There’s no gold standard in this soccer tourney

After more than a week of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, suffice it to say this soccer tournament is indicative of everything going on in North America right now. In other words, it sucks.

This is not one of those “I hate soccer” columns. It’s an “I love international soccer” one. No, it’s a “For soccer to continue to grow in popularity in the United States, you can’t expect people to watch this schlock” opinion. Gold is simply too precious a metal for a cup that clearly none of the bigger countries care about.

Of the 12 nations invited to participate in this alleged showcase of North American soccer, the United States and Mexico purposefully didn’t include their top players in pool play. They had reasons that made some sense. The Mexicans sent their best players last month to Russia for the Confederations Cup, a precursor to the World Cup. The Confederation Cup finished July 2. Mexico started Gold Cup on July 9.

Oh wait. That’s plenty of time to get over jet lag.

The Americans, meanwhile, sent their B team because they didn’t want to tucker out the first unit for World Cup qualifying later this year.

Golly, the more I think about it, these are craptacular excuses.

You know what’s also craptacular? The fact that only four of 12 teams were eliminated in pool play. Two-thirds advancing is similar to allowing the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1) into the NFL playoffs. The four “nations” that were eliminated? Two of them are so insignificant they played the French national anthem before their games. If nobody cares enough to write a song about your country, you have no business on the stage, Johan.

Oh sure. Now that the knockout round kicks off Wednesday — with eight countries that you’ve heard of — CONCACAF has allowed the surviving teams to reboot their rosters. The Mexicans and the United States were too happy to do so, with players you’ve heard of. The Americans swapped six front liners.

They shouldn’t get to do that. It’s kind of a punk move and I root for the U.S.

If the Gold Cup is merely a minor league version of World Cup qualifying, that’s fine. There are soccer junkies like me willing to see the next generation of players from Mexico and the U.S. who will get stomped by the Germans or Brazilians.

But at least be up front about it. Send your best or develop new talent. You don’t get to do both.

The problem with girl puppies

People who tell you that you can’t buy your friends have never been to a pet store.

I would’ve considered an animal shelter, but I left my job Saturday after the adoption centers were closed. Let’s not make this a political statement. Besides, even if the little rascal dozing off in my seat did come from a puppy mill, she wanted a home, too.

So I’d like to introduce you to my new beagle buddy:

We’ve been inseparable for 37 hours and I have no idea what to name her because she is a her.

I went expecting to get a male puppy. I had a male beagle before. I named him Underdog. This one, maybe I’d use the name again. I was also considering Regal. If you’ve watched “Three’s Company,” you’d get the pun.

The two boy beagles weren’t really a match. The first didn’t look like he wanted to bond. The second was eight weeks and already baying those ear-splitting beagle howls. Good luck training him. 

This one? Teething. I can work with that.

What I can’t do, though, is name her. I can’t name her easily because I know a lot of women and they would assume I named the puppy after her. You can’t name a dog after a girl you know. I’m not claiming it’s as bad as white people dropping n-bombs. Kelsey is not going to get her girlfriends and beat you to within an inch of your life. Dropping an n-bomb will get you beaten to within an inch of your life.

But in both cases, you will get the misery you deserve. Don’t name a girl puppy after a girl you know.

So far, I’ve crossed off my family, not that I’d name a dog Mom, either. There goes Miki, Margot and Chantelle. Then came failure at marriage. Why insult a puppy with Veronica or Tonya?

Next came the homecoming queens from my high school: Ann, Laura and Renea.

Let’s see. I was a reporter. Cross off Katie, Leah, Monica, Barbara, Jenny, Natalie, Gayle, Andrell, Kathy, Patricia, Pam, Nelsy, Nicole, Warisa, Paula, Holly, Amanda, Cindy, Karina. There are more. Maybe their names escape me because I’m a misogynist.

I was a comic. Many male comics act like female comics don’t exist. Wrong. There goes Ro, Ashley, Rosie, Monrok, Jenna, Punkie, Ali, Ricki, Edi, Kristine, Jules, Kimberly, Klee, Tammy, Robin, Kennelia, Cate, Amy, Henrietta, Malia, April, Lang, Denise, Aiko, Sierra, Sandy, Molly. I lost two in one shot because her name is Olivia Grace.

I’m in health care now. Strike Debbie, Mina, Tahira, Lubna (Lubna? I know), Angela, Joni, Susan, Vicki, Bernice, Eva, Allande, Ramona, Christine, Stacey.

I’m also an author. Many authors are so self-absorbed they don’t even like their own names. J.K. Rowling? You’ve sold enough books. People like you. Use your first name, my dear.

I’m not even mentioning names of girls I actually was in love with.

Some of you might be thinking: We get the point, jerk. You need a girl who is super cool to where she wouldn’t take it the wrong way. There’s got to be one girl out there like that. Oh, there is. Her name is Kitten.

So there’s pretty much only one name left.


Psst! While everyone was obsessing over Mika’s face…

A prescript before punditry: I’ve been called ugly all my life. 

When I was 13, I finally received a compliment from a pretty girl. She said, “You have the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen, but the rest of you ain’t sh-t.”

When you get called unattractive as often as I have, you gain a different perspective on things. 

At 8 p.m. on the East Coast last night, the temporary travel ban that once had legions of liberals in hysterics went into effect. The timing was impeccable, because on the west coast, all of the hacks on the comedy scene were hitting up open mics at 5 p.m. No time to react politically when you’re furiously polishing up your penis jokes.

A couple of hours before, the House of Representatives passed two bills regarding how we treat illegal immigrants. “Kate’s Law” — which should have passed long ago because we reflexively approve of bills named after pretty girls — increased penalties on illegal immigrant felons. It was a favored cause of former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who is a former Fox News host because his approval of pretty girls bordered on civil liability.

The other bill denies federal money to sanctuary cities, municipalities who refuse to cooperate with immigration officials. The bill has stalled because it’s authors didn’t remember to look through a book of cute names first.

All three proposals once had my liberal friends furious, but that’s no longer the case. Not because they approve. No, they cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war about this…

To be honest, I don’t like that face, either. She looks like the hatchet lady who handed severance checks to a dozen of my coworkers when the news industry contracted.

It was probably once a very pretty face. And the president of the United States tweeted that he believed liberal TV pundit Mika Brzezinski had surgery to maintain its comeliness. I’m being nice. Basically, the dude said she desperately needed plastic surgery.

Now, how does this play to a guy like me? I know it’s inappropriate, but I’m also immune to it. You’re ugly, too? You’re not OG ugly like me, but whatever. Welcome to the club. There’s plenty of room.

The benefits of being inoculated from “yo face so ugly” jokes means I can see the bigger picture with sober eyes:

President Trump’s tweets don’t limit his agenda. If anything, they provide him cover while he advances. Three priorities of his moved on while social media blew up over somebody’s face. You think he cares? He was probably laughing his ass off in the Lincoln bedroom and asking the First Lady to parade around in a purple teddy.

None of this is to tell you that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is a swell guy. Politicians insulting pundits over their looks didn’t start yesterday. Al Franken wrote a book called “Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot” and he’s in the U.S. Senate.

It surely isn’t to defend Mika and her beta male soon-to-be husband. I don’t believe they’re to be trusted and besides, if the XFL drew better ratings, you’re not that important, anyway.

It’s to let you know whenever cable news and your social feed rages with the intensity of 1,000 burning suns over the latest comment from @realDonaldTrump, reel in your self-righteous indignation and cast your line elsewhere in the lake of political fire. Something more impactful is being done elsewhere.

Take it from an ugly guy.

It’s time to realize what the Lakers don’t have

I’m about to marginally insult people I’ve never met — namely, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. I don’t like doing it, because they don’t seem like horrible people. And it’s kind of a cheap shot.

It has to be done in the name of tough love.

Not for their sakes. They don’t give a damn about me.

It has to be done for Lakers fans — who have started to see this roster get torn asunder by the new leadership team of Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. It had to be ripped to pieces because what was put together by the scatterbrained Jim Buss looked like a quilt for puppies. It looks cute in a photo, but in real life it’s a rag that stinks up the entire house.

But you’re wrong, James. This is a young core that needs to develop! Give them time!

Um, how much time? Especially when you can clear salary cap room for players in the prime of their career who have already developed. You have no idea if Randle will be better than Paul Pierce. I wouldn’t wager on it. And don’t insult my intelligence by saying Clarkson will ever approach Russell Westbrook.

Not that I believe both Pierce and Westbrook, or Pierce and LeBron James, or Pierce and insert-megastar-here are sure to come to LA. But maximum contracts in exciting cities with player-friendly ownership groups go a long way.

How can anyone argue that wagering on the future of inconsistent players is superior to the certainty of perennial all-stars? True, Russell scored 40 points in a game against the Cavaliers. He is also the 17th-most turnover prone player in a league of about 450 people. He averaged 2.8 per game. Considering when a point guard turns a ball over, it is often at midcourt, that’s the equivalent of about three breakaway layups every game.

You can’t have that. Even worse came public feuds with coaches, a breach of trust with his teammates by posting an embarrassing video to social media and telling Lakers fans that they expect too much.

Lonzo Ball is unlikely to blast his coaches, tell Lakers fans to pipe down or betray the fellas in the locker room. … OK, maybe his father, but let’s withhold judgment.

So why Randle and Clarkson? Well, Clarkson doesn’t even start. There is no such thing as an indispensable reserve on a team that can’t win 30 games. As for Randle, how can I put this?

Consider that the Lakers had no leadership last year. That was, in my opinion, by design. First-year coach Luke Walton inherited a team of young players and — like Phil Jackson used to do — let his players try to figure it out. That whole thing you hear about “whose team it is”? How the Wizards are John Wall’s team. The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team? Well, if those younger players were worth the hassle, one of them would have taken the reins. One would have busted his rear, produced big numbers and insisted his teammates follow his lead.

Randle didn’t. He, too, was as inconsistent as Russell. Given a chance to make a name for himself, Randle scored 13.2 points per game — a mere two points better than his first full season. Even worse, his rebounds per game dropped. And this guy is supposed to be a power forward?

Now, he’s still on the roster, for now. But Lakers fans need to catch up to me. No, better stated, they need to jump off the “next gen” bandwagon and look with sober eyes at players that might mature. They have been affirming a future that his little discipline. 

And affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.

Keep big money in politics

If you want to make the world a better place, and I believe many of you do, you have better things to do with your money than politics.

I learned that the hard way. I’d tell you about it, but I’d only feel embarrassed and I’d like to keep my self-esteem intact, thank you.

Right now, I have some friends who are down in the dumps that #TheResistance hasn’t produced results commensurate with their hatred for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. To be real, it hasn’t produced any positive results at all, but I don’t want to gloat. Why should I? Georgia’s 6th District has been blood-dripping red for four decades. Jon Ossoff was going to change that? Please.

Gloat? No way. I want my friends to feel good.

Stop donating to Democrats, as I have stopped donating to Republicans.

Let the wealthy bastards cut the checks. Hell, don’t have campaign finance reform. Let them spend money on losing causes or horrible side deals. The question is not whether politicians are corrupt. The question tends to be how corrupt. It’s not going to change. Citizens United wouldn’t change that. Neither would McCain-Feingold.

But James, you’re telling me not to give so Republicans can win. I can see through you, Trump lover.

No, I’m just saying if you want to make an impact, invest it properly. I didn’t give money to the GOP. I gave it to a food bank. I didn’t buy a red “MAGA” cap. I gave my change to The Salvation Army, bought Girl Scout cookies, dropped money to an animal rescue shelter.

I’m not saying this to claim I’m a better person than you. I’m an asshole. I admit it.

I’m saying it because I know you want to make somebody’s day a little better. I believe that in the marrow of my bones, despite how you vote. Most of us cast votes not just for our own self-interest. We hope — or have blind faith — that our candidates will not only serve us but change the nation and the planet.

That candidate is not going to miss your 20 bucks, no matter how many mass emails you get.

The vibe I get after dropping off a couple of bags of nonperishables at a food bank is far more pleasurable than any I get watching election night results come in. You know what it’s like, especially if you cut a candidate a check. There you are, watching the news like a gambling junkie watches a roulette table: “Come on, red! Hit red! Hit red! Hit reeeeddddd…? … Dammit.”

Sure, argue your political beliefs. Vote on Election Day. But when it comes to your money, make sure your debit card is still in your back pocket and get the hell off of that candidate’s website. Let George Soros, the Koch Brothers, “Big Banking” or “Big Hollywood” handle that.

I had to humble down, so too should #TheResistance

Yesterday, my iPhone shuffled through reasons you can’t corral “the left” for damnation in the court of public opinion after U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise was shot.

It’s impossible to listen to the voices of Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, etc., and think “all liberals are bad.” Same for watching movies with Kevin Spacey, Don Cheadle or Leonardo DiCaprio. Or art, comedy, poetry, etc.

These are some of the reasons I keep a level head when people on my side of the aisle want to blame “the left.” Part of me wants to, because Wednesday morning’s attack by a former Bernie Sanders volunteer, plus riots in Portland and Berkeley, plus Kathy Griffin juggling severed Trump heads plus colleges banning conservative speakers plus Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” refashioned as a Trump assassination in New York plus plus plus plus plus plus…

Then people like me — who have no personal animus toward those who hold different political beliefs — force myself to take a deep breath and repeat it like a mantra, “It’s intellectually stupid to think what you’re thinking.” I don’t mean that as an empty platitude. A friend is a friend. They’re more valuable than you’re political philosophy.

Besides, it is intellectually stupid to lump “the left” into this cauldron of hate, this basket of deplorables. 

But this is what makes it important for #TheResistance to tone down its act.

Because these violent spasms force me to remind myself that I have cherished liberal friends. What about the people who don’t remind themselves they have many friends on the left? Provided they don’t seek vengeance, they’re going to keep their beliefs silent, but they’re also going to become stubborn, tune you out and take the strident unbending screeds of Ann Coulter to the ballot box. 

The “silent Trump voter” is how we got President Donald Trump in the first place.

In Freudian terms, #TheResistance is the id run wild. It’s a hissy fit so extreme that it makes Sean Hannity look like the superego by comparison.

You want to know why I never hated President Barack Obama? It’s because people have the right to vote in their own self-interest and frankly, President George W. Bush had a horrible second term. How can I look you in the eye and tell you that the response to Hurricane Katrina was appropriate? I can’t. Hate Obama? No, sir. I was embarrassed by those on my side of the aisle who used race to describe their hatred of Obama’s policies or the man.

I had to humble down. It’s not fun to admit when “your guy” screwed up on a catastrophic scale, but Bush did. I had to disavow and condemn pointless, sickening hatred.

Well, friends, buddies, ol’ pals, #TheResistance is screwing up on a massive scale. Don’t spin this as an argument for gun control. Don’t tell me the Republicans started it first. Nancy Pelosi didn’t get shot. Gabby Giffords did, but that wasn’t from a conservative.

Simply put, #TheResistance is fucked up. I can’t correct it, but you can.

You have to humble down. You have to condemn this because it’s the right thing to do. Or if the word “right” makes your skin crawl, it’s the morally correct choice.

You don’t have to like Trump. You don’t have to accept blame for the shooting because you didn’t do it, but you can’t deflect it, either. You have to condemn the extremists on your side. Maybe even think before you speak or post.

Go listen to some Simon & Garfunkel while you’re at it.

A hunch the Cavs repeat

There are some wagers you take because of logic and some because of emotion. I know this to be true because many of my friends are gambling addicts.

The Warriors are supposed to be unstoppable, logic suggests, because they had the best record in the NBA. They almost won the title last year and upgraded the team during the offseason by landing the top prize of free agency in Kevin Durant. This season, four of them made the all-star team.

Put it all together and it sounds as if Oracle Arena sits atop Mount Olympus.

I can’t buy into that. Here’s why:

Emotion. Not my emotions. Theirs. I’m not convinced the Warriors are mentally tough enough to withstand adversity. If they were, they would not have tanked a 3-1 lead in last year’s NBA Finals when they lost to Cleveland.

In that series, Warriors forward Draymond Green was suspended in part because, despite numerous requests by the league and repeated “bro, that’s not cool” complaints from men across the planet, he couldn’t stop punching opponents in the nuts. Granted, he didn’t punch LeBron “King” James in the Crown Jewels, but when you’re on notice that one more flagrant foul will kick you out of the game you have to use your head. Green didn’t.

Have the Warriors matured since then? I can’t say so. Starting center JaVale McGee was frustrated by jokes about his bonehead plays on “Shaqtin’ A Fool,” the popular bloopers segment on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” He complained so much that the team reportedly protested to the network about Shaquille O’Neal. Dude, what is this, junior high? You’re a grown man on a blooper reel. Maybe you have to take the joke. At least, you should bring up your beef with O’Neal in private.

In my opinion, you can’t rely on the mental toughness of 40 percent of the Warriors starting lineup.

Not to mention the fact that head coach Steve Kerr hasn’t been on the bench since the first round of the playoffs due to complications from spinal surgery. As for the afore-mentioned Durant, last year his Oklahoma City Thunder blew a 3-1 playoff lead.

Fine. Steph Curry makes 3-pointers look like layups, but overall this isn’t a group that should be linked to the phrase “indomitable will to win.”

True, the Cavs didn’t have four all-stars on the roster. They sent a mere three to the All-Star Game, including the current reigning best player in the planet in James. Cleveland has lost one game in the postseason and should the series stretch to a Game 7, the Cavs took out Golden State in Oracle last year.

There are reasons to believe the Warriors are better with Durant.

There is no reason to believe the Cavs got any worse since last offseason.

I’m taking the champs to successfully defend the title.

Fortunately, though, I don’t gamble.

The Lakers: Two easy choices, after that…

Magic Johnson is aware that his reputation as a franchise savior — regardless of whether it’s deserved or fair — depends on the Lakers qualifying for the playoffs next year. 

True, under his stewardship the Dodgers are compelling viewing — if anyone in Los Angeles has Spectrum SportsNet to view them in the first place. But even the prior ownership group knew the Dodgers owned a stocked minor-league system. The franchise was set to consistently win regardless of who cut the checks.

On the other hand, the Lakers have a random collection of lottery-pick level players and no specific sense of direction. In the NBA, that is a recipe for long-term irrelevance. Trust me, I now live in Orlando. The Magic are the definition of a team with a bevy of lottery players and no idea how to make them a winning team.

Simply put, Lakers fans think far too highly of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Maybe Brandon Ingram is worth the hype, but putting the weight of this marquee franchise on those skinny shoulders might be a bit much to bear.

Moreover, coach Luke Walton did not answer the fundamental question — what direction is this team going? In other words, whose team is it? What does the method by which this team will learn to win. What type of team is it?

You watch the Golden State Warriors and you know how they approach the game. Same for the San Antonio Spurs. Heck, even the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards have more of a defined approach to the game.

For the Lakers, this is their biggest problem heading into the upcoming season. If Walton can’t give ownership and players a vision, or if Johnson has a vision that Walton cannot produce, then I’m going to be the first to assert that everybody’s beloved former sixth man will have to go. I like him as a guy, but dem’s the breaks, dude.

How do the Lakers get from 26 wins to 40-plus wins? (Portland qualified for the playoffs with 41 wins this season.) I don’t have all the answers, but after careful consideration I know of only two easy decisions for the Lakers:

1) Russell has to go if they draft Lonzo Ball. The idea that Russell can function as a shooting guard seems pie-in-the-sky. He never played off the ball before. Moreover, Russell was given a poor role model when he broke into the league. What the hell was Jim Buss thinking by having a space case like Nick Young mentor Russell?

Russell developed bad habits. I don’t think of him as a bust, but drafting Ball gives the Lakers two of the same player. Moreover, drafting Ball sends a clear signal. The Lakers would indeed be his team. A big part of me thinks that’s why so many stories linking the Lakers and Ball exist. Taking Ball automatically removes the decision from Walton.

2) Pursue no top free agents other than power forward. Like the draft, this class is loaded with small forwards and point guards. The best option at power forward is likely Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, because I can’t see Blake Griffin leaving the Clippers. Free agent centers start with other team’s reserves. No thanks.

Signing Millsap, which I don’t particularly envision, likely sends Randle to the bench.

Everything else is up in the air. Everything. Because the Lakers have a glut of otherwise undistinguished lottery players. They’ve been inconsistent at best. The question for each player becomes: Is that from growing pains or are they just simply unreliable?

Trades for Paul George? Sure, I’ve read the rumors. Doing so would create a forward glut unless you send Ingram and/or Randle and/or Russell to Indiana. And George doesn’t fare well at power forward. So does that make Ingram the target to go? And by me saying that, is your immediate reaction But wait! Ingram’s got real potential here!

As you can see, that discussion alone leads to a headache.

So yeah, two answers are simple. Trade Russell if they take Ball. Save free agent money for the better group of players available next year.

But add at least 15 wins next season.

This is the job, Magic. I don’t have to tell you that.

One arrogant PS opinion: Being realistic here, the best starting five the Lakers can accomplish next year is Ball at the point, Dion Waiters as a shooting guard free agent signing if not one gained from a Russell trade, Ingram, George, Ivica Zubac. I can see that team push for 40 wins next year.

Expect more layoffs at ESPN soon

If I didn’t know at least two of the journalists that ESPN laid off this week — the top cable sports network clipped about 100 people this week — I’d have said the downsizing was just.

Only it wasn’t. The network cut the wrong people.

Which means ESPN hasn’t learned its lesson. Which means they’re going to cut many more people sooner than you think.

This is not to beg ESPN to rehire the two dudes I know. I’m not going to name them. I’m not particularly close to them. They’re grown men. They can land on their feet.

No, this is to take ESPN to task for what led to the layoffs. What led to their falling ratings. It’s not about live-streaming sports on your smartphone. Despite what Breitbart News will have you believe, it’s not about an embrace of left-wing politics. It’s not a conspiracy theory at all. It’s not even style over substance.

It’s even worse. It’s style without substance. 

When layoffs were imminent, ESPN said it would downsize on-air talent because its news division had been cut to the bone. The two guys I knew were actual reporters. They broke stories. One broke national stories.

ESPN did trim on-air talent. It also hacked a lot of reporters this week. ESPN chiseled into the bone.

What made ESPN the place to be for that coveted male demographic was not the catchphrases or the hyperventilating sports columnist debate shows. We went to ESPN because its reporters had the inside dope. ESPN was the place to tune in for the NFL Draft, the MLB trade deadline, free agency, coaching changes.

In other words: Catchphrases and jokes are cute, but people will go out of their way to be informed. If it’s excellent information, they’ll become return customers for your information. They’ll be like the people who camp out in front of an Apple Store for an upgraded iPhone.

Jokes and opinions about sports? Hell, anyone can have that. I can do that. The guy with three DUIs at the end of the bar can do that. What makes his opinion any different than Woody Paige or Stephen A. Smith? Those hypespewers don’t break stories. They never did.

Oh, but at least we can still watch Jamele Hill and Michael Smith bump butts and dance at the start of the new slick version of “SportsCenter” — “SC6.” Yeah, that’s what we need. More unsubstantiated opinions, but this time it’s to the beat of a dope-ass mix tape. (To be honest, I only saw the butt-bumping on a commercial for the rebooted “SportsCenter.” I haven’t watched “SC6.” When I want to watch girls dance on TV, I go to Univision or BET.)

“SC6” is part of a misguided strategy that an executive outlined recently. He said he envisioned “SportsCenter” to be more of an entertainment show like “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, whatever the hell that means.

ESPN fell into the same trap that MTV did in the 1990s. MTV was a ratings juggernaut until it strayed from its core, music. MTV embraced personality over art and it never recovered. ESPN embraced personality over its core mission and people turned away.

Its core is sports fact, not opinion. As a result, the content simply isn’t good enough.

Therefore, ESPN simply isn’t good enough, either.

Expect more downsizing.

An epiphany about sports and politics

I despise everything about the Boston Celtics. I have for decades. It’s an almost unreasonable level of loathing, devoid of intellect.

I never had a problem with Kevin Garnett until I saw him win the NBA title against the Lakers. He seemed like a decent guy and a ferocious competitor. I respected him until I saw him kiss that evil, godforsaken leprechaun logo at center court. Speaking of that logo, I hate Boston for perpetuating the Irish stereotype that my family is comprised of tubby, dim-witted elves with a pipe, shamrock and a shillelagh.

Aside from the Lakers beating the Celtics for the title, I take great joy knowing that when Boston was at its nadir, Celtics fans chanted “MVP” for Kobe Bryant.

But it stops with what happened to Isaiah Thomas’ family in the last week. For those who don’t follow the NBA, he’s the Celtics’ best player. Just prior to the start of the NBA playoffs, his sister died. He’s grieving. It’s an awful situation and I feel horrible for him.

Which brings me to the epiphany.

I know far too many people who I believe would take a perverse pleasure if, say, Melania Trump died or faced a deadly ailment. To be honest, I’m confident many would have felt the same way of something horrible happened to Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama.

Which means — brace yourselves for this simple doozy — it can be argued that sports fans are better people than the faux intellectualism of political followers.

Yep. I’m saying the blowhard on MSNBC or Fox News isn’t as good a person as the drunk fat guy with the face paint and the foam finger. Oh, the guy might be delusional about the Cleveland Browns, but at the core of his being he knows he has flaws and will be more likely to help his fellow human change a flat tire.

Political junkies are worse because a) they think their societal beliefs are without flaw, and b) if you don’t believe as they do, they wouldn’t dump a bucket of urine on you if you were on fire.

Sure, sports fans can be obnoxious, but at worst, they live their lives through their teams. Political junkies live your lives through their worldview.

Put it this way: at the end of the work shift, who would you want tending bar? Ann Coulter would be too busy inspecting the immigration status of her coworkers. Keith Olbermann would be spelling out his own name in beer bottle caps glued to the wall. Bill Maher and Bill O’Reilly would push for “waitress spank Wednesday” and Glenn Beck would tell you to stop drinking because the end times are nigh.

Or would you rather raise a toast to Larry Bird or Joe Montana and say “man, I hated your guts back in the day, but you seem like a good dude”?

If so, you’re a far better person than you’ve gotten credit for. Now go watch the “NBA on TNT” with a clear conscience.