Tag Archives: chicago bulls

The Birthday Confessions Of A Sports Writer

Nothing will ever beat this game.

So I turned —- today (you’ll never get my age ever in life), and I’m currently nursing a hangover thanks to the normal heavy dosage of liquor consumption made possible by my friends (raspberry rum and soda and raspberry vodka and soda are two totally different entities, ugh).

This is hardly the condition I should be in to write a blog especially when there isn’t much to discuss right now.

However, in this silly mind of mine I decided to give you some of my sports confessions.

We as sports writers get our favoritism, views and beliefs in sports at a young age and two things happen; either you stick to your guns or you switch up sides.

I’m the latter of this. Truth is my New York sports bias is a recent thing. I used to…

Wait, let’s do this in a proper numerical style. I mean why give you a drawn out explanation then get into the confessions? I think we’ll do 24 facts, not my age but the number I wanted to wear if I ever got to play with Michael Jordan as a kid because 23 was sort of taken.

1. I hated New York sports teams growing up

Giants, hated them. Yankees, they sucked. Mets, them too. Knicks, yuck. Rangers… That’ll be number two.

My mom forged my sports life as a kid. I loved who she loved because she was a sports nut. She loved Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and the Mets. All I knew was the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, baseball cards and that NY sucked.

I actually cried when the 49ers lost to the Giants in 1991 when they were trying to three-peat. That seems so weird now especially now that I scream at Eli Manning every two seconds and own 8 giants jerseys.

This is how I got into hockey.

(my favorite sports moment is still Super Bowl 23. Me and my mom watched that game on the couch together with me curled up underneath her. As Montana led the 49ers up the field on that last late fourth quarter drive my mom and I slowly pulled away from each other and moved closer to the TV until Montana hit John Taylor for the winning score. You should’ve seen us scream and parade around our house like we had won the Super Bowl. That will never be beat.)

2. I used to hate hockey.

I mean I’m black and from the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My mom hated hockey and so did I. She always thought it was a dumb sport and there were no black players so there was no point for it. Since I followed her lead with everything (except the mets, I wasn’t that dumb) I followed that philosophy.

Then the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup and I watched it all. That hooked me.

I was in Washington D.C. when it happened but I felt the energy of New York. I learned about the 54 year curse, how much of a hockey city New York actually is and how truly bad ass Mark Messier truly was.

After that run you couldn’t pull me away from a hockey game. Even when the New Jersey Devils killed hockey in the late 90’s I was still into it heavy.

(I guess you could say the Rangers made me a New York fan. After that run in 94 I felt that I had to like all New York teams because how could I like teams from other cities when I was a true New Yorker?)

3. I was a Michigan fan growing up. (Florida State too.)

In New York there was no college team team in the area that drew attention. Every Saturday the TV selections were Notre Dame, Florida State on ESPN and the Big Ten on ABC with Michigan on every single week.

Truth is I always wanted to go to Michigan. I loved the colors, the fight song, Brian Griese, Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson… And the fab five… And Glen Rice’s performance against Seton Hall in 1989….

I still have more great Michigan memories than Ohio State memories… AND I WENT TO OHIO STATE!!!

I could point out moments in great games like the Rose Bowl in 1997 versus Washington State, I cried when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary beat Michigan in the Big House, I was so happy when we got revenge in Boulder some years later…

I should probably stop there before all of my Ohio State buddies kill me.

4. I never truly liked Tiger Woods

HELLLLOOOO HEISMAN!

There was always something off about him to me. He was too pristine, too clean. Me being from the projects I felt as though with black men there had to be some nasty streak in you somewhere. Jordan had one, Michael Irvin too, Jerry Rice was a prick at times but Tiger was too perfect.

I didn’t like how he always won and how everyone jumped on his bandwagon. I didn’t like how black people crowned him as our king of the moment when he didn’t seem interested in being black (whatever that means) I just never liked him.

When this scandal tore him down I laughed at him, but it didn’t bother me too much. It was just another athlete taking a nose dive. I don’t feel bad for him, I don’t care that he’s not playing well and honestly I dont care if he ever does again.

5. Maryland made me love Duke

I used to be the biggest Duke hater alive… They beat UNLV when I loved Larry Johnson, they prevented the Fab Five from winning a title, The Laettner shot that beat Kentucky made me want to stab myself… and I couldn’t believe that this many white guys were good at basketball and that they kept beating brothers.

(side note 2: for Grant Hill and coach K to criticize Jalen Rose for saying that Hill was an Uncle Tom because he played at Duke was silly. Everyone in the projects felt like that. We liked Kenny Anderson, baggy shorts and baldies. Hill and any other Dukie was a sellout to us. How could they play with all of these white boys and not there own people? Do I think like that now? Of course not. I understand what coaching can do and that you can ball no matter the color. But still you can’t criticize a guy for saying something that the majority of people like him felt was true.)

Then I moved to Maryland where they hate anything New York; Yankees, Jets, Metrostars it didn’t matter. I didn’t understand the hatred because one, New York wasn’t their rival in anything and two, because it didn’t make sense. It got to the point where I kept hearing Yankees this, Giants that, blah blah blah that I got angry and said that I would hate the Terrapins just out if spite.

And who do Terps fans hate more than anything?… Duke.

So there I was cheering for Duke, the team I always hated but because I wanted to piss Marylanders off I was forcing myself to like.

That’s when I fell in love with Jay Williams, Shane Battier and Carlos Boozer and they had me hooked.

It was Williams especially because he was a Jersey kid and I always liked guys from my neck of the woods. I loved his game, fearlessness and how he ate the Terps for lunch. His ten points in 58 seconds still makes me laugh.

Watching Maryland fans whine and cry more than made up for the Yankees not winning a World Series for ten years.

6. I didn’t care that Brett Hull’s skate was in the crease.

The skate had nothing to do with the goal. Get over it Buffalo.

Dumbest… Rule… Ever!!! So many goals were disallowed because of that dumb rule that never should have been made because half of the time the skates never interfered with the goalie.

Did Hull affect Hasek’s angle? No. Did Hull interfere with Hasek? No. Did he skate in late and come up on the side if Hasek an nothing to do with the goal? Yes.

Ok then. Sorry Buffalo deal with it.

7. My least favorite sports moment as a kid was watching my Oakland A’s get swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

How did Eck, Dave Stewart, Rickey Henderson and my favorite player Mark McGwire not only lose but look awful against the Reds? Was Jose Rijo that good? How about Chris Sabo and Eric Davis? That was the first time in my life where I went to school the next day after a game and couldn’t stop thinking how in the hell that just happened.

The A’s were so much better, they had the pitching, the hitting and the power and they lost to The Nasty Boys?

I need a juice box.

8. Syracuse-Georgetown is the best basketball rivalry in college basketball

John Thompson, Jim Boeheim, Billy Owens, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Sherman Douglas, technical fouls, physical basketball, a loud Carrier Dome and an even louder Capital Center… God I love the Big East.

9. I will always hate Texas A&M football

Why? Because they screwed Michael Bishop out of everything.

A title, a Heisman, and a pro career.

I only watched Kansas State because of Bishop and his speed, arm and instinct. I couldn’t name another Wildcat from that team but I just loved Bishop.

I didn’t care that he was six feet tall or needed some fine tuning. I just knew that once K-State got to the National Championship all the world would see his skill…

And Sirr Parker killed that.

I’m glad the SEC said no to you.

10. I really don’t care who did steroids in baseball

It was legal and it brought the game back.

Where would baseball be if Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t have their home run chase?

Steroids or not that was a magical summer where everyone sat in front if the television and their lives hinged on every at bat. It was awesome; McGwire found the fountain of youth, Sosa emerged as a superstar and the game was popular again.

As much as everyone hides it we love baseball. We all played it, watched it live and have fun at the yard whenever go. The game was suffering well after the strike of 1994 it needed a boost and this was it.

Yeah he did steroids... he also saved baseball.

Did the use get out of control? Yes, but to me it was worth it and I’ll always remember the summer of 1998 as the summer that baseball truly came back.

11. Steffi Graf is my least favorite athlete ever.

She beat Monica Seles who was my favorite women’s player at the time, she beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, she won seemingly every tournament she played and won with ease.

She wasn’t snooty, had no mean strike, no off the court issues… nothing.

She was just a machine, a well-oiled wrecking ball that made Saturday’s at Roland Garros and Wimbledon no fun to watch because you knew she was going to win.

She was the Bulls before the Jordan, golf before Tiger and Yankees before their rise…

And she was a total class act. That’s why I hated her I guess.

12. The only reason why I hate The Pittsburgh Steelers is Super Bowl 40

The Seahawks played against 17 men at a time, the Steelers and the refs. Quite honestly the worst called game ever and the Steelers acted like nothing happened. I still want Mike Holmgren to body slam Bill Cowher.

13. If Ohio State plays Syracuse in anything… I’m cheering for Syracuse

Buckeye Nation is really going to kill me.

Now I was a Michigan fan and I loved the Seminoles but I always wanted to be an Orangeman (and I would’ve if tuition wasn’t $42,000 a year).

Of course in basketball I loved the Orange and always will, however I like Syracuse football as much as I love OSU football.

Those were the Donovan McNabb days when he was slinging it to Marvin Harrison. I had a man crush on McNabb because he was just a beast. He could run it, throw it and make a three pointer every once in awhile. He was the first in the era of the scrambling QB and he made it work.

Harrison I thought was going to be the next Jerry Rice, and he almost was. He made everything look easy and could catch any ball thrown at him. With those two guys I thought it was the beginning if a dynasty at The Cuse on the field…

But we know how that went.

Fast forward to this year and The Cuse is on its way back. Coming off of an 8-5 year Syracuse has an outside shot at the Big East and could win 9 games. I’m honestly more excited for Orange football than Buckeye football.

Maybe it was the scandal, the tats, the selling of rings but I’m over it. I want to cheer for something I can believe in and right now my childhood favorites are trending up. I’m not totally abandoning Ohio State, but if they square off against the Orange I might be in a Syracuse Marathon Men shirt.

I’m looking so bad to the alumni right now.

My man Donovan.

14. I laughed at The Knicks when Reggie Miller scored 8 points in 17 seconds

I mean it was funny.

15. I still think the Ravens fixed Super Bowl 34

THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT BALTIMORE CAN SCORE 34 POINTS!!!! ESPECIALLY AGAINST A TOP FIVE DEFENSE!!! AND I’M STICKING WITH THAT!!!!

16. My first pair of basketball kicks weren’t Jordan’s… They were Ewing’s

That orange and blue with the basketball hanging off the side… C’mon son! They were way fresher than the Jordans.

17. As much as I loved Mark Messier my favorite Ranger is Adam Graves

You ever date a girl who isn’t prettier than other girls that you’ve dated, doesn’t have big boobs, doesn’t have a great body, but makes you happy and does all the little things? That’s Adam Graves. He wasn’t as well known as Messier or Brian Leetch, he wasn’t as rough as Jeff Beukeboom and he wasn’t Mike Gartner fast.

But he always scored goals when you needed them, always killed penalties well and always laid it out in the ice. I was more upset when we traded him to San Jose than when Wayne Gretzky retired… true story.

18. The first game that made me throw a violent tantrum and had me cursing up a storm was the Mariners-Yankees ALDS game 5 in 1995.

Literally cursed so loud that my mom barged into my room and caught me about to tear into my book bag.

I hate that the M’s got into the playlets in the first place with that late season run (I was cheering for then to make it at first because I loved Ken Griffey Jr… Learned that lesson) I hate that Randy Johnson was so unhittable and I hate Jack McDowell because he had no business being out there amongst other reasons for hating him.

When we fired Buck Showalter at the end of the year I was part pissed and part happy. I was happy he was gone but mad that he cost us so many games including that one.

19. Pete Sampras- Andre Agassi is still my favorite sports rivalry.

This was the first sports thing that me and my mom went at each others throats about. She loved Agassi, the image, the hair, the return game and that he seemed like a down to earth guy. I liked Sampras’s nerve, his serve, the way that he played the game. He was the first cerebral athlete that I admired because he always seemed in control.

She called Sampras snooty, I called Agassi a punk, yeah a tennis rivalry broke up our house, weird I know.

It was the tennis that was so great. They were constantly gunning for each other and only measured themselves against each other. Jim Courier, Boris Becker. Stefan Edberg, none of them mattered. Sure they were good competition but Sampras only cared about Agassi and vice versa

You know these Roger Federer- Rafael Nadal matches? Those were three to four times a year for Sampras and Agassi or so it seemed. They were epic and just had you sitting on your hands past the third set.

Man did they hate each other.

They wanted to kill each other I thought. It was the perfect match if wits; Sampras and his finesse versus Agassi and his power. The series never tilted too far in one way. Sampras won his titles as did Agassi but Each has their own bragging point; Sampras won 7 Wimbledon crowns the most ever while Agassi has the career slam.

(side note 3: you know how I know this rivalry was really nasty? Last year in a charity match Sampras teamed with Federer to take on Agassi and Nadal. Agassi and Sampras traded barbs that were more than just smack talk. The crowd and Federer and Nadal just stood there with the crackers looks on there faces. I guess time doesn’t heal all wounds.)

20. The biggest choke job I ever saw was at the 1994 World Cup when Roberto Baggio missed a wide open net in penalty kicks costing Italy a chance at beating Brazil

I didn’t understand soccer at the time and didn’t like it… But even I was saying to myself “how did he miss that?”

21. As much as I hate the SEC, Nebraska is still my least favorite college team

They are still the most overrated program ever. They never threw the ball and no one could stop them. I remember watching the 1996 National Title game against Florida (who I also hated thanks to my allegiance to Florida State) and watch them beat down a team that beat down everyone and I couldnt understand it.

That Tommie Frazier run was the perfect example. You know option right was their bread and butter, they were in position had him stopped, yet 65 yards later the Huskers were up 62-24.

I can’t believe in 1994 that Nebraska and Penn State both finished undefeated but Nebraska won the outright title. PENN STATE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM!!! Kerry Collins, Ki-Jana Carter and Kyle Brady along with that defense would’ve stopped that option I guarantee it.

Same with the split tile in 1997 with Michigan. Michigan was definitely the better team and had a better defense. However, everyone loved Nebraska, the loved Tom Osbourne a his gimmick offense. It ticks me off and I hope Ohio State beats them by 80 this year.

(by the way, you know what could’ve solved the issues of 1994 and 1997? A playoff… Just saying)

22. I still get nervous when I see a Florida state kicker kick

Wide right… Wide right 2… Wide left… That’ll do it to you.

Ugh!

23. I used to love Cal Ripken Jr an thought he was the greatest shortstop ever…

Then I moved to Maryland and heard about Cal so much that I wanted to puke… oh and Derek Jeter happened.

Cal made me want to be a shortstop. He hit for power, drove in runs and was great defensively. He had the iron man streak and everything pulled me in.

I had a serious collection of Cal Ripken cards that I wouldn’t sell for anything…

Then I got older and studied the game more and realized that he was alright.

One, that streak is the most overrated streak ever in sports. Of those 2600+ games only 200 of them were meaningful. He trotted out for so many bad teams and bad years that really the streak took on it’s own life because that’s all there was in Baltimore.

When you look at Brett Favre’s streak in the NFL it is way more impressive because Favre played in title games, won 3 MVP’s, went to the playoff in all but 3 or 4 years and carried his team to victory. Ripken wasn’t even close.

Then there was the fact that he wasn’t a great hitter. He always hovered around .275 and once his power went so did he.

Then there’s this fact… for all of the mess about Derek Jeter’s defense did you know that Ripken has more career errors, more 20+ error seasons and a lower fielding percentage than Jeter.

Maybe we should steer some of this overrated talk in Cal’s direction.

Ripken was good but he isn’t Jeter. Jeter has played in way more important games, come through in the clutch too many times and has made more ridiculous plays than Ripken ever did.

It’s not even close as to who’s better. Jeter is hitting almost .300 and playing decent defense at shortstop at age 37, Ripken was already tanking.

I’m sorry Maryland and baseball critics, Ripken was highly overrated. It just took me a few years to figure it out.

24. My middle school teacher Ms Rodriguez first put it in my head that I should be a sports writer.

We had a project where we had to write something and put it into summary form for class. I used the NHL all-star game for my project. I watched the entire thing took notes, wrote a three page report and talked about in threw minutes or less highlighting Owen Nolan’s hat trick (I still don’t know how he didn’t win MVP that year, the game was in San Jose… He was a Shark… silly voters),

Needless to say I got an A and she, as well as my classmates were really impressed. She told me to stick with it and that I would be a really good writer one day.

Overrated.

I hope she’s right. Writing a blog hungover while spilling your sports guts isn’t fun. However it may be worth it in the end and I might have many more happy birthdays in my future.

Thanks for reading and supporting the blog so far and letting me spew my ridiculousness for all the world to see. Now if you’ll excuse me my hangover is gone and I’m going to try to get a new one.

I might need a few drinks once I hear it from Buckeye fans about what I said.

Sometimes confessions should stay secret.


Chicago’s Time Is One Year Away

Derrick Rose and the Bulls will have to wait until next year.

The Chicago Bulls are not ready to compete for the NBA championship.

Despite their league leading record, having the coach of the year and the MVP, and maintaining a roster of young, talented and energetic players, the Bulls proved after last night’s 101-93 loss to the Miami Heat that they aren’t quite there yet.

Though they are ahead of schedule.

The fact that the Bulls went 62-20 this year without a consistent second scorer and with constant lapses on the defensive end lets you know how good this team can be once it finds a better two guard than Keith Bogans.

Right now this is a one-horse team with a ton of energy guys that when the game is in their they can swing a game in their favor. Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Joakim Noah can outhustle, outwork and out play any player on the opposing bench.  The problem is that when they play a more experienced and composed squad like the Heat they get exposed.

When you watched the Bulls last night you saw just how manipulative their energy can be. Whether its Derrick Rose slamming home two jaw dropping dunks, Noah coming up with huge rebounds or Boozer lifting spirits with an emphatic put back dunk you can tell that this team can wear you out with their hustle and build up a ton of momentum.

But the reason why this team isn’t ready for primetime is their reaction to receiving a counterpunch or when they can’t muster up any energy at all. Once LeBron James rocked home a monster dunk late in the third quarter and Mike Miller ran off a string of huge shots the Bulls went into a catatonic state.

Their was no offensive mojo, Korver couldn’t knock down a jumper, Watson and Boozer couldn’t create their own shot, Noah was ineffective and Rose either forced a bad pass, took an off balanced shot or just dribbled with no end in sight.

To put it plainly they look like a mess when only Rose is the only person that can find his shot and no one is in a rhythm.

Their inexperience isn’t uncommon. The old adage in the NBA is that young teams don’t win titles, the old guys do. The Bulls haven’t played in enough games like this together to know what to do or what to expect in the moments. Give these guys another year and another piece or two and they’ll be primed for the big moment.

The Bulls are following the same blueprint as their fellow stadium tenants.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than the team that they share the United Center with during the season.

The Chicago Blackhawks were in the same boat as the Bulls two years ago heading into a Western Conference Finals showdown with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Hawks were an extremely young nucleus that was coming together before our very eyes and were setting the league on fire. Patrick Kane was lighting up the playoffs with a hat trick that buried the Canucks, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were Norris Trophy like defense that could swing a game with their physicality… and none of it mattered once the Red Wings got on the ice with them because the Wings were too experienced and too battle tested for the novice Hawks.

After their 5 game debacle the Blackhawks came back last year to run through Nashville, Vancouver and San Jose to make the Stanley Cup Finals and roll to a title.

The Hawks learned from their mistakes, added Marian Hossa for goal-scoring help and knew how to handle the big moments late in the game one year later. The Bulls are in the same boat.

They have to lose to the Heat to get to where they want to be. They have to endure an offseason of what ifs and could’ve been’s in order to seize the NBA title. In other words you have to lose it before you can win it.

Their 62 wins and regular season dominance wasn’t an aberration by any stretch of the imagination. Think of it as a preview of things to come. The Bulls have the talent, but not all of the pieces in place.

They need one more year of seasoning and this Eastern Conference Final heartbreak to fuel their future title runs. They need a consistent shooter and another guard that can find his own shot and take pressure off of Derrick Rose to do it all. They need to learn how to keep their composure in the big moments. Right now they don’t know how.

They will learn though. By this time next year you should be seeing Chicago back in the Eastern Finals ready to make a run for the NBA title and coming up big in big moments.

If you question my prediction then look no further than the Stanley Cup banner of the Blackhawks last year. Jonathan Toews and company did it, Derrick Rose and company will too.


The Heat’s Latest Surge Still Doesn’t Make Them Contenders

Chris Bosh is finally stepping up, but the Heat are still a long way from being title ready.

THE HEAT ARE BACK!!!! Calm down people.

Yes the Miami Heat have won three and in impressive fashion. It started with a 94-88 win over the red-hot L.A. Lakers, then came a 118-85 blowout of playoff contender Memphis and then tonight might have been the most impressive of them all, a 110-80 whipping of the San Antonio Spurs.

This comes two weeks after the Heat went to Texas and got it handed to them by that same margin.

What’s changed you ask, mainly it had been the resurgence of Chris Bosh. The much maligned, overpaid power forward has been on a tear he’s averaging a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds while shooting over 60% from the field. He has finally begun to the look like the premier power forward that he has been hyped up to be as he has dominated the post against the Lakers big men, Zach Randolph and tonight against Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess.

In addition to Bosh, the Heat defense has clamped down instead of lapsing in key moments like it did the previous two weeks against the Bulls, Knicks and Magic. They’ve allowed an average of only 84 points per game in the last three and have limited the scoring outputs of Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili and Randolph.

In a span of two weeks the Heat went from looking like a team that could fall to a four seed instead of the Eastern Conference contender that they have resembled in the last 5 days.

Now for the bad news straight from the mouth of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, “”They needed the game more than us.”

You’re probably wondering so what, Manu’s probably just mad that the Spurs got taken to the woodshed, think again.

The Spurs and Lakers are pretty much in the clubhouse at the top of the Western Conference. While neither team looked good in Miami they really don’t need to.

Their standing in the playoffs is a given, for Miami it’s still a dogfight. Miami is still chasing Boston and Chicago for a top 2 seed in the East while the Spurs and Lakers are trying to get some rest before the playoffs. Even the Grizzlies are sitting pretty at the 8 spot with Utah and Phoenix fading fast.

Miami has finally proven that they can hang with the big dogs, but it might be too little too late.

They only play Boston one more time before the playoffs and that’s the 80th game of the year when they are in rest mode. After Oklahoma City on Wednesday they have a cakewalk to the finish line and are still an unfinished product.

These three wins are an aberration. I still think that they are the third best team in the East with Chicago and Boston standing in front of them and both of those teams are more complete products.

So while the Heat enjoy their recent morale boost it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still not in proper shape to contend in the East. Though finally beating the big dogs does raise awareness as to how good they can be.


Noah’s Injury A Huge Loss For The Bulls

Just when the Bulls were starting to get rolling, another big man goes down for what many thought was the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.

Losing Noah is a huge blow to the Bulls.

Joakim Noah is now out for up to ten weeks after re-aggravating a thumb injury that was originally diagnosed November 27th. This comes after the Bulls just got Carlos Boozer back after missing the first five weeks with a lower body injury.

Noah was the emotional leader of the team and was averaging 14 points and 12 rebounds a game and is in the top five leaders in the league in rebounding.

Now the Bulls will have to turn back to Taj Gibson who filled in well for Boozer and Omar Asik.

The question is can the Bulls maintain their recent string of winning habits with their second best player out of the lineup?

The Bulls had won 7 straight with Noah in the lineup. Although six of their seven games look like wins a road matchup versus the suddenly hot Knicks and early MVP candidate Amare Stoudamire could prove to be tricky.

Also down the road the Bulls face tough matchups with San Antonio, Orlando an Miami and Noah’s inside presence would’ve been huge against Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard.

Whatever the case the Bulls have to do without one of the league’s best centers for awhile. They made it without Boozer and came out well for the ware and now they get a new test without Noah

Hopefully their recent run isn’t slowed and the Bulls can maintain their momentum.


Dark Days In Miami (NBA Preview)

Lebron James... welcome to the darkside.

So… anything interesting happen in the NBA since last June?

Unless you’ve been under a rock then you know about the Miami Heat trying to buy their way to a championship. Sorry if I sound a little bit bitter while writing this. Keep in mind I live in Ohio now and in case you haven’t been attention again these people aint happy LeBron James dipped out on them to Miami. Of course I didn’t care about it much, I’m a Knicks fan WE GOT AMARE STOUDEMIRE IN THE GREAT SUMMER OF 2010… (Crickets chirp).

Back to James and Cleveland and everything in between. The controversy surrounding the decision and what was said in the aftermath I have already covered, the funny thing about it is how it continues to linger as Miami rises to the top of everyone’s list and Cleveland is in the running for Harrison Barnes in next year’s draft.

Cleveland number one has to get over it. It’s happened, there’s nothing you can do about it. LeBron is the new Art Modell a get that, but LeBron didn’t do anything for you all other than block some shots, dunks some balls and have a puppet. He hit one game-winning shot in his entire career and that was against mighty Golden State. In other words you had the new age Dominique Wilkins playing for you. I know the Q won’t be the same on game nights but you gotta let this go.

As for LeBron… well… he needs a new PR guy. I think I’ve learned that LeBron, the attention hog that he is really isn’t that smart when it comes to the media. The GQ interview where he stated that no one in Akron like Cleveland, fail. The reposting of hateful tweets, fail. The promise that he’s taking mental notes and it’s pushing him harder than before (until he gets to the playoffs and fizzles again), fail. I can’t believe this but we’ve actually found a sensitive athlete who cares more about perception of himself than anything to replace Alex Rodriguez.

First off this whole monster was his creation. From not being honest about free agency from the jump, to The Decision, to that interesting commercial that was just released where he goes off on everyone and says he won’t be what you want him to be. I’m sorry LeBron that all we wanted you to be was the media hyped sensation that you created by taking Jordan’s number, calling yourself “The Chosen One” and then fleeing to Miami with a big middle finger to the 216. See the bitterness is still there and I’m not even a Cavs fan.

(Side note: LeBron’s “Rise” commercial, and Tiger Woods’s commercial after his return from the incident that he still refuses to discuss were the most uneasy, uncomfortable and biggest ego stroking moments of two athletes who aint too well liked right now. What’s next? The Ben Roethlisberger commercial where he confesses some of his missteps in the last year? Nike, just sell some damn shoes.)

Sick of them yet? I am.

LeBron isn’t the only star than played a city, While Chris Bosh has about as much affiliation with Toronto as I do with Baltimore the way he put on a dog and pony show in front of them reeks of discrepancy. It’s not like Bosh ever won anything either, Bosh is a mid-level star who just so happened to be in the same draft as his two new teammates James and Wade. Bosh couldn’t carry the Raptors to the playoffs let alone carry himself to elite status so he decided to join forces and be Ringo to James and Wade’s Paul and Lennon. The whole thing was plotted ever since they won gold in the Olympics and the last two years they’ve been doing things to hide the scent of their obvious trail. The scenario wreaks of jealousy, greed, sloth and lust…ITS EVIL I TELLS YA!!

I actually had a Facebook status about this awhile ago just as a joke, think about this for a second; three men sign 6 year deals…. To play for the Heat… leave two cities in destruction… all for their own greed and purpose…get it? 3 guys, 3 headed monster, 6 year deals 666? Heat, hell fire? Greed? Destruction? IT’S THE TEAM OF SATAN!!!!

Ok not really but you have to think someone’s not happy about and already the Heat have injury problems from Wade’s hammy to Mike Miller’s injury that has him out until January. So the “Yes We Did” machine has slowed considerably in Miami.

Yet the NBA championship is still the main goal of this team. While they have some competition for the crown, it aint much. The NBA has turned into a 5 team league  with a bunch of exciting players that will wither be like LeBron and join forces with another player to build a contender, or do it the Kevin Durant way, do it yourself like all of the legends did.

While everyone is so excited about the start of the season I could honestly care less. The league isn’t anything special until after the all-star break. Except for LeBron’s return to Cleveland in December I could care less about this season. it’s like my feelings on La Liga, I have to be interested in more than two teams to care about a league, and in the NBA there’s only 5 teams out of 30 that matter, Orlando, Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston and the Lakers (apologies to Dallas but you’re not their yet). While to some it makes for appealing basketball I’m more into the middle tier of teams Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland and the Clippers… yes Clippers I said it.

Come on Blake Griffin is back from injury, Eric Gordon is looking to continue his momentum from a great World Championships  and the team looks like it can be competitive enough to make the playoffs. The Gordon-Griffin combo is especially exciting to watch because of the possibilities  of what could become of these two, just keep in mind, these are the Clippers, anything can happen.

I’m also intrigued by Sacramento with Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins leading a young team that could be the next Oklahoma City. There is a ton of young talent in the league in places that they can build up to challenge some of the guard within the next few years. There are some special things brewing in Milwaukee as Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut lead a team that would be a Eastern Conference contender if not for the constant attention given to Miami.

Another team that looks intriguing is Minnesota. Granted they won’t come near the playoffs but they’ll be interesting with a new up tempo style of play and do it all wingman Wesley Johnson flying all over the place.

Kobe aint the only reason to watch games at staples this year

Yeah it sounds nice to give the little guy some pub, but  it is all about the Heat and since Satan’s squad is getting all of the pub here are some angels that could rescue the NBA from the on court Armageddon.

DWIGHT HOWARD

In case you haven’t noticed the Heat have no inside presence at all. Bosh can’t guard any athletic big men, let alone the best center in the game. This has to be the year where Howard stops being so nice and turns into an animal. Even Superman knew when it was time to stop being a Good Samaritan and beat some ass. This is Howard’s time. Florida has been his state for the last three years and he and the Magic are on the verge of being overtaken. If Howard’s offseason workouts were really serious and he did get better then the Magic could make a run back to the finals.

KEVIN DURANT AND OKLAHOMA CITY

I really, really want them to take it to L.A. this year but they are still one year away. Durant is the real deal beyond a shadow of a doubt. He’s the guy that really wants to be the man in the big situation and doesn’t shy away from attention. It doesn’t hurt that he has Russell Westbrook breaking ankles at every turn and Jeff Green doing everything at both ends. With the King settling for becoming a prince Durant is now the man to beat for MVP and the next in line for the title of best in the league.

BOSTON’S BIG THREE

Don’t tell me that they don’t want a shot at Miami’s big 3. Boston might be old but the old legs still have life in them as well as Rajon Rondo running the point. If they stay healthy they get to finals due to their depth, if they break down then Danny Ainge may want to start the rebuilding process.

CARMELO ANTHONY

Did you hear Carmelo wants out of Denver? If you saw what that team was like you would too. Carmelo desperately wants to be a Knick along side of Amare with the possibility of Chris Paul joining them. Now that’s a big three.

But back to Melo for a minute. In that class of 03 with Wade, James and Bosh, Melo always seems to be the forgotten man. He’s t he best pure scorer in the league who whopped LeBron in Cleveland last year with a game winner at the buzzer. Carmelo has the potential of being the best in the league but he needs help more than anyone else. If he becomes a Knick with that much talent and possibly Paul following him than Carmelo may be the man to beat for the next few years.

DERRICK ROSE AND JOAKIM NOAH

Not Batman and Robin, just two dudes who back down from nothing. Come playoff time they’ll bruise the Heat inside and out.

KOBE BRYANT

Yeah, um, I'm still here incase you forgot.

 

Yeah… him… he’s still walking around. Injured or healthy there’s no one better that will bring it night in and out. Who would’ve thought five years ago we’d be talking about Kobe in a better light than LeBron. Kobe is the old-school player that we all admire. He wants the ball late, he plays the best offensive player on the floor, and he fears nothing. He’s also one ring away from matching the man that we all compare him to, Jordan. He knows this. He knows that his time is limited for as long as he’s played and the injuries that are piling up. You also know that none of this mattered as soon as he saw James, Wade and Bosh standing together and saw the entire world claim them as title favorites.

Kobe is a monster. He never forgets anything, ask Shaq. His motivation right is winning a title and if the Heat get in the way then destroy them. Kobe is still the best player in the league no matter who is walking around be it Durant, CP3 or Prince James. He’s also got (in no particular order) Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and a cast of shooters and role players that once again make the Lakers the real team to beat. Betting against Kobe is not smart, no matter whom Miami just acquired.

So sorry Miami for all of your hype, antics, controversies and other offseason craziness you’ve built up you won’t win the NBA title this year. That will once again go to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers will save the NBA from Satan’s minions and keep the promise of good basketball alive for another year. However, you know evil never sleeps and anything can happen. I just hope it doesn’t involve the Heat in any way possible, they bring the anger out of me as a writer. Guess they’re doing Satan’s work well.

ATLANTIC- BOSTON

CENTRAL- CHICAGO

SOUTHEAST-MIAMI

PLAYOFFS- ORLANDO, ATLANTA, MILWAUKEE, NEW YORK, INDIANA

NORTHWEST- OKLAHOMA CITY

SOUTHWEST- DALLAS

PACIFIC- L.A. LAKERS

PLAYOFFS- UTAH, PORTLAND, CLIPPERS, SAN ANTONIO, HOUSTON

ECF- MIAMI VS. ORLANDO

WCF- LAKERS VS. OKLAHOMA CITY

FINALS- LAKERS VS. ORLANDO

MVP-KEVIN DURANT

6TH MAN- TY LAWSON

DPOY- JOAKIM NOAH

MOST IMPROVED- JRUE HOLIDAY

ROY- BLAKE GRIFFIN

COACH OF THE YEAR- TOM THIBODEAUX


The Great NBA Playoff Unknown

The matchup everyone wants might not be the one that they get.

Don’t believe everything that you have read, heard, or even seen.  Don’t believe the little playoff simulators, the odds makers, trends, blah blah blah.

The NBA second season has officially arrived, and everyone thinks they have it all figured out. Cavs-Lakers, Cavs-Mavs, Magic-Lakers… honestly you don’t know nothing.

The reality is that the last three weeks of NBA basketball was not only boring and uneventful, but it lulled everyone to sleep and has given fans, players and writers a false sense of security. Once the top 8 clinched in the west, teams were “jockeying” for position when in reality it didn’t matter who was playing who in the first round as long as it wasn’t the Lakers. The Jazz, Nuggets, Spurs, Suns, Blazers and Thunder could’ve finished 3-8 in any order and it wouldn’t have mattered (and still doesn’t, it’s either the Lakers or Mavericks in the finals). No team is dominant; they have issues somewhere and won’t stand a chance in the Western Conference finals… see that’s what you are supposed to be thinking right?

Ok I’ll stop messing with your heads and get down to it… ANY TEAM CAN WIN THE TITLE THIS YEAR! THERE IS NO FAVORITE! No team is truly dominant, every team has a big problem, anything can happen, whether your coach and GM get into an MMA fight, or your center and alpha dog two guard are beefing (again) or you’re just counting the days until your star players bolt for greener pastures (ahem Miami, Cleveland) there are concerns on every team that could eventually kill their chances.

There are chemistry issues in Chicago and Los Angeles, concerns about lack of experience in Oklahoma City, questions of age in Boston and San Antonio, injuries in Portland, Denver, and Milwaukee, and teams that may put too much pressure on themselves knowing that things could be different next year in Cleveland and Atlanta.

Here are some logical yet crazy situations that could happen over the next two months:

Oklahoma City can beat the Lakers. Even though Phil Jackson just mind-bleeped Kevin Durant. The concern is youth for the Thunder, but what about the dysfunctional family that is L.A.? Are they focused enough to repeat with Kobe chucking up shots again, Pau Gasol spewing venom at Kobe and Ron Artest fading late in games. Couldn’t you see Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor off of the bench going hog wild into the paint and creating havoc? This isn’t a chip in for the Lakers, the Thunder are Hungry and ready to jump on whoever is in their path. Plus this is the most underrated defense team in the league, Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha will give Kobe fits.

Boston could get to the Eastern Conference finals. Everyone has them left for dead due to age and health. They won’t be together past next year as Ray Allen looks to be gone and Doc Rivers may leave. I just have a feeling that the Celtics have been playing dead for months. They got off to a hot start then hit the cruise control button and had some questionable losses to horrid teams. Yet last week when they played the Cavaliers you saw the fight come out in them, KG cursing up a storm, Allen dropping 33 and just an all-around gutsy performance. They understand that 60 of the 82 games of the season are pointless and the real season is the postseason. Maybe after game 30 they just said you know what, we’ll get a top 4 seed just let everything fall into place. Crazy, but not out of the question.

They're well rested and ready to roll.

San Antonio could win the NBA championship. See Boston. Just in reverse

The Nuggets could pull it together and make a finals run. The first 40 games of the season this was the true life scenario of the NBA: Carmelo was MVP, the Nuggets were neck and neck with the Lakers and no one team in the NBA could matchup with them. After Carmelo’s injury here’s what happened: George Karl gets cancer, Kenyon Martin gets injured (again) and goes batty on a trainer, Ty Lawson gets injured, Chauncey Billups gets injured, and the Nuggets fell apart. The Mavs, Suns and Jazz all past them in the standings and left the Nuggets for dead. Yet they have home court in round one and seem to be in good health, plus we know how iffy Utah is even with a MVP-like season from Deron Williams. It’s possible that they can regain some steam and make a run even past the Lakers.

The Jazz, Suns, Mavs, and Hawks could all get bounced in the first round. The Jazz are terrible on the road, the Blazers can keep up with the Suns even without Brandon Roy. The Hawks and Mavs are interesting and here’s why:

  1. Both teams are versatile at all five positions and off the bench.
  2. They have superstars that put up numbers, but have a reputation of fading in close games.
  3. They both had great runs from the midseason on, Dallas through the Caron Butler trade and Atlanta finally coming together after years of playing together.

Yet I don’t feel secure in trusting these guys in their first round matchups at all. Dallas draws San Antonio in the first round and Atlanta draws a scrappy Milwaukee team without Andrew Bogut, both Scott Skiles and Gregg Popovich are better coaches than Mike Woodson and Rick Carlisle and most importantly… ITS DALLAS AND ATLANTA! They’re underachievers! They may get to the second round and that’s it. I have no faith in either of these teams, especially Atlanta which is highly combustible and Joe Johnson may have a foot out of the door already.

Chicago could beat Cleveland… in 5 games. Don’t laugh. I know Vinny Del Negro and John Paxson almost beat the crap out of each other a week ago. I know you couldn’t get a lick off of that bench. I know there isn’t a being on earth, let alone on Chicago, that can guard Lebron James, but in 3 of 5 positions on the floor, Chicago is better that Cleveland. Consider this if you will, did you watch Cleveland without Lebron down the stretch? Terrible. Awful. Without James they are a 36 win team period. Mo Williams can’t guard Derrick Rose (and will go into hiding around game 3), Big Z, Shaq and Anderson Varejao will get housed by Joakim Noah, it’s almost amazing how quickly we’ve forgotten the motor on this guy. When the games get tougher, Noah steps his game up. He’s been a big game player since his days at Florida and its finally coming out in his third year in the league. The biggest piece though is Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich has almost been dealt 85 times in the last 3 years and has been shuttled in and out of the lineup the last two years. He’s now playing off guard and guarding the opponent’s best shooter and making their lives hell. If Delonte west, Boobie Gibson or Jamarrio Moon can’t shake Hinrich, then Lebron could be making plans for New York sooner than we think.

Orlando will win the title. They’re angry. Dwight Howard led the league in blocks, rebounds, and technical fouls. Stan Van Gundy is chipping away at other stars credibility. Matt Barnes is grilling Kobe Bryant and picking fights with other team’s big name players. J.J. Redick has grown an angry new do… okay so some things are more fearful than others. The Magic still made a bad deal in essentially letting Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee go and thinking that Vince Carter is a go to guy this late in his career (and that its Vince Carter, he normally mails in it around February). Yet this team of any in the league is the most complete and the most focused. There is no chatter between Howard and Stan Van Gundy, no crazy side story involving an injured point guard, no big injuries, no nothing. Their quite normal compared to everyone else in the playoffs. They beat L.A. at home in a rough and tumble game that saw the fight come out of the Magic. They’ve only lost three times since March all to three playoff teams. They’ve been the most consistent team all year long save for losing 7 of 9 early in the year. You go into Magic games knowing what to expect from minute one to forty-eight, Redick giving you points off of the bench, Mikael Pietrus shutting down the opponent’s best player, and no one getting anything inside on Dwight Howard. They’re the model of consistency that most teams crave to be and want, and it should carry them to a title…

Or Los Angeles could win, or Dallas could prove me wrong, or Cleveland will whip Chicago. Who knows, just be glad that the slow crawl to the end of the regular season has past and that the real season is about to begin. Just don’t be surprised by whatever happens until June. You think you know what’s going to happen. Keep in mind, you don’t.