Purchasing a team in any sport seems like a pretty cool enterprise. Is it always the best business decision? No, not always, because it’s not hard for teams to lose gobs of money, but some of the stuff that you get to do — great seats, merely say you’re an owner, hang out with athletes sometimes — is really terrific.
Apparently, the owner of one soccer team in China’s second division is taking this to a new level. A man named He Shihua, age 35 is the principle shareholder of Zibo Cuju Football Club, and during a match against Sichuan Jiuniu, he got subbed on just before injury time while wearing the No. 10 shirt.
In the CL1(2nd-division) match today between Sichuan Jiuniu and Zibo Cuju, He Shihua, the principle sharedholder of Zibo Cuju, was introduced into the match just ahead of the injury time. The 35-year-old enterpreneur/footballer wears No. 10 shirt. The match ended 0:0. pic.twitter.com/d0XfNFUFIZ
His Transfermarkt page indicates he has been registered with clubs in the past, so I suppose it’s not the most wild thing on earth that he got on the pitch. But I would recommend taking a big deep breath because baby, we are in for some nonsense: He Shihua, during the team’s game on Friday, got his son on the dang pitch.
Chinese businessman bought Zibo Cuju, a second tier Chinese side, and told the coach to play his son.
According to TUDN, the mandate is to always make sure that his son is in the team’s starting XI. I think I can speak for everyone and say this rules. Anyway, Zibo Cuju has one point through five matches and is in last place.
If you didn’t know where Ricky Schroder stood on the political spectrum before last year, don’t be ashamed. It’s been ages since Silver Spoons, the sitcom that made his name. That all changed in November, when it was revealed the former child actor had joined the likes of Scott Baio as ‘80s stars who had gone full-rightwing. First he helped bail out Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who shot two protesters to death late last summer. And this weekend he posted a video of him harassing a Costco employee who was simply asking him to wear a mask when entering their premises.
Schroder got hell for the video, with a lot of the blowback involving a Hollywood player, even a fallen one, pestering someone just doing their job. After his name went viral, and not in a good way, he tried to douse the flames, offering an apology that amounted to “sorry, not sorry.”
The not-quite-mea culpa came towards the start of what a 7 ½-minute video that finds him sitting at an outdoor table, offering a meandering précis on thoughts that appear to be largely shaped by rightwing media sites. He addressed the video, which finds him pressing his smartphone camera close to the Costco employee, who patiently explains that the company still requires customers to put a simple piece of cloth over the face due to a still-going once-in-a-century pandemic.
“I was trying to make a point to the corporate overlords and I’m sorry that I had to use you to do it,” Schroder told the employee, who he turned into an unwitting social media hero for putting up with a belligerent former celebrity. “I’m not upset with you or anybody in the position like you have, who works for a living. I understand you were following your laws and rules. I was trying to make a point to the corporate overlords and I’m sorry that I had to use you to do it. And if I hurt your feelings, I apologize.”
But he wasn’t that sorry. “I do think that independence for medical tyranny is more important than hurting people’s feelings,” he said. “I want us all to go back to the way it was. I don’t want this COVID reality they want, these COVID passports. I just don’t want it. And neither should you.”
There was more — a lot more. Schroder, who seems to regularly record similar videos on his Instagram page, had some thoughts. They ranged from single mothers (which he blamed on “feminist-liberal-socialist policies”) to police (“back the Blue!”) to a, um, long dissertation on Rhodesia, which he described as a “place where whites live in fear.” He told “the black community” that they should listen to Candace Owens.
Schroder also repeatedly gushed about the ‘80s, when things were better, he claimed — or at least when he was famous and made lots of money. He painted it with the same nostalgic brush Donald Trump uses to whitewash the ’50s, with the exception of the “crack-filled streets in the inner cities.” He then said, “We’ve gotta kill all the drug dealers,” albeit just “the big drug dealers.”
But most people, including the Costco employee he accosted, probably didn’t make it that far. Still, if you ever wondered what the guy whose breakthrough was a movie where no less than Jon Voight played his dad thinks about Marxism, well, now’s your chance.
When it comes to evaluating CBD products, sometimes it can feel like venturing into the Wild Wild West. The product category’s lack of FDA regulation means that almost anybody can slap the three letters C-B-D on a product, even if there aren’t any cannabinoids to be found in the product at all. This has caused the compound — which has genuinely useful therapeutic benefits — to be maligned as much as celebrated in recent years.
When evaluating topicals like lotions and balms, there are a few things that are particularly important to pay attention to. Dosing is the first thing to look for. Generally speaking, 300-milligrams of CBD per two ounces of balm, salve, or lotion would be the lowest dosing threshold to be therapeutically useful. Sourcing is another topic to investigate. Is the company using organic hemp? Is it American-grown, which comes with the guarantee of federal oversight as opposed to in other countries, which may not have as strict of an evaluation process? Is the company using full-spectrum CBD, which will contain traces of THC and may only be found in a dispensary setting? Full-spectrum is the goal, but it won’t be available to everyone.
For those without access to dispensary-grade CBD topicals, broad-spectrum is what should be sought-after next — as it will contain a broader range of cannabinoids and other cannabis plant compounds, which is believed to result in better therapeutic benefits. To be avoided in most scenarios are CBD products made from CBD isolate or distillate. CBD thrives when in concert with as much of the rest of the cannabis plant as possible. CBD labeled as being sourced from the “whole plant” is a misnomer designed to trick buyers into thinking it’s full spectrum. There’s no CBD found in the hemp plant’s seeds or stalks, so this is just marketing babble designed to get customers to pay more for a cheaper production process with no value to the end-user.
One last thing before we get started, CBD topicals often contain other active ingredients — arnica, camphor, etc. — that can lead you into thinking it’s the CBD that’s relaxing your muscles or calming your inflamed joints. That’s where this guide comes in. I tested some of the most respected brands peddling CBD topicals on the market, as well as some that are less-known but utilize top-shelf production processes, to see which are worth your hard-earned cash.
Made from Vermont-grown hemp, Zenbarn Farms Wolf Balm combines 600-milligrams CBD and 400-milligrams CBN (Cannabinol) in a concentrated balm with a beeswax base, arnica, and peppermint, tea tree, camphor, rosemary, and cinnamon oils as other anti-inflammatory agents.
Apart from potency and high-quality sourcing, there are other reasons to shop Zenbarn. The company is Black-owned and donates one percent of sales to the Waterbury Anti-Racism Coalition, a grassroots organization working to combat racism locally in Vermont.
Terra Vita’s Cooling Salve with lidocaine is a surefire pain-buster. Boasting 500-milligrams of broad-spectrum CBD with lidocaine suspended in castor, olive, and coconut oils with beeswax, this is a potent balm that will kick the hell out of muscle pain wherever it’s applied.
Because lidocaine is a potent pain reliever, it can be hard to say which is the most active ingredient here. The dosing is right, however, and, at the end of the day, it works. Two thumbs up.
Kentucky-based Cornbread sells what is the first certified organic hemp products in the U.S., which means that it’s sourcing is reliable, to put it mildly.
Cornbread’s 500-milligram balm stick earns double points for being potent and portable. Peppermint and arnica are a welcome bonus to the flower-only CBD used, which brings additional levels of soothing and cooling to any affected areas on the body.
Pack this balm stick for any kind of on-the-go activity where acute pain might be an issue.
Featuring all organic ingredients, this full-spectrum balm is specifically formulated for those with wombs, especially for people who get menstrual cramps and other period-related discomforts. In addition to showing off 600-milligrams of full-spectrum CBD oil per one fluid ounce, it also contains 100-milligrams of CBG, or cannabigerol, another naturally occurring compound found in the hemp plant that, when applied topically, is said to help reduce inflammation and pain.
It also contains candelilla wax, mango seed butter, comfrey leaf, hyssop fower, cramp bark, ginger root, and cayenne pepper.
This is the ultimate period-busting formula. Full stop.
Green Roads Pain Relief Muscle and Joint Pain Cream
Green Roads’ pain cream packs 750-milligrams of broad-spectrum CBD from American-grown hemp into a one ounce bottle, which means it’s stronger than many creams available on the market. It utilizes a pharmacist-formulated blend of methyl salicylate, menthol, CBD, and other soothing botanicals.
Bottom line: People who suffer from intense, chronic joint and muscle pain may find this cream helpful above the rest.
CBD is said to help inflammation, so because of that, it has become a popular skincare product for those looking to reduce redness, puffiness, and other skin indignities. Packed with full-spectrum CBD, green tea extract, resveratrol, CoQ10, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and other so-called age-defying compounds, this serum is a lightweight moisturizer that instantly brightens any dull face.
Is it actually age-defying? I keep getting older, despite its use, so who can say for sure. As a moisturizer though, it packs a punch without causing breakouts.
For those looking to switch up cannabinoids — which can be helpful after prolonged use of another cannabinoid (the body builds up tolerance to cannabis compounds quickly) — CBG is a great option for inflammation and pain management. Goodekind’s 300-milligram CBG topical also has organic peppermint and eucalyptus oils to sweeten the deal.
Beyond just providing quality products from lesser-known cannabinoids, Goodekind also donates an eighth of its profits to different human rights initiatives across the United States.
Inya Hemp’s San Diego County-based farm was destroyed by a wildfire in summer 2020. What was able to be salvaged and re-planted ends up in the company’s small-batch 300-milligram balm, which is useful or both muscle and joint pain.
Looking for an extra kick? Try the version with lavender and marjoram.
Okay, I’m cheating a little bit by including this balm, but seeing as it has a 1:3 CBD:THC ratio, it still contains enough CBD to gush over its potential healing properties.
Papa & Barkley is widely regarded as one of the best in the biz for producing medical-grade quality CBD and THC products, and the Releaf balm is no exception. This can be good for pain and includes tea tree, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oils. The presence of THC adds a supposed extra layer of pain relief and anti-inflammation properties and, because it’s applied topically, it won’t get you high.
Don’t live in a THC-legal state? Papa & Barkley also has a CBD-only line sold in all 50 states.
Care By Design’s 1:1 pain cream is a pain management tour-de-force: 450-milligrams of CBD are combined with an equal amount of THC in three fluid ounces of aloe vera, shea butter, peppermint oil, and orange essential oil, among other ingredients.
Its potent and offers a truly full-spectrum approach to topical cannabis pain management.
Like Papa & Barkley, Care By Design also has a non-THC CBD line available for sale in all 50 states.
As a brand affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.
While Overwatch fans still have a bit of a wait ahead of them until Overwatch 2 graces the home screens of their next-gen consoles, Blizzard isn’t leaving them out in the cold. The developer has announced that a two-hour “What’s Next” livestream showcasing Overwatch 2 is coming on Thursday, May 20 at 12 PM PT — or high noon, if you’re a McCree main. According to Blizzard’s news release, “What’s Next” will showcase how the developer is “reinvigorating the core Overwatch experience.”
While we’ve already seen some of the new game’s updated character designs, the livestream will offer fans a lengthy look at the game’s new maps and mechanics, as well as a first-look at live gameplay and PvP matches. As of right now, veterans Lucio, Mercy, Tracer, Genji, Mei, Winston, Reinhardt, McCree, Reaper, Pharah, and Widowmaker are all confirmed to make a comeback, but here’s hoping we’ll see even more familiar faces — and some new ones — during the event.
The “What’s Next” event will be hosted by Matt “Mr. X” Morello and Mitch “Uber” Leslie, two of the Overwatch League’s most prominent commentators. In addition, the duo will be joined by lead hero designer Geoff Goodman, art director Dion Rogers, and newly-appointed game director Aaron Keller, who took over long-time game director Jeff Kaplan’s role earlier this year. Following the event, Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 team has confirmed they also be taking questions about the game via Reddit AMA on May 24.
You can watch the Overwatch 2 “What’s Next” livestream on the game’s official Twitch and YouTube channels, and can sign up for regular game updates on the official Overwatch 2 website.
You know who John Boyega is, in part, because of Attack the Block. The whipsmart sci-fi comedy thriller, which hit theaters a decade ago this year, was the English actor’s first screen role. And he hit it out of the park. He was subsequently cast as Finn in The Force Awakens, and the rest is history. But now it appears he’s taking a victory lap by returning to the role that made him a household name.
As per Variety, Boyega is returning for a sequel to the singular British hit, in which he’ll reprise the role of Moses, a low-level crook and gang leader in South London who runs afoul of hungry, hungry alien invaders who look like giant, black-furred hedgehogs but with sharp, neon fangs. Details so far are unclear, but Boyega isn’t the only one coming back. So is director Joe Cornish, who went on to co-write the first Ant-Man and was last seen helming The Kid Who Would Be King.
It’s also not clear if anyone else from the cast will be returning, but hopefully they can lure back Jodie Whittaker, who went on to become the current lead on Doctor Who. For now we just have Boyega, hot off raves for his work in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe entry Red, White, and Blue, and who made his feelings about the new project known on Instagram, telling everyone he’s “bloody excited.” Yeah, same here.
The Atlanta Braves came into the 2021 season with lofty expectations after a run to the NLCS a year ago, where they came up just short of a World Series trip in a seven-game loss to the eventual champion L.A. Dodgers. Through a quarter of the season, things haven’t gone according to plan in Atlanta, as they’ve scuffled out to a 19-21 start, which is third in the NL East (albeit just two games back of the Mets) and 10th in the National League.
There’s plenty of time for the Braves to turn things around, but injuries keep piling up, particularly to their pitching staff. Mike Soroka and Touki Toussaint are both on the DL with an Achilles and shoulder injury, respectively, and one of the few bright spots on the early season, Huascar Ynoa, is headed to the 60-day DL himself with a broken hand. Ynoa was 4-2 on the season with a 3.02 ERA, 1.052 WHIP, and 10.1 K/9, providing the Braves with some much needed quality starting pitching, and is also hitting .353 on the season with two home runs and 6 RBI.
So, how did he manage to break his hand, you might ask? Well, here’s Braves manager Brian Snitker explaining what happened.
Braves starter Huascar Ynoa fractured his right hand yesterday after punching a dugout bench in frustration. He’s out indefinitely.
Yes, Huascar couldn’t help but load up and punch the bench in frustration, breaking his hand and putting him on the shelf for “a couple months,” per Snitker. As the manager says, no one feels worse about it than Ynoa, which is surely true, but that doesn’t really help anyone right now.
One day professional athletes (and, really, guys in general) will learn to stop punching things made of wood, concrete, metal, hard plastic, etc., but sadly that day is not today. Dugout tirades are a time-honored tradition in baseball, as guys are allowed to throw things and bash things with bats to get out their frustration with their teammates and coaches typically just watching from a distance until their tantrum is over.
However, if I may offer a suggestion to baseball teams everywhere, guys breaking things — bats, coolers, phones, their hands — is an unnecessary casualty of the frustrations of baseball. Every dugout should have a heavy bag hanging in the corner where guys can punch and swing their bats at a thing made for just such activities without running the risk of ruining everyone’s water, stash of sunflower seeds, or, in Ynoa’s case, putting themselves on the disabled list for a couple of months.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio is getting dragged on social media after he made a surprise appearance on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes segment on UFOs. While Rubio has been reluctant to criticize his own party for the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building and the continuing promotion of Donald Trump’s “Big Lie,” which led to that attack, he is very concerned about little green men. During the 60 Minutes segment, Rubio warned, “anything that enters an airspace that’s not supposed to be there is a threat,” before launching into a call for the United States to take UFOs seriously. Via the New York Post:
“I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” Rubio said. “I want us to have a process to analyze the data every time it comes in. That there be a place where this is cataloged and constantly analyzed, until we get some answers.”
“Maybe it has a very simple answer. Maybe it doesn’t.”
Rubio’s pearl-clutching over the imminent threat of flying saucers earned him a healthy barrage of dunks on Twitter, where he was raked over the coals for not being concerned with his fellow Republicans.
Someone needs to tell Marco Rubio that the Republican Party is a more imminent threat to the United States than UFOs
Says a lot about Marco Rubio that he takes UFO sightings more seriously than a wannabe Dictator who tried to destroy our democracy by inciting a deadly insurrection. What a corrupt traitorous weak pinche pendejo he is.
I don’t disagree with outer space expert Marco Rubio when he says we should be worried about UFO’s, I just think maybe he should focus on the threat of his fellow Republicans who are very much already on earth.
In Rubio’s quasi-defense, the Pentagon has publicly acknowledged that are indeed aircrafts that are violating restricted airspace. During the 60 Minutes segment, former defense officials revealed that “we don’t know where they’re from, and we don’t understand the technology.” That sounds pretty ominous. Next month, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force will present a report to Congress, which should prove interesting to more people than just Marco Rubio.
Pooh Shiesty’s star continues to rise, in large part due to star turns as a guest rapper on tracks from the likes of Gucci Mane, Coi Leray, and Lil Durk. The latter partnership has been especially fruitful; Durk appears on Shiesty’s breakout hit “Back In Blood,” even appearing alongside the Memphis native in his debut television performance of the track on The Tonight Show.
Shiesty returned the favor on the deluxe version of Lil Durk’s 2020 album The Voice, popping up on the menacing “Should’ve Ducked” to deliver some grimy tough talk. Today, Durk released the accompanying video, which finds the pair hanging out with their crews at night, turning up in a dimly lit hallway, and making finger guns at the camera, just in case there was any confusion about the intent of their boastful bars.
Shiesty took a slightly different tack in the video for Coi Leray’s “Big Purr” video, but stuck to his guns in the sunny video for his 1017 labelmate Big Scarr’s”Ballin In LA” video. Lil Durk, meanwhile, has been building his chemistry with another southern rap star, Lil Baby, with whom he’s been working on a joint mixtape. However, they recently pushed back the project’s release so as to not conflict with DMX’s posthumous album, Exodus.
Watch the video for “Should’ve Ducked” above.
Pooh Shiesty is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
Japanese whisky is something of a sphinx-like spirit, even to everyday whiskey drinkers. The style leans heavily on Scottish traditions while folding in Japanese terroir, culture, and water to create something truly unique and special in the world of whisk(e)y. Alas, even through multiple whisk(e)y booms, Japanese whisky doesn’t quite get the love it deserves here in America.
Part of that’s due to it being rarer (not as widely imported, all things considered) and, thereby, more expensive. Part of it is a lack of consumer knowledge.
To help break down those barriers, we reached out to a bona fide whisky expert on all matters Japanese whisky: The Ballard Cut’s Tommy Patrick. Patrick has been working with whisk(e)y in the service industry for two decades now. Recently, he — along with partners John Slagle (a private whisky collector) and chef Rachel Pebbles — opened up a temple to all things whisky (and locally sourced seasonal food) in Seattle, The Ballard Cut. You can check out the amazing-looking fare on their Instagram page. But while that all looks great, it’s the phenomenal whisk(e)y collection that Patrick, Slagle, and Pebbles have curated at The Ballard Cut that drew our attention.
We aren’t the only ones who’ve taken notice of the new spot’s amazing whiskey prowess. Nate Ganapathi (of SingleMaltDaily fame) called out The Ballard Cut as “probably the best whiskey bar in the whole country right now.” That’s high praise from an industry insider. That love, in turn, motivated us to reach out to Tommy Patrick and pick his brain about his one true love: Japanese whisky.
The five bottles below are all bottles of Japanese whiskies that Tommy Patrick personally vouches for. If you’re into any of these bottles, click on their prices to give them a try for yourself!
The quintessential Japanese single malt, The Yamazaki is about as classic as it gets for this style of whiskey production from this region of the world. Combining three different types of casks together (Spanish sherry, bourbon, and Japanese Mizunara), this whisky is expertly blended and bottled at a super palatable 43 percent.
The nose feels like a copper bar top. The metallic/sharp notes quickly fade into a perfectly burned toffee crust while someone comfortably whispers “oooaaaakkk” into your ear. The palate is honey-washed raw almonds that have the perfect amount of burn. That turns into the feeling of your tongue being ‘buzzed’ like the equivalent of your first drink or two. The finish is long-ish with the right amount of depth. It’s like somebody took a peach Capri-Sun, added some honey, then left it to age in a charred barrel for the perfect amount of time. Gorgeous.
This is the bottle that should decide whether or not you like Japanese whisky. There are many different types but they all stem from this, and this is what you should judge them all on. It’s also still available around your neighborhood and around the world. Go and poke around and ask your local liquor store clerk and see if it’s in stock.
This is the easiest call on this board. You can pour this into a highball, old-fashioned, whisky sour … you name it. Or, you know, just shoot it (no judgment). This grain-driven blend is well known in the bar community for being the go-to choice for introducing people to the world of Japanese whisky because of its price and availability.
On the nose, there’s a mix of pre-added milk Honey Smacks cereal with someone standing next to you while wearing sandalwood essential oil as a perfume. The taste has a light heat with crème brûlée creaminess but it’s a crème brûlée that someone decided to add chamomile tea to and they didn’t have enough, so it’s more of an afterthought. It’s super well-rounded and, dare I say, crushable. The finish is clean and abrupt, leaves the palate not overloaded, and looking for another dose.
This is the whisky for a highball, which is the best cocktail you can make if you’re trying to have a long afternoon turn into a decent evening. For the price, it’s a great leap into an otherwise confusing category.
End of the Week Dram — Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu ‘The Peated’
Ichiro Akuto is the grandson of the man who started the famed Hanyu distillery. Ichiro is now producing some of the best and most unique malts to come out of this region while still staying remarkably true to the single malt origin story.
The nose is as if it’s Halloween and that one macho friend who always aggressively hugs you is wearing a peat costume. You know what’s coming and you take it because you know he means well. The taste has a solid Mizunara (heather, honey, and floral tones) base with a lingering bourbon cask note. It’s a high proof that screams, “I don’t have to listen to my boss anymore” and subtly goes into a beautiful and complex butterscotch situation. Not a super sweet butterscotch, but more of what you imagine was around before all the high fructose trash came around.
Ichiro Akuto produces some of the best younger malts that you can get out on the market. I highly recommend sourcing this and just leaning into it. It’ll be a bit abrupt on the uptake but you’ll be happy you made the effort to get this. He’s got some amazing things coming from his distillery, but make sure it actually says “Chichibu” on the front label because the “malt and grain” is a blend from around the world and not a proper single malt.
The Celebration Dram — Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17
This is a “pure malt,” not a “single malt.” Single malt is from one source of distillation. Pure malt is a blend but all of it being malted barley distillate. This whisky is a blend of the two distilleries that Nikka owns: Miyagikyo which is a non-peated single malt and Yoichi which is a peated single malt.
Taketsuru is the name of the father of Japanese whisky. Masataka Taketsuru was the first person to go over to Scotland and learn how to make single malt style whisky and bring it back to Japan. There could be an entire volume of books written on this early portion of the history of this spirit, but I digress.
The nose opens with vanilla oil-rubbed leather furniture like what you would imagine your grandparent’s office would smell like. But there’s a window open and some sea air is wafting in, not in an obnoxious way. The taste has a well-rounded caramel body with a supremely balanced peat presence. It’s rich and complex but light, at the same time. This is totally my jam for many reasons.
The finish is gorgeous. It see-saws between a dry oak presence and the realm of candied plums and spice. I feel like this is the whisky that you give to a younger and dubious generation that makes them look at you like and say, “Oh, maybe I misjudged this situation!”
The Bottom Line:
This is starting to get into the category of “a bit harder to find.” But to borrow a good friend of mine’s saying, “The juice is worth the squeeze.” Nikka was founded by and continues to be run by some pretty intelligent people and truly deserves its rightful place on the pedestal of Japanese whisky makers. I haven’t had anything from them that makes me feel like I’ve wasted money.
It’s always a safe bet and this bottle should be hunted down before it goes into oblivion.
The word “Hibiki” translates as “chorus” or “harmony,” and this expression truly lives up to its namesake. This is a malt-driven blend, specifically the Yamazaki (non-peated), the Hakusho (peated), and Suntory’s The Chita grain whisky (corn and rice). First released in 1989, this has been a strong leader in the blended Japanese whisky world ever since, and for good reason. Yet despite the recent explosion of popularity of Japanese whisky, these blends have (sadly) been discontinued.
Hop on this one before the 21-year goes the same way as well.
The nose is rich, deep, and intense. It’s like you’ve been bewitched and can’t stop reading an old book that just keeps sucking you in for more. The taste is ripe fruit and dark chocolate that are dating (it’s going well) and they have just been treated to a luxurious spa experience inside of a sherry barrel.
This makes me stop and start daydreaming of a 1930’s cartoon of a caramel-based candy bar driving a bus made out of sherry oak through a town of ripened dark stone fruit that’s cheering while the oak bus rides through.
This is what a luxury blend should taste like. There’s a harmonious balance of traditional whisky flavor profiles that get swept off their feet by the next flavor in an elegant and substantial way. Each piece of the orchestra has a distinct note, but they’re incredibly balanced.
Do yourself a favor and make this dram happen. You will not be disappointed.
As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.
The 2021 regular season is over, at least in theory. The eight-team play-in extravaganza will begin on Tuesday but, because of the NBA’s decision to essentially slot those games into purgatory between the regular season and the playoffs, we can draw a line in the sand. If nothing else, the league ran through the tape in making sure that each of its 30 franchises participated in 72 sanctioned games in 2020-21. That isn’t a small feat considering the dynamics in play and, despite some moments in unevenness, there is true buzz for the 2021 playoffs.
With that in mind, it is time to weigh in with the final installment of our DIME power rankings for the 2020-21 season. As always, these rankings take recent performance into account, so they don’t simply stack up in the order of the standings. However, ties are broken based on the big picture and, well, the eye of the beholder.
1. Brooklyn Nets (48-24, Last week — 5th)
It’s not a small jump to go from No. 5 to No. 1, but the Nets are terrifying. They finished the season with five straight wins and, with all signs pointing to at least relative health for Brooklyn’s trio of superstars, the sky is the limit. The Nets are also the betting favorites to win the title, which is a pretty good indication of their immense ceiling.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (49-23, Last week — 1st)
Philadelphia did lose two games in the final week, though one of those defeats came without Joel Embiid. The 76ers finished with the best record in the East and it would be difficult to ask much more of them than what they were able to put on tape in the regular season. Now the fun begins.
3. Utah Jazz (52-20, Last week — 2nd)
Utah essentially stays in place this week after finishing with wins over two non-competitive opponents. Moreover, the Jazz have the NBA’s best record and the NBA’s best net rating (+9.0), so they have to be considered quite dangerous. Donovan Mitchell’s health is of great importance but, if he’s 100 percent (or close to it), the Jazz are scary.
4. Phoenix Suns (51-21, Last week — 3rd)
The Suns finished with three consecutive wins and came within a whisker of tying the Jazz at the top of the standings. Phoenix’s vaunted bench units cooled down the stretch, but they have star power with Devin Booker and Chris Paul, with intriguing young talents in Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton. Matchups will be interesting in the playoffs, but the Suns earned a top-five perch here with a complete regular season performance.
5. Milwaukee Bucks (46-26, Last week — 4th)
After eight wins in nine games, Milwaukee pulled the rip cord in the finale. We won’t hold that against them. The Bucks have the chance to erase some demons when they face the Heat in the first round, and they’ll hope things are different this time with Jrue Holiday on board and a more versatile approach.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (42-30, Last week — 12th)
Everything, and I mean everything, comes down to the health of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With that out of the way, the Lakers closed on a five-game winning streak and teams were tanking out of a potential matchup with them in the first (and/or second) round. That kind of says it all.
7. L.A. Clippers (47-25, Last week — 6th)
Short of meeting the necessary baselines to actually reach the postseason, nothing mattered in the regular season for the Clippers. That’s the reality after what happened last year against Denver, and they have the opportunity to erase that with a deep playoff run. No, it doesn’t matter that they lost their last two games to OKC and Houston since… they weren’t really trying to win.
8. Denver Nuggets (47-25, Last week — 9th)
It helps to have the MVP of the league and that is Nikola Jokic. By the end of the season, it was quite clear that Jokic was going to win the award and that he deserved to do so. The way the Nuggets navigated life without Jamal Murray drove the MVP stake even further into the ground, but they may now have to face a playoff series without Will Barton. It (still) helps to have the MVP of the league.
9. Atlanta Hawks (41-31, Last week — 11th)
The Hawks unquestionably caught some breaks along the way, but Atlanta just finished 27-11 with Nate McMillan at the helm. They are deep and talented, and the return of De’Andre Hunter unlocks some things. The question was quite favorable for Atlanta in their four-game winning streak to end the season, but you still have to win the games. They have.
10. New York Knicks (41-31, Last week — 10th)
New York very nearly made a mess of this week. They needed a miracle to come back against the Spurs. They needed overtime to beat the Hornets. They needed to hang on for dear life against the Celtics. Perhaps that is a red flag for the playoffs, but the Knicks will host a playoff game this weekend. That’s wild.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (42-30, Last week — 8th)
The Blazers looked to be in deep trouble three weeks ago. In on-brand fashion, they finished with a 10-2 flourish and avoided the play-in as a result. The defense is kept together with scotch tape, but Damian Lillard is terrifying and they can really score.
12. Golden State Warriors (39-33, Last week — 14th)
In the 24 games after he returned from injury in late March, Steph Curry was the best player in the universe. He averaged 36.9 points per game, taking 14.8 three-pointers per contest and making 43.7 percent of them. He is the biggest reason the Warriors have a fighting chance if they can reach the final playoff field, but Draymond Green is quietly alive in his own right. He looks a lot like his old self defensively, with some sneaky athleticism around the rim on offense to boot.
13. Dallas Mavericks (42-30,Last week — 7th)
Dallas remains an incredibly weird team. They lost to the Kings three times in the last month, with a loss to the Wolves in the finale as well. Otherwise, they’ve been pretty spectacular in earning the 5-seed out West. There are caveats involved across the board there, but Dallas also draws a tough matchup against the Clippers in the first round. That’s suboptimal, but sets the stage for a fascinating rematch.
14. Miami Heat (40-32, Last week — 13th)
This might be low for Miami with the way they finished the regular season. The Heat are 12-4 in the last 16 and, while there is a hint of skepticism in taking their 2020 run as gospel through a 2021 lens, they are well-coached, talented and dangerous. Look out, Milwaukee.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (38-34, Last week — 15th)
It is fitting that Memphis is 15th, simply because they’ve felt like a league-average team all year. In some ways, that is to their credit, as Jaren Jackson Jr. was gone most of the way, but the Grizzlies did also finish strong at 6-2 in the last eight games. Their prize is needing to beat the Spurs and either the Lakers or Warriors to reach the playoffs. Godspeed.
16. Washington Wizards (34-38, Last week — 16th)
Russell Westbrook is completely and utterly out of his mind. It’s a good thing, too, because Bradley Beal didn’t look quite like himself in the finale as he comes back from a hamstring issue. Washington will have two chances to sneak into the playoffs, and they resurrected what was once a totally lost season.
17. Boston Celtics (36-36, Last week — 17th)
Nobody seems thrilled in Boston right now. Their ceiling is capped by the injury to Jaylen Brown and, because of the way the seeding broke down, the Celtics had nothing to play for down the stretch. The results were unsightly, but they might have it in them to ramp it back up on Tuesday to earn a date with Brooklyn.
18. San Antonio Spurs (33-39, Last week — 18th)
The schedule was an atrocity for the Spurs down the stretch. That matters because San Antonio went 2-10 in the last 12 games. Should they have been better than that? Yes, but the context is important. They’ll have a chance to play their way into the Western Conference field beginning on Wednesday.
19. Indiana Pacers (34-38, Last week — 22nd)
Without Myles Turner, the Pacers are a very flawed defensive team. They also played hard at times down the stretch to avoid complete disaster, and they’re going to be favored to win at least one play-in game. It hasn’t gone well but they didn’t totally flame out when they could have.
20. Charlotte Hornets (33-39, Last week — 19th)
It would’ve been nice if the Hornets ever had their full roster down the stretch. Five straight losses to end the season doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but they do have a very winnable play-in matchup against Indiana. From there, all bets are off.
21. Chicago Bulls (31-41, Last week — 21st)
It is safe to assume the Bulls didn’t think they’d be 15-23 after the All-Star break. If they did, they almost certainly would not have made a move to grab Nikola Vucevic from Orlando, but Chicago does have valid excuses with injuries and COVID-related absences in the second half. Still, the reality is that the Bulls underachieved and they can’t be thrilled.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (31-41, Last week — 20th)
Zion Williamson last appeared on May 4 and the Pelicans were 1-5 down the stretch without him. That isn’t necessarily indicative of the team’s overall quality, but New Orleans still endured a grueling season overall. There is a bright future with Williamson coming into his own as a lead option this season, but the roster has plenty of peripheral questions that must be answered in the coming months.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-49, Last week — 25th)
The Wolves were pretty good for the final month of the season. No, really, they were. Minnesota finished 9-7 with a +2.6 net rating in the last 16 games, using a top-10 offense to buoy their overall effort. Anthony Edwards is exploding, Karl-Anthony Towns is back, and things feel a lot better for the Wolves than they did just a few weeks/months ago. Now, they have to hold their breath until the lottery to see the fate of their 2021 first round pick.
24. Sacramento Kings (31-41, Last week — 23rd)
Even after an improved finish on that end of the floor, the Kings posted the league’s worst defensive rating (116.5) by more than a full point. There was really no reason for things to be that bad defensively given the roster, and it plagued them all year. On the more optimistic side, the backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton should work for a long time and the Kings produced a top-12 offense.
25. Toronto Raptors (27-45, Last week — 24th)
The season from hell ended with seven straight losses for the Raptors. At full strength, Toronto was much better than this but, even then, they were snake-bitten. It is borderline impossible to finish with a 27-45 record and a -0.4 net rating, but that pretty much encapsulates this season in Tampa.
26. Detroit Pistons (20-52, Last week — 26th)
It would be fair to say the Pistons were better than their record. Detroit wasn’t good by any stretch, but their net rating (-4.5) didn’t really mirror their win-loss performance. From there, Jerami Grant took a step forward and they found rookie gems in Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey. It certainly could’ve been worse in Detroit.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-50, Last week — 29th)
There were times when the Cavs were downright intriguing when healthy. Cleveland has some interesting pieces for the future and it wasn’t a total disaster. They did lose 13 of the last 14 games, though, and that takes you to No. 27 overall.
28. Orlando Magic (21-51, Last week — 27th)
Following a somewhat promising 13-18 start, things unraveled in Orlando. Part of that was a well-timed decision to pivot to the future. Part of that was injuries. However you slice it, though, the Magic were 8-33 in their last 41 games with a -12.3 net rating, and it got pretty grim down the stretch.
29. Houston Rockets (17-55, Last week — 28th)
Houston finished with the worst record in the league by multiple games, and they really “deserve” the basement. See below to see why that didn’t happen, but the Rockets were 6-45 in the last 51 games. That pretty much tells you how bleak it was, and a 29-point loss to a Hawks team that wasn’t trying particularly hard on Sunday was an appropriate end to a disastrous campaign.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-50, Last week — 30th)
The Thunder technically won their last game of the season. That did happen. However, it was an all-time tankathon performance on both sides, and the numbers are jarringly bad for OKC in the back half of the season. The Thunder were 2-23 with an insane -18.8 net rating in April and May. I mean, come on.
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