LeBron James: leader or manager?

Does the NBA have an epidemic of poor leadership?

LeBron James: leader or manager?

Every basketball team has a clear hierarchy of talent with a leader who is required to give direction on defense and offense and to act as the clutch option at the end of games. Anyone in the NBA can score 25 points on a given night, but some players handle pressure without hesitation, and can score and defend with more ease and consistency than others. The most talented or poised player is often the team leader, and if you’ve reached the talent level of LeBron James, you can even become a team manager.

Where franchises now depend on assembling a “big three” group, three players with enough talent and star power are expected to lead a team to relevance. This trend began in 2010, when Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James teamed up on the Miami Heat. For James’ teams, this recruiting process has continued ever since. After a huge mid-season switch up in Cleveland and a mediocre start to the season this year, LeBron has made it his mission to recruit Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Mid-season recruiting tactics generate incredible media attention. However, as these last few weeks have proved, the Lakers are more concerned with chasing superstars to satisfy LeBron than with developing their young talents, and I am beginning to question his leadership tactics.

At first, Lebron’s decision to play for this young Lakers team appeared to be a humble career move. They had just missed the playoffs, and their championship potential was at least three seasons away. There was no clear leader until James came through the door. I assumed that the trade demonstrated a desire to remain patient and play a few seasons to develop young talent before winning another title.

Now in mid-season, the Lakers have offered five young, talented players — Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, and Kontavious Caldwell-Pope — in addition to two first round picks, to the New Orleans Pelicans in return for Anthony Davis, a top-three NBA player. This one is really easy to spell out. LeBron and Davis share the same agent, and after their game on December 22, they had dinner together. A couple of weeks later, Davis openly said that he wanted a trade and that his preferred destination was the Lakers.

Lebron recently returned to the Lakers following a groin injury that ended up being the longest injury setback of his career. The injury occurred on December 25, and he did not return to the court until January 31. American sports analyst Chris Broussard explained that James’ absence exposed the team’s lack of potential without their superstar. He added that the five week absence showed that, for the Lakers, “This is what [they] have, and if [they] want to win a championship, then [they] better go get more.” Of the first 10 games without LeBron, the team won three.

Sports columnist Skip Bayless responded to Broussard by saying that LeBron may have intentionally perpetuated a narrative that his team is not strong enough in order to increase the organization’s dependence on him.

I believe LeBron’s lengthy absence may have been a way to let his young teammates play on their own to boost their trade value. LeBron clearly knew the team would need a big change. So does he really appreciate Ingram, Ball, and Kuzma? Perhaps not enough to form a tight-knit, committed team culture.

We now know that the Lakers did not land Anthony Davis by the February 7 trade deadline. If they make the playoffs, LeBron will once again be talked about as the player who somehow lifted a bunch of solid, but not great, young players to success — a narrative he is happy with bearing.

But let’s consider the feelings of the younger Lakers. Their leader has sat out for an extended time, and now there has been a call to send about one third of the team and future draft picks to the Pelicans.

For the past 10 days, Lakers players have had to come into work not knowing whether they would be in the same workplace the next week. This is an uncomfortable reality for NBA players that is often dismissed as a ‘part of the business.’

But what if you knew that your team leader had a say in all of these decisions? Nearly every Laker knows they are trade options, and that, together, they have less value than a single player — Anthony Davis.

All along, the ball has been in the Pelicans’ court. They have Davis and will not move him unless they are completely satisfied with a struck deal. So what happens when they can’t make a deal? The Lakers end up being forced to play the next half of their NBA season knowing that their leader would have rather sent them packing.

Hours before the trade deadline, knowing that Davis would not be a Laker this season, LeBron was already working hard to once again change the narrative.

Harrison Barnes was traded mid game on Wednesday night from the Dallas Mavericks to the Sacramento Kings, and James was quick to make an Instagram post condemning this move as disrespectful to Barnes. In the meantime, he has helped shop nearly half of his team.

On Saturday morning, he said, “The suspense and the excitement around the trade deadline is always… pretty crazy.” He added, “There’s nothing I need to get in this league that I don’t already have. Everything else for me is just like icing on the cake… There’s nothing I’m chasing for.”

While LeBron claims that he’s not pushing for anything, the drama is completely regular for LeBron’s teams. Of course he is pushing for something; he wants more rings. He’s LeBron James, after all.

Now that his plan has failed, James won’t let the public believe that he was in charge of the Davis pursuit. He’s a master at handling the media and controlling the narrative. After his routine mid-season trade push got the team nowhere, only time will tell if he’s still respected in the locker room.

Blues women’s basketball lose rivalry contest against Ryerson

Rams defeated the Blues 53–42

Blues women’s basketball lose rivalry contest against Ryerson

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team fell short of a win at 53–42 against the Ryerson Rams on Friday night. Despite the Rams gaining a big lead in the third quarter, the Blues tirelessly fought back and made it a close game.

The Blues wore all pink on Friday in support of the U SPORTS Shoot for the Cure campaign, and the Junior Blues Gymnastics team did a fantastic job of raising over $1,100 toward breast cancer research.

In the first quarter, Toronto opened the scoring, with Samantha Robertson finding Nada Radonjic on a baseline cut for a quick layup. Not long after, Charlotte Collyer would feed Radonjic down low again for two. Radonjic would finish with a team high of 10 points.

The second quarter saw the intensity of both sides reach a new level. Players were forcing steals and diving on loose balls as neither team wanted to give the other an advantage. The Blues took the lead early on and would go back and forth with the Rams until halftime, with Ryerson up 21–16.

Robertson’s tenacious playing style represented Toronto’s resilience throughout the second half. In the third quarter, after a foul call didn’t go her way, she responded by hitting a contested three on the ensuing possession. Ryerson’s full-court press earned them multiple steals and their vigorous zone defense helped them to a 19-point lead midway through the quarter.

The Blues collected themselves and began piercing Ryerson’s defense in the fourth. With two and a half minutes to go, the Blues were back within nine but couldn’t quite catch the Rams, and were defeated 53–42.

Teamwork requires players to fulfil different roles and not every role gets rewarded on the stat line. A big shoutout goes to Jessica Muha for relentlessly taking on Ryerson’s six-foot-four offensive powerhouse, Sofia Paska. A good four inches above the next tallest woman on the court, Paska led her team in scoring, rebounds, and blocks, finishing with a double double.

Blues guard Fiorella Granda, who has been out with an injury, spoke after the game about the team’s mutual support. “It’s a nice community,” she said, “You have people going through what you’re going through.”

Toronto has seen many players cycle through the injury list. When asked about players overcoming setbacks, Granda brought up Ariana Sider, who had suffered a concussion earlier this season.

“She came back stronger and better. Now she starts. Now she’s a leader.” Sider embodies the team’s adaptive nature by making the best of difficult circumstances.

The Blues have now lost four in a row, but as they’ve shown in the past, this is a team who can get up after being knocked down.

Why the Raptors deserve to play on Christmas

The NBA annually snubs Toronto on Christmas Day

Why the Raptors deserve to play on Christmas

For your common NBA basketball fan, enjoying a lineup of spectacular basketball is a beloved Christmas Day tradition.

Christmas basketball games regularly showcase the best teams in the league, highlighting the association’s biggest superstars and some key rivalries. Although the Toronto Raptors have made the playoffs for five straight seasons, made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016, and further raised their profile by acquiring a bona fide superstar in Kawhi Leonard, they will still be getting coal for Christmas this year.

The NBA’s decision to overlook the Raptors yet again is particularly frustrating given the stellar performance of Toronto’s team — currently on top of the Eastern Conference — and the actual lineup of contenders for December 25. The New York Knicks, currently sitting near the bottom of the East, will be playing for the umpteenth time on Christmas, almost exclusively due to tradition.

Another convention is to schedule a rematch of the finals from the same year. As with the last three years, that would mean a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. But of course, LeBron James doesn’t play in Cleveland anymore, which is why this year’s Christmas Day lineup will feature a game between Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The only franchises remaining without a Chritmas Day game are the Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors were gifted with one game, way back in 2001.

Not to be forgotten, Christmas is a very personal and special day for a lot of players, coaches, and their families. Players acknowledge that December 25 games are a sacrifice, but also an honour and a privilege. Consider LeBron; after this year, he will have played in 13 Christmas Day games in his 16-year career. Kyle Lowry, on the other hand, never has.

On the topic, Lowry told the media, “I’ve always in my life wanted to play a Christmas game… It’s never happened, but I’ve always had the opportunity to always be with my family on Christmas. It’s a blessing to be able to not play, but at the same you always want that one time you play on Christmas… You get the special shoes. The Christmas jerseys. That’s one I want to frame one day. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to do it.”

There are five games on Christmas; that means that 10 teams play. If the NBA reasons that out of 30 teams in the league, the Raptors don’t qualify as being in the top 10, then they’re the ones on the naughty list this year.

Hopefully, a new generation of Raptors fans will get to see their team play on Christmas one day.

Varsity Blues men’s basketball defeated by Windsor

Blues lose 95–84 at home

Varsity Blues men’s basketball defeated by Windsor

The Varsity Blues men’s basketball team dropped a tough 95–84 decision to the visiting Windsor Lancers on the night of Saturday, November 24 at the Athletic Centre, representing the second loss for the Blues this weekend, following their six-point defeat to the Western Mustangs the night before.

The Blues opened the game on a 13–2 run as Iñaki Alvarez took a charge on the opening possession and Nikola Paradina drilled three straight three-pointers, representing nine of his team-high 20 points on the night.

While a couple of Blues turnovers would allow the Lancers to cut the lead to just four points midway through, the Blues surged ahead and returned their lead to 12 with three minutes remaining, off of a steal and fast break layup from Alvarez and another two and three from Daniel Johansson and Eli Mouyal for good measure. Toronto ended the first quarter up 21–15.

The second quarter, however, would see momentum shift into the Lancers’ hands. The Lancers’ Telloy Simon converted a fast break layup off a Blues turnover to tie it at 23 with seven minutes left, while Anthony Zrvnar gave the visitors their first lead of the game on a fast break dunk a minute later.

Windsor pushed their lead to 13 on an 11–2 run capped by quick transition baskets and high-percentage points in the paint. The home squad, however, would stay composed throughout, and buckets by Blues veterans Christopher Barrett, Dillon Rejman, and Paradina would shrink the lead to a manageable seven points heading into halftime, 43–36.

Windsor again would push out of the halftime break, upping their lead to 15 on an 8–0 run just two minutes into the quarter. At this point, Toronto’s Evan Shadkami took matters into his own hands, single-handedly shifting the momentum into his Blues’ favour.

He hit a much-needed three-pointer and then took an open-floor charge defending Windsor’s guard Damian Persaud in the back court the next possession. On the ensuing Blues offensive possession, Shadkami drew a foul on a shot attempt beyond the arc and drained all three foul shots, part of a 16-point effort overall.

The Blues rode the wave and continued to convert, as Johansson — who posted team highs of 12 boards and five assists — drained a sweet baby hook in the paint and Paradina dropped a bunny on the left block off a nice find from Johansson, to cut the lead to just five points with six minutes left in the period.

The teams went back and forth and fans were treated to some spectacular offensive displays from both sides. Several Windsor players hit highly-contested threes, while Alvarez willed his way to the basket on four straight occasions, including a buzzer beater. He scored nine straight points for the Blues as the third quarter winded down and the lead was cut down to seven heading into the last quarter.

The Blues opened the final period on a 7–0 run to tie it at 70 a piece just over a minute and a half in. The teams traded buckets yet again and Toronto tied it for a second time at 77–77, off a Shadkami-and-one bucket.

Shadkami’s free throw opportunity gave the Blues the chance to go ahead, but he missed, and it would not be. Windsor hit a second gear as the Blues appeared to run out of gas, and the Lancers pulled away on a game-closing 18–7 run to make the final score 95–84 in the visitors’ favour. Windsor scored 38 points in the paint on the night.

Blues’ assistant coach Mike De Giorgio was pleased with the way the team “responded to adversity” and “showed some good fight” but was disappointed in his squad’s defensive efforts, saying it would be a focus in this week’s practices leading up to the team’s road game at Lakehead University this coming Saturday.

The Blues have now lost four straight after a solid opening start to the regular season where they were 3–2 in their first five contests. This Saturday’s game in Thunder Bay against the Lakehead Thunderwolves is Toronto’s final one before the semester break.

Varsity Blues suffer tough loss against Brock Badgers

Blues men’s basketball lose 103–54

Varsity Blues suffer tough loss against Brock Badgers

The Blues men’s basketball team had a tough go in St. Catharines on Friday night, falling 103–54 to the Brock Badgers at their Bob Davis Gymnasium.

The Badgers imposed their will right out of the gate, opening the game on a 12–0 run on the merits of their high energy and upbeat pace on both ends of the floor.

Fourth-year Blues point guard Christopher Barrett would stop the bleeding midway through the quarter, sinking a three-pointer from the top of the arc and another quick lay-in off a sideline out-of-bounds play to cut the deficit to seven, with five minutes remaining in the first.

Barrett’s two buckets, Toronto’s first five points of the game, would unfortunately be the last for the Blues in the opening period, as Brock upped their lead to 23–5 heading into the second.

The Badgers had seven assists in the first quarter alone, and complemented their smooth, unselfish ball movement on offense with an imposing, physical full-court press that produced 17 Toronto turnovers for the game.

A much improved second quarter for the Blues saw the Badgers outscore Toronto by just five points, 25–20. However, the damage was done, and Toronto found themselves down 48–25 at halftime.

The second half was much the same, as Brock’s efficient shooting gave them a 20-point third quarter advantage. Toronto’s struggles continued throughout the half and the game came to a close with a lopsided 103–54.

The Blues struggled to find their team game throughout, producing six assists to the Badgers’ 27. Brock were lights out, going 55 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from beyond the arc to sink 15 triples on the night. Toronto had a comparatively harder time drawing iron, shooting 27 per cent overall and just 16 per cent from three.

The Blues, however, did manage to win part of the rebounding battle, procuring 14 offensive boards to the Badgers’ seven. Toronto’s bench also maintained a slight advantage, outscoring Brock’s reserves 29–25. Fourth-year forward Daniel Johansson led all Toronto scorers with 16 points and six boards, while rookie guard Iñaki Alvarez chipped in with 14.

The Badgers improved to 5–1 with the win, perched at the top of the Ontario University Athletics West Division rankings. Toronto holds strong despite the loss, with a 3–4 record in league, good for sixth in the East Division.

The importance of free agency

Kevin Durant’s move to the Warriors exemplifies the purpose of free agency

The importance of free agency

In July 2016, NBA superstar Kevin Durant became an unrestricted free agent. After eight seasons with Oklahoma City Thunder without winning a title, Durant wanted to play elsewhere.

In the history of the NBA, it’s rare for a player of Durant’s calibre to become an unrestricted free agent in the middle of his prime.

The entire free agency process — from his four-hour meeting with the Boston Celtics to a two-hour meeting with almost the entire Golden State Warriors team, and so on — was covered minute-by-minute by the media.

With Durant’s ultimate decision and without games on the horizon, his free agency gave fans something to talk about.

Durant joined the Warriors on July 4, 2016, and we all know how that went: the team won two straight NBA championships. So, how did this whole ‘free agency’ fiasco even start? And how has player mobility empowered stars like Durant?

Free agency, along with the NBA’s salary cap increase from $70 million to $94 million in 2016, has allowed stronger NBA franchises to pay multiple superstars at one time, creating a top-heavy league. As an additional caveat, many superstars like Durant have signed on below market value to increase their mobility and play where they want.

For example, DeMarcus Cousins signed a relatively cheap short-term deal with the Warriors in July after an Achilles injury. ‘Cheap’ is the operative word, as he will make only $5.3 million this season, a substantial decrease from $18.1 million in 2017–2018.

While four all-stars playing on one team is infuriating for fans outside of Oakland, maintaining player rights and freedoms is more important than allowing teams to own players.

Sports leagues have not always allowed players to become free agents.

In 1975, pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith refused to sign their contract with the MLB’s Oakland Athletics and demanded freedom in the open market. Baseball contracts used to include a reserve clause, which meant that players were bound to their team in perpetuity and the team had the right to extend a contract without a word from the player.

The arbitrator’s decision that November ruled in favour of free agency, allowing players to sign on the open market once a contract expires.

Up until 1988, NBA players could only be drafted or traded as their teams essentially owned them.

In 1987, the Seattle SuperSonics drafted two frontcourt rookies, making six-foot-ten forward Tom Chambers a hindrance to their lineup. Chambers, a proven NBA star, needed a franchise that would make the most out of his talent. Head of the NBA player’s union Larry Fleisher told Chambers that he may be able to “get this unrestricted free agency thing done.”

A few days later, it was official. Players whose contracts had ended could freely join any team as long as they had been in the league for over seven years and had finished two contracts. Chambers immediately joined the Phoenix Suns and led them to the Western Conference Finals in consecutive seasons.

Durant’s move to the Warriors wouldn’t have been possible without Chambers and Fleisher.

Free agency has allowed players to choose where they want to work, a freedom that all citizens are rightfully allowed.

Players are no longer treated as a small piece of a larger business. Their talent, coupled with the freedom of free agency, allows them to make the demands necessary to nearly run an organization. After all, shouldn’t those who produce the entertainment reap the most benefits from their skill?

In Duke Canada Tour, Toronto plays host to talented freshman class

Top recruit RJ Barrett makes his homecoming

In Duke Canada Tour, Toronto plays host to talented freshman class

What a week it had been for Canadian basketball. When last month’s Duke Canada Tour came to an end, the impact the event had on basketball development in Canada cannot be overstated. Canadians in Toronto and Montréal had the opportunity to witness the top two ranked players in the country, Zion Williamson and our homegrown talent, RJ Barrett.

As fortunate as these two cities were to host the Duke Blue Devils on their international tour, this event almost didn’t happen. The National Collegiate Athletic Association only permits college basketball teams to travel internationally once every four years during the summer to test themselves against competition abroad.

Initially, the Blue Devils were supposed to travel to the Dominican Republic last summer, but head coach Mike Krzyzewski fell ill, and their tour was postponed to this year, where RJ Barrett had the opportunity to play his first few games as a Blue Devil in the city he was raised in.

For the Varsity Blues, this provided another opportunity for international competition. They finished with a bronze medal in a tournament in Taiwan earlier this summer, and now they had another opportunity to build team camaraderie before their regular season begins in October.

The Blue Devils arrived in Toronto on August 24 for a media day presser at the Westin Harbor Castle. Coach K opened up with high praise for Canada and the amazing relationship he’s had with Jay Triano, head coach of the Canada basketball team. When asked about his first time in Toronto, he had this to say: “I didn’t realize what a great city Toronto was. So multicultural. A world city. Not just a great Canadian city, but a world city. It really opens its arms to all different types of cultures.”

Before tip-off on Friday evening, the atmosphere was electric. The parking lot was filled with school buses that carried students and families travelling from Duke University. The crowd looked like a sea of royal blue, filled with fans from across Ontario, here to witness this rare opportunity. Former Varsity Blues athletes were also in attendance to support the current roster, as well as NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson and Canadian track star Andre De Grasse.

Streamed on ESPN and TSN, this was likely the first time our Varsity players competed on national television, and while the nerves were likely there, they didn’t show. The Blues came out strong and hung around the far more talented Blue Devils. Leading the way was fourth-year forward Nikola Paradina, who finished with a team-high 15 points alongside three assists and three baskets from the perimeter.

While some fans came to support RJ Barrett, there were many fans in the arena waiting for Duke forward Zion Williamson to get off on a fast break and showcase his vertical ability. That opportunity came minutes into the first quarter, when Williamson stole the ball, glided in the air for what seemed like an eternity, and dunked, which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

The final score was 96–60 for the Blue Devils as they separated themselves in the second half, but that wasn’t truly indicative of how competitive the matchup was. As the buzzer sounded, our Varsity Blues did not hang their head in defeat; the team put forth their best effort against the top-ranked school in the US.

“I think it was a tremendous experience for our players. It’s once in a lifetime to play against a program that is so historically significant. Their current roster is really quite something so for our guys to compete against them is really special,” said head coach John Campbell.

Krzyzewski also spoke highly of the Varsity Blues, saying “Toronto does what they need to do with their talent, that is to kind of spread you and get shuffle cuts off the high post… they keep their spacing well.”

The Blue Devils finished the week 3–0 after defeating the Ryerson Rams and the McGill Redmen as well. As the Duke Canada Tour concluded, Coach K had this to say about their time spent here: “The guys loved it. My players loved it, they didn’t like it, they loved it… As good as we thought we’d feel about the whole experience, it’s exponentially better… The three coaches and theirs teams, they were fabulous in preparing and testing us.”

For Canadian programs to have the opportunity to go against one of the most respected basketball programs in the world comes with invaluable experience to prepare them for the season ahead. The Varsity Blues will be back in preseason action on September 28 against the Dalhousie Tigers.

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

Basketball players are joining the animal-free wave

What’s behind the increase of vegans in the NBA?

One of the rising nutritional trends among athletes today is veganism. This is especially pronounced in the the world of basketball, where more and more players are turning toward vegan diets and lifestyles.

A vegan is defined as someone who doesn’t eat animals or any animal products, which includes all meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy products.

As athletes continue to devise strategies to increase performance, ideas around diet and nutrition have also evolved, whether that be hiring personal chefs or even nutritionists to watch what they put into their bodies. The amount that NBA players invest into themselves has dramatically increased over the past decade, with keeping track of their diets and what caused them to be injured being among the leading forces in the so-called revolution.

“I had a recurring injury in my knee,” free agent Jahlil Okafor told SB Nation. “I just kept getting hurt and my knee was always inflamed. The main cause of my knee being swollen was dairy. I cut dairy, watched a few documentaries. Then, I cut out steak, cut out chicken, then gradually started cutting out every animal-based product.”

“Now I’m just an all-out vegan,” added Okafor.

Okafor is not alone in the NBA’s latest growing trend, with Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, and Wilson Chandler taking up the vegan way of life.

The changing nature of basketball play coincides with this trend. According to Bleacher Report, the NBA has been leaning toward playing ‘small ball,’ a style of play in which the emphasis is placed on leaner athletes who play a variety of positions to outpace and ultimately outrun their opponents. The rise of small ball has seen a decrease in the weight of players since 2013.

It’s important that NBA players on vegan diets have still been able to maintain strength training during the offseason. Performance-wise, players want to increase muscle mass to increase weight, making them more likely to overwhelm an opposing defender when posting up or finishing through a contact at the rim on a layup attempt. Putting on this muscle weight has traditionally been done through high-carbohydrate, high-protein diets.

However, if players add too much muscle, they’ll become too slow to keep up with the faster, more agile players, and they will have endurance issues throughout the game, making them less effective. This can lower minutes on the court in the short term, and, in the long term, it will affect a player’s market value. Vegan diets can allow players to put on enough muscle to stay competitive on the court without running the risk of being too heavy in an increasingly fast game.

Veganism also isn’t unique to the NBA. Despite the rigorous training and dietary requirements in the NFL, 11 members of the Tennessee Titans followed in linebacker Wesley Woodward’s footsteps and adopted a plant-based diet.

Woodward told AP Sports, “My energy level’s gone up… It’s just putting in good fuel to your body. And of course, it’s always hard to keep weight on this time of the season. But it’s worth it for me staying on top of my health.”

NFL quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady both enjoy near vegan diets; Rodgers has cut out dairy from his diet but still indulges in red meat and fish, while Brady credits not consuming dairy or inflammatory foods like peppers, mushrooms, and eggplants to his career’s longevity as he continues to play at a high level at 41.

All things considered, it appears that the traditional idea of bulking up with lots of meat is waning in popularity, and new ideas are being tried, both for competitive purposes and for personal health. It will be up to the players to decide what is right for them.

And while professional athletes are on a different level from the average person, for those of us who are more health conscious, the same benefits on a micro level can be applied here. For example, due to the lower amount of saturated fats and cholesterol consumed in a vegan diet, cardiovascular health is improved, reducing the risk of heart disease. And eating anti-inflammatory foods like kale, spinach, tomatoes, and blueberries can increase energy levels.

In the end, though we aren’t professional athletes, let alone elite basketball players, the fact that more athletes are gravitating toward health conscious options underscores an important emphasis on health and well-being. That should push us toward the ultimate goal of a better lifestyle, on our own terms.