FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO – Oct. 9, 2018. Today marks a monumental leap in cinematic history. After a weekend of careful deliberation, prayer, and reflection, I have decided that Bradley Cooper is a better actor than Matt Damon. The question of “Are we sure Bradley Cooper isn’t better than Matt Damon?” in an extremely Bill Simmons voice originated while I was driving home after a Thursday night viewing of A Star is Born with Mrs. Kenyon. Originally, the ranking of best male actors in Hollywood was lead by Mr. Damon, with Mr. Cooper climbing his way up the AP polls. After nailing the perfect triple threat performance of actor, singer, and director in A Star is Born, Mr. Cooper has triumphantly knocked Matt Damon off the mountaintop. The sudden shift in power has left me hopeful for this bright future, but undoubtedly depleted. I ask the media to respect my privacy at this time of rest and recovery. All further questions can be referred to my attorney or spokesperson, Mrs. Kenyon.
Wow. What a day. There are a special days on #NBATwitter every basketball fan will always remember. The great DeAndre Jordan emoji battle of 2014, the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cavs blowing up their team at the 2018 trade deadline, and the annual Dwight Howard has a new team day that comes around every late June.
If you're not familiar with #NBATwitter, it's quite possibly the most insane phenomenon of the internet age. No other sport has this sort of fan engagement. To participate in #NBATwitter, you have to follow two people - ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski (Woj) and The Athletic's Shams Charania. They're the overlords of this weird little Twitterverse. When these two report break NBA news, Twitter essentially erupts with GIFS, memes, and photoshops. The NBA is the most dramatic league in the world, and #NBATwitter perfectly balances the theatrics with unparalleled humor.
Today, #NBATwitter was something special. What should have been a week celebrating major milestones, Dwyane Wade announcing his final season and Elton Brand accepting the 76ers GM position, the focus is now on three separate events all colliding simultaneously. As an #NBATwitter addict, I'm here to break down the events of the day for you.
12:46 p.m. - Jimmy Butler requests a trade from Minnesota Timberwolves
Let's cook! The first news drop of the day was arguably the juiciest. After only one year in Minnesota, it was reported Jimmy Butler requested a trade to one of three teams - the Clippers, Knicks, or Nets. The announcement wasn't a huge surprise as rumors swirled all summer of his unhappiness with the Timberwolves organization. It was also reported Thibs was flying to LA this morning to meet with Jimmy and sort out this mess. I think most people figured Jimmy would stick it out one more year and then test free agency in 2019.
He demanded a trade. When a guy's PR team tells one of the two pillars of #NBATwitter that their client wants out right now, that means they're not fucking around. Within a few minutes of telling Shams, every team in the NBA knew Jimmy was suddenly available, thus crashing his trade market value for the Timberwolves. Now Minnesota has no choice but to move him for pennies on the dollar.
The silver lining for Minnesota is the franchise belongs to Karl-Anthony Towns once again. He's one of the brightest young stars in the league and doesn't have to share the leadership role with Jimmy anymore. The downside is, they traded two young assets and my sweet, beautiful, baby boy Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls for a one year rental. WHOOPS!
1:25 p.m. - Mark Cuban donates $10 million to promote women in leadership roles
Back in February of this year, Sports Illustrated released a report on the misogynistic and toxic culture of the Dallas Mavericks organization. Calling it "A Real-life Animal House," the story reported on dozens of current and ex-employees accounts of sexual harassment and domestic violence within the Mav's workplace. After the article came out, a law firm was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the organization. The result was a 43-page report that was released today. It stated investigators found that such harassment was allowed because of a company-wide culture of misconduct. The report concluded with recommendations the Mavs hire more women for leadership and supervisory positions. Mav's owner Mark Cuban has committed $10 million to numerous organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence.
Obviously this is a serious issue and shouldn't receive the typical funny #NBATwitter replies. This story deserves honest reflection and discussion of how to prevent systemic misogynistic culture from developing in any organization. The timing of the report's release was what added to this day's insanity. What should have been the top story of the day was overshadowed by the Jimmy Butler news dropping 39 minutes earlier.
2:04 p.m. - Space Jam 2 is officially announced
Of course! Why not on a day with two major NBA storylines pumping through the veins of #NBATwitter, the most anticipated cartoon/live-action mashup sequel of all-time is announced?! It's been 22 years since the original came out. It couldn't have waited for a day when nothing else was going on?
I feel like the first whispers of LeBron starring in Space Jam 2 began when he took his talents to South Beach. Then speculation got even hotter when he surprised a lot of people with his above average performance in Train Wreck. Finally, the move to the Lakers this summer flared up rumors of wanting to settle in Hollywood for a career in acting after basketball. LeBron confirmed the locker room graphic on Instagram later today. It's really happening, folks.
#NBATwitter shifted from trade scenarios, to commentary Cuban's donation, to predictions of the new Monstars lineup in an hour and a half. I've never seen #NBATwitter move that fast in this short of a timeframe. Unreal. This is why the NBA offseason reigns supreme. No other sport can demand this much attention between seasons. What will happen tomorrow with #NBATwitter? I'm not sure, but something delicious I bet. Can't wait to find out.
Here's my official Space Jam 2 Monstars lineup prediction:
Elena Della Donne
When was the last time you looked up? Focusing on the stars and thinking about your place within the cosmic network? There's a good chance it's been a minute. Maybe you never have. It's easy to let the stress of our lives pull our heads down.
A year ago I tried something new. I signed up for Sun Salutations Yoga at Adler Planetarium. The one hour class offered every first Saturday is a rare opportunity to practice yoga beneath the domed Grainger Sky Theater with flowing celestial objects projected above.
I've said it before – I'm terrible at yoga. I never know what I'm doing, I have the physical flexibility of a dead animal, and I'm too cynical to believe anything about chakras. But I keep going back to my mat.
Yoga is all about connection. It bridges your physical and spiritual side through movement and focused breathing. Or something like that. I'm still figuring it out. But what I do know is that showing up on your mat and connecting with something larger than ourselves is what it's all about.
Sun Salutations is an opportunity to let go of your stress and focus your attention on the natural beauty of the cosmos. Along the way, with your breathing and movement, you begin to understand your place in the universe. You feel the atoms that make your physical form and how they came from the dust of a star that died a long time ago.
The collapse of a star gave us the iron in our blood.
One tumultuous event can create new opportunities.
There's no substitution for actually going outside and looking up at the stars, but Sun Salutations is the next best thing available. If you can escape the city for a bit, I encourage you to take a moment and look up. It's easy to feel insignificant, but if you focus long enough, you'll feel you're part of the universe. The hydrogen that fuels our sun is the same hydrogen flowing through your veins. You belong and you matter.
There’s a line in Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry that zips around my head when I’m endlessly scrolling through my phone.
“I guess I won’t write poetry. I’ll just stare at my phone for fucking eternity.”
I check my phone constantly. Stopped at street lights, shopping at the grocery store, even when I’m downloading an Excel file. No small amount of time is free from staring at my screen.
I live alone, which means some days are quieter than others. I may not talk to another human being for a few days at a time. That’s when I crave interaction and fully lean in to my phone. It’s my source for communicating, meeting women, my income, and a million other things both important and inconsequential. I live inside my little iPhone 7. I bury myself in its glow instead of accepting how lonely this existence really is.
I’m addicted to my phone.
It’s my drug, igniting my frontal lobe with every notification. Collecting retweets. Swiping to meet my next great love. Strategically posting my best looking photos. It’s my favorite rush and my unhealthiest habit. I need to stop all of this.
But what does that mean for you?
Chances are you’re reading this on your phone. Maybe you’re having a similar problem, or you just want to improve your phone/life balance. Here are the five things I’m doing to try and beat my phone addiction that you can easily do too.
There’s an arboretum in the town where I grew up. Usually on hungover Sundays, I’ll make the 45 minute drive back home to get lost in the woods. A walk through the trees is my panacea for too much indulgence. The deeper I go, the trees get denser, the temperature drops, and the crowds thin out. I keep going until I'm finally alone. Surrounded only by sweet and creepy silence.
That’s when I plug in my earbuds and listen to Spooked. Hiking alone under the cool shadows of towering giants, my skin shivers and my breath shakes. I walk a little faster and dart my eyes around my surroundings. Solitude causes stories of the supernatural to be especially reactive.
Spooked is the spinoff to the public radio show Snap Judgement. It's a weekly true-life podcast focusing on stories of the paranormal and unexplainable. In its second season, the return of Spooked marks the aptly numbered 13 week countdown to Halloween.
The episodes are short — around 30 minutes long. A few stories are a bit predictable and don’t quite deliver that craved rush from being scared.
But most of the stories are fun. They rattle me and energize my curiosity for what we can't see. Even days after listening to an episode, these stories seep back into my brain and ignite my fear. The latest episode to do this, "The Wraith," tells the story of a sinister message Teresa Moorleghen kept receiving from the other side.
I’m a huge skeptic of ghost stories. I think there’s usually a reasonable explanation involving someone trying to capitalize on faith in the afterlife. Google John Edward if you think I'm just being incredulous. My natural millennial cynicism tells me Spooked is just the product of excellent fiction writing.
But I'm starting to think differently. Maybe there's more truth found in this podcast then I originally believed. These stories aren't told to sell books or tap into the fear centers of religious folks. Spooked is built on the foundation of normal people telling their story of encountering something they can't explain.
Regardless of validity, Spooked is incredibly effective at doing what every good ghost story should do. It strengthens a believer's argument, and challenges the most hardline of skeptics.
If I angle my yoga mat just right, I can fully stretch out my 6'5" frame. Sometimes my ankle bashes into the coffee table, or my fingers get caught in dusty ceiling fan blades. But if I really focus on my surroundings, I have just enough space to work with my favorite yoga instructor, Adriene Mishler.
She's the host of the insanely popular YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene. The Austin based yoga instructor and actor uploads new videos regularly to an audience of 3 million subscribers. Her catchy tagline "Find What Feels Good" serves as both a celebration of self-love and the slogan for her growing brand.
Moving into a new home can serve as necessary growth. After a relationship ended in my last apartment’s living room, I needed a needed a new space without that memory hovering around. What I decided on was an apartment much smaller than what I had, but in a neighborhood bursting with energy.
But moving is expensive as shit. Move-in fees can crush the doe-eyed excitement of signing a new lease. To make back some of the money I lost moving, I canceled my gym membership and searched for an at home solution. That's how I found Yoga with Adriene.
When I queued up my first video, I turned off all the lights and closed my blackout curtains like a teenager discovering internet porn. My only source of light illuminated from the TV and the color changing oil diffuser that sits on my windowsill. If I was going to buy into this new routine, I wanted a yoga studio experience in my apartment. Side note - a little at-home-yoga-studio hack is if you don't have AC in your apartment like me then congratulations! You now have your very own hot yoga studio.
The first video I ever tried, and revisit frequently, was "Yoga for the Future." Adriene guides you through a challenging but completely approachable 30 minutes of stretching, strength training, and mindfulness.
Here’s my truth. I'm terrible at yoga. It’s super hard, and I have the flexibility of a stale piece of taffy. True story, I once got completely overheated in the first few minutes of a video. I ditched my shirt right as Adriene instructed us to rock back and forth along our spines. Being the smart person I am, I put all my sweaty momentum into that first roll, sliding head first off my mat and into a solid birch kitchen cart. Kill me.
But why do I, along with 3 million other people, keep coming back?
Adriene’s greatest skill as an instructor is her ability to connect with her audience. Free from judgement, she treats you as her own personal workout buddy. Mainly shot in her home, it’s just you, her, and sometimes Benji, the chill-vibes-only dog.
Other at-home instructional videos feel detached and unrelatable. They’re usually filmed on sets with background actors and garish industrial decor. Not with Adriene. Her authentic blend of lighthearted humor and lessons on self-love make every awkward moment on your mat totally worth it.
I started Yoga With Adriene to save money while keeping physical activity part of my daily routine. But what I never expected was how much these videos would change my perspective on what it means to practice self-love - to appreciate myself for showing up on my mat on a down day. This practice has replaced a lot of my toxic negative thinking with a strong internal confidence.
What does “Find What Feels Good” mean to me? It’s showing up on my green yoga mat in my little 400 sq ft apartment where I’m reminded the journey I’m on is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Thrice recently announced their tenth studio album, Palms, is coming out September 14. This is the second album from the quartet since their return from hiatus in 2016 with To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. Along with the announcement, Thrice released a music video for Palms' first single, "The Grey."
Thrice is a rare band. They're unmarked by a revolving cast and have held a loyal following throughout their career. The four bandmates (two of which are brothers) have been making music together since 1998. Ten albums in 20 years from the same core is undeniably remarkable.
I don't know what to expect from Palms, but what's fundamental to Thrice's success is their absence of lazy writing and stock composition. There isn't one Thrice song that disintegrates into a fade-out or is propped up on exhausted themes. Each album is intricate and demands repeated visits to fully appreciate. They represent one of the pillars of vinyl over streaming - older tech forces you to sit down and let an entire album wash over you.
Thrice has never been afraid to evolve. What they release in September will sound distant from the critically praised albums of the early aughts. But as a fan, that's exactly what I want. It could eventually shake out that Palms is one of their weaker albums, but I can tell you right now it won't be predictable.
Just for fun, here's my power ranking of Thrice albums:
Magic Johnson can keep his job. The Lakers president of basketball operations said he would step down if he didn't land a premier free agent either this summer or next. After a harrowing five days without job security, Magic got THE free agent.
LeBron James is signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The four-year deal is worth $154 million with an opt-out after the third season. The longest deal LeBron has signed since he took his talents to South Beach.
There's not much to say. The move was expected. The only real surprise is his announcement came less than 24 hours after the start of free agency. By comparison, LeBron waited more than a week after the official July 1 start date to release the Decision and the SI cover story.
Following the Decision 3.0, the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo. Not exactly the super team predicted to join LeBron, especially with Paul George staying in OKC. But it's a long off-season and the Lakers aren't done yet.
I'll have more to say once free agency cools down. Speculating on what happens next is useless since my next paragraph focused on DeMarcus Cousins probably signing in LA. Naturally Cousins just decided to sign a one-year, $5.3 million dollar deal with the Warriors five minutes after I started writing. Why? Because the NBA is chaos and I clearly can't predict anything right.
Until then, remember when Cousins tried to beat up Kevin Durant in the locker room last year? Incredible. I can't wait for the 2018-19 season to begin.
Vulnerability is challenging. It’s a rare event to become unguarded enough to broadcast our deepest flaws - occasionally in the company of a therapist, or in that first big test of a relationship. In Florence + the Machine's 4th studio album, High As Hope, Florence Welch sits you down to reveal her worst moments to you.
High As Hope shifts from the progression of her previous albums. Lungs was our introduction to Florence's bubbly ebbs and flows in the rapid-fire emotions of her early twenties. Ceremonials was the perfect sequel. It's her recognition of her path. She now understands life can be violent and suffocating, yet opportunities of love and happiness along the way balance out more arduous moments. How Big How Blue How Beautiful was the grandiose finale to her trilogy. Written in the wake of a breakup, the album is overproduced, and exists on a much larger scale than her previous work. While audibly magnificent, its slower tracks create jarring interruptions.
What initially makes High As Hope distinct is its tempered production. Stripped away is the magnificent orchestra of HBHBHB. What’s left are subtle hints of trumpets and kick drum undertones materializing sparingly throughout the album. The last track “No Choir” completely removes excess instrumentals unveiling total vulnerability.
Lyrically, Florence completed her boldest project yet. She's always been insightful in her lyrics. But High As Hope is much more than a peak into her mind. It’s the whole Florence experience. The good, the bad, and the struggles that challenge her public perception.
Florence opens up about her struggle with alcohol, her estranged relationship with her sister, and her darkest insecurities.
Such as this verse from “Big God." Florence slips into a mind-racing aggression after being ghosted. People never admit to not playing it cool after their crush doesn't text back. Florence does not. She wants this person to know exactly how she feels.
"You keep me up at night
To my messages, you do not reply
You know I still like you the most
The best of the best and the worst of the worst
Well, you can never know
The places that I go
I still like you the most
You'll always be my favourite ghost"
Depression is tricky. Some days you’re in a stable place. Other days a ghosting can drag your mental health into an inescapable Hell. This new cultural phenomenon has become standard practice and created an unhealthy expectation of accepting being treated poorly. Florence deserves enormous credit for her honesty about breaking down from something a lot of people are afraid to confess hurts them.
This is definitely her most ambitious album yet. Her previous installments are up for interpretation by design. They’re a combination of an outlet for her experiences and something audiences can figure out how they relate to. High as Hope is for the people that her actions have impacted the most. Maybe us as the audience can relate and maybe we can’t. That doesn’t matter. It’s an album that took a ton of bravery to create and that’s what should be applauded.
Do you remember where you were when James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets? I was meeting my brother's new girlfriend (now loving wife) for the first time at her apartment. It was a Halloween party and SportsCenter was muted in the background. I came as Rick from The Walking Dead and regretted my decision. A costume sheriffs hat somehow made me look fatter in the bathroom mirror.
The news suddenly broke on the eve of the 2012-13 NBA season. I quickly forgot about my bloated, drunken face as the ESPN ticker flew across the screen. The Oklahoma City Thunder were unable to reach a contract extension with Harden. They were sending the 6'5" shooting guard to Houston for Jeremy Lamb and Kevin Martin. Pleasant conversation stamped out with an eruption of incomprehensible shouting as OKC had just broken up its budding nucleus. The moment the trigger for the Harden deal was pulled, one of the best bar arguments of all time was born.
What if the Thunder never traded James Harden?
The last memory of Harden in OKC was the 2012 NBA Finals Game 5 blowout loss resulting in LeBron James' first NBA title. A defeated Harden hung his tired arms over Westbrook and Durant's shoulders on the bench as the 4th quarter slipped into garbage time. It was a tough moment to watch, but expectation was they'd bounce back. At the time, the young core was made up of Durant, 23, Westbrook, 23, and Harden, 22. Reigning titans of the Western Conference, Dirk, Kobe, and Duncan, were quickly decimated in the playoffs by Harden's firepower, Durant's dominance, and Westbrook's fearlessness. There was no doubt they’d be back next year.
Harden was still coming off the bench in 2012. His development grew exponentially after the trade, but back then his future as a starter was obvious. So instead, what if the Thunder traded a variety of contracts to keep Harden and promote him to a starting role? Each member of the trio probably doesn't win an MVP award. Each would make less money over time by sacrificing to keep the core together. But it would all be worth it as they would eventually win a couple titles and stifle the South Beach super team. The rise of the Golden State dynasty would be less meteoric and it's possible Durant never joins them in 2016.
It's hard to imagine Harden as anything but a Houston Rocket. As the winner of the 2018 NBA MVP, he joins the ranks of legendary Rockets' big man, Hakeem Olajuwon. As time passes, people will forget about Harden's stop in OKC the same way they did with Hakeem in Toronto. If Harden was never traded then perhaps he wouldn't have become the MVP he is today. Maybe there was just too much talent on one team for it to ever work. It could be Harden was always meant to be more than the third piece.
The hypothetical is a blackhole of bar conversation — tempting to approach but impossible to not get sucked in. It's up there with great conversations like what if Shaq didn't leave Orlando, if Michael never left in 1993, and if the Lakers/Chris Paul trade wasn't vetoed.
But with the Harden trade, I always wonder this: What if Clay Bennet never relocated the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City? Would playing for a historic franchise in an established market impacted this young core differently? Would the fanfare received from the Seattle Seahawks Superbowl victory enticed coveted NBA free agents to sign with the Sonics? Would the Sonics have kept their iconic jerseys or redesigned them to reflect a new era?
The greatest what if of this decade will never be answered. Like when a marriage between friends suddenly ends, it hurts you to see their future dissolve. Each one of them now living very separate lives in different cities. Embellished stories of rifts and betrayals generates gossip, but nostalgia from old photos occasionally resurface loving memories.
Regardless of the paths the three men took, their talent and achievements should be celebrated and appreciated. Perhaps the journeys they're on now were always meant to be this way regardless of any trade or franchise relocation. No bar argument can ever answer what could have been. The only thing any NBA fan should do now is enjoy watching the rest of their brilliant careers unfold.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.