The superstar label gets tossed around so frequently in the current NBA discourse that we as fans have become numb and indifferent to the word. Everybody is a superstar. Everybody gets the max. Previous touchstones like 20 PPG are no longer useful as a means to identify great players as no fewer than 45 of them are set to best that mark this season at the time of this writing. We fawn over triple doubles, Twitter breaking dunks, Steph Curry being a too cute for words Pomeranian with his mouthguard chew toy and TMZ-quality stories like Ja Morant's IG titty bar confessionals with his precious wittle-bitty-baby gun. If you'd like to know why he's holding Gary Coleman's tiny Glock like a freshly soiled diaper he's about to dispose of in a Diaper Genie, you'll have to ask him. That thing doesn't look like it could stop Luka from destroying a Slovenian Štruklji buffet during his annual offseason carb-loading window of never ending cheat days, much less whoever Ja was hoping would like/rate/review/subscribe to his IG account.
To a casual fan it might be easy to think that the NBA has 30 or 40 players who could be the best player on a championship team. There certainly are 30 or 40 guys who are P-P-P-$-Paid like this is true, but really there are only a couple handful of players who can single handedly change the course of direction for your franchise. The rest are Harold Hill grifters with shiny stats and shinier contracts masquerading as needle moving difference makers. Even if I make an unranked list of who might be considered 35 of the bestplayers in the league,
(Durant, Giannis, LeBron, Curry, Luka, Tatum, Kawhi, SGA, Booker, Morant, Zion, Young, Kyrie, Donovan Mitchell, Dame, KAT, Sabonis, Jaylen Brown, Butler, A.D., Fox, PG13, ANT, Siakam, Harden, McCollum, Ingraham, Gobert, Markenen, Bam, Lemello -. , Jrue Holiday,Jaylen Brunson, Randle, Haliburton)
I still can't get to more than 10-ish guys I'm willing to brand a superstar. To help me clear away all but the toughest debates on who gets past the velvet ropes and who doesn't, the team and I here at ROE developed a highly scientific, peer-reviewed 5-Question quiz to serve as our clearinghouse. ROE has a zero tolerance policy on any violations regarding something this serious, with any answer of "YES" resulting in an immediate disqualification with no chance of appeal.
Since we now have a bit of a rubric to move forward with, lets use the traditional All-NBA format to highlight and parse out the worst of these superstar charlatans. This will be a 3 part article series with the worst offenders identified on the 1st Team. Without further ado.
The Morgan Wallen 1st Team
In a sign that the apocalypse is surely imminent, the #1 song on the Billboard 100 as of a few days ago was "Last Night" by country artist Morgan Wallen. This is the first time in over 40 years the #1 spot on the Billboard 100 has been held by a solo male country artist. I would tell you that America is better than this, but we just ain't. Wallen's music is by any sane and rational examination positively godawful. Country music is littered with artists who are infinitely more talented singers (Chris Stapleton), songwriters (Zac Brown) and musicians (anyone) than Wallen could ever hope to become. No matter. Even given these unassailable truths it still costs $500 or more to attend many of his concerts, which is no small outlay for many of Wallen's fans forced to choose between finally seeing their hero chew his toenails on stage and the branded title 87' Econoline they are considering for a new residence. I'm not sure how many different songs one man can sing about the trials and tribulations associated with whiskey, but rest assured when he signs his career scorecard and heads in to the clubhouse ain't nobody EVER touching that record.
Wallen resembles the unaborted lovechild of Kid Rock and Mama June after a difficult and unwanted pregnancy. Despite his humble beginnings though, Wallen has been defying the odds and breaking down barriers on his meteoric rise to stardom ever since. Wallen narrowly escaped death as a child when the family barn exploded during a larger than usual Crank production run, killing 9 cousins, 5 uncles, 4 uncle-cousins, 3 sister-cousins, and a drifter already squatting in the barn's hay loft unbeknownst to the Wallens.
Fast forwarding 20 years, the only thing on fire near Wallen now is his career. Country music can no longer contain his stardom and keep him all to themselves. He's rumored to be in talks with Netflix to produce and star in Joe Dirt 3: The MAGA Saga, along with a 3 season, 9-part biographical docuseries titled Unwashed and Unfiltered: The Morgan Wallen Story in which Wallen will pay homage to the beloved Jim Varney Ernest Goes To _______ classics of the 1980's and 90's by having film crews document his adventures in Appalachia and the basic life skills he's still mastering as an adult.
The Seasons will be grouped in to three separate trilogies, starting with Morgan Learns To Use the (indoor) Potty: Part 1 due to hit Netflix just in time for honey baked ham season this December. Not long behind will follow Morgan Learns to Use The Potty Part 2: Why Does My PeePee Hole Itch Doc? and finally: Morgan Learns to Use The Potty Part 3: Accident Free for 17 Days.
Season 2 will chronicle Morgan learning further life skills with instant classics like Morgan Learns To Read Multi-Syllable Words, Morgan Learns About Statutory Rape, and the first-person masterpiece narrated by Wallen himself: Morgan Learns Abut Prison After Committing Statutory Rape in which Wallen will perform a yet to-be released single called "Fifteen Going on Perfect" as a season-ending bonus.
Concluding the series for Wallen will be the Season 3 capstone set of Morgan Runs Out Of Canadian Mist, Morgan Learns About Nonlethal Domestic Violence Methods, and Morgan Learns How To Navigate The Healthcare System with Hookworm and Alcoholic Liver Disease.
Episode 1 of Season 3 contains a particularly grisly scene where Morgan learns for the first time that professional wrestling isn't real. Watching this devastating reality wash over him in real time felt like witnessing a child learning in the same 30 seconds that they were both adopted and Santa Clause isn't real. Wallen's epic 27-minute meltdown of uncut crying and wailing is gut-wrenching to watch and not recommended for the feint of heart or children under 17.
If you haven't already taken the time to update your Netflix settings to be reminded when Unwashed is due to drop, go ahead and stop reading and take care of it now so you don't forget. You'll thank me later.
The moral of the story here is this:
Just because you can bang out a few hits and sell some Chinese-made cowboy hats at your concerts to under-40 non-college Whites doesn't mean your music is actually worth the powder it would take to blow the 79' Itasca functioning as your tour bus to hell. Hopefully the relevance of this story is obvious as we move forward here.
PG Trae Young
The Eastern Conference Finals the Hawks appeared in feels like they happened when Caitlyn Jenner was still pissing standing up and getting cancelled just meant any show with Matthew Perry. Incredibly, this was less than 24 months ago. Trae Young and the rest of the Hawks organization have been dining off that miraculous run ever since. This early success for Young proved to be a nightmare scenario for the Hawks as it gave Trae-Bae proof of concept that a team dominated by his skill set could have deep playoff runs. Why wouldn't you think that when you turn in a Round 2 Game 7 performance for the ages against the Sixers, going 5 for 23 and needing to be rescued by the career game of a guy with the nickname Red Velvet. To be clear, as much shade as I throw at Kevin Huerter for being a soulless ginger and whiter than a Michael Buble'/Josh Groban Christmas benefit concert held on the front steps of St Jude, there is no universe I would rather have Trae Young than Tinder McGingertits and his I-must-be-dead-and-about-to-meet-Jesus blinding whiteness.
The success of those Hawks even caused a few pundit dunderheads to suggest the Atlanta front office made the right choice in going with Young over some doughy Slovenian kid with a bunch of YouTube videos. Whoopsie Daisies. All the Hawks had to do was hand Adam Silver a little notecard with "Luka" scrawled on it and shut the fuck up for the next 15 years. Couldn't do it. If I had been the Hawks owner and gotten wind we had Luka in the building but were planning on trading him to the Mavs in the next 10 minutes for Trae Young, I would have immediately back-channelled Jack Bauer at CTU Los Angeles and authorized him to detonate an EMP at the Barclays Center and extract Luka (and his smokin' hot Mom) in an unmarked van careening towards the back service exit where Jack had already neutralized gate security and forced them all at gunpoint to place Donald Sterling masks on each other's heads.
It's not Trae's fault that he was (essentially) drafted ahead of Luka and has the physical presence of one of those kids that shows up at your door in a scratchy polo he was issued an hour ago at the company warehouse trying to get you to let him repaint the numbers on the curb in front of your house. If Ursula the Sea Witch magically appeared at the Hawk's facilities and offered them a devil's bargain to go back and ignore Mark Cuban's calls and just keep Luka but in exchange the Hawks had to somehow get the now Mavericks bound Young to genuinely try on defense for 1 possession before the final buzzer of the 3rd game, Flotsam and Jetsam wouldn't even have been able to fully unroll the contract for Travis Schlenk to sign before he made sushi out of them trying to grab the feather pen from Ursula. Never mind that the Hawks would have less than zero chance of keeping Luka as it would be easier to get Shakira to pay her taxes than Trae Young to actually guard someone.
When it's all over Young is going to have a veritable shit ton of points and assists and will likely walk straight in to the basketball Hall of Fame. Voters will not have the testicular fortitude to keep a 30k/10k guy out when they let in everyone short of that autistic kid from your church who is a Pop-A-Shot savant. My God they inducted Vlade Divac and Mitch Richmond, Young will probably get his own wing. No reasonable person denies that Young possesses a dazzling bag of offensive skills and the swagger to go with it. When he has it rolling from deep he's on the short list of dudes worth holding a piss to watch. He also commits more turnovers than Bob Kraft and his closest friends at Orchids of Asia after a strong week in the commodities markets. Now for the best part. Young may very well be the worst defensive guard of all time not named (little) Isiah Thomas. I don't care what the numbers say, just watch him. Young is a generational talent, but not as a shooter or playmaker. When it comes to overall lack of defensive effort and ability, the underwear ironing analytics virgins haven't even yet been able to come up with stats to quantify just how special he is in this area. He makes other All-NBA mainstays like Luka, Curry and Jokic look like Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace and Bill Russell. It's just so rare we get to witness a player who combines such a breathtaking lack of physical stature, strength, and toughness with defensive effort and awareness levels barely north of yogurt. I feel really grateful to have been able to watch it in real time so I can wax poetic about it years from now when the children ask me what basketball was like in the olden days.
I'm fully aware the current state of the NBA isn't exactly skewed towards defense, but Trae Young looks like Hellen Keller out there on roller skates waiving a bug catching net in the All-Star game. Admittedly this is a cranky 5'9 chunky white guy who couldn't dunk on a 9 foot hoop talking, but I just can't rock with guys who categorically refuse to participate at both ends of the floor. Given his piss-poor effort on defense, it's entirely predictable that resentment from his teammates would fester over time. You'd be pissed off too if you constantly had to pick up the slack for and watch the franchise kiss the ass of it's bird chested $50 million-a-year golden boy. To call him a traffic cone on defense is disparaging and libelous to the good name and pragmatic utility of the standard issue orange traffic cone. Putting an upside-down broom inside that same traffic cone glued to an alcoholic Roomba set on random and placed at the top of the key would be a far more effective defender than whatever it is Young is trying to do out there.
I know this: If he and I were playing 1-on-1 to 21 he wouldn't skunk me. He might beat me 21 to 1 or 2, but he wouldn't skunk me. Who else in the entire league could I say that about?
Much like a couple other gentlemen who will grace this list, despite the previous paragraph's evisceration of his defense Young's biggest problem isn't his anything he does on a basketball court. Rather, he just appears to be kind of a dick . At the very least, it's pretty obvious he's someone his teammates and coaches don't much care for professionally or interpersonally. He got his coach Nate McMillan fired and Team President (GM) Travis Schlenk sent even further upstairs on the FuckUpGoUp escalator normally reserved for government employees and Brad Stephens. Young's toddler-like antics were on full display when he skipped the December 2nd game against the Nuggets to pout and have a large sand deposit removed from an unnamed orifice. The procedure was reportedly not successful and will be attempted again in the off-season.
The NBA is by far the hardest sport to discern which players are true difference makers and which just produce pretty box scores and highlight reels. Young obviously falls in to the latter category for me, but the analytics folks who have broken out of their asylums led by torch wielding Darryl Morrey would say different. Yes, his PER is great. So was Westbrook's during his peak. Lofty assist totals when you have bananas usage rates like Young and Westbrook tell you nothing about what it's like to actually co-exist in an offense with these black holes. Sure, Young is a talented passer, but does it appear he's elevating the play of those around him? Do his teammates like playing with him? Doesn't appear so to me. I am completely confident in saying there is 0 chance the Hawks will win a title with Trae Young driving the bus as their franchise cornerstone. He is a smaller, better shooting, worse rebounding Russell Westbrook with half the motor. Not exactly a compliment. Oh yeah, he's also on a 5-year Supermax contact worth almost $250 million. Using the Greater Fool Theory that would make Giannis/Jokic/Embiid worth about $3 Billion per season. Hope you're good with the play-in Atlanta, because that's where you're going to be every year with this guy running the show.
SG Bradley Beal
It does pain me a bit to come at Beal like this being that he appears by all accounts to be a good guy and teammate. He doesn't cause near the reaction in me that some of the others on this list do, but that doesn't mean he isn't one of the most overpaid, worst defending, empty calorie scorers we have in this league. B-Roll stars like Beal are actually the worst case scenario for a franchise because it steers them towards the worst place to be in the NBA -- the oasis-less desert of mediocrity. This has been the story of the Wizards seemingly forever, stuck in a bad marriage that exists between playoff success and top-of-the-lottery hope. Their draft picks have either been traded away or been used on a whole bunch of "who the fuck is this guy" Johnny Davis/Rui Hachimura/Deni Avdija types. They have to sign your own shitty free agents at exorbitant rates just to keep them in the building. I grant you $80 million doesn't buy what it did for my father, but the Wizards still saw fit to give it to Davis Bertans who is now getting DNPCD's for a feckless Mavericks team with one of the worst top-to-bottom rosters in the league. They'll probably have to extend Porzingis this offseason at a max or close number because that's what you do when you're the Wizards and someone plays moderately well for you. It's like having to rent a ramshackle duplex for $7k a month because no one else will rent you anything and you really don't feel like moving your heavy-ass couch up 3 flights of concrete apartment steps again.
While it's certainly in the best interest of the league and fans for teams to be able to draft, cultivate, and invest in homegrown guys, it also unfortunately creates situations like the Wizards have with Beal. What is a team like the Wizards supposed to do with a player they drafted who turns out to be really good and actually wants to stay with a rotting corpse of a franchise like them? He's not a frontline difference maker, but what are their options to replace a player like Beal? Not many, even if they beg free agents to take their money. I may not call Beal a superstar, but I do know one thing for sure though. They call him Mr. Beal at the bank. Beal inked a $250+ million SuperMax this past summer with a full no trade clause. WTF? I guess I missed something the past 10 years, what exactly has Beal done to warrant the best contract available in the league? Fifty years from now, an alien is going to look up his basketball reference page and and determine he was one of the best players of his generation. If you happen to be sitting next to this alien when he does this, please carry on my message and set him straight.
Barring major injury he will also likely be a member of the 30k points fraternity. Yet like so many terrible franchises, the Wizards did the desperate, pudgy, bald, rich guy dating the hot girl out of his league thing and married the dumpster fire that will eventually lead to their financial and emotional ruin. Beal is a good player with an excellent feel for the offensive end of the floor, but he's not a difference maker in the way that you need a SuperMax player to be. Watching him play feels like a combination of Devin Booker and Damian Lillard, but somehow without the impact of either. Even though according to John Wall the Wizards had the best backcourt in the league, they didn't accomplish squat together other than Wall demonstrating he has a vertical leap at least as tall as the scorers table. His contract will likely not allow it but Beal would be best served as a 2nd or premium 3rd option on a championship-level team. Though I certainly don't see Beal's career taking the Hindenburg type trajectory that John Wall's did, I do think we have enough of a sample size now to say that he will not be involved in a deep playoff run as his team's best player.
C Karl-Anthony Towns
Can somebody please take the keys from grandpa before he kills someone? This is what I think every time I look at the roster moves of Timberwolves President Tim Connelly. Are we sure it isn't Tim Conway running the Wolves? It would make a lot more sense if I were watching Dorf Runs the Timberwolves and just didn't know it. To ink Towns to a deal that commits the Wolves to a total compensation package worth $295 million over the next 6 years is the basketball salary cap equivalent of Darrell Brooks driving his SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade. What's incredibly disheartening to me is that Towns flashed major rim-protector potential coming out of Kentucky, showcasing natural shot blocking ability and a high defensive IQ. That version of KAT must be sitting somewhere on the bottom of lake Minnetonka with cement shoes on though, because the present day version is deathly allergic to any basketball related skill when the ball is not in his hands. Yes, he is likely the best shooting pure pivot man the league has seen. Whooptido Basil. Jimmy Butler certainly wasn't fooled. Game recognize game, and KAT did not pass the sniff test for him. JB damn near retired rather than suit up next to Townes. His now infamous stunt of verbally accosting every Timberwolf within earshot and grabbing the end of the bench guys to destroy the Wiggins/Towns led starters in a practice scrimmage should tell you everything you need to know.
The further you play from the basket, the less of an advantage your height is. Durant is the most prolific offensive weapon in the game because he uses his height and 38-foot wingspan to get whatever shot he wants from the rim to 30 feet out. There is a reason Damian Lillard and Steph Curry take more shots from 26 feet out than the restricted area. Yeah, Towns can shoot the hell out of it, but he should be using his size, strength and touch to command double teams instead of just jacking 3's from wherever. Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitski, and Kevin Garnett were incredible HOF players, but they never had the impact on winning that Tim Duncan did because Duncan demanded you double team him less you face total annihilation. Even more so with Shaq obviously. Amazing isn't it, Shaq shot 19 (19!) 3's in his entire career, but when you demand double and triple teams and foul out 4 of the opposing teams players it just doesn't matter. I'm going to get struck by lightning shortly after I write this, but Towns is talented enough that he really could have been the Tim Duncan of his generation had he been wired differently upstairs. Shooting 3's is really fun and easy though, which is why he does it. Making $50 million a year is straight heroin for confirmation biases though, and once a guy has $300 million guaranteed coming his way you ain't telling him shit.
Towns has a statistical resume that looks fantastic on basketball reference. At least I assume it does anyways, I'll read it when I'm done bleaching my eyes and recovering from watching his horrific playoff performance against the Grizzlies last season. Some performances are even worse than numbers indicate, and this was certainly the case for Towns. The moment was just too big for him, and you could see it. So could Jimmy Butler 4 years earlier. The floating turd that Towns left in the hallway guest bathroom was so bad that the Timberwolves thought they needed to go out and get him a $200 million dollar security blanket named Rudy Gobert. What a fantastic transition.
C Rudy Gobert
Rudy Goebert is another guy I almost feel bad for putting on this list. Almost. Just to be clear, I nor anyone else outside Utah and Minnesota think that Rudy Gobert is deserving of a superstar label. Rudy Gobert doesn't think Rudy Gobert is a superstar. He still calls the bank every Friday to see if the $800,000 he made last week came through again and is then heard laughing hysterically prior to hanging up.
It's not Rudy's fault that 2 very unusual things happened to him. First, Utah GM Justin Zanik actually thought it was a good idea to give the Parliament-smoking French Homeless Man's version of peak Dwight Howard a max contract worth $205 million. I mean, I guess if it wasn't my money I was giving away I might look like I was hiding a Fukitol addiction too. This is the major problem (Podfather Simmons I'd love to debate this with you) with the All-NBA Teams as they have traditionally existed. You end up getting players like Rudy Gobert selected, someone who more closely resembles an awkward youth giraffe waking up from anesthesia which then immediately tries to riverdance vs. one of the best 15 players in the league. Gobert didn't even sign the full SuperMax with the All-NBA selection bonus included. Why? It wasn't because he was trying to help the Jazz' salary cap as reported, but rather I understand that Gobert couldn't handle the guilt and shame of stealing a $1 more than the $205 million he was already pilfering without suffering a complete mental breakdown and requesting a 72-hour psych hold.
Gobert's contract is the single greatest heist by a Frenchman since Napoleon did the Italians a solid in 1796 by helping them store all of those silly old Rembrandts back in France that were taking up way too much space in the Vatican attic and garage. Many of these paintings and other priceless pieces of art are still safely stored in France, much like French banking house BNP Paribas will be safely storing millions of dollars which rightfully belong to the Jazz and other more deserving players for Gobert. Thankfully for Gobert, the path to a Frenchmen stealing 9 figures worth of US dollars was already blazed for him by fellow countryman Nicolas Batum, who in 2016 fleeced the Charlotte Hornets out $120 million of their dollars.
Secondly, and far more miraculously, the Jazz somehow convinced the Timberwolves that Rudy Gobert was actually the bastard son of Kareem Abdul-Jabarr and Chyna. After watching Townes in that series against the Grizzlies, I can understand why the Timberwolves thought he needed a Defensive Support Animal (patent pending) like Gobert to help him safely cross the street. But Christ on a bike the Wolves paid the equivalent of $78k for a 2016 Jeep Wrangler that can get you up a muddy hill and over some rocks but can't fit in your garage, has a torn soft top and costs you $96 to fill up every 3 days. Four rotation quality players or better and five picks/swaps for Rudy fucking Gobert? Does Danny Ainge have Eyes Wide Shut type footage of every other GM in the league fucking trafficked Ukrainian Teenagers wearing Bugs Bunny and Richard Nixon masks? God I hope so, because I'm not sure what else explains this trade. It's truly one of the most desperate and bizarre over reaches by a team who thought they were much, much closer to pay dirt than they actually are. The ransom paid by the wolves would have been ghastly and grotesque even if they were getting apex Gobert, which they didn't. The Incas paid less to Pizarro for the release of Atahualpa (who the Spanish ended up killing anyways, foreshadowing?) than the Wolves did for Gobert. ANT, KAT, and 17 ft tall Pepe Le Pew just feels like a really weird go at a Big 3, doesn't it? I'm not saying it can't work, but are the Wolves really willing to plunge deep in to tax when they have to re-up Edwards this summer for his forthcoming max? I suppose they will since this is 1000% Edwards' team now, but mark my words this situation is going to get ugly and fall apart within the next couple years. They are stuck with KAT and Edwards will have a new deal, leaving the only logical out they have to try and move Gobert. Haaaaaave fun with that. Enter the zero sum game of trading distressed assets in the NBA, where GM's sit in a neat circle of prearranged chairs and randomly fire off rounds from heavily modified Desert Eagles into each other's testicles. Anyone is tradable as we've seen the last few seasons with Westbrook and John Wall being flung around like dog shit over your fence in to your neighbors yard. Only problem is that while you're elated the dog shit is no longer in your yard, your neighbor just tossed back a broken washing machine, 2 garbage bags full of used needles collected from 3rd Ave bus stops in Seattle, a complete VHS/DVD set of everything the Olsen twins were in after Full House, and Ben Simmons. At least it's a fresh pile of garbage for you to look at though, that's always nice.
PG Kylee "Cinnamon Sugar" Irving
What could I possibly say about Kylee Irving that hasn't already been said? Simply calling him a lunatic provides him with far too much shelter from the utterly nonsensical and racist bullshit he has spewed forth and the subsequent teams he has destroyed. I have a couple of morons in my life who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder as I'm sure you do, but Kylee Irving is very different from these people. The neanderthals you and I know aren't normally given the keys to multi-billion dollar businesses and told to go have a good time and have the car back by midnight.
Further complicating the narrative surrounding the Kylee Irving situation is the inherent problem in telling a wildly financially successful, intelligent black man to shut the fuck up and go away, especially given that he has never had even as much as a parking violation that we know about. He's a good dude. He is super smart. He's super good at basketball. Unlike some others on the 1st team here, other players actually love playing with Kylee. He would be at or near the top of the list of players in the league I'd love to burn one and rap a taste on some shit with. He's also stuck in a never ending delusional existential crisis that no one can seem to help him exit from. We yearn for our athletes to be captivating, transparent, and opine their positions on things more important than the next game in Memphis on Tuesday night. The last thing any of us needs as sports fans is to listen to more of Russell Wilson's never ending Stepford Wife cliche-ridden psycobabble. In Kylee's case though, he really does just need to shut the fuck up. To be clear, I'm not trying to silence his 1st amendment rights; I'm trying to offer him pragmatic career advice. Here is exactly what I would say to Kyrie if he were sitting in front of me.
"Dude, you gotta put a fuckin sock in it and tape your fingers together. The best thing you could ever do is take your Twitter account and Old Yeller' it behind the Barclays Center. Bro if you wanna go be Ricky Williams and Colin Kaepernick, then go be those guys. But If you'd like to keep passing Go and collecting $50 million bucks a year and all your endorsements, you're going to have to fall in line a bit. That's how it goes for everyone bud, especially for uniquely talented, highly visible, highly compensated employees like yourself. I'm not telling you to shut up and dribble because I disagree with whatever your feeling on BLM is, I don't know even know what that is nor do I much care. I'm telling you to read the room and know where the juice comes from. Anyone who thinks that you would be compromising your integrity to do so likely isn't a highly accomplished, highly paid individual like yourself with a big boy/big girl job."
That's the thing about people who really do need to shut the fuck up though. They rarely if ever do.
What I have always said about Kylee is that he is the hottest stripper in a club full of hard 10's. This is why I call him Kylee "Cinnamon Sugar" Irving. When she is on stage in front of you hanging upside down suspended by platform heels covered in more glitter than Twilight Sparkle on a coke bender, anything in the world seems possible. Beautiful women make otherwise intelligent men do really stupid things that end careers and marriages, same as Kylee Irving makes teams and GM's do really stupid shit that wreck their franchises. It's super easy to forget or not care that you'll soon be supporting Cinnamon Sugar's drug habit and finding out what she looks like on Tuesday morning with no makeup when she leans over and whispers terrible things in your ear and the smell of an obscene amount of cocoa butter wafts in to your nostrils. Consequences be damned, I'm gonna see where this night goes.
To watch Kylee Irving play is akin to freebasing uncut basketball fentanyl. It's been hooking teams, GMs, and his buddies (Kevin Durant left an amazing marriage to start a new life with the 21 year-old nanny. Oopsie Poopsies) ever since Kylee was selected number one overall after only playing eight games at Duke. Less you think I sports hate him just to have something to write about, please heed the following words. Kyrie Irving is an amazing fucking basketball player. Full Stop. I absolutely love watching him play, no qualifiers needed. Some might consider this blasphemy, but there is no reason whatsoever that he couldn't have had a career similar to that of Steph Curry. Maybe he doesn't get four championships and counting like Curry, but championships are far more situational than most of us would like to admit. As far as individual skill sets go, Curry's bag is no more impressive than Irving's; we just happen to love 30 foot threes a little more than we maybe should. No one is Steph Curry shooting the basketball, but Irving can also do things that no one else on the planet can. He is the best below the rim finisher with either hand the NBA has ever seen, along with currently having the league's best handle. He constantly makes layups and shots where I have to rewind my Apple TV multiple times to see just how the hell he did it because it happened too quickly in real time for me. It's why if Irving can manage to stay in the league and not be jailed, deported, or blackballed for the diarrhea that comes out of his mouth and Twitter fingers, he's probably still looking at a couple hundred million dollars of future earnings.
For me, there really isn't that much difference between someone like Kylee Irving and Aaron Rodgers. Both Rodgers and Irving are extremely famous, wealthy, unmarried men in their thirties. Men with these characteristics are vastly over-represented when it comes to being self-absorbed Kardashians who operate on their own timetables. You know who doesn't have time to get ripped on Skywalker Kush and watch kooky dark corner of the internet videos on the Jewish conspiracy to subjugate black people? Any man on the planet with a wife and an active parenting role of children. You know who doesn't have time to get blasted on Ayahuasca and sit in a dark hole in Southern Oregon for 4 days contemplating whether or not they want to earn $60 million next year? Second verse same as the First. Rodgers is definitely more slimy and car salesman-y to Kyrie's outright batshit tin foil hat act, but the end result is the same. They hold their respective franchises hostage with a nearly unbreakable magnetic field of self-absorbed center-of-the universe horseshit.
Kylee and Aaron are both coddled children of privilege who have clearly never been told to just shut the fuck up. It's amazing the effect that one well placed "Shut the fuck up" can have on the direction of someone's life. Unfortunately for Kylee and Aaron no one ever gave them that gift, allowing their self importance and grandiosity to metastasize into an inoperable brain tumor. They are entitled hot chicks who have been told their entire lives they are much prettier and more interesting than they actually are because everybody just wants to fuck them. This is what I picture every GM saying to Kylee after watching him play:
"I'm sorry Kylee, I didn't catch that bit you said about the QAnon folks and the Earth being flat. I was too busy staring at your incredible bolts and wondering if your nipples look more like coat hangers or sand dollars. Can I get you another double Long Island for the road? Our Uber is 4 minutes out."
It is truly fascinating to me how much singular, outlier moments can create a nearly unshakeable anchor bias when it comes to how we perceive someone. Kylee's go- ahead three in game 7 of the 2016 finals is one such moment. How much differently do we view him if the Cavs lose that series? I'm certainly not saying that Kylee has been given a pass for his transgressions, but you're a fool if you think that Kylee hasn't been dining off that shot for the last 7 years. Kylee getting credit for that shot is like your buddy telling a war story about the time at the bar in Cabo that he knocked out the biggest, baddest motherfucker in there. What he conveniently leaves out though is his older brother (Lebron) hit the dude the first 99 times and fought every other dude in the bar prior to your lucky punch that finished him. Older brother also paid for the plane tickets, the hotel, the Uber to and from the bar along with the entire tab just so you could attend and have a good time. You keep telling that knockout story though, it melts the panties clean off.
Anytime in his career that Kylee has been given more responsibility for a team than refilling the practice facility vending machine it's been a disaster. I'm not sure if I'm flipping over my dollars here and counting them twice in front of Big Worm, but Kylee has blown up the Cavs twice, the Celtics once, and most recently the Nets in spectacular Chernobyl-like fashion. He hasn't won so much as a church raffle as the lead guitarist for a team, and would have a hard time leading a free whore into bed. The Cavs were awful with Kyrie before the firstborn son Lebron returned in 2014 to re-rescue the franchise. Then he got tired of older brother and decided he wanted his own team. Riding a bike is a lot harder without the training wheels attached isn't it little Kylee? Kaboom go the Celtics, a team and fan base he had eating out of his hand until he decided that driving the RV is way less fun than taking naps in the back. Enter the Nets, who again placed him in an unbelievable basketball situation by surrounding him with another heavy lifting older brother (Durant) and generational offensive talent James Harden. Nurpty Nurp. Instead Kylee had to put on his Gandhi hat and be the voice for the voiceless. Who exactly these unnamed "voiceless" people are is still anyone's guess, but if any of you happen to be reading this article please kindly stay as far the fuck away from me as your Greyhound bus pass will allow.
Just to bring things back down to earth a bit here and finish with observations related totally to basketball, like everyone else on this list except Victor Hugo, Kyrie is have-the-epi-pen-ready-level allergic to defense. He's also super brittle and injury prone, and when combined with everything else that comes with Kyrie it makes it really difficult to count on him for more than 40-50 games a season. He's utterly breathtaking when he's out there, but he just ain't out there enough to give 40 or 50 million dollars a year too. The Mavericks are going to give it to him though, because what the fuck else are they going to do after making that trade? Kyrie is the unfortunate end result of the Mavericks having to saw their leg off in the woods to free themselves from the Porzingis boulder that fell on them, and they are about to go full Roger Rabbit and get the piano dropped on them again by Judge Doom when they resign Kyrie this summer. And so the adventure begins again.
Part Two of the Fake Superstar Series will be released next week.