Hump Day Hot Takes: The NBA, NHL are Rigged

This should go over smoothly…

First thing’s first, let me introduce myself. I’m Tim – good friends with this site’s fearless leader and creator since college. Like Brendan, I used to work in sports journalism, but have since taken on a new role. But, that doesn’t mean I have completely left the sports world. At my last job I was never afraid to rip off some hot takes on different topics. That’s what I’m going to do here, along with other things, but I’m sure Murray will have his two cents to throw in. Anyways, enough of this. Let the fire flames begin. 

So this is going to become a weekly thing around here. Each week, I’ll collect a handful of stories from around the sporting world, and dive a little deeper into it. CAUTION: Hot takes ahead. While you’re sitting in your cube on this hump day, wishing for the weekend or reminiscing the beer you funneled from this past Saturday, here’s some scorching takes that will help you get through the work day.


1. Sidney Crosby winning the Conn Smythe was a joke

If there was a thought bubble popping out of his head, Sid the Kid would be thinking, “Shit, I got lucky winning this one.” Here’s a comparison of stat lines that should tell you all you need to know about the selection of the PLAYOFF MVP.

10 goals, 12 assists, 22 points, +5 vs. 6 goals, 13 assists, 19 points, -2

And in the Stanley Cup Final, you know, when the games matter most:

1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, +1 vs. 0 goals, 4 assists, 4 points, Even

Crosby not only didn’t lead his team in points, he didn’t score a goal in the Final. He’s the second person listed in both of those stat lines. I’ll concede that he did so much on the ice in each game that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet. But still, you need to find the back of the net in the biggest series of the season to lug home the hardware.

So, who should have won the Conn Smythe? phil-kessel-hot-dog-e1465818672932

This guy. Phil Kessel. Phil fucking Kessel. Phil hot dog loving Kessel. If you listened to the third podcast on this site, you’ll know that as a Bruins fan I loathe him. But, he was the best player for the Penguins throughout the playoffs. He led the team in scoring, and was a legitimate threat to score, or set someone up for a goal on every shift. That’s why this guy, he of the fat face, should have been the playoff MVP.

For the NHL, having its golden boy and most recognizable face win the playoff MVP makes a lot of sense. It’s almost like the voting was rigged to make sure that Crosby took home the hardware. Speaking of rigged…

Editor’s note: Tim, please return to your lane. Everyone knows I drive the Phil Kessel Express around these parts.

2. The NBA Finals are rigged

Disregard the take from that tweet – I just wanted a good shot of that “cheap shot.” Sure, Draymond Green is a scumbag. He’s also got a knack for swinging for guys balls in this playoff run. But, this play? Not deserving of a suspension. His kick to the balls on Steven Adams in the Western Conference Finals was much more egregious, and he definitely could have been suspended for that play. But, Steven Adams isn’t Lebron James.

That’s the point here. Any other player in the league, that’s a technical and nothing else. But because Lebron made it so perfectly clear that he doesn’t like being called a bitch, and that he felt Green should be suspended, Adam Silver (David Stern 2.0) bowed down to his superstar and gave the league what it wanted most – more games in the Finals.

And this brings me to my larger point: the NBA is rigged. Here’s a crazy stat. Since 2010, five of the seven NBA Finals have gone past five games. The only two that didn’t featured inferior teams against superstar-laden juggernauts. The Thunder lost to the Dwyane Wade-led (not Lebron) Heat 4-1 in 2012, and the Spurs disposed of a Heat team by the same margin in 2014. In this seven-year run of Finals, the NBA has done pretty well at pushing a series to a game six or seven. More games means better TV ratings and more advertising dollars. That’s obvious. And, since the Cavs have basically no shot at beating Golden State unless they either shoot historically well or have the probable series MVP suspended, the NBA stepped in and took care of that.

Even former NBA official Tim Donaghy, who was part of a game-fixing scandal in the league, thought that the suspension was a little fishy. I agree. It’s not quite the frozen envelope or Michael Jordan betting suspension/retirement conspiracy theory, but it’s damn close.


3. USA Soccer – let’s not fuck this up

Maybe you’ve been sleeping under a rock. Or maybe you’ve been watching the Euro 2016 tournament (it’s awesome if you aren’t). But, the United States is hosting the Copa America Centenario. It’s pretty much the biggest soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere. North American teams aren’t always in the mix, but for the 100th anniversary, they are. And, the US is hosting.

The Americans lost their first game to Colombia but still managed to win Group A and advance to the knockout round as the group winner thanks to goal differential. Brazil is already out of the tournament, which got their manager canned, and the US will play Ecuador in the quarterfinals on June 16.

Here’s the deal – the USA can’t lose to Ecuador, at home, in the quarterfinals of this tournament. Every four years, we hear that soccer is coming, and that this World Cup will be the turning point for futbol in this country. And every year, the US has a disappointment on the international stage. Losing on home soil against a country of 15 million people (the US has 318 million, for reference) is inexcusable. And if the US gets to the semifinals, losing to anybody not named Argentina would be a failure. USA Soccer is pumping millions of dollars into this program and this tournament. Not getting to at least the semifinals, and probably the final, would hurt the growth and exposure of the sport moving forward.


4. The NFL in London is a really dumb idea

I know this subject has died down a little bit since the Rams moved to Los Angeles, but expansion in the NFL won’t go away. The sexiest location for the next franchise? London. Not Ontario, but England.

From the East coast, it’s a six-hour flight. Add in the time difference, and teams are looking at a logistical nightmare for one game a year. Or, if you’re the London team (hopefully the Sillynannies, thank you Family Guy) you’re schedule is going to be a travel-related disaster. Imagine a four-game road trip, and then do it again. Or be the team from the AFC or NFC West that has to trek out there once every couple years. No thanks.

Oh, and add in the currency exchange with the British Pound, a market that watches a different type of football, a country that barely plays the sport, and a television deal that will have to compete with the Premier League every week, and it’s an economic disaster waiting to happen. But, if we’ve seen anything about the NFL, it’s that the owners will do anything to make a buck. Adding a $1 billion expansion fee is free money, but it will fail in the long run.

As for other cities to consider for expansion (in no particular order): Toronto, Portland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas

Speaking of Sin City


5. Another NHL team in a non-traditional market? What can possibly go wrong

As first reported by the AP, the NHL is going to add a 31st team in Las Vegas starting in 2017-2018. The Vegas team (this name is going to be so cheesy I’ll be forced to love it) will play in the Pacific Division, and help get the league closer to evening out the conferences. My best guess is that the NHL will add another team around 2020 to round it out to 32, with each conference consisting of 16 teams to even out the playoff structure. But before we get there, the idea of a team in Vegas is a disaster waiting to happen.

Let’s take a look at the NHL attendance numbers from last year.

30th: Carolina, 12,203 per game; 65.3 percent capacity
29th: Arizona, 13,433 per game; 78.4 percent capacity
24th: Florida, 15,384 per game, 90.3 percent capacity
23rd: Anaheim, 16,336 per game, 95.1 percent capacity
22nd: San Jose, 16,746 per game, 95.4 percent capacity

Notice a trend? Five teams added in the last 20 years, all ranking in the bottom third of attendance. Florida, Anaheim and San Jose made the playoffs, while the other two weren’t even close. The Atlanta Thrashers needed the great city of Winnipeg to bail out that failed franchise. The Panthers, Hurricanes and Coyotes are in dire need of help in markets that frankly don’t give a shit about hockey.

So, the idea of $500 million divvied up among the 30 hours for doing nothing, and the NHLPA adding 25 more jobs sounds great in theory. But, what happens when this team fails? Will the NHL bail them out like the Coyotes in the mid 2000s? Or will they pack up and move somewhere like Quebec City, Seattle, Portland, Hamilton or Milwaukee?

Las Vegas is a city built on tourism, and a metropolitan area of 2.2 million people has plenty of possible fans, but in the winter are citizens really going to pack their new arena for a midweek Vegas-Nashville contest? No, they won’t. Unless this team wins early and often, this will be another failure of the NHL in a market not in need of hockey.

Editor’s note: Shut up Tim, I want to go to an Islander game in Vegas. Which is exactly why their attendance may not be so bad, after all (at least for the first few years.)


6. Will this fantasy merger mean that we can finally have access to it everywhere? 

Hopefully the answer to this question is a simple yes. FanDuel and DraftKings are closing in on a merger that would create a daily fantasy sports monster. You can’t escape the ads on TV, billboards, or anywhere for that matter. Everybody plays them, and billions of dollars are poured into this industry.

So now, if this goes through, everybody who wants to play (over the age of 18) should have access to it everywhere around the country. The fact that in 2016 an adult can’t drink a beer or play fantasy sports at 18 is outrageous. Who cares if I want to piss away $20 a night on some mid-summer baseball. It’s my money, let me do as I damn please. Let the government get their cut and move on. It’s really such a simple thing that should be commonplace in today’s society. Now let’s see it happen.

7. Time for the inaugural Camel of the Week!

Editor’s note: Hey there, me again. I’ll be crashing this column every week to give you our Camel of the Week, inspired by the famous camel from those annoying Geico ads. Everyone knows that camel was an annoying fool, so we’ll honor his legacy by presenting the Camel of the Week award (and accompanying shitty photoshop) to the biggest fool, annoyance or otherwise distasteful person of the week.

Who to select for the first edition? It’s a big deal when presenting the first iteration of a (remarkably stupid) award. Whoever wins this really sets the tone for the rest of the winners going forward. So who to pick?

I needed a fool. Where else to turn but one Mr. Gary Bruce Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey league.

There is no doubting this man’s fool credentials. There’s probably no better example than the annual shower of boos the Comish receives during each year’s Stanley Cup award presentation ceremony. Sure, the jeers are a bit more emphatic when, like last night, the home fans have to watch their opponents celebrate. But even when he’s in front of some winning fans, he gets a good round of Bronx cheers.

So here’s to you, Gary.’s first ever “Camel of the Week.”

bettman camel.jpeg


That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next Wednesday for some more flaming hot takes. Follow me on Twitter @culvey13 for more, or to tell me I’m a moron. Either way, have at it.


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