Friday, June 26, 2009

NBA Draft and Trade Analysis

What a crazy day it was both in and out of the sports world. As everyone probably knows by now, Michael Jackson passed away yesterday at the age of 50. While I love his music and recognize him as one of the true legends in music history, I can't really say that I am sad he is gone. It really is more tragic than sad, because of all the things that have gone on in his life. It's confusing to me that everyone said he was a child molester and freak for the last two decades but now claims to be his biggest fan. Society confuses the hell out of me. Anyway, I wrote a long tangent on how I really feel, but realize this isn't the right time. One thing is for sure, we will probably never ever see anyone like him again, for better or worse.

Last night was the NBA Draft and truthfully the trades that happened this week were more exciting than anything that happened at Madison Square. The Cavs getting Shaq will definitely make them better, but not push them over the top. They still need an athletic forward who can score and defend the 4 position. What a life Shaq has. People always said Kobe couldn't win without Shaq, but can Shaq win without a Hall of Fame Guard? The Magic getting Vince Carter from the Nets was a great move I think. With Hedo Turkoglu potentially opting out of his contract they need someone to fill that void. If Turkoglu stays, the Magic will be almost impossible to stop.

If you asked me yesterday, I would've said the Wizards made a good trade getting Randy Foye and Mike Miller for Etan Thomas, scrubs, and the #5 pick. However, when Ricky Rubio dropped to #5 last night I couldn't help but think how potentially devastating this could be if Rubio turns out to be great. Here's the thing, the Wizards will be better with Foye and Miller but not great. With Rubio they could've been worse or potentially great in a few years. The NBA Draft is a gamble and if you are a Wizards fan you have to hope Rubio doesn't turn into the next Steve Nash. I also really like the Spurs trade for Richard Jefferson. This puts them right back in contention in the West if Ginobli stays healthy. Also, for all the idiots who booed Hansbrough last night I bet you he is at least a top 8 player in this draft. The fact is he won't ever be a star but he'll be a solid bench guy for 10 years, and how many players can you say that about. Seriously, how many players actually pan out in the draft to be even decent players in the NBA. Like one analyst said, he is the "comfort food" of the draft.

That brings me to my final point. Everyone has really hated on this draft as being one of the worst in years. Maybe it is, but no one really knows how good or bad a draft is until about 3 years down the road. Did anyone know Paul Pierce would be the NBA Finals MVP when he was drafted by the Celtics. Hell, even Michael Jordan wasn't predicted to be anything better than a really good player, who "couldn't carry a team." In this day and age it seems we have to rate everything immediately. We see a close game and claim it to be the best ever. We see a draft and rate it as the worst in 10 years. As sports fans we have lost all patience. What is the use in rating drafts anyway, everything will pan out like it is supposed to. Does anyone truly know if Ricky Rubio will be good or not? Does anyone know if any of these guys will be good? The only real sure thing I can ever remember in a draft was Lebron. Most of these guys are so young anyway that it will take at least a few years to develop. Plus the fact that a lot of the top guys are put on horrible teams scews how good they really are or can be. But is is all in fun in the end. Arguing about sports is not a science. It is all opinion and that is why we love it.

Thanks everyone for reading. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life after Basketball

I want to start off this blog by sending my condolences to all the friends and family of those that were killed in the DC Red Line metro crash yesterday. I've been on the metro so many times, and it is just scary to think that these events could happen to anyone at anytime.

I have kind of a strange blog today. With basketball over, I have to start covering sports that I have less knowledge and interest in. I found that there may be life after basketball after all. The US Open in golf took place last weekend, amidst a flood of rain that left Bethpage Black a soggy mess. The usual suspects, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, were right there to the end, but an unlikely qualifier Lucas Glover prevailed. That is the crazy thing about golf. These unknowns can win major championships and then are never seen again. That doesn't happen in basketball, football, tennis, or really any other sport. Your not going to have the Clippers winning the Finals, your not going to have a qualifier win Wimbledon, the US isn't going to beat Brazil in soccer(or could they...) Anyway, the only reason I watched, and I assume it was the same with 80 percent of the public, was Tiger Woods. The Phil Mickelson story was heartwarming, but without Tiger there is no golf. Makes you wonder what is going to happen in that sport when he retires.

I also watched some soccer this weekend. Soccer on the World stage is a different sport than MLS. Watching Brazil play was just amazing. How can they do that with their feet? I remember going to Brazil as a kid and seeing people play on the beach past midnight. It is crazy how a sport can be so popular around the world but not in the US. In my opinion it is because Americans need instant gratification. We want scoring and lots of it, and sports like soccer and hockey just don't provide that. Also, congratulations to the US Soccer team for advancing to the semifinals against Spain Wednesday. Let's hope they can advance and face Brazil(most likely) in the finals.

Wimbledon got under way yesterday in London. For those of you who don't know, Roger Federer is looking to make history this fortnight. If he wins, it will be his 15th major championship, which will surpass Pete Sampras for most all time in men's tennis. Again, we are watching the greatest player ever in his sport right now. He is more dominant in tennis than Woods is in golf. Think about this, he has gotten to 15 of the last 16 championship matches. Can you imagine anybody doing that ever again, it is nearly impossible. Anyway, Pete Sampras is my favorite player ever but I can't think of anyone I'd rather see break the record than Federer. He plays the game the right way and for anyone who has played or knows anything about tennis, they know how amazing he truly is at his craft.

NBA Draft is Thursday and I'm hoping these rumors about potential trades of Rondo or Ray Allen for a high pick are not true. I understand the Celtics need to look to the future, but we can get another title with the nucleus we have now. With a healthy Garnett I'm pretty sure they would've won it all last year. Unfortunately, I have no control over this situation so I guess we will see.

Thanks for reading everyone. Comments are appreciated!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Congrats to the Lakers

This is going to be one of the hardest blogs I've ever had to write. I'm convinced that my biggest obstacle to being a sports writer, besides the fact that I'm probably not nearly talented enough, is that I won't ever be able to cover sports in a impartial way. But here it goes....

Congratulations to the Lakers for winning the 2009 Championship. Am I bitter? Maybe just a little, but I do think the Lakers were the best team this year, especially without Garnett being in the mix. I'm also not one of those people you see in the Espn comment boards, that are ignorant and just hate on teams or player to hate on them. The Lakers were clearly better than this Magic team. Even though the series could've been 3-1 in the Magic favor, it was mostly because the Lakers didn't play their best basketball. I thought Game 5 was a really good indicator of how the rest of the series should have gone. They had the best player in the league and probably the best, or at least the most successful coach of all time, plus all the playoff experience. The Magic have some really good players, but their best player, Dwight Howard, is still extremely raw, and their point guards are inconsistent. This Magic team could be a force in the years to come though.

I've talked a lot about my dislike for the Lakers. But the truth is, I really only dislike Kobe Bryant. Kobe is an incredible player, probably one of the top 10 ever, but he is no Jordan. I think my respect and love for Jordan makes me dislike Kobe, and I will admit that it is a dumb reason to dislike someone. Kobe showed me something in that final game last night though. He finally showed that leadership quality and willingness to defer to teammates that I never saw with him before. This Lakers team is more deep and talented than any Bulls team Jordan had, but still Kobe is what makes them go, and his dedication and passion to the game is something to be admired.

I've always loved Phil Jackson as a coach. People always talk about how he has always had a superstar on his team, but what coach hasn't? Also, it takes a special coach to be able to coach superstars and teach them how to play within a team system. Plus, any success in professional sports, the NBA especially, is determined by the talent on your team. You could be the greatest coach of all time and still not get the Clippers to the playoffs. As much as I love Red Auerbach, he played in an era where three or four teams were good, and there wasn't anywhere near the depth of talent there is today. Plus the fact that they played two less playoff series and there was no free agency. That is why it is so hard to compare players and coaches from different eras. Anyway, congrats to the Lakers, but the Celtics will be coming for them next year!

Ahhh, basketball is over and with no Olympics or World Cup this summer I have officially reached the low point of my sports year. I really wish I was more of a baseball fan. I do love the Red Sox, but it is just painfully boring to watch. Plus, none of the regular season games really mean anything because there are about 1,000 games in a season. The good news is, with a two month wait till football season, it will give me a chance to talk about some sports related memories and thoughts from my own life. Thanks everyone for reading!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kobe Chokes away Game 3

I have so much to talk about in today's blog, but I am going to attempt to keep it short and sweet. It's amazing to me that the two biggest superstars of our league, the muppets themselves Kobe and Lebron, have been such choke artists late in games these playoffs. Last night in Game 3 Kobe missed five foul shots, including a huge free throw with less than one minute remaining. He also missed two open threes that would've tied or given the lead. The biggest gaff of them all happened when he had the ball stolen from him by Michael Pietrus to all but seal the game. I always thought the great ones got better as the game went on. Kobe started off on fire, scoring 17 first quarter points, but got progressively worse as the game went on. Can everyone please stop the MJ comparisons now. Jordan never lost in the finals and always showed up and was clutch in the closing minutes.

The sad thing is, the Lakers will likely win this series, and Kobe will most likely win MVP, though Pau Gasol has been the MVP so far. Sportscenter and the other media outlets will do their comparisons, and hype up Kobe, when in reality Kobe lucked out. He didn't have to face Lebron or a healthy Celtics team. Even in this series, they should be down 2-1. If Courtney Lee makes that layup we are talking about this series in a totally different way. Phil Jackson even said that play was probably a goal tend on Pau Gasol.

That always fascinates me about sports coverage. One made or missed shot can totally alter how the media portrays a game, team, or player. That shot goes in for the Magic in game 2 and people are talking about the Lakers underachieving, rather than the great Lakers team. It's been an interesting series for me, because I've had to go from rooting against the Magic to rooting for them. I've really grown to like this Magic team and how they play. Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are probably two of the most underrated players in the game and really fun to watch. I love Mickael Pietrus too. He has been the X-factor in the series and has done a great job on Kobe. He also somehow got away with the most obvious double dribble in the history of basketball last night. I think my grandma could've called that one, but if nothing else it was amusing. In conclusion, I think the Lakers will still win this series, but it is definitely going back to LA for at least a Game 6.

In other news, another Red Sox win over the Yankees last night. That makes them 6-0 vs. the hated Yanks this season, and puts them in a tie for first place in the AL East. Big Papi hit another home run and seems to be slowly coming out of his slump. No matter how bad he is now, if you are a Red Sox fan you should never boo him. He is the reason you won two titles and broke the curse. Fans often times are too quick to forget their heroes, and only live in the here and now.

One last thing, for anyone who ever wants to compare Kobe and MJ, please borrow my Michael Jordan DVD and the debate will be over quickly. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Federer finally conquers French

(Written Sunday)

I'm switching gears a bit for this entry. For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge tennis fan. It is my second favorite sports to play, and I follow all the Grand Slam events rigorously. This morning I watched history. Roger Federer completed a career Grand Slam, finally getting over the hump and winning his first French Open title. With 14 major championships, he sits alone with Pete Sampras for most Grand Slams won, and will have a great chance of breaking that record in a couple weeks at Wimbledon.

We are witnessing the greatest player to ever pick up a racket right now, and I feel like the general public doesn't even appreciate it. With the depth of the men's field, it is harder to dominate now than ever before. Federer has dominated for 6 or 7 years in a row now. Sure he's had his low points, especially with his inability to beat Rafael Nadal. But still, his record speaks for itself. He's been in 15 of the last 16 grand slam finals. Let that number sink in for a second. For those of you who claim Federer isn't even the best player of his era, much less history, they obviously don't have very good memories. It's true that Nadal has gotten the better of Federer more often than not, but he has not shown the consistency Federer has against the rest of the field. Also, the way Nadal plays, he probably won't be able to sustain this high level for many years. Just yesterday it was reported he might miss Wimbledon. I hope everyone who loves tennis appreciates what Roger Federer has done and continues to do on the tennis court.

One more random rant before I leave for the day. I will never understand why Federer's dominance of tennis is not recognized like Tiger Wood's dominance of golf. I can understand why Woods is more popular. He is an African American in a white dominated sport and unlike Federer is an American. The fact is, Federer is every bit as good at what he does as Tiger is. Also, I hate when people compare golf and tennis. Golf is not even a real sport in my eyes. Tiger Woods is the only reason people watch and has single handily put golf in the mainstream. Any sport that doesn't require running and that a guy like John Daly can play professionally cannot truly be considered a sport. It is probably the hardest GAME to play, but it is not a sport. In turn, besides maybe soccer, there is no more physically demanding sport than tennis. For anyone who has actually played series tennis they can attest to this. You are out there by yourself with no time limit and often in grueling conditions. You couple that with the mental aspect of the game, which is comparable to the mental aspect of golf, and it is one of the toughest sports to play. Personally, no sport has gotten me more frustrated than tennis. Normally I am very low key and relaxed, but tennis drives me nuts sometimes. The fact that 25 is considered old in tennis tells you something.

I will discuss the Magic-Lakers series in my next blog. Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy your week!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sorry David Stern, No dream match up

The NBA and its media partners only got half of the much anticipated Kobe/Lebron showdown. My only question is, will the puppet commercials go off the air? Those commercials freak me out. There is nothing scarier than puppets to me, nothing.

The fact is the two best teams got to the finals. Without Kevin Garnett I thought the Cavs would coast. However, after watching them play in that Magic series, I felt like I had been cheated. This Cavs team was a Lebron fade away three at the buzzer from being swept. Their game plan never really changed, and without some truly amazing performances from Lebron this series would've been over much sooner. The question is, why didn't I see this coming? Why did I and everyone else buy into the Cavs are invincible crap. For that matter, how did the Magic do such a 360 from game 7 in the Celtics series to now. I thought the Celtics and Magic played terribly in that Eastern Conference semifinal series, but at least the Celtics had an excuse without Garnett. Then the next series I see the Magic raining threes from all over the court, and Dwight Howard playing like the superstar he supposedly is. Needless to say I was left utterly shocked.

The fact is the NBA is all about matchups. The Magic played the Cavs well all year, and it was no different this series. They pose tremendous match up problems for any team, with 4 starters who can hit the three. Also, they are the only team with two 6"10 power forwards that can take you off the dribble or sink threes in your face. The X factor this series was Mikhael Pietrus. Everytime he would shoot a three in the corner I knew it was going in. I can't help but wonder why he was continuously left open though. I think Mike Brown could be one of the first coach of the years ever to be fired.

The Magic simply had better players than the Cavs, and they will have better players than the Lakers as well. The issue I see with this Magic team is if they don't hit their perimeter shots they are sunk. Dwight Howard had a great series, but still has no offensive game beyond dunking or layups. If he polishes his low post game, it is going to be absolutely terrifying for opposing teams the next 10 years.

The Lakers-Nuggets series outcome should be no real surprise to anyone. Both were pretty evenly matched talent wise, but a team with as many hot heads as the Nuggets is not going to beat a Kobe Bryant/Phil Jackson led team. The Lakers lucked out this year. They don't have to face Lebron, or a Celtics team with Garnett. I am hoping the Magic can keep up this hot shooting and that Jameer Nelson will be able to add depth to a solid point guard lineup. Ultimately, I think the hated Lakers will triumph, but I will break the series down on Thursday.

In other news, Tom Brady is supposedly exceeding expectations in his recovery from surgery. This should really come to no surprise to anyone who has followed his career. I seriously can't wait till the NFL season starts again. On paper the Patriots should be even better than 2 years ago offensively, and they have added depth at corner as well. With another year under the Patriots system, Moss and Welker should be even more deadly. I predict a solid 13-3 season.

Sorry for the lack of blogging as of late. Hope you enjoyed, and let me know what I can improve on. Have a great night!