Russell Westbrook: the ScapeG.O.A.T.

While the top athletes in their respective sports garner the most fame, popularity, and wealth, they must also deal with the most criticism and scrutiny from the media.  Superstars are held to the highest of expectations, making it essentially impossible to satisfy the masses.  A prime example of this is LeBron James, one of the most consistent and dominant basketball players ever.  In his first stint in Cleveland, James, who was then 25-years old, won back-to-back MVPs and led the Cavaliers to the best record in both seasons.  Yet, he was criticized for failing to overcome the Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen despite carrying a weak supporting cast.  LeBron was quickly labeled as “unclutch” and mocked for failing to deliver on the big stage.

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Has Kevin Durant Already Lost This Year's MVP Race?

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the reigning MVP Kevin Durant will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a Jones fracture, an injury where the bone at the base of the small toe breaks.  And with just under two weeks until the 2014-15 NBA season tips off, the Thunder will undoubtedly miss their superstar on the court.  But how will this injury impact Kevin Durant’s chances of defending the Maurice Podoloff Trophy?

Well, before Durant went down, Vegas had LeBron James as the favorite to win the MVP this year with 3:2 odds while Durant came in at second with 3:1 odds.  Now, James’ odds have improved to 5:6 while Durant's have fallen to 4:1.  While the odd shifts correctly reflect that Durant’s chances of winning MVP have diminished, Vegas still severely underestimates the uphill battle Durant faces.  Let’s see why by breaking down a few key components to winning the NBA’s most coveted award:

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Tony Allen: the Birth of the GRINDfather

I had a chance to make my first trip to the FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies.  My beloved Los Angeles Clippers were playing in the playoffs for just the fifth time in my 22 years of life (and three of those appearances occurred before I was 5).  Luckily, I was attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and decided to make the 3-hour drive to Memphis to root my team on in Game 1.

The game was a memorable one.  The Clippers made a historic 27-point comeback.  Reggie Evans transformed into our MVP.  Swaggy P drained three consecutive 3’s in the 4th quarter. And I blacked out when Kenyon Martin locked down Rudy Gay at the buzzer.  But the thing that stuck out most to me that night wasn’t our miraculous win.

On the long drive to the Forum, my friends and I were debating which Grizzly player was likely the most popular.  Was it Zach Randolph?  Rudy Gay?  Marc Gasol?  Mike Conley?

While there was a good mix of Z-Bo and Gay jerseys, there was another jersey that popped up with alarming frequency around the arena: #9, for Tony Allen.

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