Make No Mistake About It: We’re the Champs

Many people wait their whole lives for that “it” moment. That moment when everything comes together and finally makes sense. The moment that makes you happier than any other moment has made you feel before. The moment that trumps all other times you thought it was the “it” moment.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA Championship. It’s taken me a week to wrap my head around this fact let alone be able to express my feelings about it. I couldn’t watch with the thousands of viewers that gathered downtown, although part of me wishes I could have witnessed the beautiful chaos of a celebration it was. But. I’ve only ever been able to watch the Cavs one way: at home, paying attention to every single play, hanging on to Austin and Fred’s every last word (because they ARE the best in the business), and absolutely no distractions.

You see, I always sort of felt, that from the moment I understood basketball and fell in love with it at such a young age, that I was in an intimate relationship with the Cavs. I admit my obsession and my passion is unhealthy. I’ve stressed myself to the brink of physical exhaustion as each season passed, hoping and praying that one-day we’d finally get to hoist up that Larry O’Brien trophy. I attended games at “The Gund” and now “The Q” for so many years, from sitting in Loudville, to having floor seats, to sitting in suites, and every seat in-between. I was there the night we broke our 26-game losing streak against the Clippers the first season after LeBron had left. I couldn’t have been more proud. And I know that may sound funny to any non-Cavs fan or non-Clevelander, but I was honestly just so proud of any win. So, as you can imagine, the word “proud” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling I felt on Sunday, June 19, Father’s Day, as the Cavs got that one big win we needed to call the championship title ours.

Every game in this Finals series made me anxious to the point of waking up on game days thinking about how the next 12 hours would go. Before games six and seven, I left work for the weekend telling Kara, “when I see you on Monday we’ll either be done or we’ll be champions.” Well, Monday rolled around, and I’ve got to say it was the best Monday I could have ever had. We were champions.

The best part about winning this championship is that when it still feels unreal, I can stop what I’m doing at any given moment and smile, thinking to myself, OH YEAH. It IS real. The city of Cleveland, my beloved home for 26 years, FINALLY, has another championship after 52 years. I will get butterflies in my stomach every second I remember this dream has finally come true.

I recently found out how my family came to be in Cleveland and when I heard the story from my great aunt, I could not have gotten more chills. In the 1950’s, my great aunt traveled to Cleveland from Italy to stay with godparents who had immigrated here. My great aunt is the oldest of six children, all of whom grew up in a small town in Sicily. I thank God every day she decided to come to America and fell in love with my late Uncle Leo (the truest Tribe fan you would have ever met), because she’s the reason my grandma ended up coming here too. The Calanni family is the epitome of Cleveland all the way. My grandpa has told me so many stories about how he never missed a day working at Davis Bakery on the east side and how he’d take the “rapida transita” (it’s cute when he says it) from the Triskett stop every single day, even in the snow. My dad and my aunt and uncles grew up knowing what hard work meant and lucky for me, they passed down their love for sports, too.

Sunday was quite a sigh of relief for the Calanni’s.

Then, came the parade.

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Although it’s not my preference to celebrate with the masses (I’m selfish like that), Wednesday was a day I certainly could not miss. The electricity could be felt throughout Northeast Ohio’s entirety. It was great running into old friends and spending the day with some of my closest friends in life. Those who know just how much this championship means to me. I can’t really put into words what the championship parade was like. All I can say was that I came home that afternoon realizing how lucky I am to be Cleveland-born-and-raised.

I was meant to be a Clevelander, this I know for sure. It’s like that saying that LeBron kept mentioning in all of his post-series interviews: “God doesn’t put things in front of you that you can’t handle.” Well here it is, Cleveland. For 52 years, we faced loss and terrible sports heartbreak. We handled it. Not in a pretty way, but we handled it and kept that “next year will be different” mentality. 2016 was our reward. It was God’s way of saying that not only does he love Cleveland (you really played hard to get there for awhile, my man), but that we’re the strongest, toughest, grittiest, most appreciative, humble, and hardworking people of all time. How’s that for a happy ending?

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Stop with the ‘Super Team,’ LeBron.

You smell that? It’s the sweet odor of playoff season in The Land.

And it sure wouldn’t be the start to a  Cleveland Cavaliers’ road to the finals without some controversy.

super team.

Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing this phrase. Raise both hands at the same time and risk looking like a fool if you hate the fact that LeBron was the one to bring this nonsense up.

(If you want to catch my feels on the long-lost rivalry era of the NBA, read one of my older blog posts first.)

Anyway…

There’s a reason no one really cares to watch the All-Star Game for more than five minutes, LeBron. It’s not that exciting to watch alley-oop after alley-oop with no one playing any lick of defense. Which is exactly what would be the case of a ‘super team’ was ever formed.

It will never happen, but if it did due to some crazy turn of events where LeBron would appoint himself to commish because he can do that BECAUSE he’s LeBron, it would kill the true fans of the game. I’m sure your 9 year-old cousin who sports a Stephen Curry jersey just because his or her brain hasn’t fully adjusted to what it means to be an NBA fan yet, would love it, but it would honestly make me hate the sport of basketball (words I’ve never even joked around with).

From a Cleveland Cavaliers’ perspective, if you can’t get along (rumor or trumor?) with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, then how are you expecting to get along with Carmelo Anthony (who I’ve always thought is highly overrated, but that’s for another day), Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, etc.? Also, none of you are getting any younger and Patrick Ewing thinks you’re stupid.

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As I’m writing this, my phone lights up with an ESPN notification that reads:

NBA: Chris Paul withdraws from Team USA consideration for 2016 Olympics- SI; “body tells me I could use the time.”

I rest my case.

So, LeBron, dearest, dearest LeBron,

Can you just do me one quick favor and STFU about this ‘super team’? If your goal is to win a championship for Cleveland, just do it already and then you can resume your silly discussions with the media.

9 more games left until the playoffs and then it’s time to get it done!

 

Let it Be Heard: Females Who Love Sports

Want to know what really gets me going? What really grinds my gears? An unforgettable moment in sports– be it one play, an entire game, a series, what have you. I love it. I live for it.

I was the first child, grandchild, niece in my family. It stayed that way for 3 years until my brother came along, but by the time he gained any kind of coordination I was 20. Just kidding, I was probably 7 or 8. Now, he’s over 6-feet tall and can unfortunately beat me in driveway basketball, but it took him a solid 15 years to get there. THAT’S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE. You see, from my mom and dad, to my aunt and uncles, I was the first one they could train (real loose term) to become an athlete. From the time I could stand, I was doing my best to dunk on the Little Tikes basketball hoop I was gifted before any male offspring came around. From the moment I could run, I was playing backyard baseball, learning to throw a spiral, and perfecting my jumpshot. My Aunt Josie had season tickets to the Indians in the mid 90’s and she’d take me to a game every chance she got. As I got older my passion for basketball was more outstanding than the rest, but sports (and Cleveland sports) were my ish; my first love; the peanut butter to my jelly; the mayonnaise to my french fries (trust me).

After a while, it became less about playing. I had a great jumper (still do), but I knew it was never going to take me anywhere. My overall love for the game of basketball and other sports never faltered because of that, though. It just made my appreciation for athletes much stronger.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. As much as I love sports, being a woman who loves sports has a lot of negativity that comes with it. I love, and at the same time hate, when I’ve joined in on a conversation (between dudes) that’s going on around me about sports and I get that look of shock like “wow, you really know what you’re talking about.” It makes me feel good to know what I said was respected, but the fact that it was ever doubted in the first place is incredibly annoying. Like, because I have a vagina I’m automatically not expected to know anything about sports, right? Thanks, sorority chicks from Arizona who made it even worse, last week. Next time I look like an idiot, I’ll be sure to follow-up by donating to a charity and somehow snag a TV spot on Ellen. #SMH

I copied every exact facial reaction in my life from the queen, Erin Andrews.
I copied every exact facial reaction in my life from the queen, Erin Andrews.

And then, there’s the objectivity and complete ignorance that comes out of people’s mouths every day about women in sports and women in sports media. Some scenarios for you:

On Tuesday night, Jessica Mendoza made history when she called the Astros-Yankees playoff game. She became the first woman to call a nationally-televised game. This past August, she was also the first woman to be in the booth at an ESPN MLB broadcast of a Diamondbacks-Cardinals game. You go, Jessica Mendoza. But of course, the arrogant assholes on social media came out saying things like, “Someone give this girl a softball game to commentate instead” and “How can she have any insight into the game of baseball?” Listen up, jerks. How can YOU have any insight into the game of baseball? Tell me about that time you played in a Major League game. How was it? Must not have been so great if you’re pissing on other people’s success from your couch.

Remember that time a male reporter told Serena to smile?
Remember that time a male reporter told Serena to smile?

NEXT UP

The ragging on Doris Burke, and all other female sideline reporters has got.to.stop. Why don’t you try interviewing Gregg Popovich. Let his cold, sarcastic stare feed into your soul for the longest minute on television and see what it feels like. I also bet you can interview Richard Sherman’s shrieking hyena self and Marshawn Lynch’s less-than-thrilled responses with the best of ’em, huh? You know that all of these women aren’t *just* sideline reporters, right? They’re exceptionally talented journalists, many of whom hold leadership roles behind the scenes. Live T.V. is hard. When Ronda Rousey co-hosted SportsCenter last night, sure it was awkward, but try telling that to her face. Chances are you won’t like what happens to your face after that. These ladies have gone through a lot to be where they are. Appreciate, don’t discriminate.

Like, this is how we feel when you start ignoring our sports comments.
Like, this is how we feel when you start ignoring our sports comments.

TO SUM IT UP

I’ll let Katie Nolan take it from here. She sums up my point quite beautifully:

Have I mentioned that I love being a sports fan? Those who know me best know I live and die by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some of my idols? Sage Steele, Lindsay Czarniak, Cari Champion, Hannah Storm, Rachel Nichols, Michelle Beadle, Erin Andrews, the list goes on. I kindly suggest that the next time a female starts talking about sports, don’t look at her like she’s from outer space. It’s better than treating her like a “princess.” Trust me.

Nell’s 2015-16 NBA Power Rankings

Obviously, this is the next best power ranking behind ESPN.

1. Golden State Warriors

This is strictly by default. Many hard feelings.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

My pride and joy with one of my oldest friends back at it– Mo Williams. Now, Kyrie can relax a little and in the case Delly’s tray isn’t fully-loaded this year, we can have a veteran point guard take over.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Was considering putting them at #2 due to the newly-acquired LaMarcus Aldridge, but I’m not a realistic human being and because it never matters where you rank the Spurs; there’s always a decent chance going into the season that they’ll win the championship.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

I can feel it. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook ain’t playin’ around this year. All the weird bandwagon Thunder fans that live outside of Oklahoma City can come together again and cheer for them. I promise it will be better this time.

5. Houston Rockets

Everyone’s acting like Ty Lawson is an all-star point guard. He’s not even close. However, the Beard and his team are super deep once again. Yes, Dwight. I said “the BEARD and his team.” Not yours.

6. Los Angeles Clippers

ESPN has them at #4 which I laughed at for a solid minute. I don’t care that Paul Pierce played and won a championship with Doc Rivers before. The additions of Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson really don’t make sense to me, either. I just don’t see anyone on that team gelling. Wonder if DeAndre will change his mind…again.

7. New Orleans Pelicans

Yep, I said it.

8. Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies always start the season on such a high note, that by the time they’re still a good team in the middle of the season, it’s so boring to watch. Then, by the time they get to the playoffs, half of them are hurt and even more boring to watch. Like, they acquired Matt Barnes. Yes, the same Matt Barnes who thought he dated Rihanna.

9. Milwaukee Bucks

ESPN has the Bucks at #12, but I don’t agree. Jabari Parker, the addition of Greg Monroe, and coach not player, Jason Kidd. It’s all you need really. Their biggest mistake was getting rid of Brandon Knight last season, but they warrant a top 10 spot in my book.

10. Miami

It pains me to put this team in the 10 spot, but I’d rather put the Heat here than the Raptors. Bosh is back, D Wade is back, no fans are back. Wait, what.

11. Toronto Raptors

TBT to the time I was runnin’ through the 6 w…atching Jonas Valanciunas MURDER LEBRON JAMES. God, I hate the Raptors.

12. Atlanta Hawks

They lost DeMarre Carroll. And they’ll never EVER have that incredible record again. Mark my words.

13. Chicago Bulls

I’d take an orbital fracture to Derrick Rose’s face any day before another leg injury. This was ESPN’s breaking news yesterday as if the world as we knew it was coming to an end. But in all fairness, why can’t this shit happen to Joakim Noah or something? Geez.

14. Boston Celtics

I’ll be waiting for you Kelly Olynyk. Watch your back.

15. Washington Wizards

Raise your hand if you’re bored of the John Wall/Bradley Beal backcourt. Word.

16. Dallas Mavericks

Losing Monta Ellis was a huge blow. Worse than the blow Mark Cuban got by DeAndre Jordan. Want to see a really weird German lunchmeat Dirk Nowitzki commercial though?

17. Utah Jazz

They looked better last year? Idk, I probably pay attention to the Jazz the least of any team.

18. Detroit Pistons

Let’s take bets on Andre Drummond’s free throw percentage this year.

19. Phoenix Suns

When one of your players out loud says he wants to be traded, that’s a little cold especially since his twin also plays for the same team. What it do, Markieff? No one should overlook the addition of Henry Sims, either, if you know what’s good for you.

20. Indiana Pacers

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’nuff said.

21. Charlotte Hornets

If Tyler Hansbrough is on a team, you know they’re going to be good. Haha, jk, lol, lmfao, rotfl.

22. Sacramento Kings

The Kentucky Wildcat frontcourt should at least be entertaining to watch, right?Oh snap, and Rajon Rondo. Lots of Wildcats in the building.

23. New York Knicks

I’m being very generous here. I’m only doing this for my love of European, lanky, tall white guys. I’m doing this for Z, pretty much.

24. Portland Trailblazers

Somebody wake me when the Blazers are good again.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns is my bid for Rookie of the Year, so that has to count for something, right?

26. Orlando Magic

I got nothing.

27. Los Angeles Lakers

Aw, remember when Larry Nance Jr. called Kobe a rapist? Sweet, sweet memories that should play out beautifully on the court this year. In all seriousness, though. I love Kobe. Knocking on all kinds of wood (not meant to be dirty) that he stays healthy all-year long.

28. Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams will go down in history as the most overrated point guard of all time.

*Just got word that Deron Williams doesn’t even play for the Nets anymore. He plays for the Mavericks. Shows how much I care and that Mark Cuban doesn’t know how to replace point guards. That is all.*

29. Denver Nuggets

Excited to watch Emmanual Mudiay play, aaaand that’s about it.

30. Philadelphia 76’ers

If the world wants a true Cinderella story, it would go like this: The Pope just came to Philadelphia and the 76’ers make the 8 seed in the playoffs. Coincidence? I think not.

Unmanned, But Not Unfanned

Those who know me well know I hate change. I get attached to possessions, living arrangements, daily routines, etc. But. I especially get attached to my Cavaliers.

It took me a few days to be able to gather how I felt about losing in the Finals. Many of you may be shocked by this, but I’m actually very okay with losing and here’s why. It kind of goes back to that whole, I don’t like change thing.

Before you start sighing and rolling your eyes, you should know better of me than to think I didn’t or don’t want the Cavs to win a title; I absolutely do. The problem lies within the obsessive possession and overprotection I have for my hometown team.

I was at the game on that cold February night in 2011 when the Cavs broke their 26-game losing streak. I’ll never forget how pumped I was for Mo Williams to return from his injury. Mo gave, no pun intended, some heat to LeBron when he left the previous summer and I was proud of the fact that someone on the Cavs stood up for our city and fans. Ending that 26-game losing streak against the Clippers that night made the crowd so unbelievable jubilant, that it was devastatingly beautiful. A lot of people gave up on us after LeBron left, but I was at Quicken Loans Arena that night to cheer on the victory in a way that would have made you think we had won the championship. My brother and I actually have the front page of The Plain Dealer from the following morning saved; it’s hanging on his bedroom wall. It’s a little hard to tell from the fade of the 4 year-old newspaper, but the looks on Christian Eyenga and Ryan Hollins’ faces are priceless.

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Do you remember March 30 of that same season in 2011? I was there for that one too. That was the first time we beat the Heat with LeBron coming out of the visiting locker room. The hatred hadn’t really subsided from his first game back at home in December, but our pride overpowered those negative feelings. The only thing that made me sad about that game was seeing Big Z, my all-time favorite Cavalier, not in a hometown uniform. Our two leading scorers that night were JJ Hickson and Anthony Parker as we somehow kept an infamous LeBron James triple-double performance at bay from snagging the “W.” My, how things have changed. The Q was on fire that night, once again filled with those diehard, unforgiving, relentless Cavs fans I felt so honored to be a part of.

A lot has changed since 2010, but then again, a lot hasn’t for me.

Sure, when LeBron came back I cried tears of joy, and when Kyrie re-signed and we acquired Kevin Love, I and the rest of this city knew we weren’t going to be a miserable joke of a team anymore. The talent part changed. I, on the other hand, never faltered in my belief in this team, who took a complete 180 in the course of four years.

That’s why I’m okay with the Warriors winning the NBA Championship this year. I’ll be very candid– all of LeBron’s (and now Cleveland’s) fair weather fans suck. If you’re reading this and you’re one of them, you’re awful and chances are we can never be friends. Sorry for your loss ;).

Too many people started appreciating us now. Too many people who had no idea who Matthew Dellavedova was at the start of the season, started worshipping flase prophet deli trays, now.

In the words of Mr. Cavalier, Austin Carr: “Get that weak stuff outta here!”

You’re the same people right now who are making excuses for our Finals loss and talking shit on the Warriors. Just stop.

If we would have won the NBA Championship (from my lips to God’s ears) it would have gotten worse. Suddenly, Cleveland would have a million new supporters and people would suddenly stop hating on our city’s championship-less history. Well guess what? We’re better off without your support.

I don’t like change.

I do like being (in my mind) the #1 Cleveland Cavaliers fan on the planet. What I like even more, is supporting my city and its sports teams when we’re the worst. It’s a brilliant and glorious tragedy, but it’s what I’m used to and it’s what I’m made out of. I wouldn’t be who I am today without undeniable passion for the Cavs, plain and simple. It’s hard to watch the inauthenticity others try to boast– I can spot you from a mile away.

To have won the Championship would have meant the change I’m so afraid of– the shift in those appreciating Cleveland and the Cavs for all the wrong reasons. The change that we’d be expected to win it all, back-to-back.

Even with the best player in the world on our team, we’ve always been the underdog (sorry LeBron, it’s true) and I like it that way.

Next year we’ll be ready. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. Cross our fingers for healthy players, the same amount of tenacity, and the continued mindset of never giving up. We were unmanned in this series and that unfortunately couldn’t be helped.

Next year, I’ll be ready too. My love and hope for this team will never change and by then, it’ll have given outsiders the chance to read up, watch up, and start appreciating this franchise and this city.

#AllinCLE, always.

The NBA Finals (Pinch Me)

It’s true that when I look at the Warriors bench, I see assistant coach and former Cavalier Luke Walton, and I’m reminded of the heartbreaking last five seasons we had to endure.

Who knew Luke Walton could symbolize so much?

I’m not worried about this upcoming series in the NBA Finals (…she said so humbly). When LeBron was in Cleveland the first go-round, everyone was so sure he’d bring a championship to this city. I was one of those people. I wish I could rewind the clock 8 years and punch my 17 year-old self in the face for even thinking that was possible. Being swept by the Spurs in 2007 confirmed how crazy it was for all of us to think the Cavs were on that level, then.

Aside from a few of those guys on that roster that hold a special place in my heart: a young and gritty Anderson Varejao; my favorite Cav of all-time, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (don’t even try to make me change my mind on that one); Boobie Gibson before he married Keyshia Cole and ruined his life; and pre-Fat Albert Damon Jones…

…THE REST OF OUR ROSTER SUCKED.

Can you remember something phenomenal Scot (with one “T”) Pollard ever did? All you’re picturing is a white guy with a ridiculous mohawk, if you have any memory of him at all, right?

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Should have been suspended from the league, indefinitely.

Larry Hughes had a tear drop tattoo. That was fun in 2007.

Donyell Marshall was considered one of our best three-point shooters. A scrawny Steph Curry at age 19 would have been laughing at us, even then.

The difference now?

We have all of the right pieces to put together the puzzle. Here’s a fun, little then-and-now for you that sort of made me throw up in my mouth (BECAUSE WE BELIEVED “THE THENS” WERE AMAZING AT ONE POINT IN TIME, OMG):

Our starting point guard:
Then: Eric Snow
Now: Kyrie Irving 

Our starting shooting guard:
Then: Larry Hughes
Now: Iman Shumpert

Our starting small forward:
Then: LeBron James
Now: LeBron James treated with a hyperbolic chamber, and maybe a few other things 😉

Our starting power forward:
Then: Drew Gooden (that pubic patch on his head, SMH)
Now: Tristan Thompson

The agony.
The agony.

Our starting center:
Then: Z (actually good)
Now: Moz

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The face of an angel.

And don’t even get me started on the bench we had then versus now.

So could you see how I’m not worried for this upcoming series? Of course I’m hopeful– I’m a Cleveland sports fan. Golden State is a tough team and it won’t be easy, but we’ve overcome so much this season already. I’m ready to cry tears of joy (again). I’m ready to lose my voice screaming at my television every second of every game (again). But damnit, I’m more than ready to be in Downtown Cleveland celebrating with the rest of this city, watching a championship parade go by.

Let’s go Cavs! #AllinCLE

My First Round NBA Playoffs Predictions

I can’t believe that I’m writing about the NBA Playoffs and IT INCLUDES THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS. It’s been a real dark four years for me, needless to say. This past Monday, by pure miracle, my best friend Maria scored tickets to the second last Cavs game of the season– oh, and they were on the floor. I tried to act like I’ve been there before (which, I actually have) but it was too damn hard to contain my childish excitement, a dopey grin creeping across my face every time LeBron shot the ball nearly a foot away from me or when I felt like I could just reach out and touch Kevin Love’s sweaty body (TMI, but incredibly valid).

So. Close. To. Kevin.
So. Close. To. Kevin.
I love this pic I took of Shumpert.
I love this pic I took of Shumpert.

Monday night’s game left me with such hype for the upcoming playoffs. I’m so proud to be a Cleveland Cavaliers’ fan.

But enough with the sappy shit.

It’s time to get down to business. Like LeBron says… “I’m still not satisfied.” There’s going to be some pretty tough competitors out there for us to face before we win the championship. Here are my predictions for the eight teams that will move on to the semifinals (summed up in three words or less):

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(8) New Orleans Pelicans vs. (1) Golden State Warriors:  Wardell. Stephen. Curry.

(7) Dallas Mavericks vs. (2) Houston Rockets: Fear. The. Beard.

(6) San Antonio Spurs vs. (3) Los Angeles Clippers: Spuran. Spuran. Leonard.

(5) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (4) Portland Trailblazers: Justin. Timberlake. Birthplace.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(8) Brooklyn Nets vs. (1) Atlanta Hawks: Players. Fight. Police.

(7) Boston Celtics vs. (2) Cleveland Cavaliers: Not. Even. Fair.

(6) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (3) Chicago Bulls: Butlers. And. Roses.

(5) Washington Wizards vs. (4) Toronto Raptors: Drake. On. Degrassi.

Agree/Disagree with any of my picks? Would love to know your thoughts!

My Favorite Players of This Year’s Final Four

March Madness has been incredible so far– no one can deny that. While everyone’s brackets are beyond busted, I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to quit predicting who will win it all and just appreciate the talented players of the Final Four teams. Here are the players on each team who I think will make a difference in these final games for skill reasons and obviously for reasons dissociated to the game of basketball.

Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis
This 5’9” cutie patootie could easily be mistaken for a 10 year-old in the middle of Kentucky’s forest of players, but don’t get it twisted. Ulis has played more minutes than any other Wildcat during the tournament, Why? This kid can control the game like no other. He’s an assists machine, although sometimes he poses as no offensive threat because he barely shoots the ball himself. I understand, Tyler. I’d want to pass more than I’d want to shoot if I were you too. No sense in some big doofus in the middle blocking the shit out of your shot and bragging about it because you’re a foot shorter than everyone else. When it comes to crunch time though, Ulis will hit the big three point shot (sorry Notre Dame) and not turn the ball over. Also, he’s from Ohio, so points for you Glen Coco!

Risking his life celebrating with the trees.
Risking his life celebrating with the trees.

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes
Hayes has quickly become the personality of the tournament; his obsession with stenographers and complimenting beautiful women has gone viral. However, his skills on the court are also pretty charming. He’s given the Badgers consistent stats all-season-long and had a breakout game against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship, scoring 25 points and only turning the ball over once. Oh, did I mention he’s ALSO FROM OHIO?! A lot of analysts are expecting him to come up big in Saturday’s game against Kentucky.

(Monkey covering eyes emoji)
(Monkey covering eyes emoji)

Michigan State’s Travis Trice
WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT IF I SAID TRAVIS TRICE IS ALSO FROM OHIO?! I knew there was a reason I picked these guys for this blog post. What’s even more, is that he has the facial resemblance of my baseball boyfriend, Michael Brantley. Please tell me you see that. Trice is a senior playing under the legendary coaching of Tom Izzo. He is a natural leader and has more college basketball experience than any of the other superstars on the other Final Four teams, even though he’s missed a lot of games throughout the years due to injury and illness. He scored 23 and 24 points, respectively, upsetting Virginia and Oklahoma on the Spartans’ journey to the Final Four.

Practically twins.
Practically twins.

Duke’s Quinn Cook
Boy, is this kid hungry. And apparently, his high fives hold magical powers. It’s about time Duke got back to the Final Four and they certainly couldn’t have done it without Cook. He’s played almost every minute of every game in this tournament, but will have to step it up against Michigan State on Saturday. He’s pretty much a Blue Devil secret weapon–great free throw percentage (88.7), rarely, if ever, turns the ball over, and plays with a lot of heart; something that could easily help Duke pull out the W.

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Sure, you can keep the whole net.

Three Things in My Sports Brain Today

Don’t pin me as a Game of Thrones lover just because I use Robb Stark below. He’s the hot Prince Charming in the new Cinderella movie, so that’s why I used him. DUH.

1. Derrick Rose has to undergo yet another surgery for yet another torn meniscus.

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Why, God, why? I’m sad, devastated, sad, and devastated. But people don’t really seem to be making a big deal out of this and so prayers for Derrick. On a solidly positive note, the Bulls may not be so tough to defeat in the playoffs after all.

2. Kendrick Perkins makes his debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Shame on me for never watching tape of Kendrick Perkins run before. It was exciting to see him get in the game, but just as Alice looks above, that’s how I watched him play yesterday. Can’t wait for him to get gritty wit it doe, like my girl Jillian feels above.

3. The Cleveland Browns’ new logo is difficult to enjoy.

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When I saw the new Browns’ logo, I definitely looked a lot like Gingerbread Man from Shrek minus the pooping out of the jelly beans. That dog looks like a “villain” in a Looney Tunes episode. Next time can we at least take votes on considering the poop emoji with the smiley face?!

PLEAAAAAAAAAAAAASE.

Trades on Trades on Trades

“RT if you got traded today.”

By far my favorite tweet of yesterday and I’m sure any other NBA fan would appreciate it. Yesterday marked the last day of the trade deadline and 11 total trades were made. It felt like a million trades were made, actually. The more I kept seeing trades go down, the more confused I got. I feel like teams were just like “meh, we’re sick of this guy so we’ll replace him for the exact same player.”

The only true winner of yesterday was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Who’d they get?

1. An outstanding backup point guard in D.J. Augustin (from the Pistons)
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After Brandon Jennings went down with a torn achilles, Augustin stepped up in a big way for the Pistons. He’s an above average 3-point shooting point guard and will, no doubt, make a great backup to Russell Westbrook; the Thunder need that playoff push now.

2. A constantly progressing center in Enes Kanter (from the Jazz)
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I don’t know much about Kanter aside from he’s Turkish and the Thunder really need a decent center after Adams went down and because, why not add a foreign player to the mix? Powerhouse Nick Collison can’t do it all on his own (sarcasm).

3. A token white guy in small forward, Steve Novak (from the Jazz)

NBA: Utah Jazz-Media Day
This guy resembles every cooky English/History teacher that ever taught at North Olmsted City Schools. I’m talking about you, Mr. Titas, crazed fanatic of Animal Farm. Novak has played on 8 different NBA teams but has always consistently shot the ball. The Thunder could use a nice pick-me-up coming off the bench and quite frankly, someone who is just nice and polite like Mr. Novak.

4. A sharp shooter and somewhat more athletic white guy in small forward, Kyle Singler (from the Pistons)

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks

I’m just going to come right out and say it– Kyle Singler has a sweating problem. This guy sweats more than Shaquille O’Neal in the Sahara Desert. Games have yet to begin and Singler looks like he was drowning in the ocean 5 minutes before tipoff. Rant over. Kyle Singler is good and can be very good if he stays consistent. He’s a good shooter, can drive, and with this addition, the Thunder round out a very good bunch of guys to add to the roster mid-way through the season.

Other side notes:
-It’s a shame Chris Bosh could miss the remainder of the season after being hospitalized for having blood clots in his lungs. Goran Dragic is an outstanding player who could definitely put the Heat in a decent playoff spot, but not without Chris Bosh.

-Someone slap the guy who thought it would be a good idea to trade Brandon Knight to the Suns. Shame on you. Brandon Knight was starting to become a true leader for the Bucks and now he has to adapt to the West’s playing style and create chemistry with a whole new team who might not make the playoffs. SHAME.

-Kevin Garnett going back to the Timberwolves is like when Michael Jordan came out of retirement (again) and played as #23 for the Wizards. Not the same, old news, and quite frankly, not that exciting.

-So the Cavs might pick up Kendrick Perkins, eh? But what will happen to the legendary #33 Brendan Haywood? Stay tuned fans.