I yield to no man !

I yield, to no man!

Over the weekend, the NFL opened up its postseason with the wild card round series of games . As usual, the summary surprises came with games that resulted with a number of unwanted endings . Suffice to say, in spite of the huge television ratings one comes to expect , it is by no means a guarantee that the contests themselves are necessarily outstanding.

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All the hype earlier in the season, concerning the coaching acumen and in-genius mind of Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles came to nothing , as the Eagles succumbed to the New Orleans Saints in a highly entertaining contest . From my own perspective, I simply could not buy into an Eagles’ team whose head coach has never been known for his propensity for his teams to play an iota of actual defense. That was the case with Kelly as coach of the Oregon Ducks at the Collegiate Level and it has most certainly been the case with the Philadelphia Eagles throughout much of this past regular season and then coming into this contest against the Saints .

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, now go on to a divisional round contest against the Seattle Seahawks , at Q West Field in Seattle , Washington, with the winner gaining a berth into the NFC championship game . . As to the other NFC contest, that pitted the San Francisco Forty Niners against the Green Bay Packers in a game played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were being asked to take on not only a Packers’ team , but also a raucous and vociferous home crowd in a game that lived up to all of the hype and a great deal more. . San Francisco came away with a well-deserved three-point 23-20 victory , and now move on to play the Carolina Panthers in what is likely be a real slug-fest between two of the more entertaining teams within the NFC over this past regular season.

The contests within the AFC , were no less riveting than their NFC counterparts , but all in all, the lesson to be learned , has been , all that glitters is not necessarily gold as and when it came to teams, who showed a great deal of dominance early in the regular season , but somehow over their last five games , they seemed to falter and showed no signs of being able to play themselves back into contention, with any type of consistency.

Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs made quite a splash early in the season , with the Chiefs actually challenging the Denver Broncos for divisional supremacy within the AFC West , as well as who ought to be looked upon as the best team in the AFC altogether. Unfortunately, for Reid and his team the script was flipped , as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts summarily hoisted the Kansas City based franchise unto their own petard . In what turned out to be, a completely wayward performance, the Chiefs were found wanting in all areas of their game. . A twenty-one point lead, by the Kansas City Chiefs, was slowly erased, as Andrew Luck showed why he is one of the best young quarterbacks now playing in the entire NFL. As to the abrupt end to the Chiefs season , it all comes down to what might have been and the missed opportunities.

To say, I expected more from Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals this postseason would be an understatement ! However, in light of that premise, I have to say in all honesty their contest against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers ,was about as lopsided a postseason game that I have seen in some time. A 27-10 shellacking by the Chargers, not only indicated how bad the Bengals just happened to be, but quite possibly how overrated the AFC North may well have been over the course of this season. . I certainly felt that Andy Dalton and the presence he has shown since entering the NFL would be able to lead a Bengals’ team , that over the past two seasons under Marvin Lewis, has shown a great deal of progress, as Dalton’s own game itself, has shown a great deal of promise.

With Greg Schiano’s dismissal after two seasons of rather pedantic football by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Nothing actually delighted me more, than also seeing Mark Dominik’s firing by the franchise’s owners led by Avram Glazer and the rest of the Glazer family . Truth be known, the family has shown all of the alleged business acumen in dealing with the franchise as of late , as the collective intelligence of the House Finance Committee and that of the Senate Banking Committee when dealing with the economy and the financial sector of the country. Suffice to say, this is a Buccaneers’ franchise that has lost complete direction , so much so, that their fans would be none the wiser , even in light of their apparent apathy and complete lack of understanding as to what they have witnessed over the past four seasons under Schiano and his predecessor , Raheem Morris . As to this idiocy, that , Dominik himself, was a great assessor of talent. One simply has to look at the fact that the Buccaneers’ play under both of these coaches , was simply lackluster , unimaginative and completely lacking in guile .

Greg Schiano’s successor , Lovie Smith , the former Chicago Bears’ head coach and a disciple of the Tony Dungy coaching philosophy may well be seen as the right candidate for the position , but unless the Buccaneers show the actual wherewithal to hire a knowledgeable front office executive. Then the franchise is likely to witness more of the same incompetency that has been witnessed in the last five years , without any major strides, having been made by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mike Glennon might be viewed as a more than apt successor to Josh Freeman in the quarterback position ,but in all honesty the franchise has not had a player of note in that particular position in well over a decade and that includes their Superbowl winning quarterback, Brad Johnson . You may well disagree with my summation in that context , but please do go ahead and proceed to change my mind on the matter !

The travails of the NBA season and there still remains the banality of a league , where a highlight reel of a slam dunk, simply, is now meant to dictate the actual prowess and the game now being witnessed in the league. Far be it for me to suggest, but if things get any worse in the Eastern Conference , then the division leaders , should be handed their divisional titles by default , because the fans should not have to bear witness to such ineptitude ! Hell, at times, I would rather watch paint dry , than having to witness a game in the NBA , when teams have wish to play defense and where the talent that is said to be on show, is the best that this league is said to have on offer . There remains but a handful of truly gifted and talented players currently in the NBA, and the rest are simply playing a game that no one actually wants to see and where the coaching has truly become downright awful.

The Golden State Warriors may well be the “hottest team” in the NBA ,while currently on an eight-game winning streak . Yet , don’t be fooled into thinking that as they now stand , they ought to be seen as a legitimate candidate for the NBA title . While, head coach, Mark Jackson and his coaching staff have begun to instill a great deal of resilience into a team led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson , David Lee and Harrison Barnes leading the roster in scoring . Golden State’s sixteen-point destruction of the Washington Wizards , shows the team’s offensive prowess , and also the weakness of the Eastern Conference as a whole. The less I see of the conference , with the exception of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers , the more comfortable I am likely to feel about the league in general , as it now stands !

In general, if someone is going to opine on a subject , it does pay to at least use some facts to bear out your case . Nothing can be more asinine at present than to merely suggest that the issues that currently encompass both the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks , simply comes down to the fact that they would rather spend money on their teams. In reality, it comes down to a litany of issues, that both franchises have failed to address in recent years. Coaches that are simply not good enough , owners who have no damn idea what it actually takes to place a competitive product on the field of play and finally a front office made up of general managers , whose acumen, is simply minute and where their knowledge can be debunked. To top it all, you have the undoubted stupidity of the respective fans in question for both franchises , whose ideas can simply be summed up by stating that , apathy is now acceptable , when it comes to professional sports within the state of New York and the surrounding areas , where the majority of the fans are domiciled. Need we be reminded of by the ineptitude shown by the Buffalo Bills , New York Giants and New York Jets this past season without having to look at both the pitiful Knicks and Nets ?

The Warriors will be on the road on Tuesday evening, when they are the guests of the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee Wisconsin , in a game that could push the team’s franchise’s record streak and further enhancing their reputation. While I believe the Golden State Warriors to be a competent team, there remains doubts as to whether or not they are good enough to take on the might of the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trailblazers . All teams I believe to be better than the Warriors not just on merit , by way of their respective records , but also because of each of the teams in question are better balanced, with coaches who show a great deal more awareness as to the nuances changing tendencies with a game . Mark Jackson , has been able to instill confidence into his roster and given them the wherewithal to play the game with abandonment , but the Warriors’ reliance on three-point shooting is likely to be their Achilles’ Heel when adversity stares them in the face. . If the Golden State Warriors are to prove themselves as legitimate candidates within the Western Conference , then theirs will be a task, where they will have to prove themselves a competent unit defensively , when facing a far more experienced adversary within the conference.

Times are changing and with the recent move by the Orlando Magic to waive Hedo Turkoglu and move ahead with a young roster . Head coach Jacque Vaughn with his coaching staff are seeking to resurrect the fortunes of a franchise that has been languid and without direction for a number of years, even with the drama that surrounded the departure of Dwight Howard , from the franchise to then join the Los Angeles Lakers , where Howard’s stay was less than satisfactory to say the very least.

. Turkoglu , a long-time mainstay of the franchise and someone who was viewed as the elder statesman on the team and perhaps a leader for several of the younger players on the roster , has seen his minutes decline , as well as his productivity . GM Rob Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn came to the decision to waive the seasoned veteran , without their being a great deal of controversy arising out of the move . In all likelihood Turkoglu will find a place with another franchise within the league seeking a veteran presence or simply to add to the productivity of a team looking for a streaky player .

At 10-24 , the Orlando Magic are firmly rooted at the bottom of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference . They are 4 ½ games behind their divisional rivals the Charlotte Bobcats (15-20) and a distant sixteen games behind the division’s leaders , defending NBA champions the Miami Heat (26-8) . A four-game losing streak has pretty much summed up the Orlando Magic’s season , which has literally been filled with inconsistency , with the sole bright spot coming with the play of Victor Oladipo , the franchise’s rookie taken in the 2013 NBA Draft . . In that draft, Oladipo was joined by Romero Osby , who at some point in the season is likely to see some playing time should the front office believe it necessary to simply start now looking towards the franchise’s long-time future.

Orlando last night, as guests of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California, were simply no match for their Western Conference opponents . To put this contest more succinctly , were the Magic spotted a twenty-point lead , they would have still found a way to lose the contest , while looking abysmal in every aspect of their game. Such have been the woes for Jacque Vaughn this season , that it is my belief that team President Alex Martins and Rob Hennigan are likely to consider a coaching change by the midpoint of the season , or allow the beleaguered head coach fulfill the year in terms of his contract. Vaughn’s hire, was nonsensical to begin with, his having very little coaching experience and merely a bystander, on a staff where he may well have been no better than a janitor. Yet, this has simply been the utter stupidity shown by the Magic hierarchy and that has been continually exhibited by owner Rich de Vos .

The Orlando Magic, is being ran by a bunch of simpletons, who have proven that alongside the political environment within the city, just about any type of stupidity can take place. Wherein, a political savant, such as Mayor Buddy Dyer thought it prudent to spend tens of millions of dollars on a needless venue the Amway Center , merely because he felt it was in that city’s best interests to have a new stadium built for the NBA franchise , when there were far more urgent needs within the city of Orlando . Though, the Orlando Magic are now domiciled in one of the NBA’s most expansive and expensive arenas , one should consider the fact that, the NBA franchise over this past season and now in 2013 , have rarely played in-front of a sold-out crowd.

As the NBA season meanders through its eighty-two game schedule , it will be interesting to see which teams rise to the challenge not only within the ,divisions, but also the Eastern and Western Conference , and how the determination of the playoff berths will be met , as the teams in question, make themselves ready for what is likely to be a grueling postseason.

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Nick Foles (9) celebrates as LeSean McCoy (25) of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a 1 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Al Bello …

(2) Nick Foles (9) of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with head coach Chip Kelly and teammate Michael Vick (7) on the sidelines against the New Orleans Saints during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Elsa Martinez …

(3) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL Wild Card Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images /Andy Lyons ….

(4) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs during a Wild Card Playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images /Rob Carr ….

(5) Former Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano and the team’s general manager Mark Dominik are seen here having a discussion . Both individuals t were relieved of their duties this off-season after a disastrous season within the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with a 4-12 record within the NFC South , barely beating out the Atlanta Falcons for the worst record within the division as well as one of the worst in the NFC and the entire NFL . Former Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith has been hired to succeed Schiano , but a general manager has yet to be hired to replace Dominik , who bore a great deal of the responsibility for the franchise’s failures during his five-year tenure with some rather lackluster and uninspiring draft picks , especially during 2011, 2012 and 2013. AP Photo Marcus Hendricks ….

(6) Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson is seen here with Steph Curry as they discus a play during a game this season . Curry , Jackson and the Warriors’ organization are seeking to make even greater strides this season , which saw the franchise make the postseason in 2012 , before bowing out to the San Antonio in the Western Conference semi-finals with a 4-2 series’ loss. Currently lying in second place in the Pacific Division a 1/2 game behind division leaders the Los Angeles Clippers (24-13) the Warriors are hoping overtake their instate rivals atop of the division and further enhance their position within the conference and a guarantee themselves a playoff berth. The team is on pace for a 53-29 record , if they are able to maintain their current pace and their next scheduled start will be a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee , Wisconsin, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center . AP Photo / Matthew Hall …..

(7) Steph Curry. left is seen here alongside teammate Klay Thompson, during a game . The duo, are the leading scorers on the Warriors’ roster this season and are also one of the top offensive combos in the Western Conference and one of the primary reasons why many believe them a legitimate contender within the West this season . AP Photo / Mark Clarke …..
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Chicken soup but not necessarily for the soul.

Rub a dub-dub , two breasts in a tub .

I’m sorry , but Dwyane Wade couldn’t get an erection., because Gabrielle Union (actress ,picturedabove) wasn’t desirable or had no desire to ” rock the mic” ? LOL,LOL,LOL, !!!

Show Me the Money and I Will Show You That I can Play

Show Me the Money and I Will Show You that I can Play

by tophatal …… NBA pieces within this site

Take it any way you can get it , and that appears to be “mantra “ for so many unrestricted free agents at present within the NBA and NFL . The once highly praised hero of the New York Knicks , Jeremy Lin now seems to be superfluous to the organization’s needs . Knicks’ GM Glen Grunwald , in the past forty-eight hours has been making deals in order to bolster the team’s roster . In , have come point guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd , with Kidd either being viewed as a backup to Lin , should he still be retained , or more likely the case , his coming off the bench to support Felton .

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Jeremy Lin signed the offer sheet , from the Houston Rockets which is a three-year $25 million contract , wherein , the New York Knicks now have a further forty-eight hours to review and then if they choose to , match the offer of the Western Conference …. franchise . Lin was a member of the Houston Rockets in 2011 before the player was placed on waivers , and then acquired by the Knicks . Initially the young point-guard was a model of consistency before his game fell apart because of his lack of skill-set in being unable to secure the ball and cutting down on turnovers . Far be it for me to suggest but at this moment in time the Knicks have five guards on the roster including Jeremy Lin . With the recent departure of Landry Fields to the Toronto Raptors as an unrestricted free agent . Glen Grunwald now seems to be trying to corner the market in point guards . There has not been this sort of ineptitude shown by the front office , since Isiah Thomas held the dual roles of general manager and team President within the Knicks’ organization.

The New York Knicks for their part had a rather inauspicious return to the NBA postseason losing in the first round to eventual champions the Miami Heat . The franchise , was in many ways so flawed , that you were never given the impression that Carmelo Anthony , Amare` Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler were simply good enough to defeat the Heat . Defensively challenged , one could understand the issues that head coach Mike Woodson with this group of players during the postseason . If Jeremy Lin should be jettisoned by the Knicks and his return the Houston Rockets is a successful one , then the cards still remain in play , as the Rockets seek to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic . The drama that continues to be played out with Howard , and the franchise that he has continued to antagonize for the better part of the last six months , while acting like a petulant child has been a complete embarrassment to the NBA . As this scenario continues , the fans of the Magic must now question the experience being shown by team COO Alex Martins and the recently installed GM Rob Hennigan . The longer this idiocy remains within the public domain , the more asinine the actions of the Orlando Magic continues to be .

Dwight Howard’s initial wish , was to be sent to the Brooklyn Nets but that situation broke down , when it became known that the Magic’s desires exceeded those of the Nets’ front office . With that conclusion , Billy King in conjunction with team owner Mikhail Prokorov decided to cut their losses , as they re-signed the team’s center Brook Lopez to a multi-year deal . The Orlando Magic still remains with a very disgruntled player and a front office now at a loss , as what to do next . In addition , the franchise has yet to reach a decision , as to a successor to Stan Van Gundy . Moreover, yes, the idiocy continues , as the basketball club meanders like a listless , rudderless vessel lost at sea !

Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey and team owner Leslie Alexander have engineered the transactions wherein , they are currently some $25 million beneath the league’s mandated salary cap of $58 million for the upcoming season . With that sort of financial flexibility the franchise can offer Dwight Howard the type of deal that he seeks but little else beyond that by way of competitiveness . The longer this episode continues , the more ludicrous I believe this whole situation to be ! There seems to be no common sense being shown by the Eastern Conference organization , whereas the Houston Rockets are simply pinning their hopes on signing a player who simply has no desire to be a part of that franchise . Does that actually make any goddamn sense ?

The NBA appears to be bereft of intelligence amongst the league hierarchy , team owners , front office executives but most notably the greed of the NBPA ( union) . You would be hard pressed to indicate that the David Stern and his minions . Declining revenue streams for a number of the NBA teams , meanwhile , ticket prices are have risen on average higher than the rate of inflation , all the while there has been no real restraint being shown by teams and their owners to rein in their expenses . Much of this the commissioner shows his indifference to these issues as he seeks even more notoriety and publicity to place himself in the public eye , as much as many of the game’s more high-profiled stars . Well , David Stern is on the right track , given the situation where his annual salary , in excess of $20 million a year , and that would rank alongside many of the NBA’s highest paid stars . Not bad , for a publicity-seeking whore-monger , is it ? That is after-all what David Stern , is actually all about !

As Team USA seeks to add gold in London , at the 2012 Olympics . I believe that it is time for all of this asinine talk in making comparisons from his current roster and that of the original 1992 “Dream Team” to come to a halt ! As star-laden as the incumbent is said to be , in no way do they possess the “drawing power” or “charisma “ of the team led by Hall of Famers , Magic Johnson , Michael Jordan , Larry Bird , Scottie Pippen , Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley .

Kobe Bryant simply needs to keep his opinions to himself , instead coming off looking like a complete asshole ! As if he has not done so already , in light of his philandering , that led to his recent divorce . What it is it , that Kobe has not learned from Tiger Woods’ fall of from grace ? Was it not enough he acted like an infantile little bitch after his arrest for the sexual assault of a female hotel employee in Eagle , Colorado ? The NBA player cried off , plead his innocence but also at the same time , he threw his fellow teammates Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal under the bus , claiming that both Fox and O’Neal were also philanderers , having numerous sexual partners , while the Los Angeles Lakers were on the road . Kobe Bryant , a teammate you can believe in ………… really ? Only , when they are winning , mind you . Now, his dumb ass just happens to “be writing checks with his mouth “ that he simply could not possibly cash !

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(1) (1) FILE – This Feb. 24, 2012 file photo shows New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin laughing during warmups before the start of the NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge basketball game in Orlando, Fla. This would have been such an easy decision in February. Lin was the biggest thing in basketball, and no way the Knicks would have let him go elsewhere. Now, knowing his price and with no assurance he'll play as he did when “Linsanity ” reigned , the Knicks may allow Lin to leave for Houston. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …

(2) New York Knicks executive vice president and general manager Glen Grunwald poses for a photograph with Jason Kidd, one of the Knicks two newest additions, following a news conference at the team’s training facility in Tarrytown, N.Y., Thursday, July 12, 2012. Also acquired by the organization , center , Marcus Camby . AP Photo/Kathy Willens ….

(3) (3) FILE – This April 18, 2011 file photo shows Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard speaking at a news conference after he was presented with the 2010-11 NBA defensive basketball player of the year award in Orlando, Fla. Howard is the first player to win the award in three straight seasons. The Houston Rockets were the most active team leading up to Thursday night’s June 28, 2012 draft , making trades to position for a bigger move. As Thursday began, Houston held the No. 12, 16 and 18 picks, but more maneuvering was likely as the team took aim at a superstar big man, possibly Dwight Howard. AP Photo/John Raoux …

(4) Joe Johnson , left, and Deron Williams smile during a news conference introducing the Brooklyn Nets new back-court of All-Stars at Brooklyn Borough Hall, Friday, July 13, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York in New York. The Nets NBA basketball team re-signed Williams and acquired Johnson. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ….

(5) Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, left, shakes hands with Rob Hennigan, center, the new general manager of the NBA basketball team, next to the team’s chairman, Dan DeVos , son of team owner , Dick DeVos , at a news conference Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. The franchise is still without a successor to the recently fired, former head coach , Stan Van Gundy .AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(6) Inset seen , are standing , Houston Rockets’ owner Leslie Alexander , seated center , head coach Kevin McHale , alongside are two Rockets’ executives on NBA Draft day . The Rockets were frugal in their draft choices , seeking to complement their roster to meet their needs . Houston Chronicle / James Nielsen ….

(7) Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey , seeks to become a ” major player” in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes . The franchise has the necessary cap room to trade for the beleaguered center but it has been revealed that the player is reluctant to join the Western Conference team . N Y Times / Barton Silverman …

(8) Members of Team USA Basketball are seen here in-front of photographers, as pictures are taken of the team . Mike Krzyzewski will seek to successfully defend the Men’s Gold medal won at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Blake Griffin , third from the left , back row, will not be a participant in London having injured his right knee during a team practice shoot-around . His place will be taken by Anthony Davis , the number one overall pick from this year’s NBA Draft . Kobe Bryant , seated front , far right, had suggested that the 2012 US Men’s Olympic roster would be quite capable of beating the “original ” 1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball team that beat their opponents during the competition, average of 46.5 points, on their way to winning Olympic gold in Barcelona , Spain , in unprecedented fashion, that year . AP/ Reuters / Max Bronstein …..

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Hot chic pic of the day and do you love it ? Here is Cherry , and I do mean that in the most sincerest of ways .

Amie` . Damn she’s hot !

This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

By tophatal …. 20th April 2012

It’s beginning to look like a circus within the Orlando Magic organization as it was announced today that the team’s besieged and beleaguered center Dwight Howard is going to miss the rest of the regular season schedule and will now forgo participating in the NBA Playoffs . A little over a month ago the Magic held the third seed within the Eastern Conference . But a rash of bad results , inconsistent play and the loss of Howard and several of key players over that stretch due to injury has seen them fall from grace .

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The injury which has seen the end of Dwight Howard’s season is one of a herniated disc in his lower back which , is apparently causing the player a great deal of pain. Given the center’s offensive prowess and the fact that he is the team’s leading scorer . The problems for Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff will be an acute one. I’ve long-held the contention , the moment that Howard and Van Gundy began their infantile bickering , it led to simply where this organization was heading down a slippery slope . There has been a lack of respect and civility between the coach and player. Internal strife within the locker room and most certainly no clear leadership . I’ve said that Dwight Howard while being one of the game’s best players his attitude and lack of maturity has been the biggest “chink” in his armor ! He has yet to show that he has leadership abilities and I for one doubt that Howard will ever develop that trait ! Undoubtedly , Howard is the best center currently playing in the NBA but herein lies the caveat to this whole scenario , without a great supporting cast of characters the player’s game simply becomes moot. And in all honesty , this current roster of the Magic is not that impressive to begin with ! GM Otis Smith has cobbled together an ill-fitting cast of characters that simply haven’s meshed well together .

This off-season the Magic’s front office certainly has some issues to deal with as it concerns the players currently on this team . COO Alec Martins will certainly have to look at the players superfluous to the organization’s needs . Contract issues asides , if the Magic are to contend against the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks , then most certainly Alec Martins will have to upgrade the player personnel. Stan Van Gundy , to my mind has outlived his usefulness as a coach with the organization and it is time for the Magic to cut him loose ! His shtick , constant , bitching , whining and failure to hold his players accountable , plus accepting that he too has been at fault for many of the team’s failings. Well , it clearly shows that his time has come , and he needs to go ! And that criteria also fits a hopelessly out of his depth general manager , such as Otis Smith .

In spite of Dwight Howard’s injury issues , my bone of contention with the player , has been the fact that when given the chance to simply leave the Magic . He somehow felt that out of some undue loyalty , it would be in his best interests to remain with the organization . Given the fact , that his postseason’s forays with the Orlando Magic have seen those experiences to be an all too painful , in terms of the chapters written . Well compensated and soon to be in the final season of his contract , whatever advice that has been rendered to Howard by his agent has to my mind seen his value decline ! And now with this injury , for which he will need surgery , which will be performed by a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles , California , will see the player miss playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in the United Kingdom this July , 2012 .

To Howard’s credit , while he has missed the last five games with this injury , the player has been supportive of his cast-mates . It has been left to back up center Glen Davis in conjunction with Ryan Anderson to lead the team . The former Celtics’ center has gladly taken up the gauntlet and has excelled in this new-found role . Anderson for his part an excellent three-point shooter , has displayed those skills with great aplomb but his game has improved greatly over the course of this season . It will be incumbent upon this duo , along with Jason Richardson , J J Redick and Hedo Turkoglu to lift their game to new heights, if the Orlando Magic are to have a realistic chance at all of going deep into the postseason .

With the Orlando Magic currently holding the sixth seed (36-25) within the Eastern Conference , with five games remaining to go in this curtailed regular season schedule . If the conference standings remain as they are then Magic would square off against Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers , led by All Star …. Danny Granger and his supporting cast . And no doubt Frank Vogel would like nothing better than to have his team to a series victory over his Eastern Conference rivals . And seen as prohibitive favorites with a great deal of justification I might add , there is nothing better that I would like to see than for this Orlando Magic season come to an all too abrupt end . Simply put , Stan Van Gundy and this team have been vastly overrated . At no time have they truly shown that they are worthy of being looked upon as a championship caliber contender , and certainly , I do not believe that they have what it takes to defeat an eager and young and Pacers’ team !

As to what the future now holds for the Orlando Magic once the regular and postseason reaches its finality . It will be interesting to see what decisions may well be made by the front office as it relates to the team and other managerial and executive personnel . Dwight Howard’s eight years in the NBA since being drafted number one overall in the 2004 NBA Draft has me now wondering what ambition if any , does the center still have ! An NBA championship no doubt would ” seal “ the deal besides the accomplishments of the player. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year may well seem nice but in reality it all pales into insignificance when adjudged against that of a championship ring. Dwight Howard wants to add to his legacy but as of now it all seems to be diminishing by the second . And by no means after reconstructive surgery on his spine is there that added assurance that the player will be back his very best . The exhaustive and physical battering that his body has taken has to now be a cause for concern for the player and his future . This is not typically an injury wherein , once having returned he’s assured of being back to anywhere at his best . It will take time but also he has to be cautious if he wishes to have a prolonged career within the NBA .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the regular season winds down where do you believe that the Magic’s future may well lay ? Is it as a franchise with Dwight Howard ? Or as many believe it will be one without the player , with the famed center departing , leaving Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to take charge of the personnel and its immediate future ? Chime with your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to pertinent on the subject matter and the NBA in general .

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(1) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic on April 18, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) Boston Celtics forwards Brandon Bass , left, and Kevin Garnett , right, combine to try to stop Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis (11) on a drive to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The Celtics won 102-98 . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(4) Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) tries to grab a rebound between Orlando Magic players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. From left are Magic’s Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(5) Me , not too dumb ” ! Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith speaks to the media regarding the acquisition of Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Getty Images North America / Sam Greenwood …….

(6) The Orlando Magic’s very own lil’ ‘ Oompa Loompa ‘ ! Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic motions to his team from the bench during the second half against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on February 29, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images …….
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A Tale Of The Two Cities & None Of It Good …….

A Tale Of The Two Cities & None Of It Good …….

By tophatal ……

Troubling for the New York Knicks and interim coach Mike Woodson has to be the fact that the team will be without their All Star center/power forward Amare` Stoudemire , with the player said to be suffering from a bulging disk in his lower back and lost to the Knicks for an indeterminate period . Problematic for a player whose game is predicated upon his ability to give his body a physical pounding night-in-night out . The loss will be counter productive for the New York Knicks but it now give us the chance to see whether or not Carmelo Anthony can show us the leadership abilities that many believe him to have . From my own perspective, I don’t believe Anthony to be a leader , nor does he possess the qualities in question but I can only surmise that former Knicks’ head coach Jeff Van Gundy is still enamored with the franchise he once coached .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Wednesday night the New York Knicks played hosts to the Orlando Magic in a <a href=”http://www.nba.com/games/20120328/ORLNYK/gameinfo.html”&gt; game played at Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York . And while fans and NBA analysts alike still seem to be enamored with Jeremy Lin it is clear to see the reduced role of the player and the very fact that while an asset he still proves to be a liability in terms of the ball’s safe-keeping . The player on average turns the ball over some 3.7 times per game , amongst the highest within the NBA . That being said in spite of the Knicks’ offensive prowess , this simply doesn’t negate the team’s problems from a <a href=”http://nba.com/statistics/sortable_team_statistics/sortable.2html?cnf=2&prd=1″&gt; defensive standpoint .

The game at the Garden showcased the growing talents of Iman Shumpert and the very fact that the Magic’s defensive strategy had no answer for a player who made a number of the players on the Magic’s roster look rather lethargic , almost geriatric in a number of cases . Dwight Howard had a poor offensive output during this game having fouled out , with coach Stan Van Gundy being somewhat apoplectic as to the reasons behind his team’s poor showing .

Now while Dwight Howard saw fit to honor his contract through the end of the 2012 season , I do believe that the player should have made the decision to opt out and seek a trade away from the organization ! GM Otis Smith , Stan Van Gundy and front office executives have </</aaill served the player and the fans in not assembling a championship caliber roster capable of winning an NBA title .

Now while the Orlando Magic remains firmly in the playoff picture at present , for the New York Knicks every win is an added bonus for the team who just happen to find itself in a battle for the eighth and final berth within the Eastern Conference of the NBA . On the tail of the Knicks are the Milwaukee Bucks with the newly acquired ….. Monta Ellis seeking to inspire his teammates into making a a successful late season run at that berth within the conference . With the season now less than a month away from its culmination it will be interesting to see how the teams within a game or so of the berths in question seek to now play themselves into contention and for those in with a chance of a divisional title , well those races could become very interesting indeed .

It is hard to envisage what steps can now be taken by the Orlando Magic to assure Dwight Howard that he’s an assured part of the franchise’s long terms future . It is becoming abundantly clear that neither Otis Smith or Stan Van Gundy are absolutely sure as to their own long-term future and they clearly know that the only way to secure that is to have the well-respected center remain with the organization. Options that could well have proved beneficial never became a reality when they sought not to acquire Andrew Bynum , Pau Gasol or Brook Lopez . Bynum as of late has been on a tear and over the past dozen or so games might just be the best playing center in the NBA at present . At this juncture at season’s end I firmly believe that Dwight Howard will seek to opt out of his contract as a free agent and would no doubt be richly rewarded for his services .

While the Orlando Magic seeks to solve their problems for the New York Knicks their issues seem to be of a different kind . Mike Woodson now has to figure out his his best starting lineup and the one , which best offers the team a chance to win . Certainly , Woodson has brought a much more committed mindset from the players with a predicated upon playing more defense . And this may well prove to be fortuitous , with Tyson Chandler , JR Smith and now Baron Davis said to be now major contributors in their respective roles on the team .

At this point , with the loss of Amare Stoudemire as I alluded to earlier , it will be about Carmelo Anthony stepping up in his role. Given that his propensity is primarily as a scorer , others will have to off-set his liabilities as a defender . This has always been ” a knock” against Anthony since his entrance (2003) into the NBA and as a player at the collegiate level with Syracuse .

Somehow , for all of the hoopla that surrounded Carmelo Anthony when he was acquired by the New York Knicks , the player has simply failed to live up to expectations. He has yet to have a career defining game for the franchise and it has to be said for the money being paid and the very fact that Glen Grunwald has squarely set his faith in the player. It is not hard to envisage why the Knicks have faced the problems they have in recent years. Front office executives from Isiah Thomas to Grunwald have been excruciatingly awful in terms of their draft choices and trade decisions , that it has me wondering whether or not this organization will ever get things right ! We can all attest to the fact that Thomas much like Michael Jordan have to be two of the worst front office executives in recent NBA history . But then again Dell Demps , David Kahn , Rod Higgins , Joe Dumars and Geoff Petrie are well on the way to giving that duo a run for their money !

To my mind in the NBA’s history we may not have had such a poor bounty in terms of the coaches and general managers the NBA ! Amongst active coaches , Rick Carlisle , Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich to have won an NBA title in their current roles . And amongst the front office executives we have Jerry West , Danny Ainge , Pat Riley , Mitch Kupchak , R C Buford , Donn Nelson . Is it really too much to ask to have some competent individuals in each of the current roles in question ? Your thoughts ? .

From hereon-in , what awaits both the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic is anyone’s guess at this juncture . But with the team’s holding the 8th and third seeds respectively , within the Eastern Conference . Their prospective first round opponents may just be salivating in anticipation of meeting them both in the first round of the playoffs . At that point who knows what unfolds in what has turned out to be a rather dour season overall .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Fan or not of the New York Knicks and Orlando Magic how do you see the remainder of the regular season panning out for both teams ? Do you believe that Dwight Howard made the right decision in remaining with the organization until the end of NBA year ? Chime with a thought on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the NBA season .

Picture and slide show details below for your perusal .

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(1) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 28 : Patrick Ewing the former Knicks player and now coach for the Orlando Magic sits on the bench against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ..

(2) Landry Fields (2) of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

(3) Iman Shumpert (21) of the New York Knicks lays the ball up against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(4) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks looks on against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

(5) Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (12) reacts to a call during the first half of a first half of a NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in New York. The Knicks won 108-86 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ….

(6) Jeremy Lin (17) of the New York Knicks sits on the bench against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ..

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Kate Upton courtesy of SI

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Dawn Penn ……………….. “You Don’t Love Me ( No, No, No)”

Oh The Tom Foolery ………..

Oh The Tom Foolery ……..

In the aftermath of the All Star Game and the shambles that we all witnessed was in essence a clear indication that the league hierarchy couldn’t sell donuts to a room filled with cops , much less have the fans wanting for more. Much of the idiocy stems from the mere fact that the team owners and hierarchy are bereft of creativity and ideas . Can we have a show of common sense from anyone within the game for merely a brief minute ? I was once told by a patron that my ideas as it relates to talking about sports economics were way off base. But herein lies the fact this individual’s idea is to opine about the young players and that the teams are building for the future and they will somehow garner success .. He simply works on supposition, rather than the realities in the midst of the game at present . It may well work within his own mind but in the real world that’s simply not the case .

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There have been a number of suggestions to try and make the game more appealing to the fans , many of which are plausible but on the whole they would not necessarily cure what ails the game . Realignment of the divisions is simply placing a Band Aid on an open festering wound which in the end will do more harm than good . Not that I am not partial to a great deal of blood but that scenario simply creates false hope when there is none ! The one issue that the league hierarchy and owners refuse to get themselves involved in is that of the financial imbalances as it relates to the teams and the mere fact that they are unwilling to adopt a hard salary cap . They would rather simply continue to shoot themselves in the foot until they either end up crippled or paralyzed . And as we can see this is now being borne out by the ever growing problems for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets .

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New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

New York Yankees’ out-fielder Curtis Granderson in a candid interview with the Ft Worth Star -Telegram stated that when he now looks up into the stands he finds it a rarity to see an African American face in attendance . The player then went on to suggest that with a dwindling of ethnic players from his own race leads him to believe that the league hierarchy is doing a poor job of luring the fans to the game . And that is in spite of baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball In The Inner Cities) initiative in the inner cities across the country . I wonder how that is actually working out , given the expense and working in conjunction with a number of organizations as well as various school systems ? According to the league hierarchy there are over 200,000 participants across the country involved in this (RBI) all but it is difficult to decipher what the findings have led to at the professional level. From my perspective this is simply another one of Bud Selig’s warped ideas that is akin to throwing up fecal matter against the wall and then going with what sticks ! The commissioner hasn’t had an insightful or succinct idea in two decades but if anything should their be an act of flatulence on his part you can’t be sure whether or not he’ll sneeze or his head might explode .

Courtesy of USA Today

Curtis Granderson: Where are all the black fans?

By Seth Livingstone USA Today

New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson isn’t telling Major League Baseball anything it doesn’t already know.

Baseball appears to lack appeal and access to some blacks , whether they are participants or fans. And Granderson wasn’t necessarily trying to stir the pot when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Count the number of African-American fans.”

On a recent trip to Texas, Granderson said it was difficult to push the count to double digits.

“At first, it starts off as a joke (with teammates),” Granderson said. “As the game moves on, you’ll get to 10, or maybe 15. Depends on where you are, too. Places like Chicago or New York, other places it’s easy. (In Texas), it’s hard. So after a while it becomes, ‘Told you so.

As it was reported in April , the percentage of black players dropped to 8.5% on opening day this year, down from 10% at the start of last season and its lowest level since 2007, according to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. More than 80% of NBA players are African-American and the percentage of black players in the NFL is more than 60%.

Possible reasons appear myriad for baseball’s drop in black players. The Star-Telegram cites costs for equipment and league participation as possible reasons for baseball’s lack of appeal, to say nothing of admission prices.

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I’ve long held the contention that Branch Rickey’s social experiment to integrate the game by bringing Jackie Robinson and making him the first minority to play in MLB was simply done for business reasons and little else . Integrating the game was one thing but given the fact that those attending the games were separated along racial lines while at the same time the US military itself still had yet to be fully integrated shows that not only had the game along way to go socially but also the country as well . Robinson as a player was not only open to a torrent of racial abuse but also threats upon his life by racially intolerant fans as well as many of his fellow players and from the owners within the game .

Now I would like to think that the game of baseball has made enormous strides and it has in a number of areas but the game has yet to have an African American owner in the modern era . Though it can claim that it has had a select number of managers and executives holding the position of general manager of a ball-club. The game has yet to have an African American owner and at the highest level of the game where ownership of a team would be a sign of a real break through this has yet to happen. Baseball has a number of acute issues that it needs to address , their RBI initiative being one of them but I certainly don’t believe that Bud Selig is the man to be leading that charge ! What he lacks in outright candor he more than makes up for that with his asinine edicts and complete lack of intelligence ! That asides the team owners simply love the fact that his lips are placed so firmly on their sphincters as and when needed . At the same time Michael Weiner who succeeded Donald Fehr as the executive director of the MLBPA has shown little to suggest that his tenure will be any different from that of his predecessor . Suffice to say that the game of baseball is now being ran by a group of individuals who are akin to headless chickens running around in a chicken coop waiting to die as they bleed to death profusely.

Did I miss something ? The NBA hierarchy has seen fit to publicly release the 2011-12 NBA schedule while they are involved in the midst of what they claim to be a labor dispute . Last I looked this was simply about money and who was actually garnering the bigger slice of a multi billion dollar piece of the pie ! The NBPA guided by executive director Billy Hunter and their President Derek Fisher have all but said that they are not prepared to concede to any request or requests from the league unless they are prepared to make concessions themselves . This dispute has all the making of being a bitter contentious battle from which no side will come out of it unscathed . The union’s executive committee have kept their members abreast of the ongoing deliberations much of it behind closed doors with the press and public not really being informed of the meetings . But as usual we can rely on ESPN to inform us of the latest by their usual group of insiders.

David Stern may well have bitten off more than he can chew in seeking to institute a stoppage and no doubt his ego has taken a beating . The team owners may well be sticking behind him at this juncture but sooner or later the likes of Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Peter Holt , Mark Cuban and James Dolan will decide to voice their opinions as to the impasse between the two sides .

The NBA hierarchy and owners have been a law unto themselves showing their gullibility , naivete but above all sheer idiocy in thinking that they could spend money at will while seeing their revenues decline . The soft salary cap instituted by the league of $ 57 million but several teams have exceeded that figure as they chased winning an NBA title . The two finalists from this past season’s Finals between them had a combined salary exceeding $125 million , hardly a figure that David Stern would actually care to discuss .

I find it somewhat ironic while the teams are pleading poverty they’re spending money as if there’s no tomorrow . Leading the charge are the idiot general managers of the game who’ll do just about anything including selling their first born if it guarantees success . Perhaps a clear indication of such inanity were the trades made by the Orlando Magic and their GM Otis Smith as they sought a championship. One only has to look at the team’s roster and their salary implications to see that Smith simply encumbered the organization with so much dead weight that it was laughable to watch the team play .

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Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

For Bob Vanderweide the COO & President of the Orlando Magic and the other senior executives this will be a trying time for the club. Not only do they have to deal with the financial implications of the team commitment in salaries but there’s also the growing belief that Dwight Howard may well seek to opt out of the final year of his contract and seek to ply his trade elsewhere . There’s no denying that a player of Howard’s caliber would be the envy of the teams around the league willing to acquire the player. But what would the Magic be seeking in return for the player if a deal were to be made ? Given the stakes as they stand and what this could very well mean for the organization it is hard to see anything advantageous for the team coming out of such a transaction ! Dwight Howard may well now feel that the Orlando Magic are not capable of winning a championship and the best opportunity for him as a player lays with another team. That team could very well be the Los Angeles Lakers if the rumors circulating are to be believed .

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mitch Kupchak , Jim Buss and Jerry Buss would pull the trigger on such a deal to land Dwight Howard and then for all essence and purpose the Lakers would have their own equivalent of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” of Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . The Lakers’ answer would be the teaming of Howard to play alongside Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant . And I’m sure for newly installed coach Mike Brown this would give him the added assurance that the teaming of the three along with the other players on the roster would be of benefit to the organization and fans . Whether or not such a scenario arises remains to be seen but there’s no denying that this would be an enticing situation for all of the parties involved should it start to foment within each of the front offices in question.

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NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

As to David Stern’s own ego , it may well be plausible to make next season’s schedule public as a means of showing the fans the NBA ……. is still business as usual . But at present there is nothing at all to suggest that the league and the players are any closer to reaching a compromise much less the fact they are ready to actually get back to the courts . For a number of player who have sought to ply their trade overseas until the lockout ends they get the chance to hone their skills and take in some culture while pocketing a sizable amount in compensation. For others at the lower rungs of the food chain that are not so lucky there’s isn’t a great deal that they can do other than to sit , wait to be notified as to what is going on by their player representatives from the NBPA. Chances are that they too after a while will become fed up of the situation and voice their concerns but I’m guessing that’s a long way off if they now view the situation where they have both and Stern and the owners by the balls !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

As to the points raised within this piece do you feel that Curtis Granderson’s claims are to an extent valid ? And what recommendations would you make in order to lure not just more minorities to take an interest in the game but also to make baseball more appealing for the fans ? And where do you see the NBA now going from here in terms of the ongoing dispute ? Please leave a comment as you would deem fit and thanks for the continued support !

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

Contact ……… rapptu@ gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) A fan holds up a sign during the ninth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Rangers 9-8 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(2) Ryan Braun (8) of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates in the dugout before umpires review instant reply on a possible home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 20, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The ball was called foul and the home run was taken back. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2 in 10 innings . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(3) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 20: Outfielder Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees scores on a first-inning home run against the Tampa Bay Rays July 20, 2011 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….

(5) Branch Rickey (left) seen here with Jackie Robinson holding the plaque denoting his official enshrinement into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Also pictured is Robinson’s wife Rachel . Courtesy of White Archives …

(6) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

(7) NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

(8) From left to right Orlando Magic executives Alex Martins , Bob Vanderweide and Otis Grant take questions from the convened press at the team’s headquarters the Amway Center in downtown Orlando , Florida . Orlando Sentinel/ Michael Halloran ….

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Now What ?

Now What ?

Well the NFL Draft began and over the course of three days Radio City Music Hall , New York City well become the epicenter of the NFL world . Never mind the fact that although Judge Susan Richard Nelson has sided with the players over their challenge of the league’s mandated lockout the nation’s top collegiate players will be front and center as the teams and their front office executives and coaches will assuage and assess their merits .

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No real surprise as Cam Newton was taken number one overall by the Carolina Panthers having been the league’s worse team record wise last season. The draft itself as it continues and until its culmination on Saturday will provide the fans with a great many surprises and no doubt a great deal of disappointment as to the choices that’ll no doubt be made by the various teams. As a discerning fan I for one am not overly interested in the process , as from my own perspective until that first snap and first down is made on an NFL field during a regular season game we’re totally unsure what to expect from the rookies stepping up to the professional ranks . Suffice to say , that the likes of Newton , Von Miller , Marcell Dareus , A J Green , Patrick Peterson and Julio Jones are now set for life financially having been taken as the first six players in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.

That being said I expect a number trades to take place too as some teams may well look to off-load a prospective free agent in order to move up in the draft order in order to obtain a player that meets their needs. Given the still unclear picture of the league landscape and the very fact that though a 2011 schedule has been made public the fans are still unclear as to what awaits them in terms of there actually be a regular NFL season. The owners have still vowed to fight on in spite of Nelson’s verdict and her denying them a right of appeal at the Appellate Division . So the only recourse for the league and owners would be to challenge that decision in the Supreme Court , with that challenge being heard by the Justices there . And the likelihood that Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues supersede or overturn that decision seems highly unlikely , unless the the league as the plaintiffs, can provide a clear and substantive proof that Nelson erred in rendering her original decision .

For now in terms of anything tangible all the NFL fan simply has at this moment in time is that draft and the parade of the players as chattel bound for a new owner. For the analysts and draft geeks I’m of no doubt that they’re well on their way to making prognostications as to who has done well in the first two rounds and who may well have made a profound miscalculation with their picks . Be that as it may , no one really knows for sure what is liable to happen with these players until that first whistle is blown and the season should there be one , gets underway. Then and only then , will we be able to gauge these players and how they’re likely to do.

I’m sorry, but now is not the time for excuses ,…………. especially when your team gets handed its own ass on the proverbial silver platter for all to see . Having watched in large part several of the games in the NBA playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic , I have come to the conclusion that the Magic have and become the softest team in the Eastern Conference merely not only from a mental standpoint but also from a physical one as well ! At no time throughout this series has the Orlando Magic actually played well much less with any degree of consistency . If anything their play has been erratic and if anything the hype over these players and in particular the aspirations of Dwight Howard being a viable league MVP candidate was simply hyperbole and not much else . Big players step up and lead , here’s been a clear cut case wherein Howard has simply bitched and complained as things haven’t gone his way and where the team’s animated coach Stan Van Gundy has simply proven that when it really matters most , in the face of real adversity he simply cannot instill anything into this team. I’ve heard it said that a league MVP simply means being the best player on the team , I think it goes way beyond that , as it means also showing leadership qualities and actually getting those around you to raise the level of their play. If anyone can point to the fact where Howard has shown any semblance of the latter during this series where a teammate has stepped up and followed his lead then someone please intervene and show me such an instance ?

This series essentially was over once the Hawks took to taking the Magic and exposing all of their flaws bare for all to see . A one dimensional team that lacked creativity and imagination. The likes of Gilbert Arenas , Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson have literally been stealing money from the Orlando Magic and undeniably it has been Van Gundy , the front office executives and GM Otis Smith who have been culpable in creating this unmitigated mess with the Orlando Magic in its present guise . There has been no cohesion on this roster as it has simply been assembled as a group of mismatched pieces . The trades that took place that gave berth to the roster must’ve been thought up as a quip at first because in terms of offensive presence what had been hoped simply didn’t materialize and in terms of defensive voracity it wasn’t on display by the Magic as Jamal Crawford , Josh Smith , Al Horford and the sighting of Joe Johnson made the Magic seem all the more irrelevant during the series . Hard to believe that Magic were actually the number four seeds in the Eastern Conference but that’s what one tends to get suckered into if you simply take a record at face value rather than looking over the entire body of work and what’s brought to the table in terms of anything tangible .

Game six and that result (84-81) was an emphatic statement as to which team was simply deserving of this series . Having lost the series (4-2) the Magic , the coaching staff and team will have to reassess where , why and how things all went so badly wrong . This much is certain the Orlando Magic in its present guise I firmly believe will be completely new entity for the start of the 2011-12 season . I certainly don’t believe that Smith , Van Gundy and in particular team owner Rich DeVos , President & CEO Bob Vander Weide and the other senior executives of the Magic can be entirely happy with the outcome of this seris from a competitive or financial standpoint. Especially in light of franchise’s ongoing difficulties , albeit, that they’re now esconced in their new facility the Amway Center in downtown Orlando . The NBA and in particular in order to remain viable not just from a competitive standpoint also have to remain a viable one from a financial standpoint also . And that if anything has cast a shadow over the organization over the past several years . With NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league hierarchy projecting a fiscal loss of anywhere between $400 to $500 million you can well understand why it was imperative for the team to have had some semblance this postseason . Instead they’re now back to the drawing board looking to start over again with a plan in face hopefully with something that will lead to that ultimate goal of securing the club its first NBA title .

Given that in 2009 , the Orlando Magic were one of 18 teams around the NBA who were in receipt of a $175 million bailout courtesy of the league hierarchy by way of several financial institutions which the league itself has guaranteed . In 2010 the same exercise was again the norm with a further $300 million and it begs the question what’s going on with the NBA and in particular with its own financial template ? Anyone care to take a guess ?

I don’t know about you but as more information is divulged about Jim Tressel’s actions and the fact that he knew full well of several players’ improprieties , in their actions of selling memorabilia for financial gain. The more I ask myself , how is it that he still has a job at Ohio State ? Pardon me for saying this but how the fuck can the university condone these actions with a mere slap on the wrist by simply doing nothing more than asking Tressel to make a public apology and handing down a rather menial suspension ? The players involved in this subterfuge as such still have their athletic careers in tact but this simply gives further credence as to how corrupt collegiate athletics has become and the mere fact that the universities and the NCAA are powerless to stop any form of malfeasance that takes place . If Tressel can be allowed to remain on campus without there being real consequence for his actions , lying to senior faculty members and the press alike then it simply tells about this coach’s complete lack of integrity and character. And to think there are idiots about who still think of him as some type of role model ? Only a friggin’ idiot would be of that mindset I believe !

Dr E Gordon Gee the university’s president and Athletic Director Gene Smith have stated that they hope that episode can be put behind them and the school can proceed forward with its integrity still in tact . Well my answer to both Gee and Smith ….. ” had you had the balls to do what is morally right then perhaps your statements could be treated with a degree of realism “ . But given the fact that both have shown that they’d rather keep Tressel within their midst and with a tainted reputation simply emphasizes that within collegiate athletics ….. money simply trumps everything . There’s no denying that the football program brings in countless millions for the school but what that says about the school’s own image and the mere fact that they’d believe that Tressel’s less contrite apology makes up for his misdeeds shows and indicate how naive they actually are .

NCAA President Mark Emmert has stated that he’d like see a situation where student athletes would be able to receive some form of stipend while their collegiate athletic career is ongoing . But that’s something that I for one believe that the purists and many of the various athletic conferences might not be willing to part-take in . Not if it’s going to diminish what they’re receiving in terms of filling their monetary coffers . Imagine you have SEC Commissioner Mike Slive who’s now more concerned whether not the actions of Mark Shurtleff as Attorney General of Utah is stepping outside of his legal parameters ? Merely because Shurtleff wants to challenge the BCS’s antitrust exemption status and where he also feels that the BCS is an illegal monopoly in terms of its existence and how it conducts itself as a business entity. One could well understand Slive’s concerns , as he simply doesn’t want to see that gravy train dry up in any way .whatsoever . Not with there being countless millions at stake and pouring into coming into the major BCS conference coffers each year through various sports and business formats .

At some point there has to be some semblance brought into the midst as to how the NCAA deals with the misdeeds of not only the student athletes but also of the coaches who have been allowed in large have gone untouched for their actions . Simply look at what has taken place with Jim Calhoun , Bruce Pearl and Lane Kiffin recently and you can understand how pointless it as times to expect any sense of integrity coming from within collegiate athletics ! Integrity and greed simply doesn’t mix , much like oil and water is said not to . And that’s why nothing will ever change within the collegiate athletics landscape because in retrospect no one there actually wants it to change , the status quo has to remain the same . Integrity and honor be damned because that’s the least of the concerns of the schools , much less the NCAA itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the topics raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1)Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Cam Newton answers a question after being introduced during an NFL football news conference at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Bob Leverone ………….

(2) Washington Redskins first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan addresses the media during an NFL football news conference at Redskins Park, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez ……

(3) Cam Newton receives a hug from his mother Jackie on stage after he was selected #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Mark Ingram, #28 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ………

(5) 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. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …..

(6) 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. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …….

(7) A fan hold up a neon green sign with the word “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 ……….

(8) 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 ………

(9) 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. Courtesy of Forbes Magazine & AP Photo /John Raoux ……

(10) E. Gordon Gee, left, Ohio State University president; football coach Jim Tressel, center; and athletic director Gene Smith take questions during a news conference Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State suspendedTressel for two games and fined him $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about information he received involving two players and questionable activities involving Buckeye memorabilia. Tressel also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology. AP Photo/Terry Gilliam ………..

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NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Games schedule

Friday 29th April 2011

Conference Semi Finals match-ups

Eastern Conference

Home team designated on the left

Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs/ Memphis Grizzlies vs Oklahoma City Thunder TBA

The series between the Spurs has yet to be decided with game six to be played tonight at the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee . . The Grizzlies at present have 3-2 lead in the best of seven game series .

NFL News

2011 NFL Draft

Draft by rounds : Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6


Round 7

NFL Draft 2010

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Wyclef Jean …….. feat’g ….. Mary J Blige ……………. “911”

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Well this much is certain the NBA Playoffs have began to set about a number of surprises and then there have been the teams that you simply know have underachieved during the first round of the playoffs . The New York Knicks were summarily swept out of the first round with consummate ease by the Boston Celtics . And for those out there saying that the Knicks are a work in progress …….. here’s my retort for you the gestation period for a female pachyderm is a work in progress the New York Knicks are unadulterated friggin’ mess ! How this team was assembled by Mike D’Antoni and GM Donnie Walsh gives me every reason to believe that this organization now, is no better off than when former team President and GM Isiah Thomas was running the show the whole god-damn show ! And God knows, we all know how fu_cking bad that team was under Thomas’ tenure .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Throughout this series not once had this team chosen to even play a modicum of defense but yet somehow there were idiots out there joyous that the Knicks had actually made the playoffs because in their eyes it made the club relevant once again . I’m sorry but the Knicks were about as relevant within the NBA as I’d consider Muammar Ghadaffi to be a beacon of light to democracy within the Middle East and on the African continent ! Unfortunately for all of the talk of Amar’e Stoudemire being paired together with Carmelo Anthony had the makings of a dynamic duo . Let’s say had Batman and Robin been homosexual crime fighters they’d still be far more intimidating than this duo have been throughout this series . Contributions asides when a team built primarily around offense and not a lick of defense is being played, how the hell is anyone of the belief that the Knicks were actually in with a chance of even winning this series ? At no time was I even convinced that the Knicks could win the series , much less make it a competitive one. Much of the team’s malaise can laid squarely on the shoulders of D’Antoni and Walsh. I hazard a guess that with Chauncey Billups having a series he’d rather forget , I can only surmise that his career is now in its twilight years . From a Finals MVP to a non-descript passenger on a derailed passenger train is very much how I’d assess the Knicks’ foray in this postseason along with the lackluster performances of Billups .

Speaking of a team that could very well be on the cusp of being humiliated in the playoffs are the Orlando Magic . Stan Van Gundy for all of animated demeanor and being so vocal is completely adrift with a team that is simply overwhelmed by its surroundings. The moves made by the Magic at the trade deadline were meant to improve the offensive productivity and creativity of this team . Who would’ve thought that the Atlanta Hawks would have the upper hand in this series with the Hawks not only taking a decisive a 3-1 lead but also Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson are actually outplaying the entire Magic front court by showing so much creativity and the tenacity to get the job done . The only player on the Magic roster who appears to be showing any proclivity in wanting to play with any aggression, happens to be the team’s All Star center Dwight Howard . Other than Howard there has been little contribution if any from anyone on this team.

Unfortunately the Magic are now on the hook financially for the contracts of Jason Richardson , Hedo Turkoglu , Gilbert Arenas and Quentin Richardson who collectively are owed a cumulative sum of $63 million over the next three years. I somehow get the feeling that GM Otis Smith and the front office executives within the Magic organization gambled heavily and that bet hasn’t worked ! In fact this whole maneuver has been an unmitigated disaster . If anyone was of the belief that this Magic team was remotely in with a chance of winning this series much less being taken as a serious contender for this season’s NBA title clearly hasn’t been watching this team play. Inconsistency has been their mantra and the very fact that they’ve been unable able to close out a game with any effectiveness during the regular season and then expect them to do the same in the postseason would suggest that they were in with a remote chance of actually winning this series . And clearly that hasn’t been the case as they’ve been continually outplayed and outcoached throughout the entirety of the series .

However what might be even more surprising is the mere fact that during last season’s playoffs the Orlando Magic actually swept the Hawks in a 4-0 series drubbing that is considered to be the most lopsided series’ victory that has been seen in the NBA in quite a while . Unfortunately game five to be played at the Amway Center in Orlando this Tuesday can be viewed as a series decider as the Magic are fighting for their very survival . A loss for the Magic and Larry Drew’s team makes their way into the Eastern Conference semi finals where they’ll meet the Chicago Bulls the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . That should be a which could very well prove to be thoroughly entertaining and at the same time somewhat suspenseful.

Another series which seems to be heading towards an unlikely outcome should things remain as they are . The San Antonio Spurs face a daunting task in trying to erase a 2-1 deficit against the Memphis Grizzlies . Coming into the series as the number one seed in the Western Conference . And the Spurs’ performances during this series if anything cannot be described as that of the best team in the conference or NBA record wise . It has been the Grizzlies led by Zach Randolph who have been playing like a team that on appearance has been playing like a number one seed . The Spurs have been playing below par and if anything they’ve been complacent in taking the Grizzlies far too lightly . Game four to be played tonight in Memphis will certainly let us know whether or not the Spurs are capable of erasing this deficit or whether or not the Memphis Grizzlies can push the number one seeds to the brink of elimination by winning what could very well be a very scintillating game .

San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff will most certainly have to prove that these series’ results are no mere fluke . But if anything credit has to be given to the Grizzlies who in essence have shown us that they’re quite capable of knocking off a top seed . It has been pretty incredible to see this Spurs’ team labor throughout this series . Tony Parker has been inconsistent and while Manu Ginobli has struggled with injuries the Spurs’ bench has contributed little if anything to this series overall. The veteran presence of Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess has made little difference as the Grizzlies have simply outran , out-thought and completely outplayed the San Antonio Spurs . Should they bow out of this series at this juncture it would be the earliest exit by the team in over five years.

As an ardent fan of the Spurs I must admit that I’ve been surprised by the lackluster effort that put forth by the team . If anything I expected a competitive series between the two teams . Excuses are the last thing I’m about to make for the Spurs should their be a monumental collapse because I do believe that teams that encounter adversity can learn something from it . And should it prove to be the case for the Spurs then hopefully Popovich and his coaching staff and in particular the Spurs’ players can learn something from this all.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

These series so far have been intriguing so far but there’s still a great deal to come . So if anything go ahead and enjoy what is left of the NBA postseason , so make of it what you will .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 24: (L-R) Amar’e Stoudemire(1) , Carmelo Anthony(7) and Shawne Williams (3) of the New York Knicks celebrate a play against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Celtics won 101-89 . Nick Laham / Getty Images …..

(2) Carmelo Anthony(notes) #7 of the New York Knicks gets set to receive an inbounds pass as director Spike Lee yells at referee Derrick Collins #11 against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(3) Paul Pierce(34) of the Boston Celtics looks to go up for a shot against Amar’e Stoudemire(1), Ronny Turiaf(14) and Landry Fields (6) of the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City . Getty Images/ Nick Laham …..

(4) New York Knicks owner (C) Jim Dolan , General Manager Donnie Walsh and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni introduce new players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America ……

(5) Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, left, defends San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis , Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey …….

(6) Not looking good at all . San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, left, and guard Tony Parker, right, of France, watch the final minutes of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ….

(7) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic converses with his offense in the final minutes against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

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. NB Game four was won decisively by the Memphis Grizzlies 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the best of seven game series with a semi finals’ conference berth awaiting the winner .

And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

The NBA postseason is almost upon us and the first round of games beginning this upcoming Saturday the 16th April . But on a side note it cannot have escaped the latest incident whereby NBA Commissioner David Stern had to impose a severe $100,000 fine on the Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant for using a derogatory homophobic term towards a referee during the Lakers’ game against the San Antonio Spurs . I’ve always felt that far too many of today’s athletes are nothing more than a bunch of entitled primadona self absorbed idiots who think themselves above the law and above the rules that govern their game ! Bryant seems to be no different and his less than contrite apology speaks volumes as to the player’s immaturity at this juncture .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The Lakers’ season has now become all the more tenuous when it was announced that their center Andrew Bynum has a recurring knee injury that could very well sideline him for initial part of the first round of these playoffs. A match-up against the New Orleand Hornets has all the semblance of a potential upset if the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t fully prepared for their task against the Chris Paul and David West led Hornets . This will be a match-up of styles and though many feel that the Lakers are the more athletic of the two teams I personally believe that the Lakers’ Achilles’ heel is that their bench lacks real depth ! The likes of Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff on paper may well look impressive but in actuality , do they actually strike fear into anyone much less you as a fan ? Admittedly , the Lakers may well this season’s potential Sixth Man of the Year in Lamar Odom but beyond that the roster in terms of its bench has nothing . The team’s greatest strength is that of their duo Pau Gasol and Bryant himself who leads the team in scoring .

Courtesy of NBA.com

NBA fines Kobe $100,000 for apparent slur toward ref

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a referee’s call.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Los Angeles Lakers’ five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Stern’s action drew praise from gay-rights organizations that had demanded a fuller apology from Bryant and condemnation of his words by the Lakers. Bryant, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, issued a statement earlier Wednesday saying his words came strictly out of anger and shouldn’t be taken literally.

“We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. “We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context.”

Bryant’s words and actions were captured by TNT’s cameras during the network’s national broadcast of the Lakers’ regular-season home finale.

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A patron (JW aka Dubs) of my site had posed the question to me who amongst the teams in the Western Conference would simply be good enough to derail the hopes of the Lakers in the off-season ? My response to him ___ was , that should the Lakers and Spurs meet in the conference finals it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see the Lakers succumb to Gregg Popovich coached Spurs . The equalizing factor may well be the two head coaches in Phil Jackson and Popovich who between them have won nine of the last fifteen NBA titles since 1996 . If that’s not accounting for the dominance of these two coaches and their respective teams , someone needs to explain to me what is.

The seedings within the Western Conference has worked itself out coming into the last week of the regular season schedule with the San Antonio Spurs sewing up the number one seed followed by the Lakers , Dallas Mavericks , Oklahoma City Thunder , Denver Nuggets , Portland Trailblazers , New Orleans Hornets and finally the Memphis Grizzlies .

The Eastern Conference played itself out with the Chicago Bulls taking the number one overall seed much to the surprise of many who may well have felt that Tom Thibodeau’s young team led by MVP candidate Derrick Rose weren’t yet ready to be viewed amongst the elite teams within the conference. Instead we had the inconsistency shown by the Celtics , Heat and Magic all thought to be potential leading candidates for the conference’s number one seed. But the inconsistency shown by those trio of teams over the course of the season opened the door for the Chicago Bulls their successful regular season.

Rose for his part ably abetted by Luol Deng , Joakim Noah , Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer have all played their part resurrecting the fortunes of the ball-club from those lofty days when Phil Jackson was the coach and Michael Jordan was leading the organization to their numerous triumphs . The question now being asked by the faithful Bulls’ fans who’ve attended the home games at the United Center is whether or not this team is actually capable of winning this season’s NBA title. This postseason may well go a long way in answering those questions and a great deal more not only about the Chicago Bulls also as to the aspirations of several other teams within the Eastern Conference. Undoubtedly the coaching acumen of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Bulls has to be admired and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him being rewarded with the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award as he’d be thoroughly deserving of the award !

It goes without saying that while the Miami Heat were obviously viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference merely because of the Pat Riley off-season engineered moves amongst the free agents on the market _____ many felt that the Heat would walk away with the conference. You even had the asinine notion being raised by none other than former coach Jeff Van Gundy and former Knicks’ point guard Mark Jackson that this incarnation of the Miami Heat would be able to challenge the Bulls’ single season record of 72 wins . In essence both Jackson and Van Gundy were enamored with style over substance rather than what was tangible and in front of their very eyes. And hence ,it’s one of the primary reasons why I tend not to take anything that they have to say about the NBA with any sense of intelligence. Because it’s as if duo had a man crush on LeBron James and this team rather than looking at their body of work over the course of the season . Gullible and unintelligent would simply sum up their knowledge and the asinine prognostications that they’ve made about this team and what they thought was actually possible.

Now while I believe that the Heat stands as good a chance as any of the deemed favorites within the Eastern Conference , I firmly believe that if they’re to prevail then the play of their main trio of James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will have to be at a heightened level with the role players on this roster also stepping up their game . If they’re able to do that then it’s my belief that they can prevail within the conference but given the relative postseason inexperience of the team’s coach Erik Spoelstra it could well be that in part that they will struggle along the way as the team’s postseason efforts evolve. My firm opinion is that the top four seeds within the Eastern Conference will be the conference semi finalists and that the match-ups there will go along way in suggesting who we are likely to see in the conference finals .

If there is to be a surprise to be had in the first round of this season’s playoffs I do believe that it could come at the hands if the New York Knicks pushing the Boston Celtics for all their worth. And though this Knicks’ team leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of their defensive efforts there’s no denying that offensively they can stand toe to toe with just about any high scoring team left in these playoffs. GM Donnie Walsh in acquring Amar’e Stoudemire , Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups made sure that the team was at least capable of competing but there’s little to suggest that there’s now that consistency sought to actually make that one big push in the postseason. But herein lies the caveat once the postseason comes around everything indeed appears to be on a level playing home field advantage or not , and I do believe that both Anthony and Stoudemire wish to prove the team’s doubters wrong.

The Boston Celtics with a mix of some youth and veteran experience seem to relish the postseason and in Doc Rivers they have a coach who knows how to coax the best out of his players. But as I’ve repeatedly said to a number of patrons who’ve proffered an opinion on the team , it’s my belief that GM Danny Ainge made a profound mistake trading both Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson and getting very little in return. The duo of Perkins and Robinson were two of the unsung heroes on this roster . Unfortunately, they have an aging pair of seemingly unproductive players in Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal whom I believe will offer very little beyond their experience in the league. I know Shaq has five rings to his name but in reality after his decade and a half in the NBA, he’s no longer the once potent offsensive player he once was. And to my mind Jermaine O’Neal is literally robbing the Celtics blind while offering little in return !

Now while I’m really looking forward to the postseason it goes without saying that what I truly do hope to see are some very competitive series that are adjudicated by the officials with a great deal of impartiality and sound judgment rather than the usual quantity of blown calls and rather insidious wish of theirs to place themselves in the midst of a series, as if they’re indeed part of an ensemble cast. I’ve always felt that a great game is one where you see very little of the officials and more of the players exhibiting their skills and athleticism ! More often than not once the NBA postseason comes around you tend to see little of the latter and more of the referees interjecting themselves into a game or series for all of the wrong reasons that in the end tends to create more controversy than there really needs to be.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on this upcoming postseason and what if any are you really looking forward to seeing in terms of the teams playing ? Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts on the NBA postseason . As a bye note are you also in agreement with the fine imposed on Kobe Bryant after his display , pointed and heated comments at a referee during the Lakers’ game against the Spurs ? Once again do leave a comment concerning that incident also.

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Sacramento Kings fan Ralph Miller IV, 9, holds a sign conveying his sentiments during the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings, are expected to go to New York later this week to ask the NBA permission to move the team to Anaheim. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli ………………

(2) (L-R) Tiago Splitter(22), George Hill (3) , Chris Quinn (11) , Steve Novak(23) , and Gary Neal(14) of the San Antonio Spurs look on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein ….

(3) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers grimaces after an injury against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images / Harry How ……….

(4) 12: Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots as he is defended by Tiago Splitter(22) and Richard Jefferson(24) of the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . Getty Images/ Harry How …….

(5) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 13: of the Chicago Bulls of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Nets 97-92 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(6) Carlos Boozer(5) of the Chicago Bulls is called for charging as he hits Dan Gadzuric(50) of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois . Getty Images/ Johnathan Daniels ……..

(7) ‘The Three Stooges’ Jeff Van Gundy, right, appears comfortable with his broadcast partners Mark Jackson, left, and Mike Breen. Breen says of Van Gundy, “He’s even smiling sometimes.” . I’m not so sure that the trio mightn’t be the worse on air analysts covering the NBA either on broadcast or cable network today ! What they believe they provide in , insight , is simply dulled by their ineptitude and stupidity with the belief that they’re also funny ! Courtesy of ESPN / Scott Clarke …….

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😛

NBA News

NBA Officials …… (Referees)

NBA Hierarchy

NBA Team Statistics (Team by Team Stats)

NBA Standings Season Finale (Conference)

Standings by Division

NBA Team Statistics Defense

NBA Team Statistics Offense

NBA Playoff Matchups

Eastern Conference

(1) Chicago Bulls …. vs …. (8) Indiana Pacers

(2) Miami Heat …. vs ….. (7) Philadelphia 76ers

(3) Boston Celtics ……vs …… (6) New York Knicks

(4) Orlando Magic ….. vs ….. (5) Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

(1) San Antonio Spurs ….. vs …… (8) Memphis Grizzlies

(2) Los Angeles Lakers ….. vs ….. (7) New Orleans Hornets

(3) Dallas Mavericks ….. vs ….. (6) Portland Trailblazers

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder ….. vs ….. (5) Denver Nuggets

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Please do take the time to participate in the following polls as listed above .

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N. W.A ………………. “Express Yourself”

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All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

Well at the midway point of the NBA season teams are now jockeying for positions as the meat of the season now awaits after the game’s midseason showcase event the All Star game. Now what many view as one of the better professional staged midseason events amongst the four major sports it has to be said that beyond the MLB All Star game the NBA All Star event might just be the most popular of the four major sports.

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Slide show for your perusal

From my own perspective the game itself is about as competitive as the NFL Pro Bowl is meant to be. There’s no real incentive and it is in essence really about the multi million dollar owners —- players of the league merely to have one great big party that in essence in the end comes at the expense of the all too willing public who are in attendance at the game and the surrounding events that take place over the All Star weekend. Now the voting itself for the event borders on the insanity that we see each quadrennial when the Presidential elections take place. Do you vote for who you favor because of their popularity or from the substance of their being ? There’s more acrimony over who’s been slighted but in the end there it’s also nothing more than a popularity contest as the fans participate in this alongside the coaches of the teams participating in the All Star event. And what’s portrayed isn’t far off the non-sense we see on the ratings juggernaut reality show American Idol . Only here there’s no three panel of arbitrators offering up their thoughts of the talent on view but at times you might feel that there ought to be . I mean Paula Abdul use to show about as much insight on the show than the idiocy we’ve seen being shown as to the nominees for some of the spots on the NBA All Star roster .

The Eastern Conference may well give us starters Dwight Howard , Kevin Garnett , Amare’ Stoudemire , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . Coaching the Eastern Conference team will be Doc Rivers but that may well change given precedence that’s normally set . Reserves for the team will be firmly adjudged with the fans’ voting and that of the input of the coach himself.

The Western Conference will throw up the usual suspects Kobe Bryant former league MVP and the likes of Steve Nash , Carmelo Anthony , Dirk Nowitzki , Deron Williams , Yao Ming who’ll miss the event due to season sending surgery . Cases are now being made for the Los Angeles Clippers’ —– Blake Griffin , and the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love after the outstanding seasons that they’ve had. There are some who may well feel that neither is deserving while others who feel that there’s a possibility that one of the duo will make it unto the Western team roster while the other will be a reserve for the game.

Now while I’ve never really been enamored with the event I do think that for Commissioner David Stern the league’s hierarchy and the owners this is more of getting the NBA global brand further out there. With countless billions of dollars in revenues each season and the mere fact that the game is perhaps more widely recognized across the globe than the NFL and MLB combined. Michael Jordan was and still is the pre-eminent face of the NBA albeit that he’s retired from the game . The mantel may well have been assumed by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as they seek basketball fame and immortality but other than the regular season and the NBA postseason the regular schedule as such provides us with nothing more than seeing the stars and team we’ve come to support .

Reigning champions the Los Angeles Lakers have had their season of ups and downs but they’ve been able to maintain their status amongst the West’s elite as they seek a three-peat with coach Phil Jackson at the helm of this team . While I’ve no doubt that they’ll be a part of the postseason parade I must admit that they do need to get more solid contributions from players such as Ron Artest , Lamar Odom and in particular Andrew Bynum if they’re to prove to be the team to beat not just within the conference but as the presumptive favorites for the NBA title.

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on each frame you can view that picture in its orginal formatted size.

Well it does go without saying that glamor of the “Big Three” in Miami engineered in part by Pat Riley at the insistance of owner of Micky Arison that if they should fall short of the expected goals that many believe has been set within the organization even though no one has gone on record that winning the NBA title has been set as the target. It’s clearly evident that this is what is actually wanted by all associated with the team and organization. Should they fall short of that presumed target then questions will have been asked and answered and I’ve no doubt that James’ former employer and team owner Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the happiest man in the world should LeBron James come up short with the Miami Heat.

At midpoint of the season there’s no denying that a number of teams have underachieved and there have been one or two pleasant surprises. The San Antonio Spurs have come flying out of the gate and have the best record in the league . Tony Parker , Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan are still omnipresent on this team and with there being added contributions from the young players on the roster DeJuan Blair , George Hill , Tiago Splitter and seasoned veteran Antonio McDyess who are making Gregg Popovich quite possibly a shoo-in for the NBA Coach of the Year .

If there’s said to be an immense disappointment it may well be the seasons for the Sacramento Kings and that of the Minnesota Timberwolves . If nothing else both teams could be on the cards for the top pick in the NBA Draft . Jared Sullinger , Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith are thought to be the top three players liable to be the top picks in the draft. And given that triumvirates’ play this college season I’ve no doubt in my that they’d be able to contribute to the Kings and Timberwoves greatly !

At the midpoint of the season what are your impressions of the NBA and the upcoming All Star event itself as a spectacle ? And if anything are you entirely happy with how the players are voted unto the respective team rosters ? Fans’ contributions apart and that of the coaches do you believe that there’s justification as to how the votes are accorded for the NBA midseason showcase ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the topic and as always thanks for the continued support !

Picture and slide show details …………….

(1) In this file photo taken Jan. 17, 2011, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant rests during a timeout in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Los Angeles. Representatives for Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood announced Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, that Bryant will have a ceremony setting his hands and feet in cement at the theater as part of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities on Feb. 19, the day before the All-Star game in Los Angeles. Bryant will become the first athlete honored with the ceremony. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo …..

(2) Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Przybilla during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. AP Photo/Don Ryan …………

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Arena on January 18, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ……

(4) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, left, congratulates DeJuan Blair during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 104-95 . AP Photo/Darren Abate ……

(5) Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, below, dunks as forward Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ………..

NB

The 2011 NBA All Star Game will be held at the Staples Center home to the Los Angeles Lakers

NBA News

NBA Scores & results …..

NBA schedule

NBA Standings ……….. Conference ………. Division ….

NBA Team Stats

NBA Player Stats

NBA All Star ballots

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………

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Lenny Kravitz ………… “Come On Get It” NBA TNT theme song for the season

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Karmen

Eye candy ………………….. Karmen Sutra and a continued montage of the beauty .

What’s not to like ?

Karmen  Sutra

Bootylicious !

As Kravitz says in his song ‘Come On Get It” …….’come get some of this’ !

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He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

If you remember these particular sound bytes then you’ll know that the coaches in question simply were being animated and couldn’t hide their disappointment of the failure of their respective team’s performances. We have Dennis Green’s now infamous meltdown and rant …….” they are who we thought they were” ! It’s become legendary and will there for all too see in the annals of sport’s history. We also have former Indianapolis Colts’ coach Jim Mora’s ……….” playoffs ? What playoffs” ? And who can forget Herm Edwards’ ……..”you play the game to win” !

Former Arizona Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green’s now infamous meltdown after his team’s loss to the Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately , all of those anecdotes as they relate to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs may well be now falling on deaf ears. This coming from a team that swept its way through the first two rounds of these playoffs with effortless ease . Who knew what we’d now be seeing from this Stan Van Gundy coached team would be a worthless effort and more so out of complacency and the lack of a will to win ? While one cannot deny that Van Gundy has been thoroughly out-coached by his opposite number in Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics . It’s been made to look worse, given the fact that the Magic were presumed to be the prohibitive and outright favorites to take this series with some ease.

Jim Mora reminds us what the “playoffs” are allegedly meant to be about ?

With the Orlando Magic down 0-2 to a Celtics’ team that’s playing with a renewed vigor and being commandingly led by point guard Rajon Rondo who may just be the best player in the 2010 NBA Playoffs based on his performances throughout the entire NBA postseason so far. Last night at the Amway Arena in Orlando , we saw the difference between two teams that are about as close in ability as one could envisage. But based on the effort being put forth they are about as far apart as the city of Los Angeles is from Cape Town, South Africa. And that’s a distance of approximately 9,974 miles. Could the distance between the two teams be any farther apart than that ? Let’s just say that while one team appears to be heading in one direction to an NBA Finals’ appearance while the other may well be on its way back home unable to fully understand what went wrong and why it all went wrong.

Hem Edwards let’s us know that you play the game to win. Unfortunately Herm’s record ___ (139 games__ 57 wins , 87 losses) as an NFL coach , simply doesn’t bear this out.

The game two loss by the Magic to the Celtics 95-92 now places the Eastern Conference second seed in an unenviable position. Having lost home-court advantage they now have to go the Celtics’ home court at the TD Banknorth Garden Center , Boston looking to at least win two of three to keep themselves in contention for the remainder of this series. And while the talk has been the match-up between the two opposing point guards. It’d be foolish to suggest that the Magic’s Jameer Nelson is anywhere near close to performing as effectively as Rajon Rondo . He’s yet to show it in this series and while he was center stage for the Magic’s earlier sweeps of the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks . Those two teams collectively put up about as spirited a performance as a wet sponge would’ve been about as much use on-board the Titanic .

The Orlando Magic lives and dies by shooting the threes and if their center Dwight Howard isn’t posting up then their offensive presence in essence becomes one dimensional ! And for Van Gundy and his coaching staff the tenets “adapt” and “evolve” don’t appear to be in their glossary when it comes to strategy. And one wonders why they’re being completely outplayed and annihilated in this series so far ? If Howard isn’t on top of his game then this Magic team has the tendency of wilting under pressure. It’s become the norm thus far as the Celtics have found ways to negate the presence of the Howard’s teammates such as Rashard Lewis , __ Vince Carter and Matt Barnes . Players whose contributions will be greatly needed if the team is to stand a chance of evening the series and perhaps win it outright. But in reality , this will be more about the collective effort of the team more than anything else and their capability in overcoming in adversity when it’s staring right back at them. Dwight Howard , however, will have to show that he’s the leader of this team rather than trying to live up to a rather asinine caricature of a superhero. If Howard thinks that he’s Superman then it’s become completely obvious to those watching ____ the Boston Celtics are a large dose of Kryptonite that’s not only negating Howard’s alleged powers but it is also making Magic look all the more ordinary as a team !

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Slide show gallery for your perusal. Use the arrowed indicator to move the
slides as you wish.

At this juncture it’s hard envisioning the Magic overcoming this two game deficit ! At best this series is liable to go no more than six games at best. They’ve simply not shown enough resolve to even come within a hair’s breath of beating the Celtics in this series. Everything they’ve thrown at Doc Rivers’ teams they’ve been able to withstand and in return the Celtics have merely demoralized the spirit of the Orlando Magic , its fans and in large part those who thought the Celtics were past their “sell by date” . As the title of this piece would suggest ……………”He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good” !

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Picture gallery for your perusal. In order to view each picture individually just click unto the
desired frame.

As things now stand how do you as a fan see this series ending up ? And which teams do you feel that we’ll be seeing in the upcoming NBA Finals ? By all means chime on in with a comment and as usual thanks for the continued support ! I look forward to reading your responses and commenting in kind.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

Public Enemy ……………”He Got Game” If only Dwight had the game of Jesus Shuttlesworth ? Oh I forgot , Jesus is playin’ for the Celtics and he’s none other than Ray Allen . Well fancy that ?

* NB Allen co-starred in the Spike Lee directed movie He Got Game ___(1998) . The movie starred Denzel Washington in the lead role as Jake Shuttlesworth , who’s son Jessus is portrayed in the movie by the NBA star. Also co-starring in the movie are Milla Jovovich and Rosario Dawson .

Movie trailer for “He Got Game” .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports


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

By Brian Mahoney , AP Basketball Writer

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

Story of this game.

Story of the season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………..

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

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

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

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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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 ……………………..

What’s A Billion Dollars ($1,000,000,000) Amongst Friends …. ? In The NBA It’s Not A Lot ………….

My biggest problem isn’t what happens prior to the game, it’s everything that’s said to happen afterwards. The NBA and all of the proclivities that the league has with regard to its product and how its marketed. No don’t get me wrong, David Stern and the NBA hierarchy has a right to do with as it pleases, with anything within its parameters, concerning the game of professional basketball. This is is now a multi-billion dollar business enterprise ,with revenues across international borders. But herein lies the rub, with diminishing attendances at the games and the mere fact that with several of its franchises in severe financial problems. It begs the question what does the NBA aspire to be ?

$1,000,000,000    One billion  dollars


$1,000,000,000 – One billion dollars cash. Could this really be what it looks like ? Staggering to think that many of us are not liable to see an amount such as this, up close and personal. That’s unless you happen to be a close personal relative of either Warren Buffet or Bill Gates ?

LeBron James  of the  Cleveland Cavaliers  goes  up strong to the  boards for the  dunk  over the  Miami  Heat's  Jermaine  O'Neal .

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up strong to the boards for the dunk over the Miami Heat’s Jermaine O’Neal.The Cavaliers would go on to defeat Miami 111-104 in a game played at the American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Isaac Baldizon ……

For all of the inherent problems that the NBA has, much of it being of its very own creation. I now see the NBA falling back into its same old ways and the needless wish to just continue to market its stars, rather than marketing its teams to the public.

Courtesy of The (New Orleans) Times Picayune

Commissioner David Stern says NBA holding up in tough economy

By John Reid, The Times Picayune

Despite a sluggish economy still causing concerns for many businesses, NBA Commissioner David Stern said his league is weathering the storm with only a slight decrease in season-ticket renewals from last season.

In his annual tip-off teleconference, Stern said renewals are down by less than three percent from last season’s 79 percent rate. He said a majority of teams have kept ticket prices the same or decreased them slightly.

The Hornets have not released their renewal rate or season-ticket total, but owner George Shinn said at last month’s media day their sponsorship sales are better from a year ago and their ticket sales are running about the same rate as last season when they totaled more than 10,000 season-ticket holders.

“Well, our sport is not in recession compared to the economy, but we’ve been working intensely with our teams, ” Stern said. “We’ve been working with them and their pre-sale of game tickets and their group (sales). We also have been working with them on sponsorships, and we’re seeing signs of renewed movement.

“We know that we’ll be challenged by the economy, as all businesses and sports are, and that our revenues may slightly decrease because many of our teams are reaching out to their communities and moderating their ticket prices. So although we expect a season of robust attendance, probably easily within our top five, our fans will be treated to competition that is really unique. We think, like everybody else, we’re going to have to fight our way through the season with respect to the economy.”

To meet their financial bottom line, Stern said their biggest task is making sure ratings continue to be steady. The league announced that 45 million homes subscribe to its NBA TV network on cable. In addition, Stern said the league is targeting its digital media to attract more fans.

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While I’m no David Stern apologist,with him holding the game’s highest official post,as its commissioner. I think from the outset he’s proven to be a marketing genius ! Even if his rule has become autocratic and almost resembling that of a third world despot dictator. But that’s what the game needs but essentially Stern tends to go overboard in nature. I think if anything he’s become too enamored when he’s front of the camera . Every sound byte uttered, has to be one where he’s heard loud and clear. Were he not older than that pompous ass known as, Donald Trump. I’d swear that they’re kindred spirits. I doubt however, that they’re liable to meet and greet in the same social circle. But I may well be wrong. There are several things most definitely that the two have in common. One of which, is that there’s no camera in a room that they won’t make sure that they make every effort to be caught in-front of. And the other thing, is that, they’re both vastly overpaid for the jobs that they currently do. Trump , even more so, considering the financial state of several parts of his business empire. But then again, he’d have you believe different.

NBA Commissioner  David Stern  Absolute  Power  .........

Money and power corrupts ! Absolute power and money makes you … So what ought we to make of NBA commissioner, David Stern ? Is he the most powerful man in all of sports ?

Ask an NBA fan what they’d do with one billion dollars ? That’s the number one, with nine zeros for the uninitiated. And I’d dare say you’d be greeted with a wide variety of answers to that pertinent question. Ask David Stern what he and the NBA would do with a billion dollars ? And he’d no doubt reply that the money would be used to safeguard the franchises within professional basketball. Well, considering that over the last decade the NBA has been the recipient of $1,000,000,000 , at the behest of Stern,through the willingness of the banks on Wall St and beyond to loan the league money. I guess that several amongst you would be surprised by this revelation ? Or perhaps not ? I mean what other sports other than basketball, football, stock car racing can their governing bodies be afforded such largesse at the taxpayers' expense ? Meanwhile they can still facilitate their business operations while still opting for financing from the commercial and investment banking system ? Isn't life grand for the hierarchies of the NFL,MLB, NASCAR and the NBA ? And isn’t it somewhat asinine to hear people en masse complain about the very fact that they’re afraid their taxes will be raised that the government shouldn’t be interjecting itself in the business practices of companies ? What they seem to forget that many of the problems faced by those companies were self inflicted. And for the NBA it is no different !

Well David Stern and his members would have you believe that many of the league’s problems stem from the very acute economic climate. Truth to be told, the hierarchy wasn’t about to change its business template of spending extravagantly. Instead of stemming the tide of outlandish behavior in terms of their spending.
They just proceeded ahead, as if , all was well. Now we know that in excess of 40 % of the league’s franchises are experiencing some sort of financial difficulty of some sort. And that would include such franchises as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets , New Orleans Hornets and the Charlotte Bobcats, to name but of the few franchises in question.

Orlando  Magic owner  Rich  Devos  shakes  hands  with  the team's  All  Star  center  Dwight  Howard .   picture  appears  courtesy of  ap/photo/  R B  Hapgoode  .................

Orlando Magic owner, Rich DeVos, seen here shaking hands with the
team’s All Star center, Dwight Howard. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ R. B. Hapgoode …….

This last fiscal year , saw the league financed through a bank loan, to the tune of $250 million , to be shared amongst 14 NBA franchises. And with these being private business entities. Their books aren’t opened or called upon to be opened for public or financial scrutiny. But yet as is more often than not, many of these very same franchises look to the local communities by way of the local, county and state levels to make sure that they’re well taken care of. Much of this comes about with the so called discretionary broadening of the tax base. Wherein, taxes and service charges are raised in order to facilitate the building of new venues for the benefit of the owners of the various franchises. Meanwhile , much needed services within a community are either overlooked or placed on the backburner for a later date.

Orlando Mayor  Buddy  Dyer  looks  out  from his  office  in  downtown  Orlando

City of Orlando Mayor,Buddy Dyer, looks out from his office unto the horizon of the downtown Orlando area. Dyer was one of the main facilitators in getting a new arena built for the NBA franchise, the Orlando Magic. picture appears courtesy of orlandosentinel/ Jason Arnot ………

If you doubt my word, then consider the situation of the Orlando Magic and that of city of Orlando, itself , the county government of Orange County,Florida. And that of the very Sate of Florida , the backdoor maneuvering that took place, primarily at the behest of the city of Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer. And that of those, up in the higher echelons of the county and state governments. Their sole purpose has been the building of state of the art facility for the NBA franchise. While at the same time using the pretext that this will bring about much needed revenue at all levels and the creation of jobs within the city and the community at large.

Granted , the infrastructure of the downtown Orlando is due for much needed development. But one hardly thinks that an NBA venue is of the highest order for a county whose unemployment rate is in line with the national average. And where at the same time budget shortfalls, has meant the cutting or derailing of much needed services and the furlough of government employees- as well as seeing services within education , and community safety (police and fire department) being cut with certain employees being relieved of their positions. Somehow, one doesn’t equate as a benefit to the community. When at the same time you’re enabling the building of a sporting arena , that many of the residents will hardly be able to afford the price of admission for a Magic game . Much less any other event that’s liable to take place there.

And while the Orlando Magic (6-3) seeks to place itself amongst the elite of the NBA and in particular within the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Is it me , or is it my imagination ? But isn’t this the franchise owned by one of the richest men in the state and by last count the 91st wealthiest individual in the United States ? That indelible mark belongs to none other than Magic owner , Rich DeVos , co-founder of Amway Global Inc. DeVos, a multi-billionaire (estimated worth $3.4 billion) and benefactor to the central Florida area , has gone out of his way to make sure that political favors were called in – in order to facilitate the quick vote insuring that an arena would be built to house his basketball franchise. That being said, how can one explain this to the working man who struggles to make ends meet by keeping his family fed and a roof over their heads ? Especially, in light of what is allegedly going on between the franchise’s owner and that of the Mayor of Orlando. It creates the scenario, that as long as you have the money and the contacts, anything can be done for the right price.

A billion dollars to you or I , could go a long way in alleviating a community’s problems. In the NBA , it’s just mere pocket change when measured against their ceaseless revenues from various endless entrepreneurial schemes that they’re in command of- in conjunction with various partners across the globe. Somehow, when I listen to David Stern speak about the game and all of the pleasure he believes it brings to the fans of the NBA. Why do I get the impression that while he’s giving the speech, he’s also laughing all the way to the bank ?

We Played The Game To Win But The Magic Were Simply Better …………….

We Played The Game To Win But The Magic Were Simply Better

  

Somewhere somehow it’d appear that the Boston Celtics have lost their poise. What’s more they’re now beginning to resemble a team that’s not physical enough to impose their will on an opponent . Tonight inexplicably they succumbed to an Orlando Magic team that seemed ready to acquit and redeem themselves.

Paul  Pierce  of the  Celtics ....
Paul Pierce of the Celtics goes for the layup while the Magic's Dwight Howard tries to negate the play. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Leon Hollenbach ..........................

 

Albeit that on papers the Celtics would appear to be the better team. But as of now it appears to be that the Magic are in the driver’s seat . The Magic got a total team contribution from all of the members on the roster in one way or another. So much so that a wilting Celtics’ team had no answer for the Magic and in particular Dwight Howard , once again.

 

This was an empahtic win for the Magic as they derailed the Celtics with a totally lopsided 117-96 result for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. What was even more astounding was the lackluster display by the Celtics. There initially was a sense of purpose from the Celtics. But once the impression was that they’d settled down. The Magic basically imposed their will on this Celtics’ team.

 

The Celtics’ bench though having contributed somewhat . But their frontline players were not up to the task. Rajon Rondo failed to deliver as it was left to only Paul Pierce and Eddie House on this Celtics’ team to actually show some grit. The rest of the roster were wayward and undisciplined. And if this is an indication as to what we’re yet to see . Then the Boston Celtics now face an uphill task against a Magic team that now seems undaunted.

Paul  Pierce  of  the  Celtics  is fouled  by  the  Magics'  Rashard  Lewis   during the  game  .
Paul Pierce of the Celtics is fouled by the Magics' Rashard Lewis during the game. picture appears courtesy of getty images / Elon Gould ........................

 

 Going 2-1 up in the best of seven game series and one can surmise that Magic may well feel that this series could be their’s for the taking. Albeit that Celtics’ coach Glen Doc Rivers may well view this otherwise. He’s all but said as much in his postgame interview. But saying it and then going out to achieve that goal are two different things completely. And therein lies the quandry for the Celtics if they’re to make a return the conference finals.

 

Big games call for big efforts from a team and in particular its stars. However the stars weren’t aligned for this team. For the Magic and their fans they well feel finally that this is where they’re meant to be. Though always a great regular season team. The Magic have never acquitted themselves well in the postseason. They’ve not been to cusp of such heights since their halcyon days of Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. Names from a bygone age for most of the Magic faithful.

Hedo  Turkoglu  reacts after scoring  a  three  pointer  during  the  game   whilst  his  teammate  Rashard  Lewis looks  on .
Hedo Turkoglu reacts after nailing the three pointer whilst his teammate Rashard Lewis looks on. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Matthew Pearson ..........

 

And if they should find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals where it’s contemplated where they’ll meet presumptively the Cleveland Cavliers . The anticipation is rife that this could do something rather special. But as stated earlier the team hasn’t been to the big dance since those halcyon days.

 

For the Boston Celtics at this juncture it’s now all or nothing . Or it’ll be a disappointing end to their postseason ambitions. Simply on this night it wasn’t to be as the Magic were simply better when it mattered most.

 

 

Lindsay Lohan Says Leave The Magic Alone They Were In Their Happy Place , People Just Don’t Seem To Understand Them Or Me …!

Lindsay Lohan  Says Leave   The  Magic  Alone  They  Were  In  Their  Happy Place  ,  People  Just  Seem To  Understand  Them  Or  Me …….

It  says much  as  to  the  capabilities  of  a   team   if they  can  continue to  overcome  adversity  ,  compete and   do  all of  the  prerequisite things that   it    takes to win.   Having  watched  the Orlando  Magicdefend  their   home-court    in the  first  game   of the  playoffs   against  the  Philadelphia   76ers.  I’m  not  so  sure  that  this   team  has  what  it  takes  to   challenge  the  likes  of    the  Cleveland  Cavaliers  in  the  Eastern  Conference  for   supremacy  there .    Much  less   having   the   presence  of mind  to   challenge    many  of the   teams   within  the  Western  Conference  altogether.

Rafer Alston  point   guard for  the  Magic  goes  up  for  the  layup  against  the 76ers.
Rafer Alston of the Orlando Magic goes for the layup against the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers would go on to defeat the Magic 100-98 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Fl. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina ..............

<I’ve   heard  it being  said that  the  Magic    have  finally  arrived  and   that  they    ought  to be  considered   being  amongst  the  elite    teams  of the  NBA.   For  me    ,  I view  an  elite   team  within   a  league ,  a  team  that has  a  body  of  work behind  it  and   one   who’s   always  considered  a  perennial  contender.   The   Orlando   Magic  has yet  to  show me    that  they’re  either  of  the  above.    What  they  are   however is  a  very  good    regular   season    team.     But  whose  ambitions  of   being   considered   a  contender   is  somewhat   short  of the  bar  that  they’ve   set    for  themselves. 

Andre' Iguodala  of  the  76ers attemmpts the  jump  shot over the  outstretched  arms  of the  Magic's  Dwight  Howard.   Iguodala would  go  on to  score  20 pts  for  the  76ers  in their triumph  over the Orlando Magic.  They  now hold  1-0  in the best  of  seven  game series.
Andre' Iguodala of the 76ers attempts the jump shot over the outstretched arms of the Magic's Dwight Howard. The 76ers would go on to triumph over the Magic (100-98) to take 1-0 lead in the best of seven games in the first round of the playoffs. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina ...........

The  Orlando  Magic coming  off  a  59  game  win  season,  there  are   those   around   the league and   within   the  pundits’  broadcast   forum. Who   view  this   team  as  one  those  who  can  live   up  to  the  potential   of  being  a   serious challenger to the  likes  of  the  Cavaliers  and Boston  Celtics   for     dominance  and  supremacy within  the  Eastern Conference.  All   three  teams   have    distinctively    different   pedigrees.     The  Celtics  have   their   triumvirate  of  Kevin Garnett ,Allen   and  Pierce.  Though  it  can  be   said   that  with   the  loss  of   Garnett    their   chances  of     making  it to the   conference   finals   have   diminished   somewhat. 

Coach  Stan  Van Gundy of the  Magic   signals  to  his players   that  he'd  like to  see  more  effort  shown  oncourt   by  his players.
Coach Stan Van Gundy of the Magic signals to his players that he'd like see more effort oncourt from his players. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina .............

The Cavaliers   for their   part    have  LeBron   James who  at  this   present   time  may well   be   considered  to  be   the  most   gifted player in  the  league.  OK  I   know that  there are   naysayers   out   there  who  may  well   feel   that the    accolade  isn’t  befitting  a  player  who’s  yet  to   win  anything  of  merit  within  the  league.  But  at the  same  one   cannot   overlook   his  presence   on  a  team  that   has   garnered   66  wins  this   season   and   has  looked   unbeatable   on  their   home-court.   Take   LeBron  off  this   team  and  they   may   well   struggle  to   attain   25 to  30   wins  at   best.  But  it  cannot  and   should   not   detract   from  what  they’ve   achieved  as  a  team  this  season.

76ers' point   guard   Andre  Miller   celebrates  his  team's  victory  over  the  Orlando  Magic.  The 76ers  stole  a victory  on the  Magic's  homecourt at  the  Amway  Arena in  Orlando , Florida.
76ers' point guard Andre Miller celebrates the team's win over the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena ,Orlando , Fl. The win by the team was a resolute allround effort. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty imnages / Fernando Medina ..................

Rashard Lewis  of  the  Orlando  Magic   with the one  handed   dunk .
Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic with the one handed dunk during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Amway Arena in Orlando , Florida. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina ...............

Orlando    for  its   part   possesses   without   doubt   the   best   big  man   in the   game   in  the  guise  of     Dwight  Howard.  Who if anything  this  year   has  finally   arrived  and  ought  to be  considered  as   on the   bright   stars   of  the  league.  His presence  and   determination   on  the  team  if  anything   has   provided a   backbone  and  leadership  to it.   However  wherever   he   leads   it sometimes  appears  that   his   teammates  aren’t  always  too  willing   to    follow.    It may  well   come   down to  the  fact that  on   their    roster   there   doesn’t appear  to  be   that  many  players   with    playoff  experience    other   than   being   seasoned   veterans.    They’ve  a    young   staff  of    talented   players  with  the  likes  of   Mikael  Pietrus href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/4139″&gt;J. J Redick ,   Marcin  Gortat  and  Courtney  Lee slowly   coming  to  the   fore.   But   that    in  ofitself   cannot   hide  the   fact   for  the  team’s   poor   showing   against  Philadelphia    this   past  Sunday.

Theo  Ratliff  of the 76ers makes  the   dunk  over the   defensive  presence  of the  Magic's  Hedo  Turkoglu  and  Tony Battie .
Theo Ratliff of the 76ers makes the dunk over the defensive presence of the Magic's Hedo Turkoglu and Tony Battie. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina ...............

How   else   can  one   explain  their    poor  play    down   the   closing   stretch  of  the  game   where  they   allowed  the  Sixers to  erase  an   eighteen  point   deficit   and  come   back  to  win  the  game altogether  ?  It’s  one   thing  to   state  that   they   didn’t  apply  themselves to  the  task  at hand.   But  when   they  make   a  player of  Andre  Iguodala   of  the  76ers  appear  to  the    reincarnation  as  to  the   second   coming  of  Michael  Jordan  .  One  has to    question  the   resolve  of  this   team.    Not only  did  Iguodala   have   a   tremendous    game   but  he  was  allowed  so  much   freedom   up and  down the  court.  That  one   had  to   wonder  if  the  Magic   themselves  were   just  there  to  make  up   the   numbers   as   far  as  their  presence  was  concerned.  

Defensively   this   team  was  about    resolute   in  its  execution  as  the    Treasury  Department  has  been  in their    doling   out   of   taxpayers   money  to  a   sundry   of  financial  and    industrial concerns.    A   lot  of  thought   may   well  have   gone   on   as to  the  premise   behind the   maneuvers.  But   in  terms   of  its   execution    ,  it  was   about   as  adept  as   having  a   baby   try  and   walk   for  the   first  time  without  any   support  being  given.   You  just  knew   that   something     bad    had  to  happen.    And so  it   did  as  many  of  who   viewed  this    debacle  on  television   can   only  wonder  what   it   was  the   Magic  was trying  to  achieve.   Needless  to  say   that  their   fans and  coach,  Stan  Van  Gundy   can’t   have been    pleased  with  what  they’d   witnessed. 

 

Iguodala makes  the  reverse  dunk  during  the  playoff  game against the  Orlando  Magic.
Iguodala makes the reverse dunk in the playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Iguodala would be the main offensive presence and instigator behind the team's victory over the Orlando Magic. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Fernando Medina ................

While   one    can    apportion    blame   on the  Magic’s   players  ,  a certain   amount  of  that  blame  also   ought  to  rest    squarely   on the  shoulders   of  Van  Gundy  and  his   coaching   staff.   Rarely   can  a  coach   and   his   staff   performed  so    badly.   And  for  someone   of  Van   Gundy’s  stature   who’s   often   thought   of  as  being  one  of  the  more  astute   coaching   minds   around  the  NBA.   It   has  to be   said  that he  was  completely    outcoached    by his   opposite  number   in  Tony DiLeo.  

 

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