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NBA players choose collusion over competition

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In every other sports league, there is competition among the franchises. The NFL has new teams rising and falling every year. Baseball is a whole new season, come October. The NHL playoffs are perhaps the most exciting competition in all of sports. In college basketball, a 16 beat a 1. Yet in opposition to its fellow sports leagues, the NBA is entirely predictable.

The offseason has brought excitement with the long-anticipated relocation of LeBron James. But him landing in Los Angeles was the guess of most pundits amateur and professional. The Lakers are now a playoff contender barring injury. But even away from the Cavs, LeBron is still no match for Golden State.

Superteams are bad for sports

Having the best players fall on one team is fine and dandy when it is natural and done over time. The New York Yankees are among the top contenders in baseball. Contrary to stereotype, they are talented because they established an excellent farm system. It is completely fair for them to end up being the best (again). If Derek Jeter’s strategy works, the Marlins will turn themselves around.

The Warriors are a different story. Yes, they drafted well and traded well. But then they sign Kevin Durant, a top player. Then they sign DaMarcus Cousins, another top player. Cousins. Both of these players shamelessly sold out for the privilege of being on a winning team. Durant joining the Warrior is the equivalent of Ovechkin joining the Penguins. But he didn’t because he cares about his legacy and not his rings. Cousins was perhaps just as bad seeing as he took a deal well below his market value even if injured.

One cannot blame the Warriors for preserving their dynasty which increased the team value 19% in the last year according to Forbes. It’s good for their business, in a league where several teams can’t break past $20 million in operating income. But the league will suffer. The NBA has largely benefited from people enjoying the ride, but it’s inescapable how anticlimactic the end is. The Warriors win. The 2019 NBA finals is already similarly boring, in that, everyone who isn’t a hopeless dreamer already knows the outcome.

The NBA needs to save the competitiveness of its league. A handful of teams now compose the NBA, whilst the others are relegated to being developmental feeding grounds. Top players aren’t interested in rivalry with each other. Rather, they prefer to join forces even to the point of destroying the competition the league was known for. An NBA ring is depreciated in its value, at least if you are a Warrior. Yet players aren’t against colluding for a piece of jewelry at the expense of their honor. This fundamental cultural flaw won’t go away on its own. The NBA should strongly consider curbing this trend either through stricter salary caps or some other creative means.

So far they’ve been content to let ESPN dictate their trajectory and competitive strategy. It seems worth it to leave the elephant unaddressed so long as there’s a raging debate between Team Jordan and the Bronsexuals. Such contentment now has James in the same conference as the Warriors making 2019 a much less exciting finals.

Originally published on StartupChrist.com

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Entertainment and Sports

What makes a great movie villain great?

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What makes a great movie villain great

As a lover of cinema, there are two things any “fun” movie must have: a good hero and a great villain. A good hero with a great villain works. A good example of this would be Saw. Unfortunately, a great hero with a good villain often falls flat. The Amazing Spider-Man saw a great variation of the hero mixed with a decent yet boring villain.

“Fun” movies are action/adventure, horror, thriller, or anything that pits good versus evil. Silence of the Lambs, The Dark Knight, and Star Wars are the obvious examples everyone uses when they think of great villains, but I prefer to call on a creepy villain that nobody remembers until I mention him. Taylor Negron’s Milo in The Last Boy Scout was the perfect foil to Bruce Willis, arguably better from a purely evil perspective than Alan Rickman’s baddie in Die hard.

To see if my choice stood up to the tests of video essayists characterizing the perfect villain (which all of them have at some point), I picked #Filmento to test my bad guy.

The making of a bad guy is imperative for a fun movie to really be fun. This breakdown by Filmento is a good place to start if you’re about to make your own bad guy.

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Entertainment and Sports

Amazon’s Homecoming shows Sam Esmail may be the best writer-director on television

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Amazons Homecoming shows Sam Esmail may be the best writer-director on television

Fans of Mr. Robot can point to many things they love about the show. The original storyline, impeccable acting, sharp direction, and stunning twists make it fun throughout its first three seasons. But it’s with Homecoming, the Julia Roberts series on Amazon, that creator-writer-director Sam Esmail shows he’s more than just a guy with cool story ideas.

Don’t worry. No spoilers.

Before we get into Esmail, let’s get the cast out of the way. Roberts, Stephan James, Bobby Cannavale, and Shea Whigham are all perfectly cast in their roles. That’s rare for television; even Mr. Robot had a few casting miscues, but Rami Malek made up for those. In Homecoming, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing better at playing the four major characters.

Now, onto Esmail. This psychological drama is set in two different time periods that Esmail frames perfectly, literally. He shoots the past in widescreen and the present in a square frame. If anyone has ever used this clever differentiating device, that’s news to me.

But beyond his trademark camera cleverness that leans heavily on visual storytelling, Esmail does something extraordinary. He makes a somewhat interesting story premise absolutely enthralling. With Mr. Robot, it’s easy to get engulfed by the story because it’s huge. There are worldwide implications to every machination of multiple good guys and bad guys. The premise is easy to play with, and while Esmail made it his own and told the story brilliantly, the sheer magnitude of the stakes are enough to keep people interested.

With Homecoming, there aren’t insanely talented hackers taking on the biggest corporation in the world with vast criminal organizations intermingled into the plot. Instead, we have a waitress, a low-level government pencil pusher, a creepy mid-level executive, and a soldier. Esmail takes this humble premise and somehow keeps us immersed in intrigue. I can’t say much more without spoiling it, so I won’t.

Season two is already green-lit. We don’t know how well the first season did since Amazon doesn’t report viewing numbers, but the critical response has been strong, scoring a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reports indicate we can expect the next installment in fall, 2019.

One note to those who will watch it – pay attention to the visual mastery. Small screen directors often overlook the nuance of the visual components of their work, but Esmail lives in the nuances. His mastery over shot selection, lighting, and a Fincheresque control of camera movements had me rewinding several scenes in order to absorb it all.

We are seeing the early stages of what could end up being a tremendous directing career. I can’t wait to see Homecoming and Mr. Robot carry on, but I’m even more excited about any new projects Esmail brings to the small screen.

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Entertainment and Sports

Can the DCEU be fixed?

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Can the DCEU be fixed

As a fan of DC Comics over Marvel Comics, I’ve been a man without a valid argument. I want the DCEU to be better than the MCU, but it’s not even close. Other than Wonder Woman, there hasn’t been a glimmer of hope that we’ll be able to have a real debate about which cinematic universe is better.

For a while, I’ve felt like it can’t be fixed. By “a while,” I mean one year. That’s how long it’s been since I saw Justice League and had to rein in desires to chuck Milk Duds at the screen. The only thing that held me back was that the Milk Duds were the only enjoyable part of the experience.

It was awful. Even worse than Batman v. Superman. Even worse than Suicide Squad. At least with the latter, we could dismiss it as a failed attempt to emulate Guardians of the Galaxy.

But there’s hope, according to this video from Screen Rant. I’m not 100% bought into the notion, but I have to hold onto it. Otherwise, I might as well trash my Aquaman posters and relive the glory days of the Dark Knight Trilogy.

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