Inside the College Student Athlete: NBA Finals
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Inside the College Student Athlete: NBA Finals

The NBA Finals from a student-athlete perspective.

So if you've been reading any of my stuff (thank you), you know that I'm a little biased towards basketball. It's what I know, and ever since I was a little kid, it's honestly been a part of who I am. A lot of people hate on the NBA, claim that college basketball is better and more fun to watch. I don't care. I love the NBA, I love the players, the coaches, even the ridiculous commentators because they all contribute to an end result that I can't get enough of.

This series between Golden State and Cleveland sucked. There was so much hate and negativity revolving around the now NBA Champion Cavaliers that even the biggest of Cavalier fans felt doomed. There was talk about how terrible the ratings would be for Games 5 & 6 because there was just no way there would be a Game 7, especially the way the Cavs had been outplayed.

But that proved to be just that, as LeBron and Kyrie willed their way to arguably the best comeback in NBA history and Cleveland's first major sports championship since 1964.

Now for any of you that watched this game, just know that it was so historic that ESPN has probably already started production for the 30 for 30 film on it. The 73-win Warriors with a choke similar to the 2007 Patriots, Kevin Love's absolute fall from grace, Kyrie's ascent into a top-10 player in this league, the storylines are endless.

The part that really stuck with me, however, was the emotions you saw on these guys' faces. You saw LeBron, the mightiest of Cavaliers (I'd say Warriors but that just doesn't seem right so I'm just gonna try and make this one work), was brought to his knees, tears streaming down his face.

JR Smith, who was probably sipping on Molly water in the final minutes, was just as emotional. That's when it really hit me, this was something that these guys may never experience again. Something that they play their whole career for: This one moment.

Here's a quick list of guys that have never won an NBA Championship: Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley.

James Jones has three.

The emotion I saw was reminiscent of the way I felt after what, at the time, I had thought to be my last high school race ever. I came from a very, very good track program. My junior year we finished as the third best public school team in the entire state of New Jersey. My senior year, I believe 10 of us went on to compete in college, and about half at the Division I level. Together we all broke countless school records and won numerous league, county, and state sectional titles.

At the State Group meet, I prepared what would be my last 200m race as a high school athlete. I didn't use blocks in this race because they wouldn't allow you to bring your own set and I was very superstitious so I just went without them, which many people look at as a stupid decision but it worked for me.

I remember as I got down into the set position, the last four years of training and races and teammates all flashed in my head. Everything that I had gone through to lead me up to this moment right here. I knew that I had to give everything that I had, and I did. I ended up running a personal record (PR), and afterwards I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn't even believe I had just finished. I was ecstatic with a PR, but also sad that it was all over.

It turns out that my race had qualified me for one additional meet, the State Meet of Champions, which obviously I was excited for but it actually made me look like an idiot because I made the whole emotional Instagram post and everything.

That feeling though after that race, I don't think will ever be matched. Even at the State Meet of Champions, I had felt like I had already come to terms with the end. You only get one last race, and in the eyes of the Cavaliers, you only get one first championship, and I just have to assume that the emotions I felt that day are similar to those the Cavaliers are feeling right now.

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Ranking The 5 Best And Worst NBA Alternate Uniforms

In short: the McDonald's unis.

In the NBA, there have been some amazing alternate jerseys and some that make you cringe. People love to wear alternate and retro jerseys around campus, so let's asses which are cool and which make you look like a tool.

The five best:

5. Grizzlies' Light Blue


There may be a bit much going on with the yellow and black and darker shade of blue on the side of the uniform, but the light blue color with the retro font of the word "Memphis" in this jersey screams old, retro Grizzlies.

4. Cavs' Swingman C


LeBron wearing sleeves is an odd look, but these swingman C uniforms look fresh. The C is so pristine and flows so well and the yellow trim on the black jersey does indeed scare the Cavs' opponents. Especially when it's LeBron.

3. Bucks' Fear The Deer


Yes, the phrase "Fear The Deer" doesn't necessarily strike fear into the deepest depths of my soul, but these threads are pretty sweet. The antlers engulfing the number and the dark green outlining just looks so good. However, they'll always be the Milwaukee Bucks and never really incite fear into anyone.

2. Cavs' Orange Throwbacks


These throwback jerseys are pretty sweet. Not everyone is crazy about orange and not everyone loves the same color jersey and shorts but this uniform has something about it that is old school and hip.

1. Hornets' Buzz City


The black and electric blue look so sweet together. It is a very modern look and the Hornets nailed it. I'm not always crazy about things like "Rip City" or "Clutch City," but "Buzz City" is pretty cool and the colors make up for it if you don't like that.

The five worst:

5. Nets' Brooklyn Dodgers Blue


This is a really cool idea, but let the LA Dodgers honor their old team, not the Nets. The blue lettering looks nice, but the all grey uniforms look bleak and probably like the least scary things ever. Especially when Brook Lopez is wearing it.

4. Thunders' Navy


I can't really decide if I like these or not, but I am leaning towards no. They are retro as hell, but the vertical lettering barely fits the jersey. The number is way bigger than the letter and where did these come from anyways? The Thunder are a new team and have no throwback jerseys, so did they just decide to create one to fit in? I can't say I'm not confused.

3. Clippers' Black


Everybody wants to make black work for them these days. Its the hip trend, but the Clippers really botched their attempt. There is too much going on and the colors all clash in this jersey. I can't even see the red and blue letter logo within the basketball.

2. Hawks' Red


If you look closely, you can see a weird pattern on these red jerseys. I'm sure what they were doing with these, but it's definitely a lot going on. I also never like when teams abbreviate their name on a jersey from Atlanta to ATL for example. Plus, why is the A like that? Simple is good sometimes.

1. Rockets' McDonald's


Ahh the good ole controversial McDonald's kits. I think these are ugly as can be, but you throw "Clutch City" on them and they are 10 times worse already. Since when has Houston been a clutch sports city? Never. That's when.

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Sports Vs. Finals Season: How To Manage Both

I should study, but it's Game 5!

If you tracked the time of the year when blood pressure levels and stress increase the highest for people, chances are that the three week period between late April and early May. It would probably show young adults' blood pressure just as high as adults around tax season.

Ah yes, we've hit the most wonderful time of the year...for caffeine distributors, finals season! Late night study sessions, a 10 page paper on the author's contextual meaning of a 16th century 700 page English novel, and tears of relief with the arrival of Reading Day.

However, for sports fans, this time of the year add an extra element: The beginning of the baseball season, the NFL Draft and free agency, and NBA and NHL postseasons. With 24 hours in the day already committed to these assignments and normal activities like bathing, sleeping, and eating, it is difficult to find time to sit down and watch a game or a half an hour show on ESPN.

Here are a few tips to find that time to watch your team compete and not fail a class and disappoint your parents.

Eating Time Becomes Eating and TV Time
We are willing to sacrifice sleep in order to finish an assignment, but not meals. So, schedule your meals around games.

If an early afternoon baseball game is being played, have lunch at that time. Say the Cavs are playing at eight, well then that's your dinner time.

Granted, this does not include breakfast because no team outside of North America is playing at 7 a.m., but when was the last time you actually ate breakfast?

Replace Music with Radio or Podcast
Instead of listening to a studying playlist when reading about conjugating Spanish verb tenses, listen to Inside the NBA or Intentional Talk. Obviously, watching the game itself while trying to study would be too distracting. But not listening to some talking heads discuss the game.

Why not? It's less distracting than music seeing that they're talking and not playing instruments and singing over the arrangement.

Friday/The Weekend
It's the 48 hour period every student needs and the 48 hour period that is never enough. With the proper time management, you could watch whatever you want on the weekend and still not fall behind in your duties.

However, this comes down to the most important day, Friday. Almost like a measuring bar, the use of Friday helps you determine a lot how the next 48 hours will be used.

My take, use Friday for planning the harder assignments, getting the easy and quick ones out the way, and for laundry.

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Why I Hate Baseball

Admit it, you do too.

I am a huge sports fan. In addition to playing a combined five different sports in high school and college, I could always be found cheering at games or watching sports online. What's not to love about competition?

But there is one sport that I truly could not ever get into, and that's baseball. Considering my grandfather played in the minor leagues, and I dated a baseball player for almost two years, you would think that SOME appreciation for the sport would rub off on me.

While I stayed a loyal gf and attended as many games as possible (complete with some obnoxious cheering), I can say with no qualms that I absolutely hate baseball. And no, it's not because I don't understand the rules (again, loyal gf here). Here are the top seven reasons why I hate baseball.

1. Slow AF
I need excitement and something fast-paced when it comes to sports. Football makes up for all the drag time with the incredible athleticism of the players who make gravity defying plays.

Meanwhile, a baseball game can last an endless amount of time thanks to nine whole innings (seriously, why nine?). And the most action you get is running 90 feet to home. Next.

2. Not A Lot Happens
Again, you can sit a whole nine innings and not a single run will happen. And then they'll play even more innings because it's tied.

I once sat through 13 whole innings just to see my team lose by two runs.

3. Minimal To No Contact
Despite my numerous concussions and injuries, I still have a soft spot for contact sports. I think it's the ability to get out my inner aggression, whether it's through my own playing or watching others.

Occasionally people slide into each other or get hit by a ball in baseball, but that's nothing.

4. Have To Be Quiet
What's the point of a fan section if you can't scream obnoxiously every time someone goes up to bat?

5. Dad Bods
This is entirely related to running around a teeny square- there's a reason these guys often have dad bods. I remember my baseball friends complaining every time they had to run for 10 minutes and I wanted to just laugh/cry after we had 100 repeats.

6. Too Many Games
Why do you have to play every team four times? I know it's a series, but that just takes away from the importance of each game.

Also, the fact you can slaughter a team in the first game, and then lose the second- in the SAME DAY... that's just dumb.

7. Success Largely Based on the Pitchers
Last I checked, Baseball is supposed to be a team sport, but I've found at the collegiate level so much of a team's success is solely based on having a few good pitchers. My college's team had 45- yes FORTY FIVE - players on the roster, and despite having a losing record all season ended up winning their conference championship because we happened to have three really talented pitchers.

Despite my absolute confusion and boredom with "America's favorite past time," I truly respect and give credit to anyone who does sports- even baseball- in college because it is a serious time commitment, no question.

Just don't expect me to be in the fan section anytime soon.

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How Will The NBA Eastern Conference Standings Play Out?

It will be a sprint to the finish.

In the NBA, the Eastern conference has been weak in comparison to the Western Conference for a handful of years now. This season has been much of the same. One thing the East doesn't lack, however, is competitiveness. There is currently a massive logjam in the standings.

For starters, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers have been staggering of late. Their recent collapse has allowed the Boston Celtics to creep into contention for the top seed in the conference. I think LeBron James will not be denied of the one seed. This means the Celtics will find themselves in the two slot.

As for the three seed, the Raptors and Wizards are tied. The Wizards have used an impressive second half run to climb up the standings. However, they tend to struggle on the road and three of their last four games happen to be away from home. I'll put the Raptors at the three seed and the Wizards at the four.

The five thru nine seeds are all separated by 2.5 games. They consist of Milwaukee, Atlanta, Chicago, Indiana, and Miami. The Bucks have been playing great lately and as long as they take care of Indiana on Thursday, the five seed is theirs.

From here, it gets very interesting.

I think Chicago will end up jumping Atlanta as the six seed. The Bulls finish their season with Brooklyn twice, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Those three teams make up the basement of the conference.

I believe Miami, who is currently on the outside looking in, will land the seven seed. The final seed will be between the Hawks and Pacers. Both teams don't look like they even care to make the postseason. The Hawks have a much tougher schedule and still have to travel to Indiana for the last game of the season. Paul George seems to be a man on a mission and I believe the Pacers will sneak into the final playoff spot.

I can't wait to see how this shakes out.

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Student-Athlete Myths Debunked

Allow me to set the record straight.

"Must be nice to not have to worry about school."
"You don't actually have to go to class, do you?"
"How much free stuff do you get?"
"Do athletes' grades even matter?"
"They must pay you a ton."

Over the course of my college athletics career, I've heard all of these statements and more. I've found that many misconceptions exist regarding the life of a collegiate student-athlete. I've honestly been surprised that so many myths are out there, and that so many myths are widely accepted. Allow me to set the record straight and shed some light on the real reality of student-athlete life.

Myth #1: We don't have to go to class.
Truth: Simply put, yes we do. Sickness and emergency are exceptions, of course, but if one of my teammates were to cut class and get caught, my whole team would face a punishment. At Akron, the athletic department even runs random "class-checks," sending the grad assistants out to certain classes to ensure that student-athletes are present. Class attendance is mandatory, and enforced.

Myth #2: Coaches can get us out of class.
Truth: This one is partly true. Athletes miss class for travel and for games, so yes, our athletics commitment does sometimes get us out of class. This doesn't mean that we can just skip class all the time using our sports as an excuse. My coach schedules practice around our class schedules and if we have a conflict, class comes first. (Hence student-athlete.)

Myth #3: We rake in the free stuff.
Truth: This one also has merit. I can't just go up to my coach and ask if I can hook up my entire family and group of friends with free stuff. But I get practice uniforms, shoes, sweats, and equipment provided to me, in exchange for my athletics commitment. I am paying for it, in a way, by attending daily three-hour practices and sacrificing a CRAP LOAD of time to the sport. We also don't get to keep everything; we have to return our gameday gear.

Myth #4: Our grades don't matter as long as we're playing our sport.
Truth: WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. You have to maintain a certain GPA and pass (not just take) a certain number of credit hours to remain athletically eligible. Failing classes puts you at risk of not being able to compete. My athletic department also has a team GPA award every year, encouraging the athletes to perform well in the classroom. They give academic honors to athletes, including All-Conference Academic and Distinguished Scholar Athletes (both of which I and many of my teammates have received). Basically...yeah, SCHOOL MATTERS.

Myth #5: They pay us a ton of money to play sports.
Truth: True and false. I am not given a salary to play collegiate athletics. I am on scholarship, however, and I'm given what is called a "living allowance" every month. Half of this goes to my rent, and half of what remains usually goes towards food. Whatever I have left, I save. This isn't just free money that I get for playing sports. I worked to earn a volleyball scholarship and this is one of the perks of the hard work paying off. It allows me to get by with my living expenses, and that's pretty much it.

Being a college-athlete is a full-time job. We have to go to work every single day, and while we are rewarded, it is certainly a difficult lifestyle especially considering we have to balance it with our full academic loads. Here's one more truth: no matter how taxing it is, we wouldn't trade our lives as athletes for anything.