The Stars Align

February 3, 2024

By: Carlos Alvarez

Happy Friday

And Happy Groundhog Day to those who celebrate that sort of thing. Did he see his shadow? All I know is there are six more weeks of sports before March Madness, and I\’m excited. This weekend features four top-10 showdowns in college hoops (including the first top-10 battle between Duke and UNC since 2019).

It’s hard not to love this season in sports. Athletes everywhere are taking a winter break to celebrate the best of the best. Bring on the first of February\’s two all-star weekends that bookend Super Bowl 58.

Letter Rip!


The Stars Align

 NHL All-Star Draft Results

The NHL All-Star Draft took place on the ice last night in Toronto. Team (Jack) Hughes took Nikita Kucherov with the first pick, and it was a whirlwind from there. All 44 players were split among four squads for Saturday’s 3-on-3-style showdown.(Sporting News)

 NBA All-Star Reserves Announced

The rest of the 2023-24 NBA All-Star rosters were revealed on Thursday. Big names like Steph Curry and Anthony Davis headline the West bench, while three players in the East got their first All-Star nods — Paolo Banchero, Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Maxey.(ESPN)

 NFL Pro Bowl Skills Games

Pro Bowl weekend is off and running from Orlando, and the biggest NFL stars are having fun in a bunch of competitions like long-snappingprecision passing and best catch submissions. The 7-on-7 flag football pro bowl is Sunday afternoon. (



The NFL\’s New Anti-Hero(s)

Photo: Dustin Bradford / Getty Images

The Chiefs Have Supplanted the Patriots in the NFL’s Villain Role

It\’s Part II of our \’Super Bowl Stories\’ series. In Part I, we featured 49ers QB Brock Purdy as he gets ready to become the third-youngest quarterback to start in the big game. But every good story needs a villain. The antagonist, if you will. NFL fans have been joking about “the script” for years now. The league even played along with its hilarious preseason “table read” commercial for the 2024 script. In that 60-second clip, a mock writer jokes about writing the Patrick Mahomes character “out of the script entirely,” to which all the players delightedly agree. It’s fun to joke about. Even more funny to see the NFL embrace it. But alas, here we are again, on the brink of another Super Bowl, and that Mahomes character is here to stay in another NFL storybook ending.

“You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

That was the tag line that ends the commercial, and it feels valid. You couldn’t write this, and neither could Hollywood. And that’s the beauty of live sports. Despite nuances to sometimes-awful officiating that benefits some teams more than others — sorry Chiefs, it’s true — the refs couldn’t make Ravens’ WR Zay Flowers fumble at the 1-yard line. So truthfully, you can’t make this stuff up. Factor in the Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift romance, and somehow the “script\” talk quickly gets out of hand. Ironically, one T-Swift hit portrays the character that the Chiefs, Mahomes, and Kelce have suddenly embodied — the anti-hero.

21st Century GOATs & Villains

If you’re seasoned enough to remember “old school” football in the 80s and 90s, it was reckless. We used to watch highlight reels of hits that knocked people senseless. Safety measures have become (importantly) a major talking point as football has shifted in the 21st century. And within the sport’s new-age storytelling model lies a flag-happy transition to protecting quarterbacks. Sometimes, those penalty flags protect the most important QBs more than others. Enter Mahomes. He’s potentially going to end up as the greatest to ever play the game (ie. the NFL’s greatest asset), and that incites the latest GOAT debate unfolding in real time. Mahomes or Tom Brady? Brady won so much that he became the NFL’s highly-respect-yet-hated villain figure over the course of 20 years. He, too, got a lot of beneficial calls. And after Brady (eventually) walked himself out of the NFL scriptwriters room on his own accord, it became Mahomes\’ role to fill. He’s playing it quite well.

Super Bowls Since 2000

Included Tom Brady AND Patrick Mahomes

11 Included Tom Brady OR Patrick Mahomes

12 Didn’t Include Either

Super Bowl Success Rate

Brady: Won 7/10 in Super Bowls (70%)

Mahomes: Won 2/3 in Super Bowls (66.6%)

*Mahomes will be 3/4 with a win next Sunday

Only two quarterbacks have ever beaten Brady in the big game — Eli Manning (2) and Nick Foles (1). Mahomes’ only Super Bowl loss was against (who else?) Brady himself, meaning a legitimate half (50 percent) of the 24 Super Bowls since 2000 have featured either of the two super-villains. And as time goes on, Mahomes becomes evermore linked to a GOAT debate that comes with anti-hero status.

All Dynasties Must Fall

Before any readers misconstrue my narrative (nay, the NFL’s narrative), let me stop. Mahomes, Kelce, and Andy Reid are already legends. They’ve earned it, not through officiating generosity or shadow scripting. They truly are the NFL’s modern-day dynasty. But what that means for you, Chiefs Kingdom, is that you’re the new villains for 31 other NFL fanbases. Not because of Kelce screaming into microphones or dating Miss Americana. And not because of Mahomes\’ sometimes-cocky-but-necessary demeanor. No. The other 31 franchises quite literally “hate you because they ain’t you” — for lack of a better cliche. Your team has earned it. They’re phenomenal when it matters most. But just remember, as Patriots fans have slowly realized, all dynasties must fall.

Read More

CBS Sports: Where Chiefs Rank Among NFL’s Greatest Dynasties

Sporting News: Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: Key Stats for the NFL’s GOAT Debate

WaPo($): Is Patrick Mahomes Already the Greatest Quarterback in NFL History? The Numbers Are Intriguing.



NBA Trade Deadline Buzz

Photo: Joshua Gateley / Getty Images

Top Stars to Watch as NBA Trade Deadline Approaches (Feb. 8)

Breaking News: The Grizzlies traded Steven Adams to the Rockets for Victor Oladipo and three 2nd-round picks. Read More

We’re one week away from the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, and a season full of trades is likely to see a few more transactions in the coming days. It could be a furious frenzy at the deadline, but a calm and quiet week has been frequent in recent years. We’ve already seen about five (give or take) major trades since October (see below), but there are 10-15 marquee players circulating in the rumor mill for the week ahead. Almost all of them are guards or forwards. Ironically, not a lot of true centers get moved mid-season. Many of the guys on our list fit one of two categories: 1) talented prime players who need a change of scenery (ie. Dejounte Murray/Zach LaVine), or 2) veteran role players on struggling teams (ie. Andrew Wiggins/P.J. Washington). Let’s run it.

Top-10 Trade Targets to Watch

1. Dejounte Murray (Hawks)

2. Zach LaVine (Bulls)

3. D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)

4. Kyle Kuzma (Wizards)

5. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Hawks)

6. Bojan Bogdanovic (Pistons)

7. Malcolm Brogdon (Celtics)

8. Jerami Grant (Blazers)

9. P.J. Washington (Hornets)

10. Bruce Brown (Raptors)

Others to Watch: Tyler Herro (Heat), Andrew Wiggins (Warriors), Tim Hardaway Jr. (Mavericks), Dorian Finney-Smith (Nets), Luke Kennard (Grizzlies)

Notable Trades This Year

Damian Lillard → Bucks

James Harden → Clippers

R.J. Barrett → Raptors

O.G. Anunoby → Knicks

Pascal Siakam → Pacers

NBA Trade Deadline: February 8 (3:00 pm ET)

Read More

B/R: Every NBA Team’s Biggest Need at the 2024 Trade Deadline

ESPN+: 2024 NBA Trade Deadline: 6 Big Trades We Want to See



NFL Hiring Cycle Grades

Photo: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

Washington Commanders Hire Dan Quinn to Fill Final Head Coaching Vacancy — We Grade All 8 NFL Coaching Hires

The last seat has been filled. The Washington Commanders hired former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Thursday, which came as a somewhat surprising move following the Cowboys giving up 48 points to the Packers in their playoff exit. Highly-respected offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy is still on the Commanders staff, so it appears Quinn will remain defense-focused while Bienemy continues to grow QB Sam Howell.

Can Quinn Win?

For those who forgot, Quinn spent one season as the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks (2013-14) before earning a head coaching job with the Falcons for six seasons where he went 43-42. Quinn was infamous for taking Atlanta to the Super Bowl in 2017 and taking a 28-3 lead over Tom Brady and the Patriots before… you know the rest — 34-28, Pats. Brady secured his fifth ring.

Grading All 8 NFL Coaching Hires

With all eight head coaching vacancies now filled, we can hand out grades. Keep in mind, these are subjective and based on past records, upside excitement, culture fits, and more. Neither Bill Belichick or Mike Vrabel found a new home this cycle, so that’s interesting, too.

New Coaching Hire Grades

Commanders: Dan Quinn (C)

Seahawks: Mike Macdonald (A)

Chargers: Jim Harbaugh (A+)

Falcons: Raheem Morris (B)

Panthers: Dave Canales (C+)

Raiders: Antonio Pierce (B+)

Patriots: Jerod Mayo (B+)

Titans: Brian Callahan (C+)

Read More

Yahoo! Sports: Why Dan Quinn Doesn’t Excite Commanders’ Fans

CBS Sports: 2024 NFL Head-Coaching Hires Grades: Assessing the Big Moves in This Hiring Cycle

ESPN: Did Commanders Get Their Top Choice? Biggest Questions Surrounding Dan Quinn




Lakers Stun Celtics Without LeBron or AD (114-105)

*Austin Reaves Had 32 for the 15-Point Underdogs

Knicks Nix Pacers for 9th Straight Win (109-105)

*Jalen Brunson (40 Points) Has Another Big Night

Cavs Rally to Beat Grizzlies (108-101)

*Cleveland Has Won 12 of Their Last 13


Detry (-9) Leads Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Thomas Detry (-9) and Patrick Cantlay (-8) lead after Round 1 of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Rory McIlroy started the day hot with six birdies and no bogeys through 15 holes, but he finished with two bogies and a triple on the last three to finish 1-under.

Soccer (Friendly)

Al Nassr Thrash Inter Miami (6-0) Without Ronaldo

*Aymeric Laporte Scores Insane Set-Piece From His Own Half

NCAA Basketball

M: Nebraska Upsets #6 Wisconsin (80-72, OT)

W: #5 NC State Holds Off #24 UNC (63-59)

W: #12 Texas Takes Down #13 Baylor (67-55)





The Weekend Must-Watch List

A big sports weekend opens February with a bang! The NHL All-Star festivities and the NFL Pro Bowl take center stage, but plenty of basketball, soccer and golf are worth the watch. Plus, there’s an amazing college basketball slate on Saturday-Sunday with FOUR top-10 showdowns, including the first top-10 battle between Duke and North Carolina since 2019. We’ll run it back on Monday. Enjoy!

NHL All-Star Weekend

All-Star Skills Event (Fri. 7:00 pm)

All-Star Game (Sat. 3:00 pm)


Pro Bowl Games (Sun. 3:00 pm)


Lakers at Knicks (Sat. 8:30 pm)

Bucks at Mavericks (Sat. 8:30 pm)

Clippers at Heat (Sun. 6:00 pm)

Full NBA Weekend Schedule


EPL: Arsenal vs. Liverpool (Sun. 11:30 am)

ITA: Inter vs. Juventus (Sun. 2:45 pm)

SPA: Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid (Sun. 3:00 pm)

PGA Tour

Pebble Beach Pro-Am (All Weekend)

NCAA Basketball

M: #1 UConn at St. John’s (Sat. Noon)

M: #4 Houston at #8 Kansas (Sat. 4:00 pm)

M: #7 Duke at #3 North Carolina (Sat. 6:30 pm)

M: #5 Tennessee at #10 Kentucky (Sat. 8:30 pm)

M: #2 Purdue at #6 Wisconsin (Sun. 1:00 pm)

W: #3 Iowa at Maryland (Sat. 8:00 pm)

W: #10 Indiana at #8 Ohio State (Sun. Noon)

W: Ole Miss at #1 South Carolina (Sun. 2:00 pm)

W: #2 Kansas State at #12 Texas (Sun. 2:00 pm)

W: #7 UCLA at #4 Stanford (Sun. 4:00 pm)

*All Times ET