End of an Era
After an embarrassing exit of the Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich, Barcelona’s worst nightmare is likely turning into reality. The team lost 8-2 in the quarterfinals of the most prestigious European tournament, causing Lionel Messi to begin his search for a new club. The Spanish squad won zero trophies in the 2019-
2020 season, with many players having drawn criticism to the former coach, Quique Setién, and current president, Josep Bartomeu. Barcelona are numerous changes away from being Champions League contenders once again, and, at 33 years old, it looks like Messi doesn’t have time for a rebuilding process.
Manchester City are the heavy favorites to land one of the greatest of all time, in part due to coach Pep Guardiola’s relationship with Messi. They had great success in the four seasons he coached at Barca. Guardiola is widely known as a top manager in the world and his tactical knowledge of the game is exceptional. City also employ Sergio Aguero, the world-class striker and teammate of Messi for the Argentinian National Team. The supporting cast around Messi would be more than enough, as City have one of the premier squads in Europe with talent in all parts of the pitch. Already oozing with talent, the board has already shown no problem burning through cash to reel in top talent. As if that wasn’t enough, reports came out saying Messi’s father has told other interested clubs his son has already made his decision.
French giant PSG also have a fighting chance at landing the winger because of squad familiarity with Messi. Neymar and Messi wreaked havoc for defenders playing on opposite flanks at Barcelona. Fellow Argentine attacker Angel Di Maria has known Messi since a young age. PSG came extremely close to winning the Champions League, losing in the finals to the formidable Bayern Munich. All of these factors provide a compelling case for Messi to join the ranks of Paris Saint-Germain, a result that could happen in the coming days/weeks.
Various reports have come out suggesting the haul that City (or another team) would have to give up to receive the 33 year-old, most being at around £250m-£350m of value. According to Sport earlier in the week, a preliminary offer of around £100m, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, and youngster Eric Garcia is what City are willing to give. The report was neither denied or confirmed, but such rumors prove that any deal that is agreed will be historic.
Messi leaving La Liga greatly impacts the league, as their two main attractions (first Cristiano Ronaldo and now Messi) have left. Barcelona and Real Madrid look past their peak and enter a new chapter that, barring major changes, include much less success than previous years. Barcelona fans have protested outside of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in hopes that pushing for Bartomeu to resign will compel Messi to stay for another season. Simply put, that seems unlikely.
NBA Playoff Scare
ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF BASKETBALL IN THE BUBBLE. Do not take any game for granted. Players decided to boycott their playoff games indefinitely, starting with the Bucks vs Magic Game 5 on Wednesday afternoon. I was sitting in my family room watching the pre-game on TNT when the Bucks had yet to come out to the courts and practice, despite there being only 10 minutes until tip-off. Reporters, analysts, and even the players had no idea whether the boycott would last just that night, through the playoffs, or into next season. All the training and sacrifice the players went through during a season filled with ups and downs was put on the line for a cause they saw more important than a sport. Although it may be their profession, players deemed it necessary to use their platform to raise awareness and demand changes to the problems tearing our nation at its seams. The Clippers and Lakers, two of the front runners to win the Finals, were actually the only ones to vote for a cancellation of the 2020 playoffs. Despite having the most on the line, stars like Anthony Davis, Lebron James, and Kawhi Leonard were desperate to make a statement to the world that they’ve had enough.
Fortunately for us fans, play resumed on Friday, August 29th, and the players can continue providing entertainment for the world while simultaneously ordering change. The ability for the players to come together and create such a strong message showed league executives that the power and leverage in the basketball industry belongs to the players, not the other way around. If the NBA decides to not use their influential platform, the players can easily call it quits and end the season in the blink of an eye. Due to this fact, the NBA has vowed to contribute to the social justice campaign, first by using the stadiums as voting facilities. The arenas will also be used to promote civic engagement and build a unified community. Failure to meet players' requests could put the league in similar waters and create another protest. Players have effectively proved to their bosses that they are humans seeking change, not pawns solely used as a means to make money and provide entertainment.
Jackie Robinson Day
Decades after his death, the great Jackie Robinson continues to influence the next generation of baseball players outside the diamond. The Athletics and Astros postponed their matchup in an effort to propel the social justice movement forward. The boycott occurred on Jackie Robinson Day, making the statement even bolder. It shows that there are more important events transpiring across our nation, and instead of reminiscing on the legacy of Robinson, it is imperative to take further steps now to better the country for the future. As Astros outfielder Michael
Brantley put it, “Jackie did a lot of great things, but I think he’d want us to do more.” Protesting on a day meant for the remembrance of a legend clearly conveys the message that although Robinson heavily contributed to social justice, more change is needed. Upwards of 10 games across the MLB have been cancelled since the restart due to the same issue.
On the first 8/24 since the tragic helicopter crash that saw Kobe Bryant, Gigi Bryant, and seven others lose their lives, the basketball community came together once again to pay homage to a prodigy. The Los Angeles Lakers wore special “Black Mamba” uniforms in their Game 4 matchup against the Trail Blazers to honor the team’s beloved hero. The jerseys included a white heart with the number "2" stitched above the Nike logo in remembrance of Gigi. Ex-players, current players, and fans all shared their fondest memories via social media in an effort to pay respects to the legend. In his Players’ Tribune article titled “Dear Kobe,” Hall of Famer Allen Iverson wrote “even though you were younger than me, I looked up to you… I just wish we’d had more time.” That last sentence perfectly sums up what all of us are feeling.
Kobe’s team took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Blazers that night, with an absurd 43 points for Davis and a 36 point triple double for Lebron. The perfect way to cap off an emotion-filled day.
Long live Kobe Bryant, Gigi Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan.