Sidelines: this week in sports

As the sports drought trickles into its fourth week, many networks have opted to show several old games to fill the gap left by the coronavirus. TSN and Sportsnet teamed up to show the Raptors championship run, while Sportsnet is also airing games from the Blue Jays 1992 World Series title as well. While old games are fun to look back on, they are not the only means of filling the void. Below are some other categories that can act as sport-replacements. They’re not as good as the real thing, obviously, but, much like turkey bacon, they make for adequate substitutes. Here are my turkey bacon sports categories:

Video Games

NBA 2K13 & NBA 2K15 

  • This was peak 2K, in my opinion. The three-year stretch of 2K13, 14 and 15 was the clear prime of the 2K series. Since then it has dropped off quicker than Ryan Lochte’s reputation, but nevertheless, 2K15 remains my all-time favourite 2K game. It was the first year when they realized Stephen Curry’s real-life range was greater than his avatar’s, so a quick, perhaps panicked decision, they made threes go in like layups. It was fun. If you don’t have a next-gen console — or you’re like me and made the moronic decision to leave your PS4 in St. Catharines — then I’d jump into 2K13 in a heartbeat. The soundtrack is incredible: “We Major” (which is one of my top-five favourite Kanye songs), “Amazing” (Kanye), Jay Z’s “Public Service Announcement”, “Run This Town” featuring Rihanna and “On to the Next One”, “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay, “Around the World” by Daft Punk, I could go on. These were the pinnacle of basketball video games.

Super Mario Strikers

  • This was the first video game I can remember playing; my friend and I used to play this on his GameCube for hours upon end growing up. The premise is a five-on-five soccer game, with bombs, bananas, shells, and all the other classic accoutrements that come with Mario games. If you can get a “super strike”, which is essentially a perfectly timed kick, it counts for two points. You can play it on a Wii, though you do need GameCube controllers.

Movies & TV

Field of Dreams

  • One of the most classic movies of all time, Kevin Costner once again stars in a baseball movie, and once again nails it. You know the story, “if you build it, they will come”, but no matter how many times you watch this movie, it’ll never get old. I once did a book report on this in high school (the movie is based off the book) but just re-watched the movie instead of reading the book. Turns out that James Earl Jones’ character has a different name in the book than in the movie, which was pointed out to me by one of my teachers in passing. That could’ve been disastrous.

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

  • This 10-part series does an incredible job of telling the infamous O.J. story from start to finish. The cast is spot-on; Cuba Gooding Jr. makes for a great O.J., Sterling K. Brown is incredible as Chris Darden, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, John Travolta as Robert Shaprio, etc. The story is such a captivating one, and this series does a very good job of showing what a mess this whole thing really was. Racist cops, lies, celebrities and crimes makes for a very bingeable series.

Dunk Contests

2002 & 2003 (Jason Richardson vs. Desmond Mason)

  • Long before the days of Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon, the ‘02 and ‘03 dunk contests had some of the best battles in history. Richardson beat Mason in both years, but the two still put on quite the show. There is a goofy format used in ‘02, but it doesn’t really take away from the performances. J-Rich is one of the best windmillers of all time; his Dominiqueness is evident just from the power alone. Mason is no slouch either, coming through with a Jordan-esque one-handed windmill in ‘03 followed by a stupid through-the-legs dunk. But Richardson was clearly better, capped with an under-the-legs reverse with his left hand that sealed the win. Bask in the glory of baggy shorts and awesome dunks here.

2011 (Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan, JaVale McGee & Serge Ibaka)

  • This was one of the rare dunk contests where everyone was actually good. There’s usually always one guy who just lays an egg (ahem, Andre Drummond), but in this case all four were impressive. Ibaka, who’s 6’10, dunks from the free throw line before McGee completes a crazily under-appreciated dunk where he dunks two balls on two different hoops simultaneously. DeRozan and Griffin battled it out in the finals where the judges were clearly peer-pressured into giving Griffin the title as the contest was held in L.A., where Griffin played at the time. DeRozan was robbed, but Griffin was still really good too. Give it a re-watch, just skip the 15 minutes it takes for Griffin to jump over a car.
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