Gonzo Sports Digest: Ryan Shawcross for England, Donald Trump hating and boxers with unconventional sex lives

If time was a currency I’d be in the poor house right now, come to think of it I could do with more cold hard currency as well so whatever I’m doing it isn’t profitable.

I’ve had no time to write my own stuff so instead here is a round-up of some of the best/most interesting articles I’ve seen lately.  We’ll start highbrow before the inevitable deterioration begins.

Ryan Shawcross

Ryan Shawcross has been consistently ignored by England manager Roy Hodgson and he isn’t expecting that to change any time soon.   The Stoke centre-half more than deserves another call-up but unfortunately he’s somehow managed to retain the unfashionable image the Potters had under Tony Pulis, while the rest of the squad are now considered masters in the total football or whatever implemented by Mark Hughes.  That might be a simplistic take on it but I think that’s a reasonably fair assessment.

Shawcross is a pretty quiet guy but he did give a very candid interview to The Telegraph recently and it is worth a read.  He discusses not only being ostracised from the England squad but also how he feels his career has been impacted by that infamous Aaron Ramsey leg-break a few years back.

Grizzlies tear into Donald Trump

Read that sub-header, now imagine actual bears ripping the nasty old bastard apart…. Feels good but sadly that isn’t the case here, just Matt Barnes of the Memphis Grizzlies has posted some anti-Trump stuff on Instagram.  Should sport stars talk about politics?  Why not…. if they’ve got the time to do so when they’re not romancing celebrities or endorsing trainers.

Here is a link to the story via Rolling Stone, for some reason the picture isn’t showing so I’ve used it as the main image for this article.  Comparing Trump to Hitler may not be the most groundbreaking move in the world, but it could see Barnes on the other side of that Mexican wall if that comb-over lunatic somehow manages to get in the White House.

Yusaf Mack and trans women

Being a boxer isn’t the easiest life, unless you’re at the very top of the pile and even then it isn’t necessarily a picnic, but throw in a niche sexual interest and what was previously tough becomes damn near impossible. West Philly native Yusaf Mack, who British fight fans may remember from his 2012 loss to Carl Froch, is into trans women. My own philosophy is essentially each to their own as long as no one’s getting hurt, not many subscribe to that viewpoint though.  Anyway here is an article about it via Broadly,  interesting stuff.

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Golden State Warriors; When Losing Makes You Better

No one likes losing, but the Golden State Warriors seem to have taken it pretty well.

Records tumbled, praise was heaped on them from all angles and they even got a bit of a mention over here in the UK.

The Warriors tend to get overlooked by the British press, who only really cover the Lakers and Celtics, and maybe the Bulls, Knicks and LeBron James (not really the Cavs or before that the Heat, just the man himself).  Maybe it’ll get to that stage too with Steph Curry we’ll see, Golden State would probably have to grab a ‘three-peat’ to get that kind of recognition and have kids on this side of the pond buy their merchandise, but then again that’s not beyond this team.

Anyway, having managed 24 wins to kick off the season with they crashed to a first loss in Milwaukee over the weekend that I doubt anybody saw coming, and it was a 108-95 defeat they couldn’t really complain about either.

When big streaks come to an end often a bit of a dip in form follows but Golden State are making all the right noises.

Here’s what Draymond Green had to say, via ESPN.

“I think probably the last seven or eight games, I think we’ve stopped getting better.

“We just know how to win, and so our playing and knowing how to win has just gotten us through. But our playing and knowing how to win won’t get us another NBA championship.”

I don’t really buy into that myself, for one I’m not sure I agree that over the last seven or eight games they’ve not been impressing – they’ve looked fine to me.  Sure, it could be hard to concentrate on what needs improving when everyone’s licking your balls but that’s what coaches are for, keeping everyone grounded and focused and away from any media hype. And analysing what needs improving, obviously.

As for ‘knowing how to win’ won’t get them another Championship… well, that’s just ridiculous.  Grinding out results when not at your best is a big part of being a great champion, think Floyd Mayweather Jr or Chelsea (not right now), but maybe the Warriors want to do it a different way.

How this loss will impact on them remains to be seen but you’d expect them to bounce back in their next game against Phoenix Suns, although the manner of the win could and will be analysed.

The big tests come a little further down the line, a rematch against the Bucks (this time at home) is the first one I’ll look out for, and then there’s the visit of Cleveland later in December.  Then we’ll see if this loss actually does help Golden State step up another level. I’m sceptical but I’d love to be proved very wrong in this case – they’re one hell of a team to watch and worth losing sleep for if, like me, you’re watching on from Europe.

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LeBron James and Self Sabotage

LeBron James may well go down as one of the best players the NBA has ever seen but I wonder whether he is always that helpful as a team-mate.

The Cavs lost at Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and here’s what James said afterwards via the good people at cleveland.com.

“We didn’t win anything. We lost. We lost in the Finals. So, that’s enough motivation for myself. I think we need to understand that.

“Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. And the team that beat us (Golden State Warriors) looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn’t be that way.”

Previously, he’s labelled their effort levels “half-ass”, and alluded to a sense of entitlement.

Don’t get me wrong – I love watching LeBron James play.  I don’t really buy into the whole ‘greatest of all time’ debate, it’s impossible to compare players when the argument transcends generations.  If pushed I would argue Michael Jordan was better but I don’t know if that’s just because he’s the guy who got me into basketball in the first place, or at least that Bulls team were, as a child in the north of England – which at that time was pretty rare and for a while the NBA felt like ‘my thing’ however ridiculous that may sound.  Am I too old, jaded and cynical to appreciate LeBron in the same way? Probably, and besides, there are far too many variables.  The only way we could truly judge would be to send LeBron back in time to Jordan’s heyday, or freeze His Airness cryogenically and wait for James to catch up in a couple of decades, neither of which is feasible.

But I’ve gone off point.  My argument is this, are these the kinds of comments he should be making about his team-mates – and if so should he be making them publicly?

Granted he’s not naming names but he doesn’t really have to – from the above quotes I take it as him saying “I’m trying, why aren’t you workshy freeloaders when Golden State have been tearing it up since the season started?”

For me these are the things coaches should say in public but players should keep in the locker room. The Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are pretty cohesive units, and so are Chicago – from where I’m sitting the Cavs’ only real rivals for the Eastern Conference – when they get their shit together, but Cleveland at this early stage seem to be lacking in the same spirit and James may be part of, rather than the solution to, that particular problem.

Cleveland are the bookies’ favourites but I reckon that’s just because the Eastern Conference is the weaker of the two and they’re taking it as a given that they’ll reach the Finals again, which may be true.  At this early stage though, a few cracks seem to be developing in the Cavs camp and maybe LeBron needs to find a way to help motivate his buddies other than publicly berating them if he is to win a third Championship and a first with the Cavs.

I could be wrong – I just know if I was on his team I might get a bit pissed off at having my desire questioned at regular intervals.

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