Best Sports Stuff Right Now: Tigers, Soulja Boy, and the Process
The sports world has a way of providing a nice thaw for frozen fans dealing with the brutal winter months.
This week is an exemplary look at such a notion. Not only is the NFL rolling out an incredible playoff slate, NBA stars continue to go nuclear, as do rumors and off-field controversy. One happens to deal with a certain boat trip before a beatdown, followed by angry fists creating holes in walls.
Perhaps best of all, two lovable (not really) rappers sound ready to beat the tar out of each other in a boxing ring after being trained by legends.
So yeah, this is a pretty great week for the sporting world. Kick back beside the fire and soak it all in, because it doesn’t get much better than this. Here is the best sports stuff right now.
Clemson Knocks off 'Bama
The Clemson Tigers proved this well enough Monday night, downing the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 and securing a semblance of revenge for last year's loss in the title game.
Deshaun Watson, waving goodbye and heading to the NFL, threw three touchdowns, while Alabama was left wondering about the future.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Tigers ended a 34-year drought. While it wasn't a Vince Young classic, Clemson's title tale was one heck of a way to start the week.
Chris Brown Against Soulja Boy Is Actually Real
You know a beef between entertainers is real when USA Today writes up a timeline of it.
Sports fans probably didn’t care too much about the problems between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy. That is, until the two decided to step into the squared circle with one another.
So, this should be fun. Especially because Soulja Boy has been training with Floyd Mayweather and, as one can see from the above video, Brown has hooked up with Mike Tyson.
No matter who wins, everybody seems to win here.
Joel Embiid Gets the WWE Treatment, and So Much More
Joel Embiid might be the best thing going in the NBA these days.
The big man, sometimes known as The Process, is a social media wizard. He is pretty good on the court, too, considering he averages 19.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Off the court, Embiid continues to have beef on social media with a porn star (no joke). And speaking of social media, the man has a brilliant campaign in which he hopes fans will vote him into the All-Star Game.
But the above? A fan-made WWE entrance? Legendary.
Indeed, the legend only continues to grow.
(Seriously. Go listen to the entrance music.)
"The Boat" Controversy Is Just Getting Started, Folks
Odell Beckham Jr.’s New York Giants took a 38-13 beating in the playoffs at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, while he only caught four of his 11 targets for 28 yards.
Normally this would sound like an unfortunate end to the year and nothing more.
Nope—pictures of Beckham and friends chilling on a Miami boat during the buildup to the game have made the rounds and now look like a never-ending talking point about the loss.
Which is sort of fair, too. Look at a tweet by NFL Research: “Players pictured on ‘The Boat’: 43.9 passer rating when targeted by Eli Manning. Players not pictured: 105.8 passer rating when targeted.”
To make matters worse, Beckham allegedly banged his head on a door and punched a hole in a wall, with pictures available here.
Maybe this is a normal occurrence and not a big story—just don’t tell that to the amount of discussion about to revolve around this for weeks.
Kyle Korver Boosts the Cavaliers Just in Time for Date with Warriors
The rich just got richer in the form of the Cleveland Cavaliers acquiring shooter Kyle Korver.
Korver, the guy who shoots 42.9 percent from deep over the course of his career, boosts LeBron James and one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league as is.
Korver doesn't give the Cavaliers a Splash Bros. vibe, but the Cavaliers will get to test just how close they are when they visit the Golden State Warriors this coming Monday at 8 p.m. ET.
If Korver is a good fit, Cleveland will merely continue its dominance against the Warriors after beating Stephen Curry and Co. on Christmas Day.
Jimmy Butler Is Unstoppable Right Now
At 19-18, the Chicago Bulls don’t exactly jump off the page while sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Jimmy Butler, though? Yeah, he sure does.
Butler has averages of 25.6 points, 4.5 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game as of this writing. He’s shooting 45.4 percent from the floor, and his conversion rate from range has jumped to 34.6 percent compared to a season ago.
For one reason or another, Butler has flipped a switch as of late, posting 40 or more points in three of his last six outings before Monday. Since January, he has gone for 52, 20 and 42 points.
Like the above quote suggests, Butler isn’t one player to ignore right now.
John Wall Is Back to His Old Self
Washington Wizards star point guard John Wall hasn’t exactly posted eye-popping numbers like Butler, but it doesn’t make him any less fun to watch.
Wall finally looks healthy again and, as a result, averages 23.1 points, 10.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 46.6 percent from the floor.
ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe explained the genius behind the offense:
Wall, of course, is at the center of everything, and he has rediscovered his peak turbo explosiveness after surgeries on both knees. When Wall's engine is revving, the Wiz will sometimes set screens for him almost at half-court, foisting an uncomfortable choice on the poor sap guarding Marcin Gortat: try to corral Wall 35 feet from the basket, or lay back and provide Wall a sprinter's runway.
The NBA and fans need Wall to play at a high level—there is no such thing as too many point guards shredding the league on a nightly basis.
Long story short, welcome back, John.
NBA All-Star Voting Keeps Entertaining
The man above certainly has a point.
Kidding aside, the NBA All-Star vote has a fun twist, with fans and even players able to vote in the process on social media.
Indeed, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo might have some problems getting the necessary votes. Which is a shame considering he’s averaging 24 points, 5.7 assists and nine rebounds per game while revolutionizing a position with his 6’11”, 222-pound frame.
Other than Antetokounmpo, it is fun to watch players vote for their teammates and spread the love. Or vote for themselves, as Kevin Love did. Nice.
NBA Trade Rumors Keep Turning Heads
Folks who thought the onset of NBA rumors around Paul Millsap (6'8", 246 lbs) was the beginning and end of the mill’s offerings were sorely mistaken.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein helped keep the mill alive and churning recently with a few notable offerings.
One rumbling to know about is the revival of Brook Lopez chatter, per Stein: “Word is that two first-round picks is the Nets' current asking price for center Brook Lopez.”
That’s a huge price to ask for Lopez (7'0", 268 lbs), who averages 20.1 points, 5.1 boards and 1.7 blocks per game right now.
Another center, Tyson Chandler (7'1", 240 lbs) of the Phoenix Suns, saw his name come up: “Word is Portland, of late, has been tracking Tyson Chandler as a potential trade target, since the Phoenix center could certainly help the Blazers with their defensive issues.”
Chandler, 34, would be much more affordable and is appealing to teams like the Portland Trail Blazers because, when on the court, he’s still averaging 7.7 points and 11.7 rebounds.
The continued turning of the mill points to big men being a hot commodity—and the fact it’s just getting started.
2017 NFL Draft Class Continues to Take Shape
Rumors and playoffs are nice, but try not to forget the NFL draft is on the way, too.
Draft season never actually ends, which fans will tell you isn't a bad thing—and it's not. North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky just made waves by declaring he's going pro, the process explained in his column at The Players' Tribune.
Trubisky looks like he could be in the conversation as the first quarterback off the board come draft day. The wild part, though, is the potential No. 1 pick declaring for the draft is just the beginning.
Understand there is more to come.
MVP Candidates Keep Marching Through Playoffs
Good luck trying to decide MVP between Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell.
Both have had incredible years, with Rodgers casually throwing for four scores while routing the New York Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Bell looked every bit as dominant while taking down the Miami Dolphins, rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
November hit and the two simply flipped a switch, as MMQB.com's Peter King noted.
"But now for the men of the weekend, and maybe the men of the second half of the season. Rodgers is on a sick 22-to-0 touchdown-to-interception streak since Nov. 20. Bell has rushed for 1,002 yards since Nov. 20. What they’ve done since Thanksgiving week is pretty absurd," King wrote.
The two aren't even close to done, so don't miss out. Rodgers next gets the Dallas Cowboys, Bell the Kansas City Chiefs.
2016's Best Game Gets a Playoff Rematch
Ask many what their favorite game of 2016 was and an encounter between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons comes up often.
The Week 6, 26-24 victory for the Seahawks had it all. Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns. The Seahawks scored nine points in the fourth quarter to win, and Richard Sherman had a sideline meltdown.
King's colleague, Andy Benoit, broke down why the chess match was so great:
Nobody outside of the Seahawks knows Sherman and the rest of that defense better than Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who coordinated it from 2013-14. That afternoon, Quinn and Kyle Shanahan, currently the NFL’s best offensive coordinator, did exactly what Quinn would not have wanted to see when he was calling Seattle’s defense. (Or exactly what he would not want to see now, considering he’s installed his Seahawks-style scheme in Atlanta.)
Spoiler alert—the rematch with everything at stake should be even better.
Rest assured both teams have thought about the idea, and the coaches have developed wrinkles to get a win. It all comes to a head Saturday.
Sleeping Giants Enter the Super Bowl Hunt
After a rather lackluster opening weekend, teams that enjoyed a bye enter the fray eyeing a Lombardi Trophy.
There's Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady enters the playoffs with his team on a seven-game tear, in which he has thrown 16 touchdowns against just one interception. He'll next deal with the Houston Texans Saturday.
Don't forget the Cowboys on the NFC side of things, where the rookie tandem of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have lead an unexpected rejuvenation of perhaps the league's most popular team. The dynamic duo will have to dig in and go to war with Rodgers.
Unlike last week, there certainly isn't a dud of a game on the schedule as the big boys hop into the pool.