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LaMelo Ball-Zion Williamson matchup causes Vegas chaos

LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson is kind of a big deal.

In fact, a matchup between two of basketball’s elite prospects caused what ESPN.com described as a chaotic scene Wednesday, as police capped entry to the Las Vegas gym where the pair’s AAU teams faced off at the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships.

None of these are acceptable angles to take when it comes to digesting his comments. It’s such a tired narrative that the NBA today has gone soft and that the players of today’s game would never survive in Oakley’s era. The game has changed, but that doesn’t mean the product is worse, and it certainly doesn’t mean the masculinity of the players should be a topic of conversation, and a topic of derision.

The NBA has been progressive in some regards when it comes to the inclusion of women. The San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach in 2014, making her the first full-time assistant coach in any of the major four North American sports leagues. In 1997, Violet Palmer became the first female referee to call a game at the professional level in a major U.S. sport.

But these comments from Oakley shouldn’t be glossed over, and they shouldn’t be tolerated because of his persona as a tough guy. There’s nothing tough or acceptable about the words he chose, and they shouldn’t be welcomed as part of the lexicon of how we talk about the modern game of basketball.

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Stanley Cup Final 2017: One year later, Sidney Crosby and Penguins continue to ‘just play’

The day the Pittsburgh Penguins took their first shot at reaching their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final was an important anniversary in my relationship with the team. Unlike those involving my wife, which I remember with religious fervor, I forgot all about this one.

Yes, I wrote on May 23, 2016, with the Penguins trailing Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals by a margin of three games to two, that Sidney Crosby was not an emphatic enough leader to push his teammates past the playoff petulance that had ruled their springs throughout this decade. When the Pens rallied to defeat the Lightning and reach the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, I responded by tweeting I was fine with being proven wrong.

Lundqvist is 35 and his best years are clearly behind him. His main supporting cast members, in particular Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, are still above-average contributors, but they aren’t getting younger.

Ultimately, we have some philosophical differences on how to build our team. Therefore, we mutually agreed that it is in everyone’s best interest to have a coaching change in order to move our franchise forward.

A couple suspect whistles (and non-whistles) irked both sides, including Predators superfan Carrie Underwood. The country music star and wife of Nashville captain Mike Fisher, already in hot water these playoffs for her social media thoughts on officiating, made it clear she felt the refs were out of line.

Suddenly all the pent-up anger went away when Kessel broke through with 6:55 remaining in the game.

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