Fallout …..

Fallout …

Well , it all came crashing down around the necks of the Oklahoma City Thunder in their game-seven loss to the Golden State Warriors the defending NBA champions . Golden State advances to the Finals where they will meet the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second successive season. For the defeated Thunder, the ramifications are quite devastating with the speculation GM Sam Presti will be forced to break up the entire roster and start afresh. Fans and analysts alike continue to make their own comments known , with many moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, stating Russell Westbrook should be sent packing , because he’s too much of a ball-hog. Or it’s now time for Kevin Durant to move on and for Presti to try to get the best possible offer available with a sign and trade deal of Durant. Each of those options can be deemed valid, but from my own perspective, I believe with the lack of talent now available from the upcoming NBA Draft and the fact there are very few marquee free agents up for grabs this off-season. The only real alternative for front office is to seek to rebuild but keeping their two most prized assets in-tact with the franchise.

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Billy Donovan in his first season as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder was seeking to guide the franchise to their second appearance in the NBA Finals, but the real issue for the team was its failure to close out the series when the opportunities arose in game’s five and six . That failure was borne out by the fact they allowed the Warriors back into the Western Conference Finals and the inevitable result seen with the series’ deciding game-seven at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California,.

The real issue for Oklahoma City during the regular season and NBA Playoffs was the mere fact beyond Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook was the continued issue there was never much of an offensive presence being provided beyond the duo. Furthermore, from a defensive standpoint , the Thunder failed miserably and were continuously being outperformed in several of the categories which mattered most defensively . These issues were never addressed by Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . The adjustments which were needed on-court to counter the presence of Draymond Green , Klay Thompson and the league’s two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry never ever materialized. So if there is to anyone who needs to be faulted , then all fingers should be pointed towards the coaching staff of Billy Donovan and his players . The idiocy of solely pointing the finger towards Russel Westbrook is simply asinine and without any merit at all !

A second consecutive NBA Finals’ meeting between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will begin and all signs will be pointing to see whether or not LeBron James can lead the Cavaliers to their first NBA title in the franchise’s history . This will be James’ sixth consecutive appearance in the NBA showcase event of the NBA Playoffs. For his many of his teammates , this will provide a chance to avenge last season’s defeat suffered at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. It was as clinical and embarrassing a series’ loss seen in the last ten years . The regular season meetings between these two teams could very well provide us with an indication of how the Finals could very well turn out. Each team’s lineups will also be paramount as to what the fans should expect and I believe game one of the NBA Finals will be a precursor as to what we can expect !

Opposing head coaches Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors and Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers are former NBA players with solid backgrounds and postseason experience. Their contrasting styles will also be a part of what the fans also expect from what could turn out to be a very fascinating series. Steph Curry and LeBron James will also give fans the opportunity to decide for themselves who they believe to be the best player in the NBA. Curry won the League MVP with a unanimous vote , much to the chagrin of James and his most ardent supporters. Less we forget , ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith who is an avowed James’ supporter and apologist for the NBA superstar , will be hoping he is vindicated by the four-time League MVP .

LeBron James’ career ever since his entrance in the league has been encapsulated by the highs and lows seen throughout. From 2003 until now it has been a fun-filled extravaganza during which time the player has amassed a considerable fortune and become the consummate businessman and entrepreneur. James does have a great deal to prove and should he and the Cleveland Cavaliers fail in this series against the Golden State Warriors for the second consecutive season. Then the ramifications for the player and the franchise will be considerable, beyond the likely economic cost . Team owner Dan Gilbert has a great deal invested in the team and specifically James , himself . For LeBron James and his twelve-year career in the NBA , failure here at this moment in time , will be seen as a major disaster. Granted , he won his two titles with the Miami Heat and there was the failure to secure a possible three-peat , when the team fell to the San Antonio Spurs and they were highly favored to succeed. Now he will be judged by this series as never before , and that includes last year’s debacle .

Whereas , the Cleveland Cavaliers have sought to build a team around LeBron James with GM David Griffin delving into free agency signing players to lucrative contracts . The path taken by the Golden State Warriors has been one of a steady course with the front office listening closely to the advice proffered by Jerry West which has been heeded by GM Bob Myers . The only major upheaval with the regard to the franchise once it was acquired jointly by Peter Guber and Joe Lacob was the firing of Mark Jackson . The former head coach’s dismissal was a necessity , given his wish to ignore the requests of team owners Guber and Lacob not to make his personal feelings known concerning homosexuality and the coming out of Jason Collins . Jackson would follow this up with homophobic slurs directed towards the LGBT demographic. Given the image problems faced by the league in recent years, it was something the NBA could do without. Steve Kerr’s arrival was a blessing for the long-suffering Warriors’ fans. The roster in place was one which was already established, but just needed to be tweaked to fit the style sought by Kerr and his coaching staff .

A record-breaking season in 2015 and the Golden State Warriors have affixed themselves firmly within the annals of NBA history. Winning a second successive title would be ‘ icing on the cake’ for the franchise. All that now awaits is the start of the series and then the fans can judge for themselves how great this team is said to be.

Someone will have to remind me why anyone should or would take an interest in the plight of either Los Angles Lakers or New York Knicks ? Over the last three seasons neither franchise has really sought to build for their long-term future . Now while both franchises are among the most profitable within the NBA , this might the only thing of relevance either team has going for it at present. Having made a big splash with Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office as an executive. Jackson has shown why he can never be considered an executive with an eye for talent much, less assembling a competitive roster. This much is certain , failure with the upcoming NBA draft and acquiring a prominent free agent and he might as well head back off into a permanent retirement rather than a Sabbatical . There also appears to be cause for concern with his naming Jeff Hornacek to succeed Kurt Rambis’ tenure as the Knicks’ interim head coach. Hornacek’s coaching career has not been filled with anything remotely considered a success. All the more annoying when one considers there were far more suitable candidates available for the vacant head coach’s position. with the Knicks . Then again one simply has to look at the front office of the franchise , its owner James Dolan and then realize the reason why the New York Knicks remain a failure.

The Buss family continue to ruin the Los Angeles Lakers and in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s retirement , it is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here. Luke Walton has been hired as the new head coach of the team , after his success this season with the Golden State Warriors. During Steve Kerr’s absence , Walton in his capacity as the assistant head coach led the team an impressive run whereby they set a franchise record for wins in a month, as well as the longest unbeaten run in the Warriors’ history. The coaching acumen shown by Luke Walton was obviously something which caught the eye of Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak . With the Los Angeles Lakers not seeking to extend the coaching contract of Byron Scott , Walton being hired was welcomed within the Lakers’ circle of fans and former players who still have long-standing ties and loyalties to the franchise.

While I believe there is a modicum of talent on the Los Angeles Lakers’ current roster , it is going to take a great deal more than the players present to make this franchise competitive enough to compete and the highest level and be taken as a legitimate contender for a divisional title , conference championship , much less an NBA title . Need we be reminded also the Lakers still have to compete in a conference where there are likely to be no better than the tenth best team in the West. All of the optimism and pragmatism now being shown by their fans as well as by co-owners , Jeanie Buss , Jim Buss and Johnny Buss simply show how out of touch they will continue to be. Cap space availability and the lure of playing in Los Angeles will have to the desire to lure any potential big named free agent to sign with the Lakers.

Picture gallery . Click on an image to view the frame along with a narrative.

What have been your observations concerning the NBA Playoffs and which team do you believe will prevail in the NBA Finals ?

Tophatal ……… 2016/05/31 04:43 am

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‘i’ by Kendrick Lamar

 

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

By Tophatal

Well, the 2012-13 NFL season has come to close , with the Baltimore Ravens winning their second Superbowl since 2000. The “ Harbaugh Bowl” lived up to all of the hype and expectations , one have come to expect of the nation’s biggest sport’s event . The city of New Orleans were wonderful hosts, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , was the perfect setting for the event.

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With Ray Lewis now riding off into the sunset as a retiring NFL player , happy with the knowledge of having won his second world title ring , whatever awaits defensive lineman , undoubtedly will be a great deal of wealth and adulation. The wealth, will come in the form of the monies that will obviously be offered to a player by a number of broadcast outlets seeking to have Lewis become an NFL analyst , and who might well be described greatest defense player of his era, and quite good enough to be placed amongst the top five players at the position to have played the game in the NFL . The Ravens came away with a moral and well deserved victory , in a thrilling 34-31 win over their NFC counterparts , the San Francisco 49ers . Opposing quarterbacks , Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick , for the most part , were excellent , and it would suggest that both of these players, should have long and successful careers for their respective teams. Flacco was named the MVP of Superbowl 47 , albeit , that I felt either Jacoby Jones or Ed Reed could have supplanted Flacco for the award, but at the end of the day, the recipient of the award , seemed just right.

For winning head coach , John Harbaugh , he now becomes the first coach in NFL history to have taken a team to the postseason in each of his first five seasons , and to have won a Superbowl in his very first attempt. Baltimore Ravens’ owner, Steve Biscotti , billionaire industrialist , and avid sport’s fan has worked tirelessly in making the franchise he now owns a source of pride in the greater Baltimore area . Both Bisciotti, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome , have built the Ravens into a formidable franchise both on and off the field of play. And this victory was a culmination of their efforts along with that of the entire coaching staff , the players and the fans , themselves . . Newsome drafted prudently , and acquired players , using due diligence , while not having to pay outlandish salaries , in assembling this current roster . Inasmuch, as we know that there is bound to be off-season upheavals amongst the playing staff, there simply can be no denying that the Ravens will be amongst the contenders and quite possibly be viewed as a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , for next season. . Your thoughts, on this ? Simply chime in with a comment.

At a time when the NBA should be content with its environment , the game is mired in mediocrity , and lo and behold the self-indulgent union, the NBPA (union) now finds itself mired in controversy , that can only be deemed as an embarrassment not only to the union , league but also the sport , and the brand itself. The now embattled union has seen its Executive Director, Billy Hunter , be forcibly asked to step down , but he states, he is in fact taking a voluntary leave of absence , while the union’s executive committee conducts an in-depth investigation into the misappropriation of league funds , and suggestions that Hunter , sought to transfer $ 7 million in NBPA funds , to be used as an investment to shore up the finances of a Cherry Hill , New Jersey based bank, where two of his children , just happened to be employees . What makes this latest mea-culpa so embarrassing, at the center of this all, is the very fact that Billy Hunter’s intent was have this transaction take place without having advised any senior executive member of the union hierarchy. And here was I thinking , the only such organizations who conducted themselves with such secrecy, were the Teamsters Union , UAW , AFL-CIO and the now inept US government .

It is hard at this juncture to feel any empathy towards the union , Billy Hunter , who is being paid a $ 3 million annual salary to provide the union with his expertise in labor laws, as well as a wide variety of union related issues concerning the NBA . Somehow, I now feel, that Hunter’s days with the union are numbered , with him being in all likelihood being fired. Only a formal announcement awaits , pending the outcome of the investigation , with union President , Derek Fisher , or his deputy , VP , Keyon Dooling , making the statement that Billy Hunter will be relieved of his duties, as the union’s Executive Director , to take effect , immediately .

At the start of the season , in the midst of the upheavals around the league with so many off-season moves . A great deal was made of the fact that the Brooklyn Nets would be seen as a viable candidate to challenge the perceived dominance of the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference . After an inauspicious start to their schedule , Nets’ GM Billy King summarily fired , beleaguered head coach , Avery Johnson and promoted , his assistant , PJ Carlesimo to the position of interim head coach , until the end of the regular season . And while the Nets under Carlesimo , have proven to be a great deal more energetic in their play , I am not so sure that this team , will be able to challenge the likes of the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks , were it to come down to a postseason seven game series !

At 28-19 , the Brooklyn Nets , currently sit in second place , three games behind the New York Knicks (30-15) within the Atlantic Division . In what might be seen, as one of the more competitive divisions within the NBA , it has to be said that the three teams in contention within the division , cannot now afford to make any major slip-ups between now and the end of the regular season , with so much being on the line , and where a drop in a conference position , can mean a life or death situation for those teams and their postseason aspirations. Personally , I am not convinced that the makeup of this current Nets’ roster is simply good enough or anywhere near talented enough to win an NBA title. The team led by Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have proven to be somewhat inconsistent , albeit , that since the installing of P J Carlesimo as the head coach , there has been a gradual overall improvement in the team’s play.

Are you beginning to wonder how good the Chicago Bulls(29-18) might be , were Derrick Rose fully fit and playing on that current roster ? Taking up the slack , in the absence of the point guard , have been Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah , and Nate Robinson . And this has all been borne out , by having the third best record within the Eastern Conference ,while leading the Central Division over their closest rivals , the Indiana Pacers (28-19) . Bulls’ head coach , Tom Thibodeau , in spite of his postseason letdown in 2012 in the playoffs , which at the time , it was the scene of what precipitated to the loss of the Bulls’ point guard , in their first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers . Thoroughly outplayed in the entire series , the reverberations from that series’ defeat to suggest that beyond the inexperience shown by the team at the time , Thibodeau’s inexperience was glaringly transparent for all to see. With Rose, now on the mend , and thought to be almost nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his surgically repaired left knee . The anticipated timeline for his return, is said to be, after this year’s All Star Break (15th-17th February 2013) , which will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas , with the rosters of the East and Western Conference being made up of the game’s biggest stars.

The Bulls’ next game will be on Monday night , when they face the Indiana Pacers in a pivotal match-up , that should tell us a great deal about these two teams and where they currently now stand . However , with the anticipated return of Derrick Rose , Tom Thibodeau , has to be mindful , as to how the insertion will affect the rhythm, that the team currently now have. Winners of seven of their last ten games , which is amongst hottest streaks now going in the NBA . As I alluded to earlier , the expectations are high for the return of Derrick Rose , and the likelihood , his first game back could very well be either against the New Orleans Hornets on 19th February , or quite possibly against the Charlotte Bobcats on the 22nd February . There is an intervening game in between 19th and 22nd , on the 21st February , which would I believe would prove to be too stern a test for the player, in having to face the Miami Heat at home in the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois .

If Rose can recapture the form that won him the NBA league MVP , in 2011, then it would certainly bode well for the Chicago Bulls and their very ambitious point guard .

Call me naïve , but it may well take more than a kick in the a$s for David Stern to realize that the NBA brand is in the midst of a down year from a competitive standpoint in comparison to last season . And it would certainly help if the commissioner and the league hierarchy would acknowledge that fact, rather than continually extol the virtue of a league that is lacking in truly appealing stars. Granted , the likes of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook , James Harden , Tony Parker , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , are some of the most recognized names , and well-paid stars in the NBA at present . Yet, even that by itself, is no real guarantee concerning the success of the league. The revenues of the brand , will grow and decline exponentially , as the NBA finds itself in the midst of another economic downturn .

At a time when the NBA calls out for a rivalry to match the most famous of them all , that of the “ heated rivalry “ between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season , but one which took on a life its own during the playoffs , but even more so during the NBA Finals . The budding embers of what could be this best era’s rivalry , that of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was on view last season during the 2011-12 NBA Finals. And we have seen growing stature and respect between the game’s two best players , in Kevin Durant and LeBron James . Their teams , which they represent , the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, are considered to be amongst the best in the NBA , but this season it is clear that the league is seeing some rather mediocre play being exhibited by the teams in the NBA .

For the Thunder’s head coach , Scott Brooks , his team’s play has been as resolute as ever , even in light of the departure of James Harden from last season’s roster in a stunning trade that sent Harden to the Houston Rockets , and one which literally took everyone by surprise. Currently, with the second best record in the Western Conference. At 36-12 , the Thunder sit two games behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs (38-11) who are winners of ten consecutive games , currently the longest such winning streak in the NBA at present .

In their regular season meetings between the Heat and Thunder , since the inception of Western Conference franchise , these two teams have met a total of 54 times , when one takes into account the franchise’s former being as the Seattle Supersonics . The Miami Heat currently leads the series 30-19 during the regular season , and by a margin of 4-1 in the postseason , as reflected in their only series’ postseason meeting , which took place in last season’s NBA Finals.

In the 2012-13 season , and their only meeting thus far , the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in the Heat’s regular season opener to start the defense of their NBA crown. Kevin Durant , and LeBron James, led all scorers , scoring 33 and 29 points respectively , for the Thunder and the Miami Heat, during the game. The next scheduled meeting between these two franchises will take place on the 14th February when they will meet at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , in front of what is sure to be a rabid and vociferous crowd of primarily loyal Thunder supporters . It could be seen as a precursor, as to another possible encounter in the postseason , but much of that will be predicated upon how both teams acquit themselves over the remainder of their respective regular season schedules, and in the earlier rounds of the postseason.

Shrewd businessman and some might say perhaps , one of the ” most despised “ owners in the NBA . Yet somehow , Mark Cuban , owner of the Dallas Mavericks , and a constant thorn in claw of David Stern, has always found a way to either keep himself in the news , or that of the franchise that he owns. In the subsequent years, since the Mavericks won it all, in 2011 , when they defeated the Miami Heat in a surprisingly easy 4-2 series’ victory , with Dirk Nowitzki , being named Finals MVP. Since that triumph , the Mavericks have fallen on hard times, with Cuban and general manager , Donnie Nelson , having to shed burdensome contracts , or simply players who were under-achieving with the franchise. Head coach , Rick Carlisle , will be asked to work his magic once again , this time however , with something of a younger cast to complement the aging and declining skill-set of Nowitzki, who is now , in the twilight of an illustrious career.

Now playing for pride more than anything else , it is extremely difficult to see how the Mavericks can hope to play themselves into playoff contention , and currently playing with a sub .500 record at 20-28 ! The team lacks real scoring , and defensively , there remains a great deal to be desired , from unit that gives up on average 102.9 points per game and a staggering 33.7 defensive rebounds a game. Definitely, not the sort of statistics that is likely to win a franchise a championship. Away from the court , Donnie Nelson, is having a tumultuous time in dealing with troubled star , Delonte` West , a player , whose off the field troubles and well chronicled run-ins with law enforcement , have shone a light on West , far more than anything he has ever achieved on the field of play throughout his troubled career . His refusal to originally report for duty , with the Mavericks’ D League affiliate the Texas Legends , can only cast further doubt , on whether or not he has a role to play for this franchise , much less a have a future at all within the NBA . At this juncture , I would think it pretty safe to suggest that either by the trade deadline or at the end of this season , Delonte West will no longer be with the franchise ! I mean , why have a loose cannon , within your midst , when your coaching staff is trying to create some semblance of camaraderie and competitiveness amongst the players ?

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Picture gallery .(By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in a larger formatted size)

During the Superbowl , which incident or incidents do you believe may well have been the focal and turning point of the game ? And do believe, the explanation of electrical the power outage was good enough, given the importance of the event? Last but not least , what do you believe to be the biggest disappointment behind such lackluster play season in the NBA at this point of season ? Chime on in with your thoughts as you see fit

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal.
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(1) A fan looks around the Superdome after half the lights went out during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …

(2) Baltimore Ravens players look around the Superdome after the lights went out during the second half of NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The game would resume after a 34 minute delay with the Ravens defeating the Forty Niners 34-31 , in the most watched Superbowl game in NFL history . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(3) Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during a news conference after NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with MVP Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco at a news conference after the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. The unassuming quarterback whose contract expires on the 31st March seeks a new deal with Ravens’ organization . Team owner , Steve Bisciotti , in conjunction with GM , Ozzie Newsome have stated that they will do whatever it takes to retain their Superbowl and MVP winning quarterback without having to resort to “breaking the bank” . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(5) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh , left, greets Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh after the Ravens defeated the 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Dave Martin …

(6) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, left, and linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(7) Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome , who also happens to be the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager . Newsome became the franchise’s general manager in 2002 , having worked as a consultant with the Ravens prior to being promoted by owner Steve Bisciotti . In the subsequent years , it has been the executive’s keen eye for talent , which has drawn rave reviews from his peers. He now joins a select group of NFL individuals to have won a Superbowl as a player and in the role as a front office executive , but it should be noted that with the victory, he becomes the first African-American to have guided a franchise to a Superbowl victory , in his present capacity, as a general manager. Courtesy of USA Today /AP Photos / Mark Warren …

(8) NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left, is seen here with the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter , right , taking questions from the convened press , at a time when the union was at an impasse with the NBA hierarchy over the renegotiating of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Hunter , is now embroiled in tawdry scandal that involves the misappropriation of union funds by a subordinate in his employment who was in fact a family member (daughter – Alexis Hunter) . Further allegations. though not fully substantiated but showing a pattern of behavior suggesting that the union executive sought to transfer $7 million in union funds to a Cherry Hill's , New Jersey based bank , where his son just happened to be a mid-level executive . The intent was to use the funds to prop up the balance sheet of what was then a financially impoverished concern.

(9) Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) shoots over defending Chicago Bulls players in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center , Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(10) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(10) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

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(:

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NFL news & archived NFL news

Superbowl 47 (SBXLVII) results & stats

Baltimore Ravens news

San Francisco 49ers news

2013 NFL Draft

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NBA playoff picture

NBA results 3rd February

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2013 NBA All Star Game to be played at the Toyota Center , in Houston , Texas (15th -17th February, 2013)

NBA All Star rosters (Eastern & Western Conference )

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Actress , author , philanthropist and entrepreneur , Jaime Pressley .

🙂

And as most would aspire to see Pressley !

I’m all about the Benjamin’s but f#ck this !

I’m all about the Benjamin’s but f#ck this !

By Tophatal

So with the opening week of the NBA only three days away , the salvo heard around the league is that of the Oklahoma City Thunder trading away their Sixth Man of the Year , James Harden . The player who won Olympic gold , being a member of Team USA at the London Olympics , was also a member of the Thunder’s roster who lost a lopsided series (4-1) to the Miami Heat , in the 2012 NBA Finals . The deal involved Harden as a center piece of what has to be said , is something is a lopsided trade that favors the Oklahoma City Thunder .

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In what appear to be too long a protracted deal between Harden’s agent Rob </a</a</a</aPelinka and Sam Presti, general manager of the Western Conference champions . The agent sought a max contract , befitting of his client, that would see the player being offered a 5 year $60 million deal . However, it appears that the small market Thunder , in spite the rise in their acclaim fan-base and growing prominence within the league, the decision was made to deny Pelinka’s request on behalf of his client. With the deal now a nonstarter , the Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey approached the Thunder with a way out that appeared amenable to all of the parties concerned. Morey’s offer was a trade of the expiring contract of Kevin Martin and the franchise’s 2012 first round draft pick ——- Jeremy Lamb , in exchange for James Harden. Also thrown in to further “sweeten “ the deal, would be the fact that the Thunder would get two first round draft picks for 2013 and 2014. Anyone with an ounce of common sense , can see that the Oklahoma City Thunder has gotten the better end of this deal. Harden, may well be going to play alongside Jeremy Lin , but the move only marginally makes the Rockets better. In return , coach Scott Brooks gets a proven scorer , in Kevin Martin , and a player in, Jeremy Lamb , a focused young rookie , who has proven his worth as a member of the 2011 NCAA national championship team , the U Conn Huskies. Whether or not the addition of Lamb and Martin , gives a new resolve to Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka , remains to be seen . Anyone who believes that this trade makes the Oklahoma City Thunder , considerably weaker, then they should consider asking themselves what are gains and then disadvantages to this deal?

This trade may well prove to be fortuitous for the Oklahoma City Thunder , but at the same time , one has to question what this now does to the dynamics as it relates to the makeup of the roster , from last season to now ? Harden , Kevin Durant , and Russell Westbrook made up a formidable offensive threat with their scoring capabilities , and the intangibles brought by Harden on both ends of the floor . The addition of Martin provides an additional scorer for the team , and with Jeremy Lamb beginning to show that he is capable of playing the NBA , after a successful career with the U Conn Huskies’ program , it would appear that Sam Presti , could very well be unto something in terms of this trade.

As many of you might have been recently be made aware , NBA Commissioner , David Stern , will step down from his position , a role that he has held for the past three decades. The commissioner, intends to step down in February , 2014, and will be succeeded by his deputy , Adam Silver. In the three decades that Stern has presided over the league , the NBA’s revenues have grown exponentially , as the values of the teams within this enterprise, have risen to unprecedented heights. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks remain two of the leagues more forceful franchise , while also being amongst the most valuable .

While I have admired Stern from afar as being the consummate businessman , in recent years many of his decisions have become a boon to the NBA franchise who now struggle to eke out a profit . And seated at the head of the table, are the New York Knicks , who are followed by the Lakers in terms of profitability and revenues . In recent years, a number of teams have struggled due to their not being fiscally responsible. David Stern would have us believe that the problems that have ensued primarily came about due to a dour economy , but when question as to why the franchises have significantly chosen to increase their budgetary expenditure with regard to team payrolls , while not making an attempt to rein in costs, the commissioner’s response have been somewhat nonsensical and almost unbelievably naïve . Yet , somehow Stern , the NBA hierarchy and team owners have a fashioned a response to so many of their woes, by apportioning blame upon the NBPA (Players’ Union) for the league’s ills. The NBA’s handling of their forced lockout that curtailed and cut short the season from 82 games to sixty-six , left many wondering, if David Stern’s ego had got the better of him. And even after an agreement, which many of the league’s top analysts believed to be amenable , there still remains a growing distrust between Billy Hunter’s members and the league hierarchy.

Big bold season ahead for the 2012-13 season and with a rash of offseason moves made by the teams, and now the questions being asked . Can LeBron James reign supreme over the league once again, winning the NBA’s biggest individual awards, while leading the Miami Heat in making a successful defense of their NBA title? And will Derrick Rose make a successful return to the NBA, while the Chicago Bulls looks to redeem themselves after last year’s postseason demise in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Rose’s injury , and coach Tom Thibodeau’s indecision during that series , led many to believe that the Bulls’ run would be short-lived.

This season, the Chicago Bulls will be without Rose, for their first twenty to thirty five games , as he seeks to make a full recovery , having undergone knee surgery. While the Bulls’ best player remains sequestered on the sidelines , it will be left to the likes of Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich , and Luol Deng , to take up the slack and steer the team back to winning ways. Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM John Paxson were no doubt tremendously disappointed in the way the team succumbed the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs in losing that first round series 4-2.

The common feeling amongst the fans and most NBA analysts, is that the Chicago Bulls will remain legitimate contenders , but a stalwart such as the Boston Celtics , alongside the New York Knicks , Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets will be part of the Eastern Conference’s postseason fare during the 2012-13 schedule.

Of the teams mentioned perhaps the most intriguing might just be the Brooklyn Nets . Having removed from New Jersey to Brooklyn, New York, into the NBA’s newest venue , the Barclaycard Center , an almost $600 million edifice , built with the height of opulence, for even the most discerning of fans. Team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov , general manager Billy King and head coach Avery Johnson have seen fit to revamp the roster with the addition of a number of free agents along with the team’s insertion of their draft choices . The biggest acquisition made was that of Joe Johnson along with the $60 million still owed to the player over the three remaining years of his existing contract. I’ve read a number of pieces breaking down why the Nets will be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season . The consensus is that this remains Deron Williams’ team, whose leadership skills and arguably his playing ability will have to be at his optimum best if the Nets are to mount a serious challenge against the Bulls, Celtics and Heat , this upcoming season. If the Nets can prevail over the Big Three within the conference , as well as the other contenders within the Atlantic Division , the franchise’s domiciled division.

Now while a great deal of the offseason news tribulations of a number of franchises were well chronicled , perhaps the biggest story, just happened to be the Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic . Howard , was not the only All Star to have joined the renowned Los Angeles franchise , as Mitch Kupchak engineered the smooth maneuver to obtain p two-time league MVP Steve Nash. Nash’s acquisition will give the Lakers one of the best back-courts in the NBA , with the former Phoenix Suns’ point guard joining Kobe Bryant, to create a formidable force for this team. Head coach, Mike Brown, for his part knew that this team failed miserably last season , with far too much pressure being placed upon the lofty shoulders of Bryant , while many of his teammates stood idly by. Having won five championships with the franchise, Kobe Bryant remains hungry for that sixth championship ring, that would place him alongside his idol , Michael Jordan , whose six championships with the Bulls , six Finals’ MVP , and six regular season MVP awards , cements Jordan as the greatest player to have ever graced the NBA stage. Bryant will upon his retirement will be a shoo-in for the Naismith Hall of Fame .

The Western Conference , this season I believe will be a monumental dogfight between the Los Angeles Lakers , Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs . As the Western Conference champions , the Thunder will have a tough task on their hands to make a successful defense of that title. As teams chase postseason glory , it will incumbent upon the coaches , general managers and the league hierarchy itself to provide the NBA fans with a product that they will find to their liking. A truncated season in 2012 , led to poor play in a number of games , but what cannot be denied is the very fact that injuries played a large part in determining the season. David Stern tried to suggest that was not the case , even in light of the evidence that suggested to the contrary. The commissioner has served the NBA well , working in conjunction with major corporate sponsors , some of which are amongst the biggest companies on the NYSE and that venerable publication Fortune Magazine. But it was undoubtedly Stern’s keen instinct to realize an asset and then use that asset to great effect. Michael Jordan , was “ King Midas” , for the league, as the player’s fame and notoriety was elevated . The commissioner made sure that he was able to ride on Jordan’s coattails, as the NBA brand became a worldwide phenomenon , easily outstripping the popularity of the NFL, and what was said to be America’s pastime , baseball(MLB) . Granted, the NFL, remains a $7.5 billion business annually, in terms of its revenue , while baseball peaks at $7 billion , with the NBA’s own revenues topping out at $4.345 billion . But by for sheer brand recognition , it is the NBA that now has the clout that the NFL and baseball could only wish they possessed. I would have mentioned the NHL , but that remains a sport that repeatedly over the past two decades has shot itself in the foot , and seems completely bereft of common sense and amongst its hierarchy , franchise owners and union (NHLPA). Beyond that , there is not much more that needs to be said , concerning the sport of ice hockey, as the hierarchy enforces their a league wide lockout in the past two decades. And the fans of hockey don’t seem to feel slighted by this idiocy ? I guess not , if they remain not only silent with their apathy to begin with ! NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his union counterpart , Donald Fehr , Executive Director of the NHLPA , might just be , two of the dumbest executives , in all of professional sports ! Your thoughts on this ? .

Queue the season , and on opening night 30th October, 2012 and there are three games on the opening day schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers will play host to the Washington Wizards , at Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland , Ohio. The second , of the trio of games will have the Miami Heat taking on the Boston Celtics at the famed AA Arena , in Miami , Florida, with the final game , pits the Dallas Mavericks —– against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California,.

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Picture gallery .

With the regular season due to begin this Wednesday , what do you hope to see this upcoming season within the NBA ? And have you been entirely happy with the tenure of David Stern as the NBA commissioner ? Do leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow details for your perusal.
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(1) In this May 3, 2012 photo, Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden (13) grabs a loose ball against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 3 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs in Dallas. The Thunder have traded Sixth Man of the Year Harden to the Houston Rockets, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions. The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb , two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night, Oct. 27, 2012. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) In this Oct. 1, 2012, photo, Houston Rockets’ Kevin Martin poses during the NBA basketball team’s media day in Houston. The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Rockets, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions. The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night, Oct. 27, 2012. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan,File …..

(3) In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 photo, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, left, and Kevin Durant, right, wait to come back into an NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, in Tulsa, Okla. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(4) Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder seen here announcing the trade that would send James Harden and two role players from the Thunder’s staff to the Houston Rockets , in exchange for Kevin Martin , Jeremy Lamb and two first round draft picks from the 2013 and 2014 NBA Draft. AP Photo/ Greg Edelson ….

(5) From left to right , NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver , is seen here with David Stern , commissioner of the NBA. Stern recently announced that he would be stepping down from his current role , effective in February, 2014. The commissioner has held that position for an astonishing thirty years , during which he has led the institution from a small multimillion dollar concern , to a now mutli-billion dollar industry , with satellite offices globally and commercial tie-ins with several Fortune 500 Companies . Getty Images / Chris Graythern …..

(6) Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose , left, speaks during the NBA basketball team’s news conference, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Deerfield, Ill. AP Photo/Charles Cherney …

(7) Another “Fab Five” ? In picture are , foreground Kobe Bryant , Metta World Peace, background , left to right Steve Nash , Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol . The quintet pictured , are seen at the Toyota Center , training facility for the Los Angeles Lakers , in El Segundo , California . GM Mitch Kupchak , and head coach Mike Brown hope that with the franchise’s offseason moves , this will be enough to make the Lakers a formidable force to contend with this season within the NBA . AP Photo / Emilio Etchevarria ….

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The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

As the NFL lockout looks as if it’s running its prolonged course I find it all the laughable when I hear fans stipulate that there’s nothing that’ll be lost for some of the teams from a financial and economic standpoint. Well as things now progress we’re now learning that a number of teams are gravely struggling to even sell preseason game tickets much less season tickets for the upcoming season . Amongst the teams looking to stave off the problems now besetting them are the Oakland Raiders . In light of the fact that during the 2010 season the Raiders in terms of their attendance for their home games were amongst the lowest in the NFL . Team owner Al Davis as an added incentive to his staff at all levels within the organization has requested that they each try sell no less than 10% of their salary in terms of ticket sales . This is something that he’s not only asking of the sales staff but all employees within the Raiders’ organization. If the front office is on board in terms of this then it can only benefit the Raiders’ organization as a whole .

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Slide show for your perusal .

There’s a feeling that as the lockout shows no signs of an accord being met between the parties concerned in terms of the damage done to the NFL’s image is now beyond irreparable . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with the team owners now find themselves trying to how best spin this situation wherein in order the premise of the situation is in their favor.
The fans however don’t actually see it that way and if anything they do feel alienated by this whole situation. The NFLPA for its part along with its members are looking to challenge the NFL’s antitrust exemption status within the Federal Court System . Signees to this civil suit are some of the most prominent players in the NFL , each are Superbowl winning quarterbacks Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Peyton Manning . The trial itself is still ongoing and it looks as if it will be a while before the judge renders a verdict in this particular case.

We all can look back on the fact that the 2010 season was quite an enthralling one with the Superbowl itself turning out to be quite an exciting spectacle with the Geen Bay Packers finally hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in their defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers . Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers stood tall in the saddle and has pretty much eradicated the memory of Brett Favre amongst the Packers’ fans at Lambeau Field . And given Favre’s antics in the past few years with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings I feel that it’s a great thing that the player has since walked away from the game under his own steam !

In light of Favre’s retirement I must say that in the latter years of his storied career I found the player to be self serving and an ingrate ! If nothing else I have to admit the longer Brett Favre stayed in the game thinking that he could in fact bring a championship to any franchise willing to meet his asking price like a mercenary for hire simply showed what a narcissistic asshole …… Brett Favre had become ! What might be even more comical was the mere fact that the idiot analysts covering the game within ESPN and Fox Sports clung unto Favre’s every word as if he were a deity rendering his thoughts on the NFL and his own aspirations. Statistics asides it’s almost certain that Favre will become a first ballot Hall of Famer having met the criteria for his induction .

I’m not so sure that the Western Conference Finals of the NBA postseason is all that enticing . Granted , we have two offensively minded teams in the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder . Defense seems to have gone out the window as both teams are intent in merely showing us their offensive prowess . In this series we also have two of the most prominent scorers in the game with Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki .

With the series tied at 1-1 , game three’s resumption of this series in Oklahoma City with the Mavericks looking to take the upper hand in the series by taking a 2-1 lead in this best of seven playoff match-up. For Scott Brooks as the coach of the Thunder can ill afford to go down to 2-1 at home in this series knowing full well that they will have dug themselves int a hole. Brooks will have to emphasize to his players that they need to step up their game and be fully aware as to the dangers that this series brings if they continue to remain complacent. Durant in conjunction with Russell Westbrook will have to be weary of what their contributions must be throughout this series . Anything short of their regular season performances and this series will end up being beyond the Thunder’s retrieval .

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle has in large part instilled a workman like commitment from his players in doing what’s best for the team from a collective standpoint and we’ve seen that in the contributions from a number of players on this roster . Asides from Nowitzki we’ve seen aging veterans Jason Kidd , Jason Terry show their guile . But if anything it has been the play of the bench players such as J J Barea , Tyson Chandler , Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood that have played their part in the Mavericks’ success this season and in the playoffs. Now that the success is now being replicated in this series it augurs well for the Mavericks and their ambition to win their first NBA title .

Mark Cuban as owner of this franchise has long sought to bring success to the organization. Now it may well be finally be within his grasp . The fact that in the organization’s sole appearance in the NBA Finals they came up short to an enlivened Miami Heat team that simply outplayed them in every facet of that particular series . A humbling 4-2 series loss was enough to send the Mavericks packing their bags home and back to the Lone Star State.

I’d like to think that the Dallas Mavericks in their endeavor to make it to the NBA’s showcase event can actually redeem themselves. In the aftermath of that NBA Finals series’ loss I felt that the window of opportunity may well have closed on this organization. But now I know that to be oh so false as the Mavericks have shown me that they finally possess some grit and determination . As this series plays itself out it will be interesting to see how both teams will acquit themselves knowing that there’s a great deal on the line for both of these organizations.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In terms of the NFL’s continued lockout what remedies do you feel would best bring the two sides together in reaching an amicable accord ? And as you observe the NBA Playoff series has there been anything that has come a complete surprise to you as it’s about to reach its latter stages ? Simply chime in with your own thoughts on the points raised within this piece and as always thanks for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal …….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) looks on as Raiders owner Al Davis (R) speaks to reporters after introducing Jackson as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom Cable. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan …..

(2) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates winning Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 with his family at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. Kevin Terrell/NFL) ….

(3) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre leaves the field after warmups at Ford Field before their their NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. Favre is inactive for the game with the New York Giants, ending his record consecutive starts streak at 297, dating back to 1992. The Giants would defeat the Vikings 24-3 AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Jason Kidd(2) of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Mavericks would go on to defeat the Thunder 93-87 to take 2-1 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Finals . Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ……

(5) OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 21: (L-R) Jason Terry(31) , Peja Stojakovic (16) , Brendan Haywood(33), Dirk Nowitzki(41) and Jose Juan Barea (11) of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate on the court in the second quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ………

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