Good Thursday morning! You know what's weird? College basketball this year.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The emergence of social media has helped the NBA promote its players, reach more fans and make gobs of money. But at what cost?
Driving the news: Speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last weekend, NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about the depressing vibe he gets when he meets players.
The other side: In an appearance on ESPN's "Get Up," Charles Barkley dropped the age-old "rich people can't be unhappy" argument. Classic.
"That's probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard Adam say. Listen, these guys are making 20, 30, 40 million dollars a year, they work 6–7 months a year, stay at the best hotels in the world, they ain't got no problems. That's total bogus."— Charles Barkley (via ESPN)
My take: This is a full-blown crisis and one that isn't going away anytime soon. Social media, the 24-hour news cycle and all the other things that keep us from ever actually unplugging have real consequences. Athletes, just like you and me, simply cannot escape.
The bottom line: Rampant social media usage is a problem that extends far beyond sports, and examining the impact its having on professional athletes really opens your eyes to the magnitude of the problem.
ESPN's Todd McShay predicts that the Cardinals will select Kyler Murray with the first pick in April's NFL draft. In his previous mock draft, released Feb. 7, McShay had Murray going No. 13 to the Dolphins.
Why it matters: Now that Murray's stock has risen from "playing baseball" to "likely first-rounder" to "potential top pick," prepare for the noise around him to continue getting louder — and dumber.
Go deeper: The 10 most intriguing draft questions
LeBron James passed his idol Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list last night (in a loss to the Nuggets). The top four scorers in league history have now all suited up for the Lakers.
Top 5 scorers:
By the numbers: LeBron may have more total points, but Jordan was clearly the better scorer, leading the league in scoring 10 times while averaging 30.1 points per game over 15 seasons.
Be smart: LeBron is, of course, a far more prolific rebounder and passer than Jordan, so comparing their numbers head-to-head will always be rather silly. That's why I'm going to abruptly end this story where I did exactly that (sorry). Moving on to soccer...
P.S. Actually one more thing ... what the heck is Rajon Rondo doing?
Marcus Rashford sent the winning penalty past PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty images
Manchester United defeated Paris Saint-Germain yesterday to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals — thanks to a controversial overturned call that gave them a penalty kick in stoppage time.
What happened: PSG were up 3-2 on aggregate in stoppage time when United's Diogo Dalot sent a shot towards goal that hit the arm of PSG's Presnel Kimpembe.
The controversy: Did the ball hit Kimpembe's arm? Yes. But considering his back was turned and he made no attempt to play the ball, it's not a penalty most officials would give. That it happened as a result of the already controversial VAR review makes it an even bigger deal.
Fun fact: This marks the first time in Champions League history that a team lost the first leg of a knockout round at home by two goals and still advanced.
Per MLB's sports betting deal with MGM Resorts International, managers have been told that their daily lineups must go through the commissioner's office before being released to the team's PR office or to the media, Peter Gammons reports.
What they're saying:
The New York Knickerbockers baseball team in 1858. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
162 years ago today, members of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York decided that instead of games being played to 21 "aces" — the 19th century version of a run — they would end after nine innings.
The backdrop: A game to 21 sounds like it could take an entire day (or multiple days) today, but back then it wasn't an issue.
From Mike: New F1 car designs are in the works that the league hopes will make races more competitive and exciting. The designs are still in the testing phase, but they could revolutionize the sport starting in 2021.
What's happening: The current F1 cars rely on huge amounts of aerodynamic force to hit top speeds and perform the way that they do. Problem is, that aerodynamic force is disrupted when there's a car in front of them.
The solution: F1's 2021 car designs include bigger wheels and a new body, which will help cars generate more force and negate much of the "dirty air" effect.
The bottom line: When two cars competing for the lead down the stretch cannot reasonably be expected to overtake each other, races are less exciting. F1's trying to change that, and if they do, the sport might never be the same.
via Front Office Sports:
"Think Topgolf, but for baseball. Equipped with real batting cages, @HomeRunDugout also features an augmented reality experience that allows users to see their projected swings in any MLB stadium all while having dinner and drinks."