Does this site still exist?

Hey there!

Thanks for coming by the site. Kind of a ghost town these days. If you’re wondering where I’ve disappeared to, head on over to

Every Monday I have a new post up and then a few sporadic posts throughout the month.

And if you have a loyal allegiance to sportsfictionlife and don’t want to leave this bare bones designed site for anything new, I respect and admire your loyalty.


Summer Cramp – NBA Finals 2014

Story Stuff

Imagine there’s a sixth grade kid running 4:59 mile times at the middle school track meets. Let’s call him James. The newspaper is all over him, says this is the next great runner, he’s going to be an Olympian, maybe someday the best runner of all time.

Most people in town are skeptical of all this early praise. Especially when the headlines start saying: KING JAMES. The kid will burn out. Way too much hype. And how can you even project that far in the future?

In the same town there is a junior in college who is clocking in at 4:05. Let’s call him Duncan. Duncan’s been running this pace for the last three years, which is great, consistent, but never passing that elusive 4 minute barrier. He’s an extremely quiet guy that needs his own category of introvert. The town doesn’t really notice him and often forgets they even have a university. 

Well, turns out the hype was warranted. In high school, James runs a 4:01 as a junior, 3:55 his senior year. He decides not to go to college, instead trains solely for the Olympics. Signs a monster contract with Nike, legend continues to grow before he even runs his first big race. 

By age 25, James is widely considered the best mile runner in the world. The problem? At the national championship he came in third. After the race he decides to get a new coach, head down to Miami and train with two of his best friends. The Olympics are the following summer and James is tired of watching other guys get gold medals. 

The Olympics end up being a bigger disaster. A guy from Germany wins and James runs a shocking 4:02. He’s the laughing stock of the running world, the internet is a buzz with James choking jokes. 

The next summer James wins gold at the world championship. The summer after he does it again. His mile time is down to 3:48, five seconds away from the best time ever recorded. 

Shortly after his second world championship, James goes to a charity event down in San Antonio and runs a 3:47. The media goes crazy starts asking the question, “Is James going to be the best mile runner of all time?” 

Hidden behind the James story is a human interest piece about Duncan who quietly ran a 4:05 at the same charity race. “This guy’s 37-years-old and he ran a 4:05! Has anyone ever been this good, this late in their running career?”

A year later Duncan and James show up again at the San Antonio charity race. It’s absolute miserable conditions outside. Temperature is around 100 degrees. It’s muggy, the sweat just lingers in the air. At the end of lap one, James starts having severe leg cramps. 

The 38-year-old Duncan passes him by. Three laps to go. 

NBA Stuff

The NBA has a pretty tidy history book. Since 1980, only nine franchises have won an NBA title. 

The NFL has had 11 since ’99. MLB – nine since ’01. That European soccer league somehow crowns six different champions every year. 

Sticking with the 1980 – 2014 window, here is who I would consider the top 10 NBA players in that span:

1. Michael Jordan

2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar* (a lot of his legacy was built in the ’70’s)

3. Magic Johnson 

4. LeBron James

5. Larry Bird

6. Tim Duncan

7. Kobe Bryant

8. Shaquille O’Neal

9. Hakeem Olajuwon 

10. Dr. J

Of the 34 NBA Finals in that time span, only five times has a team won the Larry O’Brien trophy without a player on the list above – Pistons (’89, ’90 and ’04), Celtics (’08) and Mavericks (’11) and only once has there been a matchup that didn’t involve someone on this list (1990 finals between the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trailblazers). 

In other sports the GM can say we don’t need the best player, we can build a great team, build the best defense and win it all. In the NBA you really just need the league’s best player. Pretty simple formula. 

Show the above list to any basketball fan and 95 percent will say the greatest rivalry is Bird vs. Magic. The other five percent might say Shaq vs. Kobe. 

What isn’t a likely answer – Tim Duncan vs. LeBron James. Yet here we are with the third installment of their NBA Finals matchup, the same amount of times Bird and Magic met. 

I think it’s the weirdest “rivalry” in NBA history. Duncan is almost 10 years older than LeBron. LeBron is in the middle of his prime, Duncan is at the end of his career, likely retiring if the Spurs win it all. Both are frontrunners for Finals MVP.


Neither one hates the other. But it’s not a playful rivalry either. Both are established champions and NBA legends. Duncan is the best power forward of all time. LeBron is the best small forward or, at the very least, second behind Larry Bird. 

So what’s at stake? Does Tim Duncan’s legacy diminish at all with back-to-back finals losses? For LeBron, besides the inevitable Twitter explosion, does a third finals loss officially kill the LeBron vs. Jordan debate?

For Tim Duncan 

Best Case Scenario – Wins Title and Finals MVP

Would put Duncan at five championships and four Finals MVPs. In Finals MVPs he’d only be trailing Michael Jordan (6) for most ever. Going into the finals he only needed three double doubles to have the most in NBA Playoffs history, a top five that includes Magic Johnson, Shaq, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. 

How many times can Duncan show up at the top of these lists without moving up to the top of the ultimate list? He may lose out in the who had the best prime or “he was the best player I’ve ever seen” debate, but in terms of most impressive total career, five rings and four finals MVPs I believe puts him fourth on the all-time list behind MJ, Bill Russell and Kareem. 

Worst Case – Loses title

Doesn’t diminish his legacy, but instead of, “Is Tim Duncan in the top five of all time?” I think the debate becomes more, “Who was better in the post-Jordan, pre-LeBron era; Kobe, Shaq or Duncan?”

For LeBron James

Best Case Scenario – Wins Title and Finals MVP

His first three-peat is complete. Three finals MVPs before his 30th birthday. Has at least four years left in his prime to keep adding to the total. 

A third ring and LeBron will have secured his spot above Larry Bird, Kobe, Shaq and Duncan. He will be on pace to pass Wilt, Kareem and Magic. And yes, as much as Chicago will hate this, his legacy could still catch up to Michael Jordan’s.

Worst Case – Loses title

This would hurt, but is not the end all. If you look at the Eastern Conference, I don’t think it’s out of question to project four or five more trips to the NBA Finals for LeBron. Maybe more because with LeBron (barring injury) his career is not going to end at age 34. He is going to be on more of a Tim Duncan timeline, playing up to age 38-40.

Pat Riley will continue to shape the roster to fit LeBron’s evolution or the King can go back to Cleveland and team up with Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid. 

Magic Johnson lost in four NBA Finals. Larry Bird and Kobe lost in two. The, “Well, Michael never lost an NBA Finals series” is already over for LeBron, so whether he’s 3-for-5 or 2-for-5 doesn’t really matter. The only way to damage his legacy in this series is if he has some sort of repeat performance of 2011. 

So the Stage is Set

All of the stuff above is subjective. Any time you get into legacies there are so many factors to consider and enough evidence for both sides to make a compelling case. Toss all of that aside, this is Duncan vs. LeBron round three, the rubber match, likely the final installment of this not-really-a-rivalry-rivalry. Time to turn off the air conditioning and settle this on the court.

Donald Sterling and the United States of Outrage

By now everyone has heard of the Donald Sterling story. The media frenzy went far beyond ESPN and Sterling’s recent interview with Anderson Cooper definitely added more fuel to the fire.

His comments were terrible. There is no gray area, no, “I think his words were taken out of context” justification. The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, rightfully punished Sterling with a lifetime ban and the forced selling of the Los Angeles Clippers. Sadly that sale is going to make Sterling a ton of money.

I have no further input on Sterling’s comments. There’s nothing more to be said. However, I do think this Sterling situation has revealed a serious nationwide problem. One that we all suffer from to some degree.

Simply put: our national outrage-o-meter is out of whack. 

It seems like the media has kept us in one state of outrage for the last five years. Before Sterling there was Paula Deen. Before Paula Deen there was Miley Cyrus twerking. Before that there was Lance Armstrong cheating, Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, Anthony Weiner’s selfies, Mitt Romney with a dog on his roof, Mike Vick torturing dogs, Mel Gibson ranting against Jews and Barack Obama hinting at socialism to Joe the Plumber.

Not to mention Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. They’ve got a special case of outrage because they tick off the self-righteous people like myself who are “outraged by outrage”.

What I mean by that is Kim Kardashian will post a photo of her buttcheeks, Kanye will say he’s like Jesus and people like me will get on their soap box shouting, “What type of country do we live in that this is news! Why do people care about these two! I care so little about them that I just wrote a 500 word blog post showing just how little I care!”

“Outrage” has become a drug or, at the very least, like a handful of jelly beans.

When this Sterling story fades away, my blood sugar levels will drop and I’ll need another sound bite to fill the void.

With each repetitive outrage, the next one loses its impact. These “grave offenses” end up becoming just part of a generic, interchangeable formula:

Famous Person + Doing Something They Shouldn’t + Public = Outrage


Miley Cyrus (role model for young girls) + twerking on a 40-year-old man + MTV Awards Goes Viral = Outrage

Now plug in Donald Sterling. Or Jonah Hill. Or Justin Bieber.

An even more advanced formula, the holy grail combination that networks dream at landing, is called the Outrage-alanche. It’s the same formula as the one from above, just throw in some religion or political aspect. This equals ‘Royal Outrage’ and gets us hooked for another month on the same story.

This is why you will hear things like:

Oh, the Liberal media wants to crucify Paula Deen, but where were they when Jay-Z said the n-word!

Oh, Fox News wants to make a big deal about Barack Obama’s comments, but listen to these same newscasters seven years ago defending President Bush!

Don’t take the bait! Conservatives don’t have to support Paula Deen out of some weird twisting of the First Amendment. Liberals don’t have to hold a grudge against everything President Bush did in office.

There is a legitimate alternative called: I’m just not outraged by that.

Simple. Healthy. And the best part is when something truly outrageous does come along, that outrage is taken more seriously.

How can this be implemented?

There is not 24 hours worth of news in a day. In reality there’s probably only 15 minutes worth of info. So check in once. Go back to the good ol newspaper or watch Jon Stewart at night. That’s all we need.

And let others around you be outraged by Lindsay Lohan’s next DUI. Let there be horrible hashtags when a baseball player is suspended for steroids. Let there be mass Facebook profile photos supporting some obscure piece of legislation (below is my profile pic from January 2012. Look how outraged I was!).

Don’t be outraged by other people’s everyday outrage, instead sit back and enjoy the calm seas. That way you’ll have plenty of stored up energy the next time a Donald Sterling level situation comes around.





I believe Shabazz Napier is Stephen Curry 2.0. 

If you need a reminder of just how good Curry was in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, enjoy this video montage

Napier is about the same size, 6’1” 180 lbs. Despite his size, Napier leads the UCONN Huskies in rebounding with six per game. He’s also the leader in scoring (17.5 ppg), assists (5 apg) and steals (1.8). He has tournament experience being a part of the 2011 National Championship team, even played 27 minutes in the title game.

He carries this 2014 team on his back and I believe he’s capable of taking them to the Elite Eight if the bracket sets up favorably.

Let’s start with the UCONN highlights:

Beat the Florida Gators – Napier hit the buzzer beater, scored 26 points.

Beat Memphis Three Times – Home, away, conference tournament.

Beat Cincinnati Two out of Three – Cincinnati is the most physical defensive team in the country. Connecticut didn’t thrive offensively against the Bearcats, averaging just 55.6 in those three games, but they did weather the storm and pull out two victories. 

The Cincinnati wins proved that UCONN will not be out-muscled. The Memphis wins showed they could matchup with a very athletic squad. The Florida win showed they can beat the very best.

So what’s wrong with the Huskies?

March 8th. Senior day at Louisville. UCONN went in and got demolished 81-48. Senior days are difficult, games can get out of hand fast, but still it’s hard for me to take a team all the way to the Final Four when they have a 33 point loss in March. 

That’s why Saturday’s AAC Championship game against Louisville was a big deal. Could they beat a team that is playing at a National Title level? Could Kevin Ollie make the right coaching adjustments to fix the 33 point defeat? Would Napier out-duel Russ Smith? 

Negative. They were outmatched again. Not 30 point outmatched, but Louisville led by around 20 for most of the game. That makes three losses on the season to Louisville. Two losses on the year to SMU. I mean if you throw out the Rick Pitino and Larry Brown coached opponents then UCONN is an impressive 26-3… 

So, let’s get this straight, they can’t beat Louisville, but they’ve got this Shabazz guy who’s supposed to be Steph Curry 2.0. Who else is on this team?

DeAndre Daniels is a versatile 6’9” forward who can play down in the post or out on the perimeter depending on the matchup. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds against Louisville

Ryan Boatright is a less refined version of Napier. Still really quick and can handle point guard responsibilities. 

Backup center Amida Brimah is a raw 7-footer who made big strides in the conference tournament. I like when teams have a guy like this who starts figuring things out right before the tournament. Adds a weapon that other teams are not preparing for. Brimah is a great shot blocker and is quickly improving his game on offense.


Should be a lock to the Sweet 16. I’m not yet ready to commit to the Elite Eight and unfortunately the Louisville loss on Saturday killed any Final Four thoughts. 





3. North Carolina

In elementary school the biggest sin was swearing. In middle school swearing was upgraded to smoking cigarettes. In high school it was underage drinking.

Don’t swear. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Follow these rules and you’re a good kid. Break these rules and beware of being labeled the “bad boy” or the “dangerous girl” in the parental gossip circles.

Then comes college and all hell breaks loose. Whether you came in as a “good kid” or “bad kid”, there’s almost no avoiding the bad, the weird, the fun, the questionable, the slightly awesome decisions out there to be made.

If you made it through college without ever doing any of the following: getting drunk, smoking, streaking across campus (nude or in your underwear), waking up in a place you didn’t remember ever arriving at, sleeping through a class, sleeping in a class, skipping a class because you wanted to go to the beach or being involved in at least two cell phone videos that you wouldn’t want to watch 10 years later, then I hate to say it, but I think you missed out.

Like that one episode of South Park said, “There’s a time and a place for everything and it’s called college.”

The college years are the four most forgiving years of life.

For example, if you are found passed out on a fraternity house lawn at age 19, your peers will post the photo online and move on. Get found passed out on the same lawn at age 45, what is wrong with this guy?

As a college freshman, it’s a hilarious story to tell your friends. At age 45 you could lose your job over it.

I feel like North Carolina is the the third grader who told his teacher, “This is bullshit” and got sent to the principal’s office. Or the seventh grader who smoked cigarettes after school. Or the high schooler who got drunk and puked at a dance party.

At the time, oh man, that kid is absolute trouble! Now? Those don’t seem that bad at all.

As life goes on and everyone has moments/decisions they are not proud of, that “bad kid” from junior high is no longer bad at all. He was just a kid.

In sports, as in life, you don’t have to be perfect or even try to be perfect. Being perfect, like Wichita State, becomes even more stressful. If they lose in the tournament, the disappointment is far more severe than having an off night back in December.

North Carolina’s “bad” losses to Belmont, UAB, Wake Forest and Miami all took place before February. These don’t look as bad now since other teams caught up with bad losses of their own. Plus Belmont ended up being a pretty solid mid-major team.

Every team, besides Wichita State, has blemishes now. What the other teams don’t have are North Carolina’s four extremely quality wins. Michigan State (when they were #1). Louisville (when they were #3). Duke (when they were #5). Kentucky (when they were #11).

That is why North Carolina is No. 3 on this list. Oklahoma State could beat any team on the bracket, UNC has beaten the top tier opponents. I was going to put them at No. 1 because of their potential, but the Pittsburgh loss in the ACC Tournament reminded me of the same frustrating truth of every other team on this list: they could lose first round.

Q: Ok, so now that I’ve received a weird lecture on why making mistakes is ok and pretty sure you just encouraged every college kid to go out and make mistakes, can I get some actual analysis on the UNC roster?

North Carolina’s motor is point guard Marcus Paige. He has been consistent all year long averaging 17.4 ppg and dishing out about four assists per contest.

James Michael McAdoo is having a decent season. He’s victim of there being huge expectations after his freshman year, not having a breakout sophomore season and putting up quality but not great numbers as a junior.

Why Pick North Carolina?

Usually with Roy Williams teams, dating back to when he was head coach at Kansas, the strategy seemed to always be, “We’re gonna get out and run, play ok defense and try and win games in the 80’s/90’s.” This year’s North Carolina team plays better defense and can win in a variety of ways. They held the Spartans to 65 points and in their win against Duke, held Coach K’s team to 66.

If you want to take the Tar Heels to the Final Four, you are absolutely validated in doing so. It’s not crazy, they have the wins to back it up. I would, however, advise against picking them to lose first round. Those early ACC losses? This team has grown up since then. Roy Williams will have them ready and I feel pretty good about a Sweet 16 run for the Tar Heels.

As for anyone going off to college, I’ll echo the wisdom of Dr. Frazee:

“It’s alright to get a little bit crazy, just don’t do anything stupid.”

Missouri Puts Exclamation Point on Disappointing Season

Hi. This is Chris O’Brien. What you are about to read is a rant from one of the most passionate Missouri fans I know, MoMo Harris. This is a part of the ‘Loss For Words’ series, a good idea I had a few months ago that I have been absolutely terrible at following up on.

The Premise: Rants, videos, analysis from fans right after a loss. Real emotion when the wound is still raw. If you ever want to post your own rant, email and if you really want to make me feel good go on Twitter and use a trendy #LossForWords or #L4W hashtag thing. Alright cool. Enjoy MoMo!

By: MoMo Harris

Mizzou…What was that yesterday?

What was that Gawd-awful performance you crapped out on the Pat Summit Court?

Did you forget that you were still trying to play your way into the tournament?

Did you forget that you had self-respect on the line still?

I guess you did forget. You decided to forget and play in a most horrific way yesterday to a team that you could beat. This game was the microcosm of your entire season. Instead of stepping up and taking the challenge, you folded like a cheap house.

Thanks Frank. Oh Frank Haith…YOU CAN’T COACH!!!!

Frank…what is your coaching scheme, because watching this team all year your strategy was Jordan Clarkson slashing through the lane for a layup or Jabari Brown taking threes (which he is damned good at!) outside of that, all I saw was dribbling and maybe two passes before a shot was taken. Meanwhile Frank is standing in his beautiful tailored suit looking angry.

I don’t know what you’re angry about Frank…maybe you should be angry at the fact that YOU CAN’T COACH!!!! I finally realized it in the Braggin’ Rights Game – Mizzou v. Illinois. I saw Mizzou go against a well-coached opponent and it was staggering to see what a well-coached team could do. Illinois beat us, it was close, but we had better talent and it wasn’t used to its fullest effect.

Then we lose to teams like Georgia and Alabama and a shorthanded Vandy team. Frank, you had a good program and now its profile is slowly sinking into the swamp of the SEC.

He can’t coach; his assistant coaches can’t coach. I really don’t know what they do during practices. Allen Iverson does more during practices than this team does. When Mizzou plays there is no offensive scheme and their defense is a constant mix of crappy zones and man defense. It’s a train wreck that you want to stop, but you can’t unless you run into the court and knock people out to stop the madness. Maybe that UCSB guy who ran and confronted the Hawaii coach had the right idea.

Ugg…I just remembered Mike Alden hates firing people…I am stuck with him for ANOTHER YEAR of awful basketball!!!!

Oh and Frank, you couldn’t inspire the team to play their hearts out to win; to play their way into the tournament. Good coaches do that, but wait you’re not a good coach. You’re only good at taking checks from convicted felons who are your boosters. Thanks Frank!

Thanks a lot team. You showed who you are; you have no heart. You had everything on the line and you decided to shut it down. I mean this team depends on only two scorers, Clarkson and Brown. Our starting “center” is Andy Rosburg. Andy Rosburg’s only purpose is to take charges; he can’t score worth a damn and God help us if he tries to rebound, because he fails awfully. He’s worse than the center Ivan Radmonovich in the movie “Eddie.”

Our other bigs needs some work, which is saying a lot that they are worst than Rosburg. I hate blaming players…it starts with the coaches…which means FRANK HAITH SUCKS!!!!

What I saw was a collapse at the worst possible time. I give credit to Tennessee, even though their mascot is dumb and orange is an awful team color. Cuonzo Martin is a good coach and had his team ready to play.

Frank Haith…he just had them ready to get to the stadium to look confused.

At least he was dressed well.

Ugg… I am stuck with Haith for ANOTHER YEAR of awful basketball!!!!!!!!!

P.S. They made me sad 😦

MO sad

Medium Rare Bracketology

By: Chris O’Brien

Have you ever been entrusted to create a playlist?

Any kind of playlist. Background music for a dinner party. A collection of soft rock hits for the dentist. Grinding music for a sweaty dance party.

Each setting has a list of ol reliables. For example, there has never been a documented case of “Get Low” failing at a dance party. Same can be said for “All I do is Win” or Usher’s “Yeah”.

But you can’t loop the handful of reliables for two straight hours. Eventually you have to go a little riskier. Not a problem at first. You add Beyonce, Ke$ha, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z and the playlist still looks great. Only problem is you don’t feel like you’ve made your own personal stamp. The list is too generic. You gotta think outside of the box.

That’s when things get weird. Sometime around 3 a.m. you take a good hard look at the following songs:

  1. Thong Song
  2. Who Let the Dogs Out
  3. Total Eclipse of the Heart
  4. Mambo No. 5
  5. Sweet Caroline
  6. Party in the U.S.A

I have seen all six of these songs work and I have seen all six of these songs fail miserably. Sweet Caroline can win over an entire baseball stadium or kill a dance party. I witnessed Mambo No. 5 clear out a basement of 80 people like it were a bad fart. I have seen Party in the U.S.A get booed and I have seen Party in the U.S.A. get an introvert to dance on a bar.

These are the songs, and there are hundreds more, that can make or break a playlist. When they connect, you’re a genius. When they fail you’re an idiot.

Just like–and here comes the loose transition to college basketball–your March Madness Bracket. This year the race is wide open. I’m two weeks away from seeing a bracket and I already feel like I’ve screwed up my picks.

Just a few minutes ago I watched Penn State beat Ohio State, Arkansas win at Kentucky and Duquesne win at Saint Louis. Yesterday I was contemplating Saint Louis to the Final Four, now I’m contemplating how to pronounce Duquesne!

This year my plan is to over-plan. I am preparing in advance, hoping to make some sense of this year’s tournament picture before I see the bracket. These are my Reliable Picks:

  1. Florida
  2. Kansas
  3. Syracuse
  4. Duke
  5. Arizona

Low chance of losing before Sweet 16, high chance of making the Final Four and if they do get upset, most of the people in your pool will go down with you.

My next group is the 16 teams I feel good about taking to the Round of 32 and almost feel safe putting in the Sweet 16.

  1. Cincinnati
  2. Louisville
  3. Wichita State
  4. Villanova
  5. Creighton
  6. Michigan
  7. Wisconsin
  8. San Diego State
  9. Michigan State
  10. Kentucky
  11. Virginia
  12. Memphis
  13. Ohio State
  14. UCLA
  15. New Mexico
  16. Oklahoma

Could they go further than the Sweet 16? Absolutely. But picking them would give me a little heartburn.

So the logical thing for me to do, I have 21 teams above, I should wait to see the matchups and try to get 16 of them to the Sweet 16. The problem is:

1) March Madness is never that simple

2) There are 16 teams, the “Bittersweet 16”, that are itching to be the bracket busting equivalent of the Thong Song. That sentence gets weirder each re-read, but what I’m trying to say is these 16 teams are a couple of beers and some roster searches away from looking like Final Four contenders.

They also have a high risk of losing in the first round. Or being selected to the N.I.T.

They are the teams you kick yourself for not having the guts to have picked further or ban yourself from ever picking again after they lose by 10 to some team from the MAC.

Over the next 16 days I will focus on one team a day and bring some confusion/clarity for you to consider later when the bracket is released. There are at least 275 better sources of March Madness advice than what you will receive here in my Medium Rare Bracketology, but who knows, maybe one of these 16 teams will turn out to be the sleeper pick that your bracket needs. Or they may ruin your bracket. Time will tell.

For now, here are the 16 Bittersweet teams in alphabetical order. Click the team for their article or head back to the ‘Medium Rare Bracketology’ tab above for the list.

Florida State, Gonzaga, Iona, Iowa, Iowa State, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Saint Louis, SMU, Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Toledo, UCONN, UMASS, VCU, Vermont.

Did I forget a team? Should any of these 16 teams be moved up a category? Does anyone have game film on Stephen F. Austin? Let me know. Message or tweet me @MediumRareBooks or send me an email