Dirk and Kobe: Stars At Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

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Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki are guaranteed to be first ballot Hall of Famers.  They’ve both had brilliant careers, but are facing completely different circumstances in the tail end of their careers.  No matter what happens in their careers now, nothing can change how absolutely amazing these two players have been, and how great they still are.

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Red Band Society Review: Difficult Decisions in ‘Ergo Ego’

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When you make a decision, not everyone’s going to be happy with it.  Especially when it comes to teens vying for a young girls love or fighting to keep hope alive for a comatose child.  Not everyone will be happy, but a decision has to be made none the less.  Tonight’s episode, ‘Ergo Ego’ found a few of its main characters struggling with the decisions they’ve made and the decisions they have to make.

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Sons of Anarchy Review: SAMCRO Shot Down

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Elvis has left the building.  Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Junior) finally said hello to the Reaper in this week’s episode, ‘What a Piece of Work is Man’.  The roads will forever be a little more empty without the sound of his engine roaring down the paved asphalt on his beloved motorcycle.  The hit came at the hands of the deceitful, August Marks (Billy Brown), who the club will make sure has his own meeting with the Reaper soon enough.

With only four episodes left now, the club is falling apart, and after Tuesday’s episode there is little faith that they can ever recover.  Before it was a question of who would make it out alive, but now the question is, will anyone?  After the loss of their eldest member, and the only link back to the old ways of the club, the outcome of the MC is looking more and more bleak.

In the midst of war, casualties are expected, but the amount of death they have seen this year is almost enough wonder when it will ever stop.  Their, fearless, calculated leader, Jax (Charlie Hunnam) has the club’s complete loyalty, but it’s easy to see that he’s beginning to question the path he has put them down, and whether or not they can ever turn back.  They have all dedicated so much and lost equally from the extreme faith they have put in their president, and if he doesn’t begin to change things, he could lose them.

Already, other charters are beginning to not trust Jax, especially after he gunned down Jury (Michael Shamus Wiles), Indian Hill’s president at the time.  Jury saw what Jax has become, the exact opposite of what his father wanted, and Jax couldn’t handle the truth.  He knows deep down that what he is doing is wrong, but now can’t stop as his quest for revenge is the only thing that can make him feel something.  He has no time to stop, and think and getting even with the Chinese is all that he can think about.  If he did take the time to think and consider his options like he used to, he would realize that there is still a rat in the club giving away intel.

Bobby’s death is the one thing that could return Jax to some sort of level-headedness.  He managed to pull a smart one over on Marks, leaving the remains of the pastor at the construction site, for the police to find.  It was a near admission of defeat for Jax, he knew he couldn’t win with Marks controlling the streets and winning the warfare.  Jax is now fully focused on making sure Moses (Matthew St. Patrick) feels the same pain that Bobby felt when he was being brutally tortured and regaining some control in Mark’s absence.

Right now is the time for them strike back, even if all of this mess has been misguided due to the lies Gemma (Katey Sagal) has conjured up.  Juice (Theo Rossi) is in jail, with the task of finishing what Jax started with Lin (Kenneth Choi), and they still have the backing of the Mayans.  They have plenty of moves in play, it all just depends if they will pull the trigger on them.

The truth about what happened on the night of Tara (Maggie Siff) is slowly coming out, and when it does, it might be able to snap Jackson back into reality and stop the killings.  It wasn’t long ago when Jax was going to turn himself into the DA to save the club and his wife.  He most likely won’t be turning himself in anytime soon, because Kurt Sutter doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to repeat storylines, and turning the club back into what it was when it began has always been what Jax has really wanted.  He just hasn’t been able to see through his rage.

If he can ever come to terms with his mother betraying him in the worst possible way, that will be the how he returns peace in Charming and saves his children from following in his footsteps.  This moment will either destroy him or give him life.  If he can see through the smoke, he’ll see just how toxic this club his, and that he is the only one who can save them from becoming extinct.

Within Jax is the sensitivity of his father, a type of humanity that he has lost and needs to gain back if the club can survive.  That was what had separated him from Clay (Ron Perlman), but with enough time at the head of the table, everyone turns into the Reaper.  Jax admitted Tuesday that he no longer thinks he’s a good person, but you can tell that piece of him still exists, even if he can’t.  It’s there waiting for him to do good again, and return the Sons to what they were meant to be, a club more focused on motorcycles than mayhem.

But scores are going to have to be settled first, and judging by the previews, things are going to stay violent, with Rat (Niko Nicotera) and T.O. (Michael Beaach) put in the same spot as Bobby was, being beaten for either a message or information.  The club will need to learn from Bobby’s death; that the way they’ve been going can’t be sustained if they want SAMCRO to still exist in the future.  He was a leader to everyone and was like an uncle to Jax, and the Sons need to assure that his death wasn’t in vain.

Peace may be impossible in this time of turmoil, and violence typically breeds more violence, but if anyone can use their fury in a positive manner it’s the Sons.  But this just might have to be the time when they change that policy and ride away from the flames instead of into them.

Marry Me: Only Getting Better

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The curse is in for television’s most dysfunctionally functional couple on this week’s episode of Marry Me.  During all five of Annie (Casey Wilson) and Jake(Ken Marino)’s date-iversary attempts, something has gone inexplicably wrong, and this year is no different.

Before all the bad events occur, Annie and Jake set out to have a care-free, unproblematic party with their close friends and Dennah(Sarah Wright Olsen)’s overly british beau, Liam (Mike O’Gorman).  And all does go as planned until a storm comes through, taking out the apartments power and sending the group into utter chaos.  Annie is face-deep inside her garbage can, snacking on food she had previously stated she was giving up, and Dennah’s kind, doctor boyfriend has a twisted ankle.  A tornado warning is sent out to the public, and the most unlikely character takes charge of the situation.  Survivalista Gil (John Gemberling) takes the surprising stance as group leader, gaining the attention of everyone, but especially the always unhinged, Dennah.

The group end up in a bit of a bottle episode while all packed into their apartments storage unit, with Gil directing the group on how to handle the situation, just don’t ask him which blue bucket is for the bathroom, kitchen, or vomit.  While there, Annie and Jake begin dispelling their curse theory, going through the years and finding reasons as to why they were nearly set ablaze, put into allergic shock, or showered upon in a restaurant.  Because Annie beat out that “crazy, hot, bisexual, Asian chick” Jake used to date, sending her into a fit of rage, and causing her to pull the fire alarm of the restaurant they were attending.

But when all things began to look bright for the couple, a new issue arose.  Just after confessing that he faked his soy allergy last year, Jake promised not to lie again.  That is until Kay (Tymberlee Hill) finds a locked drawer of his while rummaging for supplies.  This sends Annie into wild suspicions and she demands entrance into his (hopefully) last secret.

The group determines they must find out the contents of the drawer and stage an election between Jake and Gil.  Jake gives a cute, but sad speech about how he came to be president of his high school after the former president suffered severe burns and couldn’t carry out the duties.  Gil runs under the slogan that he will open the drawer if elected, giving him a landslide victory.  The power of his new position, draws Dennah further away from her man and into Gil’s arms who is not quick to turn her away.  In an odd way, they do work perfectly together.  It doesn’t carry on, but the start of something could be occurring between these two bizarre individuals.

The conflict between the main couple later resolves itself when Jake reveals he was engaged before, to that crazy, Asian chick, but more out of fear than anything.  He got a prenup for her, not Annie, which is why the issue escalated the way it did.  The idea of a prenup nearly derailed them when Annie decided that they were cursed, not the day, but their ability to recover from nearly any problem continues to astound.

They’re a couple bit to last, and built to make us laugh.  The final scene of the two main character’s holding each other under the downpour of the fire sprinklers displayed how well Marry Me can handle being while still managing to create touching moments like that one.

This episode was helmed a little bit more by the scene stealer, Gemberling, and he handled the increased time terrifically.  He has a great way of enhancing the moment with his depressingly hilarious personality.  The groups chemistry still hasn’t meshed perfectly, but all of their individual talents promise to combine into a wonderful ensemble.  The quick jokes seem to have also been toned down a bit in ‘Annicurser-Me’, which is neither good nor bad as they’re trying to find the pace of the show, but the jokes are still just as funny.

Coming off of last week’s laugh-out-loud Halloween episode, easily my favorite Halloween themed episode of any other show, there was a bit of a drop-off on Wednesday.  But not much, Marry Me is quickly climbing the ladder of television’s best comedies, and with just a little more time, it should be right at the top with the best of them.

The Prom Equivalency: A Big Moment For Big Bang

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Most teenagers grow up anticipating prom night as a perfect moment, a moment that they’ll remember their whole lives.  For the most part, proms are never perfect, but they are a moment that will always be remembered, regardless of how good or bad it went.  Given the chance many would redo it, and in tonight’s “The Prom Equivalency”, The Big Bang Theory did just that.

Most of the show’s geeks had the stereotypical geek experience, whether they took their mother, went alone, or just didn’t go at all.  Penny (Kaley Cuoco), the popular girl went to seven proms, six that she remembers, but none had that lasting effect.  So in discussion with the rest of the girls, Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), they decided that they would create the prom night that they never had on top of their apartment building’s roof.

Prom night, regardless of how old you are will always put you in that high school mindset.  There are feelings of jealousy, abandonment, sexuality, and just about everything else.  That’s what each of the characters cope with on tonight’s episode of Big Bang before all the festivities begin.

The group decorates the rooftop and even rents a limousine for the late night extravaganza.  Leading up to the night, there is trepidation felt by Howard (Simon Helberg) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons).  The rest of the group is just excited to be participating in a prom night surrounded by all their friends for a night they’ll enjoy.

Wolowitz, still perturbed by the fact that Stuart (Kevin Sussman) has gotten so close with his mother and is taking his place back at home, wants nothing more for Stuart to not take his mother to the prom.  Except for him to take his cousin, excuse me, second cousin, whom he had sex with as a teenager to the prom.  Howard becomes incredibly bothered by Stuart “humping his way up the family tree” and has to be pulled off of Stuart while inside of the limo.  But the moment, and perhaps one of the most beautiful moments the typically light show had, was with Sheldon’s trouble living up to the prom night expectations.

Parsons has always given the perfect blend of quirky, annoying, and intelligent in his portrayal of Sheldon.  But rarely has he ever had to humanize Sheldon.  Sheldon has always been like an alien sent down from Mars to assimilate with the humans while gaining knowledge of their race.  In ‘The Prom Equivalency’, he had all of his usual traits, but the human part shined the brightest.

With prom coming quickly, Sheldon is made aware of all the extracurriculars that occur on prom night from Penny and Leonard (Johnny Galecki).  At first he recognizes that at some point copulation will occur, but when the event finally does come about, Sheldon panics and locks himself in his room, leaving Amy alone on prom night once again.  She finally decides to go join their friends, which lures Sheldon out from the safety of his room.

He recognizes the beauty of Amy and she lets him know that there are no expectations for him to spend the night with her.  It’s a sweet moment between the two of them, but in Amy’s consoling moment, she is about to say something big, but is interrupted by Sheldon with the three words you never thought you’d hear him say: I love you.  It was the most genuine and Sheldon way of expressing his feelings for Amy.  He at first thought he had something wrong with his brain, but later realized it was love that he was feeling.  The two couldn’t be a more perfect pair, and Sheldon has clearly been changed by how well Amy has treated him.

In shows of mostly jokes and pranks, it can be surprising to see touching moments like these.  Sometimes it can come off as forced or disingenuous, but here it just felt right and perfectly timed.  While others were fighting or having their own moments the two biggest nerds of the group managed to have the perfect prom night.

American Horror Story: Pink Cupcakes and Dark New Foes

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When one killer goes down in American Horror Story, new ones always come to take their place.  The next one more sinister than the last.

Last week’s “Edward Mordrake: Part 2” saw the demise of the terrifying Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), while somehow managing to humanize the simpleton serial killer.  He was angry at the world, angry at the freaks and what they’d done to him, the kind, child-loving clown.  He was turned into what he became when the other carnies tarnished his reputation and forced him into seclusion in the deep woods.  Judging from last night’s episode, “Pink Cupcakes”, the next two murderers on the playbill, have no humanity, and won’t consider saving anyone.

Twisty may have turned his soul over to Mordrake, but his soul lives on in Dandy (Finn Wittrock), the ultimate spoiled mother’s boy.  After happily slicing the neck of his tough maid, Dora (Patti Labelle), he has finally discovered his outlet.  He looks to carry on the legacy of his predecessor, while also adding his own personal touch.  He may need Twisty’s mask to become the darker version of himself, but behind that mask is a person much more terrifying than Twisty ever was.  Not yet, but after a few more notches on his belt, all of that clumsiness will be gone and Dandy will be the real horror story.

Along with Dandy’s leap in to the serial killer’s circle, is Stanley (Denis O’Hare), a procurer of bodily oddities, who then sells them to a museum of such.  But as with all greedy men looking to succeed, he won’t just stand around and wait for his cash to come to him.  He has taken it into his own hands to see to it that these freaks don’t last long and end up enclosed in glass for all to see.  Hidden under the false persona of a well-to-do man in Hollywood, he has gained access to the crew, along with his partner in crime, the faux-fortune teller, Maggie Esmerelda (Emma Roberts).  The foretold death of conjoined twins Bette And Dot (Sarah Paulson) may have only been in his mind, but their disappearance certainly came at his hands.  The promise of fame has always been Elsa Mars’ (Jessica Lange) weak spot, and she would not let herself be outshined the two or one of them.  Thus prompting her to deliver the girls to Dandy’s mother, Gloria (Frances Conroy), for what should be a harsh experience.

That and there is the less murdersome, but still just as frightening, Dell (Michael Chiklis), the freak show’s strong man.  He takes this title to heart, but does not truly represent it.  He is strongest on the stage, pretending to be who he’s not, a man’s man.  All of his strong man persona comes falling down when he reveals himself as gay man, he is afraid to let himself be vulnerable, or seen as weak in any way.  “He can take the pain” he says to prostitute Andy (Matt Bomer, poor, beautiful, Matt Bomer) about what he puts his body through for his job, but not the pain of letting himself be who he is.  The way he channels that pain is with his extreme fits of rage that can strike anyone with severe punishment.  When Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett), the hermaphrodite discovers she is all woman, and can get her enlarged “lady part” downsized, he breaks the hands of the doctor willing to do the surgery.

From the show’s title, it was apparent that there would be some troubled characters lurking around Jupiter, and every other character should be on watch.  In only the fifth episode of the thirteen episode series, the terror has only just begun, and will continue to get worse.

While this is just the fifth episode, many of the countless characters have gotten lost in the mix of creator, Ryan Murphy’s convoluted storylines.  The show introduces so many new plots at a time, that there are whole episodes where characters might as well go missing (remember that candy striper gal?).  And that is not so much a critique, as it is understood at this point in the series’ fourth season.  But at times it can be hard to follow and can become difficult to fall in love with and enjoy characters like viewers were able to do in the first season.  Because of the fact that each season is a standalone one, sometimes development of characters has to get pushed to the wayside and all the great ideas need to be fleshed out.  But if they were to be lessened a bit, it would make it easier to identify with the characters and follow the all the intriguing plots.

In all of the story, the show has lost a bit of its horror, with far less shocking moments.  Yes, there’s terror, how could you not be afraid of Twisty, or all the other slew of miscreants, but the anticipation and the buildup has become a bit lost.  The show is still enjoyable as always, and somehow Evan Peters continues to be remarkably charming in whatever form he’s given.  But nearly halfway into the season, there are no signs of slowing down.  Death is around every corner and all that pursue it will likely find it.

All is well for now, for the freaks who have now become the town heroes, but as Esmeralda told Jimmy (Evan Peters) “There’s a shadow here, a shadow of a man, he’s coming soon”.  Except there’s far more than one man for him and everyone else to be afraid of.  But she is right about one thing: they’re coming soon.

The Oklahoma City Thunder: Falling Stars

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Only a night after what looked like would be a long run of offensive terrorism by Russell Westbrook on all the other league’s point guards, he exited the court Thursday night against the Clippers with a broken hand after a mere nine minutes of play.  This puts the Thunder in a precarious position without its two young stars.  Before Westbrook went down, the state of the Thunder season still had some optimism.  Now, without their second star, the span of this next month or so will mark the lowest point in the past few years for the typical title contenders.

Despite the loss Wednesday night against the Blazers, Westbrook stole the show.  He was not only a monster on offense, but on defense.  Westbrook is one of the most electric defenders in the game, but Wednesday night, he managed to keep Damian Lillard scoreless, while still contributing 26 points of his own.  It was exactly what all Thunder fans had imagined when Durant went down.  Just not the loss.  Westbrook is a more than capable star, and they new the team would struggle, but Westbrook did nearly everything he could do outside of petitioning to get Tim Gonaghy to ref all their games, and it still wasn’t enough.  Whether or not Westbrook would’ve been able to use his remarkable talents to keep the Thunder afloat is out of the question as he rehabs his broken hand for the 4-6 week timetable.

The fate of the Thunder season now rests on the shoulders of Serge Ibaka and a band of youngsters.  A season isn’t usually dictated by a month’s progress (just look at the Nets last season), but in the stacked West, if they don’t manage to pull off at least ten wins in what could be a 25 game or more absence, this November may dictate the rest of the year.

If the team does manage ten wins in their star’s absence, they would only have to keep up the winning percentage they managed last season.  But coming off of injuries, the rust may need time to wear off and what sounds like a month-long disaster could turn into a couple months of struggling.  That is certainly not a time period they could withstand in the West.  Until the two All-Stars do return, this Thunder team will have to do everything it can to manage the unbelievable amount of bad luck that they’ve been dealt.

Everything they can just might not be enough, though.  The Thunder’s main offensive weapons during this period are Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson, two players who’ve only been used as supplementary offense to it’s stars.  Outside of them, the Thunder will be searching high and wide for an extra offensive threat in their roster that has already been cut so short.  Offseason pickup, Anthony Morrow went down Thursday in practice with an MCL sprain and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks as well.  And any hope in the young Jeremy Lamb has dwindled as he has yet to log any minutes this season with a lower back sprain.  All that and their new, promising rookie forward, Mitch McGary also suffered a fractured foot and should miss around three more weeks before he makes his debut.

It’s all bad news in Oklahoma City right now, who had a contender at the beginning of the season now look like a lottery team.  A team with no All-Stars, and no depth.  Staying afloat looks much more difficult after tonight’s hard-to-watch 31-point blowout to the Nets, especially with them heading into a tough Toronto tomorrow on a back-to-back.

Despite the discouraging stretch the team will be facing, Oklahoma City will most certainly bounce back from this odd series of maladies.  They have an outstanding group of fans that will continue to stand by them, and you can expect the players to fight hard until the end of each game in order to soften the blow until their stars to return.  They don’t want to force their teammates to return earlier than necessary, and KD has already stated that he plans on taking his time with rehab.

Due to the experience of this team understanding how to win and what it takes to win, they will be able to put in a few surprise wins here and there, but just about every game will be a battle for them.  Their youth will be tasked with developing faster than expected, and already Perry Jones III has taken his cue to come in and prove himself.  A relative benchwarmer in his first two seasons, Jones has been outstanding in the past three games.  The rest of the team will have to follow his lead and find ways to elevate their game and help the team from tumbling into turmoil.

If this depleted roster can salvage anywhere near a .500 record during this stretch, it will be viewed as a success.  And if the role players develop quickly, when the stars do finally return, the Thunder could end up stronger after its long list of injuries.  But it’s all up in the air as the Thunder look to recover from their misfortunes and turn their season around.

Check out my previous article on what I thought the Durant injury meant for Westbrook at the time

The State of The Lakers After Randle’s Season Ending Injury

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In the home-opener against the Rockets, the Lakers suffered not one, but two brutal losses.  With 6:59 to go in the fourth quarter, 19-year-old rookie Julius Randle went down after a collision at the basket and did not get back up.  He suffered a broken tibia in the incident, and after today’s sugery, the Lakers have all but ruled him out for the season.

Randle is now the second Laker to be out for the season after Steve Nash was made ineligible due to nerve issues, thus marking another season of bad luck for the team.  Since the Lakers picked up Nash and Dwight Howard in 2012, their entire roster has been plagued with injury issues, and the team is still waiting for Nick Young to come back from a thumb surgery he sustained in the preseason while guarding Kobe.  In what was already expected to be a poor season, the Lakers fans just lost any shred of optimism they had for the year.

If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs, as is expected, it will mark the first time in club history that they have not made it to the postseason in back-to-back seasons.  But they had already planned for that, they had not planned to lose their best young player.  The Lakers will always have some intrigue with Kobe coming back from injury, but losing Randle seriously hampers any joy they might’ve gotten out of the season.

This season, the Lakers might manage to have both the worst defense and the worst offense in the league.  If last night was any showing, the rest of the league is going to have a field day whenever they come to town.  Their coach, Byron Scott, seems to have forgotten that three is worth more than two, and Kobe is once again, in now his 19th season, going to have to shoulder the load offensively.  Los Angeles has a few decent offensive players on their squad, but the offensive schemes laid out, don’t look to be effective.  While they do have some options on the offensive side of the floor, the Lakers might as well have just let the other team go right to the basket, rather than waste any effort in attempting to stop the inevitable.

The 2014-2015 campaign for the Lakers just took a serious blow, and the only things to look forward to is Kobe moving up on the all-time scoring list ahead of Jordan and keeping their pick next year.  Kobe looks ready to stay on the court for longer than six games this season, and promises to give some great soundbites as the season trudges forward.  This Lakers squad could end up having the greatest unintentional tanking season ever.  They aren’t trying to be bad, it just keeps getting worse for the second most winningest franchise in the NBA.

The Lakers only hope to save themselves is to make sure they don’t lose their pick to Phoenix.  The pick is top-five protected, and judging by how the Lakers offseason went, the draft might be their best chance at rebuilding.  No one in the league wants to see Kobe go out a loser; he’s one of the greatest winners the game has ever seen, and the franchise owes it to him to put some real talent around him.

Watching any player get injured is difficult, but when that player is just a kid, it’s so much more difficult.  Fans want their players’ primes to last as long as possible, and when the first year is already taken by injury, that becomes devastating for not only that team’s fans, but for the entire league.

Randle will have a tough road ahead of him in his recovery, but he has a great group around him that will get him through this and help him come back better.  Other stars have had their rookie seasons derailed by injury, and have come back to take the league by storm (Jordan, Worthy).  He may not be a Hall of Famer like those two, but he has the ability to be a star in this league.  In what little time he’s spent with him, Kobe has already shown Randle who he wants to be.  If Randle can have anywhere near Kobe’s drive, this injury won’t keep him down long.  When he does finally return, this moment should prove to be a defining one in the young rookie’s career.  How he returns will decide how great he can become.

Kawhi’s Contract

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The deadline for the Spurs to come to an agreement with their reigning Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, is October 31st on midnight, and things don’t look good for either sides.  The Spurs have long been known as a team that can get their stars to take less money for the good of the team, but Leonard might look to end that streak.  And he has every reason to hold out for the max deal.  Kawhi Leonard is a budding star, who’s recharged play after game two of last year’s Finals was the key to the Spurs stomping on the Heat’s dream of three-peating.

If the Spurs and Leonard camps don’t come to an agreement, Leonard will become a restricted free agent over the summer.  If that happens, Kawhi would be able to sign an offer sheet with another team looking to push up the price and steal him from the Spurs.  The rest of the league must we jumping at the bit for a chance to take a small chip out of the ultra high level of security the Spurs have created for themselves.

San Antonio can match whatever offer sheet that a team would hypothetically offer, but the way this organization has been so well handled over the years, it seems impossible that they would let it get to that point.  Kawhi fits perfectly in their organization, he’s quiet, focused, and doesn’t ever get into trouble.  He wants to succeed, and wants to see the team succeed with him.  You can’t doubt that he’s a team player, but sometimes you do have to look out for yourself.  He knows how little this all can last, so when he gets the chance, he should take it.

While he is thinking about his contract, nearly all of Kawhi’s attention is always on basketball and getting better.  Even during the offseason, he was reported to workout three times a day.  When it was his turn to spend time with the Larry O’Brien trophy this summer, he was too busy working out to do anything special with it.  He’s a silent assassin that just wants to hone his skills, stay out of the limelight, and make himself a franchise player.  He also wants to get paid like a franchise player by the franchise he has embraced so much in his first three years as a professional.

Adrian Wojnarowski said in his recent article that multiple executives believe Leonard will be offered the max this summer if they can’t make a deal before the deadline.  But you don’t need to ask league executives to know that.  He’s a Finals MVP, 23 years old, and is only getting better.  If that doesn’t sound like someone who deserves the max, I don’t know what does.

Leonard has never expressed, well anything, but he has certainly never expressed the possibility of leaving San Antonio.  He is from Los Angeles, but being in San Antonio, around Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, he’s seen firsthand what a dynasty is and the incredible legacies these men have created together.  That’s something he and every player would want to emulate.  Kawhi doesn’t really fit the mold of an LA player, he was made for San Antonio.  The Spurs understand what they have in him, and he recognizes what he has in this great organization.  It’s just a matter of hashing out the details that will make both sides happy.  The Spurs only have a little bit of time left with Tim Duncan as their star and leader, and know that Leonard can be the next player to carry the torch once Duncan decides his time is up.

If the Spurs don’t want to see their plans to stay competitive until the end of the time, they need to work out the details of the contract fast.  Both sides want to keep winning, and neither of them wants to see this high-functioning team be derailed by ongoing negotiations.  The Spurs along with everyone else that follows basketball knows that Kawhi is worth the max, and while offering him the max could keep them from some future pieces that they need, right now they have the exact roster they had when they dominated the Heat in the Finals.  And there are worse things than overspending if you get to keep all the guys on that roster happy and willing to buy into an organization that has their backs.

When they do finally give him the max for either four or five years, that won’t look as bad when the new television deal kicks in and the cap goes up.  That and Duncan and Ginobili are in the last year of their contracts, and there’s a good chance at least one of them will retire, further shedding some space to sign free agents that fit around their new wave of players.

They’d still have Tony Parker, who just inked a reasonable three-year, $43.3 million dollar, and Patty Mills and Danny Green are bound to get raises with their heightened play.  Especially after Danny Green’s first game this season, he’s already looking like he could get a decent payday from any number of teams.  But being the Spurs, they’ve probably already planned for that.  They just need to get this contract settled first.

There is always a risk in offering a max contract, a risk that the smart Spurs organization hasn’t had to deal with lately.  But it’s less of a risk than losing a soon-to-be All-Star, and the leader of their next generation.

The Affair: Altered Pasts and Mysterious Futures

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There are simple moments in every story that can be meaningless or mean everything. In Showtime’s ‘The Affair’, the series carefully plots out what has led to the affair between its main characters, Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson).  The first two episodes have provided its viewers with two separate, but similar stories that converge to create a collection of these fragmented moments that could piece together a murder.

Long before most adults are waking up to go to work, Noah is awake, mindlessly swimming lengths of a community pool all on his own.  An assumed habit of his, that rarely changes except for on the day he and his family of four begin their summer long vacation to Montauk.  While laboring through laps, he’s distracted by a younger woman obviously interested in him from the start.  He doesn’t make much of it and even denies her flirtations.  It’s small, but important, you can tell it gets him thinking.  Not about sleeping with the woman, but that he’s still attractive to someone other than his wife.  But Noah loves his wife, and is deeply devoted to her and their kids.  He’s still attracted to his wife, Helen (Maura Tierney), and they have a fairly regular sexual life when they aren’t being interrupted by their children.  By all accounts Noah is happy, he wrote a book that did well enough to secure an advance for a second, and his family resides in a brownstone.  Dysfunctional as any other family, the Solloway’s are a typical middle class family, that will soon be feeling the joy that all families do when they receive a respite from life’s monotony.

As they venture into Montauk to stop for lunch at a local diner, that’s where the stories of Noah and Alison start to converge.  The way Noah recounts it, he saves his youngest daughter, Stacey (Leya Catlett) from choking to death on a marble, while being waited on by a shocked Alison.  He then consoles her, and introduces himself, knowing that he made a memorable impression on her.  But as the saying goes, there are two sides to every story.  Alison remembers Noah fumbling to help his daughter and incorrectly hanging her upside down to shake loose the marble.  But that’s where it all begins for these two who come together at both the right and wrong time for each other.

Co-creators Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi tease out the details masterfully in this hour-long drama, by separating the show into two parts, one for Noah’s side and the other for Alison.  The stories are retold for part of a murder investigation, while each is questioned separately by a detective about the death that occurred on the night they first kissed.  The investigation method with its flashbacks plays similarly to HBO’s True Detective, but with a much different tone.  Right now, it’s not about the murder case, it’s about them.

The Affair does not care to let viewers in on how much time has passed between them meeting and the investigation.  Nor does it care to disclose the identity of whom has been presumably murdered.  The creators are in complete control of this intriguing narrative and are dictating the pace at which its fans will learn.  Done in a way that isn’t bothersome.  They offer the details slowly, not confusing the viewer with fast details or confusing diatribes.  All that is certain is that we will be seeing two sides of the story that will leave us siding with a supposed seductress or an allegedly lonely middle-aged man.

In between getting to know someone, details become skewed, not purposely, but because what we were thinking or hoping or if we were having a bad day or a good day.  All those thoughts can drastically change how an event is viewed.  Whether you spotted someone on the beach or they spotted you or who was the first one to make a move on the other.  Anyone who has been in a relationship can attest to this.  The difference is whether or not one of these two is lying to cover up for a murder rather than just having a distorted memory.

Both these characters came into each other’s lives when they needed something.  Maybe not each other, just something new, something that could distract them from their normal lives.  Something has most certainly happened, and The Affair will continue to divulge the specifics in an incredibly calculated manner.   The delivery of each piece of information lets out just enough each episode to sustain suspicions before the identity of the deceased is finally known.

Every second of this series demands your attention with its superior construction and remarkable actors.  There is no option to look away as the truth is unfolded and what starts as an innocent affair becomes a guilty coverup with two sides and only one answer.