JOHN GRANATO

The ever changing world of sports

Odell Beckham Jr. is giving his team a headache. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The world is changing at a pace that even kids can’t keep up with. The phone you just bought last week is obsolete. A robot is two months away from taking your job. I just saw an ad for a flying car.

Sports may be one of the last frontiers that remains unchanged. If you hit a grounder to short with a man on first it’s probably a double play, a hundred yards rushing is still the standard for a good game and no one has ever come back from a 1-0 deficit in soccer.

But there are some alarming trends that are changing sports. Let’s start with fashion. The guys are dressing differently these days. Seen Russell Westbrook lately? How about Chandler Parsons? Cam Newton? James Harden had an interesting layout in GQ. You can see that here.

Very colorful. Not something I would try to pull off but no one wants to see me in yellow leather pants, myself included.

They’re certainly not hurting anyone with their style. That’s not the case though with today’s NFL wide receiver. For some reason that position has drawn sport’s biggest divas and nut jobs. From T.O. to Dez to Odell these guys are revolutionizing the game with their antics. If they aren’t catching enough passes somebody’s going to pay and it’s usually their quarterback, but not always.

Dez Bryant called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones clueless and LB Sean Lee a snake. He turned down nice money in Baltimore and wouldn’t sign with Cleveland but says he still wants to play. Oooookay.

Terrell Owens set the standard for not only burning bridges but blowing them to smithereens. In a 2004 article for Playboy Magazine T.O. was asked if his former 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia was gay. T.O. answered “Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it’s a rat.”

On Donovan McNabb: “He’s a funny guy, not funny ‘ha ha.’ Me, personally, I don’t do well with two-faced people.”

At least with Dez and T.O. they went after their QB’s after they had left the team. Saying those things while in the locker room could create some serious problems. Case in point, Odell Beckham Jr.

Last month Odell made headlines with his interview on ESPN with Josina Anderson. When asked what was holding him back in the Giants offense he said “everything.” When asked if Eli Manning was the problem he said “I don’t know.” When asked if he was happy with the organization that just gave him a $95 million contract he said “It’s a tough question.”

This week Giants owner John Mara wished Beckham would get back to making headlines on the field instead of off it. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”

No chance John. Odell is the same guy who lost a fight with the kicking net, got fined for peeing like a dog in his touchdown celebration and has conversations with sideline air conditioners.

The Giants are a complete mess (other than when they play the Texans) and the Raiders notwithstanding, the worst team in the league.

Maybe I’m old fashioned but you’d never hear a guy criticizing his coaches, quarterback and organization while he was still playing there but thanks to guaranteed money it might be something we’ll see plenty of in the future.

What can the Giants do? Fine him? They did. And? Anything more than a slap on the wrist would draw the ire of the players’ association. They can’t cut him. The salary cap wouldn’t allow it.

What can the Steelers do with Leveon Bell? His teammates broke the unwritten rules by calling him out for holding out. Is a man’s money no longer sacred? Apparently not.

James Harrison is telling him to fake a headache or hamstring all year and cash paychecks. Earl Thomas decided not to practice a few days then flipped off his sideline as he was being carted off the field. His own sideline? I don’t remember that ever being done before. What happened to the good old days when you flipped off the other team when you were hurt?

The line of what you do and don’t do has been moving for a while now. Authority had never been questioned before Latrell Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlisimo. We haven’t had that extreme in some time but it’s nothing now to criticize the coach if things are going badly.

In recent years we’ve seen high school football players taking out the referee with intentional hits and catchers ducking on a fastball that catches the ump in the chest. I wouldn’t mind if that happened to Joe West but it wasn’t him so I feel like you shouldn’t do that.

I’ve ceased to be amazed by anything that happens on or off the field anymore.

What’s next? A player retiring at halftime of a game? Wait...



 

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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