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Why Joey Chestnut belongs in the pantheon of all-time greats

Photo by Getty Images.

Death, taxes and Joey Chestnut winning the July 4th Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The 36-year-old scoffed down a new world record of 75 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to win his 13th Mustard Yellow Belt for the 13th time in 14 years. Chestnut's 75 Hot-Dogs broke his own record of 74 that he set in 2018. His 13 championships are now more than double the next highest total on the men's side. Takeru Kobayashi won 6.

Right now you can argue that nobody does their job better in the world than Chestnut does his. Chestnut won by 33 hot dogs and buns over second-place finisher Darron Breedon, who ate 42 hot dogs and buns. The 33 hot-dog-and-bun margin of victory is the largest since the Super Bowl of competitive eating split into men's and women's events in 2011. Chestnut belongs in the pantheon of all-time sports greats.

Chestnut is the closest thing to Babe Ruth we have seen in any athlete since the "Sultan of Swat" changed baseball forever. Ruth used to outhomer entire teams and now we see Chestnut outeat the total of multiple eaters combined. Chestnut is greatness personified and the most dominant athlete I have ever seen in my lifetime.

To any hater out there saying Chestnut is not a real athlete and competitive eating is not a sport, here is why you are wrong. Chestnut trains year-round to compete on the competitive eating circuit. Chestnut also has world records in Big Mac burgers and Hooters hot wings. He has a unique set of skills just as a NASCAR driver or a golfer does, and we don't question the validity of those sports? So why should we question Chestnut's?

Here are some Chestnut stats that will put his dominance in perspective. If you combine the titles of Michael Jordan and Tom Brady you are still one championship short of Chestnut's 13 Mustard Belts. Yogi Berra won 10 championships in baseball and Bill Russell won 11 championships in basketball and both don't match the total of Chestnuts.

The Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest averages 2 million viewers every year. That is a huge number for a sport that is known for only one main event once a year. Take that Peter King.

It has been said that the NFL owns a day of a week. Well, Joey Chestnut owns the 4th of July. What is more American than that?

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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