Is Ozark the new Breaking Bad? While We’re Waiting

The Browns are in camp. The Indians are chasing the playoffs for a second straight year. Meanwhile all I can think about is our basketball team. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James are still fueling the fiery furnace of sports interest in August. What has this world come to?

It’s still all about LeBron James

I’m not mad at LeBron James for the Cavaliers off-season, but it’s largely his responsibility that it’s gone the way it has. It’s important to make a distinction that I’m not upset with LeBron James even as I’m suffering through one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in Cleveland Cavaliers history. As I’ve said prior, this might be the worst off-season that a championship-contending team has ever had. Like everything else in our solar system revolves around the sun, in the Cavaliers’ space configuration, LeBron James is the piping hot ball of gas that warms us in the summer and occasionally burns our skin.

I know what you’re thinking. “LeBron isn’t the one who demanded a trade with two years left on his contract after making a third straight trip to the NBA Finals, and one championship!” It’s easy to look at Kyrie Irving as the catalyst, but that’s a boondoggle. He’s desperately trying to exercise his own free will and try to wield whatever power he possibly can, but it’s all in reaction to LeBron James. The further we get away from the trade request (demand?) the more it feels like any rational fan has to view it through the lens of LeBron.

Is Kyrie salty because the Cavaliers considered trading him this off-season? Maybe, but they’d only consider trading him to make LeBron James happy and try and build a team that would convince LeBron to sign up for another contract.

Is Kyrie trying to get a jump on choosing his next team? Maybe, but if that’s the case, it’s hard to look at the cacophonous silence around LeBron as rumors of him bolting Cleveland after this season go unchecked and undisputed and (ahem) Uninterrupted.

Kyrie reportedly didn’t want to play alongside LeBron James anymore. Even in choosing to express his independence and worth as a solo player, it’s all in the context of having stood in LeBron James’ shadow for three straight years on the biggest stages of professional sports.

LeBron James was “devastated” by the news that Kyrie Irving didn’t want to play alongside him anymore. Like it or not, he’s the one who has the power to try and mend fences and keep these things going. It’s not necessarily in his job description, but many things he’s done and influenced over his monumental career were outside a simple player’s job description. Even in choosing not to do anything, that’s a choice when you’re a power broker like LeBron James.

LeBron is choosing not to do lots of things these days. He isn’t talking about the Los Angeles Lakers rumors that have pervaded since the NBA Finals. He hasn’t discussed his future in Cleveland past this season. He reportedly hasn’t weighed in on the direction of the team as they’ve faced challenges this off-season. He’s told them to do what’s best for them going forward, but that’s kind of laughable when you can’t know that unless you know what the chances are that LeBron James is going to be a part of that future.

LeBron James is the most powerful player in the NBA. LeBron James has exercised his own right of free agency in structuring his contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m not mad at him for doing it because I think we’d all be tempted to give ourselves flexibility with a wild card like Dan Gilbert at the helm of the organization. Just because I get LeBron’s situation and motivations, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to own some of the responsibility for the Cavaliers off-season.

Everything that is happening with the Cavaliers this off-season – including the seemingly nuclear Kyrie Irving blow-up – is all referential to LeBron James. As I’ve said, I’m not necessarily mad at him, but you just can’t deny it’s the truth.

Ozark is the most natural Breaking Bad sequel yet

I’m going to be doing some podcasting about Netflix’s blockbuster show Ozark coming up here soon, but I need to tell you all about it now anyway. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in this show and it’s one of the most binge-worthy TV shows I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s likely the best show I’ve seen since Breaking Bad, and it’s very much in the same vein.

It’s the story of Marty Byrde who had to uproot his family and move them to Missouri from Chicago in order to try and launder a bunch of money for a drug cartel. Somehow even in telling you all that, I haven’t spoiled anything yet. What unfolds is a capitivating story of Marty’s family including a high school aged son and daughter and a marriage on the rocks. There are inter-related side stories that unfold with the locals and law enforcement without feeling like they’re completely different tales. We also flash in and out of backstory at times to further deepen our knowledge of different protagonists.

The storytelling is phenomenal. They captured the region to the point that I feel like I’m there when I’m watching a show. As I watch different characters in precarious positions I actually care what happens to them. They’ve toed the line of hero and anti-hero in the same ways we’ve grown to love when shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter, and even The Sopranos were at their best. Are there any good characters? That’s a reasonable question as we move through the show and as I type this to you, I believe the only genuine victims in the show might be Wendy and Mart’s children. But with a show like this, I feel like there’s still time…