Springtime is officially here, and we’re cleaning house on the month of March. Once again, we’ve decided to break out the athletes, moments and other things of interest that won and lost at sports in the month of madness. Some are truly awesome moments of spectacle. Others are only here to make you laugh. Because winning at sports is important.
Winner: Bryce Harper
The next MLB season won’t start until April, but the 2015 NL MVP won the month of March by dominating all foes with his words. Harper spoke out on the current state of baseball and referred to America’s pastime as a “tired” game. The Washington Nationals superstar stated that players deciding to express themselves during a game should be applauded, not derided. Harper’s words reinforced the belief that players should be encouraged to be free spirits if they wish, not cogs in the larger machine. Besides, we have the NFL for that.
Loser: Rich “Goose” Gossage
Goose Gossage is a Hall of Fame relief pitcher and a mentor to the players of the New York Yankees. What Goose Gossage is not is supportive of Bryce Harper, Jose Bautista, and any other “young punks” and “baseball nerds” who are messing up his sacred game. Gossage’s rant in early March was viewed by many as a representation of how many old-school purists of the game feel. Is that actually true? Who knows? One thing’s for sure — we can’t wait for the Yankees to play the Nationals and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Winner: Miesha Tate
Few people have taken a more circuitous rout to ultimate UFC glory than the woman nicknamed “Cupcake.” Not only did Tate lost in the Ultimate Fighter finale to Cat Zingano, but she also lost to Ronda Rousey in a chance to win the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. Finally, at UFC 196 with one rear-naked choke to Holly Holm, Tate was able to claim her precious gold. What’s her reward? A rematch and title defense later in 2016 against Rousey. Can we say this is must-see TV? Absolutely.
Loser: Conor McGregor
The king of trash talk finally bounced a check his a$$ couldn’t cash. McGregor attempted to defy all the odds by jumping two weight classes in a bout versus longtime veteran Nate Diaz. The fight was held at 170 pounds in the UFC’s welterweight division. Diaz, who took the fight on 11 days’ notice, was initially bloodied by McGregor in the first round.
However, it became clear that the Notorious One was wearing down and that Diaz could handle McGregor’s once vaunted power. Although it was McGregor’s first loss in the UFC, he still won a record-breaking $1 million fight purse. Although many will say that McGregor got what he deserved, many more hope that his trash-talking ways continue.
Winners: Cordell Broadus
Cordell Broadus may be best known as Uncle Snoop Dogg’s son, but he made his own name as he was arguably one of the best wide receivers in the country while in high school. The multi-talented wide receiver went from Bishop Gorman High School to UCLA, but before his freshman campaign started, he seemingly lost his desire to play the sport. After a year away from catching the pigskin, Broadus is back on the field for the Bruins and head coach Jim Mora Jr. The former four-star recruit may have to shake off some rust, but it will be great to see him get a chance to grace the field donning the blue and gold that resembles the California bright skies and brilliant sunshine.
Losers: The Ohio State Buckeyes
Fresh off of a third straight mediocre season, the basketball Buckeyes are in peculiar territory. In just a matter of days, the Buckeyes lost three members of their 2015 recruiting class. Losing Mickey Mitchell, A.J. Harris and Daniel Giddens is a big blow, and it comes at an inopportune time for OSU. As the summer approaches, it is a pivotal time for Matta to fill his roster with quality replacements. Whether it’s wooing a few graduate transfers or cashing in on some late recruits, a miracle is needed in Columbus to save the Buckeyes basketball program and possibly Matta’s job.
Winner: Jason Day
A few weeks ago, Jason Day ended a long break from golf by admonishing then world No. 1 Jordan Spieth in a pre-Arnold Palmer Invitational press conference. Day said he was worried about Spieth’s packed schedule and feared the 22-year-old might get burned out before he could even defend his Masters and U.S. Open titles. Apparently, Day knew what he was talking about. He went on to win the API, then went 6-0 to take his second WGC-Dell Match Play in three seasons the next week.
With back-to-back victories, Day now has six in his last 13 events, a statistic that verges on Tiger-esque. (It should be said that Day is one of the few golfers to actively and publicly seek out Eldrick’s advice.) In the process, the 2015 PGA Champion took back the top spot in the world rankings. No one is playing better golf as the Masters approaches next week. And yet, following his semifinal win over four-time major champ Rory McIlroy at the Match Play, Day said he would learn from the experience of playing against Rory. At this point, maybe his competitors should be learning from him.
Loser: Arsene Wenger
The 2015-16 Barclays Premier League season has taken an all too familiar turn for Arsenal and the club’s fans. In February, the Gunners were title contenders, hot on the tail of the fleet Foxes of Leicester City. By mid-March, they were out of the Champions League and the FA Cup. A dry spell in the BPL — one win in the last four matches — now has Arsenal 11 points shy of Leicester and, gulp, five points behind arch-rival Tottenham.
The Gunners will finish another trophy-less, top-four campaign with Arsene Wenger at the helm. The shouts of “Wenger out” have increased as the most promising title run in a decade lost steam. There’s no doubt Wenger is a quality manager. But his shortcomings in Europe not to mention his club’s status as perennial also-rans in England may just inspire a change in leadership.
Winner: Buddy Hield
27, 36, 17, 37. No, those are not Daily 4 lotto picks — they are Buddy Hield’s point totals for his last four games. The senior Sooner is averaging nearly 30 points a game in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and he’s proved himself to be the best player in college basketball. Hield’s heroics have led OU to a Final Four that not many people saw the Sooners attending, their first since 2002.
He has scored 30-plus points 12 times this season, three times in the month of March. He’s shooting a career-high 50.4 percent from the field, a career-high 46.5 percent from three-point range and a career-high 88 percent from the free-throw line. Even Kobe Bryant is impressed by his game, using words like “great” and “phenomenal” to describe the senior guard.
— Buddy Love !!!! (@buddyhield) March 25, 2016
Loser: Mike Krzyzewski
The legendary head coach has made a habit of lecturing opposing team’s players for show-boaty behavior and then lying about it to the media. Just last week, Oregon sophomore guard Dillon Brooks sank a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the Sweet 16 game against Duke — a shot Coach K took issue with as the Ducks were already up 79-68 over the Blue Devils.
Oregon head coach Dana Altman came to Brooks’ defense, saying that he gave the go-ahead for Brooks to shoot as the shot clock was winding down. That didn’t stop Coach K from approaching Brooks in the handshake line and telling him that he is “too good of a player to showboat.”
— Larry Beyince (@DragonflyJonez) March 25, 2016
Krzyzewski later denied chiding Brooks when asked about it by the media covering the game. Turns out, this isn’t the coach’s first attempt to change opposing players’ behaviors. After being upset by Virginia Tech in 2007, the Duke coach used the same line on Hokie guard Zabian Dowdell after he allegedly bumped chests with a teammate and popped his jersey in front of Duke fans. The irony of it all is Krzyzewski’s own Grayson Allen has been acting out, tripping players on the regular this season.
Loser: Kyrie Irving
Short comment … bruh.
Long comment … Irving, plus R&B singer Kehlani and a Toronto-based rapper named PartyNextDoor, are all involved in the latest public love triangle. In short, Kehlani dated PND, they split up and she moved on to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard. Late in March, PartyNextDoor posted a photo of the hand of a woman with familiar tattoos of Kehlani. The photo included a caption, “After all her shenanigans, still got the r&b singer back in my bed.” Then the Internet went nuts.
Are Kyrie and Kehlani still together? No one actually knows. Is PND’s photo old? Quite possibly, but no one actually knows. When will everyone on social media stop giving Irving a hard time about this? No one actually knows, but we’d guess in a few days. What’s the lesson? Shame on PND for treating his ex-girlfriend like a piece of property, and hopefully all three people involved in the triangle can get back to normalcy sooner rather than later.
Winner: Klay Thompson
Have a month, Klay. In March, the former Washington State star helped carry the Warriors’ offense as Stephen Curry struggled (the word “struggled” used very loosely). For the month, Thompson averaged 26 points and 4.5 boards per game. Those 26 points came by way of some scorching-hot shooting, even by the Splash Brothers’ standards. Through 16 games in March, Thompson shot 49.7 percent from beyond the arc while hoisting up 10 threes a game. He and Stephen Curry also became the first pair of teammates to drain 600 triples in a single season, AND the Warriors continued their quest for 73 wins with a 14-2 record for the month.
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers
With March coming to a close, the Lakers have managed to boast the title of the biggest losers this month for something other than their record. D’Angelo Russell broke the “bro code” and recorded a conversation between him and teammate Nick Young, who was answering Russell’s questions about him cheating on his fiancee. The video leaked, and now his Lakers teammates are giving Russell the cold shoulder. They are real life giving Russell the “you can’t sit with us” treatment. Amit the drama, the Lakers suffered an embarrassing 48-point loss to the Utah Jazz.
NBA star Nick Young Caught on Video Admitting To Cheating On Iggy With A 19-Year-Old Girl After The Club! pic.twitter.com/9ny9tDG0Mb
— Fameolous (@Fameolous) March 24, 2016
Now, with just a few games left in the iconic career of Kobe Bryant, spectators are focused on the reality show that has become the Lakers. Sure, the Kobe farewell tour may have gotten old, but one of the greatest players we have ever seen doesn’t deserve to go out on the worst Lakers team in history and one filled with childish drama.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
In this past 12 months, the WWE has been ravaged by injuries to many of its key superstars. From Seth Rollins to John Cena, the industry’s famed “brass ring” has been sitting there ready for the taking. Once again, a diminutive and dynamic underdog is taking full advantage, and at WrestleMania 32 Dean Ambrose could put on the match of the year against Brock Lesnar.
Previously, we saw Daniel Bryan take full advantage on wrestling’s biggest stage, and in no time the Yes! Movement was soon crowned heavyweight champion. If Ambrose performs in similar fashion versus Lesnar, we could see the “Lunatic Fringe” era atop the WWE mountain.
Loser: The Lead-up to WrestleMania 32
Wrestling’s biggest spectacle technically takes place in April, but March is where the promotional vehicle goes into top gear. Unfortunately for the McMahon-Helmsley mafia, many of the marquee superstars are on the shelf. Among the many names that will be MIA in Cowboys Stadium on Sunday are Rollins, Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Nikki Bella, Neville, Luke Harper and Tyson Kidd. Add to that list newly retired superstars Daniel Bryan and Sting (who now finds himself being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame), and it’s a wonder that The Authority can actually put a full card together. The term “Card Subject to Change” has never been more real than it is now for wrestling fans, and WWE’s young talent will be asked to step up on Sunday.
Winner: Russell Westbrook
On March 28, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard recorded his seventh triple-double (26-12-11) in March and his 16th on the season. That box score compilation is the most ever in a month since some guy named Michael Jordan recorded seven in April of 1989 and the most in a season since some other guy named Magic Johnson, also in the 1989 season. It’s hard to think that in any other season in the modern era that Westbrook wouldn’t be a lock for the MVP award, but the wizardry of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors makes it nearly impossible. However, Westbrook’s achievements this season will go down in the history books as one of the best ever.
Loser: Byron Scott
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of the worst season in the history of the proud and storied franchise. In a late March game versus the Utah Jazz, the Lake Show came sputtering in with an all-time clunker. The Jazz put 123 points on the visiting team and defeated the Lakers by 48 points, which tied the largest loss in the team’s history.
While the loss is shared by all parties, Scott decided to point the defeat on the young players on the roster, saying that the neophytes in the league didn’t give the right amount of effort. With all due respect to Scott, the fact that your young players aren’t playing with the appropriate amount of effort is a reflection of the leadership. That starts with the superstar (Kobe Bryant), the head coach and the organization at large. This is the same man who has won just 36 games in almost two seasons in L.A., and his 426-651 career record is the worst in NBA history. How about you apply more effort, Byron Scott?
Winner: New England Patriots
The NFL’s most despised franchise by many always seems to pull another trick out of its sleeve when no one expects it. In acquiring both Martellus Bennett and Chris Long for relative peanuts compared to other franchises opening up their coffers as wide as possible to attract similar talent, the Pats pulled off another coup. In one day, the Pats were able to give their quarterback another two-headed tight end combination that will wreck every defensive coordinator’s plans while also finding a defensive end who has been ravaged by injuries in recent years but still is plenty capable of returning to All-Pro form. Sometimes all you can do is tip your cap to Bill Belichick, as he always finds a way to make moves like this.
Loser: Denver Broncos
The winners of Super Bowl 50 suddenly find themselves in a bleak and dire situation when it comes to the most important position on the football field, quarterback. Brock Osweiler took his talents to Houston for $18 million a year, and Peyton Manning decided to take his ball and go home forever. John Elway’s once championship roster is now extremely handicapped, and the Broncos face the possibility of Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian or a rookie quarterback as their starter. Is Colin Kaepernick the answer? What about an early round draft pick? Is Elway or former QB and current head coach Gary Kubiak going to have to run the offense himself? Lets hope not.
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