve dominance in your field even if that weren’t the case.

Fury, the undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion, and Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, dominated their opponents with their unique blend of size, mental toughness, and intelligence despite lacking in other areas that some fans, and even their peers, believe are the most important to have.

Sports is now positionless

While positions in team sports will always exist, this past year really proved there are simply labels for the identification of players. In sports such as basketball and soccer, we watch everyone possess a similar skillset and push the boundaries for where the game is going next– a reality that was incomprehensible for some even a decade ago.

The Olympics allowed every country to have their moment

Despite the Tokyo Olympics being delayed a year because of the initial start to this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s most significant athletic competition was back in action this past summer. And among the various things we witnessed, it was the dominance a multitude of countries had in any sport.

As the United States maintained its lead in sports such as basketball, Great Britain excelled in boxing, and China shined the most in diving, with an extensive trail of countries putting the world on notice in their respective sports.

Women’s athletics is the home of trail blazers

While naysayers will continue to hate women’s athletics in any way possible wrongfully, this was an excellent year for women’s athletics. Sports such as basketball, gymnastics, and tennis saw their talent level get advanced on every level. A new wave of exciting talent got introduced in mixed martial arts and softball.

But most importantly, a majority of women’s athletics utilized their platforms to highlight issues in race relations, pay disparity, and equal rights.

Age is nothing but a number if you’re Tom Brady or LeBron James

Earlier this year, sports fans marveled (or groaned) at the sight of quarterback Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl title. At the age of 44-years-old, Brady is balancing the act of dominating his competition and still improving, a situation 37-year-old LeBron James is going through in the NBA.

This is a massive development as the narrative around an athlete’s prime and longevity is revised. It will get accepted that their “prime” is much longer than everybody else for some players.