Saturday, November 17, 2018

NXT Takeover: WarGames Preview

The time has come again for your faithful prognosticator of action within the circle that is squared to give you his humble opinion on what is going to happen during the next pay per view happening. And as usual the fine folks down in NXT have been laying the groundwork on some good ass storylines that will draw you into these matches without a doubt. Without further ado here are my predictions yo!

Kairi Sane VS Shayna Bayzler (NXT Women's Championship- 2 out of 3 Falls)
Kairi won the Mae Young Classic, Bayzler won their next battle, Kairi won the title from her and Bayzler regained it at Evolution. Seems like these two may be destined to this forever Gargano-Ciampa style. Given the introduction of the rest of the Four Horsewomen of MMA I would imagine that the damn numbers game may just be too much for our beloved Pirate Princess to overcome.
I would think that Bayzler wins in a way that utilizes her running mates and gets the audience more acquainted with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.
Winner: Bayzler 

The Undisputed Era VS Pete Dunne, Ricochet and The War Raiders (War Games)
Long live the Bruiserweight
The Undisputed Era won the first War Games match last year. Given that I would expect... FOR THEM TO DO IT AGAIN. I am all in on this group of ridiculous assholes. They are a cohesive unit while Ricochet and Pete Dunne have simmering animosity while the War Raiders seemingly have simmering animosity towards everyone.
What a dick.
All this being said these are the things I can guarantee, Adam Cole is gonna look like a star, Kyle O'Reilly is gonna be a dick, Ricochet is do something amazing off the top of the cage and Pete Dunne is gonna make us shake our collective heads and and wonder why he isn't on Raw or Smackdown right this moment. 
Winner: Undisputed Era


Aleister Black VS Johnny Gargano
I loved scrappy underdog face Gargano but emo heel Gargano is equally as enjoyable for me. And hes going against someone who has a legit beef given he cost him his NXT title and kayfabe put him on the shelf so he could have a one on one match with Ciampa.
I think this could sneakily steal the show although is it really surprising when you put Gargano and a motivated Dutch occultist in the ring together? I think this match ends as most of Aleister Black matches do, with a Black Mass and we will see Black moved up to the main roster.

The Velveteen Dream VS Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Championship)
This may be the worst built feud of any match on this card. That said this match is going to be goddamn amazing. Ciampa has been an insufferable and horrible human since turning heel. As for the Dream, every time he has gone out he has gotten better.

This is a guy that as I have said numerous times, has it. I think that given all of the big matches that he has been in the time may have arrived for the Dream to ascend to the next level. And given his age he could be a long reigning champ in NXT and really keep the ship steady until Wrestlemania season when I'd expect him to be called up because he is MONEY.
Winner: Velveteen Dream

Well folks there you have it. I've done the watching so you all can sit back and truly enjoy the show.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

5 To Watch For in 2018-2019

The college basketball season has begun anew and your boy is wild excited. And for those of you who don't obsessively watch basketball, scour the Twitter for recruiting news and have sites like NBADraft.net bookmarked then I am here to help you with who to keep an eye on during this season. Without further ado...

The Duke Unholy Trio:
Zion Williamson, F
Cam Reddish, G/F
RJ Barrett, G

Let me just go ahead and get this out the way because frankly it sickens me that Duke has arguably the 3 best players in the upcoming draft. First up the "least" heralded of the 3, Cam Reddish. Good size, very smooth, and gets to the basket at will. Hasn't gotten the consistent 3 pointer yet but when he is hot, yikes.

RJ Barrett is probably the most well rounded of the 3, good size and the lefty is an elite scorer. Not to mention the young Canadian has already played against and with pro competition as a member of the Canadian National Team so honestly there is no stage short of the NBA Finals he probably isn't ready for. 

The most intriguing man in all of college basketball is no doubt Zion Williamson. If you follow any member of basketball twitter then you are no doubt familiar with the antics of one Zion Q. Williamson. As Jim Ross would say he is a freight train with a Ferrari engine.
There is no reason that someone that is 6'6, 285 lbs should be able to jump the way he does. Then to top it all off, apparently as seen against previous top 5 competition Kentucky, he can handle the ball, lead the break and even has a nice jumper. Basically he's a Monstar.

Ugh. I feel so disgusted so

Bol Bol, C - Oregon
Remember Manute Bol? Well his kid is like an upgraded version. Want a ton of blocked shots? You got it. Want someone who can shoot the 3? You got that too...in the same player. Yes this kid who is built like your create-a-player for NBA Live 96 is real and he is doing work.

For someone who blocks a lot of shots he doesn't get in foul trouble. On the offensive side he has very good handles for someone tall as he is and while he is adept at shooting threes, he doesn't fall in love with them and will put the ball on the floor. Simply put this season we should all watch Oregon and not for the horrendous jerseys they wear.

And last but certainly not least, you knew I wasn't gonna have a list of guys to watch and not mention someone from UNC.

Nassir Little, SF - UNC
The first elite athlete to come to Chapel Hill in quite a while, Little is a 2 way player with star written all over him. When you watch him play the one word that you can use to describe him is explosive.

Like when he's grabbing rebounds, contesting shots, even elevating for a jumper he's flying off the court. at 6'6 and 220 pounds he has good size for a wing player and gets to the basket at will at times and the times he doesn't, he draws the foul. While he needs to work on his 3 point percentage, his jumper looks good so it seems like something that can be worked on.

Well folks there are five guys to keep your eyes on and I even gave praise to Duke so you know how in pain and disgusted I am with the current state of the world. Excuse me while I go burn some sage to purify my basketball watching experience. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Excelsior!

I've always had a love of all things nerd. A deep love of documentaries, the statistical deep dives in sports, and foremost in my own personal nerd universe was comic books. Growing up I was a voracious reader. Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, hell any book my local library had. It really wasn't until a buddy of mine growing up name Bo introduced me to the Fantastic Four did I even fathom I could read something not of this earth and be completely taken in. 

In the center of this new found world of nerdiness were the characters of the Marvel universe. I found Superman to be a bit corny, Batman while cool, at times was a bit unbelievable but Marvel characters? Now those were some fleshed out characters a young gangly bastard could get into.  And then I saw for the first time in a comic book, a black super hero.
T'Challa aka Black Panther was everything Batman was and more. So I dove deeper, and the characters of the Marvel universe weren't just mindless super beings. No, they were so much more. There was a message to these enhanced people. 

For instance, the X-Men, a group of people who were hated for their mere existence. Within this marginalized group there were different factions who had different solutions to the problem of the bigotry displayed to them. One faction felt peace was the route to go. Another faction felt that violence was best method to get their point across. Literally mirroring the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. In Lee's own words:
"I couldn't have everybody bitten by a radioactive spider or zapped with gamma rays, and it occurred to me that if I just said that they were mutants, it would make it easy. Then it occurred to me that instead of them just being heroes that everybody admired, what if I made other people fear and suspect and actually hate them because they were different? I loved that idea; it not only made them different, but it was a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time."

What I loved most is that he as he got older, he didn't hide from his message of inclusion. As the times changes whether people want to admit it or not representation matters. It always has and he and Marvel always seemed to go off the beaten path to make sure everyone had a voice and was represented. While not always perfect (who is?) Lee was essentially the moral compass of the Nerd universe. 


Black Panther, Luke Cage, Blade, hell even arguably the most powerful hero of the universe is a woman. Stan Lee created a universe that was for everyone because everyone was represented. 

And I said on Twitter:


Friday, October 26, 2018

October's Sit Your Ass Down Award

Going into an election month I figured there would be just a few candidates for your boy to go through and consider and boy was I right! The person who gets this month's award has been a longtime champion of idiotic opinions and racist trains of thoughts. Frankly I'm shocked that this long time advocate for dumb ass thoughts hasn't been featured here before but you know what, I believe in giving people roses while they can still enjoy them. So Megyn Kelly, get your unemployed ass up here so you can sit your ass down!

In what has become an annual tradition, the topic of white people in blackface came up as whether or not it's appropriate for white people to use black face paint as a part of a costume. What one should say in that moment is "of course it's inappropriate, now let's go to Al for a look at the weather." That is not what sweet Megyn did. She wondered aloud "but what is racist?" At this point a producer should have been looking at her thusly:

She then continued to dig her hole deeper. "Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character."

And scene. 

While this may seem like more of a stupidity thing, this was just the cherry on the trash ass sundae she has been. For instance there was her meltdown about how Jesus and Santa Claus is not black. “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white."
She followed up with  “Jesus was a white man, too… He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa. I just want the kids watching to know that.”  And of course who could forget her proclamation that a McKinney, Texas teenager was "no saint either." A teen who wearing nothing but a swimsuit and was tackled by and pinned to the ground by an overzealous suburban commando.
Look at this clown.

So while I don't think it was the blackface comments that got her fired, more so her god awful ratings I won't shed any tears that this charisma deficient newsroom Barbie won't be on our tv every morning. So Megyn, I tip my cap to you for somehow getting paid more every time you get fired but...


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Chocolate Puma's Guide to the 2018 NBA Season

The NBA season is just a few days away and there are few people as excited as this guy. And if we're being real the NBA offseason was more entertaining than summer baseball and has offered more intrigue than anything the NFL has put forward in quite a while. With that said here's your predictions that you all clamored for!

Most Surprising Solid NBA Player:
Spencer Dinwiddie- SG : Brooklyn Nets
Now Dinwiddie was solid last season but let's be honest who was watching the Nets play last season?
Be real with me. Last season he averaged 12.6 points, 6.6 assists and given that I expect D'Angelo Russell to start this season at point guard I wouldn't be shocked if he was the Sixth Man and was able to get some pretty impressive scoring against the second unit of their opponents. That said,  if he has a great season I wouldn't know because let's be real, no one is really gonna be watching the Nets.

Most Surprising Team: 
Minnesota Timberwolves
Usually most surprising indicates a positive uptick. Not so much this time. No team has had a downward spiral since last season like these guys. Aside from the let's just call them troubling moves made by Thibs, who I was in hindsight giving a ton of credit I shouldn't have. Let's go through some of his moves recently shall we?
Taj Gibson: Solid player, good contract.
Derrick Rose: Wait...what you doing?
Luol Deng: THIBS NO!!!!
And with last week's just dumpster fire of Jimmy Buckets going scorched earth on EVERYONE there is no way this team can avoid the lottery.

Most Ready to become a Head Coach:
Rajon Rondo- PG: LA Lakers
I think that he has had one of the most interesting careers in recent history. I mean he came into the league with the basketball IQ and bravado of a grizzled old vet without any right to do so.
The patience of a saint.
Now that he actually is a grizzled vet and has played with some of the biggest and in a few case more difficult stars so there is no doubt that he cold delicately handle the balance of egos needed by coaches these days.

Rookie of the Year:
Luka Doncic- G: Dallas Mavericks
I'm usually very careful in my projections of foreign players simply because they are leaving their home country and learning a completely new style of basketball. Luka Doncic is not most Euro players.
This guy was signed at 13 years old and was playing against grown men at 16 years old. A supremely talented scorer, amazing passer and with his size he's a great rebounding guard. Team him with the high flying Dennis Smith Jr. and I think the Mavericks may have just stumbled onto something.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Anthony Davis- PF: New Orleans Pelicans
There is literally nothing Anthony Davis can't do on a basketball court. I say this as someone who saw him as a 82 lb freshman at Kentucky block away the hopes of a victory by my Tarheels.
Jerk.
I honestly think he may be the player not named LeBron I would start a team with right this moment. That said he is gonna win every major individual award barring injury and there isn't a thing any of us can do about. This season he makes way for his Defensive Player of the Year trophy.

Coach of the Year:
Brad Stevens- Boston Celtics
This is basically going to be a make up from last year and arguably 2 years ago as well. In terms of straught up x's and o's there may not be a better strategist than Stevens.
He looks 12.
Give him a full roster of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Taytum, a healthy Kyrie and Gordon Hayward not to mention dependable hands like Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Marcus Morris this  is gonna be the year we see someone other than the Cavs play the Warriors in the Finals.

Most Valuable Player:
Giannis Antetokunmpo- SF: Milwaukee Bucks
Every year you can make the case for LeBron James so now that this is out the way I think this is the season that the next generation of superstars to put their mark on the league. Leading the way is going to be the Greek Freak.
Jiminy Christmas.
He's surrounded by a solid if not unspectacular back up crew, has improved immensely each year and has begun to improve his 3 point shooting in an effort to become a full blown Monstar. Now that LeBron is no longer in the East I think this is gonna be his time to truly shine and get the attention he would need coming from a small market to get the media attention for the award.

Well folks there you have it, my predictions for the upcoming season. Make sure to screenshot the really wrong ones like some of my friend's and be sure to text it to me every time the season starts. I'm never gonna live down thinking Dame Lillard was gonna be a bust.

Monday, October 1, 2018

September's Sit Your Ass Down Award

Ah yes it is that time once again, where your boy sits down and with nothing but pettiness and and a childlike immaturity I tell you who I feel should have a seat and baby this month like the preceding months have given me more than a few candidates but we're gonna have to give this award to someone who who has been honored here before. 

Bill Cosby...bring your blind ass up here, don't trip over the Kodak film and sit your ass down!
Yeah I know I've written about Ol' Uncle Pudding Pop before but since he was officially sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison I feel like I can formally celebrate my ass off. Yes that's right, I am celebrating the downfall, which was self inflicted of a comedy legend. If you wanna say I'm in the sunken place or I'm a deranged black person I'll be that because screw Bill Cosby.  For years while he was doing many great philanthropic deeds, he was also doing plenty of shitastic things to balance out the good with some evil. 

Let's see, for starters he was accused by 60 women of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. 60. Now if I'm to believe some of the conspiracy theorists, "they" got 60 women to agree to slander him falsely because of a failed bid to buy a TV channel that wasn't for sale and he would only see jail time on one of those charges years after said bid and he was allowed to have a full ass career and make millions more in the process. That may be the dumbest plan I have ever heard of in my entire life. In fact here is a re-enactment of the man formulating this plan.


"See what we will do is give him a movie and stand up career."
"Yes? Then we bring him down?"
"No. then we give him an influential tv show and prop him up as a paragon of moral virtues!"
"Then we bring him down!"
"Not quite. Then we wait until he has fallen from the public eye and known more for his ridiculous sweaters."
"Then we bring him down?"
"Exactly"
"It's the perfect plan."


Another classic has been the what about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, etc... Well to that I say, fuck them too. They should also be in jail. What? You think I'm gonna say Ol' Billy here should be free because some white guy was fucked up too? Nah son. There are examples of racial injustice, this ain't it.

So as he gets marched down to his cell, I invite Bill to have a piece of pound cake, pull his pants up and to watch his mouth as he takes his shackled ass to his seat and frankly the world is better for it. And since you came all this way Billy, allow me to leave you with a parting gift.




Thursday, September 20, 2018

The 10 Greatest Teams in NBA History (As Proclaimed by the Puma)

A little bit ago I did one of the statistical deep dives that I have been known to do from time to time and chose my ten greatest basketball players of all time. Well then one of the loyal fives of readers said in a glancing comment, you should do the top teams of all time too! Well as someone who will never turn down an opportunity to talk about basketball I am taking you up on that challenge sir!

10. 2015-16 Golden St. Warriors (73-9)
Kicking off my list of the top ten teams of all time is the team that broke my beloved Bulls record for most wins in a regular season. Now why would I have them at ten? Well despite their dominance it came down to the simple fact that they did not win the championship.
The play that keeps this team from being much higher
In fact they had one of the more epic collapses in recent history. That being said they finished first in the league in offensive rating, 5th in the league in defensive rating, and had the 2nd best offensive pace. Featuring 2 of the best three point shooters in recent history if not all time in Klay Thompson and Steph Curry and 2 of the best defensive anchors in recent history in Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

9. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs (67-15)
Next up we have the perennial contenders San Antonio Spurs. Of all of their championship runs this may have been the most masterful of all of them. Coming off a loss to the Miami Heat in the previous Finals this team had a chip on its shoulder. As a team they began probably the most seamless handling of the team from one superstar in Tim Duncan to the next generation of superstar in Kawahi Leonard.
Calm down Kawahi!
Using a combination of defense anchored by Duncan in the post and Leonard on the wing, they also were instrumental in ushering in the current style of offense being used teams like the Warriors and the Rockets. Granted it's all a wrinkle of the offense Don Nelson was doing in the early to mid 90s.

8. 1985-86 Boston Celtics (67-15)
There may not have been a better front court in NBA history than the one boasted by the '85 Celtics. Four hall of famers led by Larry Bird were out for vengeance after losing in the Finals the previous year. They would go on to lead the league in margin of victory, defensive rating, three point percentage, defensive rebounds and total rebounds.
I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum and I'm all out of bubblegum
They would fly through the playoffs sweeping my beloved Bulls, beating the Hawks in 5, and sweeping the Bucks to go on to the Finals. There they dispatched the upstart Houston Rockets led by the original twin towers Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson winning each game by at least 12 points.

7. 1988-89 Detroit Pistons (63-19)
As much as it pains me, this team is high on the list because if we're being honest no team has been as balanced as this squad. They had 6 players average over 13 points per game and 4 guys averaged over 5 rebounds per night. With this kind of balance even if Isaiah Thomas or Joe Dumars had an off night they more than capable of picking up the slack.

What this playoff run by this squad is most famous for implementing is the Jordan Rules. Michael Jordan had just gone super saiyan for a full season averaging 32.5 points to go along with 8 assists and 8 rebounds. They harassed and played Jordan physical and basically didn't worry about anyone else. It was the perfect scheme. And once they got to the finals in a development no one saw coming they just straight up swept the Showtime Lakers right out the playoffs. Bad Boys, first you peaked my curiosity, but that gives you my attention.


6. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers (68-13)
The 1966-67 76ers were led by Wilt Chamberlain and his 24 points and 24 rebounds. But by no means was it a one man show. Add hall of famers Billy Cunningham and Hal Greer and the groundwork is laid for a purely dominant team.This team set the record for the best winning percentage of all time and was chosen as the greatest team for the NBA 35th Anniversary Team in 1980.
Now while I may disagree with that assessment I can not disagree with the excellence exhibited by this team. First in offensive rating, points per game, margin of victory and third in defensive rating. To this day they still have the best 50 game start in NBA history wining 46 of their first 50 games.

5. 1964-65 Boston Celtics (62-18)
The 1964-65 season was the Celtics 19th season in the NBA. They won their 8th championship. So to say there was growing pains would not be the most accurate statement. To give you an idea of how good this team was, of the 13 men on the roster FIVE of them made the Hall of Fame as did their coach the legend himself, Red Auerbach.
Hit em with the 23 skadoo! 
While not as statistically dominant as other teams on the list I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more consistent team. Leading the league in offensive pace, defensive rating, opponents points per game and rebounding, Bill Russell and the boys basically blocked and fast breaked their way past the opponents beating the Lakers in 5 winning by an average of 21 points.

4. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls (67-15)
Oh you knew this was coming so buckle up buckaroos, it's time for the Puma to wax poetically about the Chicago Bulls. Now while the 90-91 Bulls were the team that jumpstarted the dynasty, it was the 1991 edition that truly personified dominance.
With a league high 67 wins the Bulls of course were led by Michael Jordan with 30.1 points per game but the performance of his supporting cast is not to be overlooked. Scottie Pippen averaged 21 and was as Chuck Daly called him a Swiss Army knife player. Horace Grant averaged a double-double and B.J. Armstrong shot over 40% from the 3 point line.

3. 2016-17 Golden State Warriors (67-15)
The team that was the presumptive favorite coming into the season filled a hole that didn't even need to be filled when they pulled the heist of the century and signed Kevin Durant who could be the most gifted scorer of his time. Seriously when has a 7 footer had handles, could post up, shoot the three over defenses and be a ridiculous finisher?
Add that to possibly the best shooter of all time in Steph Curry, a top 5 shooter in Klay Thompson, and two swiss army knife players like Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala and you have the recipe for dominance. And dominate they did. They led the league in points per game, offensive rating and not to be comfused as a one trick pony they finished in the top 5 in defensive rating. They completely obliterated their opponents in the playoffs finishing with a 16-1 record (a new NBA record). They also had the best post season start in NBA history winning their first 15 games. Hot. Damn.


2. 1986-87 LA Lakers (65-17)
Now when we talked about defensive balance in regards to the Pistons, the Lakers were the epitome of offensive balance with 7 players averaging in double figures. Led by Magic Johnson who averaged 24 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds this was by no means a one man show. In fact Kareem Abdul Jabaar averaged 17.5 points a game and he was 86 years old (approximately.)
The sky hook was problems.
They flew threw the regular season and that momentum continued in the playoffs as they won 11 of their first 12 games. Once in the finals they were against a familiar foe in the Boston Celtics but this time would not be as competitve as years past and the Lake show show would win the franchises 10th NBA title.

1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10)
And here we are with the greatest team in NBA history and surprise, surprise it's the Chicago Bulls! Where to begin? Well first off they won their first 37 games of the season, won 33 road games which was a record until it was broken by the Warriors of 2015-16, and had the best combined regular and post season record going 87-13. They obviously led the league in wins, margin of victory, offensive rating, defensive rating, turnover percentage, and offensive rebound percentage. In a word they were absolutely dominant.
They won 11 of their first 12 playoff games and dispatched the upstart SuperSonics in 6. Led by the original Big 3 of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman they became one of the most awarded teams of all time. Phil Jackson won coach of the year, Toni Kukoc won 6th man of the year, Michael Jordan won MVP of the regular season, all star game and the Finals. Rodman and Pippen were both members of the All-Defensive First Team and Jordan and Pippen were both All NBA first team. Needless to say their accomplishments are nothing short of amazing. As the motto for that season went; "72-10 don't mean a thing without that ring."

Well there you have it, young Puma has sat and looked at grainy YouTube videos, and poured through the team stats of every team for 71 seasons. You people should be grateful!