Kyrie Irving Thinks He is Very Smart

Kyrie Irving is a grown man who believes that the world is flat. I would be completely floored by this, if not for the fact that the literal first post I made on this blog was about another man who earnestly believed that the Earth is flat. B.o.B., the rapper about which I made that post, was a little more believable since he was a rapper who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, is usually regarded as a very intelligent person. After all, he went to Duke University.

Irving made this admission of belief on the Road Trippin’ podcast, a podcast that follows his teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye on the road during the NBA season. I wish he had tweeted it by accident, or was caught on a hot mic, because I have a hard time reconciling the fact that he knew he was being recorded, and he thought that a good use of a rare opportunity to speak his mind unfettered was to assert that the most basic astronomical science was false.

Flat-earth trutherism is hardly a knew phenomenon, unfortunately. However, according to the research I did for my B.o.B. post–and a few glances at Wikipedia–most flat earth truthers since the acceptance of a round earth have done it for religious reasons. Kyrie, like our friend B.o.B. (born Bobby Ray), cites the fact that you do not see the curvature of the Earth on a plane, as well as the fact that the horizon stays flat as you travel as proof that the Earth is flat. Obviously, this is because the Earth is too large for you to notice this (and you also can fly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth) but I digress.

In explaining his beliefs, he takes the approach of “They-want-you-to-believe-ism.” Part of his statement reads, “Is the world flat or round? — I think you need to do research on it. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.” And he continues, “They’re particularly putting you in the direction of what to believe and what not to believe.” Perhaps the reason “they” want you to believe that the Earth is round is because it is proven science, and “they” are scientists.

Kyrie Irving likely heard from someone that being skeptical was equivalent to being smart, and he has chosen to run with it. And yes, it is smart to be skeptical about many things, but, and this just might be me, we should probably leave the skepticism about science to scientists.

And also yes, science is often proven wrong, and I suppose that every scientist in the world could be in cahoots to convince you, the third best player on the second best team in the NBA, that the Earth is round. I suppose, also in cahoots with these scientists are Isaac Newton, who died in 1726, Pythagorus, who died in the sixth fucking century B.C.E. They all were part of a special order of pseudo-scientists attempting to cover up… what exactly?

This might be what gets me hung up on the flat earth theory so damn much. I just don’t see what incentive people would have to lie about the shape of the Earth.
Obviously, I found in my research that some people think it’s because the elite have an agreement with the lizard people who live on the other side of the Earth, but I doubt that’s why Kyrie believes it.

Every good conspiracy needs a plausible motive to work. The 9/11 conspiracy theory works because we wanted to go into the Middle East to protect oil. The JFK conspiracy works because the CIA disagreed with his foreign policy. The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery conspiracy works because the NBA would greatly benefit if the New York Knicks got a superstar (this is the one conspiracy theory I honest-to-god, 100% believe). What are the people covering up the flatness of the Earth trying to gain, though?

The absence of evidence is not evidence to the contrary, and there is no surer way to spot a stupid person trying to act smart than to see someone think this way. Even if there were no photos of the Earth being round (or you, for some reason, thought they were fake), that is still not proof the Earth is flat. To prove that, you would need a photo of a flat Earth. This, of course, does not exist, because the Earth is round, but if it wasn’t, there would have to be one photo of a flat Earth.

I am personally not a fan of SpaceX, but I will buy stock in everything Elon Musk touches if he gives his first manned flight above the Earth to Kyrie Irving. Then, he would have to believe that the Earth is round, right? Or would he say that the government was somehow faking the direction of down?

Adding onto his comments about the Earth being flat, Kyrie asks, can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these ‘planets’ and stuff like this?” The answer is, of course, yes. I can think of those things, because they are real. In fact, so can his teammate Richard Jefferson, who called him out for putting the word “planets” in quotes. Undeterred, Irving responded, “Everything that they send [to space] doesn’t come back. It doesn’t come back. There is no concrete information, except for the information that they’re giving us.”

Forgive me for wanting to yell into a pillow for 10,000 years, but of course there’s no “concrete information” except for the information they’re giving us, because you broaden the definition of “they” to include all scientists. That’s like saying, “There’s no evidence Santa Claus isn’t real except for what they tell us,” when you use “they” to mean everyone over the age of ten.

Democracy is great, and the democratization of many things due to the Internet and increased connectivity in the world is one of the most exciting and positive developments of the 21st century. But science should not be democratized. At least not for non-scientists. When it comes to what order you’d rank the Star Wars movies (5, 4, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1), then yes, your opinion is just as valuable as anyone elses. When it comes to astronomy, not so much.

I would be a little more sympathetic to Kyrie if he didn’t double-down when asked about it later, stating, “I think people should do their own research,” because fuck no, they shouldn’t. Unless they are going to study astronomy for years, use the latest technology, and get their research peer-reviewed, they shouldn’t. The research has been done. We know the answer.

It would be hacky to try to tie this denial of basic facts into our current political climate, so I won’t do that.

I’ll just close in saying that it is ironic that Kyrie takes such a skeptical stance when encouragements of skepticism are given in school and in the world to precisely avoid what trap he’s fallen into. The exact reason we’re taught to be skeptical so we can realize that a guy’s Blogspot from 2005 that “proves” that the Earth is flat is an unreliable source. If you’re going to intentionally go against the grain of all scientific wisdom, you’re just trying to be interesting by intentionally being different (like how I say that Hail to the Thief is my favorite Radiohead album).

I am actually very glad that we live in a time where athletes are encouraged to speak their minds. In fact, the only time that anyone ever tells a famous person to stop using their platform is when they disagree with them, and even I am a bigger person than to do that. So Kyrie can keep saying whatever he wants about the non-spherical nature of the Earth, and I won’t lose that much sleep, but for the love of God, could he stop sounding like a guy who dropped out after a marijuana possession charge, said he was gonna get his G.E.D., didn’t, and comments on Reddit that he “is a genius but never applied [himself]?”

Also, Kyrie is really overrated and is not a top-five point guard in the NBA (even if you consider James Harden a shooting guard).

Kyrie Irving Thinks He is Very Smart

The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario

It’s not secret that soccer in the United States has a low ceiling compared to the our other great professional sport institutions. With every year, a new generation comes to the vital age when sports begin to mean something. Yet, I feel soccer is growing with every new generation due to easy cable access to the Premier League, Bundesliga and Champions League, the global brand of superstars (i.e. CR7, Messi, and I am Zlatan), online gambling, and the United States having success in the latest world cup. The old guard, people like my father and The Pope (Mike Francesca of WFAN, New York), however, will never give the sport a chance.

Enough about where we are, as this is about where we are going. The United States has been selected to host the Copa America Centenario this summer starting June 3rd. This is the first Copa America held outside of South America–a credit to how large the soccer community in the US hheader-copyas grown. For lesser Spanish-speaking readers Centenario means the 100th anniversary of the tournament. The tournament consists of the host (U.S.A!) ten nations in CONMEBOL (South America), and six CONCACAF (North America) teams including the US. Games will be played all over our great country, including the soccer mecca of East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Copa is filled with stars, including Barcelona’s famed MSN–Messi, Suarez, Neymar (although reports suggest that Suarez will miss the group stage), the golden boot winner (most goals in a World Cup), Real Madrid’s James Rodriquez. And of course, the always interesting USMNT will be competing. However, whether they can make the improvement to be competitive on a global scale is another question. For now, I will break down why you should watch all the major contenders, in alphabetical order.

ARGENTINA

MESSI MESSI MESSI! This team comes in as the favorite at +200 according to book32.com. After reaching the final in the last World Cup before Mario Götze and Germany clinched article-0-1e6eb97500000578-885_634x462the title, the Argentinians walked away defeated, but now they thirst to end a 23 year trophy drought. There is no doubt about the quality of the Argentinian players which is evident by their presence in the top European soccer clubs. Gonzalo Higuain led Seria A (Italy) in goals and the talents of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aquero, Nickolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Javier Pastore, and Erik Lamela make Argentina the deepest team in the tournament. The key word here is tournament, and while these competitions usually consist of scripts filled with plot twists or turns, the favorite rarely has their time in the sun. Argentina made it to the final last year and this year, so they are poised to make a brilliant run like Messi has so many times against lesser defenders.

BRAZIL

neymar

Only Brazil is able to match the talent that Argentina can put on the pitch. Finishing in the top four of the last World Cup, they enter the 2016 Copa America second in odds at +450. Their finish in the world cup, however, was not a pretty sight by any means (please, parents, do not show that clip to young children). Unlike their World Cup semifinal against Germany, Neymar Jr. will be back in action, allowing everyone else to play their proper role. Personally, I believe Brazil to be a great wager. They are probably only being sold rather low due to the recent and disappointing memory of the last world cup.

CHILE

THE CHAMP IS HERE! Chile enters the tournament holding the title belt, in large part thanks to their hard work rate and the great play of their two stars, Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, in the last tournament. Actually, screw that last sentence–I’m short selling the fantastic goalkeeping of Claudio Bravo. So many times, these tournaments come down to what goalkeeper bailed them out the most. Look at Germany with Neuer in the World Cup, America with Tim Howard against Belgium and David De Gea against any arturo-vidal-2-diezManchester United opponent (more on this in the upcoming UEFA Euro Preview). It is very similar to how Bill Simmons’ “best player in the NBA series” theory usually wins, but in this case, it is always the best goalkeeper in the tournament that wins the cup.

Other then the US, I am pulling for Chile because I love their team. I realize for many Arsenal fans, Alexis can be frustrating with all the injuries, but he really did play with a chip on his shoulder against Messi in the last tournament. Now to Arturo Vidal, my favorite player in soccer. This guy is the fucking man…the epitome of the “Move Bitch” mentality. Neither I nor this blog in no way condone drunk driving, but who else is going to crash a Ferrari in Chile? I’m guessing its a very short list (like Trump’s VP’s). I doubt Chile will have back to back successes; however, for the human aspect of rooting for a team, they check all the boxes.

COLOMBIAjames-rodricc81guez-u-20

A fairly interesting team. Falcao is finished, James has lost his way at Real Madrid, but they have talent and could make a run. I could believe virtually any outcome for this squad. I suppose we will see.

MEXICO

Our CONCACAF rivals come with a team that is both deep and familiar with each other: traits that are always Croatia v Mexico: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazildangerous for opponents. Under new management, Mexico will look to revive their dominance over the North America region by competing with the best teams that South America has to offer. Chicharito is once again one of the great strikers in Europe, and the quality throughout the team rivals both Chile and Colombia. If Donaldo Trumpez has anything to say, he will make Mexico great again.

UNITED STATES

Ahh finally, the USMNT. I feel that this tournament will be the ultimate test of what the USA squad will look like in the next World Cup (Russia 2018). US greats like Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley are just becoming too old to compete on an international level. At the same time, Michael Bradley has never become the midfield general that so many have expected. Thankfully, the Jozy Altidore era of terrible first touches and clumsy shots seems to be behind us. The decomposition of the old does brings new nutrients allowing the team to grow. Bobby Wood is a very promising striker scoring 17 goals in the second German league and making a move to the Bundesliga agettyimages-459830602-0t Hamburger SV. Matt Miazga, a talented defender has been signed by Chelsea, and a seemingly promising campaign for John Brooks of the Bundesliga has put him back in the main running for a starting spot on the USMNT. Previously, Brooks performed poorly in important games due to a lack of experience during high level competitions.

Fabian Johnson has legitimized himself as a wing creator on the right side with Borussia Mönchengladbach. The X-Factor for this tournament and the cups to come, rests on the shoulder of a 17 year old kid name Christian Pulisic. Already playing for European contender Borussia Dortmund, Pulisic has impressed everyone with his ball-skills and vision on the field. I hate to put expectations on a kid younger than me, but the talent is undeniable and I wish all the best for him and the United States. A poor performance at this tournament (i.e. not making the top 8) could very easily result in a change of management within the USMNT.

URUGUAY

451156218-485866See Colombia, a team filled with talent that has a strong history of claiming this title. Uruguay has the most Copa America titles in history with 15 . The feared attack of Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez can never be underestimated (as long as Suarez is healthy and doesn’t go crazy biting someone with all the cameras on him). With Atletico Madrid’s defensive aces Diego Godin and Miguel Jose Gimenez (both playing in the Champions League final) being the anchors of Uruguay’s defense, scoring will be no easy task.


I have begun to love soccer, but to call this summer “The Summer of Soccer” is an overreaction. Having stars playing on US soils excites many journalists, but we are still very initially discouraging of foreign things. Yet, the American sports culture has changed over the years, and as time goes on I believe soccer will creep into our culture as it has done in most of the developed countries around the world.  The Copa America Centenario will be a great chance for Americans to see how exciting the low scoring sport can be at it’s greatest, right in their backyard.

I FEEL LIKE PABLO!

 

 

 

 

The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario

The Arrests of Olden Polynice

I must confess that a not-that-secret, not-that-guilty pleasure of mine is obsessing over crimes committed by professional athletes. It’s hard exactly to pinpoint why; perhaps because it shows that they’re imperfect, perhaps because I like to laugh at people who make worse decisions than me, who knows? However, this obsession led me to discover an absolutely incredible website called nbacrimelibrary.com. It is perfect. It is a catalogue of every NBA arrest on record, going all the way back to the fifties.

One great thing the site offers users is the ability to discover things about players’ pasts that they never knew before, or the pasts of players they had never heard of before. And that’s where Olden Polynice comes in. For the record, I have no recollection of ever watching Olden Polynice play a minute of basketball, and the name meant absolutely nothing to me prior to learning about his transgressions. However, I can tell you the following from his Wikipedia page: he was a center from Haiti who played in the NBA from 1987 to 2003. But what I can tell you from NBA Crime Library is much more interesting.

 

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Polynice was arrested five times during his NBA playing career. Of course, that’s easier to do if you have a 16 year career like Polynice and not a nine game stint like, I don’t know, Casper Ware. But yes, plenty of players with long careers never get arrested at all. Fair. But many do get arrested, even well-respected basketball minds like Jason Kidd get arrested three times in three different decades. I digress. Polynice was arrested five times in his career, but we’ll only be focusing on the last three. The first two were very normal NBA arrests–two assaults in the mid-nineties. Yet, his last three all jump off the page.

We’ll start with the last one, which is somehow the most normal of the Big Three. On July 23rd, 2001, Polynice was arrested in Salt Lake City for assault and disturbing the peace, just days after not being resigned by the Utah Jazz. Reportedly, Polynice was playing golf with some friends and went back to a previous hole to retrieve his lost scorecard, however, he was accidentally hit on the arm by a fellow golfer’s chip shot, and Olden did not take kindly to this. Mind you, Olden was not exactly a youngin at this point; in fact, he was old enough to run for all political offices. Yet, that didn’t stop him from allegedly punching and spitting on the guy who accidentally hit him.

This is just an incredibly uncouth gesture and would not be worth mentioning if not for his other, yet to be mentioned arrests. Yet, as it stands, it is a nice bookend to his saga. It will become abundantly clear that Olden Polynice is, in fact, the type of guy who is willing to throw hands over an errant golf shot.

How do I know this? It started in October of 2000, when Olden Polynice was arrested for impersonating a police officer. Yes. Impersonating a police officer. Apparently, Polynice was upset at a fellow motorist who cut him off in traffic and decided to follow him home. Once there, Polynice flashed an honorary badge given to him by the Los Angeles Police Department years before, claiming to be associated with the police. Obviously, the couple he was menacing took down his license plate and he was arrested.

preview0304_polyniceAnd I really wonder how he thought he was gonna get away with that. Obviously, it’s bizarre that the guy didn’t immediately recognize him, as I doubt there’s a single black person over 6-foot-10 living in Salt Lake City that doesn’t play for the Jazz, but that aside, his actions make it very clear he is not a police officer. How often do police officers follow traffic violators home, skip tickets or warnings, and simply threaten people?

Also, what does Olden get out of this? Is he concerned that at some point, this guy would cut him off again in traffic, and he’s planning ahead against that? Like, is it worth following a person home and threatening them just to scold them? Did he chalk that up for his good deed for the day? “You did good, Olden. You taught those guys a lesson.” Like I mentioned earlier, somehow, despite being an NBA player raking in upwards of one million dollars every year, Polynice managed to live seemingly every minute almost nothing to lose.

Being that I’m a halfway-decent writer, I obviously saved the best Polynice arrest for last. Now, it’s understandable for you to be wondering what could possibly be stranger, funnier, more exciting than a grown-ass NBA player getting pinched for impersonating a police officer. You know what is all of those things? A grown-ass NBA player getting pinched for impersonating a police officer again.

Yes, two of Olden Polynice’s five career arrests were for impersonating a police officer to people who he got into traffic disputes with. The second arrest, unfortunately, was actually for an incident that happened before the first arrest (which sucks because it would be a lot funnier if he got arrested for doing it and decided it was still worth it to do again), but that just means that he was serial offender at this.

In this incident, which happened in September of 2000, Polynice reportedly told a driver that flipped him off for speeding that he was “with the California Sheriff’s office,” and could “have him arrested.” This obviously means that not only did Polynice impersonate a cop, he did an even worse impersonation than the time before. This altercation was in Utah, mind you, and somehow, Polynice believes that he has the power to get people arrested two states over from where he apparently works.

And once again, why is Polynice doing this? Because when I imagine someone getting arrested for using an honorary badge as a real one, it’s to get extra benefits or classified information, not to talk down to bad drivers. Also, there is no way in hell that that badge looked real. Obviously the LAPD isn’t that smart, but someone had to make sure the honorary badges look honorary.

There’s no denying that Polynice’s pair of police impersonating arrests are peculiar in their own right, and would be bizarre if the man who committed them was a middle-aged accountant from Poughkeepsie. However, the fact that Polynice was a minor celebrity, no matter how minor, just makes it fascinating to me. It’s dumbfounding that someone with the support system that the National Basketball Association has to offer would do something so odd.

I suppose that’s why I’m obsessed with arrests in sports. Because dumb actions that are usually committed by dumb people are even dumber when they have all the safeguards in place to stop them from being dumb. Like, I expect a run-of-the-mill dumb person to wrap marijuana in aluminum foil and try to go through a airport metal detector, but not professional NBA player Damon Stoudamire, who should undoubtedly have a friend who could hold his weed or at least tell him that you can’t bring aluminum foil through a metal detector.

I have no earthly idea what makes Olden Polynice or any athlete for that matter do something obscenely stupid, whether it is light enough fare for me to laugh at or not. What I do know is that very few things in recent memory have made me laugh as hard as the idea of a professional basketball player using an honorary badge to intimidate fellow drivers. It has the perfect blend of stupidity, randomness, and entitlement that makes athlete and celebrity arrests great. All we needed was for Polynice to tell the cops, “Don’t you know who I am?”

The Arrests of Olden Polynice