The Ball Is In Your Court ….

The Ball Is In Your Court ….

We’re not yet a month into the NBA season and already there has been a coaching dismissal within the league when it was announced that the Cleveland Cavaliers fired Tyronn Lue from his position as the Head Coach of the franchise . Lue had coached the Cavaliers to the 2016-17 NBA Finals . Cavaliers’ team owner , billionaire Dan Gilbert and team General Manager Koby Altman have named Larry Drew as the Interim Head Coach for the rest of the season.

Six games into this season and the Cleveland Cavaliers are win-less , with the worst record in the league. Granted , the departure of LeBron James , with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers would definitely leave a gigantic chasm within the organization. Yet at the end of the day, poor decisions made by the front office has led to this debacle. It remains to be seen how the Cavaliers will seek to dig themselves out of this hole , especially as the team enters the Christmas schedule, the play tends to dictate what we would should expect over the remainder of the season.


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The next game up for the Cleveland Cavaliers will see them face the Denver Nuggets , one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference at this point of the season. That match-up will take place on the 1st November at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio , where the Cavaliers are win-less .

With all of the bally-hoo that surrounded LeBron James’ arrival in Los Angeles, with his joining the Los Angeles Lakers. You would have thought that the whole world was about to fall off its axis. Lakers’ fans were replete with their new jerseys bearing James’ name and number. The thinking was , with James’ signing with the franchise , a slew of free agents would be willing to join him as well. It didn’t happen and if you think that Rajon Rondo is going to provide the Lakers with the offense they need, then think again. Rondo’s best years are behind him rather than ahead of him. Coached by Luke Walton , the Los Angeles Lakers have stumbled out of the gate , performing like a team lacking in direction. I understand that it will take time for LeBron James to acclimatize himself to his new surroundings , but his teammates have hardly made their presence felt at all this season.

Next up for the Los Angeles Lakers will be a game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California on Wednesday , 31st October. There have been rumblings with the Lakers having begun the season so languidly , calls for the firing of Luke Walton as the Head Coach have been on the rise. I seriously doubt that Magic Johnson , Head of Basketball Operations or GM Rob Pelinka would consider Walton’s dismissal at this juncture.

The Milwaukee Bucks are the only remaining team in the NBA who have yet to lose a game. Led by their All Star, Giannis Antentokounmpou , this is a team where there are great expectations for this season. . With the lineup that the Bucks have and the coaching ingenuity being shown by Mike Budenholzer , there is a very good chance this team could very well make the NBA Playoffs .

All teams will have to go through the Golden State Warriors , if it’s their belief that they have what it takes to win the NBA title for this season. Now while Los Angeles Lakers’ fans believe they will have a say within the Western Conference, they have done nothing at all to convince me that they can compete with the best that the conference has to offer. Klay Thompson might not be the best player on the Warriors’ roster , but anywhere else he might be among the top-two players on any other franchise within the NBA . Thompson chalked up another franchise and personal best in a recent game for the Warriors when he recorded fourteen three-pointers made in a match-up
against the Chicago Bulls , who appeared to be a completely listless team .

I have no doubt in my mind the Golden State Warriors are by far the best team in the NBA and their only chance of not making a successful defense of their title will come through their own complacency !

Well we’ve reached the halfway point of the NFL season and the trade deadline is about to come into play. Yet the main news’ story within the league , has been the dismissal of Hu Jackson as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley . Gregg Williams has been made the interim Head Coach until the end of the season and could parlay the gig if he is able to lead the team to moderate finish and standing in the NFL by season’s end. Baker Mayfield who was the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft as well as the top quarterback taken , has performed inconsistently through no fault of his own. On defense as well as offense the Browns have been abysmal all season long. Suffice to say, if they don’t end up with the worst record in the NFL , then once again they could be assured of having another top-five pick in the next NFL Draft.

With a record of 2-5-1 , at least the Cleveland Browns are assured of bettering last season’s mark within the NFL. Next up for the Browns in week nine , they will face the Kansas City Chiefs (7-1) in a game that should prove to be very entertaining. Victory for the Chiefs assures them of clinching their division as well as a postseason berth within the AFC .

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Eli Manning is now treading water as it relates to his career ? Two Superbowl victories are > accommodating when padding out his career achievements, but over the last four seasons , Manning has been nothing more than a moderate quarterback at best. His and that of the New York Giants’ record for this season (1-7) is truly reflective of a really bad team on its very last legs. Odell Beckham has proven to be just a player known for spectacular one-handed catches , but when it comes showing leadership and maturity, he is nowhere to be seen . Giants’ Head Coach Pat Shurmur is on the ‘ hot seat’ and it seems unlikely he will be returning next season , given the lack of success seen this season. The New York Giants are in need of an upgrade across their entire roster.

When the Pat Shurmur prepares his team for their next outing let’s hope that the New York Giants’ performance is a great deal better than their last five games combined. The team will be facing conference rivals the San Francisco 49ers in a game where a victory is certainly needed by both teams.

While the Philadelphia Eagles caught everyone by surprise
during
the postseason of 2017 on the way to the franchise’s
first Superbowl victory. This season the team has fallen back to earth with a colossal thud. They’re barely competing within the NFC East , perhaps the most overrated division in all of football. . The only team with a winning record in the division are the Washington Redskins (5-2) as they head into week nine of the regular season. Doug Pederson will prepare the Eagles to face the Dallas Cowboys in week ten of the schedule , while the Redskins will be in action against the Atlanta Falcons during week nine .

The runaway leaders within the NFC are the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams (8-0) led by their quarterback Jared Goff , whose talents have been on display throughout much of this season for his team . Jared Goff has led the Rams to an eight-game unbeaten streak by far the best in the league this season as the team has the best record in the NFL. Goff’s teammate Todd Gurley might well be the runaway leader in the first half of the season for League MVP . His all-round contributions for the Rams have been impressive to say the very least. I fully expect the Los Angeles Rams to extend their winning streak to nine games when
they face the New Orleans Saints (6-1) on Sunday afternoon . This is likely to be one of the better contests taking place in the NFL that afternoon.

I’ve always maintained that with the death of Al Davis , the Oakland Raiders would never be the franchise where there would be a constant interest in . That has rang true with his son Mark Davis taking over the reins of the franchise with Reggie McKenzie still in charge as the General Manager. Unfortunately their luring Jon Gruden out of retirement hasn’t worked wonders for the Raiders this season . Bear in mind Gruden was offered a ten-year $100 million deal , making him the highest coach in the NFL . A 1-6 record at this point of the season , with the Raiders having one of the worst defenses in the league and you can well understand why there might be clamoring for something drastic to take place among the team’s lineup .

If Jon Gruden is building for the future then , it doesn’t bode well for the Oakland Raiders then his track-record should be seen as a warning sign. During his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as his earlier stint with the Raiders, he has never drafted or developed a player of real note. All the optimism in the world among the franchise’s fans cannot hide the fact that this was an erroneous in the hiring of Jon Gruden. The coach will now have to muster the masses as he seeks to get the Oakland Raiders’ second win of the season when this team takes on the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night .

It might well have been the most lopsided World Series in the last decade, with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1-4) falling to the Boston Red Sox (4-1) with the utmost of ease. All of the money spent by the franchise on players since 2012 , has been well in excess of $1.6 billion and then you factor in the $2.2 billion paid by the ownership group to purchase the franchise. You simply get the feeling that there’s been more waste expended by the club than was needed. The lone factor of hope out of this all might well be that the Dodgers’ front office might have solved a glaring need when they obtained Manny Machado in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles. Machado and Walker Buehler were the only bright spots for the Dodgers through much of the postseason.

With Clayton Kershaw now said to be considering opting out of his contract , which still has two years left on one of the most expensive deals in baseball history . It would be foolish if the Los Angeles Dodgers were to allow Kershaw to leave , but at the same I can truly understand the player’s frustration with their continued lack of success during the postseason. They’re unable to play as a team and there sure as hell isn’t any leadership to be found anywhere among the players let alone among the managerial staff of Dave Roberts .

What if anything do you believe has been the most riveting piece of sports’ news of the past two weeks and please state your reasons why ?

Tophatal 10/31/2018……..

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Conclusive …..

Conclusive …

In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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My balls, my rules in the NBA ….

My ball, my rules in the NBA

The NBA preseason is now upon us and the reigning league champions the Golden State Warriors will begin their quest to make a successful defense of their title with their preseason schedule as Steph Curry and his teammates seek to make it all once again be a reality. For Steve Kerr , his coaching staff as well as the front office led by co-owners , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , as they have seen a spectacular rise in the value of the franchise, but also a marked increase in the revenues and attendance levels for the team. With the imminent move to a more fan-friendly and more attractive venue for the NBA’s current champions. The signs are, the Warriors’ ascent to the top of the basketball world has been well thought out and the intent of the franchise to have a lasting and long-term impact on the league.

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Steve Kerr and Steph Curry were recipients in the running for two of the top individual regular season awards of last season , with Kerr coming in second for the NBA Coach of The Year Award , while the point guard won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award after a scintillating season. Curry along with Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala will be relishing to get back unto the court and begin the defense of their title. The NBA Draft itself, saw the Warriors simply bolster their roster, with some young talent and these players are likely to get their chance at some point during the season to shine.

Without a doubt, the Golden State Warriors will have to be seen as the presumptive favorites within the Western Conference to make a quick return to the NBA Playoffs alongside perennial playoff bound and five-time champions the San Antonio Spurs. During the off-season, San Antonio without a doubt were the biggest winners in the free agency market , having acquired Texas native LaMarcus Aldridge alongside veteran power forward David West. Departures from last season’s roster were expected and the losses were certainly outweighed by acquisitions made by the franchise , whose general manager R C Buford has stood stall, showing his executive acumen and one of the many reasons why he has to be considered one of the very best general managers in NBA history.

San Antonio will also see the return of veteran players Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker for another year together , with the trio having won over five-hundred regular season games together as a combination as well as four of the franchise’s five championships all under the coaching tutelage of Gregg Popovich . All three players as well the head coach are future bound and likely inductees into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame joining another Spurs’ luminaries already enshrined in basketball’s most hallowed institution, George Gervin and David Robinson , the two most notable Spurs’ inductees were the starting point for the history of one of the NBA’s most respected franchises. However, it has been the astonishing success under coach Gregg Popovich which has been the template seen , which has led San Antonio to its present time.

The NBA during its preseason schedule will be playing second fiddle to the MLB postseason which begins on Tuesday , while the NFL season though in its infancy has begun to take on a life of its own. Away from the basketball court , there have been some less than palatable story-lines which have come into focus. Former League MVP and Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose finds himself at the center of allegations of sexual assault and battery claim from a female victim. A charge which the player categorically denies and he has been very adamant with his repeated denials of the alleged victim’s claims.

As to how this is viewed by the Bulls’ front office led by GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson . Well, the executives have simply issued what can only be deemed a standard response, with the view , until there has been a legal investigation and legal outcome, the organization will continue to show support for the player.

For Derrick Rose , his failure to make an impact for the Chicago Bulls over the course of last season must come into question given the franchise’s long-term financial commitment to the player , who has missed over 100 games over the past two and a half seasons. This past season, Jimmy Butler stepped up to the plate for the Bulls and though they made the NBA Postseason their foray was somewhat short-lived . Rose for his part was simply a peripheral character in the team’s attempts to make a deep playoff run . The firing of Tom Thibodeau , with his being replaced by Fred Hoiberg as the new head coach of the Chicago Bulls , opens a new chapter for the franchise. It will be interesting to see what Hoiberg and his newly assembled coaching staff brings to the table as the Bulls begin their preseason schedule and then on into the regular season.

Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls will begin their regular season, when they open up with their first game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a contest at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on 27th October, 2015. If the Bulls are to have a chance of prevailing within the Central Division of the Eastern Conference much less against the rest of the league , then it will be predicated upon of the play of Rose and the team over the entire schedule in 2015.

This season there will be a great deal of pressure on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The four-time League MVP had a roster built around a team which had his own personal blessings and specific wishes. The fact that idiot fans , bought into the belief James would be capable of leading the Cavaliers to their first NBA championship solely based on his play was utterly ridiculous. As good as LeBron James over the course of his career in the NBA , certain things were being overlooked by the James’ supporters. A rookie head coach with little NBA or postseason and a team, where the players , other than Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love would be barely thought of as being competitive in comparison to the other lineups around the league.

Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert along with GM David Griffin have a great deal riding on keeping in the good graces of LeBron James and the player’s yearning to bring a title to the franchise. Two appearances in the NBA Finals have ended up in significantly embarrassing series’ defeats each time for James, as a member of the franchise.

What is becoming abundantly clear is the very fact LeBron James remains an impatient individual who seeks not only to be acknowledged by his peers, but also by the NBA analysts and fans as the greatest player of his generation and the greatest player in NBA history. A tall order indeed, when one considers he has fallen short of the accomplishments of his idol , Michael Jordan. While I do not believe it pertinent to make comparisons between players of the past against players of the present. It is clear, James wishes to be seen as the heir apparent to the six-time NBA champion , Finals’ MVP and League MVP . Such comparisons are best made upon the retirement of both subject as it is best then start a meaningful debate over the accomplishments of the subjects in question.

This season might well be the last opportunity for both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to reestablish their legacies with the Miami Heat. The departure of former teammate LeBron James left the franchise in complete disarray. Inasmuch as there was criticism being leveled at James by Heat Executive Alonzo Mourning , what became abundantly clear was the fact the front office became lackadaisical and negligent in failing to bolster an aging roster , believing it best , James as a one-man band could simply lead Miami to another title. With LeBron James’ departure the Miami Heat became a listless team , with neither Bosh or Wade contributing much to the Heat’s mediocre showing and season in 2014 .

During the off-season, Pat Riley and the Heat’s coaching staff led by Erik Spoelstra bolstered the roster through the NBA Draft and free agency . Miami’s rookies will be expected to make solid contributions to the team over the course of the Heat’s eighty-two game schedule. Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson , the two rookies taken in this past draft will get their opportunities this season and I believe Erik Spoelstra expects to see some great play from these two young players. Miami will open up their regular season schedule when they face the Charlotte Hornets on the 28th October ,2015 at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida.

With the recent news that James L Dolan , owner of the New York Knicks has seen fit to relinquish control of the Cablevision , the public company where the Dolan family still has a sizable presence. The questions now being asked are , will the family quite possibly seek to sell their controlling stake in the Madison Square Garden Company which presides over the family’s sports’ interests ? Can the team actually be competitive this upcoming season ? Is it possible for the New York Knicks to be even worst off, than they were last season ? As woeful as the New York Knicks have been this past season under the guidance of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher as the team sank to new levels of of sheer incompetence while supporters of Jackson are still trying to suggest the former NBA coach has a Master Plan for the resurrection of the Knicks’ fortunes.

To understand the incompetency of the New York Knicks , one simply has to look for an explanation as to the Phil Jackson first round draft pick of Kristaps Porzingis and how Jackson has tried to placate the fans with his thoughts on the matter. There can be no denying the choice had and still has a number of people perplexed and wondering what the hell is going on within the Knicks’ hierarchy and whether or not there is any semblance to be found there at all ?

Porzingis was taken as the fourth overall pick in the first round and is seen as a solid front court player , but in reality , the player is likely to remain a work in progress and not likely to be a major contributor to this team, which is need offensive talent as well as a solid defensive presence. Triangle Offense or not the basketball IQ on this team is way below average and almost a certain obstacle in the way of a franchise where the coaching staff has to be deemed equally incompetent as the players and the front office executives within the organization. The only saving grace for the New York Knicks has been the fact the franchise remains among the profitable of all the teams in the NBA and that remains about it. From my own standpoint, I do not believe the team in its current guise will pose that much of a threat to their divisional opponents or conference rivals this upcoming season.

Speaking of another vastly overrated NBA franchise, has anyone ever wondered where elephants usually go to die ? If there was said to be an elephants’ graveyard in the league, then it would have to be the Barclays Center , home to the Brooklyn Nets . From one year to the next this franchise over the past six seasons has been a monumental eyesore . For all the wealth of Russian billionaire tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov as the Nets’ owner . This organization would not be able to spot talent if the coaching staff of the franchise were given the aid of a flashlight , night vision glasses, if they were left in a darkened room and asked to figure it out all by themselves.

GM Billy King has outlived his usefulness and the only sound decision he has made was the jettisoning of Deron Williams , a player whose talents remain vastly overrated as a point guard . He certainly doesn’t excel under pressure and by no means can he be considered a leader much less the equal of several of his peers within the game today.

With Deron Williams having joined the Dallas Mavericks, it remains to be seen how much of an improvement his addition will be to the team and how competitive they’re likely to be over the course of this season. Dirk Nowitzki remains the best player on the current roster by far. If the Mavericks are to succeed as they seek to win a second NBA title , then it will be predicated Nowitzki’s indomitable play and leadership ability , because none the traits in question , are to be seen even vaguely in any of his teammates.

Two teams with something to prove this season, will be the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. James Harden and Kevin Durant are now viewed as being among the elite players in the NBA and there can be no denying that fact. Both of these superstars are likely to be viewed as early preseason candidates for the League MVP this season. The disappointment of the NBA Playoffs was there for all to see as the Rockets failed to get by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last season. Harden and teammate Dwight Howard were simply not enough to get by the best team in the NBA during the playoffs. I certainly believe games between the Rockets and Thunder as seen last season and will prove to be extremely competitive.

Oklahoma City Thunder under their coach Billy Donovan will seek to make this season their big opportunity to advance to an NBA Finals for the second time under the ownership group of Clay Bennett and his partners. GM Sam Presti knows it is in the franchise’s best interests to keep the services of Kevin Durant, knowing the player is likely to weigh up his options as an impending free agent in 2016, the Thunder must know their best chance to have Durant within their organization is to have a successful season ,with the ultimate goal being to win a world championship. Kevin Durant and his teammates will begin that quest this season opening up their schedule with a home game against the San Antonio Spurs on 28th October ,2015.

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The NBA hierarchy enters this season looking to avail themselves of the best publicity possible , but I cannot help wonder what the biggest controversy is likely to be once the season gets into full swing .

🙂

Tophatal ……

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I Got Game , What You Got ?

I Got Game , What You Got ?

In the world of sports where athletes are times more often than rewarded for their mediocrity , it remains confounding when many of these stars, then seek to gain even more notoriety for the off-court of field antics than anything they have yet to have achieved during their active playing careers. It would appear to be the case now with the Memphis Grizzlies’ veteran Matt Barnes, who but at one time played for both Los Angeles’ based NBA franchises the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Now something of a journeyman within the NBA , Barnes has never been the meaningful or an integral part of any team where he has played. Now seeking to emblazon himself in the minds of the masses, Matt Barnes is on a quest to let the world know about his private life and the fact he has dated pop sensation Rihanna. Last I looked the singer had notched up her own fair share of male suitors which have included current San Diego Padres’ slugger Matt Kemp , rapper , Drake and his erstwhile nemesis Chris Brown . No mean feat by the singer , until you realize, she actually garners more press than the aforementioned names combined and has been more successful from a talent and commercial standpoint. Which begs the question, is Matt Barnes really that much of an asshole ? Yes indeed, he is that much of an asshole and a great deal more .

With the upcoming season of the NBA not due to begin until the opening regular season tip-off , opening night 27th October 2015, much of the off-season and heading into the preseason has been about what various teams have sought to do to bolster their rosters. The Golden State Warriors rode on the crest of an emotion alongside great coaching to win their first NBA title in four decades. Unfortunately , rather than seeking to praise the franchise for the achievement , the press and in particular anal retentive fans, have sought to make excuses for the defeated NBA Finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers and their superstar guard LeBron James. James for his part in spite of his heroics was never seriously in with a chance of winning his third straight NBA title. There was way too much pressure on the Cavaliers to succeed and clearly the inexperience of head coach David Blatt played a part in their downfall beyond the loss of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love during the NBA Playoffs.

LeBron James has been lucky enough to know the front office of the Cavaliers are willing to do just about anything to facilitate the player’s whims , including seeking to acquire just about anyone willing to play a secondary role to the LeBron James traveling circus. Cleveland is likely to be among one of the top draws on the road as well as at home during the upcoming regular season and it is also clear they will be a major ratings’ draw when it comes to a television audience. The Christmas Day scheduling of the rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena is a clear indication of how orchestrated and self-important the NBA now believes itself to be.

While I have no doubt the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will each have a role to play in this upcoming season , where both teams will likely be challenging for divisional honors within their respective conference. I do believe that the West will be the better of the two conferences on display , as has been the case over the last eight seasons.

With Marc Gasol choosing to remain with the Memphis Grizzlies , it will be interesting to see what this team has in store for their fans this upcoming season. Gasol will be the focus of the roster alongside Zach Randolph and Vince Carter , who after all of these years within the NBA still believes he has something to offer a team. There was a time when Carter was among the most explosive and dynamic players within the NBA , but over the last few years , his productivity has declined. Head coach David Joerger and his coaching staff will have a great deal to prove this season if they (Grizzlies) are to be considered among the top teams within the Western Conference throughout the year. Memphis will tip-off their regular season schedule with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the 28th October,2015 at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennessee,.

So much for the hype behind the return of Phil Jackson and what he might be able to offer the New York Knicks by way of his basketball acumen. This past season showed the Knicks to be as bad a team to be found in this league. Embarrassing and simply asinine, might not be enough to describe how bad the New York Knicks just happened to be. What might now be even more befuddling concerning the Knicks were the choices made by the front office during the most recent NBA Draft. Still trying to figure out who Kristaps Porzingis just happens to be? Try looking at his team bio with the Knicks and then ascertain why he was actually chosen as their number one pick in the first round . Someone needs to explain , how a front office led by Phil Jackson, general manager Steve Mills and the coaching staff of Derek Fisher believes Porzingis is a better choice . ahead of players such as Willie Cauley-Stein , Frank Kaminsky , Justice Winslow and several other players many believe to have greater talent than Kristaps Porzingis.

Consider the fact , Knicks’ fans in attendance of the NBA Draft immediately began to boo the choice of the Latvian star whose experience with the Spanish League giant Sevilla was said to one of the main reasons he was drafted by the Knicks. Given New York’s failure to draft anyone of note who has contributed to the franchise over the past five seasons, it easy to understand why the franchise remains such a mess. Phil Jackson’s legacy can solely be judged on his achievements as a head coach , but as a front office executive, he still has his training wheels firmly strapped to his feet . Very much the same can be said of Derek Fisher as a head coach along with his aimless staff of coaching assistants. There are jigsaw puzzles with over one thousand pieces, which could be better assembled than the mess put together by Phil Jackson. Knicks’ fans start kissing your own proverbial @sses , rather than coming up with the regurgitating excuses of Jackson having a plan of action.

Carmelo Anthony may well have chosen to remain in New York because of the money , but the past two years for the player have been wasted years in terms of his talent and the fact the front office has failed miserably in placing around him the talent necessary for the New York Knicks to win consistently , much less make their presence felt in the NBA Playoffs . I do not believe there is anything more which needs to be said about the New York Knicks , where we know their Achilles’ Heal will remain their lack of defense and the fact beyond Carmelo Anthony there remains little to this roster by way of the offense. The Knicks will begin their regular season sojourn with a game against the Milwaukee Bucks coached by their former point guard Jason Kidd when the two teams meet at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee , Wisconsin, on the 28th October, 2015.

Kobe Bryant will enter this season as the highest paid player in the league while on a Los Angeles Lakers’ team likely to be heading nowhere and not as competitive as their fans might believe them to be. Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss , as the senior owners of the franchise along with GM Mitch Kupchak have been culpable in presiding over what has been unmitigated disaster over the past four seasons for this once proud organization. The more Lakers’ fans tend to talk about past glories, rather than deal in the reality of here and now . It is more borne out by the fact , they have simply become delusional and unwilling point the finger at where the responsibilities lay for the Los Angeles Lakers’ fall from grace. Bryant is no longer the player who once reigned supreme over this league and flashes of momentary brilliance cannot hide the fact this aging veteran is now several years past his prime. Yet fans of the Los Angeles Lakers remain optimistic the player can win a sixth NBA title , matching that of his personal icon Michael Jordan .

After a horrendous season in 2014 , it is easy to understand why the Lakers’ fans and the team would like to place it in their rear-view mirror . The Los Angeles Lakers much like the New York Knicks have been feeble in their attempts in drafting players with a competitive zeal, clearly evident in 2014 , 2013 , 2012 and 2011. Granted, this year and their choices of D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr, in round one , to be followed by Anthony Brown have yet to bear fruit. The feeling however, appears to be , this will be a work in progress as Byron Scott and his coaching staff embark upon this regular season. I believe through their first twenty-five games of the season , will provide us with enough of a gauge to see how the Lakers are likely to fare during 2015.

Scott and the Lakers will open their regular season with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles California on the 28th October.

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Tophatal ………

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Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

The seedings have been decided upon for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and quite rightly so. The Kentucky Wildcats having ended the season ranked number one in the nation, as well having an unbeaten season bearing a 34-0 record will enter the tournament as its prohibitive favorite, to win it all . John Calipari and his coaching staff head into the Tournament knowing, the first slip-up made, will essentially put to an end a season where a great deal more was expected.

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Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.

The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.

Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.

With either Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah missing from the Chicago Bulls’ lineup at some point of the season, it easy to understand the reasons why the team has continued to struggle in the aftermath of having lost their League MVP point guard to another season-ending injury , likely curtailing Rose’s long-term future and the rest of his career. Add in the fact, the ongoing relationship between head coach Tom Thibodeau , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson , is now said to have reached an all-time low, and one wonders how the franchise can gain anything meaningful out of this all, should they fail to make the playoffs .

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Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..

Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers now raced to the top of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , the Bulls are now left having to wonder, what to make of their season , while also seeking to play catch-up within the conference. A nine-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , a road defeat . Butler and his teammates’ next contest will be againstthe Indiana Pacers whom they host on Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois ,.

In the contest between the Thunder and the Bulls, point guard Russell Westbrook continued his scintillating displays where he almost posted another triple-double . Easy to now understand why he become a consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP. Consider the fact also, Westbrook has been doing this all in the absence of his teammate , Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .

All is fair in love and war . Granted, LeBron James has proven himself to be something of a warrior this season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to justify themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their record suggests otherwise when compared to that of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks , who might just be the surprise team the regular season within the NBA . Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer certainly has to be considered one of the leading favorites for this season’s Coach of The Year Award , as it would a complete travesty , were he not among the top vote-getters for the prestigious accolade.

(7)    Alonzo  Mourning   now a  senior   executive  within   the  Miami  Heat    organization   has   been  extremely  critical  of    former   Heat   player    LeBron  James   after  his   decision  to  leave  the  franchise  and    return  to  the   Cleveland   Cavaliers  .  Mourning ,   failed  to   suggest   why  Heat   failed  to  surround   James     with   players   complementary  to   his    skills    capable  of   actually   of  being   competitive   enough  to  have   won   last    season's   NBA  title  .   Getty   Images/  Paul  Miller

Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller

At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .

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Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images

If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.

In what turned out to be a surprise overtime win over the reigning NBA champions , the San Antonio Spurs . New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher suggested the team should be rewarded for the efforts in this victory. Unfortunately, victories for the Knicks have been few and far between.

If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.

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New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here two of his assistant coaching staff Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis , as they discuss a pregame strategy in the lead-up to a game to be played the franchise’s home venue , Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . On the road as well as at home the franchise has simply been pitiful , having been the first team this season to have lost in excess of fifty games , with a league-leading fifty-three defeats as of 17th March , 2015. AP Photo / Mark Warren .

With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.

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The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.

Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?

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If you want to know how I feel, walk a mile in my shoes ….

If you want to know how I feel, walk a mile in my shoes ….

The NBA season is now in full swing with the often less than memorable Christmas week schedule of games either being of great interest or simply an eyesore . Ongoing stories have evolved around the worsening crisis befalling the New York Knicks (5-28) and the fact this Derek Fisher coached team simply cannot win anywhere , be it on the road or at home. Truth be told , the Knicks simply suck and they are sucking the life-blood out of their season and the league in general. It is a stunning fact one of the NBA’s most renowned franchises is stuck in a morass of its own making. The “quick fix” many felt Phil Jackson might be able to effect has not been a resounding success for a team simply bereftof talent with the exception of Carmelo Anthony whose decision to re-sign with the team must now come into question , bearing in mind he signed a max-contract with the understanding Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations would seek to improve the roster.

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Essentially, the Knicks’ front office executive has simply shown what I believe to be true and it is the fact, he simply has no idea how to assess talent and is simply a great motivator and coach, when the right pieces are in place. How else can you explain the success of the eleven titles won during his now legendary coaching reign , with players such as Scottie Pippen , Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as the centerpieces of those championship winning teams ?

New York’s last victory came by way of a win over the Boston Celtics on the 12th December, 2014, whom they beat 101-95 at the TD Banknorth Gardens Center in Boston , Massachusetts, in a game marred by some sloppy play from both teams . Eight successive defeats has a way of indicating the lack of confidence shown by a team , but more indicative, has been the lack of leadership from any of the players, along with Fisher’s coaching staff , led by lead assistant Kurt Rambis. Add to this, the idiocy of some suggesting the assistants are experienced enough to provide Derek Fisher, a rookie head coach in his first season,with the experience needed to bring about some semblance of competitiveness. Well that premise, can be quickly put to rest , along with the belief Fisher’s learning on the job will in the end lead to success. During this run , it has been Carmelo Anthony leading the charge from an offensive standpoint. The Knicks’ continued woes are tied to the fact, they simply do not know how to know how to defend, nor are the players inclined to add the facet to their game.

Alongside Carmelo Anthony on this lightly restructured roster are Amare Stoudemire , Pablo Prigioni , Cole Aldrich , Quincy Acy, Jose Calderon , Samuel Dalembert , Cleanthony Early , Iman Shumpert and JR Smith . Suffice to say, if the rumors circulating are to be believed, with Phil Jackson having asked Carmelo Anthony to consider waiving his no-trade clause, it would suggest the Knicks are quite willing to bail on their season , while looking to build for the future. If that premise were to actually take flight , then it is clear the organization have suddenly come to the realization the team is simply not good enough to compete at the highest levels , much less gain a playoff berth for the NBA’s annual end of the regular season foray.

The New York Knicks’ next scheduled contest will be a road gameon the 31st December , 2014 when they face the Los Angeles Clippers (21-11) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in what will be the last of the regular season scheduled games of 2014.

It was the move meant to send “shock waves “ across the NBA landscape, but instead LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-12) as the ” Prodigal Son” has fallen well short of expectations . James and the Cavaliers are merely three games above.500, although they sit comfortably, as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and four games behind the division leading Chicago Bulls (22-9) within the Central Division. Yet , for all of the brouhaha made of LeBron James’ departure from the Miami Heat to make a heralded return to the Cavaliers, the fact remains, the four-time League MVP while impressive on the on the court, his teammates have failed to follow his lead.

The top-pick from the 2003 NBA Draft remains a prodigious talent and now the standard bearer and face of the NBA, alongside Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder . This duo, one would hope will create a rivalry which will be long-lasting and appreciated as much as many of the greatest rivalries the league has offered over the course of its history. For the moment however, questions are being asked as to why , LeBron James , Kyrie Irving , Kevin Love and the supporting cast have not been more dominant within the NBA. In their last eight games the Cavaliers 5-3, something of a reflection of the team as a whole and the inconsistency witnessed over the course of the season .

As if to emphasize the issues the Cavaliers continue to face, consider the fact they are coming off a twenty-three point home loss to lowly Detroit Pistons . If that contest was not indicative of why Cleveland cannot be currently considered one of the top teams in the NBA, then someone needs to explain to me why there has been such a hype over this franchise merely because of LeBron’s return to this organization ! From the get-go , there was this rather idiotic rationale James would single-handed, make this team an omnipresent force, but seemingly , everyone who ran with this idiocy, failed to recognize the fact, rookie head coach David Blatt was a novice to the NBA and its coaching style . Blatt , his coaching staff and the team will get the chance to reassert their presence in the Eastern Conference, while also seeking to take the lead (1-1) in their season series against the Atlanta Hawks. With the Hawks having built a solid foundation around a core of Elton Brand , Jeff Teague , Paul Millsap , Al Horford , DeMarre Caroll, Mike Muscala , Kyle Korver and John Jenkins . Tonight’s contest between these two Eastern Conference teams could go a long way in telling us the directions the these franchises may well be heading in .

I certainly believe last season’s NBA Playoffs told us a great deal about the Indiana Pacers . As the number one seeds in the Eastern Conference as the playoffs began, it was felt Frank Vogel and his coaching staff had assembled a team make things tough for the Miami Heat during their postseason foray. Instead, the Pacers capitulated under little duress , albeit, the Pacers capitulated under little duress , albeit, the Pacers played a great deal of the Eastern Conference Finals’ series lacking the offensive firepower to match Miami during the best of seven-game series conference finals’ contest.

Coming into this season the Indiana Pacers remain a flawed team without a backbone and showing very little resilience. In their last five games the Pacers have managed to gain some semblance of consistency winning three of those contests, with their last victory coming in a twenty-five point demolition of the Brooklyn Nets on the 27th December , only to follow up that win with a loss to the Chicago Bulls in what can only be seen as the ongoing weakness of the Pacers as a team. A record of 11-21 is a clear indicator as to where this Frank Vogel coached team should expect to be , with the best player on the roster this season , none other than George Hill, being ably abetted by Roy Hibbert, David West, Rodney Stuckey, Luis Scola , Ian Mahinmi and CJ Watson. Indiana will renew their regular season rivalry when they meet the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening in a highly anticipated game at the Conseco Life Field House Center , Indianapolis , Indiana ,.

Having been the NBA’s youngest League MVP, it is hard to define the career of Derrick Rose. Certainly , on his best days , he can be considered one one of the league’s elite point guards,a facilitator , prolific scorer , stout defensive player and clearly an all-round asset to a team . Yet. for all of those very traits, the question remains, can Rose stay healthy enough to play an entire season, staying injury-free, to aid the Chicago Bulls winning their first NBA title since the era of Michael Jordan being with the franchise ? Tom Thibodeau coaches a tremendous Bulls’ lineup led by Rose , but with the talented shooting guard and small-forward Jimmy Butler coming into his own this season , it would appear the Bulls might now be as talented and with even greater depth than in recent years.

If there remains any doubts about the Chicago Bulls at this juncture, consider where they now stand and then take into account how effective they have been been with the ascent of Jimmy Butler. Derrick Rose and his teammates might be in for a stern test when they face the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday night. The Nets are in need of win , while the Bulls simply want to distance themselves from their nearest rivals within their division.

A great offense can undoubtedly aid a team’s effort to come into its own during a season. Nowhere has it been more evident than with the Golden State Warriors (24-5) and Portland Trailblazers (25-7) who continue to blow their opponents away with almost effortless ease . Leading the charge for both teams are Steph Curry and Damian Lillard . These two extraordinary point guards are providing the league with some exhilarating play and perhaps some of the richest evidence to suggest, that in the last five years this has the been richest era of the game, where these positional players have been so dominant and prominent.

Steve Kerr’s easy transition in succeeding Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors has made his task simple and his merely instructing his players to play with gusto has brought them to the point where they are now at, atop of division and the upper echelons of the Western Conference. Trailblazers’ head coach Terry Stotts has simply shown his coaching acumen , while GM Neil Olshey has merely put together a competitive roster ready to play for a well-respected head coach and his coaching staff .

The Warriors’ most game had them playing the woefully inept Philadelphia 76ers (4-26) , a franchise I now believe should be demoted to the NBA’s D League , simply as a matter of common decency and to stop the promulgation of mediocrity exhibited by the Sixers throughout this entire season. The fact this contest ended in a 3 forty-point blowout loss (126-86) for Philadelphia should come as no surprise, but it ought to be for the NBA hierarchy who still try to brand and sell their on-court product, as riveting and of great appeal to the fans . A blind and deaf mute, is likely to find more excitement in their own solitude, than fans of the Sixers, who continue to watch this team while trying to extol the franchise’s virtues of being a worthy diversion within the NBA. It has been these type of issues the hierarchy has refused to address, along with instances of gross misconduct by team owners , until there is known to be public outrage for such antics, but what else would you expect of sports’ entity ran by a bunch of Neanderthal Caucasian middle-aged males, who are from a bygone age .

Stotts and the Traiblazers would likely make for a formidable contender in the NBA Playoffs if they can maintain their current pace. A projected win total of fifty-six or fifty-eight victories could see them land the top seed within the Western Conference , but that would all be based upon supposition and barring any serious injuries to front-line players on the roster. A well-deserved overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors , one of the surprising stories and teams within the Eastern Conference this season is a telling sign as to how well Portland just happen to be doing at present. The Portland Trailblazers’ first game of 2015 will be on the 3rd January when they play the Atlanta Hawks . A fitting way for Portland to begin the New Year than seeking to take down an Eastern Conference foe and further emphasize the fact the East is weak , while the West is extremely competitive among their top-ten teams.

For all of the continued bellyaching by fans of the Los Angeles Lakers , it is always good to know, we are always only moments away from annually seeing the petulant and self-absorbed behavior of Kobe Bryant. I understand his need to win and to be viewed in the eyes of the fans and public alike, that he is indeed this generation’s answer to Michael Jordan . Bryant may well have surpassed the Bulls’ and NBA icon for third all-time on the career points’ list , but that is all all he is likely to achieve in comparison to Jordan. He will not win a sixth NBA ring or title , most definitely not with the Los Angeles Lakers and their current lineup, coached by none other than Byron Scott and his clueless coaching staff !

Double-digit wins, ten (10-22) in total, have been all the Los Angeles Lakers can muster, just over one-third of the way through the NBA’s eighty two game schedule. Begs the question, if the Lakers were supplanted into the WNBA , would they fare any better ? The fact the Lakers have been unable show any type type of consistency putting together only three back-to-back wins should tell you all you need to know about this team and why they are currently one of the major laughing stocks around the NBA and among the game’s fans. Never kick a dog when it’s down, flea-bitten or not, as there is a likelihood for them to jump right up and take a bite out of your @ss. Something this current Lakers’ lineup is incapable of doing . Continuously over much of the season, Byron Scott’s players have sought to play beneath the level of their opponents, rather than above them . I do not believe I can put it anymore succinctly than that !

An eight-point victory victory over the Denver Nuggets , closed out 2014 for the Los Angeles Lakers but their task will not be any easier when they open up 2015 with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies . I believe Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are prepared to provide an outcome the Lakers players and their fans will not be entirely happy with ! Kobe Bryant may well seek to return to the Lakers next season for an eighteenth year in this league, but at what cost to the organization ? A franchise where GM Mitch Kupchak remains at a loss at this stage of his professional career knowing how to assemble a competitive team, while team owner Jim Buss continues to look bemused , non-cognizant of his actual surroundings and what is happening to the organization he presides over .

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Based upon the evidenced witnessed within the NBA , what do you believe has been the biggest surprise in the infancy of the league schedule and which players , team or teams have proven to be the biggest disappointments ? Your comments are more than welcome , so take a stab at making your thoughts known .

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(1) John Wall(2) and Rasual Butler (8) of the Washington Wizards guard Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks in the second half of their game at Madison Square Garden on December 25 , 2014 in New York City. Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky …

(2) Rasual Butler (8) of the Washington Wizards shoots over Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks in the first half of their game at Madison Square Garden on December 25, 2014 in New York City. Getty Images/ Jeff Zelevansky

(3) NEW YORK, USA – MARCH 18TH : New York Knicks introduce Phil Jackson as the new Knicks’ President at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. Also pictured are , far left , team owner James Dolan and GM Steve Mills . Jackson and Mills have seen the team struggle this season and there now seems to be growing speculation the front office will seek to trade their prized and only valuable asset , Carmelo Anthony , with the player being asked to waive his no-trade clause . Anthony is not due to become a free agent until 2019 , having signed contract with the New York Knicks prior to the beginning this regular season. AP Photo by Anthony J. Causi ….

(4) Paul Millsap (4) of the Atlanta Hawks defends against Kevin Love (0) of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on December 30 , 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox/ Getty Images …..

(5) LeBron James (23) and Kevin Love (0) of the Cleveland Cavaliers react after a play in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio . Getty Images / Mike Lawrie …

(6) Jimmy Butler , left , defended by Alan Anderson , was held to eight points during the Nets’ 96-82 blowout win over the Bulls Tuesday night in Chicago at the United Center . AP Photo / Holly Anderson …

(7) Deron Williams (8) of the Brooklyn Nets moves against Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 23 , 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Johnathan Daniel /Getty Images …

(8) (L-R) Damian Lillard (0) , Wesley Matthews , Nicolas Batum and Meyers Leonard of the Portland Trail Blazers wait on the court as a play is reviewed during their game against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on December 22 , 2014 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images North America/ Scott Halleran …

(9) Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks with Kobe Bryant (24) during a time out in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 100-94 . Getty Images/ Hannah Foslien ….

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From  left to  right ,  Kevin  Durant  ,  LeBron    James  and   Anthony  Davis .
From left to right , Kevin Durant , LeBron James and Anthony Davis .

Paint me a picture of the NBA this season

Paint me a picture of the NBA this season

The NBA regular season will begin with its usual customary splash . The defending champions the San Antonio Spurs will begin their defense of their title with pretty much the same core group of players and Finals MVP and now the fourth cog in their wheel Kawhi Leonard being a focal point of the Spurs’ lineup. With head coach Gregg Popovich also returning with his full lineup of assistant coaches it should prove to be eventful in seeing how the Spurs go about in winning the franchise’s sixth NBA title. Few teams have achieved the type of success attained by this franchise over the past two decades.

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The teams have already began their ritual of preseason exhibition games , with many having new lineups. With the departure of LeBron James from the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers , it has created a seismic shift within the Eastern Conference , with a number of analysts now making the Cavaliers the prohibitive favorites for this season’s NBA title. Undoubtedly, with the addition of Kevin Love to the roster , Cleveland will have to be looked upon more favorably as one of the better lineups within the conference but as to their being the best team in the NBA , is open to great deal of debate and speculation among prognosticators and supporters of the franchise.

David Blatt , the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers , while being a proven commodity , he is simply another rookie head coach within the NBA this season. Blatt will find his task a tough one albeit , he has league’s best player available to him __ LeBron James, along with a good point guard , Kryrie Irving and one of the game’s best power forwards in Kevin Love.

There is a distinct feeling, with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs having begun their preseason schedules , the question now becomes , what type of seasons are the two teams likely to have? Age and experience would suggest the Spurs are not likely to be complacent and it is certainly not the way Gregg Popovich is known to approach a season . Cleveland are unbeaten through their preseason schedule . The team in their most recent overcame a tough Indiana Pacers’ team looking to reassert themselves after lackluster and disappointing postseason , where they fell to the Miami Heat —- in the Eastern Conference Finals . That series told us a great deal about the Pacers, specifically how mentally and physically soft the team was said to be as seen throughout the series against the Heat.

The San Antonio Spurs having started their exhibition season with a 1-2 mark with Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli playing sparingly during this preseason. Over an eighty-two game schedule, Gregg Popovich knows his players will be going through a rigorous season where fitness will of the utmost if they are to make a successful defense of their NBA title . San Antonio remains a team in its essence being able to play an uptempo game competing with the best in the league. In their most recent contest the Spurs were on the wrong side of a rather lopsided loss to the Phoenix Suns , albeit, that Popovich’s playing staff were under-manned with several players being sidelined for a number of reasons beyond the coach’s decision.

This upcoming season I expect the San Antonio Spurs to meet the challenges envisaged , that will likely come from the Los Angeles Clippers , Oklahoma City Thunder , Golden State Warriors , Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets . Of the aforementioned teams , I believe the Clippers , Thunder and Trailblazers are most likely to give he Spurs their toughest challenge over the course of their schedule ! With four games left on their preseason schedule , Gregg Popovich will hope to have his players in sync for their foray into the regular season , but first , a Saturday exhibition contest against their foes from the NBA Finals will be on the agenda , when they play hosts to the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas,.

The defending NBA champions will begin their season against the Dallas Mavericks in the first of several meetings between the two teams this season.

It has been astonishing to see the growth in Kevin Durant’s game since he entered the NBA , having been drafted by the Oklahoma City (Seattle Supersonics) . An NBA Finals’ appearance notwithstanding and the team’s demoralizing loss (4-1) to the Miami Heat has not quenched the player’s thirst for his first NBA title . Accolades asides , Durant quite possibly poses the only threat to LeBron James’ dominance of the NBA as the league’s best player . What could hamper the Thunder’s season is the loss of Kevin Durant for the first two months of the regular season , with the player being lost to the team , having suffered a broken right foot .

Scott Brooks and GM Sam Presti will now have to press forward in how the Oklahoma City Thunder will proceed without their All Star . If this team is to have any chance of succeeding this season then a great deal of responsibility will be placed upon the shoulders of Russell Westbrook , with the player likely to be asked to provide the leadership needed in the absence of his teammate.

If Westbrook can prove himself worthy of the role in leading the team it would go a long way in allaying the fears of Brooks and the coaching staff. As mercurial a player as Westbrook is known to be , he has yet to show the leadership abilities desired by the coach . However, Scott Brooks believes highly in the point guard in spite of the concerns raised by others , who believe his star something of a loose cannon. Russell Westbrook has proven to be a highly effective player in his role as a point guard. The combination of Durant and Westbrook when on court , they are one of the most productive tandems in all of basketball . It is that type of productivity which will be needed throughout the first two months of the season if the Thunder are to make some headway this season , while Kevin Durant is sidelined by his injury. Who steps up into the role to be the appropriate foil for Westbrook will be predicated on the desires of this team and the coaching strategies of the head coach.

Oklahoma will begin their regular season and opening night schedule with a game against the Portland Trailblazers on the 29th October, 2014. Contests between these two franchises have proven to be competitive and that was clearly the case last season with the Trailblazers surprising a number of analysts and fans alike with their resiliency and sense of purpose . Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts and his coaching staff know that last season’s exploits were no flash in the pan with the team coming away with a 54-28 record, good enough for a playoff berth , but their conference semi-finals’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs bore the hallmark of a team simply lacking recent postseason experience .

LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are the two players who have led to the team’s ever improving play over the past two seasons . Of the teams I believe capable of making a legitimate run of winning not only their division but also with a chance gaining a playoff berth within the Western Conference this season, the Portland Trailblazers most definitely fit the bill ! This is a well-coached core group of players capable of playing at a high level on both ends of the floor .

A fifty-four win season in 2013 was definitely a sign of the Portland Trailblazers heading in the right direction. This season will be one , likely to prove to be a real test of wills for LaMarcus Aldridge , Damian Lillard , Chris Kaman , Dorell Wright , Robin Lopez , Steve Blake , Nicolas Batum and Will Barton .

The $2 billion sale price agreed to and paid by billionaire and former Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer , if anything signified how quickly the league hierarchy and owners wanted to rid themselves of Donald Sterling when the Los Angeles Clippers was purchased by Ballmer . The missteps of the NBA and sheer hypocrisy of the team owners was one of self-serving and complete embarrassment to the league. As to the apathy and idiocy of fans who tried to suggest while Sterling’s actions were inappropriate , it was not overly derogatory damaging to the NBA. Perhaps those very same idiots have not looked at the makeup of the league’s player personnel and the number of executives and members of the hierarchy who happen to be of an ethic background . The sheer incredulity and lack of action shown by David Stern and his successor Adam Silver after the repeated acts of Sterling , indicates their own naivete and willingness to show that the “old boys’ network “ is alive and well in the NBA along with its ongoing lack of real leadership and social awareness . Pragmatism and rhetoric cannot be used as an excuse for ignorance and the allowance of racial bigotry . Yet somehow , the NBA caught with their pants around their legs, with their dicks in their hands and idiots fans still cannot comprehend the magnitude of Donald Sterling’s inappropriate behavior .

Doc Rivers head coach , SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers will be hoping , his team has an even bigger showing this season than witnessed in 2013 . Rivers has seen the growth in the Clippers , with the play of Blake Griffin , Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan , there is every belief this could be the year where the franchise makes an even bigger run in the NBA Playoffs and quite possibly to their first NBA title . Steve Ballmer for his part with an estimated $22 billion fortune has made it abundantly clear , no expense will be spared , as he seeks to bring a title to the franchise , while making the team the most competitive and star-laden in the NBA .

Ballmer’s willingness to make these bold statements, might well be his way re-imaging the franchise , while also seeking to upstage the Los Angeles Lakers whose misfortunes last season were well chronicled. As long as the Lakers are breathing as a franchise , the Los Angeles Clippers will always play second-fiddle to the city’s most beloved and renowned professional sports’ franchise. The Clippers may well struggle this season as they seek to become one of the Western Conference’s elite and more celebrated teams . The talent is certainly there , as to is the coaching , but it has been the complacency shown at the most inopportune of moments which have led to the team’s failures in recent seasons . This year Rivers will be looking to make even greater inroads in the playoffs than seen last year . The conference semi-finals’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder told us a great deal about the Clippers and the potential of the team during the NBA Playoffs .

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Chris Paul and his teammates will open up their regular season schedule with an opening night game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against their semi-finals’ nemesis from last season the Oklahoma City Thunder . If their previous regular season meetings are anything to go by, then the fans will be in for a great treat over the course of this season.

There is no doubt in my mind four teams in the Eastern Conference will have a great deal to prove this upcoming season ! The Miami Heat , Chicago Bulls , Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are the quartet of teams in question. Erik Spoelstra will lead a newly revamped roster into this season with team President Pat Riley eagerly looking on in anticipation . Riley’s missteps in part led to the Heat’s debacle the postseason , because of his reluctance to improve the lineup in order to assist LeBron James . As to this idiocy whereby , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would come to James’ aid , only an idiot would actually subscribe to that notion given how poorly Bosh and Wade played during the playoffs . Sporadic and inconsistent, could best describe the play of both of these individuals during regular season , with their being little comfort in the fact Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were being handsomely rewarded for their endeavors and lack of real productivity .

I’ve no real wish to labor the issue of the Miami Heat being overrated during their regular season and the very fact , beyond LeBron James there was simply nothing about the team that would suggest they were capable of beating the San Antonio Spurs in this past season’s NBA Finals . Miami will begin its regular season sojourn knowing they are not likely to be the best team within the Eastern Conference

Derrick Rose considered to be back at full strength played his part in Team USA capturing gold at the FIBA World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. The Chicago Bulls will be hoping their All Star point guard will be able lead this team to another deep postseason run . Adding Pau Gasol gives them a veteran presence, but it must be noted Gasol is no longer the player capable of giving a team double-digit output , in terms of offense and rebounds . That much is clear after his final year with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. He will provide a wily veteran’s presence for the Bulls , but in large part the team’s success will be dependent on the form of Derrick Rose. It begins and ends with the determination of the point guard and his wish to rejoin the elite players within the NBA.

The one thing you can say about the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks and it is , both franchises will find a way to hog the NBA headlines. With their payrolls being among the highest in the NBA . There remains no real signs of intelligence or life within their respective front offices. Phil Jackson is now trying to resurrect a Knicks’ franchise still looking for its first title in almost four decades. Carmelo Anthony still remains with the Knicks , but his supporting cast appears to be an ill-matched set of cogs put together without a thought for competitiveness. Add in the fact a rookie head coach, Derek Fisher has been brought in to coach this lineup and you either have a recipe for disaster or the possibility of the New York Knicks surprising a number of fans and analysts alike.

Jason Kidd’s abrupt departure from the Brooklyn Nets says a great deal about Mikhail Prokhorov and his unwillingness to accede to Kidd’s wishes to be given a greater role within the organization . The fact of the matter became the former head coach’s belief he had a right to demand and dictate the player personnel decisions was an affront to the owner and GM Billy King whose responsibility it is for such decision making . Kidd’s primary role was that of being the head coach , a job which in part, he did rather haphazardly and at times showing a great deal of unsportsmanlike conduct and lack of respect in his role .

With a new coach in tow , Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff will be asked to make this team more competitive and to achieve what Mikhail Prokhorov believes to be a realistic goal of winning an NBA title . I believe the task beyond the Nets’ reach because there is simply no real depth to the lineup even with players such as Andrei Kirilenko , Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez on the roster . The question still remains , who among the players will step up to the plate and assume the vocal role as the Nets’ leader ? Garnett is well past his sell-by-date and his productivity is not what it once was. Deron Williams when healthy, is an extremely talented player , but that is all he is and will remain, talented , never a winner . Joe Johnson over the past four seasons has simply been robbing the Nets blind , while rarely stepping up to the plate .

Brooklyn, if they are to succeed this upcoming season they will have to overcome divisional and conference adversaries Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks within the Atlantic Division and from within the Eastern Conference, usual stalwarts the Chicago Bulls , Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers and the likely resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers. The first game on the Nets’ regular season schedule will be against the Boston Celtics at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts,.

The NBA season itself should prove to be an exciting one , with the individual awards likely to be front and center , with Kevin Durant looking to defend his League MVP award. Elsewhere , among the rookies , Andrew Wiggins , Joel Embiid , Jabari Parker , Julius Randle , Aaron Gordon and Dante Exum will be looking to place their names on the Rookie of the Year Award . Michael Carter Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers won the award last season , where he was one of the main reasons why the Sixers had some semblance of success. Upheavals within the organization has seen Josh Harris become the managing partner , but the real problems still lies with the coaching staff and the overall makeup of the Sixers’ roster . A deliberate act or not , last season , during the later stages , it looked as Philadelphia was simply looking to “tank their season “ in order to avail themselves of a lottery pick . Unfortunately, the league hierarchy sees nothing wrong in the teams simply fraudulently taking the consumers for a ride, while selling a mediocre product to the fans and public alike being a major attraction.

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As the NBA season approaches which players are you most looking forward to seeing and which teams do you believe likely will be the main contenders for the NBA title ? Your comments as always are welcomed , appreciated and as always thank you for the continued support of this site !

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(1) LeBron James(6) of the Miami Heat is helped off the court after cramping up against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images / Andy Lyons …

(2) LeBron James (6) and Dwyane Wade(3) of the Miami Heat celebrate after defeating the Indiana Pacers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 30, 2014 in Miami, Florida. Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images …

(3) Kawhi Leonard is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich court-side during a regular season game. AP Photo / Adam Shelton …

(4)LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 18: Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and new owner of the Clippers Steve Ballmer, right, address the media after Ballmer was introduced for the first time during Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images..

(5) Jason Kidd seen here court-side during a game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York on the 27th November , 2013 . Getty Images/ Chris Powell …

(6) Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers is hoping to make an impact in his rookie season for the franchise . AP Photo / Miles Moore ..
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The Larry O’Brien Trophy

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Don’t bother with the platitudes just bring on a dose of reality …………

Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour , now s have an image problem to deal with beyond the fact golf’s most high-profiled player is likely to be lost to the Tour for a several weeks. Tiger Woods’ career has been derailed in recent seasons by his own behavioral issues and by recurring injuries, most notably his back. This season, it has been injuries which have plagued the player’s year and his play , leaving many in doubt , whether he can reach the heights where he was once golf’s most dominant player and a certainty to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen Major Grand Slam wins. Nicklaus’ feat might now seem out of reach but the PGA all-time career wins on the Tour does seem attainable for Woods, if he can regain a degree of fitness and form.

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As the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, cannot be happy with the fact he has suspended Dustin Johnson for a six month banishment , while the player undergoes rehab for a substance abuse problem, which has been determined to be cocaine addiction. Now don’t get me wrong, but my question is , since when were golfers known to be the “bad boys “ of the sports’ world , never mind their partying like perverted rock stars? I guess after the sexual peccadilloes of Tiger Woods , Johnson’s actions had to be expected. If not Dustin Johnson, then who would be the next high-profiled Tour golfer to be caught in a web of lies , deceit and sexual intrigue?

Courtesy of Fox News

Dustin Johnson failed drug tests, fooled around with tour player’s wife, report says

Reports of drug use and sleeping with other tour players’ wives have followed in the wake of Thursday’s announcement by pro golfer Dustin Johnson that he is taking a leave of absence from the PGA Tour.

Golf.com cited an unnamed source who said Johnson failed three drug tests in the past five years, including a positive test for marijuana in 2009 and two positive tests for cocaine in 2012 and 2014.

The PGA is not required to make public any player suspensions that result from positive tests for recreational drugs.

The same report also said Johnson “had a sexual indiscretion with at least one wife of a PGA Tour player.”

A rep for the tour did not respond to Golf.com’s request for comment.

Following the report, Fox Sports reporter Robert Lusetich tweeted that Johnson was known to have slept with not one, but two tour players’ wives.

Not a huge secret either that #DustinJohnson had affairs with 2 wives of PGA Tour players. One broke up the marriage.

— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) August 1, 2014

Johnson became engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, in August, 2013. He issued a statement Thursday that addressed his hiatus from the tour.

“I will use this time to seek professional help for personal challenges I have faced,” he said. “By committing the time and resources necessary to improve my mental health, physical well-being and emotional foundation, I am confident that I will be better equipped to fulfill my potential and become a consistent champion.”

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Now if the allegations concerning Johnson are indeed true, his philandering with the wives of many of the players on the PGA Tour does leave the player in an untenable position in terms of his relationships with his peers. As to what this also indicates concerning the behavior of a number of the Tour professionals does leave a great deal to be desired as well as the wholesome tradition Tim Finchem tries to sell to the public. With over $260 million in official prize money on the PGA Tour, as well as a further $60 million in unofficial prize money , by way of unofficial tournaments that remains in part, a bevy of the schedule, golf remains one of the most lucrative sports by way of the on course earnings afforded their professionals.

The PGA Tour much like the NFL , MLB and NBA , has created a charade of wholesomeness , that in no way could they have maintained , which their respective hierarchies tried to keep up the perception, while conning the fans and public alike their sports remained above reproach. Fact of the matter remains, golf has always been shrouded with some very dubious distinctions of which its greatest was and still remains racism , lack of diversity, and the ongoing bigoted and archaic values within Augusta National , home to The Masters . Only recently, have we seen the change in attitude of members of Augusta and even now, there still seems to be an aversion to real change within that bastion of male chauvinism and bigotry. Before Tiger Woods’ ascent to the top of the world rankings as well as winning fourteen Grand Slam Majors and seventy-four official PGA Tour wins. The last African-American golfers of note on the PGA Tour were Lee Elder and Calvin Peete. Perhaps, this was merely the PGA Tour’s lack of social response or the very fact they felt, the issue did not need to be addressed.

With Tiger Woods’ descent, the rise of Rory McIlroy might well have provided the PGA Tour with a real superstar the sport is now sorely missing. Phil Mickelson does not seem to be the player thought to be ready to lay down the gauntlet and in proving to be a real adversary for Tiger Woods. Bubba Watson appears to be all too robotic in his approach , character and the very fact he does not seem to be a real major draw on the Tour in spite of his career. Jordan Speith’s rise up the world rankings and Fedex Cup standings has simply afforded him a great deal of attention within the print media but until he notches that first real big win on the PGA Tour, he will be merely seen as another wunderkind, thought to be the heir-apparent.

Rory McIroy’s wire to wire-to-wire win of The Open at Hoylake and his most recent win of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational , simply emphasizes why he is now the best golfer on the planet . His world number one ranking , reinforces that fact and his dominance of the game comes at a time when golf is really in need of a genuine superstar and not a robotic character-less prototype thrown up on the PGA Tour , as the next American golfer that will dominate the game.

Dustin Johnson’s suspension and Tiger Wood’s recurrence of a back problem now leaves incoming USA Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson at a loss as to the possible replacements are likely to be , to fill out his twelve man roster for this biannual team competition featuring the US against the best Europe has to offer in terms of the European Tour players. With golf, having now become a global game , the two main tours are the PGA and the European Tour . Europe may well be made the presumptive favorites for the upcoming competition, set to begin on the 23rd September through to the 28th September at Gleneagles Golf Course , Gleneagles , Scotland. Paul McGinley as the European team captain will have a bevy of talent with a group of players made up of Major winners, regular competitors on the European Tour, as well as on the PGA Tour. . The bragging rights and unique distinction of this team competition, makes it one of the most anticipated and talked about sporting events in the world at the time of its scheduling. With Europe looking to take back the Ryder Cup trophy, this September, all eyes will be on Gleneagles , Scotland, once this competition gets underway.

Having won three of the four legs of the Majors which make up the career Grand Slam . Rory McIlroy would like nothing better than to join what is really a select list of golfers to have achieved that feat. Jack Nicklaus , Tiger Woods and Gary Player are three of the group of players to have achieved the feat, with Nicklaus’ eighteen Major wins heading the list of Grand Slam victories. It should be noted the tally would have been far greater for the Golden Bear , when you consider the number of runner-up finishes (second place) he tallied in the Majors over his illustrious career. The Green Jacket of The Masters is the one Major victory McIlroy now seeks to join the illustrious group in question, but this Thursday , with the start of the PGA Championship at the : Valhalla Golf Course in Louisville, Kentucky. The young Irishman will get the chance to win his fifth Major title and second in succession within a calendar year, should he prove victorious in taking the PGA crown. The odds might not favor McIlroy, but who is likely to really challenge him at this juncture, given his present form ?

Misery , sorrow , call it what you will, but the belly aching by the fans who saw the fall from grace of the Miami Heat was enough to make your stomach turn. You had the sheer idiocy of fans suggesting an ailing Dwyane Wade merely had to turn up for the postseason and barely lift an eyelid and the Heat would have swept their way to victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In reality, I know what makes the North American sports’ fan really tick, it is their inane stupidity and lack of real knowledge, only knowing to spurt real absurdities to make themselves sound knowledgeable. LeBron James was afforded as much aid by his teammates in this past NBA Finals as a gunshot wound victim would be given aid , had it been a Band Aid to cover a wound to the abdomen that was still bleeding profusely. Where was either Dwyane Wade or the ” overrated” Chris Bosh in these Finals ? I will tell you where , no fucking where to be seen , and yet the excuses as to the Heat’s demise were still forthcoming. Let’s put it this way , with the dumb ass lack of intelligence being shown by LeBron James’ apologists such as Stephen A Smith and Chris Broussard , I really wonder how the NBA has any real legitimacy with regard to the print media much less the lack of frigging intelligence shown by some fans !

With LeBron James now deciding to pull up sticks and make his way back to Cleveland and bringing a forgiving smile by rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers , all may well be right in the NBA world once again. Throw in for good measure , Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert seems to have had a change of heart about the player he once called self-centered, arrogant and disloyal. One might now ask , what must James now do to make the fans in Cleveland really happy ? An NBA title in the first year of his return will not be happening, even if based on the premise of the Cavaliers trading away their 2014 NBA number one draft pick , Andrew Wiggins to acquire power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves .

Dan Gilbert, GM David Griffin and new head coach David Blatt , believe the acquisition of Kevin Love can best bolster the team roster, making them a legitimate contender within the Eastern Conference . While likely the case, I believe it too early to make such a presumption, not when you have a Chicago Bulls’ team led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah , reigning Defensive Player of the Year and the addition of a still productive veteran Pau Gasol. In the Bulls you have a team coached by the best coach in the NBA yet to win a title, by the name of Tom Thibodeau . Chicago can be considered a real threat and with Rose fit though not yet in real game shape , he is already proving to be his old self in terms of leadership skills, which have been on display while a member of the USA FIBA squad for the upcoming World Cup tournament. And with the injury suffered by Paul George of the Indiana Pacers during a team scrimmage, Rose’s place on the final team roster for the tournament seems assured. If he can merely find some of the form shown when he became one of the youngest players ever to win the NBA League MVP , then one has to look at the Chicago Bulls as a prohibitive favorite within the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. From a defensive standpoint the Bulls are one of the best teams within the conference and the league itself and might just be the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference with the addition of Pau Gasol.

The shakeup within the NBA caused by LeBron James’ defection to the Cleveland Cavaliers did not have desired effect one might have thought. Carmelo Anthony remained with the New York Knicks signing for more money , as if there was any real doubt , he would have left their offer on the table ? Phil Jackson will now seek to bolster what is still a very under-achieving team , with Amare’ Stoudemire still remaining a part of an equation , where his lack of productivity and bloated salary becomes more than an eyesore and afterthought. As to the reasons why Knicks’ fans seem so reassured , might have more to do with the choice of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the team’s head coach than it has to do with the Knicks’ 2014 draft class . Not exactly thrilling, but for the Knicks, anything which takes the spotlight off the organization’s incompetence has to be seen as a positive .

The Miami Heat’s loss of LeBron James has Pat Riley running to the hills , seeking to repair the damage done . During the season Riley essentially stood pat , not seeking to bolster a roster that was flawed in so many ways. Yet , there were fans and analysts alike enamored and in awe of a team playing in a weakened , mediocre division and conference . If any of them , simply took the time to look at what was happening in the Eastern Conference and its divisions, they would have noticed how dire the situation had become was simply ongoing from previous seasons . Instead, it was all about the greatness of LeBron and this team seeking to win back to back to back NBA titles. When you have a product which has become so putrid and bile inducing, as witnessed in the Eastern Conference, with fans are lauding over it as something spectacular , you simply have to wonder what might be going on inside their minds as well as that of the NBA hierarchy? Outgoing commissioner David Stern was lauded by owners and his peers as being a savior of the game, but his apparent willingness to overlook litany of behavioral issues of Donald Sterling and Rich DeVos , shows the former commissioner being an ass, as well as dubious and duplicitous in the league’s ongoing problems . Stern is to the NBA, what the Tea Party is now proving to be for the Republican Party, more of a burden, rather than a considerable boost .

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli , Kawhi Leonard and their teammates showed us what team work was all about during the finals and their clinical dismantling of their Eastern Conference opponents. Leonard showed us why Gregg Popovich had so much faith in the three-year starter in the league. He has matured into a dependable and solid player , likely to be the centerpiece of the Spurs’ future upon the retirement of the franchise’s Big Three of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker. Leonard’s winning of the Finals’ MVP Award was more than justified as he led the Spurs, showing signs of maturity beyond his years, as well as the fans witnessing his great all-round ability during the series. Could the same be said of anyone on the Miami Heat’s roster with the exception of LeBron James ?

In winning their fifth NBA title under Gregg Popovich , the San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be league’s most recent NBA dynasty. Something fans were quickly tying to anoint the Miami Heat with , after two titles and four appearances in the league’s showcase finale , during LeBron’s tenure with the franchise. Greatness, is normally afforded to teams and individuals who have achieved something special, but in the midst of the James’ saga, fans were seeking to anoint the player as the rightful successor to Michael Jordan . LeBron James while epitomizes determination , has become self-centered, less charismatic than the brand his handlers suggest him to be. Throw in the ongoing signs of immaturity, petulance and you have yourself an immature superstar, seeking to be in spotlight at all times , with the media there, simply to build him up into something he really is not.

Becky Hammon formerly of the San Antonio Stars of the WNBA and the Spurs’ affiliate within that particular league. In a notable first within the NBA, Hammon will become the first female to be a lead assistant coach in the NBA joining the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich. Also joining Popovich’s roster of coaches will be Ettore Messina whose vast experience and success in Europe cannot be discounted. The Italian brings with him an impressive resume’ in European club basketball. Hammon’s playing career in the WNBA makes her one of the game’s best players in the league’s history, where she is in the upper echelons of WNBA career statistics beyond the success achieved with the Stars. Whether or not her experience and career resume’ can equate with success , the Spurs and her gaining the respect of the male players remains to be seen over the course of this upcoming season. So far, she has the respect of the Spurs’ head coach and many of her counterparts on the Spurs’ coaching roster.

The NBA remains a bastion of male camaraderie , in spite of the league having the WNBA offshoot where women are afforded the chance to show off their skill-set within the game but unfortunately there too as well as within the league (NBA) itself there remains few opportunities for real advancement as a head coach much less as a league front executive.. So much for the hypocrisy of the motto of the NBA _______ the “ NBA Cares “ . This is a league so devoid of leadership and integrity, the only thing that seems to matter, is the amount of money annually pouring into their coffers.

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Picture gallery.

With the news of Dustin Johnson’s suspension by the PGA Tour and it being the most serious reprimand of a PGA Tour player , do you believe the Tour can survive its image taking such an adverse hit ? With the NBA preseason still a few months away but with the league itself still in a state of turmoil caused by ongoing litigation between Donald Sterling and the NBA, what do you feel will be the final outcome to this whole saga? Finally, what are your thoughts concerning how LeBron James left the Miami Heat after four seasons of substantial success ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) PGA Tour Chairman Tim Finchem . The chairman has a great deal to worry about concerning the PGA Tour’s image after the suspension of Dustin Johnson after his having failed a drug test for the third time . Johnson tested positive for cocaine but further allegations have surfaced suggesting he had slept with the wives of a number players on the Tour . AP Photo / Barry Mitchell …

(2) PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson who has taken a prolong leave of absence from the Tour schedule to deal with what he says are personal medical issues. A spokesperson for the Tour issued a public statement , noting Johnson has been suspended for a third failed drug test , having tested positive for cocaine use. Further allegations , yet to be substantiated , suggest he has also slept with the wives of several players on the Tour . Getty Images / Gary McAdams ….

(3) US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . Woods hopes to make a full recovery in time to compete in the Ryder Cup for the USA . His standing among the ten players in the FedexCup standings would not make Tiger Woods an automatic choice . Only the top ten players are automatic choices , with the captain then having the discretion to fill out his twelve man roster with two more players to make up his team. Getty Images North America / Chris Woods ….

(4) Rory McIlroy seen here holding the Claret Jug having won the The Open at Hoylake , in Liverpool , England , this year . McIlroy led from wire to wire , never once being seriously challenged by any of his competitors in the tournament . He also recently won WGC Bridgestone Invitational in commanding style , placing himself back atop of the World Golf Rankings as the number one player in the world . Rory McIlroy now heads into Lexington , Kentucky and the Valhalla Golf Course , hoping to add the PGA Championship to his list of career achievements as well his Grand Slam tally in terms of victories . Getty Images / Harry How ….

(5) LeBron James meets young fans in the town of Akron , Ohio , recently having returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The return of the Prodigal Son to the franchise where he began his career in 2003 , will begin anew with a revamped roster , new head coach and coaching staff led by rookie head coach David Blatt . Getty Images / Hugh Davis …

(6) Becky Hammon formerly a player with the San Antonio Stars will now become a lead assistant on the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Hammon brings along a wealth of experience as a player in the WNBA , where she was a multiple WNBA All Star . AP Photo / Michael Proffitt ….

(7) Ettore Messina one of the most successful coaches in European club basketball history , having won four Euroleague titles . Messina and Becky Hammon will be joining the coaching staff of the San Antonio Spurs . Both assistants already have impressive starts to their careers with the franchise , bringing praises from head coach Gregg Popovich as well as from several players on the team’s roster. AP Photo/ Dean Jones ….

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Nikita Valentin . I just love what she does for this setting !

Nikita with some whipped cream and strawberries thrown in for good measure .

Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Ah the latest tidbit in the sports world that seems to be norm at present PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods made the formal announcement that he will not be playing in the US Open at Congressional Country Club , Bethseda , Maryland . And once again the bell seem to be tolling as most prognosticate whether or not Woods’ reign at the top is about to implode . The player is now ranked outside the top ten (ranked 15th in the latest rankings) of the World Rankings for the first time in over a decade . From my own standpoint the player apart from recurring injuries, Woods is now gunshy and is completely lacking in confidence . Now sliding down the rankings faster than a cheetah at full speed , it is becoming abundantly clear that we’re now seeing a player whose determination to win is still there but the physical attributes that made him a once dominant player no longer remains . His peers on the PGA Tour no longer seem to be intimidated by their once great nemesis . And this being the national championship I’m not sure that the second major of the season will be won by a US born player , it could well be won by a foreign player and therein lies the situation with regard to the PGA Tour. US talent is now merely about the players here winning the mundane events on the PGA Tour rather than the Majors (The Masters, US Open , British Open and PGA Championship) .

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Slide show for your perusal .

I have got to admit I will be pleasantly surprised if the winner of the US Open is an American because simply put the inconsistency of Phil Mickelson , Hunter Mahan , Steve Stricker simply doesn’t cut it amongst the real fans of the PGA Tour . It is Woods who drives the meters and the gossip on the Tour while lesser lights are simply the topic of the moment .

Can someone remind me why it is that I simply ought to be interested in the career of Floyd Mayweather as a boxer ? Undoubtedly talented , Mayweather is now more widely known more for his outside the ring run ins with the law , rather than for anything that he has achieved within the ring . A multiple weight divisional champion , the fighter now hopes to challenge Victor Ortiz for his WBC welterweight title this September (venue yet to be arranged) , as Maywether will be making a return to the ring for the first time in almost 18 months since he last fought and defeated Shane Mosley in a bout that was about as entertaining as the viewing of a head on collision between two high speed locomotives.

Ortiz , twelve years Mayweather’s junior knows that this will be a step up in class and at the same time he knows that should he pull off the impossible and defeat the former titlist , then the world becomes his oyster with limitless opportunies to establish himself amongst the top fighters in the world . The sport of boxing has become mundane and the mere fact that the desired fight between Manny Pacquiao no longer seems to be a priority amongst either fighter or the respective promoters. All the talk and hype in the world won’t change the fact that the proposed bout was never on the cards to begin with . They say money talks bullshit walks , well walk it did , as there was such a stench created by Bob Arum , Mayweather’s own camp and co promoter Oscar de La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions Inc.

When this bout actually takes place between Floyd Mayweather and Ortiz there may well be some passing interest there but I for one simply don’t believe that Mayweather is the draw that he once was ! His own failings as a father , a man and as an example to his children leaves a lot to be desired . And with the allegations of spousal abuse , verbal abuse of his children and the threatening of a witness with physical violence simply indicates that from a mental standpoint Mayweather’s faculties might not be all there . If Floyd Mayweather were to step away from boxing today he may well be sorely missed but from my own perspective the sooner he walks away the better off the sport will be !

Well the MLB Draft for 2011 (held in Seacaucus New Jersey) this past Monday , and before we knew it , it was over. Truth be known, it was something of a non-event given the fact that the highlights weren’t shown on either network television or on ABC/ESPN , Fox Sports or for that matter TBS . Instead the whole event was televised live by the MLB Network . There’s a reason why the MLB hierarchy cooperates with their broadcast partners but somehow this wasn’t a time they felt it necessary . Now don’t get me wrong but a from business standpoint I’m not so sure that the league itself much less its teams are on a sure footing financially. The ongoing saga with the Los Angeles Dodgers has become cannon fodder for the sports pages across the nation . And less we forget, the woefully inept the New York Mets in spite of the $200 million investment in the organization by hedge fund manager David Einhorn has me believing that the league has to intervene sooner rather than later.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the beneficiaries of having the number one overall pick with the organization taking the UCLA Bruins’ Gerrit Cole as their choice. One can understand the reason why the MLB Draft plays second fiddle to the NBA , NFL in terms of their respective drafts and the mere fact of the visibility raised when the events are televised . Granted , there’s more of an interest in the NFL’s Draft and the mere fact that the draft geeks are front and center in assessing the merits of the decisions made by the respective general managers around the league. Inasmuch , as Bud Selig would like to sell us on the merits of the event I don’t really believe that the commissioner himself believes that other than the consumed fan who’s so into the draft there is a heightened interest in the decisions being made.

Well the madness has to stop , it is now or never but fu#k it , sanity has to enter the domain at this juncture. In the sports world where it’s about the immediacy of the here and now , in terms of what have you done for me lately ? In the NBA it appears that the vast majority of fans were already prepared to anoint the Miami Heat as the 2011 NBA champions. Having seen the San Antonio Spurs bow out in the first round of the postseason and as a fan that result was a profound disappointment to me ! The Dallas Mavericks simply made their way through the playoffs with consummate ease and then in the Western Conference Finals they simply manhandled the Los Angeles Lakers , the two time defending NBA champions .

The Finals’ match-up that many had been had desired didn’t materialize as we now have the workman like Mavericks teeing up against the star laden Miami Heat led by LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . With the series now tied at two games apiece and the knives are out after a diabolical display on Tuesday night by James __ eight points though from a defensive standpoint the player stood his ground but offensively he was more of a detriment to his team . The knives will be out and directly aimed LeBron James. And this being the player who actually anointed himself ‘King James’ and then simply ran with it ? The two time league MVP had one of those games where nothing seem to have gone right but at the same time he rode into town announcing that this team would be good enough to win multiple titles __verbatim “not one , not two but three , four , five and why not six titles ” ? Hey LeBron let’s not get completely ahead of ourselves, you’ve already become an ingrate and are about as welcomed in the Cleveland area multiple doses of the ebola virus . Now you’re bringing your undoubted talents to South Beach but an ego that is large as the Grand Canyon will not make you all the more likeable at this juncture. I just hope for your sake at this moment in time should this team fail …….. you don’t choose to apportion blame elsewhere ?

The three point loss (83-86) told me a great deal about the Miami Heat and in particular about the ‘ Big Three’ on this team ! When placed under a great deal of adversity they are inclined to wilt under pressure and nowhere was this more self evident than last night . James was guilty of failing to deliver the goods and now the excuses will be made as to the reasons why and whether or not LeBron bears a great deal of that blame . While the protagonists out there were trying to make a case that James is now ready to wear the crown worn by Michael Jordan as the best player in the NBA . Here is simply another reason why those very same protagonists should simply shut the hell up and let history take its course , rather thrust upon LeBron James something that he has yet to deserve. It does a great disservice not only to the game but also to its image and Jordan’s legacy.

Lebron James may well yet become a truly great player and have a long and successful career in the league but as of now he’s yet to lead a team to a title and when last I looked , a runner up finish simply meant nothing to even the most ardent of fans !

On the flip side of the script Dirk Nowitzki simply showed why without him the Dallas Mavericks would simply be viewed as an also ran within the league . Now as they look to claim their first NBA title it will be interesting to see whether or not his teammates finally are beginning to believe that they are indeed capable of defeating the Miami Heat . It’s all well and good Jason Terry emblazoning a tattoo on his right bicep as an omen . But given the fact that Terry’s own displays during this series and the playoffs overall have been intermittent I’d say it’s time for him to get with the damn program !

There’s a great deal at stake for both teams in particular for the Miami Heat and their financial viability. Repeated losses over the last few years can’t hide the desperation of team President Pat Riley and Heat owner Micky Arison . The acquisition of Bosh and James wasn’t about merely a last ditch attempt to retain Dwyane Wade but also to shore up the financial coffers of the Miami Heat. Had they not been able to lure the two All Stars then in all likelihood Wade would have been playing elsewhere this season and with that the growing losses of the organization would be like a dead weight around the neck of the organization . Riley knows that a compelling series victory will bode well for the future of the Miami Heat and from a financial standpoint it would be greatly beneficial. As of now this series is far from over and the worrisome situation is that for LeBron James, his struggles continue in an NBA Final. Swept aside by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 in the Finals of that year when James was a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers . That sole appearance until this year has been something of a nightmare for the player that many have stated has become the new “King of the NBA “ . Doesn’t a King wear a crown and just to add mere substance to those claims shouldn’t he have at least won something that actually resonates with the fans as a whole ? Style over substance means fu#k all but there are those who actually believe otherwise . How naive !

Game five is scheduled for tonight hosted by the Dallas Mavericks in what will be no doubt a sold-out American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas . Vociferous Mavericks’ fans are sure to get behind Rick Carlisle and his team , with those very same fans being of the belief if they can eke out a victory then they are but a win away from winning their first NBA title . Can you imagine what the fallout may well be should the Miami Heat fail to win what many believe had been preordained ? I for one believe nothing is merely given to you without you actually deserving it ! And nothing that the Miami Heat has achieved so far would suggest that they deserving of winning the NBA title , merely because they are now in the Finals . It has been this sort of complacency that has been clearly visible with many of the players on this Hear roster , including James , himself .

Should Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks triumph this may well be right way for him to bow out of the game with his legacy firmly entrenched within the annals of the game and perhaps the best European player to have played in the NBA ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Simply chime in with a comment on the topics raised within this piece as you see fit and as always thanks for the continued support as it is gratefully appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) This December 3, 2010 file photo shows Tiger Woods of USA as he puts his hat back on as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the second round, at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, said June 7, 2011 that he will not play in next week’s US Open golf tournament. Left knee and tendon pain has bothered Woods for the past month. “Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain,” Woods posted on his Twitter microblogging website. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES ……

(2) In this June 25, 2008 photo, golfer Michael Whitehead, who is currently a senior at Rice, poses for a photograph in Houston. Whitehead, who was first alternate from the Dallas qualifier, will replace Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open after Woods withdrew due to lingering issues with his left leg. AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Karen Warren ….

(3) PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – MAY 12: Tiger Woods addresses the media after withdrawing on the ninth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods announced June 7, 2011 that he will not play in the U.S. Open because of an injury to his left leg. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …..

(4) Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the par 4 10th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(5) FILE – In this April 30, 2010 file photo, Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps on the scale at a weigh-in ceremony before a WBA welterweight boxing title fight against Shane Mosley in Las Vegas. Mayweather, the undefeated six-time world champion, says on his Twitter feed Tuesday, June 7, 2011, he will end a 16-month hiatus from boxing when he faces WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on September 17. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File ……

(6) Victor Ortiz (left) the challenger makes sure that Andre Berto’s (left) defense of his WBC welterweight title will be a brief one . Ortiz would defeat the former title holder in a unanimous decision in the bout held at the Foxwoods Resort , Mashantucket ,Connecticut ,. Getty Images / Chris Borbon ……

(7) Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison, right, talks to president Pat Riley during a basketball practice for the NBA finals, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Heat will face the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2, Thursday, June 9, 2011. Do they now have something to be extremely worried about ? AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………

(8) DALLAS, TX – JUNE 08: LeBron James of the Miami Heat attends NBA Finals Media Availability on June 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ………

(9) Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle applauds while Dirk Nowitzki (L) walks off the court during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES …………

(10) LeBron James (C) of the Miami Heat is guarded by Jason Kidd (L) and Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK / GETTY IMAGES ……..
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Have You Had Your Dose Of The NBA Today ?

Have You Had Your Dose Of The NBA Today ?

Well it’s back to the hum drum return of an NBA schedule that will play its part in now separating the contenders from the pretenders amongst the stalwarts of the league. And I’ve no doubt at present we’ll see one or two surprises as the season now enters its post midseason point. The San Antonio Spurs still remain the team with the best record in the league but they’re closely followed by what seems to be a resurgent Dallas Mavericks team led by their All Star —– Dirk Nowitzki .

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Now while the talk has been about the multiple team , multiple player trade that sent both Carmelo Anthony , Chauncey Billups and several other players to the New York Knicks in exchange for Raymond Felton and what GM Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni feels are players obsolete to the team’s needs in the opposite direction to the Denver Nuggets I can’t help but wonder what happens should the Knicks not go deep into the playoffs ? And as much as the Knicks’ fans are in awe of this deal , on the face of it , it merely adds some luster to a team and fanbase that has been in need of it for over a decade . I mean as heralded the legacy has been for Madison Square Gardens you’ve got the readily admit the place has resembled a graveyard in terms of recent success when it comes to the New York Knicks. The days with which the Knicks under Pat Riley were thought of as a constant omnipresent threat in the Eastern Conference seems an eternity ago.

Courtesy of NBA.com news

From West to East, the balance of NBA power starts to shift …..

Dallas-Tx,. Tyson Chandler wasn’t speaking on behalf of the just Dallas when asked about the balance of power relocating from the Western Conference to the East. He might as well have been a spokesman for anyone with designs of winning the West after Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams split for Greater Gotham.

“I wish we could get Kobe and Duncan and Ginobili and all those guys over there, too,” he quipped, “but I guess then it wouldn’t be any fun.”

No doubt there has been a seismic shift in the makeup of the two conferences. The West, for the past decade, has been considered the superior collection of teams from top to bottom. Twice in the previous three years, all eight of the West playoff teams won at least 50 games.

Not gonna happen this season.

And while the East may struggle to field more than six playoff squads with winning records, the so-called Least only figures to get more Beast in the years to come. The days of Western dominance are over, according to a certain All-Star known to wear a cape.

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Don’t get me wrong I’ve no doubt that the Knicks will do well with their new revamped team but here’s the caveat , in acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups while they gain a great deal of offense the team now loses to an extent a great degree of defensive capability. But then again a Mike D’Antoni coached team has never been known for its defense and therein now lies the dilemma facing the Knicks over the remainder of the season . As good as this team now becomes unless Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony are on the same page in conjunction with the coach then this costly experiment will all be for nought ! And this experiment is proving to be costly as the Knicks are now committed to a $65 million commitment for the next three seasons. For some of the Knicks’ most vociferous fans in terms personalities Spike Lee and ESPN radio sport’s show host Stephen A Smith this now becomes their personal Utopia and future aspirations as it relates to the Knicks.

The trade deadline itself wasn’t without other deals that took place but in reality the real talk was in essence WWCAD ……………..”what will Carmelo Anthony do” ? Well for the Denver Nuggets under coach George Karl their future may well seem bright and the coach himself feels that his team can make a run at a Western Conference playoff berth. It may well be that a sub .500 record or slightly above that may well garner the team a playoff spot. For Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri this maneuver may well the deal that breathes life into the Nuggets or casts a shadow organization for the immediate and long term future. It seems along way from a postseason where the team made the playoffs before succumbing to the Utah Jazz in a rather lopsided series .

Of the teams that I’ve followed within the NBA this season the Oklahoma City Thunder to my mind are a team to be feared and coach Scott Brooks does seem to have this team playing at a high level . Potential league MVP candidate Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook provide one of the “most potent one two punch ” in the NBA . And if things do pan out as I believe that they will concerning this team I do believe that they will be one of the teams to be feared come playoff time !

From the sublime to the ridiculous as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their slide into an abyss of ineptitude . I’m not saying that coach Byron Scott has suddenly found himself in quicksand or in a riverbed filled with piranhas but given the state of things there in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena I’d have said that either of those two scenarios might’ve been preferable . This team now seems to have found enumerable ways to lose —- games with ghastly consequences not only for the team but for the entire organization from a competitive and financial standpoint . Dan Gilbert may well be ruing the day that he sought to remain in control of this team rather than sell it outright to a Chinese investor .

Not to be outdone when it comes to showing ineptitude this season we have the continuing woes of the Washington Wizards , Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves proving to us that you can’t teach can’t teach an old dog new tricks . Losing with increasing regularity has become ingrained into these teams and when that happens the fans do tend to depart in droves from the those teams’ respective home venues. I’ve read where fans of some of these complaining that no one comes to watch them play . Well , would you be willing to shell out your hard earned cash to watch three teams who have a combined 36 wins and 130 losses between them ?

The reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t dive into the trade market looking to bolster their roster but you can bet that Phil Jackson has bent the ears somewhat of the players whom he feels have been underachieving . It has been left as usual to the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to lead the charge offensively but there continues to be disappointment as to overall erratic and inconsistent play of the team. Arguably , Lamar Odom , Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum have played nowhere near their perceived potential when measured by their contributions to the team last season .

There’s now a growing belief that the Los Angeles are now ripe for the taking as it now seems that the team is now more susceptible than ever before in losing the grip on the defense of their NBA title. The two time defending champions are a pale comparison at present of the team that took control of last season’s finals when it looked as if the Boston Celtics to have the championship all sewn up. Instead we saw this Doc Rivers’ coached team flounder like a capsized vessel with the passengers on board being without the assist of a life jacket ! I do firmly believe that both of these teams will make the postseason and should they meet once again in the NBA Finals it will be fascinating to see whether or not this current Celtics’ embodiment of a team can usurp their Western Conference foe.

Now it goes without saying that while the season progresses our thoughts can’t be far away from the current situation evolving the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between the league’s hierarchy and the NPBA (union). Union President Derek Fisher and Executive Director Billy Hunter have stressed the fact they wish to come to an amicable resolution during this process. And it has to be said that David Stern wants no part of the madness now taking place between the NFL and NLFPA (union) . That whole slew of cow dung now being mediated by a federally appointed mediator can only suggest that these two groups of mindless idiots are so out of touch with reality that it simply doesn’t bear thinking about. And I can only hope that their NBA counterparts show some insight and wisdom and actually do what’s right rather than thinking solely about greed and their pockets ! If not , then both of these sports could very well lose whatever goodwill is left to be had from the fans .

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What thoughts if any do you have concerning the most recent incidents that’ve have taken place within the NBA over the past few days ? And how as such do you see the remainder of the season panning out ? By all means leave a comment as to your take on it all and as always thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated .

Picture and slide show details below as a guide .

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(1) Amar’e Stoudemire is joined by new teammates Carmelo Anthony (left) and Chauncey Billups (right) in an official picture to introduce the duo to the convened press at Madison Square Gardens , New York City, New York. The duo were part of a multi-player , mutli-team trade that brought them from the Denver Nuggets with several players from the Knicks heading in the opposite direction to the Western Conference team and elsewhere. Getty Images / Chris Trotman …………..

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers general ganager Chris Grant announces a trade which will send Cavaliers’ Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and a first round draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft , at a news conference at the Cavaliers training center in Independence, Ohio on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……

(3) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks drives against Carlos Delfino (10) of the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Bucks 114-108 . Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ……….

(4) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks shoots the ball over Andrew Bogut (6) of the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Bucks 114-108. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …….

(5) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, celebrates with teammate Ron Artest after Bryant scored two free throws to ice the game in overtime during their NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb.23, 2011. Bryant scored 37 points and Artest scored 24 as they beat the Blazers 106-101 . AP Photo/Don Ryan ……..

(6) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots against Tim Duncan (21) and Manu Ginobili (20) of the San Antonio Spurs on February 23, 2011 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs would end up defeating the Thunder 109-105 . Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images ………..

(7) In this Jan. 26, 2011, file photo shows Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams , center, attempting to score over Spurs guard Tony Parker of France, left, and Spurs forward DeJuan Blair , right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City. A person with knowledge of the trade says the New Jersey Nets have agreed to acquire All-Star point guard Deron Williams from the Jazz in a three-team deal. The Nets are sending rookie Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris to the Jazz as part of the package in a deal that also includes the Golden State Warriors . AP Photo/Colin E Braley ……..

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NB NBA News & views

NBA Schedule

NBA Trade transactions

Wednesday night schedule

Thursday night schedule

Friday night schedule

Saturday’s schedule

Sunday’s schedule

Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks

😛

Alan aka tophatal ………………………

🙂

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

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Guy ……………………… “Let’s Chill”

“Groove Me”Feel Me”
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If at all interested take time to participate in the poll ?

Seven Years In Tibet Is An Eternity Watching The Cavaliers …… Well That’s Too Painful A Thought To Have To Endure ………………………

Seven Years In Tibet Is An Eternity Watching The Cavaliers …… Well That’s Too
Painful A Thought To Have To Endure ………………………

So the Cleveland Cavaliers do know how to win after all ? Finally after 26 attempts they were able to overcome the Los Angeles Clippers . I’m sorry to say this but when the Clippers are in town and they essentially lay down like a wounded dog having been kicked to the ground I can only surmise that Vinny Del Negro’s —- team have been watching the films of Michael Vick’s former pets . Act like a wounded dog and you’ll be treated no better than a wounding dog that no one actually cares for ! And such has been the thoughts by the fans in general about the Los Angeles Clippers over the years.

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Twenty six games and as they say legends are made as the fans had the ignominy of seeing the Cavaliers become the team that had the worse losing record in terms of consecutive losses in all of professional sports. Cavaliers’ coach Byron Scott had to have been happy with this outcome and at the same time GM Chris Grant and team owner Dan Gilbert can feel some respite after all of the losing . Clearly however this team is a long way off from where they need to be . They at present have the worse record in the NBA and sit at the bottom of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference .

The game played at the Quicken Loans Arena
was all that could be expected from two teams literally fighting for their survival within the league. J J Hickson and Antawn Jamison would lead the charge for the team as the eked out a narrow victory over their opponents from the Western Conference . I’m sorry but when you have two teams that essentially aren’t going anywhere within the NBA this season you have to wonder about the state of the game and the product that David Stern is trying to get fans around the globe to enjoy.

Now Cavaliers’ fans can take heart in knowing that their team finally showed some heart but at the same it has me wondering can this team avoid losing 60 games this season ? I don’t know that they can but I do believe that they will end up with the worse record in the league !

As to the fate of the Clippers with the ownership led by Donald Sterling has never been competitive in nature nor has he the desire to win. And it certainly hasn’t helped that the team has to share the same venue as the Los Angeles Lakers . And given the Lakers’ history and legacy the Clippers have been left in their wake and rear view mirror. This Clippers’ team has been way too inconsistent for their own good this season and it’s becoming clear that if they don’t start competing or winning on a consistent basis then by the time Blake Griffin’s rookie contract is up for renewal there’ll be an ever decreasing chance that he would choose to remain with this organization.

Inasmuch as Dan Gilbert had made that rather infantile statement that the Cavaliers would indeed win an NBA title before LeBron James and the Miami Heat would have the chance to do so. Even if the statement had been made in anger it clearly shows that the demeanor and persona of the owner as a person. And granted NBA Commissioner David Stern saw fit to fine the owner for his behavior and several outrageous statements made. It just goes to show how out of touch the owners can be when it comes to the role of a player as an employee within the league. The NBPA and the existing collective bargaining agreement gives the players their right to opt out of a their contracts dependent on length of service after their initial first three years in the NBA . If an owner such as Gilbert doesn’t understand that then the statement made that he comes across as a slave owner with a large plantation of indentured slaves isn’t that far off in terms of its veracity .

While James was a player with the team Gilbert saw its value increase at least threefold to the point that it was valued at in excess of $400 million . Now the team might not be even worth anymore than $250 million at best, as such was LeBron James’ value to the organization simply not just from a competitive standpoint but also from an economic one as well.

LeBron James’ departure may well have been an abrupt one but the owner did himself no favors in firing Mike Brown , Byron Scotts’ predecessor and then allowing former GM Danny Ferry to leave. The biggest faux-pas on the part of Gilbert however while this whole debacle unfolded was his wish not to consult James as to who he would be hiring as Brown’s successor. That may well have been the straw to break the camel’s back and led to James making the choice that he did to pursue his career elsewhere. And while the fans in Cleveland may well have felt betrayed by the player’s actions I do feel that they ought to have looked at the actions of the team’s owner ! Does anyone truly believe that Jerry Buss would have acted in such a way were this Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson had been fired by the Lakers ? Common sense never was that profound it’d appear within the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization (front office) and it appears there still isn’t any at this juncture .

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Well now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have a win finally to start as a new streak they now have the privilege of hosting another moribund and woefully inept team this upcoming Sunday when they play the Washington Wizards . Care to guess what the outcome of that game might be ?

With the Cavaliers now halting that now infamous streak how do you see them performing throughout the rest of the season ? And what thoughts if any do you have with regard to the Los Angeles Clippers and their immediate future ?

Picture and slide show details below.
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Washington Wizards’ John Wall (2) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ryan Hollins (5) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Cleveland. Washington snapped its 25-game road winless streak with a 115-100 win over the Cavaliers, who reverted to their losing ways one game after ending their record skid. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ……

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers’ Daniel Gibson , right passes the ball in front of Washington Wizards’ Nick Young during he second quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Cleveland. Washington snapped its 25-game road winless streak with a 115-100 win Sunday night over the Cavaliers, who reverted to their losing ways one game after ending their record skid. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …….

(3) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott watches during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Cleveland. Washington snapped its 25-game road winless streak with a 115-100 win Sunday night over the Cavaliers, who reverted to their losing ways one game after ending their record skid. AP Photo/Tony Dejak …..

(4) Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro reacts in overtime in an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, in Cleveland. Nearly two months after it started, the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record losing streak at 26 games on Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the Clippers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ……

(5) Cleveland Cavaliers’ J.J. Hickson, left, blocks a shot by Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin in the fourth quarter in an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, in Cleveland. Nearly two months after it started, the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record losing streak at 26 games on Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the Clippers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ……..

(6) Cleveland Cavaliers’ Mo Williams (2) reacts after assisting teammate Antawn Jamison (4) in overtime in an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, in Cleveland. Nearly two months after it started, the Cavaliers stopped their NBA-record losing streak at 26 games on Friday night with a 126-119 win in overtime against the Clippers. AP Photo/Tony Dejak ………..

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NB: NBA news ……..

The Cavaliers would lose to the Wizards 115-100 .
So once again they’re back to zero in terms of a win streak .

😛
Alan aka tophatal …………………………………

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Eye candy ……………….. Hidden assets Carrie’s

“Thong of the day “ …….. Melanie

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Gnarls Barkley ….feat’g….. Cee Lo Green & Dangermouse ……..“Crazy”

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You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !

You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !

I’m sorry but being an avid NBA fan I’ve always loved the spirit of competition and that goes through a whole litany of sports that I’ve either grown up participating in or watching from afar. At present but there’s no other way to explain it but there really are some god-damn awful teams in the league at present . And it’s clearly down to the lack of real quality coaches in the NBA and the very fact that in large part many of the players simply aren’t that good.

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At present the two worst teams in the league record wise are Minnesota Timberwolves (11-30) and the preposterously bad Cleveland Cavaliers (8-39). I’m sorry but not even Byron Scott can now coach this team out of the mess that they’re in. Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert may well have made the fans in Cleveland a promise that a NBA title banner would be raised inside the Quicken Loans Arena before LeBron James and the Miami Heat would be a led to title by the former Cavaliers’ player. And I know that as of late the Heat have had their problems in the league with a number of setbacks and the fact that their triumvirate of James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have suddenly become injury prone and the very fact that the team’s —- productivity has been a little inconsistent . Well it won’t hide the fact that they’re still one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference .

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra I’ve no doubt is a capable coach and will right the ship and I can see them contending . The same however cannot be said of the Cavaliers as they descend into an abyss of mediocrity. There’s not been enough that can be said about this team as they have lost 20 consecutive games . And if you thought that statistic was bad then you’ve only got to simply look at the team’s statistics to see how bad things have really become for the organization as a whole. Even with a veteran such as Antawn Jamison on board the Cavaliers simply hasn’t had an answer for any of their opponents that they’ve met this season.

It goes without saying that the only hope that the Cleveland Cavaliers may now have is to go for broke and simply just “tank the season” in the hope that they can earn one of the top picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. And with there being such an abundance of talent in the college ranks namely Kemba Walker , Jared Sullinger , Darius Morris , Marcus Morris , Jimmer Fredette , and Kyle Singler amongst a litany young college players who’ll be looking to make their mark at the professional level. It may well on appearance not be such a bad thing were the Cavaliers to go down that particular path. At this juncture I’m wondering also how Dan Gilbert’s demeanor has to be doing . In an offseason where he berates LeBron James for abandoning the team , I find it mildly amusing that much of this could have been avoided had both parties involved acted with common courtesy rather than letting this idiotic play out in public for their own personal consumption !

Now while no one can deny that John Wall had a stellar collegiate career with the Kentucky Wildcats but his career thus far with the Washington Wizards (13-35) has been anything but average at best. And while praise has been heaped upon the player I can’t help but feel that they’re simply not good enough to be even competitive within the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. A number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft Wall was seen as the corner piece of this team with him perhaps working in part alongside Gilbert Arenas . But alas, that wasn’t to be as the seasoned veteran was shipped off to the Orlando Magic as part of a multi-player multi-team deal .

Say what you will but the Wizards’ fans in attendance at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC can’t have envisaged this all unfolding as a spectacle in front of their very eyes. Their season has been bad enough as it is with the inconsistency playing to all facets of the Wizards’ game . And with what has taken place with the Washington Redskins and their rather mundane season under the tenure of Mike Shanahan , Kyle Shanahan and that rather mediocre coaching staff , in truth one could have a great deal of sympathy for the fans in the nation’s capitol. It’s not as if the Washington Nationals were about to provide them with any solace whatsoever. Although the fans are holding out for a change in fortunes for the team this upcoming season at the Nationals Ballpark . I’d say at this moment in time they’d be better off praying for hell to freeze over first before they can see any of the three teams in question actually turn themselves into championship contenders.

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I’m not so sure as to what needs to be done in order for the Washington Wizards to be competitive. From a coaching standpoint this young roster needs to learn as much as they can as fast as they can if they’re to show any semblance of progress . And that’s the real task that Flip Saunders is now facing even with the assistance of his coaching staff led by Randy Wittman and former NBA player Sam Cassell . If this staff cannot get this Wizards’ team heading in the right direction then to my mind then the turnaround in fortunes that they seek won’t be happening anytime soon ! And that will be to the embarrassment of the Wizards’ front office , GM Ernie Grunfeld and that of principal managing partner Ted Leonsis .

Now when these two teams meet at the Verizon Center I’d certainly like to think that the NBA hierarchy won’t have the temerity to make this part of the national broadcast or through their cable broadcast on their own in-house provider NBA Tv . As poor as the two teams have been playing I certainly don’t think that the nation ought to have to endure such garbage ! Simply put , this will do absolutely nothing to enhance the brand of the NBA , certainly not the brand and product that has given us Jordan , Kareem , Malone , Ewing , Magic Johnson , the 95-96 Bulls’ team and a slew of other NBA greats !

As an avid fan of the game just like any other NBA fan I’d prefer to see competitive games with levels of dexterity and athleticism . Unfortunately when the Cavaliers and Wizards meet on Sunday 13 th February that’s unlikely to happen ! Somehow I think at this juncture I’m sure that David Stern is looking for options if not a chance perhaps to ask that both teams simply settle the result of the game by playing checkers rather than subjecting the nation to this particular form of mediocrity on an NBA basketball court .

What thoughts if any do you have on the NBA season and the woefully inept form of the teams lumbering at the bottom of their respective divisions ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this topic and any other as it relates to the NBA .

Alan aka tophatal

Picture and slide show details immediately below .

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(1)Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph, right, knocks the ball away from Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Minneapolis. Randolph was charged with a foul on the play. AP Photo/Jim Mone ……….

(2) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Darko Milicic, center, of Serbia, crouches between Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, left, of Spain, and Sam Young in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(3) Danny Granger (33) of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Christian Eyenga (8) of the Cleveland Cavaliers at The Quicken Loans Arena on February 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images ……

(4)Fans hope for the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers losing streak, in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers continued a disappointing season, losing 117-112 to the Pacers, as the streak reached 22 straight. I’d like to think that the Cavaliers’ fans have now become very much more appreciative of the team’s losing streak and their continued mediocre effort being shown on the court ? AP Photo/Mark Duncan …….

(5)Cleveland Cavaliers’ Manny Harris shoots against Indiana Pacers’ Mike Dunleavy, right, in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Cleveland. The Pacers won 117-112 to hand the Cavaliers their 22nd straight loss. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …..

(6) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, center, is flanked by his coaching staff, from left, Paul Pressey, Chris Jent, Jamahl Mosley and Joe Prunty , Monday September 27th 2010 at the team’s training facility in Independence ,Ohio ,. Picture courtesy of Associated Press .

(7) Alonzo Gee (33) of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against the Indiana Pacers at The Quicken Loans Arena on February 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images ……

(8) Washington Wizards point guard John Wall walks onto the court at the end of a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Wall shot two for 11 with four points in Washington’s 97-89 loss to New Orleans. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ………..

(9) Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts to an official’s call in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. New Orleans defeated Washington 97-89. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ……

(10) Washington Wizards guard Nick Young, right, shoots over New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. New Orleans defeated Washington 97-89, despite a game-high 30 points from Young. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ……..

(11) LeBron James smiles as he’s introduced to the crowd at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with owner Dan Gilbert, left, general manager Danny Ferry, second from the left, and coach Mike Brown, second from the right. In happier times the quartet saw untold success from a competitive and financial standpoint but the past offseason led to a tumultuous upheaval with Danny Ferry re-signing as general manager , Mike Brown being fired and as we all know James left the Cavaliers to ply his trade elsewhere with the Miami Heat. Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer ….

(12) Billionaire internet and media mogul Ted Leonsis the principal owner of the Washington Wizards as well as the NHL’s —- Washington Capitals . Leonsis and his partners bought the Wizards from the late Abe Pollin and his family . Courtesy of The Washington Post/ Getty Images/ Christian Hascher …………

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NB: Click on the links shown below to read the latest news and views around the NBA .

NBA News ……………

NBA Standings ………. Conference

Division

Daily Statistics

NBA Team Statistics

NBA scores & results

Tuesday results

Thursday’s scheduled games

Friday’s scheduled games

Saturday’s scheduled games

Sunday’s scheduled games

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Cavaliers’ news

Wizards’ news

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Eye candy ………………. Meet ‘Biscuits’ whose assets seem to be very well rounded wouldn’t you say ?

Continue reading “You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !”

And The Winners Are

And The Winners Are

Well now that we know that LeBron James will resume his professional NBA career elsewhere there are now bound to be winners and losers amongst this all. Obviously the biggest losers here are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization , the city of Cleveland and the team’s now once again emotionally stricken fans. The team hierarchy of Dan Gilbert gave it his best shot but it became abundantly clear that he and GM Chris Grant were out of their depth and faced an uphill battle to entice the player to remain with the team. They’d done nothing to assure the player that they were serious in acquiring the talent to make the team better! . And the hiring of Byron Scott was too little and much too late .

The fallout from this is now clear as James will be now viewed as a pariah by the fans who many of which will have felt that he betrayed them. Furthermore for the businesses in the city of Cleveland this will come a boon to them with the thought that James will no longer be there. Especially given the fact that at home games at Quicken Loans Arena ___ business was brisk for businesses there that catered to the fans. The ramifications now will be devastating for all within the sector.

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With James having made his decision known in a public interview granted to ESPN last night. Let’s just say that once it became formal, a weight had been lifted off the shoulders of Art Modell , long felt and often thought of as the most reviled and despised person in the history of Cleveland area sports. In the space of thirty seconds last night, once LeBron had uttered the words “I’ll be leaving Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat those words were like a dagger to the heart of the Cavaliers’ fans . Never mind the fact that another half a dozen teams around the league may have felt that they were in with a chance of signing the player.

Courtesy of USA Today

LeBron adds to history of Cleveland sports setbacks

By Nichole Auerbach , USA Today

Cleveland’s sports history took another hit Thursday when LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Cleveland fans remember these events all too well:

PHOTO GALLERY: LeBron James in pictures
GAME ON! LeBron vs. Modell
NUMBERS: LeBron’s career stats

The Drive: The Cleveland Browns were less than six minutes from a 20-13 victory in the AFC Championship Game and the organization’s first trip to the Super Bowl, in January 1987. The Denver Broncos muffed the kickoff, and quarterback John Elway took over at the Broncos’ 2-yard line.

Six passes, three rushes and a couple of Elway scrambles later, Denver had tied the score with 37 seconds left. The Broncos won in overtime with a field goal.

The Fumble: A year after The Drive, the Broncos had a seven-point lead with four minutes to play in the AFC Championship Game vs. Cleveland in January 1988.

The Browns moved the ball to the Broncos’ 8-yard line with 1:12 left in the game. Running back Earnest Byner got the handoff, took off for the end zone but was stripped by Jeremiah Castille and fumbled at the 2-yard line.

Denver recovered, gave the Browns an intentional safety and won 38-33.

Cleveland is one of four NFL teams never to have reached the Super Bowl.

The Shot: In the fifth and deciding game of the first round of the 1989 NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a 100-99 lead against the Chicago Bulls with three seconds left.

Michael Jordan got the inbounds pass and shot over defender Craig Ehlo. The basket counted at the buzzer, leaving the Cleveland crowd stunned, the first of many such game-winning shots in Jordan’s playoff career.

The Move:Art Modell, who owned the Browns for 35 years, had promised he would never move the team from Cleveland. But after the 1995 season, he began secret discussions with the state of Maryland about placing a team in Baltimore, which had lost the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984.

When the move was announced, fan reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Cleveland sued for breach of the stadium lease. The Browns franchise was ultimately deactivated for three years. With the 1999 season, the NFL gave the city an expansion team, which took the Browns name and colors.

The Collapse: The Cavaliers were the top seed in the Eastern Conference this past season after 61 wins. Led by James’ 31.8 points a game, Cleveland cruised through the first round vs. the Bulls.

In the second round, the Cavs took a 1-0 series lead on the Boston Celtics. Boston won Game 2 on Cleveland’s court, but the Cavaliers buried the Celtics 124-95 in Game 3 in Boston. The series seemed all but over.

Inexplicably, the Cavs came out flat the next three games and couldn’t score more than 88 points in three consecutive losses. James, at times, looked uninterested. The conference’s top team was knocked out, leaving James still looking for his first championship and Cavaliers fans wondering if they had seen the last of him in a home uniform.

The Decision: Or, as Cleveland fans will see it, The Failed Decision.

ESPN’s one-hour special, The Decision, sent Cleveland fans into a frenzy before James revealed where he would next play. He not only angered them by abandoning his hometown team but also humiliated them in what they saw as an over-the-top, prime-time debacle.

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For Pat Riley team President of the Miami Heat and their multi billionaire owner Micky Arison this must have felt like Christmas had come early and for the fans of the Heat and especially those in the luxurious enclave of South Beach , this just further adds to the visibility and vitality of the area. For Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh to now have James as a teammate this now makes the Miami based team the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference for the upcoming season. Anyone of the belief that the addition of James doesn’t immediately impact the odds of that statement had better seek psychiatric help . And for the team’s instate rivals the Orlando Magic whose lone move in the free agency market has been to sign backup point guard Chris Duhon from the New York Knicks . In due deference they might as well have signed the female who does the Pine Sol ads on television for all the good that will do. Magic GM Otis Smith is either naïve or he clearly believes to remain as they are will still make the team a contender. Given the lack of tenacity shown by the likes of Rashard Lewis , Vince Carter and the rare glimpses of brilliance shown by Dwight Howard in the NBA playoffs one seriously doubts that the Stan Van Gundy coached team will genuinely have what it takes to take down a newly revamped Miami Heat team.

While the immediate fallout hasn’t been lost on the fans the hierarchy of the NBA must have been rubbing their hands in delight knowing that this subject will become the water cooler topic of discussion for months to come in the off season until the new season resumes.Think of it as the NBA’s own version of the ongoing Brett Favre saga , only it‘s not about “will he or won‘t he “ ? But in actuality it‘s how the hell did that happen and how did the Heat pull off this coup d’etat ? In actuality this outcome was in the making the moment that all there players, Bosh , James and Wade sat down and broke bread together discussing their immediate future. And all of the subterfuge created with their multiple meeting with different teams was merely to keep the writers on their toes and build up the suspense for James’ announcement last night.

The New York Knicks for their part under GM Donnie Walsh thought that they were in with a very good shot of signing LeBron but given the fact that the nucleus of the team they had about as much synergy as oil and water mixing. Mike D’Antoni while being an admirable coach just doesn’t seem to be a person that a character such as LeBron James can learn a lot from, much less have respect for. And for spirited Knicks’ fans, think of the experience as something that you can learn from. If it hasn’t been enough with the moronic belief that because you were in the biggest market you gave the player the best opportunity to win an NBA title. No, the only opportunity being offered was the lure of Madison Ave to the player. Common sense would tell you that from the beginning but then again are they are any enlightened Knicks’ fans about ?

The New Jersey Nets were never in with a really serious chance of landing James despite his close friendship with rapper Jay-Z . So unless LeBron is interested in the pursuit of a rap career at some point in his future , then that baby has just been laid to rest once and for all !

It was felt that other than the Cavaliers __ the Chicago Bulls were the best bet to land the player. And given the proactive moves made by team executives John Paxson and GM Gar Forman with the team were some $30 million under the NBA salary cap. Everything seem to have pointed to the fact that an aggressive pursuit would be underway to land the talented league MVP . But things don’t always go as planned and with a wily veteran such as Pat Riley waiting in the wings . Let’s just say it was like watching an anaconda survey its surroundings before devouring its prey while everyone else watched. Unfortunately the Bulls are now left with little more than their pride intact and not much else to show for their pursuit. Michael Jordan isn’t about to walk back into the United Center to suit up anytime soon as he’s got the Charlotte Bobcats now to deal with. Ergo Chicago , you’ve just been punk’d !

You have to hand to it Pat Riley , he’s not only a move and a shaker but the guy can make it rain. How else can you explain it wherein he signs the three of the biggest free agents on the market at reduced salaries with little more than a three to five year commitment ? Screw that, Barack Obama should hire him in some capacity within his administration and to hell with the likes Tim Geithner and Ken Salazar . That duo is led with the responsibility of one, trying to reverse the economic downturn and the other to deal with BP Gulf oil spill disaster. And I’d hazard a guess if push came to shove that Pat Riley could pull a rabbit out of his ass and it wouldn’t hurt in the slightest ! Which begs the question what’s happening in the Gulf and is there an end in sight ? Does anyone really know ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

OK so it now comes down to this, how long will it take for the Cavaliers’ fans to perhaps forgive and forget ? And if they do, will they be comfortable in the fact that while LeBron James was with the team they all enjoyed a glorious ride ?. Unfortunately, what the future now holds for the team doesn’t appear to be a pleasant one and it points to a situation where they could now go into free fall and become one of the more inept teams within the NBA. As a dispassionate observer on the outside looking in, my condolences go out to the Cavaliers’ fans but at the same I think that they were somewhat naïve to think that the player wasn’t going to come to the decision that he did. I mean , what were meant to be the pointers to suggest that he was about to remain with the team ? Does anyone care to evaluate and then offer up an answer ? Chime on in with a comment and thanks as always for the continued support as it has always been gratefully appreciated . Thanks once again !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………………

Rick Ross ………………………. “Push It”

Reality tv star Shay aka “Bucky”

It Takes A Big Man To Admit When He’s Made A Mistake………. It Takes An Even Bigger Man To Apologize ……….

It Takes A Big Man To Admit When He’s Made A Mistake………. It Takes An Even Bigger Man To Apologize ……….

Well now that the overtures to Michigan State’s __ Tom Izzo have been rebuffed by the famed coach. It would appear that the logical step for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization would be for team owner Dan Gilbert and his GM Chris Grant to consult the team’s star player LeBron James and get some sort of idea as to what the player’s immediate plans are. In not having a firm commitment from the player as to his intentions concerning his impending free agency status. It has in effect left the Cavaliers in limbo , unable to land a coach for the team . Never mind the fact that the NBA Draft is looming. And given the needs of the team , it has to be their ultimate priority to have a coach in place before the draft takes place.

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Slide show gallery for your perusal .

With Avery Johnson having accepted the vacant position with the New Jersey Nets . It appears that the pickings out there for a tried and proven NBA coach are ever so thin ! One seriously doubts that the Cavaliers would hire former Atlanta Hawks’ coach Mike Woodson . And the only other alternative might be in approaching another high profiled college coach. Often thought of as a “perfect fit” would be John Calipari , coach of the University of Kentucky Wildcats . Though we know of no outright approach from the Cavaliers the speculation has always been there that Calipari would welcome a return to the NBA. Signs are , that likelihood isn’t about to happen but one can never tell with someone like Calipari. Leaving the Wildcats so abruptly would certainly give credence that he’s nothing more than a mercenary willing to parlay his services to the highest bidder. But given what we know from Calipari’s previous stops during his professional coaching career , controversy has never been far behind. So why stop now , were he to leave Kentucky ?

One name that still remains out there is that of former Nets and New Orleans Hornets’ coach Byron Scott. What we do know, is that Scott can coach and were it not for the injuries that befell the team during the season .One felt that he would not have been fired by Jeff Bowers who as the team’s general manager would succeed Scott and assume the role as coach. Scott, however, may well be waiting to see what transpires with the Los Angeles Lakers and the possibility of the team’s current coach , Phil Jackson , retiring. That scenario would seem fitting should the legendary coach win his “eleventh” NBA title and then seek to ride off into the sunset. While we know that Jackson’s coaching assistants are either former players who played under him as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Lakers . Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak in conjunction with team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well be very reticent to appoint someone within the organization. Especially given the fact that neither Brian Shaw or Jim Cleamons has ever coached within the NBA before. So one could assume that Scott would be the right candidate and a welcome choice amongst the Lakers’ faithful. But that would of course be predicated upon Jackson retiring and Scott being offered the vacant position.

Well all the talk of the Tampa Bay Rays running away with the AL East seems to have been tempered by the mere fact that the New York Yankees have made sure that the Rays’ lead has been eroded from 5 1/2 games to a mere 1/2 a game as of yesterday. And if you think that the Rays are out of the woods as of yet then you’d be sadly mistaken. The Tampa Bay Rays’ schedule hasn’t been made any easier with them having to face NL hosts the Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins away from home is series of games of six at the Turner Field Atlanta and at Sun Life Stadium , Miami. Three games against each of these teams wherein a win is very much “a must” if their hope is to remain ahead of the Yankees rather than relinquishing their divisional lead. Certainly the Rays are playing well enough to warrant the notice that they’ve been getting and if anything it has been justified that they are the best team in the big leagues at present. But you knew that it was only a matter of time before the Yankees would be bearing down upon them and the Rays would be looking over their shoulders with increasing regularity.

Well now it’s time for the Tampa Bay Rays to show their mettle and that they aren’t afraid of their more famed rivals from the Bronx. Certainly the Rays are showing and playing as if they are the best team in majors at present . But as every Yankees’ fans will tell you , you’re not the best ’til you take them down and win a World Series . And that’s something that we all know that the Rays have yet to achieve. Though they came close in 2008 they were eventually beaten by the Philadelphia Phillies with relative ease, in a rather lopsided 4-1 series win.

Certainly yesterday’s 10-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in front of a sparse crowd was enough to suggest that the 2010 roster of the Rays is a far more “resilient team than the one that went to the World Series in 2008. And no one the team seems to be epitomizing that more than Rays’ pitcher David Price . He’s the AL’s first ten game winner having posted a 10-2 record with a 2.31 ERA , 64 K’s and 1 shutout. Certainly enough to make team manager Joe Maddon and his coaching staff very happy. And if that sort of resolve can be shown throughout the team then there shouldn’t be any reason to fear for the Rays. But the caveat has and always will be what will the Yankees do come the trade deadline. As you can always be sure that they’re not about to stand still when it comes to bolstering their roster .

Budgetary constraints place the Tampa Bay Rays in an unenviable position. For Maddon and the Rays’ front office this has to be frustrating. Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman and principal general partner Stuart Sternberg having to operate under the most restrictive of budgetary constraints. They can only sit and admire the way in which the Yankees can essentially spend at will . With the impending trade deadline (31st July) being just over six weeks away you can be sure that a number of teams that are contention will be looking to bolster their rosters. Unfortunately , unless the Rays can get a player on the “cheap” then they won’t be part-taking in the feeding frenzy , come the trade deadline. It’s a struggle for the Rays to get in excess of 15,000 fans in attendance at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida. Never mind the asinine notion that a “new ballpark” in downtown Tampa would ease the pain of travel and make it all the more amenable for fans to attend a game. The studies conducted haven’t proven , anything other than the fact that a fool and his money are easily parted. The organization has a winning product and brand on the fieldi right now but the fans still don’t come out in droves to support the team . So why would anyone be under the misapprehension that spending taxpayers’ monies to build a ballpark would make a blind bit of difference ? The only way that will happen will be that attendance may well spike will be because of the curiosity factor a new venue. Once that wears off see how fast that the attendance would start to dwindle.

As I alluded to earlier , while some teams will stand pat during the run off up to the trade deadline. Teams in contention for the postseason will be looking to bolster their respective team rosters. And if as rumored the Yankees are eying Mariners’ pitching ace Cliff Lee. Let me say this just once and once only …….should the Yankees acquire Lee then you can write off the Rays’ chances of winning the AL East. And they might be hard pressed to gain a wildcard berth as well. As good as they are at present they will have to raise their game considerably in the postseason.

Now as the NBA Finals are about to reach its climax with a seventh game series changing decider. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will look to usurp and finally try to overcome each other. As good as this series has appeared to be, for myself, I must admit that I haven’t at all been enthralled by the events ! Some of the games have been sloppy and the play execution has been labored and mundane. A long and arduous season of 82 regular season games tends to take its toll on the players as well as the fans . The expectations for the NBA Finals are always high but when they fall short we can only blame the players and the two teams participating. We won’t be hearing any profound apologies from David Stern or from anyone within the NBA hierarchy when the finals have been something of a disappointment.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As for Dan Gilbert, it remains to be seen what his next step will be . But it’s now becoming clear as the founder of Quicken Loans , he may well have been a profound businessman. As an NBA owner his instincts and choices have left a great deal to be desired. Numerous gaffes on his as well as Danny Ferry’s part and the Cleveland Cavaliers now appear to be on the cusp of being what they were in the pre LeBron era. No apologies there however but then again what would you expect ? This is Cleveland we’re witnessing where winning isn’t in that city’s psyche. If anything it would prove to be catatonic for them and the city were they to win something at this juncture.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………….

Usher ……. feat’g Nicki Minaj ………….“Lil Freak”

Is There No One Amongst You ? C’mon Now !

Is There No One Amongst You ? C’mon Now !

Slowly but surely, one can sense there’s some urgency about LeBron James’ game and his initial pursuit of that elusive first NBA title . He and the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone about posting ‘the best record’ in the Eastern Conference . And if nothing else they’re looking to acquit themselves for last season’s loss in the conference finals to the Orlando Magic .

Ray Allen (#20) of the Boston Celtics looks for a play against LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 25, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brian Babbineau .....
Ray Allen (#20) of the Boston Celtics looks for a play against LeBron James (#23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 25, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Brian Babbineau .....

With a 45-14 mark, the Cavaliers have the best record within the Central Division and the ‘best overall’ within the entire NBA, besting the mark of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 43-15 in the Western Conference . Now make of that what you will but ‘the great teams’ know how to overcome adversity when placed under real pressure during the regular season. In doing so , it prepares them for the much more difficult task of post-season play , where it’s all or nothing. My colleague, Sportschump had simply put so much into the fact that this Cavaliers’ team had lost three straight games recently to top flight opponents, in the Denver Nuggets , Charlotte Bobcats and the Orlando Magic . Now that asides , were those losses to lesser teams within the NBA , then there would be cause for concern for this Mike Brown coached team. As it would suggest either the rigors of ‘fatigue’ or just ‘sheer complacency’ by the Cavaliers.

Within the Eastern Conference the battle for dominance and supremacy essentially rests between three teams. They are the Boston Celtics , the Cavaliers and the Magic . All three have been playing at an exceptional level. Though it must be said , each each of the triumvirate has had their share of false starts but at the same time they’ve been able to overcome those deficiencies. As to what that might suggest, can be best summed by ‘the very fact that the Eastern Conference won’t be won by a team that is performing inconsistently ! I made this a point to Sportschump, that for Cleveland , the conference is theirs to lose. And that will only happen, if they show complacency on their part. As good as both Boston and Orlando are. And both teams are very good by the way ! But they’ve still yet to show me that when faced with ‘real adversity’ , they both have what it takes to stare it down and beat it with some ease. In Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy , the Celtics and Magic possess two coaches with a great deal of experience between them and a coaching staff that is as good as any within the NBA . Each has made an appearance in the NBA Finals as a coach. As too, has the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown and it is becoming more apparent that each would like nothing better than to make another appearance there, this season. This in essence sets up what may well turn out to be ‘one hell of a dogfight between the three’, as they battle for conference dominance and supremacy. It favors the Cavaliers at present and with the playoffs dictating that ‘the team with the best record’ within the conference has home-court advantage throughout the postseason. Let’s just say that the odds still favors the Cavaliers at this point. And it is likely to do so through the remainder of the regular season.

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports


Cavs blow past Celtics in 4th, win 108-88

By Brian Mahoney , AP Basketball Writer

Boston (AP)—The Celtics were better early, then LeBron James and the Cavaliers blew right by them.

Story of this game.

Story of the season.

James had 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Mo Williams scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland dominated the second half in a 108-88 victory Thursday night.

Unable to stop Rajon Rondo or the Celtics in the first quarter, the Cavaliers turned up the defense in the fourth, limiting the Celtics to 3-of-21 shooting and snapping a nine-game losing streak in Boston, counting playoffs.

“We haven’t had much success here,” James said. “We’ve lost nine times coming into this building. So it gets the monkey off our backs. But don’t read too much into it.”

James kept the Cavaliers in it for three quarters on a night they lost Shaquille O’Neal to a first-half thumb injury, then Williams made four 3-pointers when Cleveland outscored Boston 35-14.

“I think in the second half our level of aggressiveness really stepped up on both ends of the floor,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “There was no panic among our guys. We knew 24 minutes was a lot of time. We just started chipping away from it.”

Ray Allen scored 21 points, and Rondo had 19 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who badly missed injured All-Star Paul Pierce (right thumb) when their offense went stagnant in the final 1 1/2 quarters.

“They were a lot more aggressive in the second half. They made adjustments to stop Rondo’s penetration,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. “We knew it was a real big test. We can’t play one half and relax.”

Cleveland improved to 20-10 on the road, tying Boston for the best in the NBA, and avenged a 95-89 home loss on opening night.

That came back when Boston looked like the class of the Eastern Conference while the Cavaliers struggled early. But the Celtics have been unable to stay healthy and Cleveland has left the Celtics and everyone else in the East behind, opening a 5 1/2 -game lead over Orlando while dropping Boston 7 1/2 games back in a tie with Atlanta.

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Click on the above link to read this Brian Mahoney article in its entirety.
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Last night the Cavaliers and Celtics met in a game that would give us enough of an indication as to where both teams now stand at this point of the season. And with both teams having added to their respective rosters, it would also give the fans a chance to see those newly acquired players. With Nate Robertson having been acquired by the Celtics via a trade with the New York Knicks . It was presumed that it would give the team some balance, added offense and a certain amount defensive presence from the diminutive Robertson. In the case of the Cavaliers they acquired Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards , sending Zydrunas llgauskas in the opposite direction. Jamison gives the team that additional rarity of a player who can shoot ‘the three’ with added ease, just as much as he can be creative around the basket and give the Cavaliers that added offensive productivity that they so desperately required. And this was the main reason why Brown and Cavaliers’ GM Danny Ferry viewed him as better option and fit, than the Suns’ Amar’e Stoudemire . Many probably question the choice , as Stoudemire offer the Cavaliers a proven offensive presence and a very good defensive player. But given the team’s long term view that Stoudemire would no doubt seek free agency at the end of the season. The prudent choice seemed to have been the safer and better choice financially for the organization . We shall see as the rest of the season unfolds for the Cavaliers.

The game prove to be ‘one of missed opportunities’ for the Celtics as ‘their offense spluttered’ over the final two quarters. It resulted with the Cavaliers easily winning the game with the usual customary effort forthcoming from LeBron James, who led all scorers with 36 points, in his team’s 108-88 victory over the Celtics. And though Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo did all that they could to stave off defeat , it simply wasn’t enough on the night for Celtics in front of their home crowd at the TD Banknorth Center, Boston and that of the Celtics’ senior partners ‘Wyc’ Grousbeck and his father H. Irving Grousbeck . For Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge this had to have been a troubling scene, to witness this team suffer such a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers. With the fact that one of their veteran All Stars , Pierce Paul Pierce was unable to play due to injury. The defeat only exacerbates the situation even further as it now places the team just a little further behind both Cleveland and Orlando in the conference standings . And now nipping at their heels with a similar record of 36-20 are the Atlanta Hawks . So now what essentially was meant to be a ‘three horse race’ now has the potential of turning into a ‘four horse race’ , with all four teams within 7 1/2 games of one another.

As I alluded to earlier , it’s still my firm belief that the Cavaliers can not only end up with the best record in the Eastern Conference of the NBA but also win the conference championship and outright ! The conference is theirs for the taking and the margin between themselves and the rest of their opponents within the conference just seems to be widening in terms of their play and competitiveness. Whether or not there is a team up to the challenge of upending the team’s postseason aspirations remains to be seen. But as Brad Pitt’s character ‘Achilles’ is heard to have said in the movie ‘Troy’ (2004) ………….’is there no one else ‘…..? ‘ Is no one amongst you ‘ ? This is the challenge that the rest of the conference faces at this moment in time. Who amongst the seven other teams vying for a playoff berth is actually prepared to ‘challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ? Your thoughts on the matter , if any ?

NB : Click here to see the Cavaliers’ schedule . Click here to see the Celtics’ schedule . Click here to see the Magic’s schedule. (In each case schedules shown are the teams’ regular season game’s schedule-through the month of February). Just click on the additional months shown to view their remaining regular season as indicated.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………..

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As with Homers’ ‘The Illiad’ (The Battle of Troy). The landscape that is now the Eastern Conference playground for LeBron James, who may well view himself as the league’s version of Achilles. But remember, even Achilles had a weakness and that was, his heel – ” Achilles’ heel “.

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In order to view the gallery’s pictures in full just click unto see each in their full
display. Photos appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images & Associated Press @ copyrighted material ..all rights reserved.

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Israeli  model  Bar Refaeli    seen  here  doing  a  Sports  Illustrated  Swimsuit  edition  phot-shoot.
Israeli model Bar Refaeli seen here doing a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition phot-shoot.