Author Archives: Michael Jones

About Michael Jones

I'm a nerd about sports, games, and movies. My love is about as volatile as my hate.

Lebron’s Lakers Impact and the Kings KANGZing

Lebron_Melo

Unless you’re an out of state Laker or Warrior fan, I hope you make enough disposable income to get NBA League Pass. Because with the best and most popular NBA player in the league now joining the most storied franchise, you’re about to be inundated with even more Lakers games on national television than before.

According to data collected by Yaya Dubin, the Lakers had the fifth most amount of nationally televised games (ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV) in the league, trailing only the Warriors, Rockets, Cavs, and Thunder. Keep in mind, the Lakers hadn’t won more than 27 games since the 2012-13 season.  For a trash lottery team run by a family that’s basically enacting a low-rent sports version of Game of Thrones in their front office, that’s more than these perennial playoff teams: the Celtics, Spurs, Clippers, and Raptors. The Bucks had fewer than five, and they have the second best player in the Eastern Conference in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Now that the LeBron James business has joined the Lakers, you can bet that there will be even more televised Lakers games. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had over 60 games on national tv, dwarfing the younger, rising teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Pacers, and Jazz, for example. In fact, they’ll dwarf every team’s numbers, even the Warriors. Hopefully the league will trojan horse those young fun teams into the national spotlight by showcasing their games against the Lakers. More people need to watch the majesty of Giannis, the workman’s grit of Oladipo, and the high-flyingness of Donovan Mitchell. By the way, expect every Lakers/Warriors game to be televised, no matter how much Golden State smokes them by.

Which will happen. LeBron is not flanked by Paul George, who signed a long-term contract with OKC, or by Kawhi Leonard (yet). He’s got…Javale McGee and Lance Stephenson as the other big free agents the Lakers signed. The second best player on that team is Brandon Ingram entering his third season. The NBA will subject you a 34 year old LeBron who plays no defense before May running the court with kids and morons.

Most teams are waiting for the 2019 offseason, which bodes ill for the Kings

Ever since the first weekend of free agency, this offseason has been boring. No big trades, no signings of immediate high impact, and a bunch of casualties of limited cap space. The market was always going to be a little limited for Demarcus Cousins, but nobody saw him signing with the Warriors for $5.3 million.

The cap spike of 2016 continues to fuck over teams and players. Instead of blaming Michele Roberts and the rest of the NBPA like we’ve been doing, we should probably blame these general managers for the insane contracts they gave out. As of now, only the Kings have significant cap space anymore. And that’s partially because of them forcing the Bulls to match a pricey contract for Zach Lavine. Speaking of Lavine, he had to pivot from “Sacramento wanted me more” when he signed their offer sheet to “I always wanted to be in Chicago” after the Bulls matched. It was an inelegant exercise in pre-emptive expressions of loyalty. He tried to make it sound like he just wanted to be wanted, instead of acknowledging that he was trying to get as much as he could have, which is not just his right but also his responsibility, coming off an ACL tear.

Next year is the year those 2016 contracts come off the books and cap space opens up for a lot more teams. Some of those teams, like the Pacers, will be one max-level player away from true contention. According to Spotrac, about 9 teams will have enough practical cap space to outright sign a max guy, depending on the guy’s years of service. That includes the Pacers, the Clippers, the Knicks, and the Lakers. The Kings are also there, but they lose all the leverage they have this year if there are other choices.

The Kings, for their part, still operate on a completely different level than anyone else. Not in a good way, either. They passed on Luka Doncic to avoid taking the ball out of De’aaron Fox’s hands, according to Vlade Divac. They then…offered Zach Lavine 4 years and $80 million. There are no rumors that they were even players in the kind of trade that Denver engaged the Nets in that offloaded two expiring contracts and a first-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for basically cap space. The Kings will have more cap space than anyone besides Brooklyn next year unless Vlade Divac gets a wild hair up his ass and signs another washed ass veteran.

Quick aside: a lot of Kings fans only saw this as adding two more power forwards to a team overloaded with them and thus not worth the pick. To which I say: do you not know that a team like the Kings can waive players like this and still have the cap space next year anyway? Speaking of which, today the Kings traded away Garrett Temple, the team’s best defender and a stunning example of on- and off-court leadership, to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Deyonta Davis and two old friends: Ben McLemore and Cash Considerations.

THIS SMELLS LIKE MALOOFERY

Apparently, the cash is to give the Kings extra leeway to buy out the two bootsy-ass players they received, so the Kings basically traded Temple for yet another second round pick and freed up an extra $900,000 thousand in cap space for a team already below the salary floor.

Which begs the question: *extremely irritated George Carlin voice* WHYYYYYYYYYY? Did Temple want out? I can’t blame him. But there wasn’t another team aching for a strong 3-and-D guy on an expiring contract who could have given a better asset?

Kings shill du jour Grant Napear assures that the team has a plan, but do they really? If the plan was to wait for the free agency boom of 2019, why offer Zach Lavine a giant contract? Because he’s young? Wouldn’t he take the ball out of the hands of Fox (and Bogdan Bogdanovich and Buddy Hield who also should get the ball)? More importantly, does Vlade Divac understand that draft picks have immense value? Does he understand that the more teams with cap space, the less leverage the Kings have on the open market because they’re total ass and no one wants to play there?

Does anymore offseason chicanery await us?

The Kawhi Situation and the Clint Capela/Daryl Morey standoff have yet to be resolved, but other than that there isn’t much I can think of that has the potential for fireworks. But that’s the best part of this league; it’s always what you don’t expect that yields the funniest results.

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Marvin Bagley has to be better than Luka Doncic

 

The Kings made their pick. They made a lot of their fans angry or despondent. Read Kings Twitter or Sactown Royalty message boards and you can glean that the fanbase is as low as it’s been in the Vivek era. Luka Doncic was the consensus smart pick among fans, pundits, and draft experts. Some had him has the best player in the draft due to his skillset, polish, and accomplishments at such a young age.

But the Kings decided on Marvin Bagley III. In the post-draft press conference, General Manager Vlade Divac defended the selection.

“Marvin for us is better fit, better player and great talent. So, it was an easy choice for us,” Divac said. Divac also believes that Bagley can play the 3, a position no one on the team is currently equipped to do, and that with Bagley the Kings “will play smart and fast.”

I have questions:

  • If it was an easy choice, why were there numerous reports they were considering Porter Jr. and Doncic?
  • Why would Bagley play the 3 when he never played it in college and is projected to be a power forward or center by, oh I don’t know, everyone else?
  • Does Dave Joeger know they’re going to play fast? The Kings had the lowest pace in the league last year. And that team had De’Aaron Fox!

If you want to give this team the benefit of the doubt, you go ahead. But I would ask you to use this little thing called your brain to wonder why they deserve it. It’s not like they have a sterling record, even in the draft. Even Fox, the best pick Vlade has made, doesn’t look like a surefire all-star. And according to Carmichael Dave, one of the reasons they passed on Doncic was because they didn’t want to take the ball out of Fox’s hands. First of all, Dave Joeger will make sure it comes out anyway when he calls for a dozen dump-offs to Zach Randolph’s embalmed corpse in the post. And secondly, what about Fox’s rookie season made you think that this guy should dominate the ball so much? I like Fox a lot, but you don’t pass on a talent like Doncic for Fox. Even then, you could have multiple high level playmakers on the court if they both pan out. The league demands that amount of playmaking anyway.

As for Bagley, he is a good prospect; he’s super athletic (like seriously, he apparently jumps like four times before other dudes get up for a second jump) and he has a high motor, according to the scouts. He averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds in his lone season at Duke. I’m sure Dave Joeger had his input on this pick, considering his fetish for playing two big men at once, which runs contrary to pretty much every good team in the league. Bagley also contributed to a defense so porous, Duke had to switch up their scheme. A big who sucks at defense and only uses his dominant hand doesn’t scream “nba star” to me. But again, I’m just some asshole with a blog nobody reads. Doncic has his weaknesses, too.

But he has far more skills more translatable to the modern league and he was the favorite among pretty much everyone else, like I said. Bagley has to be better than him to justify this risk. He has a lot of work to do, not just because of his flaws but because of the team’s fucked up structure. They are still woefully short on wings, with Justin Jackson being the only guy with the size and length to play small forward. This team’s defense is going to likely be godawful for a while.

All this negativity being said, I’ll still root for the guy. It’d be a dick move to root against a 19 year-old who, by all accounts, is a high-character guy just trying to make his living. And if he turns out to be a baller, then I will gleefully admit I was wrong and adopt him as my child (Buddy Hield is the only competitor for that so far).

But if Doncic is everything we thought he’d be over the next couple years, and Bagley underperforms, then I will cry a river of tears for what could have been for my sweet Slovenian Son.

The Prophecy has been Shunned.

More Draft Notes

 

  • The Hawks traded down from 3 to 5 and grabbed an additional first round pick from Dallas, who picked Luka Doncic while the Hawks picked Trae Young. This isn’t a bad move for either team, to be honest. Atlanta gets the worse prospect, but an additional pick in a long rebuild.
    • I WISH THE KINGS FUCKING TRIED SOMETHING LIKE THAT, GODDAMNIT
  • Michael Porter Jr., the guy the Kings had at the top of their board until like a few days ago, slipped all the way to Denver at 14. Porter is a fine gamble for a team that’s already got most of its pieces and could use another stud scorer.
    • As a guy with chronic back pain himself, I hope it works out for MPJ, because I know it sucks but also because I might need surgery, too.
  • Vince Staples, who is the best fucking follow on Twitter by the way, killed the draft by threatening to kill his favorite team’s coach…and @’d him in the process
  • The real winner of the draft was Woj, who undercut ESPN’s demand for him to not spoil picks by spoiling picks in increasingly creative ways

The stove is on fire, the Kings are going to kill me, and Ed Werder is trippin

Over the past week, rumors have abounded that the Kings will pass on Luka Doncic, the most accomplished European prospect ever with the skillset tailor-made for the modern NBA, for one of the two following prospects: Marvin Bagley III, who plays defense like he’s a more athletic Jahlil Okafor (meaning NOT GOOD AT ALL) and Michael Porter Jr., who had to cancel a private workout showcase because of crippling back and hip pain that kept him in bed.

Before Porter Jr.’s back injury was revealed, he was reported as a potential No.1 pick due to his scoring prowess. Then, in his first game for Missouri, he pulled himself out, underwent back surgery, revealed that he hurt himself in 10th grade, and refused to give medical info to the NBA combine.

Luka Doncic led a team of grown-ass men in the second-best basketball league in the world to a championship and won MVP at 19.

Marvin Bagley III was part of a defensive team so bad, Coach K had to switch to a zone defense for the first time ever.

Luka Doncic is leading his team to a deep playoff run in a different league RIGHT NOW and put up 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers in his most recent game as of this writing, all in 25 minutes.

But Doncic didn’t workout against a chair or an empty gym, like Porter Jr. and Bagley did.

All of this leads me to believe the Kings are going to fuck this up. It sounds like they have already made the Porter pick, but they’re desperately seeking validation for it from medical pros to justify it. Jaren Jackson Jr. is the only non-Doncic pick I personally want, but he hasn’t even been linked to the team. Of course, I could be wrong and this could all be a smokescreen, or it could turn out that whatever pick they make, that isn’t Doncic, still turns out great. Problem is, based on the information we have now, with Bagley’s weaknesses and Porter Jr.’s trick back, seems like the Kings are just passing on the obvious choice.

The draft is only three days away and I am literally dying with anxiety about it (and other things) (and about the inexorable creep of Satan’s grasp).

Kawhi Gone

Kawhi Leonard is out and we have some solid information as to why but a whole of questions about as to where. Reportedly, the relationship has been frayed beyond all reconciliation. Pop throwing his group under the bus didn’t seem to sit well with Kawhi. Or with his group.

Who is actually pulling the strings here? Is it Kawhi Leonard? Is it this enigmatic Uncle who clearly has some weird power over him according to this ESPN piece? Kawhi never talks so we can’t really get it from his mouth, but it’s reasonable to believe that he didn’t actually want to be the Next Duncan, as he was so commonly christened, because he’s a different human being. Maybe all those jokes about him being a basketball robot that Gregg Popovich built in a lab didn’t sit well with him. Maybe he saw them handing out huge contracts to Pau Gasol while Chris Paul and Lebron James were each one summer away from free agency and thought they had lost their damn minds (my current favorite conspiracy theory).

My confusion comes from the reports about his preferred destination and reports about how he feels about money and fame. As it is every fucking year with the best name on the market, Kawhi is rumored to want to go the Lakers, that illustrious franchise that has no real operative difference from the Sacramento Kings, except for the fact that it is located in Los Angeles. But Kawhi also apparently doesn’t care about money as much as most, which is why he’s leaving $70 million on the table. But he, or his camp, were upset at the small deal he had with Jordan Brand. He also was last heard driving a ’97 chevrolet and using coupons (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/03/16/kawhi-leonard-drives-a-97-tahoe-and-hoards-coupons-for-free-wings/ ). This all paints a contradictory portrait of a man who prefers to remain low-key but also yearns for the league’s most illustrious franchise in a city of celebrities.

Or maybe he’s not the one leaking rumors to press and stonewalling the Spurs organization. Maybe money isn’t that much of a concern to him. We don’t know. I sure as hell don’t. But I do suspect that Kawhi has taken a backseat to the rest of this process, if only because going to the Lakers isn’t a basketball decision, it’s a business decision.

And did you read in that ESPN piece about all those businesses his Uncle has going on?

The offseason has begun and it is already burning our retinas.

 

Ed Werder wyd, bro?

Add ESPN’s Ed Werder to the list of “white dudes mad that white dudes don’t get enough love.” Eddie misinterpreted a tweet by Charlotte Wilder of SI when she advocated for people to apply for a job at her outlet “especially if you’re a woman trying to get into sports.” Werder, outing himself as a moron, took that as saying “So men need not apply?”

She didn’t say “IF YOU’RE A WOMAN,” she said “especially,” because sports journalism is a heavily male-dominated industry and sports fandom is full of toxic men and boys (and Britt McHenry’s stupid ass) and that maybe women need a little extra encouragement to get in on the game. But no, Eddy chose to get BIG MAD. She didn’t even exclude anyone with her language. Edwerd is a writer, right? He knows what words mean, doesn’t he?

Anyway, ICE and the HHS are intentionally splitting kids up at the border from their parents who just want them to have a better life in America as a matter of policy. This country isn’t Rome, it’s more like Nazi Germany. Tell your reps to cut this shit out if they have any fucking guts.

Good night and good luck.

Kings Draft Preamble

On Lottery Day, the Basketball Gods looked down upon the Sacramento Kings, and they blessed them with good fortune not seen since the day Chris Webber said “ah shit, man I guess I’ll stay in Sac.” The Kings will pick 2nd in the NBA Draft, the highest they’ve ever picked and buttholes have never been clenched more tightly.

Historical precedent tells us that there is a not insignificant chance that the Kings will fuck this up. This doesn’t weigh as heavily on my mind as it does some other Kings fans, but that’s only because I have resigned myself to the nihilistic embrace of constant disappointment. Anything better will just be gravy. I fully expect one of the following terrible outcomes:

  • The Kings draft Luka Doncic who just becomes a more handsome T.J. McConnell
  • The Kings draft DeAndre Ayton who just becomes Jahlil Okafor with better muscle definition
  • The Kings trade the pick for some combination of players and picks that lead them in the lottery for the next five years before jumping again and we go through the same fucking cursed process

The stakes haven’t been this high for the Kings since 2003, when they were competing for actual championships. The future of Vlade Divac and his handpicked front office compatriots hinges on this draft and its immediate aftermath. Divac’s seat has been getting warmer and warmer since the moment he set his ass on it, with only a handful of successful transactions permeating a minefield of failures: the 2015 Sixers trade, the George Karl saga, the Georgios Papagiannis selection, the 2017 draft selections that weren’t De’Aaron Fox.

If he fails, he continues the cycle of futility Kings fan now know like a second language: lose 50 games, whiff on pick, lose 50 more games, make a promising pick, watch prospect fail, lose 50 more games, repeat.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Pick options

Reports are that the Phoenix Suns will pick DeAndre Ayton, who apparently has a body crossed with Hercules and Patrick Ewing, with the first pick. If that happens, the Kings should take Doncic. Some say his skills overlap with other guards on the roster, which is true. Know what else is true? None of those guards are worth ignoring Doncic over. Buddy Hield might be a starter on a contender. De’Aaron Fox might become an average shooter. Bogdan Bogdanovic is 25 and he also might be a sixth man Manu Ginobili type for a winning team. You don’t ignore a guy like Doncic whose game is perfectly suited for modern NBA teams.

If the Suns take Doncic and leave the Kings with a choice of Ayton or Jaren Jackson Jr., I will plant my flag firmly on the JJJ hill and die there. And as I bleed out watching Dave Joeger’s stupid offense funnel Ayton and Zach Randolph’s geriatric ass post touches while two 40% three point shooters twiddle their thumbs, I will scream out in anguish.*

Jackson showed the tools and skills to be a modern NBA big: a rim-protecting, three-point shooting modern marvel with a nose for help-side blocks and a nascent playmaking skill. He also committed approximately 400 fouls over the season so he needs some work. Again, I’m only right until I’m not.

We won’t know until Woj tweets it out, but we will be here, sphincters ever tightening, hoping against hope that the Kings just don’t fuck it up again.

*i fully reserve the right to contradict this in a bald-faced lie

Taking Back Control as Adam Jensen

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At the beginning of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the player meets Adam Jensen at what might be the most emotionally turbulent time of his life; he has just experienced heartbreak, he has been physically brutalized, he just failed to protect the lives entrusted to him, he has lost control over his own body, and, to top it all off, he has been stripped of his own autonomy and anatomy. Mechanical limbs and neural “enhancements” ensure that he will never be the same person again, nor will he ever be perceived the same way again. He didn’t ask for this. But he’s now given a new lease on life and a goal to uncover the truth behind the attacks on his employer, Sarif Industries. However, a more important goal that runs parallel to that task also exists: Adam’s goal to regain his own autonomy as a human being.

deusexhr skyline

THE MECHANICS OF CHANGE

Choice defines the role-playing game: character customization, world interaction and, in some cases, story outcome are expected from the genre. Human Revolution uses the RPG structure to tell Adam’s story of reclamation on both narrative and mechanical levels.

This design works in two ways: first, it plays into the traditional RPG mold by using Adam’s situation as the mechanism driving player customization, and second, it makes those choices reflect Adam’s quest to become his own man again. For example: picking the social enhancer upgrade opens up diplomatic solutions to character interactions, thus steering Adam down a more empathetic and less overall violent narrative path. By using stealth and non-lethal takedowns, Adam becomes a man who seemingly prefers not to become a mass killer. Furthermore, combining the social enhancer upgrade with a “shoot first, ask questions later” combat strategy allows for an interpretation of Adam that is…complicated.

While the power fantasy is still the most common and lucrative design philosophy in mainstream gaming, Human Revolution manages to do something more with it. While HR undoubtedly conforms to the power fantasy philosophy at times, this makes sense if one’s reading of the story is indeed of Jensen regaining his own independence. It offers a different, narratively-motivated context for the power fantasy. It uses its own version of the power fantasy structure, the building of a character into a powerful figure, to develop its themes of self-control.

This is not a typical fantasy wherein the main character dominates everything around him through violence. Human revolution is different from Gears of War. Adam Jensen is not a tank, even with all those Dermal Armor upgrades. Power in Human Revolution must first come with autonomy. So, Adam must first become autonomous again from David Sarif, his boss and the man who saved his life with a ton of mechanical augmentations. After having no choice in the decision to augment him with Sarif’s technology, he now at least has the choice of what mechanical augmentations to further saddle himself with. Furthermore, he has the choice of what to do with those augments. This is what’s called “playing with the cards you’re dealt.” As we eventually learn, Adam has been playing a fixed game his entire life.

One of the most effective explorations of this idea comes relatively early in Adam’s journey. After getting a heads-up from Pritchard about some security issues, Adam goes to Sarif’s office to confront him about it. The problem: the back door into the company’s security system that got them compromised might have been created by Sarif a couple of years before the attacks, when Adam was first hired. This presents Adam an opportunity to directly confront the man who has permanently changed his body and his place in the world. He can finally push back against one of the external forces pulling his strings.

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The argument is like a maze, full of misdirection and dead-ends if he goes the wrong way. Sarif is a slippery bastard and his slyness challenges Adam to stay on point. If he plays it right, Adam will get Sarif to show him the documents that he was sending through that back door. More importantly, he has won a battle against one of the people controlling him.

This is one of the first and largest steps Adam takes in regaining control of himself. Even better, the information Sarif was withholding regards information about Adam’s childhood.

Since the beginning of his life, Adam Jensen has been lied to. As omnipresent newscaster Eliza Cassan says, “everybody lies.” David Sarif, Adam Jensen’s parents, and Meagan Reed all confirm that. His knowledge of himself has been subverted his entire life; his parents, David Sarif, and Meagan Reed have all lied to him.

Now that Adam has begun to push back against the world and learned to control his body, he must continue his two journeys. He will gain further physical independence from Sarif with more self-inflicted changes to his body via the typical RPG upgrade system, but his next endeavor is much more challenging.

CONTROLLING THE NARRATIVE

DEHR3

Even before the beginning of the game, Adam is given directives from higher up. He goes from taking orders as a cop to taking orders as corporate security and is just a pawn in a greater conspiracy. One of the ways he regains control is how he makes the decisions in the field. The one aspect of Adam’s life that he has unmitigated control over is how he conducts himself in matters of combat and diplomacy.

Adam can kill every enemy he meets or let all of them live. He can also just kill and spare where he sees fit. His actions can come across as contradictory if there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his killing, but human beings are contradictory creatures.

Beyond his combat decisions, Adam can affect how people perceive him in the world. A violent Adam, who disregards the safety of others, can get people killed. He can also try to talk his way in and out of situations. This will open or close off certain tangible benefits to him, like weapon upgrades or discounts, But it also closes off people, sometimes literally. Greg Thorpe won’t give him shit if he didn’t save his wife from the terrorist Zeke Sanders; Tong, the head of the local gang of Triads, will not willingly give Adam information if he can’t verbally convince him.These interactions are the consequences of Adam’s chosen actions, and thus the consequences of how he utilized his freedom. Positive or negative, Adam exerts his personal sovereignty in their radius and the consequences reflect that.

Adam_Jensen_Concept

As Jensen regains control over himself, the Illuminati seek to gain control over everything. And this is why which ending him choose is so important. There is a way to side with the Illuminati which signifies that him fell under their control, in a way. It doesn’t mean anything Adam did before doesn’t matter; it just means that Adam is still fighting for his human sovereignty until the credits roll.

A core aspect of power is the ability to control the narrative. Those in power can spin the events of the day to make themselves look better and line their pockets. Adam’s main enemy in Human Revolution represents the apex of power: the Illuminati. He fights against his boss, against mercenaries, and against a giant corporation. But a nearly omnipotent group based on a real-world conspiracy theory is his greatest adversary. In Human Revolution’s world, the Illuminati is a real thing that individuals must stand up to, which Adam does. He fights their grasping of power. He fights for power over himself and over the events and situations under which he has been placed and which the Illuminati seek to influence

To me, there are two choices that complete Adam’s arc and two that betray it. The two that betray it are given to you by Bill Taggart (a noted piece of shit) and David Sarif. Taggart, an Illuminati member and aforementioned P.O.S. asks you to blame anti-rejection drugs on the bloodfest that has just occured at Panchea, an ocean-based installation and the final level of the game. As Jensen regains control over himself, the Illuminati seek to gain control over everything. And this is why which ending you choose is so important.. So, choosing to side with the Illuminati signifies that you fell under their control, in a way. Sarif asks you to blame anti-augmentation extremists. Both of these men have been trying to influence the world and him since before the beginning of the game. Acquiescing to either of them sounds contradictory to Adam’s arc and goal.

However, Hugh Darrow’s request does line up with Adam’s initial goal. He wants Adam to simply broadcast the truth to the world and reveal the Illuminati.Sounds kosher, right?

“However,” says Eliza Cassan, “there is another option.”

adam jensen limb clinic

Adam could destroy Panchea and kill everybody onboard. “That’s an option?” he asks, outraged.  With this decision, Adam Jensen hasn’t just taken control of his destiny, but thousands more. He has ended their lives and taken their voices. While nobody can now “spin the story,” nobody can make their voices heard because of Adam’s decision. Arguably a monstrous move, but it’s also a move that puts the future of humanity back into the hands of the masses. He takes away a few voices to give more room for the billions of others, who now don’t have these powerful people taking up so much space. After making his choice, Adam reflects on his actions and asks “does this mean I have the right to choose for everyone?”

It’s the ultimate middle finger to the men who so desperately want to control the world and influence its future. It’s also the culmination of Adam Jensen’s journey towards true independence. He disobeys orders from Sarif, Taggart, and the game’s father of augmentations, Hugh Darrow, to make his own bold, definitive choice and solidifies his autonomy. With his journey complete, he returns the favor and brings freedom of choice back to the masses and gives them their own freedom to choose.

A frustrated, confused Kings fan and a lost season

Yesterday morning, Sacramento Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro appeared on local radio station KHTK to speak about the turmoil the team finds itself. The stated purpose was to answer some of the most pressing questions that fans had. What happened was Jed York-level question-dodging. If KHTK callers and hosts are any indication, Kings fans are more confused than they were before, myself included.

Nobody should argue that Vivek Ranadive wasn’t the right person at the right time. He has gotten the team and the city a new arena under construction in downtown. Vivek is exactly the man that we needed in 2013. But that doesn’t mean he is the right guy right now.

Now, it’s depressing to be a Kings fan again. In a complete 180, Kings fans feel dejected and baffled after such optimism in the early goings of the season. Questions and issues aren’t being answered or changed. The team looks actively angry and uninvolved on court. The chemistry that elevated them to a 9-6 start against one of the toughest NBA schedules has evaporated. Now…

we suck again

And D’Alessandro’s appearance did nothing to assuage my fears. In fact, he did more to confuse and frustrate me. Here are some pressing questions on every Kings fans mind:

1. If it’s about wins and losses as Vivek stated, then why did they fire the man who had led them to their best start in YEARS? They were 9-6 against the toughest schedule in the NBA?

2. Why, as D’Alessandro said, is Ty Corbin the coach for the rest of the year even though he is 3-7, losing against absolute garbage teams like the Celtics, the Pistons, and the Magic? By the way, two of those wins were nail-biters against two of the NBA’s worst teams: the Timberwolves and the Knicks.

3. Why are you so infatuated with a faster pace? Here are some of the fastest teams in the NBA:

  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Denver
  • Minnesota
  • Lakers

You know what those teams have in common besides pace? They suck. Unequivocally. Yet Memphis, one of the best teams in the NBA, is 27th. The Warriors are first. Sounds more like pace doesn’t factor into a team’s quality much.

4. Why are you obsessed with pace when your two best players are DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay? These guys  thrive in the half-court. Cousins dominates everybody in the low block and draws double and triple-teams to him. Then, he can kick it out to somebody who would be left wide open. Rudy Gay is at his absolute worst when he has to take more than three dribbles with the ball. But he plays like an all-star when he posts up and relies on a quick move or two to get a close jumper.

5. As asked on Carmichael Dave’s show yesterday, why not sign Corbin to a longer contract for stability? D’Alessandro said that Corbin was their guy, yet balked at this question. “Why would we?” he replied.

What the hell is going on?

I’ve been used to the Kings sucking, but this lost season feels all the more painful because of how good they played at the beginning of the year. And management doesn’t seem to care about being forthright with the fanbase or its players since DeMarcus Cousins keeps finding out about major coaching changes through Twitter.

This season leaves me with two painful possible truths: either the Kings management doesn’t know how to right the ship, or it doesn’t care and this is all political. I don’t know what’s worse.

On Two of the Less Appreciated Films of 2014

You probably never heard of these two

It was a great year for movies. For all the doom saying and fear mongering about the franchising of cinema and the creative gloom it’s supposed to bring, 2014 yielded one of the strongest years in the millennium. I’ve seen 17 of the theatrical releases from this year and I only disliked one of them (Mockingjay Part 1, which is boring and suffers greatly from being a Part 1). Movies I’m not huge on, like Godzilla, I still find redemptive aspects in. And I’ve loved many movies from this year, like Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, and of course Marvel’s two offerings that step high and above other films of their ilk.

But I’m not here to praise films that you saw and/or read a hundred articles about. I’m not even here to talk about my favorite movie of the year, which was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. As much as I love those films , I don’t feel compelled to add my two cents to the conversations surrounding them. These two films on the other hand, I want to talk about because they seem to have been lost in the shuffle.

Calvary

Bleak barely begins to describe Calvary. It’s depressing, grim, pessimistic, and unflinching. With Brenden Gleeson providing an incredible central performance, the film takes you through a week in the life of an Irish-Catholic priest who has been marked for death by a member of his flock. His flock, however, resents him. It’s not clear why, though. The priest is never anything but a standup guy, a priest who doesn’t force religion upon anyone as well as a man who respects and listens to what people tell him, even when they tell him how much they hate him. He comes off as saintly, almost.

The film then takes you on a journey with this man as he bears the brunt of a community’s cynicism while he tries to make things right with them and his daughter. A film of nuance and grace, Calvary makes you understand everybody involved. Director John Michael McDonagh’s bleak subject material matches his photography senses. He captures the cloudy skies and lonely mountains of the Irish countryside like it’s a natural force surrounding and closing in on its main character. And Gleeson, one of our most unappreciated actors, puts the film on his back like the priest puts his town and his daughter on his. It’s a truly amazing film.

Locke

Tom Hardy sits in a car for 90 minutes and talks to various people via blutooth. It sounds like a high-concept thriller, but in reality Locke is just an examination of real world, down to earth ethics and what it really means to do the right thing. This film is more nerve-wracking than a lot of so-called thrillers that studios crank out with abandon, and it’s got Tom Hardy’s mesmerizing performance to thank. You’ve seen him play larger-than-life figures like Bane and Charles Bronson (in Bronson, look it up), now watch him just play a man with a crisis of conscience.

Ivan Locke is stuck in the middle of a desperate situation that he created for himself. He knows he has no one else to blame and takes it upon himself to try to make it right. Along the way, he learns how far this car ride will resonate with his family and coworkers and how much it will unravel his life.