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The Lakers need to stop tampering with Ben Simmons and other NBA stars

The Lakers need to stop tampering with Ben Simmons and other NBA stars

There’s nothing the Lakers' franchise loves more than distracting everyone from the team’s underwhelming on-court play for the last nine seasons and leaking rumors about all the star players that want to join their squad.

Before the Lakers suffered a 23-point smackdown at the hands of the Sixers on Sunday, Magic Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations, spoke to the media in a pregame presser.

Johnson let it slip that Ben Simmons wants to meet with him this summer to discuss some of the secrets of being a power forward-sized point guard with preternatural passing ability:


Elton Brand confirmed this on 97.5 The Fanatic today and he rightly declined to give Magic and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka permission to do that. I’m glad that Brand dunked all over Magic’s face with that smug grin he’s been wearing for 40 years. Why should Brand let Simmons meet with him? What does Simmons tangibly gain from speaking with Magic?

“Hey, throw it to the open player when he can get an easy shot.”

Wow, great insight from Magic, the NBA’s foremost Captain Obvious, known for giving LeBron James the astute advice that he “needs to be LeBron.”

https://twitter.com/MagicJohnson/status/693172654082121728It would be different if Magic was in the same position of Hakeem Olajuwon, who has spent the last decade working out with NBA players in the offseason. Olajuwon is a paid trainer. Johnson, conversely, is a head decision maker for an organization notorious for tampering with other franchises’ players. Are the people in the NBA league office just asleep? Does Magic Johnson believe the fans of the league are this naive?

To make matters worse, Brand claimed that the talks with Pelinka happened over a month ago. Why is Magic bringing this entire situation up now? Is he trying to save face for the disastrous way the Lakers played themselves in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes? What a shame that the Pelicans didn’t want to take back a smorgasbord of role players and crappy picks for a 25-year-old superstar! Magic strategically dropped this morsel of info that will have bandwagon Lakers fans across the globe salivating and photoshopping Simmons into a Lakers jersey for the next half-dozen years (if they haven’t already been doing that).

Listen, I support players’ agency to take the fate of their careers in their own hands, but I can’t sit idly aside while the Lakers and Magic just pull their “Um, we’re the Lakers and Magic is our president so every star should want to play here” card. It’s not a big market vs. small market thing. It’s a “Why do the Lakers get to do whatever they want?” thing. The Lakers, Magic, and LeBron can all fade into oblivion for all I care.

Just like I’m not going to police who Simmons is dating (by the way: the Sixers are 14-2 in games Kendall Jenner has attended this season), I’m not going to yell that Simmons “owes it” to Philadelphia to stay here. If he wants to flee to Hollywood and go full Fresh Prince, that’s fine, but it’s just infuriating that the Lakers plant their seeds of tampering throughout the league constantly with almost no serious repercussions from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

This needs to go beyond the slap-on-the-wrist fines that have been given to the Lakers for their tampering with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George. Silver had no issue pushing Sam Hinkie out of the Sixers’ front office. Does he have the guts to do the same thing to one of the greatest players the NBA’s ever seen and basketball’s marquee franchise?

These lines need to be posted on three billboards outside the league’s headquarters in Manhattan:

Lakers tampering with another star.

Still no consequences?

How come, Commissioner Silver?

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A Philly fan's defense of Mike Trout's mega deal to play in L.A.

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USA Today Images

A Philly fan's defense of Mike Trout's mega deal to play in L.A.

Mike Trout’s monster 12-year, $430 million contract extension with the Angels this week simultaneously broke Bryce Harper’s barely three-week-old record contract of $330 million and broke the hearts of everyone in the tri-state area. While I count myself among the Philly fans who were bummed when the Trout news broke given how much of a formality it seemed that he would come here as a free agent in two years, I cannot blame Trout for his decision.

Every East Coast-born person fantasizes about moving to California at some point. I once convinced a Los Angeles-based company to pay for me to fly out there for several days for a job interview (I also saw the Eagles play at the Coliseum, the game where Carson Wentz tore his ACL, and didn’t get the job. It was a bad week!), so I get it. While I was walking around University City in college on 35-degree winter days bundled up like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, I kicked myself for not going to a school like UCLA.

I too have wished it was 70-something degrees and sunny every single day while suffering through Philadelphia’s two seasons: freezing rain and brutal humidity. I would also be lying if I said offering me $430 million to do the one thing I might be better at than anyone who’s ever lived wasn’t awesome. Trout’s on his way to truly being the greatest baseball player of all time. He may be mired in irrelevance because the Angels seem so incompetent, but is that really the worst thing in the world for him?

Sure, I know Trout is craving a World Series ring. Racking up MVPs, making hundreds of millions of dollars and cruising through SoCal in semi-anonymity because he’s not a Hollywood star or a guy in 100 commercials has its obvious perks though. He can do all that while having his Octobers free because he plays for a bad franchise, leaving him able to attend six Eagles home games every season. It sounds like the most chill life possible.

Yes, Trout is an Eagles superfan, but just look at what he does when he’s at the Linc. He’ll be on the field before the game shooting the bull with Carson Wentz and then sits in a private little end zone box so Zach Ertz can flip him footballs after he scores touchdowns. He’s not sitting in Section 219 next to a dozen dudes from Grays Ferry and cheersing cans of Miller Lite with them after their umpteetnth “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant. I wouldn’t want to hang out with me either!

Whenever a star player, regardless of sport, inches towards free agency, fans and the media alike are quick to speculate that the athlete may go play for his hometown team, but that rarely seems to happen. The idea of growing up in the Philly area and becoming a superstar centerfielder for the Phillies sounds amazing, but if I was absurdly rich, I probably wouldn’t want to spend my entire life in the same place.

Trout would be a messiah figure if he had come to Philly in 2021. He also wouldn’t be able to walk down the street and grab a half-gallon of Wawa Peach Iced Tea without being mobbed by a hundred rabid Philly fans ready to bow down and kiss his feet. He would potentially have more pressure on him than any athlete in Philly history given how unbelievable his career has been so far, where he was born and who his favorite football team is. He could either be in an environment with unparalleled stress or he could face almost zero pressure while surrounded by palm trees in Los Angeles. Just to reiterate: it’s 70-something degrees there everyday.

Who knows, the DH could come to the National League by 2032 and a 40-year-old Trout built like Jeremiah Trotter could become a playoff hero in the vein of Matt Stairs while clobbering 25 homers in the regular season despite barely being able to jog around the bases. We can always dream even if the ideal situation for Trout in red pinstripes is gone.  

Maybe Mike Trout isn’t really about this life and maybe that’s the best thing for him.

Millville’s not even that close to Philly anyway, right?

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Bryce Harper asked for it, so we made him a list of Philly hot spots

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Bryce Harper, Enrico

Bryce Harper asked for it, so we made him a list of Philly hot spots

Bryce Harper is going to be a new resident of the Philadelphia area in the coming weeks and with that, he wants to know, well… he pretty much wants suggestions for EVERYTHING about Philadelphia.

So we’re here to help.

Harper took to his Instagram earlier this week to ask for recommendations from Philly residents on the best of what Philly has to offer, from food to art to music.

We thought we’d go through his list pictured below and try and help a slugger out. We want Bryce to be more comfortable in our city than he is playing right field.

And while sports bloggers are traditionally known for having the best taste in everything, we’ll also link out to some resources we find very useful.

Restaurants

Philadelphia is a truly wonderful food city. Ask 10 residents and you’ll get 10 different favorite restaurants. Use Eater.com’s Essential 38 Philadelphia restaurants as a jump off point. And follow Philly.com’s Craig Laban. Read everything he writes about food in this wonderful city. He will very rarely steer you wrong. Mike Klein is another good resource on new spots in town. Philly Mag is also solid for lists.

Personally, I can’t wait to eat the spicy pizza and hoagies while washing them down with some natural wines at the new Joe Beddia pizzeria set to open in Fishtown. Any day now.

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First pizza. Second pizzeria

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And I know you athletes love steak. Barclay Prime and Butcher and Singer are both tops. Pricey, but we know you can afford it. Let me know if you need a dining companion. I’m very polite. 

Breakfast

LeBron James is a fan of Sabrina’s Cafe when he’s in town and you can’t go wrong with one of their locations, preferably the original. A lot of people will tell you Green Eggs Cafe and Honey’s Sit and Eat. They’re fine, perhaps overrated. The best breakfast spot is the one around the corner from your new crib. Ask one of your new neighbors. If you happen to land near South Street, give Ant’s Pants Cafe’s sweet potato hash a chance — 100% sports blogger approved.

Lunch

It’s hard to go wrong in the Reading Terminal Market. Options abound here and you can pick up some cannoli or cookies for later to share with the team while they’re playing Fortnite in the clubhouse. DiNic’s roast pork is worth seeking out. John’s Roast Pork isn’t too far from Citizens Bank Park either. What we’re trying to say is get to know the joy of a roast pork sandwich. Federal Donuts’ chicken sandwich is a quick and easy tasty treat if you’re in a pinch.

Dinner

We got you started above under “restaurants.” And I hear the Phillies’ chef at CBP can make a mean plate for your postgame plane ride though.

If you’re taking the wife out: Zahav, Vernick, Suraya, Laurel, Vetri. Do a tasting downstairs at Double Knot. So many options. We hear Ben Simmons and Kendall Jenner like Parc. If you can’t get a rez anywhere, pop in to Cheu Noodle Bar. All wonderful and delicious.

Ice cream

If you end up near Little Baby’s or Weckerly’s, you’ll scream with happiness. I’m partial to Big Gay Ice Cream’s cone where they inject the soft serve with a salted caramel. It’s so wrong, it’s right. Then there’s Franklin Fountain in old city. Get one of the brownie sundaes and thank us later. Just DON'T go there with Gabe Kapler whatever you do.

And Bryce, this is Philadelphia. WOODER ICE. Definitely seek out John’s Water Ice. And from anywhere in the city, be cool, eat a Rita’s.

Things to do

You’ll likely want to ring the bell at a Sixers game or sit next to your pal Mike Trout at an Eagles game. Otherwise, give the folks from Visit Philly's Uwishunu a click and check out their frequently updated list of events around town. Did you hear there’s a bell with a crack in it? It’s true. Watch the Nic Cage classic “National Treasure” for a quick history lesson.

Have you seen our rivers? Take a jog passed Boat House Row up towards Manayunk. Enjoy the summer vibes at Spruce Street Harbor Park. Go ice skating at the River Rink in the winter. Just don't get hurt. PLEASE. Maybe pull a Joel Embiid and show up at the softball fields in Fairmount Park and take a few swings with the people.

Pilates places

Sorry, sports blogger here. Maybe ask Gabe? He's in decent shape.

Best art and live music venues

There is at least one famous museum in town you’ve likely seen in a movie. Don’t just run up the steps. Get in there. And don’t miss the Barnes down the street. Get to know First Friday for the smaller local artists. And take in all the murals around town, maybe on a tour.

Philly has so many options for live music. The Fillmore, Union Transfer, World Cafe Live, the newly refurbished Met, whatever they’re calling the Electric Factory these days, the Mann Center, Union Transfer, Boot and Saddle, the TLA, the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music, etc.

I bet you can get good seats to see The Who at Citizens Bank Park this summer too. If you can’t, I’ve got a guy.

Local hot spots

Basically the entire city in the months of July and August. Hit up the Jersey shore to cool off.

We know you don't drink, so the plethora of beer gardens and breweries may not be your thing, but your friends from Vegas may enjoy.

Farmers market

We mentioned Reading Terminal earlier. Good spot for some fresh groceries. There’s a good chance you may end up living near Rittenhouse Square, so check out their weekend market. You may enjoy a day trip to Lancaster or the Green Dragon in Ephrata. Like breakfast, the best farmer’s market tends to be the one closest to your new crib. Ask a neighbor.

Best Italian market

Sorry. Philly doesn’t have any of those.

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