• Nick Young is living the life, winning games

    “I’m just having a good day today.”  Those were the words of Lakers guard Nick Young after last Friday’s win against the Warriors.  Young did have a pretty good performance in the win — he dropped 21 points and is averaging 13 in what has been a surprisingly good season so far for the man nicknamed Swaggy P.

    But the best part of Young’s day on Friday wasn’t his performance, and it wasn’t even the win.  It was the way he impressed the young lady sitting courtside.

    None other than Rihanna was so amazed by his performance that, according to Young, she was calling his name throughout the game.

    Not bad, Swaggy P, not bad.

    Nick Young is certainly the envy of thousands of men worldwide.  Not only does he get shoutouts from Rihanna during games, take a look at Iggy Azalea, the girl he’s dating.

    Yep, Nick Young is living the life.

  • Dwyane Wade branches out into acting scene, creates his own sitcom

    Because winning championships as a member of the Miami Heat has obviously become too boring for Dwyane Wade, he has decided to attempt a new venture.

    Fox recently announced that Wade has sold a sitcom to the network to be called “Three the Hard Way,” starring NBA superstar Daryl Wade, a single father raising two sons.

    Wow, that sounds pretty familiar.

    The man who nicknamed himself “WOW,” as in World of Wade, and forced reporters to refer to him as “three” after winning his third championship has now based an entire television show after his life.  Why are we surprised?

    But just because Wade sold his show doesn’t mean it will be appearing on air anytime soon.  It’s still only in its very beginning stages, and Wade will need to work on a pilot that can impress enough TV bigwigs to get the series picked up on the network.  But it is a good start.

    This isn’t Wade’s first experience on the acting scene.  He already has a pretty extensive rap sheet: He appeared in movies “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Just Wright,” and was also a voice actor in an episode of “The Cleveland Show.”

    But he’s never had to take on a starring role onscreen.  And after often leaning on LeBron James for most of his last two title runs, will Wade be able to lead the show all by himself?  

    If his skills in the new show come anywhere near his acting skills on the court while trying to get a call from the refs, there’s no doubt the show will be a hit.

  • Despite ugly loss to Oklahoma State, Texas still has (slim) chance to win Big 12

    Believe it or not, Texas is still in the race to win the Big 12 in spite of its horrendous showing last weekend in a 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State.

    The Longhorns no longer control their own destiny in the conference title race and really hurt their chances in what was the worst home loss of the Mack Brown era this past Saturday. But they’re not out of it.

    Four teams still have a mathematical shot to win the Big 12 right now. Baylor, the conference’s lone unbeaten, is obviously the odds-on favorite with Oklahoma State, coming off its huge win over Texas, a distant second, followed by the Longhorns and Oklahoma, who have a miniscule chance to win a conference title but a chance nonetheless.

    There are six games – two each week for the next three weeks – that will determine who wins the Big 12 this year. This week, it’s Oklahoma-Kansas State and the Baylor-Oklahoma State showdown that ESPN College GameDay will be taking its talents to this week.

    Next week, it’s Texas Tech-Texas on Thanksgiving and Baylor-TCU two days later. The conference champ might not be known until the final weekend of the regular season, when Texas faces Baylor in Waco and Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma.

    Six meaningful Big 12 matchups over the next three weeks means there are 64 different ways this can play out. Twenty-five of these scenarios result in Baylor winning its first-ever Big 12 championship and its first conference title since 1994. Twenty-two scenarios have Oklahoma State winning its second Big 12 title in three years and 14 have Texas capturing the conference crown.

    The remaining three scenarios result in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 standings at the end of the regular season – two of them between Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas and the other between Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma. In those scenarios, the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings wins the Big 12 unless two of them are within one spot of each other, then the head-to-head winner of those two higher-ranked teams would get the Big 12’s automatic BCS bowl berth.

    Obviously some scenarios have a better chance of happening than others. Baylor still has three games left. But Art Briles may have a better chance of being struck by lightning than of his Bears ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak.

    Kansas State is favored to beat Oklahoma for the first time since 2000, the last year the Sooners won a national title. The Wildcats are 4-point favorites, meaning they have about a 60 percent chance of beating the Sooners this weekend. Baylor is a 10-point road favorite against Oklahoma State, giving the Bears about a 75 percent chance of keeping its perfect record intact this week.

    Lines for the other four games, of course, have not been released but we can estimate the chances of how those contests turn out. For the purposes of determining each team’s chance of winning the Big 12, let’s say Texas has as good of a chance at beating Texas Tech as Texas Tech does of beating Texas. The Red Raiders have lost four in a row since starting 7-0 this year but always seem to have a shot to knock off the Longhorns.

    TCU will not go to a bowl game for the first time since 2004. So giving the Horned Frogs a five percent chance to beat Baylor, even though that game is in Fort Worth, might be a bit generous. But we’ll do it anyway.

    If Baylor is a double-digit favorite to beat Oklahoma State on the road, then the Bears are sure to be an even heavier favorite to beat Texas at home in its final game at Floyd Casey Stadium. So we’ll give Texas a 15 percent chance to shock the nation with a victory over Baylor.

    They call it Bedlam for a reason but Oklahoma is not the same Oklahoma it used to be and will have to face Oklahoma State in Stillwater this year. Let’s give the Sooners a 25 percent chance to shock the Cowboys – the same odds we’re giving Oklahoma State to beat Baylor this week.

    So, with those percentages in place, we are able to calculate exactly how much of a chance each team has of winning the Big 12 this year.

    As expected, Baylor has, by far, the best shot to win the conference. The Bears, with an estimated 60 percent to win out and finish the regular season 12-0, have a 74.25 percent chance to win the Big 12. Eight of the 10 most likely scenarios have Baylor taking the conference title, with the other two going to the Cowboys.

    Oklahoma State follows with a 19.31 percent shot at winning the conference and Texas has a 6.44 percent chance to capture its first Big 12 championship since 2009. Oklahoma, who needs to win out and have Baylor lose out, among other things, has a 0.005 percent chance to win the Big 12.

    That gives the Sooners 20,000-to-1 odds to win their ninth Big 12 title, an improvement from the 50,000-to-1 estimate Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel made last week.

    While the two Dec. 7 matchups between Texas and Baylor and between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will be pivotal, the Longhorns’ chances to win the Big 12 could get a boost this weekend even though they don’t play.

    If Baylor beats Oklahoma State, Texas’ chances to win the Big 12 go from 6.4 percent to 7.6 percent, not a big jump. But, more importantly, the Longhorns would once again control their own destiny in the conference title chase. The Cowboys would have two losses in conference play and Texas would have only one loss in conference play if it won out, giving Baylor its only defeat in the process, meaning the Longhorns would hold the tiebreaker over the Bears.

    Also important is the drastic impact on Baylor’s and Oklahoma State’s chance to win the Big 12 their game will have. If the Bears triumph in Stillwater, Oklahoma State’s chances to win the Big 12 drop to 0.1 percent while Baylor’s jumps to 92.3 percent.

    But if Oklahoma State finds a way to pull off the upset at home, Oklahoma State replaces Baylor as the heavy favorite to win the conference as its chances would soar to 76.9 percent while Baylor’s drops to 20.2 percent.

    While Texas’ percent chance to win the Big 12 isn’t impacted much by a Baylor victory this Saturday, if the Cowboys beat the Bears, the Longhorns’ chance to win the Big 12 drops from 6.4 percent to 2.9 percent. 

    At that point, Texas still would not control its own destiny and would still need to win out and have either Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State (possible but not likely) or TCU to beat Baylor (nearly impossible). 

    Bottom line: Texas did not do itself any favors last weekend. The Longhorns left themselves little to no error by falling to the Cowboys. They don’t play this week but they will watching Baylor’s game against Oklahoma State closely – and not just to get another look at the Bears, who they face in three weeks.

    The Longhorns would have rather Oklahoma State lost in Austin last week. But if the Cowboys fall in Stillwater this weekend against Baylor, Texas controls its own destiny again. Either way, the Longhorns can’t afford another loss. 

  • New superstars are already on the rise under the names James and Wade

    The revolution has begun. Forget about Miami Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the biggest names of basketball’s last decade and established NBA legends. Those guys are old news.

    The new wave of superstars is upon us in the form of 11-year-old Zaire Wade and 9-year-old LeBron James Jr.

    The elder James recently posted an Instagram video of the third-grade “Prince James” balling his way to 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, a stat line that bears a striking resemblance to one you would see next to his dad’s name. James Sr. noted his son’s Wade-like euro step next to the hashtags #HeGotNext and #StriveForGreatness.

    James Jr. may be two years younger, but you can already predict a future rivalry with Wade’s son, fifth-grader Zaire. Judging by this highlight tape, Zaire Wade may already have a better shooting stroke than Dwyane Wade, and he definitely has the confident attitude.

    Zaire Wade shows off some ankle-breaking dribble moves and flashy passing skills, and based on his minute and a half video, he takes an early upper hand on James Jr.  However, that two-year age difference is important, and we have a much smaller sample size to compare them. Plus, James Sr. was a later bloomer than Dwyane Wade — the elder James didn’t win his first title until season nine, while Dwyane Wade won his in year three.

    One thing is for sure — if these youngsters develop into nearly the players their fathers are, we could have a pretty incredible rivalry on our hands for the next few decades.

    In other recent sports pop culture news:

    •    Rapper Dr. Dre spoke to the USC football team the night before their game against Stanford before the Trojans gained a huge upset win no one saw coming. The only plausible explanation is that Dr. Dre is the secret weapon for USC. If only Lane Kiffin had learned this earlier.

    •    Colts quarterback Andrew Luck took the stage at an Indianapolis MGMT concert last Friday night, manning the critical cowbell instrument, erupting the crowd into a frenzy. It’s always great to see an audience that can appreciate a good cowbell.

    •    J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks is contemplating deleting his Twitter account after a recent tweet-battle with Pistons guard Brandon Jennings. In response, the entire Twitter population screams “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

  • SXSW announces Klinsmann + more SXsports sessions

    SXSW continues to delve, bit by bit, into the world of sports. This time, giving soccer fans a huge panel previewing the 2014 World Cup.

    Austin’s biggest festival of the year, a two-week bonanza featuring the newest in technology, movies and music — not to mention the best celebrity watching of the year — added SXsports to the 2014 lineup. This is a part of SXSW Film & Interactive, taking place March 7-9, and will feature more than 40 panels and movies profiling athletics.

    SXsports’ newest panel, announced Monday, will feature Jurgen Klinsmann, the USA National Team head coach, and Grantland’s Roger Bennett. The pair will look ahead to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which the US has already qualified for. The sessions will feature a wide array of topics from fan engagement to the development of future athletic stars.

    Other new sessions include:

    • 24-Hour Sports in the Age of Bite-Sized Content (Eric Shanks, FOX Sports)
    • Baller Status: Sports Brands’ Impact on Culture (Lia Vakoutis, adidas)
    • Blown Coverage: Journalism with Onion Sports (Chad Nackers, The Onion)
    • Connected TVs and the Future of Sports Entertainment (Hank Adams, Sportvision)
    • Crushing Second Screen: The Ultimate TV Companion (Stephanie McMahon, WWE)
    • Drones in Sports: The Sky’s the Limit (Ty Hildenbrandt, Solid Verbal Media)
    • The Future of Sports Can Be Found in the Data (Brian Kopp, STATS)
    • Heads Up: Concussions in Sports (Will Brinson, CBS Sports)
    • How Future Star Athletes Are Being Discovered (Kai Sato, FieldLevel)
    • Knocking Down the Door: The U.S. National Team and America's World Cup Dreams (Jurgen Klinsmann, U.S. Men's National Soccer Team)
    • NASCAR, NBA, MLS: Storytelling to Build Affinity (Steve Phelps, NASCAR)
    • On Principle: Embracing Sports as a Human Right (Athlete Ally)
    • Paid to Play: The Future of College Athletics (Spencer Hall, SB Nation)
    • Sports Don’t Look the Same Anymore (John Meyer, Statographics)
    • Sports Matter: The Need to Support Youth Sports (Ryan Eckel, Dick’s Sporting Goods)
    • Stop Pricing Tickets Like Its 1999 (Barry Kahn, Qcue)
    • Talking the Talk: Sports Lingo in Pop Culture (Professor Andrei S. Markovits, University of Michigan)
    • Where are the Fans? What Happened to Traditions? (Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social)