Monday Musings: On Colin Kaepernick, Harden’s Heroics and the Internet’s Favorite NBA Player

Our sports editor tackles what is happening — or rather, not happening — with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL, the conundrum that is James Harden and Alex Caruso, the Lakers’ cult hero.

Bela Kirpalani, Sports Editor

Don’t Forget About Colin Kaepernick
In case you missed it, ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a 40-minute workout with eight NFL teams last month. Despite being out of the game for three years after being blackballed by the league, Kaepernick still managed to show signs that he is sharp and game-ready. Despite the suspicious timing and motives of the NFL’s organization of the workout, Kaepernick did his job.

He is only 32 years old and showed that he still has a few years left in the tank. However, teams across the league still inexplicably refuse to pick him up — even those that could certainly use him. There are multiple teams that could benefit from a player with Kaepernick’s experience and skill. But they won’t. The Detroit Lions, whose starting quarterback went on injury reserve, opted instead for someone from the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad.

In the days after his workout, there were the usual news reports, Twitter arguments and Stephen A. Smith rants. But in the weeks since, it seems the world has forgotten about Colin Kaepernick — the man who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 and whose only crime was advocating for the rights of black Americans.

James Harden Is Great. Why Is He Still Hated?
On Saturday night, James Harden erupted for 60 points in a blowout win against the Atlanta Hawks, finishing just one point shy of tying his career high and Houston Rockets franchise record. He also joined Klay Thompson and Kobe Bryant as the only players in the past 25 seasons to score 60 points in only three quarters. It was also Harden’s fourth career 60-point game, making him tied with Michael Jordan for the third-most in history. This season, he is averaging 39 points per game.

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He is making messes of defenders on a nightly basis, scoring with so much ease and breaking records while he does it. When you watch him walk the ball up to the three-point line, you know he’s going to step back and drain a jumper yet you just can’t help but be shocked every single time it happens. He’s. Just. So. Good.

So why do people insist on bashing him? Because, despite being one of the greatest players in the league, he has failed to make the NBA Finals. And because his scoring and efficiency drop off in the playoffs, he has been dubbed a “choker.” I could go into the context of every season’s playoffs failure and defend Harden because Chris Paul got injured or because the Golden State Warriors were a generational team. But it doesn’t really matter. There are plenty of players who couldn’t get it done in crunch time but are still enshrined in the NBA history books and in fans’ memories (Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Patrick Ewing, anyone?).

Harden has an MVP to his name, and may well have another when all is said and done this year. He is scoring at historic levels and playing insane basketball. We should appreciate him while we still have him.

The Internet Loves Alex Caruso — As It Should
How often is it that a balding white guy becomes as beloved in basketball as Lakers guard Alex Caruso? The 25-year-old has become somewhat of a hero to many on the internet — he may not be the most skillful player on the floor, but he always gives 100% and helps his team win. He has also proven to be a defensive stalwart for LA this season, posting a ridiculous 96.9 defensive rating.

Some people may be sick of all the Caruso content, but I for one don’t mind one bit. If he’s dunking, throw it on my timeline! If he’s giving a funny post-game interview, let the people see it. He may be an anomaly in the league, but he knows it and he sure does own it.

Also, no, the fact that accounts like Bleacher Report and SLAM are tweeting about Alex Caruso does not directly correlate to the NBA’s TV ratings being down. Let the Bald Mamba live.

The Sports Girl is a weekly column that features a girl’s take on sports. Yes, a girl. Yes, on sports.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]

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