On the Royal Rumble: A Defense of Professional Wrestling

Wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan tears it off. Photo by Chris Carlson/Associated Press

Wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan tears it off. Photo by Chris Carlson/Associated Press

My Uncle Dave first introduced pro wrestling to me as this funny Saturday-morning TV show. Twenty years later, I’m a huge fan. But most people love to hate on wrestling. They think that fans — like me — are stupid, that we somehow don’t realize the whole thing is fake. Believe me, the fans are in on the con. We know the outcomes are predetermined. We’re in it solely for the entertainment.

And what entertainment there is. Soap-opera story lines are combined with incredible feats of sequined athleticism, with some pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure. “You can’t look away,” says Bryce Remsburg, a referee with Chikara, a wrestling promotion company based in Philadelphia. “It’s better than a superhero. I would rather seen Macho Man and the Ultimate Warrior than Batman and Superman.”

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Sixers Suspend Kirilenko

When the Sixers traded for Andrei Kirilenko earlier this season, it was expected that the veteran forward wouldn’t be in Philadelphia long — that, given the Sixers’ tanking ways penchant for departing with talented veterans, “AK-47″ would end up on another team. And soon.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

“The 76ers have suspended forward Andrei Kirilenko for not reporting to the team after his trade from the Brooklyn Nets last month,” the Associated Press reports. “Coach Brett Brown confirmed the suspension during a shootaround before Friday night’s game in Brooklyn. He says he had been looking forward to coaching Kirilenko.”
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Jeffrey Lurie Enters Competition for Philadelphia’s Worst Sports Owner

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

In case you haven’t noticed, Philadelphia has a sports team ownership problem.

It took last week’s Eagles front office fiasco to get me thinking about this. And the Eagles are the one viable team in this town right now.

Jeffrey Lurie has now owned the Eagles for 20 years. Not only is there no championship of which to speak, but now I’m very leery of the direction this owner provides towards that end. When confronted with in-house bickering of his lieutenants, Lurie caved like a pre-fab house in a stiff wind. His anointing of Chip Kelly as the main architect of the franchise and demotion of Howie Roseman from general manager to vice president of shoulder pads, or some such thing, was not exactly generalship. It was a panic move from a weak leader.
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Top 28 Philadelphia Sports GIFs of the Year

It was not a good year for Philadelphia sports. The Eagles lost a playoff game a few days into the new year, and the only other Philadelphia team to make the playoffs was the Flyers — who lost in the first round. This fall’s Eagles started 9-3 and missed the playoffs, the Sixers gutted their roster intentionally in order to be bad and the Union missed a wide open net in the final minutes and lost in extra time of the U.S. Open Cup. And the Wings moved and became the New England Black Wolves! Ugh.

But it was a good year for sports GIFs. One was Twitter’s introduction of inline GIFs in tweets. Never before was it so easy (for me, at least) to share stupid little sports moments with the world instantly. It became so easy to share GIFs one of mine was retweeted an obscene amount of times.

The Buccaneers’ Danny Lansanah preventing the Steelers Le’Veon Bell from making a first down gesture was undoubtedly the sports GIF of the year. But there’s no way to connect this to Philadelphia — Lansanah went to Harrisburg, which as close as I can get it — so it will have to remain outside the scope of this column.

Despite the bad year for Philadelphia sports, there was no shortage of great sports GIFs. If this sounds familiar, it’s pretty much the same spiel I did in 2012, when I last did this feature. It has not been a great few years for Philly sports. But the GIFs this year were, perhaps, better than ever. Presenting the best ones I made in 2014.

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NBA Commish Asks Christie to Partner on Legalized Betting

NBA commissioner Adam Silver watches the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

NBA commissioner Adam Silver watches the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

New Jersey has been battling major sports leagues over its right to allow sports betting, but Monday brought a twist to the matter: NBA commissioner Adam Silver publicly asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to partner up to make sports betting legal in much of the United States.
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Jim Kenney’s Mean Girl 101

Jim Kenney, Chris Christie

Jim Kenney, Chris Christie

Like most people who were tweeting from the Linc on Sunday night, I’m going to assume that Councilman Jim Kenney wasn’t putting much thought into his 140 characters.

An Eagles fan, the possible mayoral candidate was annoyed when he spotted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie snuggling up to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the skybox. Here’s what that looks like:

Admittedly, part of me likes that a Philly politician would not only publish those tweets but defend them. Councilman Kenney – who has a history of Twitter tantrums – didn’t take them down, explaining, “I have a big nose and he has a fat ass. Just as life deals you.”

But, as much as I enjoy Philadelphia’s unique brand of feisty real-talk, I can’t help but think the same thing I think every time someone attacks Christie for his weight: Kenney sounds like an idiot, and he probably needs a hug.

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Why “I Can’t Breathe” Matters

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an ” I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There was once a time in sports where it was cool to be an anti-hero. Charles Barkley ran a money-making campaign to prove he was not a role model. Michael Jordan, the best to ever do it, never made it his business to prove that he cared about the community either, despite how the hood’s love of Jordans has kept his money long in the years after basketball.

“Republicans buy shoes, too,” he once said. (Or possibly didn’t. Either way, Jordan was famous for his non-political stances during his playing career.)

The 1980s and early 90s, the years of modern excess, were years where anyone could say anything what they wanted, because everyone seemingly had everything they wanted. It was easy not to care, especially if you were one of the world’s biggest athletes.

But something’s changed in a major way. There’s something very special happening in sports right now. People care.

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Is Kobe Bryant the Worst Person in the World?

So there was this little recap in the Daily News last week of a happy-sounding practice of the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant, the pride of Lower Merion, attended the practice, which he doesn’t very often anymore because he’s 36 years old and has been playing pro basketball since he was 18, and his legs are kind of iffy anymore. His teammates must be really happy that his legs are bad, if all the practices he shows up for are going to be like this one. He spent it screaming at his teammates, belittling them, telling them they suck, and generally being the Worst Person in the World, in, of course, the guise of That One Guy Who Cares About This Team. Read more »

Philly’s Maya Winters and Rob Kearney Win Strong(wo)man Duos Competition

Rob Kearney and Maya Winters, victors in this weekend's TK in Windsor, Connecticut.

Rob Kearney and Maya Winters, victors in this weekend’s Couples Strong(wo)man Competition in Windsor, Connecticut.

Big news, sports fans! Last week I told you about local athlete Maya Winters, the college arts education professor who also just so happens to be the reigning middle-weight title holder of America’s Strongest Woman. (Go ahead, swoon, lesbians!)

When I wrote, she was about to join up with fellow and openly gay strongman competitor Rob Kearney to represent LGBTers in a rare Couples Strong(wo)man Competition at Lightning Fitness in Windsor, Connecticut. The competition was Saturday, and they kicked ass, taking home the contest’s top prize. They won!

Winters tells me they competed in a variety of challenges: the max log press, 12-inch deadlift with chains, couples tire flip, sandbag medley and the atlas stone load. If you don’t understand what all that is, just imagine muscles bulging, veins popping, and impossibly heavy objects being tossed around like rag dolls.

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