Star Athletes and Sporting Politics in the Spotlight

It's another episode of Waypoints where we find ourselves considering the strange expectations and position of a star athlete at different points in their career. First, we talk about the tell-all article at The Bleacher Report on the falling out between prodigiously talented Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his former coach, Mike McCarthy. Then, we have to ask ourselves, "Is Magic Johnson living the dream?" Finally, Austin discusses Kofi Kingston's WWE title, and its many meanings.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/43jygb/star-athletes-and-sporting-politics-in-the-spotlight

give me back lemonade man adds! it tastes So Good. i dont like the yelling hana

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I felt like the lemonade man was yelling at me sometimes :joy:

He just wanted you to know it was less sugar and fewer calories.

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Is Stephen A. Smith playing a character?
Edit: To understand the magnitude of Wrestlemania, it would be like every football league in the world, not America, the entire world came to the same city as the Super Bowl in that same weekend riding on those coattails.

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Yes and no? From someone who used to watch first take basically every morning in high school, Its clear Stephen A plays himself up as loud and over the top. However, like basically almost everyone who plays a persona, its clear he buys into his own bullshit on some level (Like when he told Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players in the world that he didn’t want to cross him, a laughable statement by a sports media member). Its just a matter of where on the spectrum between Arrogant Blowhard and Silly Overactor you think he is. Its kinda like trying to diagnose right wing political grifters, except its just sports so you can actually have some fun with it.

One addendum to the Magic Johnson story is that apparently the coaching staff was sure that they would be fired after the final game of the season. Now that he stepped down, they get to keep their jobs, though it’s not very clear for how long.

I love to listen to words, about sports, and not understand anything afterwards

Aaron Rodgers is the king of the two minute drill.

Patrick, I don’t mean to be that Lions fan, but I’m feeling pretty compelled to post the 2016 Matt Stafford meme.

Context for non-sportsball fans

Back in 2016, the Detroit Lions – another NFC North team alongside the Bears and Packers – were infamous for managing eight separate 4th quarter comebacks in that season. These are significant because when you enter garbage time, the play calling is a lot looser, with some teams (like the Lions then) giving a much longer leash to the quarter back to do what’s called “No Huddle” offense (i.e. the QB calls audibles in order to play as fast as possible) within their 4th quarter two minute drills. Honestly, it speaks more to how less-than-good the general playcalling was then, but having a QB with a receiving core all strong enough players to manage that eight times in a single season was astounding then. So much so, the Lions subreddit canonized this meme throughout that whole season.

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So a little fun addendum/side story to the Magic Johnson saga from the perspective of a fan of the team with the player he was trying to trade for.

Summary

This whole saga started about half way through the season when the Pels were having another injury-riddled disappointing season and Anthony Davis, AD, let the team know he wouldn’t sign the supermax extension this summer. Which is a way to say “I don’t want to play for this team anymore, please trade me” without directly saying it. Then AD and his agent, Klutch Sports (LeBron James’s agent too) went to work! All of a sudden AD started acting completely different. They directly asked to be traded (an action that earned him and his client a fine), made a list of teams he wanted to play for but AD said he would be happy to go to any team, and tried to essentially force the Pels to trade AD to the Lakers. So that’s just a bit of background, and now it’s Magic Johnson time!

So there have been two other superstars that have asked for trades from their previous teams since Magic has been the President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. (A quick note he wasn’t the GM and the position have a bunch of overlap, but there are slight differences. The GM does trades and roster moves only essentially, and the PoBO does a bit of late but also makes sure the training facility is good, players are happy, works with the staff, and other overarching things for the team.) Both of these players were from LA, and one even said if you traded for him he would just play that year and then sign with the Lakers. It seems like many writers and such believe that the Lakers view themselves as having a special magic to them. Expecting players to come play for them just because they’re the Lakers. So this is the most likely cause of the Lakers’ trade offers for these players, AD included. For all three franchise players their trade offer were laughable low. For example, the first rumored package for AD was ONE of Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram, a first round pick, and again ONE of Rondo and Michael Beasley. For a bit of context that would be like trading your car for their new ATV that had some damage though, a few hundred bucks, and a flat tire. It wasn’t taken serious at all. Their bad trade offer wasn’t all though.

Everyone knew what AD, Klutch Sports, and the Lakers were trying to do. The Lakers were the only ones who could realistically trade for him at that moment as the other team that most people believe he would be traded to couldn’t because of contracts already on that other team. So the Pels and their former GM Dell Demps wanted to embarrass everyone. The Pels usually don’t leak/tell the two most prolific breakers of NBA news, but all of sudden they’re were breaking Pels news. The laughably low offer the Lakers sent was leaked out, and Magic and the Lakers were laughed at by the fans and media. Then it was leaked that Magic couldn’t even get Demps on the phone to talk. Finally it was leaked that Magic had offered pretty much everyone on the Lakers roster other than LeBron and every 1st and 2nd round pick they could, and still the Pels said no. The whole thing was very embarrassing for Magic and the Lakers, and apparently all the other teams of the league LOVED it!

The whole team learning that LeBron and Magic saw them as expendable obviously hurt team chemistry, and the team went on a big losing streak. Magic then flew out to meet the team in Philly before a game to get the team back on track. He said the league was a business and that they should toughen up and handle it like a man, and that they should just leave if they can’t or something along those lines. It didn’t work. They continued to lose, and so the Lakers missed the playoffs.

Which leads us to the news that they discussing on the podcast. Magic held an impromptu press meeting and just announced he was quiting. I won’t go over that since they covered it in the podcast. I’ll just add that another reason Magic wanted to quit is because he didn’t want to fire Luke Walton, the head coach, because he didn’t want to hurt him. Walton just mutually parted ways with the team. Magic also apparently didn’t get along with his GM. The person he is most closely working with to improve the team! The GM would commonly remark “Where’s Magic?” knowing he wasn’t around because he was off doing something else. The Pelicans’ coach described this whole situation as the most toxic he has ever seen in his 31 years of being in the NBA!

Also a bit of added joy for the Pels and their fans during those initial trade talks, it was all within a month or so of the LA Rams vs New Orleans Saints game so the people of New Orleans were all about fucking over an LA team!

A not so short story after all, but it was still nice to write out. But just a quick synopsis, shit was crazy and petty. The whole Magic quitting without telling anyone press conference was just a cherry on top!

Also I love when y’all talk about sports. As a big sports fan myself I just love to hear y’all say anything about them. It always feels like sports are looked down upon or something in many “nerd/gaming” communities. So it’s nice to hear some genuine sports talk and not just people trashing on it and/or the fans. Though there are some times when sports deserve it. Pay the damn players NCAA!

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Another fantastic Waypoints episode. The bit about what it would be like to quit your job like Magic Johnson (53:22-54:33) was incredible.

Quick addendum to the 24 argument – not simply used by the Bush administration, but a frame of reference for conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. While speaking on an international panel of judges in 2007 (cite), Scalia said the following, reflecting his sober and sombre readiness to adhere to constitutionality in all instances:

“Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

“Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.

“So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.”

This may be the only thing cringier than knowing that former Prime Minister David Cameron watches Game of Thrones.