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Women’s World Cup Round 16 – USA vs Columbia

Soccer, Goal, Soccer Ball.

It’s round 16 of the Women’s World Cup, which is also known as the elimination round. For you non-women’s soccer fans (even though you totally should be), USA is in Group D, which was nicknamed the “Group of Death”, because of the tough competition also placed in the group (fun fact: The US Men’s National Soccer team’s group for the World Cup last summer was also nicknamed the “Group of Death”). USA have been the ones killing it so far though, and today we get to see if they will advance to the Quarter finals. They’ll have to beat Columbia – who have never made it this far in the World Cup, and are hungry to prove they have what it takes to beat the Americans.

You can catch the game tonight at 8pm ET on Fox sports 1.

GO USA!

The Coaching Carousel

The Coaching Carousel

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(Photo credit: nydailynews.com)

Written by, Brian Kayser

The NFL’s Black Monday came and left with no real surprises this year. Four head coaches received their walking papers and the only real surprise was Mike Smith in Atlanta. Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers was done as soon as their game ended on Sunday, although based on reports leaked to the media during the summer, he was done before the season ever started. Rex Ryan of the Jets cleaned out his office prior to the Jets’ finale with the Dolphins, but was left waiting until Monday for the official announcement that he, along with GM John Idzik, would not return. The fourth and not surprising at all coach to receive the ax was the Bears’ Marc Trestman.

Marc Trestman had to go. In his two seasons with the Bears, he went 13-19, with this year’s Bears struggling to five wins. They were embarrassed multiple times this year and their quarterback, Jay Cutler, the highest-paid player in the league, was benched for Jimmy Clausen. Yes, Jimmy Clausen. There were reports that players had turned on Cutler, reports of locker room fights, and an overall sense of chaos emanating from the Chi. There are some great weapons on the Bears for whoever steps in, but they’re going to need to find a real quarterback in free agency this year.

Rex Ryan was set up to fail this year, although he hasn’t helped himself much either. While the Jets were struggling under former quarterback Mark Sanchez, his front office went out and signed sideshow Tim Tebow, despite having no plans to actually use him. The media circus that created never helped, as the move reeked of desperation and attention-seeking. Couple that with Sanchez getting hurt in a meaningless preseason game on a meaningless but incredibly dangerous play, and the team had no choice but to call on rookie Geno Smith, who despite a great game against the Dolphins on Sunday, is not an NFL starting quarterback. Add to that mess that Darrelle Revis, the heart and soul of the team, left two years ago to the Buccaneers, of all teams, before landing with the Patriots, because the Jets refused to pay him market value, and the team was falling apart. With an inconsistent offense, a terrible defense, and disarray throughout the front office, there was no way to salvage this season, Ryan should be commended for being able to squeeze four wins out of this team. He’s still a great football coach and won’t be without a job for too long.

Going to three NFC Championship games in four years would be amazing to any team, especially if you’re the 49ers. Their last winning season was in 2002, and Harbaugh took them to the NFC Championship game in his first year as head coach. That’s an amazing turnaround and that kind of winning is what helped the 49ers exploit their taxpayers for a new stadium. Unfortunately, winning wasn’t valued as much as personality in the Niners’ front office, and Harbaugh was being shopped before the season even started because of that. The NFL, like any business, should be about business first. Harbaugh took care of business, therefore he should be fine. He may not win any personality contests, but then neither would a lot of coaches, with Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, the two active coaches with the most combined Super Bowls, being at the top of the list. And for that reason, the 49ers will not be able to hire a serious coach, as any candidate can see how little the front office valued winning and how quick they were to drag their head coach’s name through the mud for an entire season. With the core of the team aging and quarterback Colin Kaepernick coming off a terrible season, expect a lot more mediocrity in the Bay Area in the 2015.

While these firings may not be surprising, some of the coaches who are keeping their jobs are. Leading off that list would be Jay Gruden in Washington, who’s like a dog in the park with a six inch leash. It’s just that most dogs aren’t controlled by a psychopathic, racist sadist who sincerely makes you wonder if he’s really that crazy or just the greatest troll of all-time. Gruden cycled through three quarterbacks in Washington, and while none of them looked like NFL starters this year, even Peyton would have struggled behind Washington’s terrible offensive line. It took three years for Mike Shanahan, one of the greatest offensive minds in football, to fall from grace with owner Daniel Snyder, and Gruden, who does not have the mind nor the resume of Shanahan, his time will be much shorter. He’ll be lucky to make it through half of the 2015 season.

Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants looked like another surefire fire this year, as the Giants’ struggles from last year continued, whether it was a stagnant offense or a weak defense. Everything changed, though, with the instant rise of a healthy Odell Beckham, Jr., as he scorched defenses, partly thanks to quarterback Eli Manning becoming more comfortable with the Giants’ newly-installed West Coast Offense. With the return of Victor Cruz next year, the Giants have one of, if not the, best one-two wide receiver combinations in the league, and if they focus on their defense, resign Jason Pierre-Paul, and can land a quality running back or continue developing Rashad Jennings, they could be back atop the NFC East next year. It should be noted, too, that the Giants are one of the few teams that remain loyal to their coaches instead of being quick to hit the panic button. Before the Giants won their first Super Bowl in the Coughlin Era, fans were chanting for him to be fired as Tiki was tearing apart the team and his coach. That all changed with two Super Bowl wins, and the Giants are right to keep Coughlin for another year. He’s won and is in the process of installing an offense that can turn Eli into a dangerous quarterback. Besides, before a coach is fired, a team needs to ask themselves if they can find a better replacement. With the candidates available this year, the Giants are smart to keep a quality coach with two Super Bowl wins.

Now the interviews for potential replacements are going to start. Look for Josh McDaniels of the Patriots to get another head coaching opportunity, and with Harbaugh accepting the Michigan job, look for Mike Shanahan to land somewhere after taking this year off. For the teams that let their head coaches go, the question they have to be asking themselves now is if they can find a better replacement on the open market.

DALLAS FOR THE WIN

Dallas For The Win

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photo credit: www.mavs.com

By Brian Kayser

For anyone who thought the Dallas Mavericks weren’t already serious contenders for the championship, think again. The Mavs are in the midst of trading some of their smaller pieces and draft picks for the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo, one of the top point guards in the league.

Rondo’s had no future in Boston. Last year, between his injuries and playing on a team that was completely dismantled and in the early rebuilding phase, the best Rondo could do was collect a check and try not to think about the playoffs. This year, he’s in a similar position with the Celtics, with their 9-14 record screaming mediocrity and another year of missing the playoffs. He’s not happy, and management didn’t want him around, even saying that he was uncoachable and too independent. Rondo, being the competitor he is, can’t sit around during his best years and wait for head coach Brad Stevens to adjust to the NBA’s faster, more demanding style of play.

And the Mavs, well, they’re only getting better. After Chandler Parsons left the Rockets this summer to join Dirk and Devin Harris, as well as landing Tyson Chandler frm the Knicks, Dallas became a lot tougher and added another dimension to their offense.

Rajon Rondo gives the Mavericks a tougher defender, which they desperately need, as they’re damn-near leading the league in points given up per game, and a vocal leader that can dish out 11 assists per game, which he’s currently doing in Boston. If Dallas’s offense is a Ferrari, Boston’s is a Fisher Price Cozy Coupe. Imagine what Rondo can do in Dallas.

Unfortunately the Mavs still have Raymond Felton, who’s $3.7 million salary is the only thing more bloated than his face. But with Rajon Rondo and Devin Harris, the likelihood of Felton ever seeing any meaningful time is incredibly slim.

With Cleveland still figuring themselves out like a middle schooler, it looks like the road to the championship runs through the Western Conference. While Golden State still looks like the team to beat, Dallas will have a much better shot at knocking them out.

Cleveland Goes Cleveland

Cleveland Goes Cleveland 

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By Brian Kayser

I should have known better than to give Cleveland props two weeks ago. Maybe it was how they destroyed the Bengals on Thursday night. Maybe it was the return of wide receiver Josh Gordon. Maybe it was the fact that Brian Hoyer kept Johnny Football out of the headlines, giving ESPN absolutely no reason to publish any kind of story about a backup QB in Cleveland. Everything was beautiful. With my Giants tanking, it was nice to at least see a team whose only function in recent memory was a doormat to actually look halfway decent.

And then it started. The average, not-impressive-but-not-awful magic of Brian Hoyer wore thin. After their decisive Bengals victory, the Browns dropped a blowout to the Texans before squeaking by the Falcons, only to get demoralized in Buffalo. Hoyer’s completion percentage plummeted and he threw four picks in those three games, the same amount he’d thrown in the Browns’ first nine games. He’d gone from a Trent Dilfer-esque quarterback as someone who can “manage a game,” which is really code for someone who won’t screw it up too badly by taking any risks that might really pay off or completely backfire. If you want a good picture of Brian Hoyer, take Tony Romo and just picture what he’d be like on Opposite Day.

Hoyer had done just enough to keep the Cleveland faithful happy. The Browns were looking like they could squeak into the playoffs, and they still can, and a lot of it had to do with Brian Hoyer not being a turnover machine. But losing badly to the Texans and Bills aren’t going to endear anyone to the front office, especially Brian Hoyer, who was able to keep Johnny Football on the sidelines for thirteen games. The front office was waiting, the fans were waiting, and just like that, Hoyer gave them just enough to make the switch, sending Johnny Manziel out in the fourth quarter of a game that had already been decided. And what does Manziel do? Scores a touchdown. As if there wasn’t a controversy already, now there most definitely was.

Cleveland hasn’t made an announcement yet, but the writings on the wall that Hoyer’s time in Cleveland is winding down, whether it’s for the final four weeks of the season or for good, as there are a few teams that’ll be in demand for his services next year if the Browns don’t want him.

And here’s where I have the problem. Cleveland is 7-5 and is actually in contention for a playoff spot. This is a team that went 4-12 last year. Brian Hoyer has been solid enough. The last thing this team needs is a quarterback controversy. In August, it was cute. Manziel was able to sell some jerseys and get some press. In December, with the team in serious contention for a playoff spot, it’s nothing short of disastrous.

Brian Hoyer, while not getting the Browns there single-handedly, deserves to go into a slump without having to worry about an unproven rookie taking over. Trying to make plays and lead a team while constantly looking over your shoulder is not how a young quarterback can develop. Need further proof? Look at the recent debacles with the Jets and Washington. While both teams have a lot of holes, the game of musical chairs at the quarterback position is not helping anyone. If Brian Hoyer was good enough for thirteen weeks, he’s good enough to close out the season with, especially four must-win games and three that aren’t going to be easy: Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Baltimore.

What’s sad about Johnny Manziel is that it’s not like anyone knows if he can handle the pro game consistently. It’s that most fans are calling for him to see if he can replicate his college stunts with the same success. It’s the same curiosity fans had with Vince Young, Tim Tebow, and more recently Robert Griffin. If head coach Mike Pettine truly thought Manziel was the better option, he would have started week one. But he wasn’t. Brian Hoyer was. And with the season winding down and a tight race for the wild card, the Browns can’t afford to gamble on an unproven talent. If they were out of playoff contention, sure, experiment. Let the punter get some snaps. See if Josh Gordon wants to play some linebacker. Do whatever you want. But with the season on the line, the best thing Cleveland can do for itself right now is get out of its own way.

Who Wants Ray Rice?

Who Wants Ray Rice?

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By Brian Kayser

 

In a move that was more about Roger Goodell and the NFL and less about Ray Rice or morality, Rice was reinstated at his appeal by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones after she determined that he was upfront with Goodell during his initial hearing. Part of her reinstatement meant that she felt he was completely truthful and transparent about his horrific and disgusting actions that awful night in the elevator. What that means for Goodell and NFL execs is that they knew the whole story and shouldn’t have needed a video showing actual proof before they decided to up Rice’s initial four-game punishment into an indefinite one.

Besides the not-so-shocking news that the NFL went way too light on Rice initially and then lied about not having all of the information at the time of the initial four-game suspension, it raises the important question of who wants Ray Rice. Remember, he’s currently a free agent after the Ravens terminated his contract after TMZ broke the elevator video. A day after his reinstatement, there were already questions being raised about where he could end up, with Indianapolis and New Orleans being potential suitors.

Indianapolis could be a great home for Rice, especially if pill-popping owner Jim Irsay wants some muscle with him when he’s looking to re-up. Other than that, though, there’s not much need in Indy for a washed-up women-beater. They’re currently 8-4, one win away from clinching the AFC South, and while they haven’t killed anyone with their running game, Trent Richardson can be solid and Daniel Herron is developing nicely.

The Saints, on the other hand, are struggling at an underwhelming 5-7, but for a team struggling to solidify itself, Rice would be nothing but a distraction and would hurt the rhythm Mark Ingram is developing, as he’s rushed for 272 yards combined in his last two games.

Neither team is a good fit for Rice, but no teams really are. Who wants a guy who’s going to be more of a distraction? Keep in mind Rice had his worst season last year, as his average yards-per-carry plummeted from 4.4 in 2012 to 3.1 in 2013. 2014 would have been Rice’s seventh year, and with his brutal running style, no pun intended, he’s taken a lot of hits and might not be getting any better. It’s a dangerous gamble to sign a player who’s already going to alienate a large percentage of the fan base, both male and female, for little benefit. Ray Rice is such a polarizing figure right now, hated by way more than he’s loved, that even a 2,000 yard season wouldn’t be enough for most fans to cop his jersey.

From a pure football standpoint, there’s only four weeks left in the regular season. The teams that are contending for the playoffs don’t need the distraction of Ray Rice trying to learn a new system. The teams not in contention don’t need to teach Rice a new system. And that’s considering he’s in shape. He might have caught some workouts at Gold’s during his suspension, but there’s nothing he could have been doing to replicate the contact and being in game shape.

Expect Ray Rice to sit this year. And based on his decline last year and current public sentiment, don’t be surprised if he attracts minimal interest for the 2015 season. Then again, this is the league where Michael Vick got a second chance and most fans have forgotten the horrors of his story, so you can’t be surprised by anything.

The Cavaliers Are Done

The Cavaliers Are Done

By Brian Kayser
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Or not. They’re only six games into the season and fans are already hitting the panic button and declaring The Great Cleveland Experiment a failure. Look, it’s six games into the season, the Cavs are sitting at .500, and they’ve got a lot going on. New coach. Young point guard who’s finally being expected to function as a point guard. The best player in the league. The best big man in the league. And all the Heat fans migrating back to the cold weather for Cavs Nation. High expectations much?

With the Cavs only six games in and the fact that they’re hovering around .500, the Cleveland faithful, all five of them, since that’s not counting all fans acquired in the Lebron signing, know that’s actually really, really good. Kyrie Irving’s not going to develop into a true point guard overnight, nor should the Cavs want him to. One of his best assets is how dangerous he is on offense and how much of a scoring threat he is, but to get James and Kevin Love fully integrated into the offense, he’s going to have to move the ball around more and use the entire court.

Lebron James is used to leading his team in assists. He’s did it all four years in Miami, sometimes almost doubling D-Wade’s assist-per-game average. ‘Bron should get assists, especially when considering how much he’s doubled and how much the defense shifts when he has the ball. Part of what makes Lebron so dangerous is that he’s one of the best passing big-men to ever play the game. But now that he’s got a fresh point guard, a true point guard, in Kyrie Irving, some of that load should be taken off Lebron.

Irving doesn’t have to go John Stockton and put up fourteen assists a night, but four, his current average, is unacceptable. Under basketball purist Coach K at Duke, Irving averaged 4.3 assists per game, partly because he was needed to score and partly because he’s just not that good of a passer yet. As an NBA point guard, he hasn’t, and he’s not going to, rack up the wins if he can’t move the ball and get everyone involved. For Lebron to have more assists than Kyrie Irving is ridiculous and this is when Lebron and Kevin Love need to step up and mentor Irving, who is immensely talented but still has a lot to learn in terms of basketball IQ.

Whether Lebron and Irving had words last week really doesn’t matter in terms of the chemistry of the team. They should have had words, whether they did or not, and Kyrie Irving has to recognize that while it may have been his team last year, it’s a new day and if it’s truly his team, they can book their summer vacations for May because there won’t be any playoffs. Irving is one of the best young talents in the game, but as is so often the case with young talents, whether in sports or in other fields, is their annoyance at having to listen to their faults and admit that maybe they don’t have it all together like they’d like to believe. No one’s a complete, finished player, ever, and certainly not in your third year. The Cavaliers are Lebron’s team. There’s no denying that. Kevin Love, the closest to Lebron in terms of talent and experience, wouldn’t even deny that. Being that it’s ‘Bron’s team, he’s going to have to have those difficult conversations with Kyrie about ball movement and the offense, because if he doesn’t, no one else will. And Irving’s going to listen. Not because he has to, but because he’s a smart kid who’s going to realize that not only does it take a lot of pressure off of him to put up monster numbers each night, but because winning is going to get a lot easier. He’ll still be a part of ‘Bron’s new Big Three, and with it, probably the first NBA Championship, although maybe not this year, to touch down in Cleveland.

Uh Oh, Cowboys

Uh Oh, Cowboys

By Brian Kayser

tonyromo

When Tony Romo went down on Monday Night Football last week against the Washington Redskins, Cowboy Nation let out a collective groan. Unfortunately for Romo, his boss and head coach, Jerry Jones, had perhaps the loudest groan. Jerry Jones reportedly left his box to check on his quarterback and his x-rays, content that was enough to make a proper diagnosis of “you’re fine, get out there,” and risk his quarterback’s long-term health against Washington, of all teams, and with backup Brandon Weeden playing as well as you could expect Brandon Weeden to play.

Unfortunately, with Weeden in the game, their passing game was seriously compromised, as he’s about as immobile a quarterback as it gets. That means if he’s out of the pocket, it’s a broken play and he’s either about to throw another INT or take a sack. Dez Bryant’s going to have to work even harder than he already has to with Weeden under center.

And then there’s Demarco Murray, who’s having an MVP-type year. With no passing game, defenses are going to finally be able to zero in on him, meaning you can expect a lot more sub-100 yard games, especially with the two Philly games coming up.

Lucky for Dallas, they have a bye week coming up. But it’s not coming up ‘til the team crosses the Atlantic to play Jacksonville in England. And a week’s not enough for Brandon Weeden to go Henry Rowengartner or Tony Romo to hit up the chiropractor for a new back. If Romo comes back, whether it’s for the Jacksonville game this Sunday or for the Giants game in three weeks, he’s going to be a target more so than usual because it’s probably going to take little more than a slight wind gust to knock him onto the IR and give the Cowboys the rest of the season to do what they do best.

And while it doesn’t look like the Giants are going to salvage their own beautiful disaster of a season, depending on the health of Nick Foles and the Sanchize, the NFC East could be up for grabs to the lowest bidder.

Cowboy fan, it’s time to hit the panic button, or if you’re a real Cowboy fan, then there’s no need to hit anything except another Bud, ‘cause you knew this was coming. You knew that hot start couldn’t last. You knew Jerry Jones would find a way to screw up his team. You knew Romo couldn’t make it through a whole season. You knew having Brandon Weeden as a backup meant you were going to be seeing more Brandon Weeden than you ever wanted to see. You knew this was coming, and yet, like watching Rudy where you just hope the coach benches the scrub, you’re still disappointed.

It’s clear that Jerry Jones is going to have Assistant to the Head Coach Jason Garrett run Tony Romo into the ground because like all great football coaches, pain is just a mental construction devised by weaker players to milk well-intentioned owners out of their hard-earned cake. Enjoy the rest of your season.

11 Reasons Why We Love to Hate to Love Lebron

Everyone loves to hate to love Lebron James. He is the most talked about player at the moment for all that he is doing in 2014. But what makes us love him, hate him, want to be him and/or never want to see him again? Here are 11 reasons why we might be having these feelings and why we should start to get over it.

1) You lost to him on NBA2K, because everyone uses his avatar.

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(via Tumblr NBC)

2) He’s so athletic, he had a choice to play football or basketball

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Go long Lebron…..

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(via Tumblr NBA TNT)

3) When we fall in real life, it’s embarassing. When Lebron flops, it becomes a vine movement #Lebroning

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(via Tumblr)

4) Ladies Love Cool James

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(via Tumblr)

5) He thinks his new Lebron 12s are better than Jordans. 

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(via Tumblr Nike) 

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(via Tumblr MTV style) 

6) He lost weight to better his performance and he wants everyone to know. At least he’s not promoting Herbalife. 

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(via Tumblr Comedy Central) 

7) He has the ultimate bandwagon family….last name ever first name greatest. 

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(via Tumblr Jeopardy Sports) 

8) His hairline went so far back that he decided to do something about it and he did it for himself. 

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(via Tumblr

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 9) This mock #NBAMovies poster was trending on twitter, but he really is the Denzel Washington of the league. He called Kevin Love personally as soon as the news was out. You can’t make this stuff up. 

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(via Tumblr

10) His breakup was like the end of a spring break trip in Miami, but now he returned home to be in a relationship again with Akron’s sister city….and it’s complicated. 

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(via Tumblr Fox Sports) 

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(via Tumblr The Office)

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11) He builds homes for his foundation and gets featured on HGTV. (Yes, he has a good heart)

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(The Lebron James Family Foundation, HGTV, TerezOwens.com)

None of these reasons are enough to hate him or anyone, but his return to the Cavaliers was definitely easier to do after not winning the 2014 Championship title with the Heat.

Share some of your thoughts on why you think Lebron is the greatest or most hated player of all time.

 @angelakouss

LOLO JONES JUST CANT GET IT RIGHT

Lolo Jones the three time Olympian and social media punching bag has once gain failed to live up to expectations.  Her latest attempt to bring home the trophy was on the hit series Dancing With the Stars. On Tuesday, she became the first celeb to be eliminated from season 19 of DTWS. The Olympian and her partner, newcomer Keo Motsepe, struggled in their big debut on Monday, and after a technical hiccup threw Jones off beat the pair truly never recovered.

 

Lolo Jones on DWTS

Lolo Jones on DWTS

 

After the performance she held back tears and kept a straight face but as we all could see she was really broken up over the early season exit. Following the results show elimination, however, she shared her true feelings about the experience, admitting she felt “broken” and “unlovable.”

Lolo After Elimination

“When I was dancing last night and messed up I had flashbacks of the three Olympics that people constantly tease me about,” she wrote. (Jones competed, but did not medal, in track events at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, and as a bobsledder in the 2014 Winter Games.) “I thought, ‘Oh no, here it comes again. People are going to ridicule me,'” she added. “I’m so tired of feeling embarrassed.”

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Although I will be the first to admit she has said some pretty dumb things on social media, I like so many other felt kind of bad for her. She is no doubt a world class athlete, is very attractive and works extremely hard at her craft.  It is just unfortunate that no matter how hard she tries she just cant get over the hump.

Keep you head up Lolo, losing on a TV show is not the end of the world, losing only makes you stronger. A word to the wise though,  it might be time to start looking for a regular day job.

 

 

Danny Green: Coaching a Champion

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Champions are not born, they go through years of practice and sacrifice. Some benefit from listening to their coaches and others push themselves to prove they are better than everyone expected.

When I coached FiveStar Basketball, there was one player who you might all know from his outstanding 3 point percentage.

Danny Green was in my team huddle and now he is a champion. This moment was a top 10 coaching experience for me.

Green’s potential was there: fast, good shooter and a natural leader. But, as a coach my role was to provide and promote each player’s capability.  I offered him a choice to enhance his defense and he listened. I wanted these talent athletes to realize that working as a team and as individuals was a win in itself.

Watching Green win his first championship this year proved that he had become what he set out to be.