You don’t want to be the guy who replaces a legend , you want to be the guy comes in after the legend’s successor is said to have failed miserably

You don’t want to be the guy who replaces a legend , you want to be the guy comes in after the legend’s successor is said to have failed miserably

Over the past two decades within professional team sports , we have seen the departures great players from the game , either through retirement or their trade to another franchise. Though not thought to be earth shattering at the time , the feeling was that Peyton Manning’s departure from the Indianapolis Colts and the organization’s handling of the matter was haphazard , incompetent and somewhat disrespectful , given Manning’s contribution and resurgence of that particular franchise. The famed quarterback’s success along with Tony Dungy’s coaching acumen brought about that success , the added profitability of the Colts and to the overall wealth of the team’s owner Jim Irsay .

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With the Indianapolis Colts having traded Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos , the team was lucky enough to have drafted Andrew Luck out of Stanford as the number one overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft . Luck’s success as a rookie and subsequent play has simply been a revelation , having led the team into the postseason in 2012 , along with his peer Robert Griffin III , who was able to achieve a similar feat with the Washington Redskins .

This season , both the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins have followed different paths, with the defending NFC East champions are likely to miss the postseason , after an erratic season of missed opportunities and a great deal of finger-pointing around the organization , with the actual coaching acumen of Mike Shanahan and his coaching acumen now coming into question, along with that of his coaching staff . At the same time, Robert Griffin’s play this season has been far from scintillating , somewhat of a surprise to many, given his growth and maturity shown over the first two years of his NFL career. This season , much like the team’s, Griffin’s performances , along with the other quarterbacks within the NFC East , have been understated and amongst the most erratic in the entire NFL . Yet , if there is blame to be apportioned , then a great deal of that must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Redskins’ secondary and the poor play exhibited over the course of the season . With the team now in preparation for their week twelve scheduled Monday night match-up against the high-flying San Francisco 49ers , in an NFC contest to be played at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland . It will be interesting to see what steps will be taken by the Washington Redskins as they take on the NFC West divisional antagonists.

There is no denying that Andrew Luck’s success has been contagious and that it has affected the organization throughout , with the fans coming in droves to see a newly revamped team play at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indiana , Indianapolis , all under the watchful eye of head coach Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff . Having replaced an icon and legend in Peyton Manning, it would appear that the young quarterback , Andrew Luck is prepared to lead the Colts’ into a new chapter of their history . That next phase, will begin on Sunday , when the Colts are guests of the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe , Arizona, where former Colts’ assistant Bruce Arians is now the head coach of the host team . Arians and the Cardinals will be looking to see if they can secure a win , in order to leapfrog the second placed San Francisco 49ers within the NFC West , in a division that is now blossoming into a thoroughly enthralling contest between the top three teams , by way of its competitiveness .

Robert Griffin’s path of succession in following in a long line of shall we say lackluster Redskins’ quarterbacks over the past eight seasons , has been one of the numerous reasons why the franchise has failed so miserably . Reading off those list of names of nondescript individuals , would be akin to reading the recipe of ingredients from a can of soup , produced as a generic brand to be stocked on the shelves of your local supermarket. The list of Rex Grossman , a past his prime , Donovan McNabb , Jason Campbell , Mark Brunell , and Patrick Ramsey have all got something in common . They have played for a franchise, where the team owner , Dan Snyder , has spared no expense , in carrying on with the Redskins’ ineptitude, since he took the helm of the Washington Redskins in 1999, as its main proprietor .

At 3-7 within the NFC East , the record of the Washington Redskins has proven to be a monumental disappointment . In a division , where the only team above .500 in terms of a winning record are the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) . It is a damning indictment, as to how bad the teams are said to be, in what has been repeatedly described as the “glamor division “ . of the NFL , with the brand and product having become so diluted . Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there has been absolutely nothing glamorous about the quartet of teams much less their play over the course of this season . As I alluded to earlier , the quarterback play also has been something of an abomination and it is also, another clear indicator as to how bad things now appear to be, even in spite of a number of analysts now salivating over the play of Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles , who may well be on the verge bringing about the abrupt end of Michael Vick’s career with the franchise . If former, Philly head coach, Andy Reid could not see it for himself, that Vick is now past his prime . Then surely Reid’s successor , Chip Kelly must now realize that fact for himself , given the rather innocuous performances from the veteran player player this season , in spite of his health issues .

One could perhaps attest to the fact that where would be something of a misnomer with regard to the title of this piece and how it relates to the NFL , may well have been the passing on of the baton from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana to Steve Young . Though not necessarily controversial at the time, Favre’s unwillingness to take a back seat to a younger and most certainly a more receptive player in Rodgers, led to the veteran being looked upon as a rather petulant individual . Brett Favre’s departure from the Green Bay Packers had its supporters and detractors. Yet, it should be noted, the all-time career touchdowns’ passing as well as career passing yardage leader , never showed the form that made him such a treat to watch after his departure from the Packers. After a fifteen career in Green Bay , the subsequent stops in New York with the New York Jets ( one year) and two years with the Minnesota Vikings were as eventful , as they were somber. No doubt, upon meeting the eligibility requirements, Brett Favre will become a first year ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

Aaron Rodgers, has all but erased the memory of Brett Favre ever existing and playing at Lambeau Field for one the league’s most revered and venerable NFL franchises . Now considered to be amongst the elite of the NFL quarterbacks, now playing in the NFL , his career has been a personification of dedication to his craft , as well as having the respect of his peers and teammates alike. Other than, Tom Brady , Peyton Manning and Drew Brees , I seriously doubt that there is a more well-liked or respected quarterback in the entire NFL !

Five Superbowl victories for an NFL franchise, tends to tell you a great deal about an organization and what they have been able to achieve over the course of their existence . The transition from Joe Montana to Steve Young did a have a few bumps in the road , but who can deny the fact that these two quarterbacks along with Jerry Rice , Roger Craig , Ronnie Lott , Dwight Clark , Jesse Sapolu and the franchise’s legendary head coach Bill Walsh may well have done more to put the San Francisco 49ers on the map , beyond Walsh’s influence on the game , through his play-calling . Montana and Young between them, account for all five of those Superbowl triumphs, with their names being etched in postseason history in terms of their respective performances in the postseason and the “big game ” itself .

After a spectacular 2012 , during which we witnessed the San Francisco 49ers make their sixth Superbowl appearance. The team would not fare as well , as in their previous forays , as Colin Kaepernick and his teammates would fall to their AFC opponents the Baltimore Ravens 34-31 in a game blighted by the incompetence of not only the NFL hierarchy , utility’s company Entergy , but also the host site, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome , home to the New Orleans Saints , operated by SMG and a venue owned by the Louisiana Expo & Sports Authority . The explanations forthcoming, as to why a power outage interrupted the NFL’s biggest spectacle were as ludicrous, as Roger Goodell’s comments that the stoppage, did nothing to take away from the event , nor did it have an effect on the end result. One more reason, why the incumbent NFL commissioner cannot be taken seriously as the league’s highest ranking executive. His communicative and leadership skills , beyond being remarkably poor, are in fact a complete embarrassment to the NFL and the teams he presides over .

I have been reading with a great deal of interest , where Hakeem Olajuwon , a Hall of Fame inductee , whose playing career with the Houston Rockets was unprecedented , has now taken it upon himself along with fellow inductee and Rockets’ head coach Kevin McHale , to assist in improving and “polishing ” the game of Dwight Howard . These two great players from a bygone era of excellence within the NBA , may well be taking on a great deal than either would care or be willing to admit . Howard may well have been, a Defensive Player of the Year within the league on multiple occasions , but his offensive prowess , as well as leadership skills and lack of maturity, has repeatedly come into question . It was self-evident and there for all to see, as the player struggled to show any signs of leadership, much less being able, to impose his will on a game , while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers last season .

The fact that Dwight Howard was acquired by the Lakers’ franchise as a long-term investment and seen as heir-apparent to Kobe Bryant , as the vocal leader of the Los Angeles Lakers, came and went as swiftly , as Howard’s decision to bolt from the Lakers , taking less money , to sign with the Rockets . If that was not indicative of the fact, that the center simply could not handle any form of adversity , then his now constant moaning , as to why he has been criticized by many of the elder statesmen of the game , is clear evidence that Dwight Howard will never be viewed as one of the best players at the position to have ever played the game. The NBA in terms of the play of the centers now within the game, are a far cry from what many of the fans have witnessed during the heydays of David Robinson . , Hakeem Olajuwon , Shaquille O’Neal , Bill Russell , Kareem Abdul Jabbar , Nate Thurmond , Patrick Ewing , Willis Reed and Moses Malone . All of whom were known to be ferocious competitors . Can the same be even remotely said about Dwight Howard , even as many now regard him as the best center , currently now playing in the NBA ?

Dwight Howard’s acquisition by the Rockets, in some circles was seen as the missing piece for a franchise with a legitimate shot of making the NBA Playoffs this upcoming season. In bolstering a roster , led by the presence of James Harden , Jeremy Lin , Ronnie Brewer , Patrick Beverley , Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks . The team was seen as a solid enough of a competitor to challenge the presence of the San Antonio Spurs (10-1) within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference . Coming off a narrow three-point 123-120 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night , the Rockets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas on Saturday evening , in what is likely to be a very lively contest between these two Western Conference foes.

Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander and GM Daryl Morey, made a bold move, that will either prove to be a success or simply backfire for the organization. While, I believe Dwight Howard will be of some benefit to the Houston Rockets, I just cannot see the player as the person who will now get the team “ over the hump” that will make them a legitimate threat to the more prominent teams within the conference , such as the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and what now appears to be a very talented and well-coached Golden State Warriors’ roster. I may well be wrong, but at this juncture, my observations are based on what I have seen from Dwight Howard , and the fact that he’s now being asked to fill the shoes of predecessors before him on the Rockets, who made significant progress in making the franchise more widely recognized . Hakeem Olajuwon and to an extent , Yao Ming made you aware of the franchise in terms of what they brought to the Houston Rockets . Has Dwight Howard actually been able to do that any point of his career, beyond his goofy off the court antics and winning a meaningless Slam Dunk Contest ?

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Do you believe it easy, for a professional sport’s franchise to replace an iconic legend that has been associated with a team over a long period of time? Or as teams would always like to suggest “ it’s time to move on” , more often than not, because of monetary issues , rather than the athlete’s possible declining production ? Your comments are most certainly welcomed on this and anything else you believe to be of value to the premise stated this moderated piece.

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(1) Mar 7, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning speaks and Jim Irsay stands beside him to announce during a press conference at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center that Peyton Manning will become a free agent. Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE ….

(2) Andrew Luck, left of the Indianapolis Colts is seen here with team owner Jim Irsay. . The quarterback, who was drafted out of Stanford as the number one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , proved to be an immediate success with the franchise having taken the team into the postseason and the Colts now seem to be set , in terms of their long-term future with a quarterback who has proven to productive , with an immediate impact for the Indianapolis Colts from a competitive and financial standpoint. AP Photo / Garry Moss …

(3) Washington Redskins` starting quarterback Robert Griffin III is seen here with the team’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and backup quarterback Kirk Cousins . The team as defending champions within of the NFC East , now find themselves in almost untenable position of being at the bottom of the division and likely to miss the playoffs , having rode into the 2012 postseason riding on a sea of optimism and at the same time , projected long-term success. Instead, this season has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster , with a defense performing poorly , with alarming regularity and the same could be said of the offense . GM Bruce Allen and team owner Dan Snyder are likely to make a number of sweeping changes during the off-season concerning the player personnel and quite possibly amongst the coaching staff. Getty Images / Lance Jones …..

(4) Green Bay Packers’ teammates Brett Favre (4) and Aaron Rodgers (12) are seen here seated on the sidelines looking up at the scoreboard . The two players who have been described as not being extremely close , with Favre having been critical of the organization when Rodgers was drafted by team as a late first round draft pick in the 2005 NFL Draft . The backup would not become a regular season starter until 2008 . Brett Favre would later depart from the franchise under a cloud of controversy , with fans and detractors of the veteran , voicing their thoughts publicly , in print, via the airwaves and on television . Getty Images/ Mark Parsons …….

(5) Former 49ers Steve Young (L), Roger Craig (C) and Joe Montana (R) wait to go onto the field for a half time presentation during home opener as the San Francisco 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park September 20, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images North America / David Paul Morris ….

(6) Hall of Fame inductee Hakeem Olajuwon foreground , shows the Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard a few on-court drills and moves . Howard , since his arrival with the franchise has performed moderately , but the team now evolves around the play of point guard Jeremy Lin and James Harden . Olajuwon , GM Daryl Morey and head coach Kevin McHale see Howard as a vital part of the team’s offense , as they seek to make their presence felt within the Western Conference this season . AP Photo / Matt Shields ….

(7) Newly acquired center Dwight Howard , left foreground , is seen here with Houston Rockets’ great Hakeem Olajuwon and the team’s head coach Kevin McHale in the background at the team’s venue the Toyota Center in Houston Texas . Signed as a free agent in the off-season , the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is seeking establish himself as the premiere center in the NBA , after a somewhat lackluster year in 2012 , with Howard being unable to assist the Los Angeles Lakers during the postseason in any great depth . AP Photo / Keith Miller ….

(8) Two legendary giants of the game and some might agree a pair of centers who at the height of their careers were the most dominant players of their generation as centers . Bill Russell , left , whose career with the Boston Celtics is littered with accolades too numerous to mention , shakes hands with Kareem Abdul Jabbar , whose own career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are synonymous as Russell’s with the Boston Celtics . AP Photo / Roger Pettigrew …. …….

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No sleep ’til Brooklyn …………

No sleep ‘til Brooklyn

Week nine in the NFL offered few surprises , unless you just happen to be buying into the fact that Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles might now be the second coming of Joe Montana and Steve Young all rolled into one ? The fact of the matter is , when your opponent just happens to the Oakland Raiders , the opposition with all due candor , that is unlikely to prove to be a stern test . Let us just say at present , the Raiders’ season is already over , bar the shouting and Mark Davis , along with GM Reggie McKenzie are likely to bring about to an end , the tenure of Dennis Allen as the team’s head coach . The talent level on this Raiders’ team might just be at its lowest in several years , with the franchise likely to miss the postseason , as well as posting a sub .500 record or worse for the eleventh consecutive season . Consider, the fact also , that the Oakland Raiders’ last postseason appearance, came during the 2002 postseason . The franchise has now become historically woeful, with only the “Raider Nation ” faithful, standing by the team. As to what may well happen next, is now a matter of conjecture and speculation , as the Raiders prepare for their week ten opponent the New York Giants who they will face at the Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey , this upcoming Sunday .

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The Raiders’ rather lopsided 49-20 defeat suffered at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles , should come as no surprise for those who bore witness the spectacle via the national broadcast . However , what has to be treated with a great deal of skepticism has to be the performance of Foles , who matched an NFL record for the most touchdown passes during a regular season game , with seven scores against a poorly coached and hapless Raiders’ team and secondary . As good as the Eagles’ performance just happens to be, at the midway point of the season, this Chip Kelly coached team has a sub .500 record (4-5) within a division , the NFC East , that at present, might the worst in the entire NFL .

In a season , where the Houston Texans were seen as the presumptive favorites to win the AFC South , with an explosive offense led by Matt Schaub , Arian Foster and Andre Johnson . This season , the Texans have proven to be all too inconsistent with starting quarterback , Schaub having a year on that he would undoubtedly like to see in a rear view mirror. Currently sidelined with an ankle injury , it appears unlikely that he will return this season in his former role . Inconsistency has plagued the veteran starter , with the Texans’ fans showing their pleasure, in seeing Matt Schaub sidelined for the present. Beleaguered head coach Gary Kubiak can for the moment take pleasure that he might well have found the answer to his prayers with the emergence of Case Keenum , and his play during the Texans’ game against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. Unfortunately, for the home team , this contest ended in a defeat, that should have been a decisive victory against their divisional rivals . The heroics of the day once again belonged to the Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck who showed a great deal of composure in bringing his team back for this unexpected victory .

If you thought all of the drama simply took place on the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on Sunday afternoon. Then seeing Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak fall to the ground from what appeared to be a fainting spell or quite possibly cardiac arrest . The coach was immediately taken to a hospital, having first been provided with immediate medical attention on the field and then in the locker room. It is likely, that Kubiak will be held at the medical facility, where he will undergo a battery of tests, before being released. No pubic statement has yet been made, as to the cause of the head coach’s condition , which is likely to kept private at the request of the family and the team , itself. Matt Schaub’s immediate and long-term future is now under a great deal more scrutiny than at any time during his nine-year career in the NFL , having been drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft . . Schaub who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017 , signed a five-year $66.15 million deal in 2012 , of which $29.15 million was guaranteed money . His base salary for this season is $ 7,250,000 with a further $3.500,000 due in part as a bonus . Whether or not the franchise will seek to retain the veteran, is now likely to be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation , but I do believe that a great deal of that will be prefaced upon the progress shown by Case Keenum. If GM Rick Smith believes that Keenum is the future of the Texans as they proceed forward , then in all likelihood , Schaub will be supplanted in the starting quarterback position by his younger teammate , with the franchise seeking a trade of the veteran signal caller

In week ten, the Texans are the guests of the Arizona Cardinals , for whom week nine, was a bye for the NFC West based franchise . Coming off a decisive week eight 27-13 victory over the fast slumping Atlanta Falcons , there is every reason to believe that this contest will prove to be a stern test for Houston, as they seek to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to the Colts .

The struggles of the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be an ongoing issue that now seems to have not only the Steelers’ fans worried but also a great many observers around the NFL . It has been considerably long time, since we have seen this franchise sink to such lows, where one now has to question the heart of this team as well as the play calling of offensive coordinator Todd Haley . From my own perspective, I do believe that the Steelers’ issues stem from some poor draft picks over the past three seasons , with the players in question having not shown the progress sought by head coach Mike Tomlin and the GM Kevin Colbert .

Sunday afternoon, the Steelers came to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ , Massachusetts , seeking to inflict a loss on the New England Patriots. Instead, the Patriots simply used all of the offensive weapons available to Tom Brady , who simply raised the level of his game to give one of his : best performances of the season as the Patriots annihilated the Pittsburgh Steelers in game that became beyond the Steelers’ reach in the final quarter as England rattled of twenty-eight points on their way to a thoroughly convincing 55-31 victory . Where this now leaves players such as , Ben Roethlisberger , Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu , Will Allen , Ryan Clark , Jerricho Cotchery .a , Lawrence Timmons and several other of these experienced players on the roster have shown no heart , as this team has now slumped to a 2-6 record within the AFC North . The fact, that the Steelers were lambasted in a lopsided hammering by the New England for the Steelers’ worst loss of the season , now leaves a number of fans wondering where the franchise now goes from here .

The Kansas City Chiefs remain the league’s lone unbeaten team and at 9-0 , with and two more wins, guarantees the Chiefs a playoff berth . A further loss by the Denver Broncos and the AFC West , the Kansas City Chiefs are likely to become the divisional champions for this season . The Chiefs have a potential game of the season awaiting them in week eleven , when they meet at the Sports Authority Field in Denver , Colorado, on Sunday, 17th October , in a conference and divisional contest . That game will certainly have a bearing on the seedings for the AFC at season’s end, but for now the fans should take heart in the very fact that division and conference does not remain a forgone conclusion

Still early days yet, in the NBA season and the defending champions have shown a few chinks in their undoubted armor . The Miami Heat are seeking to rewrite history, cast their own legacy in the annals of NBA history, as they seek to win a third consecutive NBA title . New additions to the roster , Michael Beasley , Roger Mason Jr and Greg Oden are seeking to contribute to this Erik Spoelstra coached team . At 2-2, the Heat sit jointly atop of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference , alongside the Orlando Magic , whose quick start out of the gate has not exactly caught everyone off-balance . From my own perspective this , Magic team will be in for a rough ride over the course of the season as they seek to rebound from a rather lackluster year in 2012 . One which saw the departure of Dwight Howard , whose last season with the team was mired in a great deal of controversy that in the end , led to the dismissal of Stan Van Gundy .

. Miami’s next scheduled game, will see them head north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario , . That match-up should prove to be very interesting contest , as the Raptors seek to gauge themselves against the best team in the Eastern Conference over the past two seasons .

Four-time league MVP LeBron James , also a two- time Finals’ MVP will seek to add to his own legacy , as he seeks to join the ranks of the greats of the game. At this juncture , if James adds another NBA title as well as league MVP to his already distinguished resume` , then I would have to rethink my view as to whether or not he has been the best player to grace the NBA over the past fifteen years . Granted, James’ idol Michael Jordan , will be considered the greatest player to have played the game , but quite possibly , at the point at which LeBron James chooses to retire from the NBA , he may well have surpassed many of Jordan’s greatest personal achievements as a player in the NBA. James has yet to reach his maturation point as a player and over the past four season , we have seen the growth of his all-round game . In terms of a rival to match James’ play and skill-set , the analysts agree that the rivalry may well come from the Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , a three-time league scoring champion and again a three-time runner-up in the League MVP voting .

Scott Brooks head coach of the Thunder must be greatly enthused by the fact that Kevin Durant has returned to the league this season with the mindset that the team has unfinished business . The postseason of 2012 something of nightmare for the team as they were swept aside in the NBA Finals by LeBron James and the Miami Heat , where the match-up between Durant and the Heat superstar failed to live up to the perceived hype , as the Thunder were brushed over in a lopsided 4-1 series’ victory . Last year’s postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of more heartache with the loss of the team’s point guard Russell Westbrook , as he suffered an injury in the team’s first round series against the Houston Rockets . Westbrook was injured in a collision with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley , which would require orthopedic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The point guard’s loss would prove to be impactful for the Thunder, as Russell Westbrook and the team would be unceremoniously dumped in the first round, with a 4-2 series’ loss. All season long, the point guard would prove to be one the most productive players on the roster, alongside teammate Kevin Durant.

A new season beckons, it will be interesting to see what type of mindset will be shown by Russell Westbrook when he makes his first appearance for the Thunder . His return would suggest that the player has not missed a step after the team’s 103-96 defeat of the Phoenix Suns , during which he scored twenty-one points , dished out seven assists , with four rebounds and a steal . Yet there were signs of rustiness displayed with some momentary lapses that led to four turnovers and 1 personal foul. As he begins to find his rhythm, we are likely to see Westbrook regain the form that has made him one of the most explosive point guards in the NBA over the past four seasons . I strongly believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be one of at least four teams in the Western Conference seeking to be dominant within the conference this season, as well as within their respective divisions . The other teams I see playing a part within this whole year-long scenario, are the Los Angeles Clippers , Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs . In the Clippers’ case , that is solely based on the mindset brought in by Doc Rivers and whether or not , he can get this team to actually play a modicum of defense . We are aware as to what they are capable of from an offensive mindset , as we all bore witness to that last season .

The Clippers now seeing a resurgence in not only their play but also fan-base , and now of the belief that they’re on an equal footing with their in-house residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Lakers . This season, will be a test for both franchises , as they each seek to carve out a niche for themselves within the NBA landscape. As I alluded to earlier, while the Clippers are a robustly talented team on offense , their issues remain on the defensive side of the ball. With the mindset of Chris Paul , now a determining factor, things are likely to change after the point guard’s first season with the team in 2012 . Alongside , Blake Griffin , DeAndre Jordan , Darren Collison , J J Redick , Antawn Jamison , Ryan Hollins the rest of this cast , we will be able to gauge whether or not there is any justification for there to be a presumption that they are legitimate contenders for the NBA title this season . Evidence of that may well have been on hand last night, as they completely manhandled the Houston Rockets on their way to a 137-118 victory for the highest scoring game in the infancy of this NBA season . Houston with the off-season acquisition of Dwight Howard , were also being looked upon as a championship caliber team . To my mind , beyond James Harden , there is little to suggest that the addition of Howard will factor into the Rockets chances of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of this postseason . Dwight Howard has yet to prove himself when it matters the most , and that is during the postseason and he certainly cannot be considered a player readily and willing to assume the mantle of leadership , should James Harden be otherwise indisposed due to a prolonged injury .

During last season within the NBA schedule , one of the more idiotic comments I read concerning the NBA, was that of a patron, who suggested that New York sports’ fans tend not to expect a great deal from or off their teams , even when the rosters assembled are considered to be that of a championship caliber team . Personally, I felt the statement, was lacking in intelligence and obviously from an individual, who simply does not spend a great deal of time informing themselves of what is routinely happening in the nation’s largest sports environment, where all four of the major professional team sports are well represented alongside having perhaps having some of the most gregarious and often most acerbic and volatile sports’ journalists in the country . With, both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks , having made the postseason in 2012, as the fourth and second seeds respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings . A great deal was expected of both teams, as each sought to make a respectable showing in the league’s showcase event of the postseason .

The New York Knicks led by Carmelo Anthony and an assortment of ill-fitting parts , made light work of the Boston Celtics in the first round of a highly competitive and volatile series . Meanwhile , the Nets, with their wildly exorbitant payroll of underachieving players , suffered the ignominy of bowing out in their opening round series to the Chicago Bulls , who were at the time without their best player , Derrick Rose . As to what that might suggest about a team , whose owner Mikhail Prokhorov , who remains of the mindset , that the best way to solve a problem is to simply to throw money at the issue and then let things fall where they may. Somewhat like this present White House administration , and that of the US Congress , and their omnipresent ideas , as how best to deal with an ongoing and still ailing economy. Print money, borrow money , spend money , on just about any damn idiotic idea that you think might fly or curry favor , not with the constituents , but their financial backers , by way of the funneling of monies by lobbyists and the special interest groups they represent .

Prokhorov as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, has simply sought to play second fiddle to no one , not even to their in conference rivals the New York Knicks. The fact that these two teams have now created an intense rivalry , with both sets of fans now foaming at the mouth , while showing not quite utter disdain for their foe . I am not so sure , what this will amount to , even with the addition of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to a Nets’ roster whose team payroll of just over $70 million in 2012 , will balloon to over $102.6 million for this upcoming season and creating a liability for the Nets franchise where they will be paying in excess of forty-three million dollars for exceeding the league’s soft salary cap ($58.648 million) .

While, I believe that both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks to be very good teams , I simply do not believe, that either, are the equal of the Miami Heat, in terms of being able to mount a serious enough challenge to dethrone the defending NBA champions .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on an individual frame , you can see that picture in its original formatted size)

With the NFL now its midway point , what are you hoping to see in the second half of the season by way of the play from the teams in the NFL ? Also with the NBA still in its infancy this season , have there been any teams , team , player or players that you believe will have a successful year within the league itself ? Leave a comment, as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated first and foremost !

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(1) Nick Foles (9)/ is seen here attempting a pass during the game played between the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders played at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 3rd November , 2013 . The Eagles would go on to defeat Oakland 49-20 , with Foles equaling an NFL single game record in passing for seven touchdowns during the contest. Getty Images / Brian Bahr …

(2) Tight end Zach Ertz (86 ) of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Nick Foles (9) against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on November 3, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. Getty Images North America/ Brian Bahr …

(3) Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is loaded on a stretcher after he collapsed on the field as the team left for halftime against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(4) Case Keenum (7) of the Houston Texans breaks the tackle of Ricky Jean Francois (99) of the Indianapolis Colts as he rushes in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(5) Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin and team GM Kevin Colbert are seen here at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania . The franchise this season within the AFC North is having a horrendous year , bearing a 2-6 record which has them firmly placed at the foot of the division . The Steelers’ draft picks over the past four seasons has proven to be unfruitful , with several of the players failing to live up to the perceived hype . AP Photo / Carl Rogers …

(6) Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat is seen here in his official team photo for the franchise . Beasley is seeking to resurrect his often troubled NBA career in his second stop with NBA franchise . Beasley , along with Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr are the newest members of the team , which has seen the retirement of Juwan Howard , who has since become a member of the coaching staff . AP Photo / Hector Hernandez ….

(7) From left to right , Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King , team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov , head coach Jason Kidd , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry . This season the Nets will have one of the league’s highest team payrolls which will exceed $102.6 million , with guard Joe Johnson being the highest paid player on the roster this season . It remains to be seen whether not franchise can be seen as a legitimate title threat to the Miami Heat as well as the rest of the NBA this season . The addition of the three former Boston Celtics’ players should add some vitality to the franchise . AP Photo / Gerry Thomas ….

(8) Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks is seen here with teammates , J R Smith , center and Iman Shumpert . Anthony during the preseason stated that he was prepared opt put of the final year of his contract to test the free agency market in 2014 . Yet , is highly unlikely , that Carmelo Anthony will seek to go elsewhere, knowing that can get a max six-year contract that cumulatively earning $129 million six years averaging , $21.5 million per year while remaining with the New York Knicks. . AP Photo / Paul Hamilton …….

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tophatal ………………… 11/04/2013

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Booty-licious

‘Tasty cakes’

Make It So ………………

Make It So …………..

In the aftermath of the Orlando Magic’s postseason foray the organization now faces a difficult task in trying to retain their All Star center Dwight Howard . The three time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has categorically stated that he wishes to become a free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season . With that in mind , the GM Otis Smith and President /CEO Bob Vander Weide will have to do their utmost in assuring Howard that they will do their best to improve the roster . Inasmuch as the player has what seems to be a very good relationship with his coach Stan Van Gundy and the coach’s assistants I can’t help but feel that the relationship and the coach’s tenure has ran its course .

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Smith’s moves during the free agency period prove to be done more out of urgency rather than necessity . And in doing he saddled the organization with a number of burdensome contracts that were on the verge of expiring or that could well be bought out further leaving a somewhat financially strapped organization once again looking for a monetary handout from the NBA hierarchy . Encumbered with this mess , it is understandable why the player might well feel aggrieved knowing that while the team may well have finished with the fourth best record (52-30) in the Easter Conference it simply didn’t equate to much in the team’s postseason play and expectations. There was little to suggest that the acquisition of Jason Richardson , Quentin Richardson , Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu added much to the team . It was felt somehow that the Magic needed that offensive tenacity about them but in doing so they gave up something of a far more balanced team , for a team that in terms of defense was lacking and the overall cohesiveness was completely missing.

I’ve long felt that Stan Van Gundy while being a good regular season coach simply cannot get the best out of his players during the postseason. He becomes to animated , clearly can’t communicate with his players whereby he gets across his points succinctly . But what might be even more telling, is that as a coach I for one do not believe he truly knows how to assess talent at the college level and that’s even with the assistants at his disposal. If you’re trying to tell me that the likes of JJ Redick and Jameer Nelson are to be the future of this team along with Dwight Howard I would tell you this organization simply hasn’t a chance in hell of winning an NBA title !

The history of this franchise is well known and chronicled to such an extent that it’s great achievements are the two appearances made in the NBA Finals of of 1995 and 2009 . Both of which ended up being rather lopsided series’ losses for the Orlando Magic . And it would appear that if the organization is ambitious to make another appearance in the NBA’s showcase event then Otis Smith and Bob Vander Weide will seriously have to look at making a major overhaul of this roster. Unfortunately , through being too capricious and encumbering the team with a saddled beast in terms of salaried commitments totalling almost $75 million for the 2011-12 season it’s hard to see how the two executives will address this matter . Buyouts notwithstanding , the organization would still have to address the issues of trades and the NBA Draft . And if as to be expected Howard is unwilling to sign a two year contract extension then the organization will most certainly have to look to trade their All Star center.

And in the upcoming draft the situation for the Orlando Magic hasn’t been made any easier given the fact that the team does not have a pick in the first rounds . It is not until the second round and the 23rd pick (number 53 overall) that the Magic will have the benefit of making their first choice in the 2011 NBA Draft. And given that there isn’t a dearth of marquee talent in this draft beyond the first 10 to 15 picks that t I do believe that the organization will actually struggle to replenish the roster with the prerequisite requirements thought to be needed by the Orlando Magic .

With the Magic now housed in their new multi million state of the art venue the Amway Center housed in downtown Orlando at the taxpayers’ expense ___- to say that the organization isn’t now chasing after the proverbial pot of gold in terms of competitive success, contending for an NBA title is of the utmost desire for team owner Rich De Vos and his fellow executives . Coming off a 2010 —- season where success was short of expectations and once again where the team is expected post a loss for the fiscal year it has to be said the impending loss of Dwight Howard could be a forebearer of impending doom and gloom for the team and its fans. In 2009 the Orlando Magic and fifteen other NBA franchises were the recipients of $ 450 million by way of the league hierarchy secured in loans from various financial institutions. NBA Commissioner David Stern said at the time …… ” that these loans shouldn’t be viewed as a bailout of the teams in question but merely as a way of bolstering their financial security “. The very same edict and feat was repeated again this past season with a further $ 300 million again loaned to teams and it now begs the question if these franchises are said to have acute financial problems then what does that say about the league hierarchy itself ? Financial woes notwithstanding , I firmly believe that even with the ongoing issues at hand between the NBA and NBPA concerning the existing collective bargaining agreement (due to expire 30th June) it is quite obvious that the plight of the Orlando Magic will almost certainly be one where a prudent choice may well be the right decision that could end up being determining how the negotiations between the two parties are resolved and where Dwight Howard’s future will ultimately lay.

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher know full well with the 53/47 split in terms of the league revenues totaling approximately $4.5 billion there has to be an accord reached between the league and the union. With the two sides meandering towards some type of agreement but no real sign that there’s a compromise it leaves the sports fan if we are about to see the same sort of stupidity shown by the NFL , NFLPA and the team owners . And at this moment in time that scenario looks as if it could also raise its head amongst the NBA team owners , league hierarchy and union .

The consequences of Dwight Howard possibly leaving the Magic from a competitive and financial standpoint would be a disaster in numerous ways . Having lost Shaquille O’Neal due to a lack of ambition on the part of the organization and quite possibly due to the fact that O’Neal felt that he was a minnow in a small pond . As we know the recently retired player went on to great success with the Los Angeles Lakers and thereon after. GM John Gabriel who has since left the organization and coach Brian Hill had a measured amount of success with the Magic but in the aftermath of it all that success has been fleeting with the organization . Upheavals within the front office and through the coaching carousel that tends to happen with such instances the turnaround started with the drafting of Dwight Howard and not long after the installation of Smith as general manager and acquiring at the time what the a group of players who would complement the player’s skill-set.

The decisions that are made within an organization can shape that entity either immediately or over the course of its future . This will be one decision that either way could have a long and lasting effect on what direction that this basketball franchise could very well be heading in . It remains to be seen what decision will be made by the Dwight Howard and whether or not he will be persuaded to stay with the team . The persuasiveness of Bob Vander Weide and Otis Smith has to be pronounced and with intent if they are to have any chance of proving to the player that they are capable of being prominent and perennial contenders within the NBA .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As an NBA fan do you feel that it would be in the best interest of Dwight Howard to remain with the Orlando Magic or simply leave the organization as a free agent or would it be in the Magic’s best interest to seek a sign and trade deal for the player ? Your comments if any as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………….. https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 28: Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic reacts after a missed basket during game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …….

(2) A message for and to Dwight ? A fan holds up a neon green sign with the words “Kryptonite” written on it during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(3) Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic reacts after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(4) Gilbert Arenas (1) of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against Josh Smith (5) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …..

(5) Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy (C) yells at referees to play the game as forward Hedo Turkoglu (R) and CEO of the Magic Bob Vander Weide (L) look on as their team plays the Atlanta Hawks during second half of Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff basket ball game in Orlando, Florida April 19, 2011.The Magic beat the Hawks 88 – 82 . REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski …..(UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

(6) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith (right) received 3-year contract extensions from the NBA franchise. They are talking about it with the Orlando Media . courtesy of Orlando Sentinel ………

NBA commissioner David Stern, left, chats with Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round of the NBA basketball playoff series between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Stern announced earlier Tuesday that the 2012 All-Star Game will be held in Orlando. AP Photo/John Raoux ……..

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Orlando Magic payroll for 2010-11 season and their future salary commitments

NB: NBA salary cap is $57.75 million for the 2010-11 season

I’m Not Buying ……….

I’m Not Buying ……….

It’s becoming rather idiotic to see what might be the meltdown of the Orlando Magic and the fact that All Star center Dwight Howard having received his eighteenth technical foul has to sit out a one game mandatory suspension without pay. All this coming from a player who’s meant to be the leader on this team ? Howard has shown his offensive and defensive capabilities but in terms of moral and real vocal leadership it just doesn’t seem to be there . And granted the Magic’s coach Stan Van Gundy has complained to the NBA —- hierarchy that the officials are gunning for Howard each times he steps unto the court . There may well be some veracity to that argument but Howard doesn’t do himself any justice with his candor and irrational behavior when he runs afoul of the officials and the officiating .

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In terms of support from Dwight Howard’s teammates this team is so inconsistent that it’s hard to make an argument as to why they can be viewed with any justification as a favorite for the NBA title much less being viewed as conference favorite . They’ve fallen somewhat down the standings in terms of a playoff berth and now sit behind conference leading Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and Miami Heat . And with the Heat and Celtics due to meet this weekend in what will be viewed as a series decider and who will ultimately gain the number two seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Orlando Magic’s season if anything has been uneven and in large part that has been down to the fact their inconsistency and the fact that they simply don’t close out games that they need to win. Whether or not that is the fault of Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff I’ll let you be the judge of that ! With what appears to be a potential playoff match-up against the Atlanta Hawks another team to my mind that continually underachieves and how it is that Joe Johnson is continually viewed as a marquee player within the NBA is simply beyond me ! If it’s OK to steal money from an organization by simply offering them nothing in return then Johnson may well be the poster child for such a sentiment . Given the value of his current contract with the Hawks I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from as it relates to this argument. The Hawks’ front office may well have impressed with something about Johnson prior to the trade deadline as he was being courted by several teams around the league while he was an unrestricted free agent. Joe Johnson can play but as a leader he’s simply not the player I’d view as a franchise player , if anything I see him as rather the number two scorer for a franchise that it is need of offense . Beyond that there isn’t really much to Joe Johnson’s game.

If the Orlando Magic are to have at least a remote chance of going deep into the playoffs then Dwight Howard will have to really corral his aggressiveness and show that he can undoubtedly lead this team with a great deal of authority . And given the trades made by GM Otis Smith as sought by Van Gundy , as goes Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson then so will the fate of the team as they seek to return to the NBA Finals . Gilbert Arenas in spite of his waywardness while with the Washington Wizards you knew that he had the potential to give you 20 , 30 if not anywhere up 40 plus points in a game when he sets his mind to it . Now with the Magic he’s simply become something of a non-factor and if anything he’s got to improve his productivity along with that of Quentin Richardson and Brandon Bass will be needed to make the Magic more of an all round team and a constant threat.

The Eastern Conference in spite of its ‘star power’ what still resonates with me is that you still have teams that qualify for the postseason with sub .500 records and I’m suppose to think that the quality of play has been heightened by the addition of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams who are viewed as elite players within the NBA ? Granted , within the conference the play is in large part predicated upon defense . And undoubtedly it has played a factor for many of the teams but in essence I feel that a team has to be well balanced in the aspect of its play. And that is also one of the primary reasons why I cannot see the New York Knicks going deep into the playoffs. No team coached by Mike DAntoni has ever been known for their defensive prowess and the Knicks aren’t about to become the first.

The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire by the Knicks at the behest of team owner James Dolan and GM Donnie Walsh had more to do with the fact that Madison Square Garden was on the way to becoming an elephants graveyard in terms of attendance for Knicks’ home games than it was a place to be seen by the paparazzi . What might be even more troubling is the fact that the Knicks are a moribund 11-15 since the trade acquisition of Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets . And granted the player has come in and showed his offensive prowess for the team but beyond that the Knicks have little to show for it all by way of anything tangible . What that says about the Knicks as an organization clearly will be translated by the success achieved by the team this postseason.

The NBA’s most valuable franchise needed to make a big splash merely to remain relevant within the NBA as a whole . And if anything it had to have been a welcoming sight for NBA Commissioner David Stern to see the organization cap off the move of acquiring both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire . What awaits the team this postseason remains to be seen but it has become clear for those with any knowledge of the game the New York Knicks had better be able to prove the naysayers wrong if they’re to have any real semblance of success rather than the perception that the trades alone instantly made them a great deal better and a major force and threat in the NBA this postseason and for the foreseeable future .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the overall chances of both the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks’ chances in the playoffs ? And what signs if any are you most looking forward once the postseason starts this postseason ? By all means leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matters raised here in these topics and as usual thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

😛

Picture and slide show details below
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(1) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, argues a call with referee Bennett Salvatore in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …………….

(2) Charlotte Bobcats’ Kwame Brown (54) reacts after being charged with a technical foul after an altercation in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, center, and Magic’s Ryan Anderson , right, look on. AP Photo / Chuck Burton ………

(3) Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans, right, tries to defend as Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard shoots during first-half NBA basketball game action in Toronto on Sunday, April 3, 2011. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn ……………

(4) Orlando Magic’s Gilbert Arenas (1) shoots over Charlotte Bobcats’ D.J. Augustin (14) in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in overtime in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

(5) Orlando Magic’s Jameer Nelson, left, passes the ball around Charlotte Bobcats’ Dante Cunningham, right, in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in overtime in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …….

(6) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony pulls down a rebound during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93 . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ………….

(7) New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire wears a boot on his foot as he looks on during a timeout in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(8) New York Knicks’ Bill Walker, left, puts up a shot over New Jersey Nets’ Stephen Graham during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …………..

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Chris Brown ………….. ‘ Look At Me Now ‘ ……….. feat’g …. Lil’ Wayne & … Busta Rhymes

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Take It To The Rim ……………..

Take It To The Rim ……………………

OK so here we are and the feeling is now known that the ‘NBA’ has some work to do with regard to its image . What with the idiocy shown Wizards’ guard Gilbert Arenas and the fact that the US Justice Department has in principle agreed to a plea agreement between Arenas and the DA’s office. With Arenas said to be facing a ‘minimum of 5 years jail time’. It is being reported that the player will serve ‘no jail time’, whatsoever . However, more likely than not, Arenas might well be placed on probation. That’ll be at the federal judge’s discretion in the end. And with the player having had a prior weapon’s charge against still to be dealt with , it can be argued that jail time just might be the best and only option possible. His indefinite suspension from the NBA is unlikely to be rescinded. Nor should it be ! The idiots out there , giving credence to the player’s actions ought to think long and hard about this all and the fact that the Washington D.C area has amongst the highest homicide rates as well as gun crime rates in the nation. Arenas, himself, has stated that he was unaware as to the strictness of the gun laws in the nation’s capitol. How much of a ‘fu_king as_hole’ is Gilbert Arenas to begin with ?

Orlando Magic forward Mickael Pietrus, front, of Guadeloupe, gets tangled up with Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 115-97 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010.  picture appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/David Zalubowsk  .....
Orlando Magic forward Mickael Pietrus, front, of Guadeloupe, gets tangled up with Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 115-97 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/David Zalubowsk .....

With all of that in motion, David Stern apart from the indefinite suspension of Arenas now has to deal the falling attendance for games and the financial ravage that’s now being brought about because of the ensuing economic crisis in the country. It should come as no surprise that a number of NBA franchises are now suffering financially and looking at a number of ways to keep the fans coming to the games. A number of inducements are now in place , from ‘2 for 1 alcoholic drinks’ at the games , reduce general admission prices on game day tickets and reduced parking. Whether or not, this will be enough of an inducement to keep the fans coming remains to be seen. One thing that’s not in denial however is the state of the game. It still has its ‘omnipresent stars’ , from LeBron James , Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony , Brandon Roy , Chris Paul , Deron Williams , Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan . All are seen as the faces of the NBA at present.

Orlando Magic assistant coach Brendan Malone, left, joins head coach Stan Van Gundy in looking on against the Denver Nuggets late in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 115-97 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010.  Were Van  Gundy  and   famed  porn  star  Ron  Jeremy  separated  at  birth ?    picture  appears   courtesy  of  ap/photo/  David  Zabulowski  ..................
Orlando Magic assistant coach Brendan Malone, left, joins head coach Stan Van Gundy in looking on against the Denver Nuggets late in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 115-97 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. Were Van Gundy and famed porn star Ron Jeremy separated at birth ? picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ David Zabulowski ..................

Last year’s NBA Finals , if anything proved to me that all the hype over Dwight Howard, is that he’s merely just a very good center but nowhere as yet, ‘the best player at the position’ within the NBA. He can’t stamp his demeanor on the game the way that we’ve seen the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon , David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing and even Shaquille O’Neal have done over the course of their illustrious careers. But yet I’m to believe that Howard is that player that the fans ought now to look to ? Beyond the idiotic hype of him wearing a cape in the ‘NBA Slam Dunk’ contest. Howard has yet to show that he has the ‘leadership skills’ demanded of a player who’s viewed as a ‘team leader’.

Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick walks off the court after the Denver Nuggets' 115-97 victory over the Magic in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010.  picture  appears courtesy  of  ap/photo/ David Zalubowski .....
Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick walks off the court after the Denver Nuggets' 115-97 victory over the Magic in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ David Zalubowski .....

The Orlando Magic for their part with coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith have done their best to surround Howard with a roster that should be ‘good enough’ for a return visit to the NBA Finals. But the team as a whole can’t be viewed as ‘the best’ in the Eastern Conference. Especially in light of the play of the LeBron James’ led Cleveland Cavaliers and the ever present Boston Celtics and their now quartet of veterans stars in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace. But if anything perhaps the best player on that Celtics’ roster this season may well be that of team’s point guard , Rajon Rondo. It has been Rondo, who has shown that he can raise the level of his play and provide the impetus for this Celtics’ team. Do you think that the team’s coach Doc Rivers really has ‘anything to worry about’ at this juncture ?

The Magic’s Dwight Howard and the Denver Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin share a conversation during a game between their two teams played at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets would go on to defeat the Magic 115-97 in the game. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Garrett W Ellwood …………

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Magic need advanced chemistry for title test

By Marc J. Spears

As disappointingly as the NBA Finals ended for the Orlando Magic last season, the Magic also had reason to smile about the promise of the future. They were young, talented and hungry. Some change was expected, but Orlando seemingly had all the core pieces needed to contend for championships for years to come.

Orlando general manager Otis Smith, however, didn’t take an “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach. So, by the end of the summer, Hedo Turkoglu had left, Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie had been traded and the Magic were left staring at five new faces: Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass.

Today’s Magic are significantly different than the group that squared off with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. And nearly halfway into this season, the Magic are also still trying to figure out if all the change was for the best.

“Our objective is to win an NBA championship,” Smith said. “Anything short of that is failure. When you’re having some failures, you’re looking for ways to succeed. I think we moved the right pieces in the right places. Some pieces we would have rather not have lost. We got some pieces back that we didn’t expect to have, either.”

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Click on link to read Marc Spears’ article in its entirety
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Rashard Lewis (#9) of the Orlando Magic takes a shot over Kenyon Martin (#4) of the Denver Nuggets during NBA action at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Magic 115-97.   picture  appears  courtesy of  Getty Images/ Doug D  Pensinger  ...............
Rashard Lewis (#9) of the Orlando Magic takes a shot over Kenyon Martin (#4) of the Denver Nuggets during NBA action at Pepsi Center on January 13, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Magic 115-97. picture appears courtesy of Getty Images/ Doug D Pensinger ...............

If Howard is really going to prove himself to be the successor in waiting as to the dominant center in the game as Shaquille O’Neal’s game begins to decline. Then now is the time to really prove it, not just to the fans of the NBA but also to the pundits and analysts who cover the NBA. It’s all well and good to have that personable smile and demeanor but in essence if you have nothing at all to back it up. Then you’ll essentially be viewed as nothing more than a good player while never fulfilling that perceived potential.

As I’ve allude to earlier , the Orlando Magic are viewed as one of the ‘elite teams’ in a somewhat pedantic and average Eastern Conference. The conference as a whole has four very good teams but beyond that quartet, everything else could be viewed as being no better than marginally average. As to what that’d indicate as to the health and state of play within the Eastern Conference. I’ll leave that up for you to decide !

Friday night, the Magic will face off against the Western Conference’s Portland Trail Blazers. And with the Blazers having now both lost Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla for the season. They are out to prove that they’re capable of playing without these two and still show that they are a team to be feared not only within conference but across the entire NBA. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Alridge are the players who lead this team with authority and the play of guards Steve Blake and Rudy Fernandez should not be overlooked at all. This game should give us an indication as to where both teams are, as to the relevance of their season. Both teams have been playing at a high level and while their records couldn’t be more dissimilar. The one thing you can be sure of is that both teams will know that they have something to prove to each other, as well as the rest of the league.

Dwight Howard if anything, has to prove his worth as a leader and an offensive presence. Inconsistency can’t be the norm for the Magic center and he knows it if he’s to be judged as one the modern day greats of the game at the position. Legacies when it comes to players who aspire to be viewed as one of the greats of the game has to be not just about hearsay but also about proof on the courts. But Howard has yet to prove that he ought to be viewed as one of the modern day greats of the game at the center position.

Carmelo Anthony (#15) of the Denver Nuggets laughs with Dwight Howard (#12) of the Orlando Magic on January 13, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.   picture  appears  courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Garrett W  Ellwood  .........
Carmelo Anthony (#15) of the Denver Nuggets laughs with Dwight Howard (#12) of the Orlando Magic on January 13, 2010 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/ Getty Images/ Garrett W Ellwood .........

Last year’s NBA Finals if anything proved to me that the Orlando Magic are a long way off from where Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy would want them to be. If the Magic are to prove themselves then it will be down to the likes of Howard and his teammates Vince Carter , Rashard Lewis and others to prove that they are more than capable of being viewed as a legitimate contender to the Los Angeles Lakers’ ‘dominance’ of the NBA at present. If they are unable to do that then there’s no way that I can see them even prying away the Lakers’ grip on the Larry O’Brien trophy , much less their dominance of the NBA.

Howard’s game isn’t as multi-faceted as it ought to be and even with the tutelage of NBA great Patrick Ewing tutoring his young protégé . I can only surmise that Dwight Howard somehow feels that he has nothing else to learn from the Ewing and that his showmanship and character will get him to where he needs to be. Somehow, Howard is a player who has still yet to fully understand what he needs to be doing, in order to prove to others that he’s a player to be feared and seen as a leader. If ‘he can’t take it to the rim then no else will be around to do it for him’ .

The  shot  heard  across the     state  of   Utah  as   the  Jazz's Sundiata  Gaines   sinks  a  three  pointer  with  less  0.2  seconds  left   in  the   game  to defeat  the  Cleveland  Cavaliers   in  an   NBA   game   played   last  night.      picture  appears   courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Rick  Karlsson  ......................
The shot heard across the state of Utah as the Jazz's Sundiata Gaines sinks a three pointer with less 0.2 seconds left in the game to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA game played last night. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Rick Karlsson ......................

On another note , for those of you who may have missed last night’s that thrilling finish to the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz. The finish itself, was something that can be best described as being absolutely sensational to say the very least ! The Jazz would go on to defeat the Cavaliers 97-96 on a ‘last second 3 point buzzer beater’ from NBA D League player, Sundiata Gaines. And the rest as they say is history.

If I’m showing my age here guys , then you’ll know that I’m an extremely ol’ fart. The guys in this R&B group here , Loose Ends are personal friends of mine from ‘back in the day’. This one of their hits here state’s side. ‘Hangin’ On A String’ from 1985. As to my age ,well a gentleman never tells , as they say.

Denise Milani as   the   sportschump   will   tell  is  ever  so  pleasing to the  eye  !
Denise Milani as the sportschump will tell is ever so pleasing to the eye !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………………..

The Writing Was On The Wall ……Somehow Some Didn’t Heed The Warning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Last   night   the  San   Antonio  Spurs   were   unceremoniously    dumped  out  of  this   year’s   playoffs  in the   NBA.   Having  succumbed at the  hands  of  their  instate   foe  divisional   rival  the Dallas Mavericks.  It  has to   be   said  that    this   was  all   foreseen    the  very  moment   they   lost  their indomitable  super   sub   Manu   Ginobli   before  the start of  the  playoffs.   If  nothing   else   this was   as much  a   gut  wrench  to the  team  as  it  was   for   their   fans.

 

 

    Josh Howard  of  the  Mavericks  dunks the  ball while the  Spurs'  Michael  Finley   looks  on  in   game 5 of  the  playoff  series between  the two teams.
Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks dunks the ball while the Spurs' Michael Finley looks on. The game was played on the Spurs' homecourt of the AT&T Center in San Antonio ,Tx. The Mavericks would end up winning the game (106-93) and close out winning the series 4-1. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ D Clarke Evans ................

 

 

However  in  losing  the   series   outright  (4-1)   and   the  result of  the   game  last  night  being   so  conclusive  with  an  emphatic   106-93  win.   The  Dallas  Mavericks   move  on   with a   no  doubt   happy   owner  in Mark  Cuban   smiling  from  ear to ear. For  the  San  Antonio  Spurs  the   ride  while   it  lasted  was a  pleasant  one   for  their  fans  and   the  community  at   large.

 

 

 

 

However it  can’t  hide  the  fact  that   the   team    underperformed.  And   much of  that  responsibility   rests   squarely  on the  shoulders   of  coach  Gregg Popovich  and   that of    his  bench  players   who   failed to  show   up.  It  was  left   to the    team’s   erstwhile duo  of  All  Stars   in   Tim   Duncan   and   Tony  Parker   to  try  and  carry   the  team   on  their   shoulders.     And  as  gallantly   as  they   both   performed    the   task   was  made   all   the  more  insurmountable   by  the  ineptitude  shown   by  the   duo’s  supporting   cast.

 

 

Erick  Dampier  of the  Mavericks  and the  Spurs'  Tony  Parker  contest  a  loose  ball.
Erick Dampier of the Mavericks and the Spurs' Tony Parker contest a loose ball during the game. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Eric Gray ....................

 

 

 

 

Popovich   in  large  part   was   outcoached   by  his   counterpart  Rick Carlisle  throughout   much  of this  series.  But  then again   the  Mavericks’  players  also   stepped  up  to  the  plate  and   answered  the  call  of their   coach  to   go  out  there and   execute.  And   nowhere  was   this   more apparent   than  with  the  play   of  Josh  Howard     who   proved  to  be  the   catalyst    for  the  Mavericks    through  much  of  the  series  when  it  mattered   most.    There  were  also    valid   contributions  from  Dirk Nowitzki  and  Jason  Kidd.  For  Nowitzki  he  may  well  be   now  cast  off  that   name  tag  of   being  considered    just  a  regular  season  player,  instead of   being   a   postseason performer.

 

 

 

 

 

And that if  anything   has   proven  to  be  the   difference  between  the  two   teams.   When   asked  for  the  contributions  to be   made  in whatever   way   possible   it   was   the   players  of  the  Mavericks   who  stepped  and   answered the   call.   For   the    Spurs  it  was   the  complete    opposite   but   for  the  exceptions   of  Duncan and  Parker.   The  Spurs  were   languid  and   slow  to   the   touch   and   but   for   their  sole   victory  in game   2 of  the   series.    This    would   definitely   have    been a  blowout    for the  Dallas Mavericks.  The  heroics  of   Tony   Parker  in that  105-84  triumph   cannot    be   underscored.   Parker   himself   single  handedly    willed  the  team  victory  and   ended   up  scoring  38 pts  in  his   team’s  triumph.

 

 

Tony  Parker  of  the  Spurs  tries to  evade the  much  larger  presence  of  the  Mavericks'  Dirk  Nowitzki.
Tony Parker of the Spurs tries to evade the defensive presence of the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki during the game. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ D Clarke Evans ..................

 

  

The  thing  now   everyone may  well  be  asking    is  what  now  happens to  the  San Antonio  Spurs  ?   Having   won   four   NBA  championships    in   the  decade.   They may  well  have   been  considered   a   modern  day   dynasty.   And   if   nothing  else theirs  is  a   consistency   that’s  not   often  seen   in the  game   over  the  decade  in  question.  However  with   Duncan   now   viewed as   an  aged   veteran    no  longer  being  able  to  perform   like   the   player   he   once  was in  his  halcyon days.  It  has  to  be  said  that this   is  no  longer  the   team    that  once    performed   so  methodically and   whom   about   everything  was   admired  as  an  organization  within the  NBA.    Never    viewed  as  one   of  the   more  glamorous  franchises   within the  NBA.   That  spotlight   is  often  shone  on the  Los Angeles    Lakers , Chicago Bulls  (Jordan  era) and  Boston  Celtics   because of the  renowned   history. Though   now  there  are   fans   who  believe  that  the Cleveland  Cavaliers   ought  to be   added  to  the  mix.   I  beg  to   differ  as  having   perhaps  the  game’s  most  celebrated   player   in  LeBron  James  at  present   doesn’t  give   you   legitimacy  for staking  that particular   claim. You  have to  win something  first   be  considered  a  perennial  contender   amongst  the  game’s   elite.

 

 

  Continue reading “The Writing Was On The Wall ……Somehow Some Didn’t Heed The Warning”

He Stoops To Conquer ………..

 

He Stoops  To  Conquer    ………………

 

 

 

 

As  of  late   a  great   veracity   of  an  argument   can  be  made as   to  why  the  Miami  Heat’s   Dwyane  Wade   ought  to be  added  into  the  mix   of   MVP  candidates.  The   player  has   been   putting  up   monumentally  astounding   numbers   alone.  And   almost  single  handedly   he’s  defeated  the   Boston  Celtics  and  Chicago  Bulls  in successive   games.    

 

 

A  Miami  Heat  fan  makes  it  plainly  known  where  his  allegiances  lie in  expressing  his  sentiments  towards  his  favorite player  Dwyane Wade.
A Miami Heat fan makes it plainly known where his allegiances lie with regard to his favorite player Dwyane Wade . picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..............

  

 

His   play   in  particular   against  the  Boston  Celtics   could   be  described as   being   spectacular .   And  it  can  be  borne   out   by   the   stats   accumulated  by  the  player  on the   night  in  his   team’s   success   in  defeating  the  Celtics   107-99  at  the  American Airlines Arena  in Miami, Florida. Wade  on the  night   would   score  32 pts to go  along  with  a  well  balanced   display   of  on  both   ends  of  the  court.

 

Dwyane Wade  signals  to the  bench   during  the game  played against the  Boston  Celtics.
Dwyane Wade signals to the bench during the game played against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Arena , Miami , Florida. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/Victor Baldizon ...............

 

 

 

 

One   might  suggest  that    we  can   overlook   Wade’s   feats    as    he’s   playing   on   a  team  that’s  not   necessarily    viewed   championship  caliber   material.  But   I’d   hasten   to  add    the  way  that   this   team  is  playing  and   given  the   confidence   being   shown  by  the  player.  They    might   well   be  a  danger   to  any  of the  top   contenders  within  the  Eastern   Conference   at  this  juncture.     And   though  the   talk   throughout  much  of the  season   has   been  the  play   of  LeBron   James ,  Kobe  Bryant and   Dwight  Howard.   I’d  say  personally    that   we   ought to  broaden   our   horizons   beyond  that   triumvirate.  To  ignore   Wade   at this   juncture   would  be   akin  to  stating  that   Jack  Nicholson’s   role  of  Randle Patrick  Murphy  in  “One  Flew  Over The Cuckoo’s  Nest”  wasn’t  an  Oscar  worthy portrayal.    But  then  again  the   adjudicators  of   this   award   have  been   known  to  make  mistakes.   And   at  this   juncture    I  think  that  we  can  leave  it at  that.   To   pursue  that  road   and  to  stake  a  claim  as   to   the  mistakes  that’ve  been  made    would   take   far too  long   to   discuss  the  merits   to  anyone’s  satisfaction.  Suffice to  say  it’s  a   subject   best  left  untouched.

 

Jermaine O'Neal of  the  Miami  Heat  blocks  the  shot  of  a  Celtics'  player  during  the  game.
Jermaine O'Neal of the Miami Heat blocks the shot of a Celtics' player during the game. The Heat would go on to defeat the Celtics 107-99. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..............

 

 

 

 

As   to  Wade’s   own   play  this   season     one   can   say  that  we’ve  seen a   rebirth   of  the  player.  He’s   rejuvenated  and   coming   off  an   impressive   Olympic   display.   One  can   say  what  we’re  now  seeing   …..”  is  The  Flash  of  old “.    And   in  no  way   is  that  meant  to   demean  the   exploits  of   his   peers  at   this   juncture.  Each  of  them   in  their   own   right  are   having   outstanding   seasons.   But it’d  be  a  gross  injustice   if  Wade   were  not   to   be  considered  in  the   voting  process  at this   time.   And  I’m   sure   if  anything  that   the other    contenders   mentioned   have   their  own   supporters  and  arguments   are   being   made  why  their  choice   ought to  be  considered.   However  at the  end   of the  day    the  choice   won’t   be  made    by   you  or  I.  But   by     those   who  are   believed  to be   more   insightful   and  with   more   of  a  keen  sense   as  to what  is  being  sought    and    warrants   being  the  regular  season  league  MVP.  The   award   has  been   one   by   litany  of  the  league’s  best  players  over  the   years ,   some   more    warranted  than  others.

 

 

Erik Spoelstra coach of  the Miami  Heat   speaks  to  his players  before  the  game  against the  Boston Celtics played  at the American Airlines  Arena, Miami, Florida,.
Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat speaks with his players before the game played against the Boston Celtics. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ................

 

 

As  to  Wade’s  own  standing  within   the  NBA .  It  has   to be   said   that   he  is   one  of  the  elite   players    within  the  league   whose    bravado   on  the  court   is  unquestioned.   Night  in  , night   out  his   game  is   of  a  consistently   high  level.  And   he  tends  to  lead   by   example.   One  can  only  surmise   how   good   the   Miami  Heat  might   be   were   he   complemented  with  a  group  of  players  who   possessed   his   passion   for   the   game.  And  who   also  are  willing   to    play  at    that   heightened    level.

 

Celtics' coach  Glenn 'Doc'  Rivers  speaks  with  his   point  guard  Stephon  Marbury    during the  game.
Glenn 'Doc' Rivers coach of the Boston Celtics speaks with his point guard Stephon Marbury during the game against the Miami Heat. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ............

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  Miami  Heat (35-29)  are  chasing   a  playoff  spot  under   first  year  coach  Erik  Spoelstra.  One  might  hasten  to  add that   President  and GM Pat Riley  is  waiting  in the  wings. But   I  sincerely   doubt  that  he’d  be  willing  to   rain   on Spoelstra’s   parade.  And  as  much  as   we   know  that  Riley   craves the   limelight . Even   he  wouldn’t   have  the   temerity  to  derail   his   young   protégé’s  ambitions.  Would  he  ?

 

 

The Miami  Heat's  Dwyane  Wade contests  a loose   ball  with the  Boston Celtics' Mikki  Moore  during  the  game.
The Maimi Heat's Dwyane Wade contests a loose ball with the Boston Celtics' Mikki Moore during the game. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..................

  

 

And  with  the   standings   being  what  they  are  in  the  Eastern Conference.  The   Miami  Heat   it  can  be  said  are   sitting   pretty   in  the   fifth  spot.   A  favorable   matchup   against  the  Atlanta  Hawks   would  look   mighty   tempting  were  those   standings  to hold  up  at the  end  of  regular  season.  But   as such  the  games   aren’t  played  in the  minds  of  the   fans   but  on  the   court  and   are   played   out  to   the  end. If  nothing  else  we know   that   making   presumptions   are   not   in  anyone’s   best   interests.    And  the  case   can  also   be  made   when  it  comes  to   adjudicating   the   league  MVP  as  far  as   the  NBA  is  concerned.

 

 

 

  Continue reading “He Stoops To Conquer ………..”