When Father Time Comes Knocking, You Can’t But Fail Not To Answer
There comes a time when you become the elder statesman within your sport, there are calls and suggestions that you retire , or because of injuries suffered , you are no longer productive enough within your chosen profession. This baseball season will see the retirement of baseball’s most popular , with Derek Jeter having announced that 2014 will be his last in a New York Yankees’ uniform . The Yankees’ shortstop has graced the stage for almost two decades as a player having won five World Series’ titles with the franchise , several individual awards by way of the Golden Gloves , and an AL Rookie of The Year Award , but surprisingly never an AL MVP . That asides, when he plays his last regular season game , which will be a game against the Yankees’ venerable adversary , the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston , Massachusetts , we are likely to see one of the most emotional days in recent baseball history .
I believe that Derek Jeter’s retirement will leave a huge vacuum within the game of baseball and most certainly a huge void on the current New York Yankees’ roster , where he has been the captain of the team for at least the past six seasons. He will depart from the franchise as a leader in several offensive categories but more than anything else , perhaps one of the most beloved and well-respected players in that franchise’s history . As to where he might rank amongst many of the great players to have worn the Yankees’ Pinstripes will now become a matter of great conjecture and debate across the panacea of the game amongst fans, baseball purists and historians alike .
Prior to Jeter’s retirement , the only other player I believe that was held with such high esteem within baseball within the past ten years , who left the game under what, were thought to be his terms, was that of Ken Griffey Jr , the famed outfielder , and son of Ken Griffey Sr . Injuries robbed the former Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners’ player of some of the best years of career , but he left the game with a batting average that one would deem respectable , along with some spectacular highlights as to his phenomenal athleticism in the outfield . Before, there was Torii Hunter and Mike Trout , there was Ken Griffey Jr, simply amazing the fans and analysts alike with his power and fielding . Perhaps only Bo Jackson showing his phenomenal prowess , might well have been Griffey’s equal at a time when the game was a joy to watch and before the “dawn “ of the “steroid era” and the advantages it provided hitters and pitchers alike .
While LeBron James continues to prosper within the NBA , currently making a mockery of many of his peers , perhaps with the exception of Kevin Durant , of whom, many believe may well be James’ closest rival as the best player in the league. Another player , who currently sits on the sidelines while his team labors under the rigors of an arduous season , while failing to live up to expectations. The question now has to be asked , was it really worthwhile for the Los Angeles Lakers to have offered Kobe Bryant that ridiculous two-year contract extension that will pay Bryant $48.5 million over the next two years , ending 2015 ?
As of the 4th March , 2014 the Lakers possessed the worst record in the NBA’s Western Conference and the team was simply uncompetitive under Mike D’Antoni’s coaching and the guidance of his coaching staff . From my own standpoint, coming into this season, I did not see this Lakers’ lineup as being a championship caliber team or a roster capable of winning their division , much less the Western Conference itself ! An aging Steve Nash at the point guard position , is simply not the answer for a team that sought someone who should be more productive, never mind Nash’s ongoing ailments and the fact that he has played a mere handful of games for the team this season . The alternatives for D’Antoni at the position , has been threadbare, along with any type of real productivity.
With Nash intimating that this is likely to be his last season in the NBA , the two-time League MVP , will bow out of the NBA with a list of accomplishments that belie his age , with the one missing notable achievement being an NBA title and championship ring. Steve Nash had a solid career, wherever he played , prior to his arrival with the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of last season. One now wonders what might have been, were Nash a part of the team prior to last season , when indeed, the franchise needed a player of his caliber ?
A recent seven point loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans has pretty much summed up the woes of the Lakers’ season and the very fact that Mike D’Antoni’s coaching has become listless and uninspired , along with the play of this team. One could make excuses, that without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers are a mere shell of a team. Yet, with Bryant on court , this lineup would simply struggle against many of their peers not just within the conference but across the league as a whole. The team’s record, now reflects a clear indication of they are and have become, and that is even with the advent of GM Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss thinking ahead with regard to the litany of free agents that will hit the market with the front office seeking to maneuver and place itself in better position with regard to its cap space .
For Kobe Bryant , now a seventeen-year veteran of the NBA , he is at the tail end of a career , that has seen him win every individual honor and team honor possible for a player within the league . Now a five-time NBA champion, the possibility of his now winning a sixth title, has seen that window of opportunity greatly reduced. Athletically, he is considerably slower than five years ago , with the explosiveness of his game, is no longer there. The question now becomes, without another marquee name beside him, can Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers to another title? Pau Gasol , has been a willing foil , assisting the All Star guard, but he too has become an aging veteran in the league , and again no longer the player, he was , three years ago . It is my belief that the upcoming season, will be Bryant’s last in the NBA, before he too , chooses to ride off into the sunset under his own steam , rather than being forced out by the team’s hierarchy !
Next up for the Lakers on their schedule , will be a game against their divisional rivals and inhabitants of the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers . With their season series tied at one game apiece (1-1) , this third contest between the two teams , should prove to be very interesting, as Doc Rivers and his players seek to strengthen their grip on the Pacific Division within the Western Conference.
One game above ,500, at 30-29 , the Brooklyn Nets are lucky enough to be playing in a rather uninspiring division of the Eastern Conference . Currently, three game behind the Atlantic East leading Toronto Raptors (33-26) , perhaps the ” surprise”: team of the Eastern Conference this season. It would be fair to suggest, that this Jason Kidd coached Nets’ team , have been a great disappointment this season . . GM Billy King and team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov have simply sought to abandon any type of sound business principles and simply assembled a roster of high-priced players , with an aging core of veterans , in Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to surround the talents of Deron Williams , Brook Lopez and the “highly overrated “ Joe Johnson , whose contract and salary this season is one of the NBA’s biggest travesties and a clear reason why David Stern , the league hierarchy , team owners and general managers have no concept of fiscal responsibility .
What has been abundantly clear, is that the $110 million payroll of the Brooklyn Nets , the highest in the NBA this season , is further proof , that simply assembling roster of high-salaried players , is by no means a guarantee of success. The Nets found that out to their cost last season , with the team failing to make it deep into the NBA Playoffs , as hoped for, by then head coach Avery Johnson and interim replacement P J Carlesimo . The Nets failed to make it beyond the first round , falling to the Chicago Bulls in the best of seven=game series. Complacency, on the part of the players and a complete lack of leadership led to their demise.
If the NBA season were to end today, the Brooklyn Nets’ projected first round opponent, as the number six seed within the Eastern Conference , would see them meet the Toronto Raptors , currently holding down the third seed in the East. The Raptors lead their season series over the Nets 2-1 , and the likelihood of this Dwane Casey coached Raptors’ team overcoming Brooklyn, does seem a real possibility with the Toronto based franchise seeking to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2008 . For Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, after long and illustrious careers in the NBA , this may well be their last chance at combined postseason glory . The duo, were part of the Boston Celtics’ most recent triumph , when a Doc Rivers’ coached team were triumphant over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals with a 4-2 series’ triumph. If the Nets are to have a successful postseason foray, then the leadership abilities of both Garnett and Terry will be called upon , beyond Jason Kidd’s own postseason experience as an NBA champion with the Dallas Mavericks and their triumph over the Miami Heat in 2011 .
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are likely, future Hall of Fame bound players, given the body of their respective accomplishments as members of the Boston Celtics. Yet, at this stage , with both in the twilight of their careers, it says a great deal about both players and their ambition to go out as champions
Tim Duncan , already a four-time NBA champion, with the San Antonio Spurs , has an astonishing body of work as a player . His relationship with head coach Gregg Popovich , is like that of a father, proud of his first-born son. Duncan has been described as the greatest power forward in NBA history , something that Hall of Fame inductee Karl Malone may not be entirely in agreement with . Yet, you cannot deny that ” Mr. Fundamental” , as he is often known around the NBA, has simply made the position his own , in terms of his accomplishments. Yes, at present, there may well be, power forwards currently in the NBA, who show more athleticism than Duncan and are far more productive , but were you to ask a vast majority of fans would they take any power forward over Tim Duncan when a game is on the line , many of those individuals would definitely not have to think long and hard before coming to a decision .
Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves may well be the best player at the position, currently playing in the NBA , but as he continues to toil away with the Timberwolves , you simply get the feeling that in the end , it will be all for nothing . The Timberwolves’ front office appears to be lost and aimlessly heading nowhere , with their being little to show by the franchise in terms of any tangible success this season.
San Antonio comfortably sits behind the conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15) , one and a half games adrift , in second place. While, the talk within the conference and league wide, may well be whether or not Kevin Durant can succeed LeBron James and the League MVP . Gregg Popovich has the team concentrated on locking down that second seed and if possible , seeking to erase the Thunder’s conference lead in the coming weeks, as the regular season schedule winds down. If nothing else, one of the prime objectives also, has to keep the Spurs’ starting lineup injury free down that stretch as the last thing wanted , would be for Popovich to enter the postseason without one of the primary starters. Point guard , Tony Parker is currently out of the lineup due to a persistent recurring injury. With the Frenchman being sidelined, it gives the opportunity for Patrick Mills , Danny Green and Manu Ginobli to share the workload, while making up for the loss of the loss of Parker’s productivity , until he is ready to make a full return, to his normal starting duties.
On a four-game win streak and 8-2 in their last ten games , San Antonio appears to be rounding into the right form, as they look to wind down their schedule. . Tim Duncan, the omnipresent force and leader on this team , may well be now looking to the future as all of his career goals have been met. At best , he may well no more than one year of play left within him, as an arduous eighty-two game schedule can take its toll on the human body. Add in the fact, that the seventeen-year veteran of the 1997 NBA Draft , has been one the NBA’s mainstays during that time and it certainly gives credence , that were he to make this his last season in the league , there would be a great deal of applause for one of the great careers in recent NBA history. The accolades and achievements alone , will certainly stand the test of time , for one of the most celebrated and revered players in San Antonio Spurs’ history.
Would it be fair to suggest that during this past Superbowl , Denver Broncos’ quarterback , Peyton Manning might well have had one of the worst days of his already illustrious NFL career ? No one could have foreseen the Broncos being on the wrong side of a rather lopsided and embarrassing 48-3 defeat , suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. That being said, the preseason meeting between the two teams should have been something of an indicator , even if both combatants fielded their second and third stringers throughout much of that game. Pete Carroll and the Seahawks came away triumphant in Superbowl 48 (SBXLVIIII) , while John Fox , his revered quarterback , Peyton Manning and the team are at a loss for words to explain an inexplicable and humiliating defeat .
Is Manning, now five-time League MVP, too old to be playing in the NFL at this stage of his career? Or more to the point, does he still possess the skill-set that have many speaking of him as the greatest quarterback ever to have played the game ? From my own personal standpoint, I believe at best , the quarterback has maybe no more than one or two years left in him, before he should simply “call it quits ” ! It is one thing to play the game because of your unbridled passing for football, it is another however, when all of your mistakes are magnified and placed under the microscope , with many now beginning to question your ability to play the game at the highest level , as has been the case with Peyton Manning.
Manning’s legacy, now has lost some of its shine , as some are likely to suggest, one Superbowl victory in three attempts , is a ‘ poor return’ , for someone who’s said to be the best passer in the game’s history. Then again, Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly went to four successive Superbowls with the Buffalo Bills and those four defeats , might well be what he is now best remembered for , rather than his career , and the records he attained while playing for the Bills. In the end , it all comes down to one’s opinion , as to what we believe to be great and what apparently is not so great .
What now happens with Peyton Manning, is now entirely in his hands , not John Fox’s , or John Elway’s , who as Head of the Broncos’ Football Operations , knows that with his incumbent quarterback , that is the best hope for the franchise to obtain a third Superbowl victory. The Broncos, may well seek to draft a quarterback in the latter rounds of this upcoming draft , while grooming that player for the future. Under Manning’s tutelage, that passer is likely to learn a great deal about the game, more so, than from any quarterbacks’ coach currently coaching in the NFL.
It seems somewhat ironic, that as I write about this topic, a decision, is made, by the Broncos to sever ties with one the franchise’s best players in its history. If the rumors are to be believed then today, John Elway cut defensive back Champ Bailey , saving themselves several million dollars under the cap , and maneuvering the franchise to either acquire a corner-back via free agency to draft one that specifically meets the team’s needs. The analogy of a “shut-down ” corner-back has been often used to describe players such as Deion Sanders and Nnamdi Asomugha , yet when I look at both of the players in question , the one thing that comes to mind , that neither was ever renowned for , was their alleged ” toughness ” , “willingness ” to ” make ” or take a hit , much less tackle an opposing offensive player. I may well be wrong, in my summation of both, but I seriously doubt it! Bailey for his part , has put together a Hall of Fame caliber worthy career , that places him amongst the upper echelons of the players to have played the position .
Pat Bowlen , owner of the Denver Broncos and John Elway will have a number of decisions to make this off –season in the lead-up to the NFL Draft. The disappointment of the postseason , with the only respite was having won the AFC West ahead of a now resurgent Kansas City Chiefs and the same can be said of the San Diego Chargers . It now makes the upcoming season all the more intense , because a great deal more will be expected of the franchise and their fans in attendance at Sports Authority (Mile High Stadium) Field in Denver , Colorado. The window of opportunity for the franchise to make it a reality , to win “now” , will prove to be all the more difficult , for Peyton Manning and several of his veteran teammates on the Broncos’ roster . The loss of Champ Bailey ,notwithstanding, business decision as it may well have been, , where this now leaves the franchise might well be gauged in some ways by the decisions made last season in preparation for their year . Their draft class proved to very good and their acquisitions were more than adequate, in meeting the needs sought. If that can be replicated this off-season, then there is no reason to believe why the Denver Broncos cannot make a return to the postseason. As to where they then go from there, will obviously be predicated upon the play of their renowned quarterback.
In the NFL much like the NBA and MLB , athletes actually playing past their prime is not actually unheard of . For many it comes down to their love of the game and their wanting to prove their doubters wrong. I believe that in the cases of Derek Jeter , Kobe Bryant , Champ Bailey and Peyton Manning , it has been more to do with their passion for the game more than anything else ! All are undoubtedly great athletes in their own right and with the likely retirement of Champ Bailey , we are now left to savor what else the remaining triumvirate of players will offer the fans .
Boxer Bernard Hopkins , currently seen as the linear champion within the light-heavyweight champion will seek to make another defense of his WBA and IBF titles when he meets Beibut Shumenov (14-9) at the DC Armory in Washington , DC on the 19th April , 2014. You may well think the proposed bout is nothing out of the ordinary , but consider the following , the champion is forty-nine years of age , fast approaching his fiftieth birthday on 15th January , 2015. His less experienced opponent , thirty year old Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , was five years old when Hopkins fought his first professional bout . Since then , Hopkins has won titles at the middleweight division , unifying it as an undisputed champion , moved up to the light-heavyweight division , won , lost and regained the title within the weight category and he now seeks to unify that division , all as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Say what you will, it is either the “ Elixir of Youth” or “Father Time ” that either makes or breaks athletes who seek to be active at the later stages of their professional lives .
What are your thoughts on the merits of this post ? By all means , do take time to offer up a comment on this and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter.
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) New York Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter is seen here congratulating teammate Alex Rodriguez after the team’s triumph in Game Six of the 2009 World Series . The Yankees would go on to be triumphant in winning the series with complicit ease in defeating the Philadelphia Phillies , in bringing about the franchise’s twenty-seventh World Series title . Jeter made the announcement prior to the New York Yankees’ Spring Training schedule , that 2014 , his twentieth in Major League Baseball would be his last season as a professional baseball player . AP Photo / Marcus Howe …..
(2) NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 11: Derek Jeter (2 ) (R) and Alex Rodriguez (13) of the New York Yankees look on from the dugout in the ninth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on August 11 , 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ….
(3) Ken Griffey Jr , left is seen here alongside his father Ken Griffey Sr in the dugout of a game played against the Kansas City Royals at the Kingdome in Seattle , Washington , that would prove to be historic . The event would be the first time that a father and son played in a Major League Baseball game where they were suited up on the same team , in this case the Seattle Mariners . Courtesy of MLB.com … MLB properties ….
(4) Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is seen here court-side with Kobe Bryant during a game played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California . The team has struggled this season , with Bryant sidelined due to an injury. Without him , it has brought about a telling perspective as to how much the player is missed when he is not on the court alongside of this teammates to provide the bulk of their offensive productivity . Bryant currently believes that the Lakers stand an outside shot of gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference as the NBA season winds down with the final games of the schedule due to be played on 16th April, 2014. For Los Angeles that final game will be played against the San Antonio Spurs . Getty Images / Stephen Harper ………..
(5) Lakers’ teammates Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash , who between them have over a combined thirty years of NBA playing experience. The two guards have been limited to the number of games which they have played together this season , for the franchise , leading to their abysmal divisional and conference record . AP Photo / Mark Anderson ….
(6) Brooklyn Nets’ teammates Kevin Garnett (2) and Paul Pierce (34) of the Brooklyn Nets are seen her during a game played at Nets’ spacious home venue the Barclays Center , in Brooklyn , New York . Along with Jason Terry , the three former Boston Celtics’ players were brought in to provide some much-needed experience on a Nets’ roster that was lacking in leadership as well as defensive capabilities . Yet the team’s season has been in different , with a great deal of inconsistency being down by the team as a whole, leading to the belief that a postseason appearance , not beyond the franchise , is likely to be a short run , because of a lack of consistency being shown . GM Billy King has sought to “right the ship” , having traded Jason Terry to the Sacramento Kings , but yet the results still remain indifferent . It is likely that at the end of the season , the decision will be made not to retain either seasoned veteran , of Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce as the front office seeks to rebuild the roster around the talents of their All Star players , Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in the build-up for the 2014-15 NBA season . With a $110 million payroll , the highest in the NBA this season and with the franchise obligated to pay the “mandatory luxury tax” under the league hierarchy mandate. That sum will be in excess of $72 million and likely to lead to another financial loss for the second consecutive season for the Brooklyn Nets’ franchise . Billionaire team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to spend money in order to bring the Nets their first NBA title , but at what cost to his own financial acumen ? Getty Images North America / Erica Price ……
(7) San Antonio Spurs’ All Star and power forward Tim Duncan is seen here with head coach Gregg Popovich . Having won four NBA titles together in tandem as head coach and player , the two are seeking to emulate feats achieved by Michael Jordan , along with Phil Jackson and again of Jackson with Kobe Bryant in having won four or more titles together , as a head coach and player tandem. A fifth title eluded the pairing of Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich last season , when the team failed to take a-hold of their NBA Finals ‘ series against the Miami Heat , leading to a decisive game seven loss and leading to the Heat’s third title in the past seven seasons. Getty Images / Harry How ….
(8)Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) talks with head coach John Fox during practice Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Florham Park, N.J. The Broncos are scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 , in East Rutherford, N.J. What should have been a triumphant event for the duo of head coach and quarterback , ended up being a somber occasion after the Broncos’ humiliating loss to the Seahawks . AP Photo/ Garrett Jeffries …..
(9) Defensive back , Champ Bailey of the Denver Broncos speaks to the convened press prior to the Superbowl . The twelve-time Prow Bowl selection was cut by the Broncos after a stellar career with the franchise . Seen as business issue with the team avoiding a $10 million cap hit , Bailey made it clear that he has no intention of retiring and would like resume his NFL career elsewhere this upcoming season . A round pick , seventh overall by the Washington Redskins in the 1999 NFL Draft , the defensive player would prove to be effective in his rookie season with the Redskins . AP Photo/ Vince Gallagher ……
(10) Bernard Hopkins , not due to turn fifty until 15th January ,2015, will be making a defense of his IBF and WBA light-heavyweight world titles on the 19th April against Beibut Shumenov , from Kazakhstan , in what will be Hopkins’ second defense of his IBF belt . This will be the fighter’s thirtieth world title fight at either the middleweight and light-heavyweight division . Bernard Hopkins made twenty consecutive defenses of the middleweight title , unifying the division and become the last undisputed champion in any weight category of professional boxing in the past decade. Ring Magazine / Ronny Mercer @ copyrighted material … ……
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This date in NBA history
NFL transactions in March 2013 in the lead-up to the NFL Draft of that year .
I think she’s missing some type of exercise equipment , but I could , very well be wrong . Nah !