What Just Happened Here? Jeremy Lin Leaves the Knicks

The clock has just struck midnight, and Jeremy Lin’s Cinderella Story with the New York Knicks has come to a bizzarre ending. The Knicks have refused to match the Houston Rockets’ offer sheet of 3 years/$24 million. It’s a shocking move for a team that apparently was prepared to match any offer up to $1 billion.

Much has been made of the “poison pill” part of the deal, which is Lin’s $15 million salary in his third year. Through a loophole, only $8 million of that would count against the cap for the Rockets, but the Knicks would have to pay the full $15 million. Thanks to the contracts of Carmelo Anthony, Amare “My Contract Expires In 36 Months” Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, the Lin deal would add up to a combined $75 million owed to those players alone. After another $20 million to fill out the roster with interns and ilegal immigrants, the Knicks would be way over the salary cap and deep into the luxury tax penalty. Once luxury taxes are applied, that $15 million third year for Lin would actually be closer to an unprecedented $60 million out-of-pocket cost. A steep price for a player who didn’t even have enough minutes last year to qualify for any league categories.

Despite that astronomical cost, every argument against resigning Lin can be put to bed. Let’s break it down.

ARGUMENT #1: HE’LL COST TOO MUCH
$60 million is a lot, but it’s not like the Knicks couldn’t afford him. They’ve spent more money on players than any team this decade, and have thrown money around like an elementary school food-fight. This is the first time in Knicks history (from what I know) that money has been a problem in obtaining a player. Not cap issues, or balancing salaries in a trade—pure money.

That being said, let’s give the Knicks the benefit of the doubt. They’ve finally drawn a line in the sand. They want to be fiscally responsible for once. There’s nothing wrong with smartening up. The problem is, this instance isn’t smart. It’s an another example of the Knicks being near-sighted. There are two ways to avoid owing that $75 million to four players in 2014-2015. These aren’t secrets either—they’ve been thrown around on the radio, television, and in columns the past three days. These ways have been used repeatedly before to get teams out of cap trouble.

1) The expiring contracts. Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler, and Lin would all have expiring contracts going into the 2014-2015 season. Expiring contracts are just as valuable as solid rotation players—they’re both trade assets. Teams are always looking to trade bad contracts for other bad contracts, or to take on bad contracts because they’re expiring. After 2015, these players would be off the books. In short, they’re tender trade bait. Teams sign players to huge deals knowing well that they’ll probably get traded at the end of the contract for cap relief. Trading just one of these mega-deals in 2014 would save the Knicks tens of millions in cap and luxury tax dollars. It would happen too.

2) The “stretch provision.” Worried about Lin being a bust and still having to eat that $60 million poison pill in 2014? That doesn’t need to happen. The stretch provision would allow Lin to be waived on the cheap. Instead of that $15 million counting against the cap immediately (trigging those luxury taxes), only $5 million would. The provision allows the salary to be dispersed over the remaining years left on the deal plus one: $5 million would be paid in 2014, $5 million in 2015, and then another $5 million in 2016. The cap hit would be minimal, and the tax penalties would be practically nullified.

BUT… Should Lin reach his potential, and ascend to top 10 poing guard range, he’ll pay for himself on the court alone. Nate Silver used John Hollinger’s PER rankings, and converted that metric into dollars. He figured that one win costs about $1.63 million on the open market. A good player should produce about 10 wins per season to be worth $16.3 million. Silver then calculated the value of the top 40 point guards in the NBA using his numbers.

If Lin performs like a top 10 point guard, he’s worth about $60 million over those three years in wins alone—roughly $10 million less than his out-of-pocket cost—a difference that can be made up in his merchandise sales and TV ratings that he would bring in anyway. Not only that, but he would only cost $10 million total the first two years, which would actually make him $30 million underpaid. If the Knicks move either Anthony, Stoudemire, or Chandler to clear cap space in 2014 and cut the luxury tax bill, he would actually come out of the deal as an underpaid point guard.

With those two outs, and an examination of Lin’s potential on the court worth, the poison pill argument is null and void. Moving on…

ARGUMENT #2: HE’S AVERAGE AT BEST

26 starts is an extremely limited sample size, but what he did statistically in that time has only been done by some of the best the NBA has ever seen. The NY Times studied this in February. Since 1985, out of the 41 players who’ve averaged 20+ points, 6+ assists and over 50% shooting in four or more consecutive games, only nine players are considered “average,” while the bottom tier of players consists of Pooh Richardson, Jay Humphries, and Lionel Simmons.

Lin is in rarified air with that list. To call him average would be going against history. Beyond that, an average player doesn’t just throw up 38-7-4 on 57% shooting against a team like Lakers. Against Kobe, it was Lin’s first big test, and he seized the moment in a way that only elite players can do. That doesn’t happen to Raymond Felton on a random February night. Average players just don’t go out and do what Lin did.

Not only did he fill in a fantastic box score, but his also teams won. He dragged the Knicks into the playoffs with his winning streak. He made ran a great pick-and-roll with Tyson and Amare, created Steve Novak’s career renaissance, temporarily saved D’Antoni’s job, and became the team’s alpha-dog. He was the only player the Knicks had last year who played like a proper point guard and made his teammates better. Him not being at least an above-average player would be a historical fluke. Now who exactly wants to bet against history? (This question is obvious and stupid because the Knicks just did.)

ARGUMENT #3: RAYMOND FELTON IS BETTER ANYWAYS

No… Just… No. If I need to actually explain this, then you should stop watching basketball. Let me do it anyway.

In isolation situations last season, Lin scored a quarter of a point more (ranking 65 spots higher—3rd vs. 68th), shot 10% better, and turned the ball over two times less than Felton.

In pick-and-roll situations last season, Lin averaged more points per play, had a higher field goal percentage, and got to that line nearly three times more than Felton.

Lin ranked third in the entire league in field goal percentage off the dribble (minimum 90 shots), just behind Stephen Curry and Steve Nash.

Lin held opponents to less points per play and a lower shooting percentage last season than Felton (.82 PPP for Lin compared to .86 for Felton, and 38% for Lin compared to 42% for Felton).

Statistically, Lin blows Felton out of the water. Would Felton work better with Amare and Carmelo? The argument is that Amare and Felton ran the pick-and-roll so well two seasons ago, but the fact is, Lin runs pick-and-rolls better than Felton PERIOD. There is no aspect on the basketball court that Raymond Felton is superior to Jeremy Lin in.

By this point, unless you’re either Stephen A. Smith or the Knicks, you know that Lin is a no-brainer to be resigned. I could only think of two possible reasons why the Knicks didn’t resign Lin:

1) Dolan was mad. Knicks owner James Dolan had a grudge against Lin for making his wallet work a little bit with the backloaded contract, even though we proved that he wouldn’t have to pay those luxury tax dollars in 2014 if the Knicks made a few realistic moves. Dolan has been known to hold grudges, and he probably didn’t like that Lin asked for all that money in the first place after the Knicks gave him his big chance. This is how he’s repaying me? Lin re-payed you with the reinvigoration of your entire franchise on and off the court. Now pay him back.

2) They genuinely believed he wasn’t good. Although we proved that he’s going to be at least an above-average player, and that he’s an upgrade over Felton, the Knicks didn’t think so. The Knicks can’t say he wouldn’t be worth the money, because we proved that in no way could money be an object. The Knicks must’ve been watching a different Jeremy Lin than the rest of us.

Lin is officially a Houston Rocket, so it’s worth noting what the Knicks missed out on. Should Lin sniff Linsanity levels, he’s the difference in the Eastern Conference. Right now, the Knicks could either finish as either the two seed or the eight seed. The team did nothing last year to help project them for this year. They were in flux all year long, and now their biggest catalyst is gone. After this offseason, they have more questions than answers. Can Melo’s hero ball translate into wins? Who will play at shooting guard? Can anyone stay healthy? Is Amare “My Contract Expires In 36 Months” Stoudemire a basketball player or a contract deadweight? What’s Mike Woodson’s purpose in life? These are all questions that could’ve had answers if Lin had resigned. Lin has the potential to be the reason the Knicks can leapfrog the Celtics, Pacers, Nets, Sixers, Hawks and Bulls.

Just his signing would ward off the inner-city threat of the Nets. The Nets are on the rise, and the Knicks are trending down right now. Beyond New York City, Lin would continue to establish his world-wide popularity. The Knicks had a chance to get every Chinese kid in their jersey, and they blew it. The international branding opportunities he provides cannot be underestimated. There aren’t many players in the NBA who would make the casual NBA fan—even a non-NBA fan—drop whatever their doing just to watch play. There’s LeBron, maybe Durant, Lin, and that’s it. Case in point: My father, mother, and grandmother don’t follow basketball. My father actually hates the game. Did they all watch all of Lin’s games though? Yes. Did he watch LeBron’s dominant NBA Finals? No. Lin’s a living phenomenon.

At the end of this mess, Lin is a player who has a high reward, and a very low risk. He can be tossed to the curb with almost no damage (relative to his cost), just as quickly as he’s taken over the NBA. Let me repeat: worst case, he’s gone with no financial damage done in two years. Best case, he leads the Knicks to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks let the biggest difference maker they had walk away, all because of either a grudge or a misevaluation of his overall ability and worth. Knicks coaches and executives will have to explain themselves eventually, and unless an explanation as complete and thorough as the 9/11 Commission Report is given, the Knicks won’t win this argument. The likeliest reason however: the Knicks are the Knicks. For any NBA fan, that should mean enough.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

The Newsroom Briefing: Page 6 Is Actually Located On Page 10

“I’ll Try To Fix You” was based on events from December 31st, 2010 to January 8th, 2011.

In Will McAvoy’s “Mission to Civilize,” he cost himself a couple quality sexual partners and a couple thousand dollars worth in clothing, but gained the notoriety that comes with leading the gossip headlines for a full week. Mackenzie, who has made her love for her new boyfriend clear, lead Will to attack the dating pool.

Instead of taking out would-be models half his age, Will tried women his own age in “I’ll Try To Fix You.” The result of a weeks worth of dates: one armed and jealous woman now on his trail, two drinks dumped on his expensively tailored suits, and three gossip features on his adventures. Each time, Will was set-up with women who were smitten with him—they’d sleep with him and would love a call back, no problem. Will, however, got a YOLO talk from Charlie, prompting him to dig deeper into these first encounters. He tries to “civilize” all his dates, trying to turn them into female Wills, leaving no room for his date’s interests, however idiotic and horrible they may be. He acts like an old, grumpy man on his high horse instead of a womanizer who wants to get laid. As a 40-something male, he knows time is running out to find companionship. In another 10 years, the sex won’t be worth the dinner bill, and pure female companionship is all he’ll have to go to sleep with at night. Mackenzie has been able to move on, but Will hasn’t, causing him to liken his broken heart to a honey-glazed ham being cooked at 400 degrees and served over a bed of rice. His heart, of course, being the ham. Vivid and yummy.

Elsewhere in the newsroom, which apparently doesn’t have soundproof glass, more burgeoning love unfolded. Neal, despite his crazed Bigfoot obsession, managed to snag a cute girlfriend. By the end of the episode, Jim did as well. At the office New Years Eve party, Don, sensing competition for Maggie from Jim, set him up with Maggie’s single (and busty) roommate. Maggie was uncomfortable with this from the outset. Jim and Maggie had settled in as mutual work crushes, and Maggie took for granted that she could always turn to Jim for a healthier relationship should Don not work out for the billionth time. Now, she’s lost that security and faces the possibility of waking up to a half-naked Jim cooking breakfast in her own apartment for her roommate (guaranteed that’s a future scene). (We’ve now managed to see Jim with his shirt off and Maggie’s roommate in only a bra, but Olivia Munn continues to dress like Katie Couric. Sorkin, you’re breaking my balls here man.) The love game of chicken continues.

Oh, and some actual news ended up being reported somewhere in the episode. Will ripped conservatives for lying about Obama’s stance on gun control and the reported costs of Obama’s trips to India. The big, breaking story at the end of the episode was prefaced by a meeting between Will, Charlie, Dom, and Mackenzie to discuss how to deal with Will’s damaged image thanks to the gossip pages. While hashing out the facts of Will’s nights, Charlie came to the realization that the outlets exaggerating Will’s dates were all owned by Atlantis Media—the news channel’s parent company.

Last week, Atlantis CEO Leona Lansing threatened to fire Will if he didn’t tone down the perceived “liberal rhetoric” of his show, which had come to odds with her political and corporate business affairs. To justify the firing, she planned on “creating context” to make it seem as if Will gave her no choice. Generating a public bashing of Will, involving headlines like “MY NIGHT WITH WILL McAVOY: SEX, DRUGS AND GUNS!!” would give her ample ammunition to fire him.

The end of the episode saw the drama that unfolds in a newsroom when breaking news hits. This time, the 2011 shooting of Senator Gabrielle Giffords was the story. Naturally, the battle of journalistic integrity vs. ratings came to light. While FOX, MSNBC, and CNN were all reporting that Senator Giffords was killed based on an NPR report, Will and his team stood firm, waiting for a hospital source to confirm her death. Lansing’s son, an executive at the network, stormed onto Will’s set demanding that he declare her dead for a ratings boost. In the end, Will was vindicated when a doctor at the hospital told Maggie that Senator Giffords was indeed alive. Will’s rightful defiance of corporate authority got his blood going enough to yell “I’m not fucking around Charlie!” Lansing wants to take down Will McAvoy, but he’ll continue to give her the finger until something momentous causes him to get cold feet. Will may not be fucking his dates anymore, but he’s set on fucking Leona Lansing and her media machine for now.

Notebook dump: Will McAvoy is filling Dr. Gregory House’s vacated role as television’s Sharp Tongued, Witty Asshole Who Makes Us All Smirk When He Speaks. The happenings of a newsroom haven’t been as dramatic as House’s medical offices, but so long as there’s enough Will McAvoy, there will be viewers.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Why NOT Keep Jeremy Lin?

Everyone was expecting Jeremy Lin to stay with the New York Knicks. Everyone in the organization was, Lin was, and the Houston Rockets were probably as well. But two things the past 24 hours have changed that: 1) Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet with the Rockets changed from a 4 year/$24 million deal, to 3 years and $25 million, with the 3rd year paying him $15 million—an insane amount for a player with 25 career starts, and 2) The Knicks acquired point guard Raymond Felton—Amare Stoudemire’s pick-and-roll buddy from 2010. ESPN is reporting that the Knicks are now planning to let Lin walk.

The problem with Lin’s new offer sheet isn’t the overall contract, but that $15 million salary in year three. The Knicks would be severely over the luxury tax threshold, and would have to pay the league an extra $15 million in taxes for Lin’s contract. The Knicks could easily ride out the $9 million first and second years of the contract if Lin plays at his Linsane level, since his marketing machine would make up the luxury tax costs. But the Knicks believe that $30 million in the 2014-2015 season is simply too much, especially if he doesn’t pan out.

But why are the Knicks bothering to think about that third year this much? When, in the history of the NBA, have GMs thought about the consequences of a contract three years down the line? When have the Knicks ever thought about the consequences of anything? This is the same team that gave Amare “My Contract Expires In 36 Months” Stoudemire a FIVE year/$100 million contract, even though his knees were a problem, he plays zero defense (the Knicks had to pay injury-prone Tyson Chandler $58 million to provide defense cover for Stoudemire), and he’s a fraud of a player. The only reason Stoudemire became the player he is because of Steve Nash, and the Knicks have been pairing him with Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, and Jeremy Lin (who actually ran the pick-and-roll better with Chandler than Stoudemire). Every forward who’s ever left Nash has instantly become less effective elsewhere (see: Diaw, Boris and Marion, Shawn). They signed Stoudemire because they didn’t want to leave the summer of 2010 empty handed (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Boozer, and Joe Johnson were all up for grabs). Now that’s the short-term vision that we’re all used to! For the Knicks to suddenly be worried about money and cap issues down the road is unlike them, which would actually be a good thing 99 times out of 100. Lin is that 100th time.

In the NBA, there always seems to be ways to beat the cap. The Knicks are worried about committing a combined $75 million to Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler, and Lin in 2014-2015, but that’s a bridge that should be crossed in two years—not now. Furthermore, it’s a bridge that can and will be crossed. One of those four would just have to be traded by then. Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler, and Lin would be carrying expiring contracts into that season. NBA GMs operate in a world where expiring contracts equals valuable trade bait. There’s always another GM who’s willing to take on the bad contract of an overrated big-name player, especially if it’s an expiring contract. Bad contract swaps for salary cap relief are commonplace. It’s not implausible that one of those four players would be traded within the next two years to enough salary cap space so James Dolan doesn’t lose sleep over paying Lin’s luxury tax.

The Knicks already have one of the highest payrolls in basketball. It’s obvious that they’re trying to compete for a championship now. By biting Lin’s bullet, they give themselves a three man rotation at point guard, and more flexibility at the 2. Iman Shumpert will be out until December, Landry Fields is gone, leaving JR Smith as the only shooting guard on the roster. Lin could easily slide in at the 2 for 15 minutes a game with either Jason Kidd or Raymond Felton running the point in a dual point guard lineup. Lin established himself as a pick-and-roll playmaker who is always looking to score first—a dual point guard lineup can work with his scoring ability, Kidd’s smarts, and Felton’s decent outside shooting. If they’re serious about toppling Miami, they need to hoard all the talent they can.

Realistically, this Knicks team—with or without Lin—isn’t a championship caliber squad. At best, they’re fighting with the drudge of teams after Miami in the Eastern Conference for seeds two through five. Since they’re not going to compete for a title, why not have some fun in the meantime? Bringing Lin back creates more short-term buzz for a team that can’t rebuild for another three seasons. In short: Donnie Walsh’s cap-clearing antics of 2008-2010 to become a contender in 2010-2012 were in vain. The Knicks are fucked, so they might as well take high-risk, high-reward option in Lin and hope that he becomes that piece that makes the Knicks better than Chicago, Brooklyn, Indiana, or Boston, but still a little worse than Miami.

The Knicks are trying to out-smart themselves here. For a historically dumb organization, that’s the wrong move.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Why the John Terry Racism Episode is FAr from over…

Over the weekend, Chelsea Defender John Terry walked out of Westminster magistrates court a free man after chief magistrate Howard Riddle found him not guilty of a “racially aggravated public order offence.” In other words, the judge said that he could not conclusively prove that when JT said the words “fucking black cunt” to Queens Park Rangers Defender Anton Ferdinand, that he was not repeating them back to him sarcastically in response to Anton thinking he heard the words.

In the aftermath of the verdict yesterday, I watched Sky Sports News for quite a while. After the first hour, the way they reported the story made it seem as though the case was over and that John Terry was an innocent man. People on my Twitter timeline, the majority of which are Liverpool fans, thought that the case was over and that John Terry, despite the video evidence, was gonna get away with yet another heinous act.

I’m writing this piece to tell you this: Contrary to popular belief, the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand racism case is not over. The fat lady isn’t singing yet. Quite frankly, she hasn’t even started warming up.

I wasn’t bothered by the not guilty verdict. Having followed the trial, I fully expected him to be found not guilty, because there was no sufficient proof beyond a reasonable doubt that John Terry wasn’t telling the truth as far as his testimony was concerned. Besides, if he was found guilty, the punishment would’ve been in the area of a £2.5k fine—peanuts for a man making £150,000-a-week in wages. Regardless of the verdict, one thing was certain in my mind: John Terry would be charged by The FA after the criminal trial ended. There, he would have to fight against the dreaded legal burden known as “balance of probabilities,” (a burden of proof that’s much, much, much less than a “reasonable doubt,” as Luis Suarez can attest to) and face much greater punishments in the region of a six-match ban and a five-figure fine.

In the first hour of their coverage of the verdict, Sky Sports News interviewed a former FA executive and Anton Ferdinand’s lawyer. Both of them said that the matter was far from over and that the FA now would launch their own investigation to try to figure out what had happened, much like they did in the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra case. The FA even released a statement on their website, where they stated that their own investigation was now underway. For some reason, SSN didn’t show those two interviews again for the rest of the day, nor did they mention the FA statement. Instead, it was back to singing the praises of Brave John Terry, the wrongly defamed former England Captain who can do no wrong.

The former FA Executive and Anton Ferdinand’s lawyer are correct: this matter is far from over. The FA will launch an investigation and, should they simply look at the court evidence, or even the televised footage of the game, will find that there is enough substance to Anton Ferdinand’s statement to charge John Terry with misconduct, having violated Rule E3.

Rule E3, under the sub-heading “General Behavior”, holds the following language in its first point:

“A participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.”

As you could see in the TV coverage, John Terry did indeed say “fucking black cunt” to Anton Ferdinand. He used those indecent words. Regardless of whether or not he meant what he said, he did say them. That alone merits an FA Charge for the former England Captain.

The sub-heading’s next point specifically covers the use of racial abuse:

In the event of any breach of Rule E 3(1) including a reference to any one or more of a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability (an “aggravating factor”), a Regulatory Commission shall consider the imposition of an increased sanction, taking into account the following entry points:

For a first offence, a sanction that is double that which the Regulatory Commission would have applied had the aggravating factor not been present.

For a second offence, a sanction that is treble that which the Regulatory Commission would have applied had the aggravating factor not been present.

Any further such offence(s) shall give rise to consideration of a permanent suspension.

As mentioned above, John Terry did indeed say to Anton Ferdinand “fucking black cunt”. That is a reference to Anton Ferdinand’s race. Regardless of whether not there was intent, John Terry’s actions violated rule E3. He has admitted to saying those words in court. As a result, he should be expecting an FA charge.

In spite of this, however, I’ve received quite a few replies from people on Twitter saying that if the FA charged John Terry, they would be undermining the English Judicial System. I don’t believe this to be true, because of the lowered burden of proof The FA would require for a conviction to be handed out, they would be able to charge Terry and prosecute him under their own jurisdiction in a court independent of the English Justice System.

If you don’t understand that, I’ll give you an example: OJ Simpson, Hall of Fame half-back for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL, was infamously charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. In the criminal trial, OJ Simpson was found not guilty of the murder, thus escaping criminal punishment. OJ, however, was found to be liable for damages in the civil trial. The jury in the civil trial only needed to determine that there was a preponderance of evidence on either side to reach a verdict. That civil trial did not undermine the American Justice system because it took place in a separate court and required a much lower burden of proof to find OJ guilty.

If charged by The FA, the burden of proof John Terry would have to fight against is “balance of probabilities,” a ridiculously low standard which makes it so that if one side is found to be more credible than the other, even by a marginal amount, the court will find in their favor. That was the burden of proof that Suarez had to face when Evra accused him. He was found guilty under “balance of probabilities,” forever branded a racist, in spite of the fact that The FA and Patrice Evra have said that they don’t believe Suarez to be a racist.

I personally believe that the burden of proof in that sort of case is far too low, because it can irreparably harm the reputation of someone with what would be considered a lack of evidence in a criminal court. That being said, Suarez did admit to referring to the color of Patrice Evra’s skin. It is because he admitted to referring to the color of Evra’s skin that he was found guilty of misconduct, thus violating rule E3. The FA acted within their guidelines and ruled as they saw fit. By those guidelines, they got it right.

I no longer argue the Suarez ruling. I’ve accepted it and, while I still have problems with how it was handled, I’ve have moved past it. The one thing I would like, however, is consistency from The FA in the application of their rules. Now is the time to hold John Terry to the same standards and charge him with misconduct, as he has clearly violated the same rules as Suarez. They would not be undermining the English Justice system because they would be holding him to a lower burden of proof than the criminal court.

To top it all off, if they do not charge John Terry for directing the words “fucking black cunt” at a player on the field at one of their own top-flight matches, an act which was caught on camera and broadcast live around the world, they can no longer act as the moral compass of the football world when it comes to racism and bigotry, something which they have taken great pride in over the last decade. Remember the BBC Panorama special about racism and antisemitism at Polish and Ukrainian football matches occurring regularly? If Terry doesn’t get charged, the country would have no right to show that and act as though they’re on a higher moral pedestal than the rest of the world.

If Terry isn’t charged, it allows Liverpool fans such as myself and Justin to scream of a double standard as Luis Suarez, a Uruguayan international with a black grandfather, has been found guilty of violating rule E3; yet John Terry, an England international who has slept with his teammate’s girlfriend, verbally abused Americans at a pub in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and been stripped of the England Captaincy TWICE, has been allowed to walk free. What does that say to the rest of the world, as well as black players in the game today? It certainly doesn’t come as positive that’s for sure.

To quote Will Smith, “I ain’t heard no fat lady!” I hope you haven’t heard one either.

Follow Greg on Twitter @njny

Inside Russell Westbrook’s Diary #1: Pokemon, Beards, And Kevin Love

At JLBSportsTV, we have a mole inside of USA Men’s Basketball. Our mole has direct access to Team USA’s hotel rooms during the day, and Russell Westbrook keeps his diary under his bed. He named it “Mr. Zero,” and apparently writes in all-caps, because according to him: “I PLAY IN ALL-CAPS SO I SHOULD WRITE THAT WAY TOO.”

DEAR MR. ZERO,

LAST NIGHT WAS A BLAST. WE PLAYED OUR FIRST GAME AGAINST THE DOMINICANS. COACH K DIDN’T EVEN MAKE ME PLAY POINT GUARD SO NOBODY COULD YELL AT ME. WE HAD A BIG WIN, AND I FELT THAT I REALLY SHOWED OFF MY TALENTS, EVEN THOUGH KEVIN TRIED TO TAKE ALL THE SHINE WITH HIS 6 THREES. I WANTED TO SHOW OFF MY THREES, BUT I’M ONLY ALLOWED TO SHOOT TWO A GAME. I MISSED BOTH, BLEW A DUNK, AND WAS OUT OF CONTROL DRIVING ONE TIME, BUT I LOOKED AGGRESSIVE. COACH BROOKS HATES IT WHEN I LOOK LIKE THAT, BUT THE LITTLE MAN IN MY BRAIN IS ALWAYS TELLING ME TO PLAY HARD, AND PLAY FAST. PEOPLE CAN NEVER SAY I DON’T TRY.

IT’S NICE HAVING JAMES ON THE TEAM. I DIDN’T SEE HIM FOR A WEEK AFTER WE LOST AGAINST WADE, BUT I EXPECTED TO SEE HIM SHAVE HIS BEARD OFF. DOESN’T HE KNOW THAT WE’RE NOT IN A LOCKOUT ANYMORE? AND LIKE, IT CAN’T BE A PLAYOFF BEARD BECAUSE THE PLAYOFFS ARE OVER. SO SILLY! WHILE WATCHING SOME NICK JR. EARLIER, I THOUGHT OF SOME REASONS WHY HE STILL HAS HIS BEARD:

1) HE’S SECRETLY DOUBLING AS THAT HOMELESS MAN I GIVE CHANGE TO EVERY MORNING OUTSIDE THE HOTEL.
2) HE’S TRYING TO OUT-BEARD BRIAN WILSON AND FEAR THE BEARD INC.
3) HE STASHES LUNA BARS IN THERE SO HIS BLOOD SUGAR DOESN’T GET LOW DURING GAMES.
4) HE APPRECIATES THE GREAT OUTDOORS.
5) HIS MOM THINKS HE LOOKS HANDSOME IN IT.
6) HE’S SAVING ON A HALLOWEEN COSTUME FOR THIS YEAR.

KOBE’S GOT SOME FACIAL HAIR NOW TOO. I OVERHEARD JAMES AND KOBE TALKING ABOUT HAVING SOMETHING CALLED A “BOX-EATING BEARD,” WHILE KOBE DID THIS WEIRD THING WITH HIS TONGUE. BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, BUT I THINK IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH EATING SUSHI OUT OF A BENTO BOX. I’M VERY IN TUNE WITH JAPANESE CULTURE. MAYBE I’LL BE OLD ENOUGH TO GROW A MUSTACHE ONE DAY.

BUT THEN LIKE 5 MINUTES LATER, I SAW KEVIN, JAMES, AND KOBE SNICKER AND POINT AT ME. KOBE THEN ASKED ME IF I STILL HAD MY V-CARD. I PULLED MY POKEMON CARDS OUT OF MY BACKPACK AND SEARCHED FOR MY EEVEE CARD. I LOVE EEVEE BECAUSE IT HAS SO MANY CHOICES IN LIFE. IT CAN EVOLVE INTO EITHER A VAPOREON, FLAREON, UMBREON, GLACEON, LEAFEON, ESPEON, OR JOLTEON. I LOVE HAVING CHOICES. KOBE THEN CALLED ME A TERRACOTTA BOOTY WARRIOR, SMACKED THE CARDS OUT OF MY HANDS, AND LEFT. IF HE WAS TRYING TO INSULT MY LOVE FOR JAPANESE CULTURE, HE WAS WRONG. THE TERRACOTTA ARMY IS A CHINESE THING.

AFTER THE GAME, I DECIDED TO GO OUT WITH KEVIN LOVE. WE’RE BOTH UCLA GUYS, SO WE FIGURED IT’D BE COOL TO HANG OUT. HE STARTED TALKING TO ME ABOUT SUSTAINABLE GARDENING, AND HOW I SHOULD START MY OWN COMPOST IN MY BATHROOM LIKE HE HAS. THE NIGHT ENDED QUICKLY BECAUSE HE GOT INTO A FIGHT WITH THE BAR TENDER ABOUT HOW BLUE MOON IS A BULLSHIT CRAFT BEER AND THAT THE BAR SHOULD ONLY SERVE LOCAL BREWERIES WITH HOPS GROWN BY FREE-TRADE FARMERS IN SOUTH AMERICA. I GUESS I SHOULDN’T HAD ORDERED THAT BLUE MOON FOR MYSELF. I DON’T EVEN LIKE THE BEER REALLY—IT’S THE ORANGE SLICE THAT COMES WITH IT THAT REALLY WHETS MY WHISTLE.

ANYWAY, IT’S TIME FOR BED. HOPEFULLY I’LL BE ABLE TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. COACH D’ANTONI IS SLEEPING IN THE HOTEL ROOM NEXT TO THE LEFT OF MINE, AND HE SCREAMS A LOT IN HIS SLEEP. TYSON CHANDLER’S ROOM IS TO MY RIGHT, AND I HEAR POWER TOOLS AND SEWING MACHINES RUMBLING THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT ALL THE TIME.

I LOVE CAMP TEAM USA!

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

1992 Dream Team Vs. 2012 USA Men’s Team: The Breakdown

“So I don’t know. It’d be a tough one, but I think we’d pull it out.”—Kobe Bryant on whether the 2012 Men’s team could beat the 1992 Dream Team

“I absolutely laughed.”—Michael Jordan on Kobe’s quote.

In any sport, it’s difficult to compare guys from different eras. Athletes today are healthier, more athletic, and smarter than they were twenty years ago. NBA rules have changed to make the game more open, allowing point guards to flourish. The league has gotten softer as players have become more physically gifted—the guys on the 1992 Dream Team were probably disgusted by how the playoffs were called this year. But if a hypothetical game between the Dream Team and the sequel to 2008’s “Redeem Team” happened, would the 2012 squad have a chance? Before we get into match-ups, here’s what we know:

The two greatest players of their generation are at the apex of their powers. At age 28 in 1992, Michael Jordan came off a 30-6-6 year, embarrassed Clyde Drexler in the 1992 Finals after a “Who’s Better: Jordan or Drexler?” debate was started during the playoffs, and promptly seized Finals MVP (the famous Shrug Game being the highlight). At age 27, LeBron James is coming off an MVP 27-6-8 campaign and a Finals MVP, settling a premature and unfair “Who’s Better: Durant or LeBron?” debate. Jordan at his peak versus LeBron at his peak? And if Gus Johnson is calling the game… Instant cumshot for every basketball fan.

Every player on the Dream Team is an NBA Hall of Famer except for Christian Laettner. If Isiah Thomas wasn’t hated so universally in 1992, he would’ve made it over Laettner (Chuck Daly, the Dream Team’s coach, and Thomas’s coach on the Pistons didn’t even pick him), giving the Dream Team 12 Hall of Famers in 12 roster spots. Alas, they’re 11 for 12 (unless Laettner’s College Basketball Hall of Fame spot counts. He’s enshrined in the same building as Jordan, since the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield covers all areas of basketball). It’s hard to project who will be a Hall of Famer on the 2012 team, but surely the likes of Andre Iguodala won’t make it to Springfield. For historical purposes, the Dream Team reigns supreme.

The 2012 team lacks size. Tyson Chandler is the lone 7-footer on that roster, and offers nothing offensively. The Dream Team had 7-footers Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. Dwight Howard is missed just for his size and post strength alone. Chandler can’t play the entire game though, leaving the likes of Kevin Love, LeBron, and Anthony Davis to protect the post against Ewing, Robinson, Charles Barkley, and Karl Malone.

The Dream Team is slow at point guard. Magic Johnson didn’t play in the NBA in 1992, but he proved in the Olympics that he was still the best point guard in basketball. At age 31, however, he was a huge liability defensively. His backup, John Stockton, was no burner either. Meanwhile, the 2012 team has the most explosive point guard available in Russell Westbrook, and Magic’s heir, Chris Paul.

The 2012 team is injured. Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwayne Wade, and Blake Griffin are all out with injuries for Team USA. Howard’s size, Rose’s speed, Wade’s scoring, and Griffin’s power are all huge misses for the 2012 team. These guys would’ve made a real difference. Howard and Griffin would help patch a weak spot inside for the 2012 team, Rose could further exploit Magic and Stockton, and Wade is a huge upgrade at shooting guard over Kobe’s current backups.

Now that those facts have been hashed out, who wins the individual matchups at each position?

POINT GUARD
Magic in his prime was better than Chris Paul is now, but in 1992, Magic was at the end of his career. A Paul/Westbrook/Deron Williams combination would tear up Magic and Stockton (who got regularly got beat by the speedy Gary Payton throughout his career), beating them with pure speed and stealing ability. 2012 Team wins.

SHOOTING GUARD
Here, the two biggest alpha-dogs of their time would be paired up against each other. Nobody in basketball was more competitive than Jordan, although Kobe would definitely have something to say about that. Jordan and Kobe would kill each other out there. Although Jordan in his prime blows an aging Kobe away physically, Kobe wouldn’t make it easy—he’s too much of a competitive killer. Drexler wasn’t the same player after Jordan took his soul in the 1992 Finals (seriously, Drexler went from being a top 5 player to barely an All-Star after that), but he’s still superior to James Harden and Westbrook at the 2. Drexler was in his prime in 1992, while Harden, Gordon and Westbrook are still figuring themselves out. Dream Team wins.

SMALL FORWARD
Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, and Scottie Pippen (and maybe Barkley?) against LeBron, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. While LeBron will play any position 1-5 and would probably guard Jordan, Durant and Anthony could hold their own. Larry Bird was still a maverick with the ball even when he retired, but his back was shot by this point. The uber-athletic speed, strength, and length of Durant and Anthony would cause too much trouble for Bird, Mullin, and Pippen to handle. Have LeBron actually play the 3, and this matchup is no contest. 2012 Team wins.

POWER FORWARD
Barkley in his prime was better than any forward not named LeBron that the 2012 team could offer against him. He’d make Love question his own abilities, as Love is hardly an apt defender. Barkley would remind Davis of his rookie status over and over again, as an undersized but thick Barkley would plow through Davis. Malone coming off of a world-beating 28-11 season only makes things worse for the 2012 team. Davis is the only one who could potentially defend Barkley and Malone—2015 Anthony Davis that is—not rookie Anthony Davis. Dream Team wins.

CENTER
A Pity Party is needed for Tyson Chandler here. He’s going to have to do the bulk of the interior defending with Davis against Ewing and Robinson in their primes. Chandler is the best defensive center in basketball today, but he couldn’t hold on against Robinson and Ewing rotating in and out. Too many big, fresh bodies for the Dream Team, and not nearly enough offense or size inside for the 2012 team. Dream Team wins.

The Dream Team wins 3-2 in the matchup battle. These are teams that will come bringing different styles of basketball though, and matchups aren’t everything. The Dream Team would have more emphasis on attacking the weak interior of the 2012 Team with their bigs, while having Jordan and Magic do everything they can on fast breaks. The 2012 team is going to try and win on speed and athleticism down the wings and in transition, with Chris Paul and LeBron in a power-point guard role spearheading attacks to Westbrook, Durant, and Davis down the court. If I’m Coach K, I go with a Paul, Kobe, Westbrook, Durant, LeBron, Chandler starting five, but eventually settling in with a Paul, Westbrook, Durant, LeBron, Davis lineup to make the game a track meet. It’s their only shot against the size of the Dream Team.

Who wins? The Dream Team. Never bet against Jordan. No way he lets this game get away.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Valuing Money and Football Over Children: Penn State and Joe Paterno

Last Fall, when news about Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation came out, I wrote a column for a Writing class on the case. Back then, the hammer had yet to be brought down on head football coach Joe Paterno, a talismanic figure at Penn State. This morning, a 267-page report on Penn State’s internal involvement with Sandusky came out. In the report, it was revealed that Joe Paterno, former athletic director Tim Curley, former vice president Gary Schultz, and former university president Graham Spanier, all had explicit knowledge of Sandusky’s crimes for over a decade. They all acted to cover it up in the best interest of the image of the university and the football program. I think my column is fitting for the mood of today. Lasted edited on December 1st, 2011:

This past month, Penn State University has been embroiled in a child molestation scandal. According to a recent grand jury report, former Penn State Football Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky performed sexual acts on eight boys over 15 years in Penn State football’s shower facilities. The crime has not only affected the football program, but also the entire university, as many Penn State academic and athletic officials were complicit in a university-wide cover-up of Sandusky’s actions.

Since the story broke, Athletic Director Tim Curley has resigned, and University President Graham Spanier and Head Football Coach Joe Paterno have been ousted. Through all of the charges, allegations and criticism, one essential, moral question has repeatedly been raised: How could all of these men (eight Penn State officials, not including Sandusky have been connected to the scandal), just stand by for over a decade while Sandusky ran rampant in their showers?

The answer, in fact, is rather clear. Each one of these men were trying to protect the integrity of their university. The media attention has been solely on Paterno, who’s God-like status at the university has collapsed into martyrdom in the eyes of Penn State students, as well as wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, who witnessed Sandusky sodomize a boy. Penn State is known for their tremendous football program and legendary head coach, causing the story to spiral into a problem with the football team. These men who idly stood and literally watched Sandusky molest children wanted what was best for the university and it’s cash cow of a football program. In their eyes, it was in the best interests of the university to pretend that these events never occurred. They made it an image and money matter instead of a human crisis.

It is important, however, to provide due process for each individual involved with the scandal. One cannot forget the infamous Duke lacrosse rape case, in which three Duke lacrosse players were charged with raping a stripper at a house party. The players were quickly hung in the court of public opinion, their coach was fired and the remainder of their season was cancelled. As it turned out, North Carolina state prosecutor Mike Nifong and the accuser lied and made up facts to push the case to trial. Nifong, not the boys, ended up served jail time, as he was convicted of criminal contempt.

Currently, Sandusky has been found guilty in the public eye. He deserves his due process, but it’s hard not to see him as a guilty man. His interview on national television with NBC reporter Bob Costas has made him a dead man walking. In a faint, dry, creepy voice, he played down all the incidents as just “horsing around” in the showers. His answers were bizarre, but his tone of voice is what was scary.

19 men were mentioned in the grand jury report as having knowledge of the events, and countless other victims have come forward since the Costas interview. 19 men had knowledge of Sandusky’s actions, and each, according to the report, had a “limited response.” A limited response is what the victims got to protect the Penn State brand. The only action Curley and Gary Shultz, the head of the Penn State police department, took was to order Sandusky to not bring any more children from his Second Mile charity program to the football building. Never mind actual legal action—administrators basically gave Sandusky a spanking and a time-out for his wrongdoing, and let him continue on.

Paterno has received the bulk of media attention, as his status in the sporting world has been destroyed thanks to the scandal. His name has been stripped from the Big Ten Football Championship trophy, and some have even called for his statue outside of Beaver Stadium to be torn down. But let’s give Old Joe Pa the benefit of the doubt for one moment. After all, he testified that he only was told about “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature” to victims. He didn’t know of any oral sex or anal rape. No details were passed along to him. He swore to it, under oath. Scouts honor.

But stop right there. Only fondling and only something of a sexual nature? Why didn’t that spark alarm bells? Since when is “only fondling” between a grown man and a boy acceptable? It would be foolish to think that the head of Penn State’s football program didn’t know the details of all of Sandusky’s actions; Paterno’s legendary status and the prominence of the football team made him the most powerful man on campus—he knew it all.

Even if he only knew about some horsing around and touching, he still deserves to be hung from the highest tree for not asking more questions. As the face of the university, the man with the most power in Happy Valley, he had a moral responsibility to himself, his program, his school, and most importantly, the victims, to bypass his supervisor, bypass campus police, and go right to the state. If he could see himself as a great enough man to control one of the biggest sporting institutions in the country, he could pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1. Paterno had the power and the responsibility to right Sandusky’s wrongs, and bring justice to the victims and the community, but chose to protect the false integrity of himself and his program. Selfishness took the lead.

Despite the harsh morality of the situation, there has been fervent support for Paterno in the Penn State community. A quick YouTube search will display videos of thousands of students rioting on campus after Paterno’s firing was announced. Media vans were flipped over, and light posts were torn from the earth. $20,000 of property damage was done to the campus. The loyal support of Paterno is just as sickening as Paterno’s lack of action. Students were mad that their beloved football coach was fired. Boo-hoo. It’s easy to riot when an old man has never sodomized you or a loved one. The media and the Penn State community has yet to realize that the Sandusky scandal isn’t about sport. It’s about eight young men who had their world’s flipped upside-down by a pervert in a Nittany Lion embroidered towel.

Even back at the university level, the scandal is relevant. It questions the value of a Penn State education. How can students expect to receive a fair and balanced education at a university where the President and Vice-President can allow sexual crimes to be openly committed? How can a student, or a student-athlete commit to a school where potential faculty members and coaches have a demagnetized moral compass? Every academic, athletic and structural decision made at Penn State has got to be scrutinized further, because the people spending student and donor money are clearly ill.

And the students who rioted and destroyed property in Paterno’s name have proved that their faculty is indeed incompetent and sick. Their rioting translates into complicity with the officials who conspired to let Sandusky continue his sex spree. They wanted the story to go away just as much as the 19 men mentioned in the grand jury report to protect Paterno and Penn State football. Apparently rioting was their defense mechanism.

Clearly, the entire culture at Penn State needs to be reevaluated and overhauled. Putting the glee and greed of a football program over what’s inherently right speaks to a cultural and moral decay at Penn State. It’s now up to the men who replaced their rotten incumbents to re-culture the Penn State community.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

The Newsroom Briefing: The Corporate Reality We—Including Will McAvoy—All Face

This episode, “The 112th Congress,” took place during the last 6 months of 2010.

In 4th grade, I remember getting into an argument at the cafeteria table with two of my other friends. I was losing. It didn’t even turn into a shouting match where whosever voice is loudest wins. I was just not convincing anyone. The topic at hand: “Who’s more political, Justin or Maya?” It’s an adventurous argument for 4th graders to have. If you had asked my 10 year old self what “political” meant, I would’ve probably told you it’s whatever Keith Olbermann had said on the previous night of “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” (Maya was the smartest and prettiest girl in the class so I was never going to win anything over her—even if she wasn’t even arguing for herself). I grew up watching Olbermann’s nightly newscast on MSNBC. I was so captivated by his convictive rants that I decided that in 5th grade I wanted to work in government.

As I got older, I became more interested in things like SportsCenter, a woman’s butt, and Kanye West. My political tinge faded. I used to be engaged in my father’s hyper-political dinnertime conversations. Now I just complain, “Dad can we go one fucking dinner without having a political debate?” and go right back to hypothetically answering 50 Cent’s “21 Questions” in my head. If I didn’t smell good would you still hug me? Depends—are you Kate Upton? I tune out most political conversation these days.

Now, I’m a 19 year old student who faces a six-figure student loan debt once I get out of (notice how I didn’t say “graduate”) college. Occupy Wall Street began 15 minutes away from my dormitory, but I didn’t care. The man who I’ll probably vote against in my first election this November is more likely to lower my parents taxes (we’re not middle class but we’re not eating out every week either) to help me pay for college than the man I’ll vote for. I’m a disillusioned member of the electorate who is more likely to watch a Knicks game than a Presidential Debate, because I know that no matter what, things are swayed in the United States by those who have money, no matter how moral or immoral the cause. The Newsroom reminded me of that tonight.

The episode began with an on-air editorial comment by Will. He basically called every news broadcast he’d done in his career a sham, and outlined the new, progressive, honest, factual, “News Night.” Following “The Apology,” a 6-month span of News Night events was chronicled. Instead of injecting fear mongering tactics in their coverage of the 2010 Times Square Car Bombing attack that was thwarted, News Night decided to play down the potential threat, and play up the fact that the system worked to prevent the bombing. Instead of pandering to the conservatives who had been boosting News Night’s ratings, Will launched an assault on the Tea Party. A Republican himself, Will was determined to expose a newly radical Tea Party for infecting his party and radicalizing the centrist Republican base. While he did all of this by simply laying out the facts—I’ve never seen a drama lay out so many statistics—he began to agitate the powers that be.

Elsewhere, Don’s and Maggie’s relationship kept getting played out like that one couple from high school who everybody loathed. They’d break-up, and get back together (repeat 12x), until everyone got sick of them. By the end of the episode, Jim (who has been chasing Maggie), and Neal literally got sick at the sight of Don and Maggie kissing after apparently breaking-up AGAIN the week before.

On the other side of the newsroom, the romantic battle between Will and Mackenzie raged on. Will kept asking his dates to meet him at the office, sparking jealousy in Mackenzie (Will’s first date was a New York Jets cheerleader. When Mackenzie questioned the intelligence of Girl #2, Will responded with: “Neurologist at Columbia Presbyterian. Chief of Surgery. That would make her a brain surgeon. Literally, a brain surgeon.” Blow job joke #1 recorded). After being guilt tripped by Maggie into apologizing to Mackenzie, Will stopped short after she brought one of her dates to the office in retaliation. Let the Love Games begin.

Spliced in with scenes from that 6-month span was a meeting between Will’s boss Charlie Skinner, and the CEO of the network Leona Lansing. During that 6-month stretch of news, Will kept asking Charlie whether the higher ups were okay with the new direction. As Charlie’s meeting with Leona proved, they weren’t. As Charlie put it: “We stand for something. It’s a moral obligation—get used to it.” Apparently, a moral obligation doesn’t have advertising dollars to dole out. Because of Will’s crusade against the “witches” in Washington, corporate and political powers punched back against Atlantis Cable News instead of turning the other cheek. The corporation that was friendly with the network had been exposed by News Night for bankrolling the Tea Party, and the newly elected Republican Congressmen who regulate media and communications were bashed by News Night repeatedly for months.

The Newsroom is 98% based on reality (some news stories are stretched a bit for drama, but it’s still based on real events), reminding me of how hopeless I, along with many millions of Americans, feel about our present situation. Corporations fund the media and politicians, and in return, everybody circle-jerks each other and there’s no cheating involved. That leaves everybody else in a state of insubordination, which is the opposite of how a Democracy is supposed to work (hence the “99%” and the “1%” are born). (Let me step down from my barely political high horse for a moment.) In The Newsroom, “News Night with Will McAvoy” is the Private Eye who’s photographing the immoral circle-jerking, and publishing the photos on a blog for free. But in “The 112th Congress,” that Private Eye got kidnapped for all his good work by the people he’s photographing, and faces a choice: either stop, or get killed. At the end of the episode, Leona Lansing orders Charlie to reign Will back in, or Will gets a pink slip—a black slip actually, as a clause in his contract would legally bind him to stay off the air for 3-years if he were to get fired (Funny how Charlie wanted to prevent the next “McCarthy” from being elected to Congress through Will’s Tea Party witch-hunt. In the 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy persecuted members of Hollywood who were suspected communists. Nobody was ever proved to have ties to the USSR, but his public hearings caused these people to be blacklisted from all lines of work, ruining their lives. In this case, Leona would’ve practiced her brand of McCarthyism on Will).

With Leona’s own “You’re either in or you’re out” ultimatum delivered to Charlie (we’re averaging about one ultimatum a week on this show now), Charlie, Will, and Mackenzie are all in the firing line. The romantic and corporate trenches have now been established for the rest of the season. It’s time for things to get ugly. Let the battles begin.

Notebook dumps: When will News Night allow Olivia Munn’s character to live report the rising price of car washes in only a bikini? Also, Sam Waterson has the best non-Drake bushy eyebrows, as well as the best bow tie since Andre 3000.

Just LOOK at those bad boys.

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49

Why Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani Must Leave Liverpool This Summer

The reasons are pretty clear. I’m not rooting against them if they do stay at LFC—I hope they can make a strong impact in the starting XI rotation. I’m just saying that it’s improbable given their history, so I want them out because their wages are too high. Fully explained in the video.

EDITORS NOTE: I say that Aquilani didn’t play much for AC Milan last season due to injury. I was incorrect. He didn’t play because a clause in his contract limited his appearances. Regardless, my point about him being injury-prone still holds true.

I actually advocated for Aquilani’s departure last summer using the same reasons. Has he done anything on the field to counteract my argument? NO! Video from the summer of 2011:

Follow Justin on Twitter @jblock49