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On Saturday, Real Madrid ensured that there would be nothing for Barcelona to transcend. For the first time in several years, the fixture stood out as a great game between two amazingly talented teams rather than a referendum on pragmatism vs. ideology, or the best way to build a club, or the moral value of a stepover. It was a matchup of rough equals, not an allegory of higher concepts. And it was fun.

Whereas most clubs are scruffy hamlets hoping the world hasn't forgotten them completely, Real Madrid and Barcelona are empires. They are masters of self-aggrandisement, all royal flash and ermine undergarments. When two great pomposities meet, the results are spectacular and inevitable, in the same way the dying sun swallowing the Earth will be spectacular and inevitable, except that we get to witness this particular supernova via television and web streams of dubious legality.

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho must deal with elected presidents and shifting political allegiances. The guy (or gal) who hired them will probably not be the one to fire them. And Real Madrid and Barcelona have especially bitter recent political histories.

Already, Chris Paul (and the prospect of Dwight Howard) joining Kobe Bryant had swept away much of the lockout cobwebs, and that was before the CBA had even been ratified. To let it happen—as David Stern should have, and as he so emphatically did with last summer's Heat assemblage, one with far heavier political overtones—would have been Stern's perfect "fuck you" back at the owners.

There is a general consensus that the USTA has not done enough to adequately develop top young American talent. Exactly what it should be doing is less clear.

We do not see Nyjah Huston moving through city streets—his filming missions are selective and nocturnal. They are movie sets lit by floods run on generators that growl and smell of petroleum. He skates with trucks rigidly tight, keeping his lines straight and landings perfect. Anything less requires a quick tick-tack adjustment—a, clunky, artless flourish and probable cause for editing that cuts landings as soon as his legs absorb the impact. Every time: feet wide, strategic, automatic. Soulless.

No one will give a shit about LeBron James in 100 years. The upside of eternity for LeBron, apart from the trust funds he leaves behind for his great-great-grandchildren, is death. But the same thing is true for Cleveland. Featuring a Q&A with Scott Raab.

In January of 2010, Neil Chamberlain left Brooklyn for a three-month tour of Muay Thai boxing camps in Thailand.  While abroad he kept an online chronicle of his experiences that was followed voraciously by his family and friends.  Neil returned from Thailand in early April; less than two weeks later he was dead at age twenty-eight, killed by a hit-and-run driver. It’s a great cliché to describe prose as “alive," but it’s a privilege to say it now, and to share Neil’s words and travels here. 

For most of the past decade, Daniel Bryan was, by general nerd consensus, the single best independent wrestler in America. But the WWE has built itself on chiseled, charismatic figures, and Danielson isn't that. Given WWE's lack of tolerance toward wrestler weed-smoking and Danielson's ridiculous physical abilities, I have to assume that he's not actually high all the time, or ever. But he sure does seem like it. He's a vegan because he's got some weird health issues. He sings backup on a song from the new Kimya Dawson album. He's a strange guy.

Bad contracts, the poisons that contaminated the NBA, were largely responsible for the lockout. They became emblems for David Stern’s “broken system” rhetoric. But there’s no way these contracts would exist without the fans asking for them.