Friday Morning Mailbag: LeBron/Durant, World Cup, Star Wars & More

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It’s Friday morning. There’s a lot going on in the world and the month of June will likely bring a few days where we’ll get the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and the end of the NBA Finals. And that’s just in the world of sports… not even including the march of Major League Baseball into the All-Star break. The summer movie season is officially getting under way as well. There’s a lot going on. So my alliterative friends have been writing in and asking all sorts of questions. It’s time to answer some of them.

You and The Wise Guise crew seem to be big fans and aficionados of late-night TV. If we were to call today Fallon Friday, what would be your favorite video from The Tonight Show this week? – Fred from Florida

First of all, if you haven’t checked out Jameer’s awesome list of Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen’s Fred Talks, you need to check that out. Even the Late Night Twitter feed retweeted that post.

Second of all, your alliterative use of the letter F is quite impressive. As the founder of Feeny Friday, I appreciate that.

Finally, Fred – there are few things better than Jennifer Lawrence and Jimmy Fallon playing a game called Box of Lies. It has Uncle Jesse action figures, Rubix cubes in Jello, and anything else you could possibly want.

The middle of June promises to be a wild time in the sports world. So here’s a hypothetical for you – which would you watch live the second weekend of June if you had to choose: top World Cup match, U.S. Open final round, or NBA Finals Game 6? – Johnny Boy from Jersey

This is a fun question, and luckily, scheduling won’t make me choose. The World Cup is most appealing if it’s a U.S. match, but the schedule is out and that’s not the case. Also, the U.S. Open and NBA Finals likely wouldn’t overlap at all given that it’s at Pinehurst in NC and not on the West Coast, although I love when we get the primetime U.S. Open golf. BUT, June is nevertheless an exciting time.

I’m really excited for the U.S. Open. I’m rooting for Phil Mickelson to win this one big time, although Jordan Spieth is the golfer I find myself rooting hardest for right now. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve regularly checked leader boards for just one golfer’s name so often. There’s some excitement and possibility there for the first time since the Fall of Tiger. BUT, Phil’s win at Pinehurst would be a storybook ending. His numerous second-place finishes and near-misses at the U.S. Open. It was his best major for so long, and then he went and won 3 Green Jackets, a PGA Championship, and last year’s British Open. He hasn’t been playing great, but he wasn’t really killing it before he won the Open Championship last July. So to complete the career Grand Slam, at Pinehurst, where he finished second to the late Payne Stewart in 1999, to have Payne hug him and say, “Just you wait, you’ll get yours someday.”

THAT would be special.

As for the World Cup, I’m so pumped. Just like The Olympics, I find myself becoming a temporary expert and fan boy in something I’m only moderately excited occasionally about the majority of the time. I watch some EPL and Champions League games occasionally, keeping up with the standings. But the World Cup is special. It’s global. It’s a bit exotic to us Americans. So I go all in.

ESPN’s advertising continues to amaze…

As for the NBA Finals, on to the next question…

So your past writings on LeBron made it fairly clear that you were not a fan. But you’ve been tweeting a lot recently in support of the Miami Heat and LeBron James in their attempt to win a three-peat. What gives? – Chris from Calcutta

This is an excellent question and one I’ve been asked often. The simple answer to this question is that I’m man enough to admit my opinion has changed about LeBron as he’s grown and matured as a player and superstar. I cheered for LeBron in Cleveland. I thought he completely botched “The Decision” and it showed at least some ignorance and possibly some arrogance. I also didn’t like the idea of creating a “Super Team.” I’ve always rooted against super teams. BUT, when the Heat struggled in that first season together and lost to the Mavs in the 2011 Finals, we all saw they were human and LeBron was going to have to earn it.

There were also numerous interviews with LeBron where he admitted that he’s grown a lot as a person and player. His performance on the court has shown maturity and continued improvement. And, finally, I love to watch history being made. Especially since the history being made is done under more scrutiny and pressure than those who went before. It’s why I cheered for Tiger Woods. But we saw in Tiger Woods how even the best could buckle. And LeBron is the most similar to Tiger – the child prodigy turned professional under the scrutiny of 24-hour SportsCenter and the Internet. Many, including Bill Simmons, like to say that Michael Jordan would have buckled more than Tiger under this modern media. I think MJ’s luster would have worn off long ago, and we’ve seen glimmers of MJ the Man recently.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat Ð Game Five

Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. But I’d LOVE to see LeBron handle himself better off the court and put himself to a debatably similar level as His Airness. So I’m rooting for LeBron.

HOWEVER, now that the Thunder have beat the Clippers, I can begin rooting for Kevin Durant and the Thunder again after that heartbreaking series versus my Grizz. Even if you don’t care about the NBA, you should watch Kevin Durant’s MVP Acceptance Speech. You’ll find yourself wanting to turn on the Western Coference Finals and root for Durant to win it all.

Ideal for me? Thunder/Heat Finals, where LeBron either wins his third straight or Durant wins his first. I’ll be cheering for Durant.

Watch this and you will too:

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t share Sir Charles Barkley’s hilariously anti-PC, defiantly non-apologetic comments from the other night. Apparently, he cracked some jokes about the size of women in San Antonio. Clearly an absurd generalization made for humor, Barkley was called to apologize. He refused to do so.

What are your thoughts on the top TV networks’ upfront presentations? – Lucy from Louisville

I haven’t had time to watch a lot of trailers. I’m still cautiously excited about Fox’s Gotham. Then, there’s a David Tennant/Anna Gunn re-make of a popular British mini-series. There’s some buzz around that, so I’m intrigued. Per usual, network announcements don’t get me excited until first reviews come in. I’m thankful we’ll get more seasons of Survivor. I also really like the emphasis on “event programming”, which is just a way for networks to say they’re cutting back on reality TV overload and bringing back miniseries-type TV, which is something I’ve missed from my childhood.

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I’m also glad the TV show Nashville will continue to be filmed in Nashville, TN and not Austin, TX or somewhere in Georgia.

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Will Johnny Football be a good quarterback in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns? – Tyler from Texas

I sure hope so. He’s exciting for the NFL, sports, and Cleveland. His business dealings with LeBron, his antics, his supermodel dates.

We’ll find out if all the teams that passed on Johnny Football, including Nashville’s own Titans, made the right decision or not. I have a feeling many will regret it. If he can stay professional and stable, he has that drive to compete and improve that I think will make him AT LEAST moderately successful. But he’ll always be extremely entertaining, regardless of whether he plays for 1 season or 12 seasons.

Look no further than the recent story that he texted the following to Cleveland QB Coach as he slid down the Draft Board: “I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to wreck this league together.”

Hilarious.

Will Star Wars: Episode VII be good? – Trisha from Tatooine

Trish? Are you writing from a galaxy far, far away?

I’ve always been optimistic about J.J. Abrams and Disney beginning the Star Wars saga again, this time building off of Return of the Jedi. Abrams and his crew excellently rebooted Star Trek. Lucas has signed off with his approval. Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are all back. It starts 30 years after Darth Vader’s redemptive death. It’s an opportunity to move on from this infamous scene wrapping up the prequel trilogy.

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Bringing on the writer of the most critically acclaimed Empire Strikes Back (Lawrence Kasden) along with the original cast and a bevy of new actors and actresses (including Oscar Issacs from Drive and Inside Llewyn Davis, the drone pilot from the new season of 24, Adam Driver as the new villain, and more) leaves me very optimistic. J.J. Abrams owes his entire career and love of film to the original Star Wars.

He’s not going to mess it up more than George Lucas already did with the prequel trilogy, which I still defend as pretty good but nowhere near the original classics.

Who ya got for the Preakness Stakes? – Polly from Providence

I love to hedge my bets, but my initial take on Win-Place-Show for this weekend is…

Win – California Chrome

Place – Ria Antonia (with my boy Calvin Borel!)

Show – Ride on Curlin (which my boy CALVIN BOREL rode in the Derby)

I have to root for the Triple Crown and true underdog story of California Chrome to keep going. I love me some history. And I’d love to see a Triple Crown winner soon so when the next one comes around when I’m old, I can do that infamous old guy voice and say, “Back in the day, when California Chrome only cost $10,000 or $1,000 dollars or some sort of that old money we used to use and he won the Triple Crown, we only had the iPhone 5!”

Have a great weekend!

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Posted on by Joseph Williams in Basketball, Entertainment, Featured, Football, Sports, Television

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