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The LeBron Mural Vandalizer is the Sports Villain of the Week

July 23, 2018

LeBron James is going to be a Laker whether the rest of the universe likes it or not, and most of the universe probably isn't thrilled. But you'd think that Los Angeles might be the one place to welcome him with universal acceptance and/or joy. Hell, even if you're not an NBA fan, or even if you're a Clippers fan, it's pretty sweet to have one of the two greatest basketball players in world history in your city. Also, the Lakers really need him.

Well, there are some people who aren't happy. A few LeBron murals have gone up around town in celebration of the King's arrival, and at least two of them have been vandalized. Check out the damage:

The "3-6" graffiti is a reference to his record in the finals (where the Lakers haven't been in quite some time, incidentally), and phrases like "we don't want you" are even less ambiguous. As ESPN reports, one of the murals was even defaced twice.

What gives? Who hates the idea of LeBron in Los Angeles so much that they'd actually risk arrest by defacing a mural? If you believe the tone of the graffiti, it seems like it's an actual Lakers fan who would rather not embrace the mercenary services of James, and that's just crazy. But if it's a false flag by someone who wants to ruin the reputation of Laker fans and put the relationship between the city and LeBron off to a bad start? Well, that's amazing.

Some other suspects: Jack Nicholson, becoming the Joker he once played on film because he's a Shaq fundamentalist. Kobe. Donald Sterling, in the extremely crazy stage of his life. Lavar Ball. Luke Walton, because he knows how quick LeBron can be to throw a coach under the bus. Draymond Green, to undermine his new rivals.

Or...what if it's LeBron himself, trying to drum up sympathy before he even sets foot in the city?

So many great possibilities. And since no humans have been harmed by the L.A. Vandal, I want this to go on for months. I want it to obsess the LAPD, and I want hours of coverage devoted to finding the mystery villain responsible. This is the Zodiac Killer of our times, and I'm all in.

Seriously, though, it's probably Lavar Ball.

The Altered State Athletic Achievement of the Week

Eddie Pepperell shot a 67 in the final round of the British Open at a windy Carnoustie, and that is very tough even in normal circumstances. But there's another wrinkle here: Pepperell had a hangover!

From the horse's mouth:

At the end of that clip, Pepperell clarifies that he was drinking wine, and still got to bed by about 11:30. That's pretty far from a drunken revelry, but it's still remarkable coming on the eve of the final round of a major.

In conclusion, Pepperell's feat does not measure up with David Wells throwing a perfect game hungover, or any of Babe Ruth's drunk home runs, and it's not even close to Doc Ellis throwing a perfect game on LSD. But on the Altered State Achievement Scale, I give him a solid 4/10.

The Best and Worst NFL Polices of the Week

NFL: DEC 11 Redskins at Eagles

Icon Sportswire

Worst: The Dolphins have listed protesting during the anthem as a punishable offense in their big book of punishment.

Best: The Giants will not punish anyone who kneels.

Look, whatever your politics, most of us probably agree that the discourse around the anthem kneeling has become absurd. The NFL, of course, wants it to go away. I would guess that most fans want it to go away. There are a few people who don't, most notably the man in the oval office, but the best way for Roger Goodell to move past this era in his godawful reign as commissioner is to just to blanket allow it. Believe me, it will stop being a big deal sooner rather than later. A hands-off approach might even lead to some constructive conversation between the two sides. Maybe not, but who knows?

But the worst way to handle it for an NFL team or the NFL as an umbrella organization is to forbid it or attach actual suspensions to the act. That's only going to inflame everything, especially because we all know that any good NFL player who commits an actual crime is only six weeks or so from being redeemed.

The NFL is the NFL, though, so inevitably they will continue feeding into the frenzy by accident. Incompetence on their end is the closest thing we have to a guarantee in sports.

The Doomed Record of the Week: Seattle's 264 Team Home Runs

The Mariners managed that feat in 1997, with Griffey, A-Rod, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and (probably) some extra help in the form of, um...medicines. It seemed like a record that might stand forever, just like Barry Bonds' 73 home runs in 2001, for the simple reason that the Steroid Era is over and done with.

But then the 2018 New York Yankees came along, with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and suddenly they're on pace to hit 274 by the time the season ends. That's a whole lot of dingers, and the crazy thing about this team is that everyone hits them. It's not just Judge and Stanton—they'll probably have a pair of 20-homer rookies in Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

Murderer's Row is back, and it's glorious. However, Seattle might have its vengeance, and quickly—because of the terrible Wild Card rule, the Yankees stand a very good chance of being the second-best team in baseball and still having an elimination game because they have the bad fortune to be in the same division as the Red Sox. Right now, their opponent would be the Seattle Mariners. Change the rule, MLB!

The "Don't Be a Terrible Person" Advice of the Week

This is a brand new feature, and I promise you that it will always be short, pointless, and also useless.

This week's piece of advice concerns communication, and will likely be despised by many people my age (35) and younger. But I'm saying it anyway:

Sometimes, you have to actually talk on the phone.

My rule for a text exchange is that if I don't anticipate the plans or problem or whatever being resolved within four texts, I'm calling. I can talk faster than I can text, and you can respond way faster on the other end. I have a deep and excessive hatred in my heart for people who "hate talking on the phone," but there are way too many of them in this world, and their numbers grow each day.

So, grow up. Talk on the phone when necessary. Answer your phone. Don't make me text 18 times to arrange something when a 30-second call will do. And if you think phone conversations are excruciating, congratulate yourself on having lived the kind of life where you don't understand true hardship. Thank you!

(Please note that none of this applies to the dating world. It's been a decade since I've been on that scene, and I have no idea what rules apply. Don't ruin your relationship because of this stupid advice.)