Welcome to “Watch Your Take,” the place that sensors hot takes. No. 1 brings us Kevin Durant, LeBron James and the World Cup. 

Some people–your Bill Simmons’ of the world, for example–will go out on a limb and create and state that occasional hot take. They are made for the sake of starting a discussion and going deeper and deeper into a sports-related subject.

Others–and perhaps the majority of sports pundits–will spew out hot takes for the sake of, well, spewing out hot takes. They are masters of riling up their followers, terrific at starting debates for the sake of the debate itself, rather than the argument. Think Skip Bayless, Nick Wright, Colin Cowherd, Stephen A., Skip Bayless again and even Skip a third time.

As someone who consumes sports media on a regular basis, I’ve become accustomed to hearing hot takes come from left, right and center. I’ve also grown rather sick of it.


This column, which I’ll put out every week, mostly on Fridays, will focus on the hottest takes of the week. I’ll break down the takes for big topics, such as the NBA Finals or the NFL Draft. I’ll break down conflicting takes. Sometimes, a take may be so hot that I have to examine it under a microscope, all by itself.

If you want to know what the main talking heads are saying about a topic, this is the column for you. If you want to laugh at outlandish takes, or perhaps take a step back and realize that some of these takes might actually make sense, this is also the column for you.

Without further adieu: the first column of Watch Your Take!

The Finals

If you missed it, the 2018 NBA Finals wrapped up Friday night. Kevin Durant dropped a cool 43 points in Game 3, including a dagger three in the dying embers of the game to give the Golden State Warriors a 110-102 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and with it, a 3-0 lead in the series. They then polished off Cleveland in Game 4, winning back to back titles, along with three in four seasons.

Naturally, takes are flying all over the place regarding three main topics: How well Durant performed in the Finals; Are the Warriors officially a dynasty?; How does this series affect LeBron’s legacy (sigh); and, of course, where the King will head this summer.

Let’s start with KD. About a week ago, First Take’s Stephen A. Smith lambasted Durant for a lackluster performance in Game 1, saying he had no interest in LeBron James. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons chimed in, saying that last season, KD and LeBron went toe-to-toe in the Finals, and after two games this year, there was no contest–LeBron had obliterated his rival individually, despite his team falling behind 0-2.

Those takes were a bit hyperbolic, considering A) how brilliant Durant was last year in the Finals and B) How strong Durant has been in this postseason (did people forget the Warriors went nearly one and a half series without a healthy Steph?)

In Game 2, Durant was 10-14 from the field (Curry was 11-26), with nine boards, seven assists, and a team-high +24 point differential. Going into the fourth, Curry only had 18 points (he finished with 33). Through three quarters, Durant was easily Golden State’s best player, yet Curry got all the plaudits for a transcendent fourth quarter.

What a difference 2 games make. First Take’s leading question after Game 3: Has KD proven he’s ready to be the best player on the planet?

What?!

Less than a week ago, Durant was shying up to the King and appeared to be miles away from claiming the throne. Heck, after the two Game love fest centered around Steph, you’d think he was the second-best player in the league.

Stephen A, who trash-talked KD after Game One, stated after Game Three: “He has shown out during the Finals over the last two years … Kevin Durant has not stolen the moment from the greatest player in the world. He’s taken it!”

After Game 4, Stephen A. continued:

Really? A week after you said he wasn’t ready for the moment, he’s the new King of the NBA?

And again:

I appreciate Stephen A. and Max sticking to their guns, and saying it’s still LeBron’s crown to lose. I don’t understand how quickly, however, they can go from essentially calling Durant a coward in Game 1, to suggesting he might soon be the worlds greatest player after Games 3 and 4.

LeBron Played with a Bruised Hand

The most famous right hand on the Internet! Allegedly, after Game 1, LeBron punched a whiteboard in frustration after losing a heartbreaker. According to LeBron, he played Games 2-4 with an almost broken hand.

Of course, speculation and ridicule exploded.

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor pointed out that James fist-bumped all the Warriors congratulations as he left the floor–with his left hand. Bill Simmons, on his podcast, pointed out that LeBron may be trying to put an asterisk on the series– “Yeah, you beat me, but I was hurt and my team sucked.”

Skip Bayless, a notorious LeBron pessimist, went to town, fake crying for James before pointing out that he went 22-27 from the line in his last three games of the series.

(2,3, and 4, Skip*)

Oh, Goodness.

LeBron Might be Going ... Where?

Now that the Warriors have swept Cleveland, the conversation is most likely going to shift to other storylines. You can talk about how great KD was, and how bad the Cavaliers supporting cast is, for a finite amount of time, before it gets dried out.

Naturally, shows such as First Thing’s First, Undisputed, First Take and others are beginning to grasp at thin air for far-fetched storylines that will start the conversation. And boy, did they nail it this week.

At least five YouTube thumbnails this morning have been discussing LeBron James going to … the Warriors.

The Warriors?

It’s becoming safe to assume that LeBron will leave Cleveland in free agency this summer with Houston, Philly and the Lakers emerging as frontrunners for his services.

The Warriors are not in the running.

You can imagine most pundits going on inspired stances against LeBron going to Golden State. Chris Broussard said it would ruin the NBA. Nick Wright agreed.

But we need to take a step back and ask ourselves: Why are we even talking about this?

At least the draft and free agency will give us compelling free agency stories because the Finals must be getting boring if “LeBron to the Warriors” is a leading topic of discussion after the Finals. The series just ended!

Other hot takes regarding where LBJ might end up: The Lakers, which Stephen A. almost lost his mind over as well.

Colin Cowherd spewed out a take almost too hot to handle shortly after. After Lonzo Ball dropped a “Kyle Kuzma diss track,” which is frankly hilarious and only indicative of good chemistry, Colin said that this beef will deter LeBron from going to the Lakers.

“Remember this day, June 12, as the day the Lakers lost their chance at LeBron James.” He goes on to say that LeBron doesn’t like playing with young players (Cavs traded Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love) and immature players (J.R. Smith), but come on. What an attention grab. If you think LeBron cares about these diss tracks more than playing with two up and comers who just made the All-Rookie Team, you are mistaken.

Other Finals Related Hot Takes

Colin Cowherd, on LeBron going to the Lakers: LeBron would never be loved in L.A. like Magic and Kobe. Do pro players care about that?, a question to which Stephen Jackson responded, in essence: obviously not, who CARES how much the fans love me compared to Magic and Kobe?

If LeBron returns the Lakers to relevance and wins them their first title since 2010, I doubt it will matter how much they “love” him compared to some of the other franchises greats. Next.

Stephen A., after Game 2, said he would “absolutely blame” LeBron for getting swept. “In the game of basketball, regardless of how superior the game is… just one should be able to get you one on a particular night.” Max Kellerman’s rebuttal: “That is absolutely preposterous, Stephen A!” I’ll side with Max here.

First Take had to ask the obligatory “what does this mean for LeBron’s legacy” question, which they throw on air at least six times a month.

Max said it didn’t affect his legacy, like before. Stephen A. said that it did because he didn’t have “enough heart” to win a game by himself.

Yes, even after LeBron dropped 51 at Oracle, before George Hill and J.R. Smith choked away Game 1, Stephen. A still has the audacity to say he didn’t have enough heart. Blasphemous!

My absolute favorite take from this past week, however, has to go to my man Skip Bayless after LeBron dropped 51 and willed his team to a late lead at Oracle before the referees/George Hill/JR Smith dropped the ball (and ran with it)

He then followed it up with this beauty:

Good one Skip!

Germany and the World Cup

The Ringer’s Ryan O’Hanlon produced a crazy hot take the other day on the “Ringer FC” Podcast. Listen to the first soundbite of the segment:

O’Hanlon’s take: Germany, the reigning World champions, and one of the most illustrious national teams in FIFA history will not make it out of a Group stage that features three teams that, in all likelihood, they will wallop (Mexico, Sweden and South Korea).

On the surface, my reaction was simple: This take was so hot I could barely handle it. I almost had to remove my laptop from my lap because it burned so much from this take. Even an alternate universe Skip Bayless, who knew about soccer, wouldn’t suggest a take like that.

But I did some thinking and some research, and I have to say: this take might not be as hot as you think.

At the last two World Cups, the reigning champions were, indeed, knocked out of the group stage. Italy, after winning it all in 2006, failed to advance in 2010, being eliminated on the final day by minnows Slovakia. In 2014, Spain, who won it all in 2010, were unable to escape the group stage, after suffering opening defeats to the Netherlands and Chile.

You have to go all the way back to 1998 for the last time a team that won the World Cup the tournament prior made it back to the final (Brazil won it all in 1994 and 2002, sandwiched in between a 1998 loss to France in the final). In World Cup history, only seven times has a team made it to a final in back to back years.

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Point being– in World Cup history, most teams are unable to replicate prior success. In recent history, past winners have failed to make it out of the group stage.

Does this mean that Germany will also fall at the first hurdle? Absolutely not. I have them making it to the Final this year. At no point did I ever hesitate to think they wouldn’t win their group, let alone finish outside the top two.

However, at every World Cup, one of the big boys underachieves. My money this year is on Argentina. I guess Ryan O’Hanlon’s is on Germany.

Fun Fact of the Week

This section is reserved for something cool I heard about the world of sports in the past week.

This week, it was from an edition of the Bill Simmons podcast. Simmons notes that LeBron is one of the best off-hand dribblers he’s ever seen. His guest, Jalen Rose, shed some light on that matter.

Apparently, James (and Russ Westbrook) writes with his left hand in real life, despite being righty dominant basketball players. This, Rose notes, explains why both of them are so great with their “off-hand”–they use it a lot more than you think!

That concludes this week’s (and the first ever) edition of Watch Your Take!

If you see any absurdly hot takes and want to be a watchdog like I try to be (although I primarily do this because it humors me how absurd some people act in order to get views and attention), tag me in it on Twitter, @skylardarel. I’d love to see if I missed anything.

I’ll see you next week with some more steaming takes.

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Staff Writer at Elite Sports New York. Lead Writer at New York Sports Hub and My Weekly Sports. Twitter, instagram: @skylardarel. Avid fan of the Yankees, Knicks, Giants, New York City FC, FC Barcelona, and Arsenal FC. Sophomore at the College of New Jersey, studying Communication. Aspiring play-by-play commentator. Grew up in Manhattan, and proud to know how to work the Subway system.