15 or so years ago, I’m walking through a baggage claim area in the Los Cabos International Airport. It was eerie. The room wasn’t well lit and not another soul was in sight. I think I had to take a piss or maybe I was searching for a friend. I forget, but what will forever be etched in my brain were the two figures that appeared in the distance. I didn’t pay much heed at first, but it was hard not to be transfixed on this couple. The man was a giant and the woman was exquisite. As they got closer and closer, the man just oozed cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant and his wife, Vanessa! Woo sah, woo sah. Be cool. Be cool. Oh, shit! That’s Kobe freaking Bryant. I didn’t know what to do. I was shook, but not as bad as when we all received the horrible news yesterday; that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

There are so many memories of Kobe. Not flinching against the Matt Barnes inbound fake. The 2005 season in which he scored 81 points in a game, 62 points in another, had four 50-burgers, and 21 40-point outbursts. Kobe was robbed of the MVP that year! The alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals. Tearing his Achilles then draining the free throw. The five championships. The 60 points in his final game. Chills. The mic drop. The dunks. The game winners. But what I most treasure about Kobe is encapsulated in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz during the 1997 playoffs when he airballed not one, not two, not three, but four shots as a rookie. Despite the failure, he could not be fazed. He could not be shook, unlike my weak ass. He didn’t slump or put his head down. He just brushed it off and used it as motivation to get better. He was a true student of the game whose sole focus was to get buckets and win. The jump shot form was perfect. The footwork was immaculate. The evolution of his game was poetic. All of that did not happen by accident. It was due to the psychotic work ethic.

41 years old. Gone. Just like that. I wanted to give you a pound when I saw you 15 or so years ago. I wanted to give you a hug. I wanted to take a selfie. I wanted to say wassup, but I was so shook that I just walked on by. Thanks for everything. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.

Here’s what happened in the games yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The fact that James Harden can drop 50 points in a night without anyone batting an eye is ridiculous. The story line shouldn’t be about how he scored 54 last night, topping the 50-point mark for the second consecutive night. It should be about how no one is talking about it. He had 10 threes and everyone just shrugs and goes about their business. Like, how is such an incredible feat just happening without it being the headline on every major sports media source? It’s mind boggling. This happened three times in between 1980 and 2000. Three times only. Trivia: try and guess who they were in the comments for absolutely no prize at all!

But Harden has done it two separate times this year alone!! And no one is talking about it!! Insanity. Here’s his stat line from last night:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
54 5 7 2 3 3 10-15 19-31 6-6

He single-handedly can bring your roster to the top of the league in multiple scoring categories, and is currently the top asset in fantasy basketball. Let’s go around the league and take a look at the rest of Friday night’s action.

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What was the address of the house you grew up in? Please include your Social Security number and bank pin number while you’re at it. What about the first apartment you rented? And the motel you lost your virginity at? I kid, I kid. We all have memories about certain addresses in our lives. For some reason, 21 Jump Street is the address that always pops up for me. Anyways, last night, Devin Booker established a new home in New Orleans:

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
44 8 9 2 0 5 5/11 13/24 13/13

The festivities at 44 Booker Street lasted for 42 minutes and the new residence was established due to the 139-132 Suns victory over the Pelicans. Booker had a 40-burger back on November 4th and he had scored at least 30 points four other times. With that said, his season seemed a little underwhelming for some. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what’s never underwhelming? The Stocktonator. The usage this season was down to 28 from 32 last year and the PPG dipped to 25 from 26.6. It’s not all about points, though, for Booker, although he can obviously access 40 to 50-burger ceiling. Booker is a top 30 player for fantasy this season beause he’s shooting 94% from the free line and 50% from the field, with the 6.3 dimes, 3.9 boards, and 2.3 tres. He just needs to contribute the defensive stats. If he can do that, he’d easily be a top 20 player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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I enjoy the Star Wars franchise. Except for Jar Jar Binks. That was the nut low. Whoever green lighted Jar Jar must be banished from Hollywood forever. If it was George Lucas, then so be it. At least The Mandalorian is fun. Anyways, The Force was always a concept that intrigued me. The little angel on my left shoulder (which shoulder does the angel stand on for you?) would show me all the good I could do with the power, while the little devil on my right shoulder would whisper sweet nothings into my ear and open my eyes to all the glory and fun I’d have. There was also the whole moving objects with the mind thing. In the real world, the concept of the Force does exist. The mind is a powerful thing and can make the unimaginable real. There are those that are able to access parts of the brain that most cannot, and do extraordinary things as a result. With that said, there always exist charlatans to deceive and exploit. O. G. Anunoby is not one of them. In fact, the Force is strong in him.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
13 12 1 2 0 3 3/5 5/11 0

It’s taken some time, but in his third year, Anunoby is breaking out. Hey! Anakin was trained for a decade or so and many Jedis trained for even longer. Granted, Luke learned quickly, but he was a protege. On the season, Anunoby is a top 65 player for fantasy. He provides some points, tres, boards, steals, and blocks. The dimes are light and the free throw shooting is poor, but the field goal percentage is high. Is he on the same arc as teammate Pascal Siakam? Well, both are similar physically and both were known as athletes who could play defense but were offensively challenged. After his rookie season, Siakam finished as the 258th player for fantasy. The following year, he improved to 188th. In the third-year breakout, he was the 41st player for fantasy. Anunoby was the 283th player his rookie year. The second year, he finished as the 287th player. He’s now the 65th player. Not exactly the same path, but both broke out in the third year.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Julius Caesar was a successful military general who turned powerful politician in the ancient Roman days. His power became so immense that he was named “dictator for life”. Unfortunately, he pissed off the wrong people (i.e. the elites) and was eventually assassinated via stabbing, or as the kids be saying, “he got shanked”. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what never pisses off the people? The Stocktonator. After the early returns from the three-year, $63 million contract given to Julius Randle, Knicks fans were ready to hive up and Twitter shank Randle. Then….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
30 7 4 2 1 1 3/5 12/17 3/5

The 30 points were a season-high and it was only the second time this season in which he’s notched at least one steal and one block in a game. Now, before you start mental masturbating, keep in mind that last night’s game was against the Cavaliers. Need more? Kevin Love did not play and Cedi “Not So” Osman started at power forward. Any wonder why Julius went nuts? For fantasy, Randle provides points, boards, and some dimes. He even chips in some tres now. With that said, the percentages from both the field and free throw line are poor, and he provides little in the defensive categories. As a result, he’s outside the top 200 right now and will likely be a top 100-ish player.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was supposed to go to a Greta Van Fleet concert with my brother. If you don’t know Greta, definitely check them out. They’re today’s version of Led Zeppelin and are quickly rising to prominence in the rock and roll world. Anyway, I was supposed to see them. Keyword supposed.

The lead singer developed the flu and had to cancel the remainder of the shows on the tour. This came just six months after I was supposed to see a Led Zeppelin tribute concert at the House of Blues in New Orleans before it got canceled due to the band’s Boeing 747 being grounded. And that came just six months after I was supposed to see Avenged Sevenfold, a band that pushes my music fandom to the brink of heavy metal music, when their lead singer developed a rare vocal cord infection and had to cancel.

In sum, my history as a concert-goer is similar to Gordon Hayward’s career as a Celtic. Setback after setback has made it a difficult run in Boston, and the latest was just a freak accident that could keep him sidelined for over a month. It’s especially a shame, too, because he was really starting to gain momentum this season and bring his game back to days of old.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
9 2 1 1 1 1 1-3 4-9 0-0

He’ll end his season, for the time being, as the No. 28 player in fantasy with an impressive line of 18.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 4.1 apg.

Here’s what else we saw in five games of Saturday night action:

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The pascal (Pa) is the unit of pressure used to quantify internal pressure, stress, and tensile strength. With all the injuries for the Golden State Warriors, the pascal readings have been off the charts in the Bay Area. The fans are freaking out, shots are being bricked, defensive lapses have become the norm, and the dynasty that was, is now a has been. Or is it? Because Eric Paschall has been making his mark and produced off-the-chart numbers last night.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
34 13 0 1 0 2 4/6 11/19 8/8

In 40 minutes and led the Warriors to a 127-118 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. This, two days after dropping 25 points on the Charlotte Hornets in 35 minutes of action! Paschall is currently a top 65 player, providing points, boards, and a little something something in tres, steals, and blocks. The percentages have been excellent; 60% from the field and 87% from the line. Now, when Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell return to action, the usage and playing time will likely go down. With that said, the Warriors will likely be tanking, so there could be opportunites. There’s a lot of unknown with the Warriors shituation, so we need to monitor how Steve Kerr decides to handle things. Beep. Boop. Bop. You know what knows all? The Stocktonator. Don’t be a zero. Be a hero.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After news came out that Kyrie Irving had completely shut himself out to teammates and coaches during one of his infamous mood swings on the team’s trip to China, it was worth questioning whether or not this experiment would work out. He clearly had chemistry issues towards the end of his run in Cleveland and in his brief stop in Beantown.

After the point guard’s effort against the powerhouse Houston Rockets, though, it’s tough to deny that he does a tremendous job of leading the team once he’s on the court. Maybe it makes sense that Kevin Durant, when asked if he’d try to intervene during these mood swings, said he’d rather just let him be and watch him do his thing. Though the Nets suffered some heartbreaking losses early on, as Kyrie stole the stat-sheet show, he played a much more mature game this time around and led a nice team win.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT  FG   FT  
22 4 10 0 1 6 5-8 7-18 3-4

His numbers took a slight hit, but as the current No. 1 player in fantasy, this line isn’t a disappointing one. Unlike the other games, Kyrie had some help along the way.

Here are some of the other significant performances from around the rest of the NBA last night:

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The Rockets seem to find themselves knocking on the door in the West often, but not doing enough to get over the hump. Sometimes you need a little change. Russell Westbrook is that change. The Rockets, who already play at a high pace, will now be moving up and down the court at record speeds. Westbrook is the engine that could and may vault the Rockets to the Finals. Yes, I have been touting this for two years now, but I think this was the move to get them there. Let’s take a closer look through a fantasy lens.

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I have mentioned many times how sad I get when major injuries happen in the NBA. As a person that used to play competitive basketball, I know how heart-breaking they can be and how tough the physical and mental recovery can get. Unfortunately, Jusuf Nurkic suffered a brutal one yesterday, fracturing his left tibia and fibula (these are essentially the two long bones in the leg). It’s a huge blow to Portland’s playoff aspirations, but the most important thing is for Nurkic to return healthy next season. Get well soon big man!!Danuel House was the most consistent contributor from last week’s suggestions with 3 triples per game, while Jakob Poeltl and Fred VanVleet were both steady, if unspectacular. Dorian Finney-Smith’s 4-game week is over and so is his streamer appeal. Finally, Hassan Whiteside was the main Sell candidate and with 19, 24, 5, and 14 minutes played last week, you can guess that nothing has changed dramatically.

Please, blog, may I have some more?