Falcon Points

It's time to retire the *-asterisk talk in sports

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Sports talk, Twitter and TV are loaded with lazy cliches.

The Mt. Rushmore of...

It is what it is.

The greatest of all time is...

Houston, you have a problem...

Let's add a new one to the list.

"Does it deserve an asterisk?"

This lame, lazy take is particularly chafing to the Houston sports fan. Michael Jordan wasn't there. Those two titles deserve an asterisk. (Actually, he was there for the second. The Bulls weren't good enough). The Astros cheated. The title deserves an asterisk. Yes, they did. Get over it. Many teams won titles by cheating. Let's put an asterisk over the entire steroid era.

Expect a lot of that talk over the coming months, because as sports leagues return, this will not be business as usual. Some MLB team will win a World Series after an 82-game schedule. Asterisk! Some NBA and NHL team will hoist trophies after an abbreviated playoff. Asterisks! The big talk lately is in horse racing, where the Triple Crown has been modified due to the Rona.

Usually, the Triple Crown consists of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, followed by the Preakness two weeks later and the Belmont, run at a mile and a half, three weeks after that. Sir Barton was the first to win all three in 1919. In the century since, only 12 others have accomplished the feat, ranging from the brilliant Secretariat, Seattle Slew and American Pharoah to the decidedly average Justify, who simply outlasted an awful group. But it has been one of the toughest feats in all of sports.

Now, due to changes in the schedule due to an unprecedented pandemic, the Triple Crown will look a lot different. The Belmont has been shortened to 1 1/8 miles and will be run on June 20, the first of the three races. The Derby will be run in September, and the Preakness in October. Fans immediately went to the "any horse that wins the Triple Crown deserves an asterisk" argument.

The same will be made for the major sports. But consider this, in unprecedented times, would these accomplishments be even more impressive? Winning a Triple Crown in such a spaced out schedule with other, late-blooming horses getting better and better would be unprecedented. In this format, it is nearly impossible. So what if they don't run three races in five weeks and have to go a mile and a half? Horses are fragile creatures. Keeping them in top form for this long is almost impossible. The winner will have to likely run at least one race between the Belmont and Derby, maybe two.

NBA and NHL players will have to get back in game shape, re-learn their teammates, and figure out how to play at a high level on short notice, all while being limited due to virus restrictions. Would that be more impressive than a full season or less?

The vote here is more.

For baseball, regular season games will actually mean something. A bad losing streak could eliminate a serious contender. Teams will have to be at their best for the entire season. All that while on lockdown. Again, more impressive.

The asterisk came into being when Roger Maris broke the legendary Babe Ruth's home run record. Baseball added the shameful mark because he played more games. It was a desperate, pathetic attempt to preserve Ruth's legacy. It should have never been there.

Nor should the talk of asterisks for any sports accomplishment in a year unlike any we have ever seen and hopefully will never see again.

Let's all do the right thing and retire the *-asterisk.

*-Exception: Using it as a footnote to a story. Let's get it the hell out of sports.


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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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