On the economics of player development and the buried profit imperative that shapes it all. A selection from Jonathan Tjarks' new e-book The Pattern of Basketball and the 2014 NBA Draft.

The USMNT is not quite the team they might someday be, but no longer the team they were. At times, they're both at once. That, as much as anything else, is a reason to believe in them.

There's a constant sense of anxious and somewhat self-pitying among those cheering for England in the World Cup, as there generally is. But there's no curse at work, here: just a bunch of things that needed to change, and which may finally be changing, and the stubborn urge to watch it happen.

There are free agents who will make more money on the open market than Lakers gunner Jodie Meeks, who is coming off a seasons in which he was, by the numbers, one of the most efficient scorers in the league. But none of those free agents will make GM's think harder about what they're really worth.

Even for those who have left baseball behind, a long car ride and a baseball game on the radio make for a powerful time-travel experience.

Every four years, fans and the World Cup have a passionate and all-consuming love affair. But when it's over, it's over.

The San Francisco Giants have a very particular problem with their broadcast team and their female fans. But it's bigger than the Giants, and bigger than it seems.

You can bet on an Arsenal game from inside Emirates Stadium, but Americans need to go to Las Vegas or a series of dodgy websites. Why is it so much harder to bet on a soccer game in the United States than it is in the United Kingdom?

Or: why commencement speeches, even those by baseball's grumpiest and most self-impressed geniuses, are universally bullshit. But maybe especially ones given by Tony La Russa.

The '99-00 Orlando Magic weren't a good team. They weren't that bad, either. But given that this was a team built to fail, their mediocrity became memorable.