Long Live The King

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
12 June 2018

So the Golden State Warriors win their third championship in four years, the Washington Capitals and their superstar Alex Ovechkin win their first Stanley Cup, and Donald Trump was Shaqtin’ a Fool at the G7, but all the media seems to want to discuss is where LeBron James will be playing come October.

Okay, I’m in. Here are The SEVEN most likely destinations for LeBron in 2018-19…but first here are a couple of teams he won’t be going to:

Golden State Warriors
Boston Celtics

If you think Kevin Durant got – and still gets – some grief for joining the 73-win Warriors, what do you think LeBron world get if he joined the team that has just swept them and beaten them three of the last four years? He would immediately become a bigger heel than the WWE ever created…and his legacy would be forever tarnished, in that this is not akin to a Trevor Ariza saying he would consider going to G. State. This is someone in the conversation about the greatest ever – as well as someone who appeared at the post-series press conference wearing a cast on his hand, almost implying that the outcome could have been different had he not punched the whiteboard in the locker room after game one. That will never happen.

As for Boston, they were thisclose to knocking off Cleveland this year with arguably their two best players in street clothes. They need not break up their young core over 2-3 years of mid-30’s LeBron.

In the also-ran category are Utah, Milwaukee, Toronto and Portland – all young teams with enough talent such that the addition of LeBron could vault them into serious contention. But would he do these smaller markets?

And now, the seven:

7. (tie) Miami Heat & Los Angeles Clippers

Miami gets some consideration due to history and Dwyane Wade; Clippers due to having a great coach in Doc Rivers, and being in the town where he owns a home or two and his kids are enrolled in school for the fall, at least according to some.

Plus, with the Clippers, it’s L.A., but he could operate out of the shadows of Magic and Kobe.

6. New York Knicks

Don’t think for a minute LeBron wouldn’t LOVE being the star on Broadway, being coached by David Fizdale, playing in the Mecca of basketball – Madison Square Garden – and ultimately having his number retired there. And with Porzingis and a couple of others, they could be among the contenders in the east.

5. Houston Rockets

Not enough balls on the court to make that work with James Harden and CP3. (Of course, having LeBron there would be the best thing ever for Harden if it would work, given that Harden is totally spent come fourth quarters.)

4. Philadelphia 76ers

If ultimately getting LeBron was part of “trusting the process,” former general manager Sam Hinkie is a genius. Only problem is if they have to give up some of their young talent to get LeBron in…see Boston above. Plus Ben Simmons basically plays the same position as LeBron…and both need the ball to maximize their effectiveness; Simmons more so because he can’t shoot as of yet.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Glamour city, glamour franchise, Jack and the stars are at the game, and they have salary cap space to bring in another star like Paul George. And that business about his kids…

1A. Cleveland Cavaliers

He said family is a consideration. Despite having a rough road to a championship there, it’s home.

1. San Antonio Spurs

When last we saw the Spurs at full strength, in the first game of last year’s western conference finals, Kawhi Leonard was being called (by some) “the best two-way player in the game,” and pro sports’ best organization with the best coach was running Golden State out of their own gym. Then Zaza Pachulia came down under Leonard, the Warriors came back to win, and Kawhi played but 9 games this drama-filled season.

Drama aside (and that may have been blown out of proportion, anyway), if you add LeBron to this team, you have a definite championship contender, or to put it differently, a team that can match up with the Warriors. And it’s a squad LeBron can grow old with, as in Kawhi he would have a superstar teammate to slide behind into the second spot as time progresses.

So there you have it!

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50 is the New 30

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
1 June 2018

I. Curtain Call

Well it seems like Ichiro playing to 50 ain’t gonna happen, much as we would have loved to see it, but at least he will have more time to find out who the blank Tom Brady is. That said, here’s hoping Manu Ginobili, Vince Carter, and DWade play (at least) one more season so that they can get sendoffs of appreciation from fans around the league. It would be sad for them to just announce that they are retired without our getting a chance to show some love.

II. What Happened and What’s Gonna Happen

Wasn’t this supposed to be the year that the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference and the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference were to make bigger moves, as opposed to being unceremoniously bumped in the opening and second rounds respectively. Once the Warriors win their third championship within the last four years, these teams should each put their bids in for the services of potential free agent LeBron James. Both Lillard and McCallum on Portland and DeRozan and Lowry on Toronto would probably flourish even more if they were the 2nd and 3rd best players on their team come the playoffs as opposed to being #1 and 1a.

As to where James should go if he decides to leave Cleveland, here are two solutions based on his objectives:

Competing for Championships – San Antonio Spurs. Adding the best player to the team with the best coach would propel them back into the championship picture.

All Else – New York Knicks. I don’t know LeBron but I do believe he’s a student of the history and the tradition of the game. With that said, I am certain he would absolutely love 2-3 years of being the star of the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, ultimately having his number retired in the rafters.

III. Deadline is When?

The last time both Eastern Conference and Western Conference finals went to seven games was in 1979, when the Wizards – then known as the Bullets – defeated the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, the Spurs were initially in the East after the merger – and if they feel they will not get Kawhi Leonard back in the fold, perhaps they should apply for reinstatement.

IV. Meek Mill

I wonder if Bryan Colangelo or whoever tweeted about Meek Mill’s release and appearance at a Sixers playoff game, a great feel-good story. Had he not made it to that game, I am certain that he would have numerous opportunities to see the up and coming Sixers in the playoffs in the years to come.

The only thing to not feel so good about is that there are countless others languishing in prison that are deserving of release or, at the very least, re-evaluation who do not have fans, celebrities and influential people clamoring for their release.

V. Chikesia Clemons

Let’s not forget about the Saraland Police Department and the mistreatment of Ms. Clemons. Maybe we should all give them a call at (251) 675-5331.

VI. Sorry, Sarah

So Sarah Huckabee Sanders is upset that people call her a liar. She attributes nothing to her boss, who creates situations where Sarah’s credibility comes into question.

One could be reminded of the time the late Yankee player and manager, Billy Martin, was upset with and commenting about Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner. “One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted.”

Sarah’s boss might get to be both before all is said and done.

VII. John McCain

The reason why there was so little official White House criticism of staffer Kelly Sadler’s comments about John McCain is that they basically agree with her.

April Fools

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
12 April 2018

I. Cover Jinx

It has been said that there is a jinx that falls upon those that appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, resulting in less success than the cover appearance might have forecast. This might be one such example…

For whatever it’s worth, here’s my bracket, wrong in so many ways except for the title winner.

II. First Take

Hey @stephenasmith and @maxkellerman, I liked your segment a few days ago with Ray Allen, in which you confronted Ray about his failure to adequately contact Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce regarding his decision to leave the Boston “Big 3” to join Miami’s really Big 3. So here’s my challenge: Create some real must-see morning TV…as soon as Rajon Rondo’s season is over – whether at the end of the regular season or the first round of the playoffs – get Ray, KG, Pierce and Rondo on your air and let them hash it out!

III. Houston and GS and Portland, We would have a Problem

It’s a noteworthy story when the San Antonio Spurs are not going to win at least 50 games for the first time in 20 years, clearly due to the lengthy absence of Kawhi Leonard. But the bigger story is that although the team and Pop have done a tremendous job in his absence, they just locked down a playoff birth. Had they fallen short in the tightly bunched Western Conference, that might have posed a long-term problem.

Considering their track record in terms of player development, can you imagine what might happen if they get a lottery pick as opposed to the 28th or 29th pick they usually wind up with? (The last time they missed the playoffs they wound up drafting Tim Duncan.)

IV. A New Low

I really thought FOX Fake News host Laura Ingraham had sunk to a new low when she stated that LeBron James should “shut up and dribble,” which could be translated from Racist English as “N-word, you’re lucky you get to earn a great salary as opposed to picking cotton. Your job is solely to entertain us, so don’t attempt to do anything else.” If he should shut up, she should put up the 41 million dollars he is putting up for local kids to attend college.

But then she went on to mock the college prospects of David Hogg from Margery Stoneman Douglas high school. Upon getting the deserved blowback, she issued a fake apology as sponsors blew off her program. I wonder if she saw what happened with Bill O’Reilly?

V. Who Cares

Who cares if President Trump had affairs with Stormy, Karen, and whoever else while his wife was home with their infant son over a decade ago? As one writer put it, “he ain’t my man.”

Well, apparently some people thought others might care, despite not being in a relationship with him. These people might just include Michael Cohen, Donald Trump, and Trump’s close advisors, and whoever was knowledgeable about and/or responsible for the $130,000 payment just prior to Election Day of 2016 to ensure silence from Stormy Daniels. And why is this important? Glad you asked.

This payment, unless it came from Trump’s pocket, can easily be viewed as an illegal campaign contribution, as it was made to further the chances of the candidate. If illegal, who was a crime committed against? HRC? All of us? And what compensation should she or we be entitled to?

I have an answer but I doubt our Republican friends would be in agreement.

VI. Bye Bye

Meanwhile, as things get stormy by the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan is retiring. The 48 year old Ryan, who may very well harbor presidential ambitions despite his public pronouncements, will still be only 58 in 2028. Why mention 2028?

He envisions the possibility that the next few years could go horribly wrong for Republicans, and probably anticipates a Democrat winning the presidency in 2020. Unless it’s my guy Joe Biden who would probably not go for a second term due to his age, there’s a great possibility that that person would be re-elected. So the next election without an incumbent would be 2028.

Even if Ryan is clean in terms of Russia, it’s like wearing a tux to coach the little league game; some of the dirt will get on you. Perhaps he wants to get out before too much of Trump’s dirt falls on him.

As we are just coming out of the Easter season, I’m thinking about Peter being confronted about being in Jesus’ crew, and his insistence that he didn’t know the guy. If Trump goes down with Ryan as speaker of the house, he’s hard pressed to say he didn’t know anything. Retiring now might make an “I didn’t know” defense slightly more plausible for Ryan. I just hope that with re-election off the table, the principled Ryan that has shown his face on a couple of occasions during the past two years will emerge.

VII. Play Ball

As much as the combination of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton reminds people of duos like Mantle and Maris, Mays and McCovey, and McGuire and Canseco, the opening week and a half have demonstrated to Mr. Stanton – the recipient of much booing after two games in which he struck out five times apiece – that the NYC pressure begins at day one. No grace period.

That said, there was much more pressure on a player in New York some 71 years ago, and he handled it all with the ultimate grace. Get a copy of “Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues” for a young person in your life – https://www.amazon.com/Jackie-Robinson-Negro-Leagues-Williams/dp/150040876X.

Sweet Home Alabama

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
12 December 2017

I. The Late Bob Smith

Although I am somewhat familiar with running late on occasion, I was definitely on time this morning when I sat down on the commuter train… which I will not name…across from a gentleman that I will refer to as Bob Smith.

Out of the corner of my eye I notice Bob pulling some Vaseline on his hands and forearms. No biggie. Then – again out of the corner of my eye – I see a spray bottle of cologne, which he went on to use. I know that because I could smell it thereafter. Next came the airport-sized container of deodorant, which Smith proceeded to use, following that by pulling off his shoes so that he could put on these actually very nice looking socks.  Wish I had taken a picture on the DL.

Does this train not have a bathroom?

II. Need A QB?

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles’ MVP-candidate Carson Wentz is out for the season with a torn ACL, we have gotten to the place that I anticipated where a Super Bowl contender has a need for a quarterback. How about Colin Kaepernick…a guy that has taken a team to the Super Bowl?

III. Just To Recap

The polls have closed in the AL Senate election, where the contest was between Doug Jones, the guy that prosecuted the killers of the four Sunday School girls in Birmingham, and a guy that is alleged to have preyed on young girls like that. It’s between a guy that attempted to right wrongs committed against Blacks, and another who has stated that America was great during slavery.

And the Republicans are backing who?

IV. Moral Bankruptcy or Recap, Pt. 2

What’s up with this, Republicans?
Bill Cosby: Take his show off the air
Matt Lauer: Take him off the air
John Conyers: He needs to resign
Al Franken: He needs to resign
Roy Moore: Put him in the Senate

And what about Donald Trump? The Republican Party is truly morally bankrupt, bankrupt being a most appropriate term to use when describing a party led by Donald J. Trump. Here’s hoping that the people of Alabama have moved forward and have done the right thing.

V. Congratulations!

I grew up in a National League house, meaning that in New York my folks gravitated to the Brooklyn Dodgers due to their signing of Jackie Robinson, while other African-Americans liked the New York Giants and their future hall of Famers Willie Mays and Monte Irvin. Once those teams moved west, fans like my dad kept a soft spot in their hearts for them for the rest of their lives, and I was trained to root for the National League team in the World Series. So I was not rooting for the Houston Astros in the Series this year, but how can you dislike a team with Jose Altuve?

They may not need to do a reorder of the champagne and sparkling cider in Houston, however, as a result of the Yankees acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton to go along with Aaron Judge and Co.

VI. Five Time Champion

The wrestler Booker T used to brag about being a “five time, Five Time champion,” a phrase which could also describe one of the greatest coaches in the history of pro sports, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. I would love to see the discussion that ensues regarding White House invitations if he were to become a “six-time, Six Time” champion in June, especially after these comments to Dave Zirin of The Nation:

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this President had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments…about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.

This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

If not Biden…

VII. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Beat It

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
9 October 2017

I. Showtime

If this presidency were an episode of Showtime at the Apollo, Sandman would have hooked a heckled Donald Trump – he of the 32% approval rating – off the stage a long time ago.

II. Audience Reaction

It has been said – or at least used to be said – that when you write a letter to a network, the network execs are aware that there are another thousand people that feel the same way but didn’t take the time to write and mail a letter. As such, they don’t look at your sentiments as those felt by one person, but by a sizable group of people.

So when Sen. Bob Corker refers to the White House as an “adult day care center,” one has to wonder how many other Republicans feel the same way. Furthermore, what are those others waiting for before they will speak up?

And speaking of waiting, why did it take Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to tell us that the president is smart? Has he only shown that quality to Rex? What is he waiting for to show the rest of us?

III. Charlottesville Pt. 2

The unwelcome tiki torch carriers were back in Charlottesville this past weekend. Anybody see any early morning tweets about that?

IV. Oh, Shoot

Having only lived in the northeast, it was a little shocking, while visiting another state, to find myself in the fast food line with this man who was obviously not wearing a blue nor a green fatigues uniform.

V. At The Risk…

…of seeming foolish tonight given that they are one loss away from winter vacation, I have to insist that the Yankees have one of the most dangerous teams in the MLB playoffs. Don’t fall behind against them with that bullpen.

VI. The King of Pop

You think anyone ever noticed that when a Michael Jackson song comes on, whenever and wherever you happen to be, you’re immediately ready to sing and dance? Oh yeah…silly question.

VII. Don’t Get Attached

If you’re a Laker fan, my advice might be to refrain from getting too attached to Brandon Ingram. The young partner to watch alongside Lonzo Ball is Kyle Kuzma.

NBA Predictions later in the week.

Take A Knee

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
24 September 2017

I. Current Climate

Drop this in your browser if the link doesn’t come up. This type of sentiment has become too prevalent in the age of DJT.

https://www.facebook.com/6abcNydiaHan/

II. Jemele Hill

Why is it that these people like Sarah Huckabee Sanders – and, unfortunately, my favorite team sport athlete ever, Darryl Stawberry – are more upset about Jemele Hill calling Donald Trump a white supremacist or Steph Curry not wanting to visit the White House than his behavior and statements and tweets that led them – and others, for that matter – to feel this way?

III. Mnuchin and Christie

If the truth be told, I wasn’t in agreement with the concept of Governor Chris Christie using a state helicopter to get to his son’s baseball game – but as a father and a coach, I could totally understand his desire to be there for his son. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s alleged request to use a government plane for his honeymoon is just on another level altogether.

That said, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you’re in the Cabinet and you see the Trump family using the presidency as their personal fiefdom, you probably are thinking, “let me jump in too while the water is warm.”

IV. Use It Wisely

When Floyd Mayweather said that Donald Trump was a real man by virtue of his grab her by the p-word comments, I began to wonder if perhaps Conor McGregor had hit him harder than we had thought. Maybe Floyd can use some of the $200,000,000 for some sensitivity training, or some history courses.

He might just learn that for hundreds of years white males felt empowered to grab his ancestors by their genitalia, with no repercussions. I would hope he would acknowledge that that didn’t exactly make them “real men.” And he might also learn that some men have felt empowered to treat all women less than equally and pay them less than equally throughout the entire history of this country. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

V. Cleveland

Shout out to the Cleveland Indians, who clearly didn’t make too many mistakes by the lake during their 22-game winning streak. Should they return to the World Series and win this time, it might take some of the sting off of a LeBron James departure in 2018.

VI. Melo

It would be great, as a professional athlete, to return to the city of your birth and lead that team to a championship. In New York – where the Mecca of Basketball/World’s Most Famous Arena has housed but four championship teams in the last 77 years – that would have been huge for Carmelo Anthony. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen, and now will not since his trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder. (As an aside, I thought he wanted to play in a media-centered locale…no disrespect to OKC. I guess playing with Russell and PG13 is good enough.)

Carmelo was obviously frustrated by the futility of the Knicks during these last few years, but even had they been good enough to squeak into the playoffs in the previous four seasons, they would have likely met up with the Cleveland Cavaliers (or, in the case of four years ago, the Miami Heat), which would have undoubtedly ended their season. The team that LeBron James has played on has won the Eastern Conference seven straight years, in part because the East is nowhere near as strong as the West. For the foreseeable future, LeBron’s team would continue to be either the favorite or among the favorites in the East, whereas if he were to go to a team in his second home of LA, his new team would just be one of many tough Western Conference teams, with no guarantee to make it out of the second round. Perhaps Cleveland fans don’t have as much to worry about as some of the media seems to think.

VII. #TakeAKnee

The flag stands for the ideals of the country. If the country is seen to be falling short in some manner, then calling attention to that is in fact patriotic, not unpatriotic. I wonder how this will be viewed now that white players have participated. Will the President call them SOBs and call for their firing as well?

Whether it’s taking a walk in 1955 or taking a knee in 2017, there will often be discomfort with the way protests around racial injustice are conducted. But if said protests are peacefully and legally conducted, I think it wise to not focus solely on the means with which you disagree but to also examine the issues that have led to these protests.

Both Sides Now

The SEVEN
by Mack Williams
28 August 2017

I. Nazis 2017

Clearly my mother’s first husband – the main character (aside from her) in her book, “WWII Diary” and my award-winning screenplay of the same name – turned out to be…well, read the book and see the film when it comes out. That said, he’s probably turning over in his Alaskan grave – along with all of his deceased fellow soldiers – if he can see the 2017 America where neo- Nazis are excused by some and half-heartedly rebuked by the President.

Fifty-four years ago today a bigger man – not in height but definitely in stature – stood minutes away from the White House and spoke of his dream. That speech might be better morning informational material than FOX or Breitbart.

II. Colin

Perhaps Colin Kaepernick should link up with a CFL team to keep his skills fresh…maybe even win a Grey Cup…until some owner has the courage to buck the tide and sign him. He might even enjoy a back-end career like Warren Moon.

III. Stanton

Congrats to Giancarlo Stanton for joining the exclusive 50 home run club, and helping to catapult the Miami Marlins back into the pennant race. It’s crazy to see guys like Stanton and Aaron Judge hit Home Run Derby-distance homers in actual games where the pitcher is trying to get them out.

Of course, the rise of the Marlins sadly brings to mind the tragic boating death of Jose Fernandez. What if he were here…

IV. Conor and Floyd

So the future looks somewhat like $200,000,000 brighter for Floyd Mayweather, and a great deal brighter for Conor McGregor as well, who by all accounts acquitted himself very well in his first professional boxing match. Looking at it from the outside I can give props to Conor, but if I were twenty-nine years old like Conor, and a welterweight boxer who had literally given blood, sweat and tears to this sport from my teenage years in Golden Gloves to the present day, I might not be as quick to congratulate. I might very well think that the multi-million dollar payday and shot at boxing immortality should have gone to me as opposed to a man – UFC champion notwithstanding – that is now sporting a professional boxing record of 0-1.

That said, I think I was on point with the outcome a few weeks back. Here’s what I wrote:

“Anyone that thinks Conor McGregor has any more than the slimmest ever chance against Floyd Mayweather should revisit the professional minor league baseball career of Michael Jordan. No disrespect to MJ; I actually think hitting .202 with three homers and 51 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases is quite good for someone who had not played baseball in 13 years. My guess is that had he chosen to play baseball instead of basketball at UNC, he might have made the majors (and my Georgetown Hoyas might very well have won another NCAA title).

That said, his baseball career shows that being the best at what you do doesn’t mean you are anywhere near the best at what someone else does. Conor’s best shot is to body slam and suplex Floyd. He probably won’t get up from those.”

V. On Both Sides, On Both Sides

Were it not for the hurricane in Texas and the fight in Vegas, we might have had a week of All Kyrie, All The Time after the bombshell Thomas-Irving trade. Now that there are reports of Cleveland’s discomfort over the rehabilitation of Isaiah Thomas’ hip, we can see that there is front office discomfort on both sides, on both sides – and both need to get this deal done.

The Celtics don’t want to have to bring Jae Crowder and IT4 back into the fold, and be forced to explain why they thought Kyrie was worth so much more than they were. Meanwhile the Cavaliers do not want to begin training camp with Kyrie Irving on the roster, and training camp will begin earlier this year due to the earlier start – October 17th – of the season. That means that the Cavaliers are on the clock if this deal is rescinded, and other general managers will know it.

So I expect this deal to happen one way or another…and that that first game on 10/17 is going to be a monster.

VI. U.S. Open

With no playoffs for the Mets, the biggest September question in Queens is whether or not Venus (in her pregnant sister’s absence) will take the U.S. Open.

VII. Sheriff Joe

I wonder what would happen if I went to rob a bank today…other than my arrest, and possibly my death at the hands of law enforcement while attempting to escape after committing the crime. Were I to live to be convicted for the crime, would I then be fortunate enough to be pardoned for my law-breaking activity as was Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Probably not, given that I am a person of color and not a supporter of the President.

If I were killed in the midst of committing such a violent crime, many people would have no problem with the outcome, given the nature of what I was attempting to do. And that, in a nutshell, explains the validity of BLM. If you’re committing an heinous crime, you should expect that your activity might warrant a forceful response…but if you’re just standing in front of the hotel (like tennis star James Blake), or on the train platform (like Oscar Grant), or being twelve years old in the park (like Tamir Rice) or selling loosies (like Eric Garner), you should not expect to be maimed or killed. People of color should be treated fairly by those in law enforcement, which is why President Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is wrong. And it is why Black Lives Matter.