Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Sucks for the Bronco's huh? A team notorious for putting anyone in their backfield and having them go off for 1,000 yard seasons traded away a future Madden cover boy AND draft picks for their eventual third string QB Brady Quinn last year. I've got to give kudos to America with this one though. First ever year that the fans had the say in who gets on the cover. 32 player tournament. Live revealing of the winner on Sportsnation. Just everything brewing for a perfect storm of upset. Hillis vs. Vick: good vs. evil, Mike Alstott 2.0 vs. Cruella Deville, and the #10 seed walked away with the cover! Somebody cue up the Eminem music-
Can't wait until Hillis's contract runs out next season and he inevitably decides to take his talents to South Beach. If that happens I think the city of Cleveland will turn into that town in the movie "The Happening". Just people pencil diving off of buildings like it ain't no thing.
Each day on my way to work I pass by the same news stand in the lobby of my building. Often times I'll shoot a quick glance at the magazine covers, see if anything catches my eye, and then keep it moving. However, yesterday I saw something that made me stop dead in my tracks- the above cover from this weeks TIME magazine. Now I'm not going to pretend like I read this often (or ever), but I do know that it's the world's largest weekly news magazine.
With that kind of circulation and influence, I feel as if this cover story they decided to go with is absolutely ridiculous. Of course their is no such thing as hell. Seriously, think about it for a second. The whole premise that your life is being judged, and when you pass you can either "be saved" (salvation) or get sent down to hell is ludicrous. If that were to be the case then what would be the cut-off? Does a guy who cheats on his taxes, gambles and "sins" occasionaly deserve to share the same eternal harboring as Hitler? And what about the one time offenders? The guys who did something terrible when they were younger because they didn't know any better (gangs etc.), but then changed their ways and lived a positive existence for the next 50 years making a difference in others lives? Are they deserving of an afterlife in hell?
I guess what really drove me so crazy when I saw this cover was the way they phrased it, almost as if everyone out there should believe in this made up place, and now just maybe, people are starting to question it and they should be scared. That is complete BS. Treat others the way you would like to be treated, go out of your way to spread kindness, don't be a dick and whatever happens when you die happens. You can't waste time worrying about something as stupid as that, especially after thousands and thousands of years of human existence have proved ZERO on what happens in the afterlife. That should tell you something right there.
On a more important note, what is TIME doing wasting valuable cover space on such a non current/important subject matter? Last I checked people in Libya were still revolting, people in Japan were still dying, and the threat of nuclear radiation looms heavy over us all. If you have the ability to reach over 25 million people with your work, you have a responsibility to put out the best stories possible, and I feel as if TIME really dropped the ball this week.
Friday, April 15, 2011
agaisnt players virtually unknown to the common fan. Far and away the most recognizable of the participants. Secondly, it was in his teams home town of Los Angeles. And third, Kia, the car company who sponsored the event, brought that car that Blake would go on to dunk over in the finals, into the area beforehand. Paying mega buck$ to use it as a prop. There was no way once that car entered the Staples Center that it would not be used for Blake to jump over for his final dunk. Griffin is an amazing dunker, but if you rewatch the first two rounds of dunks there is just no way that he deserved to advance. Blake's first dunk of the night, the 360 two handed slam off two feet was very impressive, but still not as good as Ibaka's jam from behind the foul line. And Griffin's second dunk, which took 7 attempts just to convert, was a mere off the side of the hoop ally-oop windmill, the same thing DeRozen had just done, only his was between the legs (higher degree of difficulty). You can watch the entire first rd. in the below video and judge for yourselves. Also it should be noted that this was the first year that they didn't cut to the judges holding up the numbers after each dunk (Although they did show Javale McGee's mom tongue kissing them). Instead they just showed the results on a chart on screen, not wanting to a risk a live shot of the judges unknowingly giving Griffin a score too low that would prevent him from the finals.
After a November 2nd game against the Boston Celtics, Charlie Villanueva tweeted that Kevin Garnett called him a "cancer patient" while trash talking on the court. Charlie suffers from a rare disease called alopecia, which prevents him from growing hair on any part of his body, thus somewhat resembling a chemotherapy patient. Garnett has long been widely regarded as one of the most intense, and dirtiest players in the league. Although I don't agree with the way Charlie went about breaking that news to the public (tweeting about it seemed somewhat juvenile and attention seeking ), I find that type of trash talk incredibly offensive and was happy that the country got a better look at Garnett's true colors. Garnett's response to the allegations were that he was calling Villanueva a "cancer to the league", saying that it had nothing to do with his hairless body. Not buying it.
This award is given to the player who finishes up the regular season with the most technical fouls. Dwight Howard tallied 18 of them this year, his most notable one coming in overtime of a late March game against New York. With the team trailing by one with less than 3 minutes to play, Dwight fouled out on an over the back call and proceeded to roll the ball down the length of the court away from the referees. They T'd him up, and the Knicks went on to win by 7. This type of behavior was common for the Orlando big man, who showed great improvement offensively this year (upping his ppg to 23 from 18). Hopefully next year he can make that same quantum leap with his maturity level.
Despite his on the court antics, Dwight wins my Defensive Player of the Year Award. He averaged 14 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, all the while being the driving force behind the Magic allowing under 94 points per game (4th best in the league). To put up that kind of productivity while playing with a barrage of defensive liabilities such as Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, Vince Carter and J.J. Redick really speaks to the type of defensive enforcer D12 is.
Ed. Note- Dwight kept true his reputation, and earned a technical foul in Game 1 against the Hawks today. A game in which Orlando lost 103-93 despite Howard's career high 46 points.
I flip-flopped back and forth on this award between Terry and the Candyman Lamar Odom many times before ultimately deciding on JT. A main reason I went with Terry was because of his offensive contributions off the bench for Dallas. At 16 ppg and 4 apg, he led all non-starters in points per game, and aside from Dirk was the go to guy in crunch time for Dallas. The Mav's overachieved all season, and despite their old age and lack of depth, Terry provided them with consistent production at the 2-guard position.
As for Lamar, he started nearly a third of L.A.'s games, and quite frankly I don't really think he fits the description of this award. Sure he had a great year (14.4/8.7), excelling on the defensive end especially, but 32 starts is a little too much for me to consider you a true 6th man. Put it this way, on any other team in the league he starts, whereas I feel Terry has found a nice little niche coming off the bench in Dallas.
This was far and away the hardest award to choose, but in the end no one showed more growth this past season then Russell Westbrook. After a superb sophomore campaign, Russell elevated his game to new heights; entering the realm of super stardom. He made his first All-Star team, and cracked the top 15 in scoring with a much improved 22 ppg (up from 16 last yr). But what really stood out for me was his newly found clutch gene. He started out this season on a tear, outplaying teammate Kevin Durant for the first two months and never looked back. His 3p% went from a dismal 22% to a respectable 33%, and he showed that he can get to the rim at will with his wide arsenal of one on one moves. Russell's game reminds me of a more explosive Penny Hardaway, he has no ceiling.
Most Valuable Player- Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose possesses every quality that you would look for when trying to decide what makes a player the most valuable. A floor general on the court, Rose put the 2011 Chicago Bulls on his back and led them to a record of 62-20, best in the N.B.A. After landing Carlos Boozer in free agency, a solid consolation prize after missing out on LeBron James, the Bulls expectations rose and many foresaw them finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack, along with the likes of the Hawks, Magic and Knicks. When Boozer went down with a wrist injury in the pre-season, those expectations dropped even lower. But with Rose running the show they didn't miss a beat, and slowly started to turn some heads in the league. By mid-season they were clicking on all cylinders, and that's the same time their leading rebounder, Joakim Noah, went down with a leg injury that sidelined him for 6 weeks. Rose continued to elevate his game to new heights, and in the process became just the third player in the last 30 years to total 2,000 points and 600 assists in the same year.
The point guard conch has officially been passed over to Rose after his spectacular 2011 season. In what was once a great debate between Chris Paul and Deron Williams, now isn't even a question. Rose is alone on the throne. His 25 ppg, 7.7apg, and 4rpg are LeBronesq, and on par with the legendary "Big O", Oscar Robertson. The Bulls won 28 of their last 32 games, including a perfect 8-0 in April, securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs in a brutally top-heavy East. Rose bought into my Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau's defense first game plan, holding opponents to a league best 43% from the field, and 91 points per game.
Derrick put up career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, 3p% and ft% in just his third season in the league. When he wins the MVP this year, he will become the youngest player ever to do so. If he continues to mature, improve and excel at such a high level for the duration of his career, MJ better watch out. There's a new #1 in town.
- C- Dwight Howard
- F- Dirk Nowitzki
- F- LeBron James
- G- Kobe Bryant
- G- Derrick Rose
- C- Pau Gasol
- F- Amare Stoudemire
- F- Kevin Durant
- G- Dwyane Wade
- G- Russell Westbrook
Third Team ALL N.B.A.
- C- Lamarcus Aldridge
- F- Kevin Garnett
- F- Carmelo Anthony
- G- Steve Nash
- G-Manu Ginobili
- Chicago over Indiana in 4
- Miami over Philadelphia in 5
- New York over Boston in 7
- Orlando over Atlanta in 5
- San Antonio over Memphis in 7
- L.A. over New Orleans in 5
- Dallas over Portland in 7
- Oklahoma City over Denver in 5
- Chicago over Orlando in 6
- Miami over New York in 6
- San Antonio over Oklahoma City in 7
- L.A. over Dallas in 6
- Miami over Chicago in 7
- L.A. over San Antonio in 5
Finals- Lakers over MoHeato's in 7 for the 3peat, write it down.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Now I know that Scott Pollard has been out of the league for a few years now, but I think this picture does a good job representing the fire and intensity that I'm bringing for my first annual "N.B.A. End Of The Season "awards column. With the most anticipated regular season the leagues ever had coming to a close tonight, now is a time to sit back and take a look at the year that was in the National Basketball Association. The hype surrounding this past season began last summer when the clock struck midnight on July 1st, officially making a handful of the leagues best players free agents. For the next few days the basketball world went into a complete frenzy filled with predictions and quotes from unidentified "sources" leaking questionable information as to where the likes of Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Rudy Gay, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, David Lee, Chris Bosh and LeBron James would end up. Slowly but surely players started signing with teams, putting some of the mysteries to rest, but it wasn't until King James' one hour comedy special "The Decision" happened that really turned up the heat for the league.
Watching "The Decision" crash and burn in that Greenwhich gym, filled with those irrelevant and unnecessarily children just sitting there awkwardly, while LeBron wore that picnic cloth looking shirt answering such deep questions from Jim Gray as "Do you still bite your fingernails?" was literally like nothing anyone had ever seen before. When LeBron said that he was "Taking his talents to South Beach" it reminded me of those times on TV when they would show old stadiums being demolished, only instead of The Kingdome, it was LeBron's approval rating. And so the bulls eye was placed. The league had their new villains. There was no turning back now.
That was the set up, and what followed was better than anyone could have ever expected. This year was jam packed with story lines and stellar play right from the get go. We saw some familiar faces like Boston, L.A., San Antonio, Dallas and Orlando continue to play at the highest level. But we also witnessed the emergence of perhaps the next generation of great teams with Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City all coming on strong, and sans the Heat, doing better than anyone would have predicted. We saw a rookie set the record for "Most YouTube Hits in a Season" (unofficially) with his breathtaking dunks and a white guy break a 25 year old record for most consecutive games with a double double. The #1 overall pick in the draft taught us how to "Dougie", and a Rose grew to new heights. What we also saw was two teams learning from the free agency mishaps of last summer that the Cavs and Raptors committed, and ended up trading their franchise players mid-season. Which leads us to....
Most Surprising Team- The Denver Nuggets
When the Nuggets traded away Carmello Anthony for the better part of the Knicks roster towards the end of February, no one expected them to stay competitive in the Western Conference. Little did they know it would be the catalyst to an 18-6 run, securing another 50+ win season and a #5 seed in the ultra competitive West. What they lack in star power, they more then make up for in athleticism and shooting, and have proved to be a tough match up on a nightly basis. Also with Coach Karl coming back from his bout with cancer, and getting rid of team cancer Carmello Anthony, the Nuggets have emerged as the feel good success story of the 2011 season.
Most Disappointing Team- The Utah Jazz
Last season the Jazz advanced to the second round of the playoffs before getting swept by the eventual champs, the Lakers. This season they saw their win total drop from 53 to 39 and fell to 11th overall in the Western Conference. Not only did they lose on the court, but they lost long time coach Jerry Sloan, who resigned mid-season due to an ongoing feud with star point guard Deron Williams. To make matters even worse, they then traded Williams (a top 10 talent) for a washed up Devin Harris, and last years #3 overall pick Derrick Favors, despite already having a plethora of big men on their roster. I know they lost Boozer in the off-season, but the addition of Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward (#9 in last years draft) should have been sufficient replacements.
Worst Off-Season Signing- 3 way tie between Joe Johnson, Amir Johnson, and the Suns front-court
Last summer brought us some of the all time "What were they thinking?" GM signings in recent years. However, after having a season to marinate and watch the product play out, I've settled on these three as the worst.
We'll start with Amir Johnson, who in 2010 averaged 6.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg while playing in all 82 games for the Toronto Raptors. Somehow, GM Bryan Colangelo felt this warranted a 5 yr/34 million dollar extension. He contributed with an improved 9/6 respectively per game, bringing his career scoring average up to 5.9. Oh, and the Raptors lost 60 games this year.
Next we have Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, who out of all the great free agents from last summer SIGNED THE BIGGEST CONTRACT!! 6 years at 120 million dollars. He averaged a respectable, 18/4/4, but was unable to propel Atlanta into the upper echelon on Eastern Conference teams, something they were literally and figuratively "banking" on when they gave him that money. Oh, and he shot 30% from beyond the arc this past season. Which is ironic because that's the exact age that he will turn this June.
And lastly, the Phoenix Suns frontcourt combination of Channing Frye, Hedu Turkoglu and Hakim Warick. The deals played out like this- Frye 5yr/30 mil, Turkoglu 4yr/44 mil, and Warick 4yr/18mil. That's a combined 92 millions dollars they spent on three decent players who all play the same position. The irony in all of this is that if they had offered Amare the max extension last summer, which only would have been a few million more then they spent combined on these guys, he would have stayed there! Instead they turned Hedu into Vince Carter, and settled in nicely to the Western Conference cellar.
The “Why Wasn’t This A Bigger Deal?” Story of the Year- Tony Parker cheating on his longtime, gorgeous actress wife with his teammates longtime wife.
This past season a story broke that Desperate Housewives beauty Eva Longoria was divorcing her husband, Spurs star point guard Tony Parker. Longoria had found out that Tony had been cheating on her, but the crazy part of the story was who Tony was having an affair with- his ex. teammate and friend, Brent Barry's wife. This story gained national attention for roughly a week, and then oddly enough was sparingly brought up again. They were one of the most recognizable couples in America, and he was cheating on her with a teammates longtime wife, yet for some reason the story died quickly and it was like no one cared anymore. Maybe it was because Tony is French and people have grown to expect that kind of behavior out of adulterous and notoriously sleazy Frenchmen, but still I figured it would stay a major story, or at the very least effect his play. Nope- the Spurs finished with the best record Western Conference and clinched home court up until the finals.
Quick tangent- I don't feel bad for Brent Barry at all. One time, at the 2008 NBA draft I was sitting a few rows in front of the Barry brothers, Jon and Brent. I had been telling my friends a story about how I once scored 63 points in 3 minutes quarters with Jon Barry in NBA Live '03 vs. my friend Mike freshman year at college, and I asked my friends if would be cool or lame to go up to the Barry's and tell them that story. We agreed that regardless of how creepy it was it would still be funny, so I approached them both and told them the story. The brothers proceeded to stare at me, look at their phones, and laugh to one another. Not one word in response to me. The below YouTube video shows the whole thing, only you can't hear what I'm saying. Karma's a B, Barry.
M.V.T. (Most Valuable Tweeter)- Johnny Flynn (@J_Flynn)
Despite quitting Twitter cold-turkey on February 10th (to reasons unbeknown to me), this Syracuse stud provided us with some of the most memorable, ghetto, embarrassing and ridiculous tweets I've ever laid eyes on. Some of the more note-worthy tweets were as follows:
- Mike Tomlin looking rough. First time I haven't seen him with the fresh line up. It be looking like somebody drew his shape up
- I can't believe its really raining like this in LA!!! I thought it never rained here!!! Please make it stop baby Jesus
- Nas lost me after he started talking about the Solar system and all that. I mean that's cool and all but just not my thing...
- He got arrested the 127th time on Meth & they still let em go. He shoulda been thrown under the jail. Well america is the land of the free
- Lady: aww I remember when u were this tall (motions w/ hand) Me: Well I'm this tall now, what's good? #ICantHelpIt haha
Anytime your tweets per day doubles your points per game, you know your priorities are out of whack. And since we're on this topic, Kris Humpries really did prove this Ty Lawson tweet wrong huh?
The Jodie Foster "Panic Room" Award- Celtics GM, Danny Ainge
In the hours leading up to this February's trade deadline, Danny Ainge made a drastic, rash and uncharacteristic trade that reshaped the Celtics team, and broke their players hearts. Afraid that going into the post season with no real backup for an aging Paul Pierce (a void previously filled by James Posey and Tony Allen) wasn't really a safe idea, Ainge parted ways with team-favorite, big man Kendrick Perkins. In a panicked move, he swapped Perk and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. Rarely does a deal get done, especially with a team as successful as the Celtics, in which the coach, players and fans all disagreed with it. Perkins and Garnett were the ultimate bad boys inside on the defensive end. Here was a player that had been a staple in the paint for them since the days when they weren't any good, and that if he had been healthy for last years game 7 vs. the Lakers, the team felt they undoubtedly would have won the championship. He was Rajon Rondo's best friend. He cried in his locker for hours after hearing the news, not wanting to believe it, and I'm sure he wasn't the only one.
Maybe they wouldn't have had enough money to resign him when he became a free agent. And maybe Jeff Green will snap out of his funk that he's been in and the fans of Boston will finally embrace him. The future is unknown. But what is known is the present, and it's undeniable that the Celtics are a different team without Perking in the middle, and that team is not better than the one they had three months ago. The one advantage they had going up against the Howard's and Bynum's of the post season was that they had a guy down low who wasn't afraid to bump bodies with anyone, and wasn't going to let you push him, or any of his brothers around. And that man is gone. And this title is now up for grabs.
Part 2 of my "N.B.A. End Of Season Mega-Column" will be up on Friday, April 15th. It will feature more superlatives, as well my MVP, DPY, 6M, MIP, COY, All-NBA teams and playoff predictions.