Welcome to ASE’s Picks of the Week! This is a new weekly feature where I share a few reads that I find interesting and worthy of your time. On a weekly basis, I read a TON of sports related articles. As a blogger, it’s expected. But unfortunately, with so much happening, I don’t always get to write about it all. Plus, I also noticed when I attempt to have conversations about some of the pieces I find most interesting or relevant, I’m often met with a blank stare because no one knows what the hell I’m talking about. And even if I suggest you read this week’s SI cover story on [insert athlete here], I know it won’t happen. I’m tired of feeling like one of these kids is doing her own thing, and am finally doing something about it. Each week, I’ll do the heavy lifting and put you on to a few articles that stand out to me. We won’t always share the same point of view, but if it makes you feel something, anything…then that’s good enough for me. And yes, some articles are lengthy, but the fact that you’re on my site, where reading is a required act, proves you don’t believe reading is a lost art form.
In a Sports Illustrated piece, The Canadian Jordan, Andrew Wiggins the great hope north of the border, we meet a 17-year-old who’s been touted as the next Michael Jordan. However, critics wonder whether the 6’8 talent will meet expectations and become an elite NBA player. Or, like many of his previous countrymen, be failed by Canada’s inferior preparatory programs, inexperienced advisors, and personal lack of resolve to succeed by any means necessary.
The potential of Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian basketball phenom considered the best high school-aged player in the world, is layered in hyperbole.
Recruiting analyst Tom Konchalski says that Wiggins can be the “Michael Jordan of Canada.” Former Canadian national team coach Leo Rautins says that Wiggins has the potential to be an NBA All-Star and, perhaps, someday battle for MVP. Steve Konchalski, Tom’s brother and a long-time fixture with the Canadian national team, says that Wiggins can be the best player the country has ever produced.
Wiggins, a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, is choosing between Florida State, Kentucky, UNC and Kansas and is said to be leaning toward Florida State. The son of a former NBA player and a Canadian Olympic sprinter, no one will question the 6-foot-8 Wiggins’ genes or athleticism.
But Wiggins must carry with him the burden of a country’s basketball hopes, its legacy of underachieving players and a reputation for only playing hard when necessary.
Two-time Super Bowl Champion Ray Lewis is an extremely polarizing figure. In one corner stands a group of people who admire Lewis for his superior play on the field and the motivational figure he’s become off it. And in the other corner stands a group of people who believe Lewis is a scripture quoting attention whoring self-righteous criminal. Following a pre-Super Bowl interview conducted by Shannon Sharpe, Lewis’s good friend, ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio criticized Lewis for providing non sequitor faith-based responses to softball questions Sharpe tossed his way when discussing the details of that tragic night from 13 years ago. When asked what he’d tell the victims’ families, Lewis responded, “To the family, if you knew… if you really knew…the way God works, He don’t use people who commits anything like that for His glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.” And this is where he lost Florio, and me too. Well, Florio isn’t high on Lewis so he probably lost him at hello, but I, like Florio, questioned if Lewis suggesting good things don’t happen to bad people was reason enough to believe his innocence. Or, is Lewis mocking his faith and disrespecting the victims’ families by implying whatever happened was all part of His plan? Regardless of whether you love or hate Lewis, this piece provokes thought on many levels.
CBS knew that the network would be killed (no pun intended) if Sharpe avoided the murder case entirely. So Sharpe raised it, but he also slow-pitched a softball question on the subject.
Said Sharpe, “A couple of weeks ago, the family of the incident in 2000…and I’m paraphrasing…but it goes something like this: “While Ray Lewis is being celebrated by millions, two men tragically and brutally died in Atlanta. Ray Lewis knows more than Ray Lewis ever shared.’”
The obvious question should have been, “Ray, what happened that night?” But that’s where Sharpe flipped an underhand eephus to Ray. Instead of being direct on the still-unknown issue of what transpired, Sharpe gave Lewis an open-ended question that allowed the subject of the interview to dictate its content.
Football is a blood sport. That’s what Tim Junod, the author of Theater of Pain, wants us to believe. He spoke directly to NFL players who have either suffered horrific injuries, caused horrific injuries, or both. Athletes, Ryan Clark and Willis McGahee, for example, spoke candidly about playing through injuries and how its par for the course. But as an NFL fan, it was difficult to read this article and not question my role in all of this. If more people tuned the game out because of the danger involved, would the NFL be more proactive about protecting its players during and post their NFL careers? Or, do we say to hell with our own hypocrisy, turn a blind eye to the brutality involved and continue to praise our guys for laying players out or playing through the pain? RGIII, this season’s Rookie of the Year, recently suffered a partially torn ACL and MCL in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Everyone watching the game witnessed RGIII’s gimpy play and begged for Mike Shanahan to make the responsible decision and remove him from the game to prevent further damage. The outcome we all feared became reality. RGIII’s heroic attempts may have altered his career, which makes you wonder when is enough enough? I’ll never stop watching football, and I’m the first to complain when new rules are implemented that I perceive are softening the game. But each time I learn more about the chilling injuries players experience, or the long-term effects caused by the game, I can’t help but cringe.
My left knee has been aching this entire week. I don’t know why. I didn’t get hit directly on it in the last game. My right knee has started the week so sore the side where the nerve got hit. When I wear the brace, my knees feel like total crap. When I start moving around, the muscles and tendons in my leg feel so stressed, sometimes I feel they might rupture. My lower back is so sore, painful and stiff; my right shoulder has lost some mobility for some reason. My right ankle is constantly being twisted; my left feels very weak. It’s hard for me to react to movement, or even drive off of it. I used the word “hard” but the real word is “next to impossible. I don’t sleep much, I feel super stressed, and on game day I take tons of drugs..
*An entry from a journal kept by an NFL player for the purpose of preserving, for his children, a record of his pain.