The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

The Hard and Fast Principle, Is That You Play To Win

Far be it for me to suggest, but with the NFL season almost coming to a close, the likely dismissals of several Head Coaches were an inevitability. The biggest firing, was not the dismissal of Hue Jackson from the Cleveland Browns , but the firing of Mike McCarthy by the Green Bay Packers , was one of which came to some as a surprise. The Packers’ season has been one which has been woefully inept in certain aspects of their game, but the blame should not be placed solely at the feet of Mike McCarthy alone. He was failed by his team and most notably by Aaron Rodgers perhaps the Packers’ best player on the roster and his twice being named the League MVP . Rodgers has not demanded more of himself or from that of his teammates and it has come to fruition by way of the results on the field and their standing within the NFC North , where there are likely to miss the NFL Postseason for 2018.


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It has become abundantly clear that a replacement for Mike McCarthy is most likely to come from outside the coaching staff , rather than from within. Several names are being considered , notably David Shaw of Stanford , Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Jim Harbaugh , Head Coach of Michigan . Green Bay’s front office headed by Mark Murphy will consider all of the aforementioned names as well as others that will cross Murphy’s desk in the coming days. Yet for the moment , the current coaching staff and players must prepare for their final four games starting with their contest against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday , 9th December , 2018. A sub. 500 record for the Packers this season would provide the franchise with their worst record in over a decade. Certainly the worst since Aaron Rodgers first entered the league in 2005 as a rookie quarterback for the franchise. Where the Green Bay Packers will now go from here will be open to a great deal of conjecture and debate

Jay Gruden has made it abundantly clear that with the loss of Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins , neither he or any member of his coaching staff or anyone from within the front office have a wish to replace McCoy with disenfranchised quarterback Colin Kaepernick . It has been over two years since the player was last seen on an NFL field , but yet somehow the likes of Mark Sanchez and lesser talents have been given a chance in the NFL this season ? Suffice to say , Roger Goodell and the majority of the team owners have no wish to see the player make a return to the league. His banishment continues in the midst of a season where Goodell’s autocratic rule continues.

With the NFC East division still up for grabs with even the Philadelphia Eagles still in with a chance of possibly winning the division , it is quite possible the division itself, will be one ending in carnage. Both teams will be in action this weekend weekend with the Eagles facing the Dallas Cowboys , while the Redskins will meet the New York Giants .

The trigger was pulled and the first salvos of the MLB off-season have been fired . The New York Mets have made everyone aware that they mean business this off-season with the acquisition of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to their roster in what can be seen as a blockbuster trade. This rings in a new era for the Mets’ front office now being ran by newly minted General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen . Adding the salaries of Cano and Diaz to the team’s payroll will certainly bloat the obligations of the ball club, but if it leads to success than , then I doubt that the Mets’ fans will be overly concerned.

While the New York Mets seek to keep up with the rest of baseball , one of the ball club’s National League rivals the Chicago Cubs will be seeking to make a monumental splash of their own as they look to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term deal with the ball club . Cubs’ front office executives , Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein would certainly like to bolster the roster and make Chicago even more competitive for this upcoming season. The addition of Harper to an already formidable offensive lineup would be a boost for this Joe Maddon managed team . It remains to be seen if the Washington Nationals are willing to part ways with Bryce Harper or they will seek to sign him to a deal of their own.

There have been some major signings made within the past forty-eight hours , with several players on the move now getting high-priced deals .

It never ceases to amaze me how naïve and simply out of touch fans and analysts are when it comes to the NBA and the talk of current reigning NBA champion the Golden State Warriors now being vulnerable and not capable of defending their title. We are barely three months into the NBA season and some idiots are already looking to write off this team altogether. From my own perspective until there is a team capable of challenging the Warriors on a consistent basis within the NBA , they will remain the team to beat within this league. Then the argument against this franchise remains redundant . In the Warriors’ most recent game they faced the Atlanta Hawks , winning that game decisively against an Eastern Conference opponent.

If the rumors are to be believed then there could be a major blockbuster trade in the offing , as the Los Angeles Lakers make a play to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans . All signs seem to be pointing that GM Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson have something big planned , but there has yet to be any type of formal announcement made. Lakers’ forward LeBron James has shown his frustration at the real lack of progress made by the team in spite of a winning record at this point of the season. The fact that Lonzo Ball the sophomore point guard is seen as the bait to entice this move, with Davis joining the Lakers. It could be said that this might also send the wrong message to the Lakers’ fans and the long-term future of this franchise. Lonzo Ball is seen as the face of the Los Angeles Lakers once the career of LeBron James comes to an end , because I seriously doubt that at the end of his current contract he will seek to resign with the franchise , furthering his fifteen-year career in this league.

From my own perspective the window of opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to win big, is to start winning now. Their biggest challenge will remain being good enough to beat the top contenders within the Western Conference , then knocking off the league’s current dynasty and reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors , by no means an easy task. The first meeting between these two teams this season will take place on Christmas Day when the Golden State Warriors will play host to the Los Angeles at the Oracle Arena in Oakland , California . In all , they will meet four times over the course of this regular season with games being played at home and away.

OK, so it we all knew that the Alabama Crimson Tide would stroll through their regular season sojourn of College Football (FBS) . In all honesty this Nick Saban coached team has been barely challenged and it wasn’t until they faced Georgia (Bulldogs) in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) championship game that Alabama was made to run the gauntlet in a true test of their mettle. . Having won the game in its last waning moments, Alabama booked themselves a place in College Football Playoffs’ Format . As they look to make history by winning another National Title , I truly believe, it will be theirs for the taking unless they become truly complacent .

What if anything do you believe best provides the winning approach with regard to professional team sports at this moment in time ?

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Tophatal ………….

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I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!

I’m Calling It A Wipe-out !!!!

Well the NBA Finals have come to an abrupt end, with the Cleveland Cavaliers being blown out in the Finals by the Golden State Warriors , completing a sweep with a degree of clinical precision not seen in a very long time . Kevin Durant adds to his impressive resume’ as he was named Finals’ MVP for the second consecutive season . His being given this accolade places Durant as one of only two players to have won multiple scoring titles as well as the Finals’ MVP . For the Cavaliers as the losing finalists , the fact that each loss in the four games played was by double-digits or less , emphasizes why there is such a large chasm between the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference of the NBA and their counterparts in the West.


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Adding more embarrassment to Cleveland’s debacle in the Finals remains the uncertainty concerning the future of LeBron James . The player can choose to opt-out of the final year of his contract and seek to become an unrestricted free agent , leaving to join a legitimate contender within the league. Based on all of the criteria seen, there are at least five or six teams that might be a destination for the superstar.

LeBron James should he choose to leave Cleveland for the second time in his esteemed thirteen-year career, it would once again lead to a great deal of frustration and anger among the franchise’s fans. Bear in mind however, this team in its original guise at the start of the season , was the one which James himself had a great deal of input in assembling . Just before the All Star Break , Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM Koby Altman brought in players he felt would complement the skill-set of LeBron James and Kevin Love . For Love as the second-best player on the Cavaliers’ roster, his productivity during the NBA Finals, could be best described as sparse, while the rest of the players were simply along for the ride. LeBron James has now been on five losing teams in the NBA Finals and he now has on his resume , a second series’ sweep with the first coming when the Cavaliers were summarily annihilated by the San Antonio Spurs during the 2007 NBA Finals , where Tim Duncan led the Spurs to what was an expected series’ victory, but not which was so lopsided.

After-all LeBron James was seen as the face of the NBA and the ” anointed best player on the planet “ . King James as he has often referred to himself , an anointing which many of his supporters and NBA analysts are in complete agreement with.

Whatever the future now holds for LeBron James , be it his remaining in Cleveland or his offering his services to the highest bidder, I would like to see the player come to a quick decision , rather than it being a long drawn out drama , something akin to a very bad soap opera episode.

I’m an avid boxing and Mixed Martial Arts’ fan and over this past weekend both sports showcased events which were meant to lure the fans back to the respective sports, which had been experiencing something of a lull. The UFC showcased their main event , UFC 225 , where the main card , had the top-two contenders within the Men’s Middleweight Division fight for the title , with the winner getting the chance further enhance his resume’. Robert Whittaker of Australia faced Yoel Romero of Cuba, in what could be best described as a war of attrition rather than a about that had a great deal of athleticism or tactical display about it. The fact that Whittaker won on a split decision , should tell you all you need to know about the bout and the fact that it failed to live up to expectation . Far be it for me to suggest, but the UFC is in a sad state of affairs at present in spite of being under new ownership and having a multi-year , multi-billion television contract with Fox Sports (FS1) . . If the ratings continue to decline for a number of their big events , other than premiering big-time PPV match-ups, that whets the appetites of the fans , then UFC President Dana White will continue to have a hard time justifying his comments that the UFC is the premier brand in the world when it comes to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) .

He has made his return to the professional boxing ring after BBBC (British Boxing Board of Control) mandated suspension for failing a drug test. Former Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was back in the ring to face Sefer Seferi  of Albania, in what was meant to be a tune-up fight for the former champion, as he seeks to legitimize his position in the Heavyweight rankings. Fury has always been known to talk the talk , but rarely has been able to walk the walk. Other than his victory over a fast declining Wladimir Klitschko , there’s nothing on the British fighter’s resume’ to suggest that he has the potential to reclaim the world title. The two best fighters within the division, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are on a collision course for multi-million dollar unification bout to settle once and for all who is the best heavyweight fighter on the planet .

Tyson Fury has always questioned the claims that he took a banned substance , but has failed to explain, how after two random test samples the , the test still came up positive for a banned substance. He should consider himself lucky that his suspension was not for a great deal longer than the two years he spent away from the ring. As for his performance against Sefer Seferi, well let’s just say , lethargic and ring-rusty would be apt ways to describe his victory over his Albanian opponent. Fury doesn’t have the prowess to take on either   Anthony Joshua    or Deontay Wilder , let alone beat either of the claimants to their versions of the World Heavyweight title .

Australian Jeff Horn after his somewhat dubious victory over boxing legend Manny Pacquiao , had sought to legitimize himself as one of the best welterweight boxers in the world. His majority decision verdict over the Filipino legend , quickly made Horn a national hero in Australia. In order to further validate that victory , the Australian took on Terence “Bud” Crawford , as Horn defended his WBO Welterweight Title against the hard-hitting American challenger on Saturday night. . Crawford barely broke sweat as the took the title from the Australian champion with a stoppage in the ninth round. Let’s just say Jeff Horn was way out of his class and league , in spite of that victory over Manny Pacquiao .

So as the President, Donald Trump continues to regale us with his insight with the ongoing issues within the world , he recently spoke of his wish to sit down with the players of the NFL to speak with them on the issues of their grievances concerning social injustice. Trump was still basking in the limelight after pardoning Alice Johnson who was serving a life sentence with regard to drug trafficking and money-laundering . Johnson was granted a pardon , after reality show star Kim Kardashian prevailed upon the President to take a look at Johnson’s case.

Alice Johnson freely admits that she knew the risks , but she sought to earn quick money , because of her plight at the time. I guess when your home is being used as a drug cash and stash-house, as well as being a distribution center for a violent drug gang , then any excuse can be allowed for your actions ? The President we know has been extremely critical of the NFL players whom he says are being unpatriotic by refusing to stand for the national anthem. Stating repeatedly, in failing to do so , it dishonors the men and women have fought in wars to protect the rights of citizens in America and freedom across the world. This President fails to understand the real reason why the players are taking this stance and has never addressed the real underlying issues. One of the latest signs of not only complete stupidity on the part of the President but also lack of common sense , was the statement made , where he suggested it was time to grant Muhammad Ali , a full pardon for his crimes. Now bear in mind Ali’s case was overturned in the US Supreme Court on appeal , meaning there were no longer any charges for him to face.

Call me naïve or just plain stupid, but what fucking planet is Donald Trump now living on and does he ever take any advice proffered up to him by the Solicitor General , much less the Inspector General within the US Justice Department or from anyone within his administration ? Or will continue to take advice from his daughter, Ivanka Trump , his two clueless sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr , as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka Trump) .

The day, Donald Trump actually shows signs of interest let alone knowledge of a social issue , rather than chomping off at the bit like a rabid dog in search of a victim . It will be the day that he can be taken seriously for the role for which he was elected into office for.

Rafael Nadal added further to his astonishing tennis career , claiming his eleventh French Open title at Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France this past Sunday . Nadal’s victory over Dominic Thiem was clinical and surgical in its precision and gave the Spaniard his seventeenth Grand Slam title , three behind by the all-time leader Roger Federer , whose current tally stands at twenty Grand Slam singles’ titles .

Next up for Rafael Nadal by way of the next Grand Slam Tournament will be Wimbledon at the All England Club , where Nadal will be looking to add a third Singles’ title having won previously in 2008 and 2010 . Nadal , Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the only men currently active on ATP Men’s Tennis Tour to have to have won all four legs of the Grand Slam ( Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open) . With his French Open victory Rafael Nadal holds unto the number one ranking in the world, closely followed by Roger Federer.

So here we go again, fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are complaining , because their high-priced roster of stars are falling by way the wayside due to injuries . Dodgers’ team manager Dave Roberts seems to have his work cut out again for himself this season as the team struggles to get back on track , being competitive within the NL West and NL in particular. At one game above .500, this is not where the Dodgers expected themselves to be at this point of the season , but even with a record of 7-3 over their last ten games game , you have to be feel that this team is far more capable of producing , than what we’ve seen to date.

In their recent weekend schedule the Los Angeles Dodgers came away with a 2-1 series’ victory over the Atlanta Braves . The two teams are next scheduled to meet on the 26th July when the Dodgers will face the Braves on the road Sun Trust Ballpark in at Atlanta , Georgia as part of their regular season series’ meetings in 2018. However, with the rest of their June schedule not yet in full swing, the next game on the itinerary for the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the team squaring off against the Texas Rangers at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, 12th June , with Bartolo Colon of the Rangers facing a yet to be named opposing pitcher for the contest.

With that type of payroll , it’s about time the Los Angeles Dodgers put up or simply shut and just stop with their continued whining about injuries and all of the other things you’d come to expect of their oh so anxious and at times obnoxious fans.



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Continue reading “I’m Calling It A Wip-eout !!!!”

Same old story, just another day …

Same old story , just another day ….

The big story coming out of the world of sports was the decision made by the IOC President Thomas Bach and the Executive Committee not to issue an automatic ban for the Russian delegation heading to the Rio Olympics beginning next month. The decision has caused a great deal of dismay among other members countries , because there was clear evidence the Russian Olympic Federation knew that numerous athletes due to represent the country had been embroiled in a massive scandal , with their having tested positive repeatedly for banned substances not only in violation of the IOC rules, but also in contravention of the WADA standards. Bach , for his part, the decision made was simply done as a way of not punishing athletes within the Russian delegation deemed to be clean. There appears to be a double-standard in place by the IOC and the hypocrisy not withstanding , this remains an institution of questionable morals and principles.

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It has long been held the International Olympic Committee (IOC) operates under its own set of rules , offers very little transparency , along with corruption being rampant at all levels of the governing body. Brazil as the host nation has spent tens of billions of dollars to host the 2016 Olympic Games , while its own government undergoes severe changes , claims of massive corruption , a stagnant economy and need we be reminded of the ongoing threat of Zika Virus , as well as the possibility of a terrorist attack being staged at these games ?

From my own perspective, I do believe the right decision would have been the complete expulsion of the Russian Team from the games in Rio ! The excuses coming from not only Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have been asinine at best. Yet at the end of the day , a great deal of the blame for this morass lays squarely on the shoulders of the IOC.

Major League Baseball is now entering the final quarter of its regular season schedule and there is still a great deal to play for within a number of divisions . Granted , a number of teams have failed miserably this season and now we have the looming situation of the trade deadline with several ball-clubs looking to off-load players after a an un-competitive season. Rumors are now swirling that the New York Yankees might be major sellers on the market , with Aroldis Chapman being among a number of the players GM Brian Cashman might seek to move. Add in the fact two of the highest paid players on the Yankees’ roster have under-achieved this season and you could well understanding the reasons why Cashman would want to also shed Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira from the lineup. Due to receive a combined $45 million in 2016 and owed in excess of $80 million on the remainder of their respective contracts. It is easy to conclude why now might be the right time get rid of both Rodriguez and Teixeira . Neither player has lived up to the expectations sought and have not provided any type of veteran leadership for this team. Likely to miss the postseason in 2016 after a rather lackluster display with a wild-card round loss to the Houston Astros in 2015 . There are likely to be some major upheavals with the New York Yankees during this upcoming off-season.

Having won a World Series’ title managing the New York Yankees, Joe Girardi might also now be on the hot seat , as I believe the front office will view the franchise’s recent lack of success has a great deal to do with the lack of managerial acumen shown Girardi and his staff since the ball-club’s triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 with a 4-2 series’ victory . Coming off a weekend series’ schedule against the San Francisco Giants , Joe Girardi will now have to seek some consistency as they round out their schedule for the month of July. The New York Yankees will begin three-game road trip against the Houston Astros , starting Monday 25th July at Minute Maid Park in Houston , Texas. Michael Pineda will be on the mound for the Yankees as he faces Dallas Keuchel of the Astros. Winning the series will be imperative for New York if they are to have any chance of resurrecting their season. It is my belief this would be the right time for baseball’s most successful franchise to start rebuilding again from the ground up , assessing the quality of their players within the farm system beyond their never-ending quest to continually overpay for free agents or make the sort of idiotic deals the New York Yankees have come to be known for in recent years .

If the New York Yankees are said to be in need of success then consider the situation now facing the Los Angeles Dodgers . The franchise in the past four years have committed to paying out over $1 .2 billion in salaries during the time-frame in question. To the dismay of baseball purists , the fact there is this belief, money can buy success , the Dodgers remain an intense study as to how asinine this exercise can be. This season the Los Angeles Dodgers remain by far the highest salaried team in the game of baseball , outstripping their closest rivals by a considerable margin. Managing partner Mark Walter and his associates within the front office have to be dissatisfied with the performances of the team this season. Struggling to keep apace with the San Francisco Giants within the NL West , the Dodgers are now in something of a dogfight for a wild-card berth within the NL. Manager Dave Roberts and his managerial staff will be preparing the team to face the Tampa Bay Rays at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles , California on Tuesday afternoon. Chris Archer of the Rays will be starting pitcher for the visiting team when he faces Bud Norris of the Dodgers. If nothing else , this should be a guaranteed win for the home team as their games against the Tampa Bay Rays have tended to be lopsided affairs over the past eight seasons.

It’s now or never for the Los Angeles and a case can be made that several of the players on this roster , their jobs are most certainly at risk. It remains to be seen what changes could be made by GM Farhan Zaidi and Head of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman . Both of these Dodgers’ executives would like to move away from the often capricious decision-making seen with former GM Ned Colletti not longer the team was brought the present owners in 2012 . Colletti was given cart-blanches do whatever it took place a competitive team on the field of play. The Los Angeles’ most recent postseason mishaps are now well-chronicled and was an indication as to the bloated ideas seen within the organization at all levels, along with the ongoing complacency seen .

With a little over two weeks before the NFL kicks off its preseason the usual amalgam of new surfaces and once again player misconduct rears its ugly head alongside the ongoing woes of Johnny Manziel . Considered a major NFL bust and it is easy to understand why this Heisman Trophy winner failed miserably at the professional level . Manziel was overrated, lacked maturity and certainly lacked the skills needed to be a successful quarterback in this league. Johnny Manziel’s former team the Cleveland Browns now appears to be in safe hands after the franchise acquired Robert Griffin III to helm the team at the quarterback position. I am not so sure what to expect of the Browns this season , but I feel they are likely to improve on their showing of last year. The Cleveland Browns’ preseason schedule , merely a warm-up for their regular season foray will certainly be interesting.

Marshawn Lynch announced his retirement from the NFL , having fulfilled a professional ambition , winning a Superbowl title. The running back’s success with the Seattle Seahawks has been well-chronicled . Seattle will likely enter the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC West , with their biggest challenge quite possibly coming from the Arizona Cardinals within the division . As with all regular season contest these two divisional adversaries will meet twice over the course of the regular season , home and away . Opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer will be tested in each of these contests . The first meeting between the two NFC West combatants will take place during week seven at University of Phoenix Stadium in Tempe , Arizona on 23rd October , 2016. Their final meeting of the regular season will be week sixteen at Century-Link Field in Seattle Washington , when the Seattle Seahawks will play host to the Arizona Cardinals.

The departure of Marshawn Lynch will undoubtedly leave a void within the Seahawks’ organization How they compensate for this loss will be dependent upon what Pete Carroll may well feel needs to be done to replace a player of Lynch’s caliber. There is depth on the roster and what appears to be a number of players eager to fill the role of starting running back for the team. Richard Sherman a teammate of Marshawn Lynch is unconvinced of his the running back’s retirement , but Lynch remains adamant his decision is final and that his eight years in the NFL are enough.

Tom Brady w ill not seek to appeal the Federal Appellate Court ruling which upheld his four-game suspension , clearing the way of his back-up Jimmy Garopollo to lead the New England Patriots through their first four games of the regular season. Meanwhile , Brady’s contemporary, the recently retired Peyton Manning has been cleared by the NFL of any alleged wrongdoing of his having used a banned substance . The facts of the league’s investigation are unlikely to be made public , but there will continue to speculation as to whether or not the NFL wished to make an example of Brady , while giving Manning the benefit of the doubt. Over the last decade and half these two quarterbacks have come to represent the face of this league , with the pairing having won six Superbowls , six League MVP’s and four Superbowl MVP’s .

While I believe was guilty of deception , I do not believe the league hierarchy had substantive evidence to fully prove their case , with much of the evidence built around hearsay , rather than factual and physical evidence. Also , it seemed somewhat suspicious that the league’s Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash was not called to give evidence in the original arbitration case on behalf of the NFL.

Of late the NBA has found itself embroiled in a mess of its own making. Four prominent NBA players have suddenly believe it right to be socially conscious. Dwyane Wade , Carmelo Anthony , LeBron James and Chris Paul now taking a stance against gun violence and the deaths of not only law enforcement officers , but also civilians. These deaths have now become cannon fodder for both Presidential candidates , who seem intent for the most part, to make use of the grieving families’ misfortune, without offering up any type of solution themselves. It would not be so bad , but there now seems to be no implicit faith in either the FBI , the Civil Rights’ Division of the US Justice Department much less Barack Obama during the waning days of his Presidency. Obama is lame-duck President , offering nothing decisive by way of leadership , merely offering up rhetoric and pragmatic statements on socioeconomic issues involving African-Americans. For these four stars now offering up their own stance on the issue of gun violence , it is somewhat laughable, considering over the past five years hundreds of lives have been lost, but now with law enforcement running amok , this issue has now become a racial morass, widening with each passing moment.

Following in line with what we have seen within the NBA , the WNBA in recent days, fined several players on the Indiana Fever , an undisclosed sum for their having worn black T-shirts stating “Stop The Violence” , prior to an NBA game. Lisa Borders , President of the WNBA has since rescinded the fines , with their being public outrage from fans and analysts for the actions taken by the league hierarchy. The self-righteous pomposity of the NBA seems to have found its away across to the WNBA , with their being equal amounts of bombastic pomposity and incompetence to be seen within both leagues. Adam Silver who succeeded David Stern as the NBA Commissioner, has chosen to remain silent on the latest national controversy, yet this was the very same league , who two decades ago sought to use the genre of gangsta-rap as a marketing tool to lure in the urban youth of America. Less we forget, the imagery often associated with the music form in particular , was gang violence , but somehow this must have been lost on the NBA hierarchy as well as the players’ union (NBPA) .

NBA great Michael Jordan has now began to chime in on not only the Black Lives Matter’s campaign , but also the stance being taken by the league’s players. Somehow , I would take more of an interest , if I were really sure that Jordan was in fact serious with his intent ! The billionaire owner of the Charlotte Hornets may well have raised millions through his charitable foundation to aid the need of under-privileged youth across America , but yet, while at the height of his playing career , not once was this icon ever vocal on a social issue of any importance. Not even when it was associated with his biggest corporate endorser Nike Inc , whose business as well as labor practices have come under close scrutiny from Human Rights activists and non-governmental agencies across the globe.

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Repetitive motion appears to the cycle of news not only within the world of sports, but also on the national scene as a rather disturbing trend continues unabated . What thoughts if any , do you have on the points raised within this article ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and

Tophatal ….. 2016/07/25 08:43 pm

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Conclusive …..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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As Major League Baseball awaits the victor of the ALCS series which now stands at 3-2 , with the Kansas City Royals leading the Toronto Blue Jays in the series. We await the outcome of game six which will be played at the Kauffmann Field , in Kansas City . Missouri, on Friday evening.

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Taking the mound for the home team will be former AL Cy Young winner David Price who will face Yordano Ventura of the Royals in what will be a pivotal game for both teams. A win for Kansas puts them in this year’s World Series , while a win for the Blue Jays forces an exciting game-seven decider between the two AL teams. Awaiting the winners of the AL Pennant will the their NL counterparts the New York Mets , whose convincing series’ win over the Chicago Cubs was as good as the Mets have been in a recent postseason foray. Both their pitching and offense was of the highest level expected from a well-managed Terry Collins’ team.

Away from the on-field foray has been the big news to hit the world of baseball with Don Mattingly and the Los Angeles Dodgers mutually agreeing to part ways. Unfortunately, the public explanations being given in the interviews granted to the press remain unconvincing from both parties , with neither the front office executives or Mattingly , himself , being truly convincing with their summation as to the reasons behind their abrupt dismemberment. One thing is for certain , Andrew Friedman as the Head of Baseball Operations has been given full control to make the decisions necessary to bring about a real turnaround for this franchise. The complacency seen which has been seen from the Dodgers over the past four seasons during the MLB postseason , is unlikely to be tolerated by Friedman or the team’s general manager Farhan Zaidi.

Having spent over $1 billion on salary since their acquisition of the franchise the owners have seen the team simply implode at almost every hurdle during recent postseason play . This season in particular the Los Angeles Dodgers were never good enough to convince anyone they could be seen as the presumptive favorites for the World Series. A $315 million payroll , the highest in the game , and all we witnessed from the Dodgers throughout much of the season were the thrills and spills of a highly overrated team. Granted, Zach Greinke had an exceptional season for the team and will likely be crowned the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Typically, one would laud the feat as being a great achievement, but in retrospect , singular awards while credible , for this franchise the only success sought, was that of a World Series’ triumph , something last achieved by the Dodgers in 1988.

There can be no denying the NFL season so far has proven to be nothing more than the usual storm in a teacup. Granted, there are several teams we knew would be either be bad or just mediocre , while there will always will be one or two surprises which have left us bewildered. Who knew at this point of the season the Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) would be one of the best teams in the AFC as well as the league in general ? Coming off a week six victory over the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals have a bye-week during week seven , whereby they can rest and recuperate before resuming their schedule in week eight , with a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 1st November,2015.

Two games on this weekend’s schedule , will likely have the fans’ attention, will be conference contests featuring the New York Jets facing the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ Massachusetts. Tom Brady is having an excellent season and it would appear the idiocy of the Deflate-Gate scandal now seems to be in the rear view mirror of the four-time Superbowl winning quarterback. No doubt Brady will be looking to extend his regular season record against the Jets , while the team seeks to increase their lead over the Jets within the AFC East. The other game of note, pits the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants , in a must-win contest for both teams. Given the mediocrity of the NFC East . there remains the possibility that the winner of the division could be no better than 8-8 or 9-7 at the end of this season.

Eight weeks into the College Football season and as expected , the talk begins as to which teams are deserving to be called the best in the nation. The Ohio State Buckeyes remain unbeaten and atop of the heap in the College Football rankings . Saturday afternoon , the Buckeyes will be on the road as they visit Piscataway , New Jersey to fact Rutgers University. Somehow , I believe this game will end in a rout , with Ohio extending their unbeaten run to twenty games dating back to last season. This Buckeyes’ team is playing at an exceptional level , barely being challenged by their opponents this season.

Texas Christian (TCU) , Baylor, Utah and LSU (Tigers) are among the unbeaten teams all vying for a playoff berth. Les Miles head coach of the Tigers will be hoping to see his team prove their worth in their scheduled contest on Saturday afternoon when they face Western Kentucky. Leonard Fournette , Louisiana’s all blistering running back will be looking to excel in this game while also showing himself to be a viable candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

With four games left to the College Football schedule , there remains a great deal to play for as the season seeks slowly winds down .

The NBA regular season will begin on Tuesday 27th October , but for the moment the preseason is still winding down. Defending NBA champions the Golden State Warriors will be looking to make a successful defense of their title while also seeking to become the first back-to-back titlists since the Miami Heat were able to were able to achieve the feat in 2012 and then again in 2013 . The team was unable to make it a triple , succumbing to the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 . This season the Heat will seek to make their presence felt within the Eastern Conference where the Cleveland Cavaliers will be seen as the prohibitive favorites for the conference title.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the elder statesmen on the Heat’s playing staffand they are being entrusted to lead a roster with a mix of youth and experience. Erik Spoesltra and his coaching assistants will certainly have their work cut out for them over the course of Miami’s schedule. The team will begin their regular season schedule with a home game against the Charlotte Hornets on 28th October, 2015 . However, I believe the true test for the Miami Heat will come in their conference meetings with the Chicago Bulls , Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks , three of the better teams within the Eastern Conference , based on last season’s standings. The Heat will also be counting on their young rookie Justise Winslow to make a major contribution to the team this season , as he comes under the wings of his mentor Dwyane Wade.

For the Eastern Conference champions of last season , the Cleveland Cavaliers after being soundly beaten by the Golden State Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals , this season will be their chance at seeking redemption. The Cavaliers’ front office led by team owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin have acquiesced to all of LeBron James’ whims facilitating him with a roster , he believes can win the franchise a title. Big money contracts have been offered to players such as Tristan Thompson , with the hope Thompson can prove to be productive for the team.

LeBron James and his Cavaliers’ teammates will begin their regular season schedule against divisional rivals the Chicago Bulls in their game to be played at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois,. While I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the best team in their conference, and likely to repeat as conference champions this season, my belief remains the this team will struggle to beat any of the top-three teams within the Western Conference.

Kevin Garnett has returned to the franchise where he first made his professional league debut. The fact that Garnett now in the twilight of his career is once again with the Minnesota Timberwolves seems not only fair , but brings back memories of a time when he was among the best all-round players in the league, able to play every position possible , without there being a problem for this once agile player. Now he brings to this team , age , experience and a basketball mind second to none , with perhaps only Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant with an adept knowledge of the game and what is needed to succeed. Having won a title with the Boston Celtics as well as multiple appearances as NBA All Star and a League MVP in 2003 . It could be said Garnett’s career has come full circle, without him having much else to prove , other than being a mentor to a young team in need of real leadership.

Flip Saunders , head coach GM , Head of Basketball Operations as well as a minority stakeholder in the Timberwolves, will seek Kevin Garnett’s assistance in providing the on-court stability needed to make Minnesota competitive this season. Karl-Anthony Towns the franchise’s first round draft pick , alongside Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio are seen as the primary contributors for the team as they embark upon their schedule. The true test for the Minnesota Timberwolves will come when they take on the best the Western Conference has to offer , beginning with their regular season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Speculation will continue to surround the events which led to former NBA star Lamar Odom being found lying unconscious in the room of a Nevada brothel. Unfortunately, this simply adds another episode in the life of a player who never lived up to the expectations sought as a parent or as a teammate , in spite of the sympathetic words now being used as a cacophony to make up for another athlete’s shortcomings as a habitual drug user.

Odom through his publicists and his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian have thanked the press and public alike for their well-wishes , but this latest episode cannot hide the fact the NBA actually continues to enable and facilitate the use of banned substances within the game. The league’s so-called policy on banned substances remains weak and the fact the NBPA has sought to weaken the original structure of the policy simply goes to show how much of a ferret David Stern just happened to be, before handing over the reigns as commissioner to his chosen heir-apparent Adam Silver. The NBA Commissioner has yet to issue a public statement concerning Lamar Odom’s issues, purely on the basis the player is no longer active within the league. However. it should be noted , Odom never officially announced his retirement from the NBA and was still hoping to pursue a career , by returning to the league, signing with a team seeking an experienced veteran.

The NBA Commissioner has yet to issue a public statement concerning Lamar Odom’s issues, purely on the basis the player is no longer active within the league. However. it should be noted , Odom never officially announced his retirement from the NBA and was still hoping to pursue a career , by returning to the league, signing with a team seeking an experienced veteran. It seems doubtful a franchise would be willing to risk all. after this latest debacle concerning Lamar Odom.

Speaking of athletes with some off-field issues , with his recent plea agreement with the State’s Attorney’s Office former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones has been reinstated by the UFC , allowing the fighter to makes his return to the octagon. Jones was stripped of the title , after it was revealed he fled the scene of traffic accident while under the influence. It was later revealed the fighter had high level traces of cocaine within his system. Now while he has attended drug intervention program and the fact UFC President Dana White issued an indefinite suspension of the former champion. What cannot be denied, has been the fact, White has been very lax in whom he chooses to punish with impunity when he feels it is necessary.

Jon Jones in his last bout before being stripped of the title tested positive for a banned substance and it was widely reported that several top executives were prive’ to the fact Jones’ test had come back positive on the eve of his title defense against Daniel Cormier. Dana White for his part brushed aside those claims aside , stating it was pure fabrication on the part of detractors of the UFC. However, the Nevada State Athletics Commission which governs the sport within the state has records to prove the UFC hierarchy were well aware of the positive tests. Cormier the current Light Heavyweight Champion would like to make a defense against Jon Jones , knowing such a match-up would lead to a big money payday for himself as well has his challenger. There are very few fighters with the appeal and athleticism of Jones within the UFC at present and the biggest draw currently is the Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey who seems be totally unbeatable within her weight class.

Rousey will be looking to parlay her ongoing fame and notoriety in her next bout when she meets Holly Holm at UFC 193 scheduled to take place at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne , Australia on the 15th November, 2015.

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In light of the latest occurrences in the world of sports what do you feel will be the main talking points in the coming days or over the next week ?

Tophatal …

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My balls, my rules in the NBA ….

My ball, my rules in the NBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tophatal ……

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“Hi Hater ” ….. Maino , feat’g Plies , TI , Swizz Beatz , Jadakiss , Fabolous & Mya

The pride and the passion ..

The pride and the passion

With so much happening over the last few days within the sports’ world, fans have not had enough time to collect themselves and to digest all of the information and news emanating from each avenue. The NBA Draft came and went , with little of note beyond the New York Knicks and in particular Phil Jackson proving that he is simply no better or worse than Isiah Thomas as an NBA executive. Granted, Thomas was able to achieve a great deal of havoc within and outside of the organization without having much success on or off the court. In the case of Jackson , he set about presiding over one of the worst seasons ever witnessed in the history of the New York Knicks.

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Phil Jackson and the coaching staff , then set about making their picks in this draft , taking as the fourth overall pick from the first round, Serbian Kristaps Porzingis . To understand the decision, one would also to have to acknowledge the fact it was deemed bewildering by the franchise’s fans who yearned for a player would be able to have an immediate impact for the Knicks. Porzingus in most circles is considered a project and not much else beyond that.

If the New York Knicks are to succeed, then they are going to need players, who are ready to play in the league and not be developed over the course of the next two to three years .

Given the fact beyond Carmelo Anthony, there seems to be no one else on the current Knicks’ roster able to provide the team with anything meaningful by way of productivity , and it easy to understand the bewilderment of their fans and the lack of progress seen or otherwise throughout much of last season with the New York Knicks.

With the choice of Porzingis in the first round by New York, then to be followed by their trading of Tim Hardaway Jr to the Atlanta Hawks for Jerian Grant , acquiring Willy Hernangomez from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for two future second draft choice and money. Somehow, it is hard to explain what Phil Jackson and the front office hope to gain from the acquisitions much less the draft choices , given the poor coaching acumen shown by head coach Derek Fisher and his coaching staff. Fisher for his part has been unable to explain, why it was the team failed to meet his expectations and that of the fans. Granted, Carmelo Anthony missed a sizable chunk of the regular season schedule, managing to play in only forty games during this past regular season.

Anthony has never provided much leadership on the court, simply being nothing more than an offensive minded player . Yet, it is now being reported the former NBA scoring champion is disgruntled at the moves made by the organization. Is it really that much of a surprise to begin with ? Never-mind the fact Carmelo remained with the Knicks in the pursuit of money , rather than seeking to fulfill a goal of playing for a contender. Regrets , most definitely, but the idiots providing the player with their input, as well as the Knicks’ front office, have provided nothing but comedic value to the season , along with the player’s own asinine insistence he remained in New York to fulfill his ambition of winning an NBA title. Four decades and counting, the New York Knicks have barely sniffed or touched the Larry O’Brien Trophy , while being able to call it their very own and signifying themselves as champions.

Injuries asides , there should be no excuses made for the team’s lackluster performances and poor record, but it remains one of the main focal points of another pitiful season, one of no passion from the players, much less among the coaching staff or from within the front office. Team owner James Dolan remains an executive who seems disinterested, simply knowing the franchise remains the most valuable and profitable of the NBA’s thirty teams.

The NBA hierarchy tries to make more out this annual farce, with the NBA Draft barely drawing any notice among the viewing public by way of its broadcast with ESPN or the league’s own cable outlet , the NBA Network. Yet for all sense and purpose the NBA makes more of it than is utterly necessary. In the aftermath of witnessing a less than exhilarating NBA Finals , where the Golden State Warriors had the better of their opponents the Cleveland Cavaliers and the asinine apologies being made by the LeBron James’ supporters. It begs the question , where does the league now go from here ? Six NBA Finals’ appearances for the four-time NBA League MVP and two wins , has now left many wondering if the ten-year veteran will win another NBA title. Clearly , without a team to complement his skill-set, James cannot do it all by himself , in spite of the ongoing ridiculous comparisons being made with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Apathy and clear stupidity seems to be the norm among the protagonists of that particular debate.

I have often been told athletes now compete for the glory , but in the world of professional sports , it now has become about the “ bling-bling” , selling an image , brand management , fame and fortune . In the world of the NBA , it has become paramount and one of the primary reasons the league has become stale and vapid . Current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may well be pursuing ideas, seeking to realign the league’s image , but I believe his predecessor David Stern placed the league on its downward slide , with it all taking shape over the past two decades. There is no pride or passion within the NBA and it has become a soulless entity , without character and a real identity.

With Golden State having claimed their first title in four decades , the franchise will now set about the task of improving for next season . Two key pieces are already in place with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson seen as the keys to the Warriors’ long-term future. Golden State Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr has the backing of an organization ambitious to build upon this season’s success . Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , alongside consultant Jerry West have laid a formidable foundation from which to build upon and made the Warriors a desirable destination for a free agent to seek out winning an NBA title.

From my own perspective I believe the franchise will be a prohibitive favorite to win the title next season, even with the odds-makers in Las Vegas bearing down on the Cleveland Cavaliers , simply because of the LeBron James’ factor. Predicated upon what the Cavaliers’ front office is able to achieve , re-signing Kevin Love is most certainly a pressing need for the Eastern Conference champions, but it is nowhere near a forgone conclusion , Love wishes to remain in Cleveland. Cleveland’s needs are many and it remains to be seen what decisions are likely to be made by GM David Griffin and head coach David Blatt.

Warriors’ GM Bob Myers after his successful season at the helm of the organization had a very good draft class and it will be interesting to see how the new rookies acclimatize themselves to being members of an NBA championship team , even if they are likely to be losses from the team’s roster. The nucleus of the team will remain intact as Golden State looks to make a successful defense of their title this upcoming season.

A woefully inept season after the era of LeBron James and the success attained has left fans of the Miami Heat feeling bitter and sour. Now it appears the organization might well be willing to move on after what appears to be conflicting rumors concerning the long-term future of Dwyane Wade. The former Finals MVP has been nowhere near the player who brought the franchise their first NBA title and with it being the ” Pride of South Beach” . Wade might well have been part of Miami’s two later successes, but much of that can be put down to the exploits of his former teammate and close confidante LeBron James. And as close as the two players are said to be , I wonder if Wade was made aware of James’ intent to leave the Eastern based franchise at the end of the previous season after the disappointment of losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.

During the off-season, Pat Riley and his closest advisers within the front office will have several meaningful decisions to make concerning Wade and several of the other Heat unrestricted free agents. Riley will have to consider the cap as well as whether or not it would be in the best interests of the Heat to retain a player who in recent years has become injury prone and less of a contributory factor , lacking leadership and a proven offensive weapon, beyond Luol Deng and the sporadic play of Chris Bosh , who like Dwyane Wade has his best years behind him , far behind him, that he can barely see it from the view of a rear-view mirror. In some respects the roster of the Heat might well have gotten younger , but several of these players have yet to show the ability that they are capable of playing in this league. Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff will be back at the drawing board searching for answers once again after such a disappointing season.

It will be interesting to see if Dwyane Wade joins LeBron James in Cleveland or jumps to another contender, either in the East or Western Conference. Wade’s years of earning a top-notch salary have now passed and the thought appears to be he is likely to sign a minimal deal , one likely to be in line with a player of his experience and not much else beyond that.

As an avid San Antonio Spurs’ fan the disappointment of seeing the team bow out in the early stages of the NBA Playoffs was not only disappointing, but I felt the team lacked direction heading into the postseason. Granted , Kawhi Leonard coming off a sensational season and his Finals’ MVP run , a great deal more was expected from this Gregg Popopvich coached team.

The aging wonder , Tim Duncan is still able to play at a high level , even if he has lost a step or two. Teammates , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are still able to work their wizardry when called upon to do so. But now is the time for the young guns on the roster to step up and take the lead , if the success of the franchise is to continue.

Five-time championship winning head coach , Popovich has written his legacy in the record books and his achievements speak for themselves. Peter Holt and RC Buford have been no slouches with their wizardry and custodianship of the Spurs’ franchise. The two are indelibly linked with the head coach , the famed trio now on the roster alongside perhaps San Antonio’s best player in its history , The Admiral , David Robinson .

I certainly believe the San Antonio Spurs will be able to challenge for postseason honors this upcoming season given the consistency shown by the franchise over the last eighteen seasons. They are likely to be seen as one of the favorites within the Western Conference alongside the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies , Los Angeles Clippers and the reigning champions , the Golden State Warriors. San Antonio simply went about their normal business during the draft , as they have often done over the past few years , managing to pick up players who are then able to the readiness of the team. Nikola Milutinov and Cady Lalanne have become the newest members of the Spurs and it will be interesting to see their development within the organization , with their being placed within the development structure of the franchise before making their professional debuts within the NBA during a regular season game.

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Do you believe the state of the NBA is one of the teams lacking passion and a great deal of pride ? Or has it more to do with the state of the game being one of sheer greed and a lack of insight , leadership within the union , hierarchy and the owners ?

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Tophatal

Editor’s advisory notes

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Build your $hit upon a mound and let the stench take hold …

Build your $hit upon a mound and let the stench take hold …

The travesty of this sports’ weekend was highlighted by the biggest hyped sporting event in recent years . When it was all said and done the welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was an immense disappointment , with the Filipino fighter losing a unanimous decision to the Las Vegas based Mayweather . The two fighters would split a reputed $350 million purse , with Floyd Mayweather getting the larger slice of the payday . What this bout suggests about the state of boxing might well be summed by Pacquiao’s post-fight interview , when the states he suffered a shoulder injury prior to the fight and that it prohibited his movement and ability to throw effective punches. Perhaps I might have missed something here , but at what point did having an excuse make up for a mediocre performance coming from the Filipino fighter ? For all of the perceived hype, this fight fell so way short of expectations , it simple does not bode well for the future of the sport.

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As to where this now leaves the sport of boxing , is now open to a great deal of conjecture , speculation and to my mind a great deal of justified pessimism . Manny Pacquiao’s future remains uncertain and a rematch against Floyd Mayweather now seems highly unlikely . Mayweather’s record remains intact and it is my belief he seeks to reach a perfect record of 50-0 , with his now having forty-eight victories (48-0,26 KO’s) . The unbeaten fighter may well take some time off before announcing his next bout , likely to be against a contender for welterweight title and their chance to place a dent in his legacy.

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Floyd Mayweather , left looks to evade a punch from Manny Pacquiao in their welterweight title fight held at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada . The fight was a unanimous decision favoring Mayweather whose record remains intact. Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach are now making excuses for an extremely poor performance with the Filipino fighter claiming a shoulder injury prior to this fight. Getty Images Photo/

If there has been one thing the opening month baseball (Major League Baseball) has proven to me and that it is not worth basing an impressive start as a reason to believe a team will be contender at the end of the season . A case could be made too many people bought into the New York Mets way too soon , only to see the NL East based ball-club fall back to earth in their recent contests . A thirteen-game win streak has now become a boondoggle for the Terry Collins’ managed team , as the Mets’ players now look even more vulnerable than ever.

At 16-10 the New York Mets are 3-7 in their last ten games and it easy to understand why this team is nowhere as good as first advertised, but there you have it , hype up a team for long enough and sooner , rather than later they usually come crashing down back to earth . With no game to be played on Monday , the Mets will next take to the field when they face the Baltimore Oriolesat Citi-Field in Flushing, New York on Tuesday , with Bud Norris of the Orioles on the mound to face seasoned veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon.

There is no denying entering into this season , all eyes would be on New York Yankees’ slugger and perhaps baseball’s most despised player, , Alex Rodriguez, Having recently “clubbed” his six hundred and sixtieth home run the player recently surpassed Willie Mays , as he slowly moves up the game’s all-time career home runs’ list . With the Yankees recently announcing their decision not to fulfill their obligation to pay Rodriguez a $6 million bonus, you have to wonder if there remains any love lost between the player and the franchise. It’s pretty much safe to say, without the player’s performances this season the ball-club would not be leading the AL East , a division I believe to be no longer the most competitive in all of baseball ! Pitching remains a weakness for this team and there remains the likelihood Joe Girardi will seek to improve the pitching staff and roster overall at the trade deadline.

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New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez reacts after flying out to right field during sixth inning MLB baseball action against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday, May 4 , 2015. Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP

An 8-5 victory over their perennial divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox at this point of the season might not indicate a great deal, but many may well read into it , seeking to imply the Yankees are back to their best . Taking their game on the road, the New York Yankees will be the guests of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon when these two teams meet at the Rogers Center in Toronto , Ontario,. A win for the visitors would merely provide them with a morale booster as they seek to reestablish themselves as an elite team within the game of baseball.

So the NFL Draft and all of the idiocy usually seen at this time of the year was once again there for all to witness. All of the suspense was really in essence, nothing more than the league and analysts trying to elicit suspense, when the inevitable was already known. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers never really left the fans in any doubt as they made Jameis Winston the number one overall pick as well as being the top quarterback taken in this draft. Things quickly played out once Winston and Marcus Mariota came off the big board , with the picks coming in rapid succession . Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht were placed under a great deal of pressure and the need to get it right was utmost in their minds. .

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Jameis Winston , center, holds his jersey as he stands with general manager Jason Licht , left, and head coach Lovie Smith , right, during a news conference Friday, May 1, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. Winston, a former Florida State quarterback, was the first overall pick. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

With fans and NFL analysts now seeking to assess which teams had the best and the worst draft classes , I firmly believe they are at a loss to come up with any type of succinct assessment of the teams’ choices and how successful they were said to . These players will either be able to play in the NFL or they won’t and should that be the case , then they will be quickly found out.

From my own standpoint , for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the only way is up , after a disastrous season where the team was a league worst 2-14 . This season, I believe they will be no better than 5-11 , 4-12 at their worst , and a case could be made if Winston’s baptism of fire does not tell us about the temperament of the player , then his chances of being a success will be greatly diminished. The failure of Johnny Manziel and his descent into rehab and simply idiocy told a great deal about the Heisman Trophy winner , but even more so about the sheer incompetence of the Cleveland Browns’ front office and their failure to use due diligence before taking Manziel in the NFL Draft of 2014 .

New York Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles must be wondering where he now goes from here. He takes over a team, which was an abomination throughout much of last season. Geno Smith remains an abomination and anyone who still believes he has the ability to play in the NFL they had better watch game film on the Jets’ quarterback. The fact New York Jets sought to take another quarterback in this draft, indicates Smith’s time with the franchise, may well be coming to an abrupt end. .

Bryce Petty was taken in the fourth round and the likelihood appears to be, if Petty beats out Geno Smith and others on the Jets’ depth chart , then the rookie will be the starting quarterback for the upcoming season.

Someone will need to explain to me the idiotic antics of Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly as during the off-season he made the decision to implode the team’s roster . Not content with trading away the starting quarterback from last season, in return he received player whose career has been injury riddled and filled with inept performances . Nick Foles becomes a St Louis Rams’ starter, with Sam Bradford landing in Philadelphia and likely to be as ineffective with the Eagles as he was with the Rams.

It is hard to explain, how Chip Kelly believes the machinations and maneuvers during the off-season will equate with success. Yet, there are supporters of the former Oregon Ducks’ head coach, who believe his coaching style best suits the NFL . My thoughts on it all, if the Eagles are so poor as a defensive unit , how in God’s name does anyone believe he can lead this franchise to a Superbowl victory? At no point during his coaching tenure with the Eagles, has Kelly been able to have the team finish as a top-five defense . As the old adage suggests , “ defense wins championships “ .

The goose that laid the golden egg and is now off to the races with no one really standing in their way. Steph Curry the newly crowned League MVP now have Western Conference NBA Playoffs all to themselves . Of the four remaining teams within the Conference Semi-Finals , this Steve Kerr coached team might just be the most balanced of the quartet. The Warriors could very well end up with a trifecta of NBA seasonal awards , with GM Bob Myers having been named NBA Executive of the Year , to go alongside Curry’s regular season accolade , with the only major award left , to be crowned this season’s NBA champions .

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OAKLAND , CA – MAY 04: Stephen Curry (30) of the Golden State Warriors accepts the Maurice Podoloff Trophy during the 2014-15 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award ceremony at Oakland Convention Center on May 04, 2015 in Oakland, California . If last season’s recipient Kevin Durant’s acceptance speech was emotional then Curry’s acceptance was equally humbling , touching and as rewarding . To listen in its entirety , click unto <a the link shown .Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Golden State made easy work of their first round opponents the New Orleans Pelicans sweeping them aside 4-0 with utmost ease. In the first of the two conference semi-finals’ contests Golden State will square off against the Memphis Grizzlies . Having taken care of game one with a home victory , it would not be out of the realms of possibility to believe the Warriors will be looking to “ sweep” the Grizzlies out of the Playoffs as the conference number one seeds look to complete their second consecutive postseason sweep of the NBA Playoffs.

No denying, the pressure is now bearing down on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a great deal expected of this team and their head coach David Blatt. Taking care of the Boston Celtics should have proven to be a morale booster , but the loss of Kevin Love might have well put a damper on those prospects. Now James and his teammates face a daunting second round task when they go up against the Chicago Bulls led by Jimmy Butler and a rejuvenated Derrick Rose .

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers before Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Nathaniel S Butler / Getty Images North America

Filled with a great deal of anticipation, game one of the series lived up to the expectations. but the outcome did not go the way of the hosts , with the Cavaliers falling to their guests, the Bulls at the Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland, Ohio,. If the unthinkable were to happen , with LeBron James having to relive another nightmare , were the Cavaliers to lose this series , questions would undoubtedly be raised and asked about the mentality of this Cleveland team, and of the four-time League MVP. . I would hate to think how the fans in Cleveland might treat the embarrassment of seeing the “ Prodigal Son” having returned to bestow upon them a promise ___winning a title, only for the team to fail against one of their most noted adversaries .

Coach of the Year for this year and Al Horford one of the league’s unsung heroes , there seems to be a perennial theme going on here , but in the case of the Atlanta Hawks it might be such a good thing. Based on their record, the Hawks were the best team in the Eastern Conference, yet they struggled in their first round series and they have carried on where they left off. If it is the Hawks’ intent to implode during their series against the Washington Wizards , then they are certainly going the right way about it , with their embarrassing home loss to John Wall and his teammates.

During the regular season there was a resiliency to the Atlanta Hawks, but in the NBA Playoffs there has been a vulnerability about the players, that you simply get the impression the dominoes are about to fall, with everything cascading down around their ears. These two teams will meet on Tuesday evening at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia with the Hawks looking to level the series at one game apiece (1-1), before heading to the nation’s capital for game three .

For Randy Wittman and the Washington Wizards , were they to pull off the upset of a Conference Semi-Finals series’ win , I do not believe it would as big a surprise for many fans. All season long, as good as the Atlanta Hawks were said to be , there was something not quite right concerning the mental toughness of this team. Granted, the Eastern Conference has always been a weak conference , with the play tending to be borderline mediocre and where the coaching is believed to be passable. Yet at the end of the day, there are but a few players within the conference who truly stand out as being game changers , let alone superstars .

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For the moment , fans are now left to ponder what might be , what has happened and how they can make any real sense of what the rest of the year’s sporting calendar is likely to present us. This past weekend , what if anything do you believe was the single least enjoyable event ? .

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Editor’s note

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[youtube.com=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8Cg572dafQ]

Flo-Rida feat’g Sage the Gemini ….. “It’s goin’ down for real “ (GDFR)

Walking a mile in someone’s shoes, isn’t as easy as first thought

Walking a mile in someone’s shoes, isn’t as easy as first thought

With the NBA Playoffs still taking shape , several teams have now made it to the next round with the conference semi-finals set to begin as of Tuesday , 5th May. Yet, the biggest story of the Playoffs has nothing to do at all with the play of the teams, but the rather surprising decision was the firing of Scott Brooks by the Oklahoma City Thunder front office , led by GM Sam Presti. The decision had the blessing of the team’s best player Kevin Durant , who acknowledged Brooks’ contributions to the franchise’s success and his own growth and success as a player and as a draftee by the Thunder.

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Billy Donovan, having formally been introduced as the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder , answers questions from the convened press at the Chesapeake Energy Center , Oklahoma City , Oklahoma . Donovan has signed a lucrative five-year deal with the franchise, The main objective for the Thunder will be to secure the services of Kevin Durant signing him to a max contract , building the roster around the reigning League MVP and teammate Russell Westbrook . AP Photo/ Chris Wright

Scott Brooks should not be solely to blame for the team’s missing of the NBA Playoffs , with the loss of Kevin Durant due to a season-ending injury. A loss of this magnitude , would have a profound effect on any team, but somehow this all seems to have been overlooked by the front office as well as the senior partners who make up the ownership group of the Western Conference based franchise.

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Sam Presti has been quick to hire a successor to Scott Brooks, with the organization formally announcing the hire of Billy Donovan , the two-time NCAA National Tournament championship winning coach of the Florida Gators . If Donovan brings along with him the type of coaching acumen seen with the collegiate program , then the continued success of the Oklahoma City Thunder would seem assured. Kevin Durant for his part , I believe will remain with the franchise , rather than seeking to opt out of the final year of his contract with the franchise !

Of the first round series still in force, perhaps the most competitive and thrilling might happen to be the Western Conference series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs. The series has been encapsulated by the play of two seasoned veterans, point guard Chris Paul of the Clippers and power forward, Tim Duncan of the Spurs.

With their series tied at three games apiece (3-3) the series’ deciding seventh game will be played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on 2nd May, 2015 in front of a sellout crowd likely to be cheering on the home team. For Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers the emphasis will be about having his players prepared as they meet the onslaught likely to be thrown at them by Gregg Popovich and this Spurs’ team . These are two evenly matched teams , competitive at almost every position on the court , but it all now comes down to willpower and being able to meet adversity square on , without flinching. History indicates, the team winning game six of a Playoff series’ more often than not , takes with them the advantage going into the deciding contest and it would appear the advantage now lies with the Los Angeles Clippers. Yet, it would take a bold individual to believe the San Antonio Spurs can be counted out of this series altogether.

When Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls went down to what was believed to a season-ending injury , no one believed the former League MVP would be making a return to the team’s lineup during the NBA Playoffs. Rose has been instrumental in getting the Bulls into the position, where they have made it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals , having destroyed the Milwaukee Bucks in their series (4-2) , with an emphatic game-six win , where the margin of victory, was an astounding fifty-four points with the 120-54 destruction of the Bucks.

Old rivalries will be renewed when the Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Chicago Bulls in game one of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals’ Series . Nemesis’ LeBron James and Derrick Rose may well go head to head , but I believe the play of Jimmy Butler will be so pivotal in this series !

The Cavaliers will be without Kevin Love for this series, after the player’s injury, suffered during the series against the Boston Celtics in what appeared to be a provocative and deliberate attempt by the Celtic’ Kelly Olynyk to injure the Cavaliers’ power forward . Olynyk denies the claims, his intent was to injure the player, with the game officials failing to act and the league hierarchy failing to penalize Kelly Olynyk . The NBA Playoffs will once again be questioned, as to ongoing ineptitude of the officiating and the league’s failure to act.

I have never been enamored with the NBA’s referees, as I believe them to be far too willing to be part of the problem, rather than simply showing their acumen and knowledge of the game. Inconsistent officiating, with the ongoing stupidity, first shown by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, to repeatedly back the referees, has simply indicated the NBA remains behind the times and that Stern’s all too autocratic rule, has now led to the ruination of not only the NBA , but also the quality of the game itself.

I was once told, is was not David Stern’s fault for the lackluster quality of the play within the NBA , but almost at every juncture, with regard to the countless rule hanges made over the past fifteen years, Stern’s imprints have been there for everyone to see. Only a complete idiot, would believe the now retired league executive , was not to be faulted.

Fate may well deal someone a blow this season, with regard to a number of the regular season NBA Awards to be handed out . Mike Budenholzer won the NBA Coach of The Year Award . Andrew Wiggins was named NBA Rookie of The Year and Kawhi Leonard beat out Draymond Green for NBA Defensive Player of the Year , but the the league’s most important regular season individual award might well end up being a bone of contention, once the recipient has been announced for the League MVP. Leading contenders for this season’s award, are Steph Curry, James Harden , Russell Westbrook and the four-time League MVP winner, LeBron James .

For LeBron James , I believe this might well be his most crucial season yet in the NBA , where as the two-time Finals’ MVP and the perennial face of the NBA since 2003 , and the pressure will be on the All Star to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title , in what would be the first in the franchise’s history. James’ legacy has been set, wealth accumulated and global icon status few North American born athletes have reached over the past decade , with the exception of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Floyd Mayweather and Kobe Bryant .

It would be remiss to believe that the Cavaliers are likely to have their way with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals’ Series. With the loss of Kevin Love , I believe this tilts the scales slightly towards the Bulls and the fact, Tom Thibodeau is a vastly more experienced coach than his Cleveland counterpart David Blatt . Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving will be expected to raise the level of his play in this series if the Cleveland Cavaliers are to prevail.

If LeBron James and his teammates do fail, then the crescendo likely to heard will be deafening, and one of criticism not only of the player (James) , but also the fact the roster was essentially made up of mercenaries acquired to be at the beck and call of James’ self-absorbed ambitions, with his seeking redemption after last season’s NBA Finals’ comedic fiasco against the San Antonio Spurs.

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As the NBA Playoffs have progressed which player , players , team or teams, have impressed you the most ? Finally, which pairing in the NBA Finals, do you believe will offer a compelling and competitive series ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit.

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A legacy … aspiring to be a legend in baseball

A legacy …… aspiring to be a legend in baseball

With the rash of trade maneuvers which have taken place during the off-season within baseball. One has to wonder how and where the teams in question are able facilitate the deals in terms of their finances . Granted , year in and year out were are repeatedly being told by the league’s hierarchy the game has nothing to worry about with regard to their finances. Yet it is difficult to try and justify how the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last two seasons have spent close to half-a-billion dollars ($500,000,000) in payroll to come up short in the postseason twice in sucession. OK, you could point to the fact the team’s owners are well backed financially, with their being owned outright by Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , whose parent company just happens to be one of the nation’s largest venture capital firms with asssets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000). Guggenheim Partners Inc whose lead executives are Todd Boehly and Mark Walter , joined forces with Magic Johnson and Hollywood media mogul Peter Guber to purchase the Dodgers after the franchise was taken out of bankruptcy proceedings in US Federal Bankruptcy Court .

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Now while this whole chapter, may well have been beneficial for the game of baseball. The fact of the matter cannot be denied, the dealings which took place concerning this,was all clouded in a great deal of secrecy , with very little being made known to the public , in spite of the claims of former commissioner Bud Selig , everything was done above reproach. Having Bud Selig make those claims is tantamount to having a fox in a hen-house taking care of the occupants. Selig during his years has simply made sure this game has been presided over by buffoons , while he and the team owners take pride in the fact , apathy remains among the majority of the game’s fans , the print and television media as well as municipal and state agencies. The ongoing imbalances within the baseball beyond the very fact the game is still unable to rid themselves of steroid cheats , has been the fact Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are either afraid to address the issue or choose not to initiate a hard salary cap which is equitable for all thirty teams within the game .

The Dodgers’ meltdown during this past postseason was enough to suggest Don Mattingly and his managerial staff were ill-prepared, complacent and felt it preordained they would waltz their way through the postseason. Perhaps buoyed by the fact they possessed the best pitcher in baseball during the regular season. Clayton Kershaw was meant to lead the Dodgers through their playoff foray. Unfortunately , for the team , their opponents had other plans and the explanations behind the team’s postseason demise bordered upon being comical to downright ridicule of a group of players, who were simply overconfident and had little respect for their opponents .

Don Mattingly and his team will enter into 2015 with a payroll exceeding $260 million and not exactly in a position to try and justify anyone’s belief they can be considered one of the best teams in the National League this upcoming season. With Andrew Friedman coming to head up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Baseball Operations , it was believed sweeping changes would be made among the player personnel. Friedman saw a need for the change after the abject failure seen during the past two postseason forays for the Dodgers. It would be foolish to believe the front office would accept these failings and not let their angst be known. Magic Johnson may well be the public face of the Dodgers’ organization from an executive standpoint, but Johnson should not be thought of only in the complexity of being one the NBA’s all-time greats, because he has now become an extremely successful businessman and philanthropist , whose corporation runs a gamut of business entities with revenues exceeding $1.8 billion annually. Profits and success are at the forefront of the Dodgers’ desire within this ownership group by just about any means necessary , but after the vast financial commitment made in 2013 and 2014, it became obvious something was missing from the template engineered by the management staff for the players.

Gone from last season’s roster are Josh Beckett , Matt Kemp, Brian Wilson , Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. The most notable acquisition for the team was short-stop Jimmy Rollins, whose presence could add some stability and leadership , which were sorely lacking and missing from those traits last season. I firmly believe , if Don Mattingly is unable to turn things around for the Dodgers this upcoming season , then the likelihood of his remaining would prove to be a disastrous . This season is likely to prove to be very competitive against baseball’s current World Series’ champions the San Francisco Giants . If the Giants are not seen as prohibitive favorites for the NL Pennant in 2015 , then the dominance seen from this ball-club over the past six seasons can only be viewed as bewildering . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy will be seeking to replicate the success witnessed last season as the franchise won its third World Series’ crown in the past six years.

There is no denying a ball-club such as the Los Angeles Dodgers with a legacy of such famed stars and Hall of Fame players as as Jim Bunning , Gary Carter , Don Drysdale , Sandy Koufax , Pee Wee Reese , Don Sutton and Jackie Robinson to name but a few . The vestiges of those halcyon days are long-gone with the franchise having not made the World Series in over twenty-five years , it begs the question , if the Dodgers are not able make another serious run in the postseason, will they ever succeed winning another title ? What I believe to be sorely lacking on this current Dodgers’ roster is someone willing to assume the role of a vocal leader both on and off the field of play. If the addition of Jimmy Rollins can provide the trait sought then so be it , but it is astonishing to think with such veterans already on this team as Carl Crawford , Adrian Gonzalez , Juan Uribe , Darwin Barney and AJ Ellis . How is it , that a team with such highly paid stars can continue to fail so miserably ? Is it a lack of managerial acumen from Don Mattingly or quite possibly the simple fact, this ball-club was never that good to begin with ?

An undeniable talent, but either the Miami Marlins are over-stretching in their belief that paying slugger Giancarlo Stanton a whopping $325 million will be a cure for what ails the organization can either be viewed as outrageous or an act pure genius on the part of GM Michael Hill and his fellow front office executives . Stanton’s thirteen-year deal averages out at $25 million annually , but it would still not make him the highest paid player in the game . Yet this is somehow the trait so many front office executives believe they need to exhibit. It’s either pay up, or you are likely to miss the boat . In baseball , few players have been able to live up to those live up to or meet the expectations or even surpass them. Simply ask Alex Rodriguez if he feels ,that his accomplishments within the game have not been tarnished by wantoned misuse of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) ? I am sure New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman must now be ruing the day he re-signed Rodriguez to the second of his two multimillion dollar deals . Twice in a lifetime , two $250 million deals have been “inked” by Alex Rodriguez and not once was an eyelid raised over those contracts , even in the aftermath of the player’s admission of guilt for the use of a banned substance , which begs the question, why is baseball still filled with such apathy and hypocrisy , not just among the fans , but also within the game’s hierarchy ?

One of the decade’s best players found himself a new home during this off-season when Ichiro Suzuki joined the Miami Marlins signing a one-year deal with the hope his presence will prove to an adequate complement to the team’s roster . Ichiro is likely to maintain the productivity we have come to know over the years. The former AL Rookie of The Year and AL MVP is nearing a career milestone as he approaches the 3,000 career hits’ plateau . A first ballot future Hall of Fame inductee , it will be interesting to see how Ichiro will be feted upon surpassing the mark many hitters aspire to reach , but few are seen as legitimate legends of the game. Ichiro Suzkuki is definitely a legend within the Major Leagues and his career bears this out !

This upcoming season, I believe both the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees will live and die by the accomplishments of Giancarlo Stanton and Alex Rodriguez ! Stanton is lucky enough to still be in the infancy of his career, whereas , there is now nothing Rodriguez can now do to remove either the stain or stench associated with his past or his future . Two futile acts of contrition, cannot hide the fact he remains one of the most despised and hated athletes in all of major professional sports , bar none .

I believe it would be fair to suggest, both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen offer the best hope for baseball, as the faces of the game and its likely saviors, if the sport is to truly prosper and for its long-term future ! Both have been recipients of the AL and NL MVP’s within their respective leagues. Though postseason heroics have been fleeting for Trout and McCutchen , there is no doubt in my mind at some point in their respective futures both are likely to be recipients of a World Series’ ring or a World Series’ MVP for their exploits. Granted , in the past three seasons neither the Los Angeles Angels or the Pittsburgh Pirates have met the expectations sought by their fans or prominent MLB analysts . Respective team owners Arte Moreno and Bob Nutting having willingly spent millions of dollars over the past few seasons painstakingly seeking a championship, but coming up short at various points of the postseason in recent years. This season, will hopefully promise a great deal and bring out the very best in the Angels and the Pirates. Certainly , that will be what respective managers Mike Scioscia and Clint Hurdle hope to obtain from the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates as they enter the first month of the 2015 regular season schedule beginning on the 6th April .

A confident start could go a long way in determining how good or great their respective seasons are likely to be. If both Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen can reproduce the form shown during last season, then it could also aid their teams to the desired success of possibly winning a World Series’ crown. The Los Angeles Angels will begin their season with a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angels Ballpark in Anaheim , California , whereas , the Pirates will play the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati , Ohio , in the Reds’ home opener .

It is way too early to try and define the careers of Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout ,but if either can remotely live up to a number of their predecessors with either the Pirates or Angels , then there is absolutely no reason not to believe why they cannot go on to have long and distinguished careers within Major League Baseball . In my honest opinion these two great young players are exactly what the game needs , fresh faced and talented individual players who simply excel, while showing a great deal of leadership skills and maturity !

Safe to say , with the ” stain ” associated with the careers of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez , perhaps the best player in baseball over the past decade might well have been Albert Pujols whose list of career achievements have been well- chronicled . Since being acquired by the Los Angeles Angels his statistics have ebbed and flowed, but at his very best, there was no denying he was one of the most dominating , intimidating and best hitters in the game , while also showing his power as a home-runs’ hitter .

Many of Pujols’ current peers over past eight years have had their fair share misfortune either through their misdeeds or a decline in productivity. Pujols for his part remains an extremely popular player, with a large fan-base , while becoming a highly paid and lucrative marketing tool for a major corporate sponsors. The Angels’ slugger is one of a rare breed within baseball, whose image allows him such privileges in and outside of the game of baseball. Yet, I do not believe this is what defines Albert Pujols as a player or as a human being, because it has been his humanitarianism and philanthropy that has continued to stand out, throughout much of his decade-plus career. As he earnestly strives to win a third World Series’ title and his first World Series’ MVP Award , the sole individual award he has yet to win over the course of his astonishing career.

The common thought remains, if the Angels are to succeed in their goal to win their first World Series since 2002 when Troy Glaus was the hero of the series in their triumph against the San Francisco Giants. Then Albert Pujols , Josh Hamilton , David Freese , Chris Iannetta , Erick Aybar , CJ Wilson , Jered Weaver and Huston Street will certainly have to play a great deal better , while following the lead of Mike Trout, now considered to be the real leader on this team.

This season might well prove to be the last for Mike Scioscia, if the Los Angeles Angels should fail to make the postseason. Inconsistencies over the years have led to gaps in the Angels’ postseason appearances in recent years. Prior to last season’s playoff foray the Angels’ last such appearance came as a participant in the 2009 ALCS where they would fall to the New York Yankees , who would go on to win the 2009 World Series . Heading into this season there are at least six AL teams teams likely to be considered contenders for this year’s ” Fall Classic ” . The Angels are one of those ball-clubs, I believe can make a credible challenge for the AL Pennant , along with the Oakland A’s , Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers , Seattle Mariners and last season’s ” Cinderella Story ” the Kansas City Royals if they can retain a number of last season’s stars and keep their momentum going in 2015.

The four inductees for the 2015 14 Hall of Fame Class were nominees deserving of the accolade. The careers of Craig Biggio , Randy Johnson , John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez not only warranted serious consideration but these four players at one time or another were dominant at certain points during their respective tenures in the game. While there were other eligible candidates for this year’s class , many of those eligible were closely associated with the “steroid era “ of baseball , something Major League Baseball will never entirely escape in spite of the statements attributed to Bud Selig and the very fact the continued misdeeds of the players at the Major League and Minor League Level still has not brought about an abatement of the players’ use of banned substances (PED’s, anabolic steroids , Stanazolol) and a lack of response and a clear line of unison between the league hierarchy and union (MLBPA) leads me to believe, both parties are only prepared to pay the issue mere ” lip service “ as they see fit , when there appears to be outrage on the part of the fans. Not there has been any type of outrage from within the media , covering the game, in particular by the always hypocritical BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) .

The years in which Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were laying siege to and obliterating the single season home run record , even when there was possible evidence to suggest, not everything was completely above board , the baseball writers were simply lauding the players’ efforts, as if were actually witnessing history in the making. Now we know Bonds’ 2001 mark was not only dubious but even the seven-time NL MVP still refuses to properly address and explain whether or not at any point during his career he knowingly used a banned substance. To my mind Roger Maris’ mark of sixty-one home runs (61) remains the legitimate record in the baseball annals , along with Hank Aaron’s career home runs’ tally of seven hundred and fifty-five (755). Correct me if I’m wrong , even during the era of segregation and the civil rights’ era , was the sport of baseball ever in such disarray , as it was known to be in this and the past decade ? Answers please ? Or should we continue down the merry road of apathy as constituted and led by Bud Selig and now his successor , Rob Manfred ?

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Spring Training is just around the corner , merely less then six weeks away and the plot-lines within the game of baseball are now being written. Like last season we are likely to see a fair share of controversy being played out both on and off the field of play. So what should the fans expect during the first few months of this upcoming season ? Which players and teams do you believe will be taking away the individual and team honors at the end of this regular and postseason (MLB) schedule ?

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(1) Matt Kemp, center, , once considered a mainstay within the Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise but during the off-season he was traded to fellow NL franchise the San Diego Padres . Kemp is seen here with Padres’ front office executives , left GM A J Preller and manager Bud Black. . AP Photo / Gregory Bull …

(2) Mark Walter lead managing partner in the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Getty Images / Mark Powers

(3) Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins . During the off-season the player signed the largest contract in baseball history , a thirteen-year $325 million deal to remain with the franchise . He will be joined by former AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki , who signed a one-year deal with the NL East ball-club. AP Photo / Paul Ross

(4) Andrew McCutchen , left of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . These two outfielders are considered to be the two best players in Major League Baseball . Few would consider to the contrary, given their list of accomplishments , since entering the Big Leagues . AP Photo / Mike Potter

(5) Ichiro Suzuki seen here in a New York Yankees’ uniform for whom he played last season , but will enter 2015 as a member of the Miami Marlins, with a view to aiding the team from an offensive and defensive standpoint. Getty Images / Mike Thomas

(6) ) Alex Rodriguez , picture inset , is seen here striking out during a game in 2013 for the New York Yankees . The third basemen sat out the 2014 season for the team , having to serve a league-mandated suspension for violation of the league’s steroid policy . Rodriguez hopes to make a successful return to the ball-club in 2015 with the organization in transition after retirement of Derek Jeter and departure of several players , notably Ichiro Suzuki who joins the Marlins in a one-year deal . Rodriguez’s return also will also place once again among the top-twenty earning players in terms of annual salary and a contract , bearing in mind, he is the only player in MLB history to have signed two deals paying in excess of $240 million for each contract . He is also the top-earning player in league history by way of life-time contract earnings. At this stage of his career , it is not hard to suggest how Alex Rodriguez’s career is likely to be remembered . A two-time league substance abuse offender , dubious career statistics , top career-earnings , the public’s disdain and dislike of him as a player. Getty Images / David Hughes

(7) From left to right , Barry Bonds , Sammy Sosa and Mark McWire . For the decade covering the nineties and the early part of this past decade , the trio were part one of the most inglorious eras in baseball’s history , as they laid siege to the single-season home run record . The figure of sixty-one home runs first held by Roger Maris who hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees during the 1961 season , is still looked upon and revered as the legitimate record in baseball history . though it was surpassed by Bonds in 2001 with seventy-three home runs. The mark is currently recognized by statisticians for MLB , the Hall of Fame , BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) and Elias Stats Bureau . Barry Bonds also holds the record for career home runs , (762) surpassing the total (755) of Hank Aaron , a Hall of Fame inductee in a game for the San Francisco Giants played against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver , Colorado on 5th September , 2007. . The pitcher who gave up the home run was Ubaldo Jiminez . AP Photo / Emmanuel Ortega

(8) ) Roger Maris who alongside teammate and close friend Mickey Mantle set the season alight in 1961 , where along the way Maris would break the single season home run record with a total of sixty-one home runs . In that same season the New York Yankees would go on to win the World Series defeating the Cincinnati Reds and where Whitey Ford would be named World Series’ MVP . UPI Archives

(9) Baseball legend Hank Aaron and his wife, Billye Aaron , smile as they listen to Hall of Famer Willie Mays reminisce during the dedication of the Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum April 14, 2010 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Aaron’s childhood home, originally built by his father, was moved to the stadium’s “Gaslight Park” and restored in November 2008. The celebration, which included a ribbon-cutting and private reception, was attended by a star-studded roster of Hall of Famers and baseball dignitaries, including Mays, Reggie Jackson , Ozzie Smith , Bob Feller , Rickey Henderson , and Bruce Setter , along with President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Jeff Idelson , MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , and Hall of Fame senior director of exhibitions Erik Strohl . Hank Aaron, in many circles, is still recognized as the all-time career home-runs’ king , having surpassed the mark achieved by Babe Ruth of seven-hundred and fourteen . Aaron’s tally (755) has since been superseded by Barry Bonds . The Braves’ icon , now successful businessman with a themed style restaurant chain and several auto dealerships in the greater Atlanta area , is now , one member of a consortium close to buying NBA franchise the Atlanta Hawks , currently the best team in the league , record-wise . Apex Media-wire photo by Carmen K. Sisson

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Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

Bored to your wit’s end, don’t think, just do something …

With the regular season of the NFL coming to a close and the postseason about to reach its penultimate stage, there is not a great deal for the erstwhile sports’ fans to really their teeth into. The NBA season remains one of missed opportunities , the over-hyping of teams and players , the asinine and apathetic ongoing morass of comparing players of one era to another of the past. If you lack the intelligence to realize the fact, this type of debate is merely there to create conjecture then you are simply as dumb as you look in trying to perpetrate this ongoing premise.

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MLB (baseball) continues to lapse into its own continued cesspool of inequality, between the have’s and have nots , never mind the ongoing stupidity of the franchise owners’ continued pursuit of overpaying for mediocre talent, while serving up a banal on-field product. Let us not forget also, the sport has its own cabal of self-absorbed and egotistical bastards currently playing or in retirement. Curt Schilling still remains aggrieved he was denied induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame , blaming his not garnering enough votes because of his political beliefs . I guess this is why those of a Conservative ‘bent’ cannot understand why their pompous and supercilious behavior grates on the nerves of the rank and file, not that those on the other side of the political aisle are any better to begin with.

The 2015 season will present us with the return of Alex Rodriguez in the New York Yankees’ pinstripes as the disgraced third-baseman seeks to resurrect his tarnished career and reputation after his year-long league mandated suspension. Personally, I do not believe the addition of Rodriguez to a Yankees’ lineup devoid of talent and leadership will see the team winning their division much less adding to their tallyof World Series’ titles. There remain far better teams in baseball not just within the AL East, but also the American League and baseball in general. It will be interesting to see how Rodriguez fares in his first eight to ten games of this upcoming season within MLB and whether or not he can regain the form that made him one of the best players in the game with the use of steroids and dare one say , without it ?

Monday 6th April when the Yankees take to the field in their home opener of the regular season against the Toronto Blue Jays , Alex Rodriguez will have a great deal to prove without the added pressure of the press monitoring his every move on and off the field of play.

At the halfway-point of the NBA season, let’s just say the failure of several teams should not come as any major surprise. LeBron James does not walk on water and he can only be asked to do so much , can only succeed when he is surrounded by talent commensurate to his own very intimidating skill-set. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ record is currently a true reflection of what this team is said and meant to be about. Personally, I never bought into the premise of James’ return to Cleveland would to immediate success, in spite his playing alongside the caliber of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love . Anyone with an ounce of common sense, still has to realize this team is only as good as the players on the court and the coaching acumen of the staff led by David Blatt. And the head coach’s lack of NBA experience has led to the Cavaliers’ current issues both on and off the NBA court. An impressive win over the Los Angeles Clippers was very good indeed, but against the top teams in the Western Conference, Cleveland has not fared very well at this point of the season.

OK, so the season in the NFL provided more excitement off the field than anything witnessed on the field , with the continued misconduct of the players and ineptitude shown by Roger Goodell , the team ownersand of course not to be left out of the equation, the continued piousness of the NFLPA (union), whose unwillingness to address or reprimand the egregious behavior of their members continues to be not only baffling but also astonishing. Needless to say , with the imminent start of the Aaron Hernandez murder-trial we will either get to see the gullibility of the jurors as they remain awe-struck or the incompetence of the prosecuting attorneys, conducting the case on behalf of the State of Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s Office . A guilty verdict does seem likely , but it would come as no surprise , if the jurors made a mockery of their judicial system , with a not guilty verdict or the District Attorneys simply showing how inept they just happen to be. Trusting them to even indict a ham sandwich , would not necessarily prove to be that difficult were they handed concrete evidence , but hey , look at the makeup of the US Congress and the litany of legal minds within the federal legislative chambers and then ask yourself , how competent and productive have those morons been ? Answers , please on a legal size paper, cursive writing, in no less than five-hundred words.

As a die-hard New England Patriots’ fan , not only am I looking forward to Sunday’sAFC Championship Game game between New England and the Indianapolis Colts, but the fans will be get the privilegeof seeing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL’s history by way of Tom Brady as he faces the young upstart hoping to rewrite the Colts’ history books as well as further enhancing his reputation as the best quarterback to have been drafted in this league since 2006. It is hard to question the success of Andrew Luck at this juncture , with his this having led the Colts to the postseason in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Tony Romo is now conducting his own investigation as to the reasons why he’s failed so miserably in the postseason, while the Dallas Cowboys’ fans continue to walk around with their heads shoved up their own proverbial @ss, unwilling to accept the patently obvious.

Romo while very good in the regular season, he is like a baby takings its very first steps when it comes to postseason play in the NFL . And all of the bitching , whining and seeking to blame game officials for another postseason loss cannot make up for the fact the “Dallas Cowgirls” are what they are and meant to be , soft as butter melting off a hot knife !

The two opposing quarterbacks in Sunday’s AFC contest , will both be wearing number twelve, so at least someone with that number will also be on hand in the NFL title game on the 1st February, 2015. Oh by the way , don’t hold you breath waiting for any excitement to be provided next weekend in the league’s annual “schmuck-fest” of the NFL Probowl Game, as the opposing captains Cris Carter and Michael Irvin, each in their own unique way try and lively up that particular idiotic event with their character and levity. There’s more action to be found in a dead corpse than anything you are likely to see from what has repeatedly turned out to be an uncompetitive and meaningless gathering of players, simply turning up to ensure their guaranteed contractual incentives have been met and not much more beyond that.

The momentum is building up towards this season’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and though brackets have yet to be set, fans of the college game are up, for the one time of year on the sporting calendar where everything else takes a back seat, as this tournament takes center-stage for an exciting month of games from the sixty-five original participants.

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats sit atop of the rankings , unbeaten and playing very much like the best team in the nation. Perennial powerhouse programs Duke (Blue Devils) , Kansas Jayhawks and Florida (Gators) have made some uncharacteristic slip-ups with losses you wouldn’t normally associate with the programs at this stage of the season , but they are likely to place them in good stead as they move forward. However, with the Blue Devils having suffered two consecutive losses , I am not yet saying it’s time to throw the baby out with the bath water , but there now seems to no sense of urgency with this Mike Krzyzewski coached team . Those back to back losses coming against North Carolina State and Miami (Hurricanes) , has me wondering what is the current mindset of the Blue Devil players and who among them will likely to step up to the plate and assume the role of the leader on the roster . The first of the two losses in question, against North Carolina State explained a great deal about Duke and what appeared to be a lack of preparedness for the contest . Yet , the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. Yet, the defeat suffered at the hands of Miami might have been even more inexplicable as the team simply lacked cohesion throughout the entire contest. If neither Quinn Cook or Jahil Okafor are scoring for then the Blue Devils will likely suffer a loss .

Saturday afternoon saw Mike Krzyzewski take his team on the road to Louisville , Kentucky to face Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals in a game which pit two of College Basketball’s most well-respected, celebrated and successful coaches in a contest, best described as entertaining and thrilling. Duke came away with an eleven point victory setting the Blue Devils back on track, while also seeking to cement themselves as legitimate contenders this season within the ACC .

Boxing longs for a charismatic figure to prolong its existence and to be face of its future. Over the last decade it has been left to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to represent its present persona, one which can be best described as lackluster. Neither of these two multifaceted boxers have sought to face each other at the peak of their careers, instead choosing to harangue each other with jibes and idiotic petulant taunts. Now with 2015 in its infancy, there seems to be a reality setting in for both fighters, that if both are to be viewed as among the best ever to have ever to have stepped into a boxing ring, then a meeting between the two have to take place. A multi-million dollar payday awaits both fighters will the split likely to be split of 60-40, favoring Mayweather, which sees the Las Vegas based fighter have the biggest payday of his heralded unbeaten career. $110 million for one fight might well seem outrageous but if this bout takes place, then look for Floyd Mayweather not only boast about this payday, but also his name being placed along the likes of Muhammad Ali , Rocky Marciano , Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler and “Sugar” Ray Robinson , boxers deemed to be among the greatest of any era to have stepped into a boxing ring.

Executives within Top Rank Inc and Mayweather Promotions Inc , speaking on the condition of anonymity, have stated both fighters , Mayweather and Pacquiao are prepared to put their differences aside and make this fight a reality at some point in 2015. From my own standpoint, with both fighters past their prime, this bout should have taken place five years ago. Unfortunately , for a sport now dying on its knees, common sense has never been a driving force behind anything sought to make the sport remain relevant. In the midst self deprecating idiocy consider the fact the sport of boxing does not have an undisputed champion on any of their weight divisions , most notably among the heavyweights long seen as the most prestigious division in all of boxing. It has been almost a decade since Lennox Lewis ruled the roost as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Since then, there have been a litany of claimants to the crown, where until recently, in one form or another the Ukrainian siblings, Wladmir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko held at least one version of the belts, signifying themselves, as a title-holder within that specific weight category.

With Vitali Klitschko having retired last year , the WBC crown was on the line and Bermane Stiverne became the most recent recipient and claimant of the title. On Saturday night, Stiverne made his first defense of the crown when he faced challenger , Deontay Wilder in their title clash at the MGM Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas , Nevada, on Saturday, 17th January , 2015,. Stiverne’s first defense, would be his one and only , as he was pummeled mercilessly by the challenger, who won by a unanimous decision, with all three ringside officials scoring the Wilder the winner, by wide margin. So now we have an unbeaten homegrown US born fighter, whose record was simply padded , having not met anyone of note in a thirty-three fight career, with 32 KO’s and only one of his fights having gone the distance. If this what fight fans believe, adds credibility to the world of boxing, then sadly , they remain delusional and completely out of touch as to what currently ails this sport. A proposed unification bout between Deontay Wilder and Wladimir Klitschko appears to be on the cards, but I won’t be holding my breath for the proposed event to take shape and materialize, Let’s put it bluntly, boxing has seen its heyday long past and we are currently witnessing its death knell, with a lackluster bunch of characters leading it off into a massive graveyard of buried carcasses. Not much more needs to be said, beyond that !

If UFC President Dana White wants to be taken seriously , not only as an administrator and a legitimate representative within the world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), then he will have stop with his boorish behavior , pomposity and be more consistent in his rulings. White’s behavior has been less than gracious with his comments concerning many of the genre’s most prominent fighters who placed the sport on the global map over the past decade. Imagine former NBA Commissioner David Stern mocking either Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson at the height of their careers, when the NBA as a sport, was far more popular than both MLB and the NFL combined . It would have constituted ridicule and dare I say it a great deal of backlash against the then commissioner. However, in the case of White , he continues to backtrack on the comments attributed to him or dismissing the statements made as being taken completely out of context. Now the UFC President has to deal with a situation of his own making and one where his stewardship of this sport must come into question.

Jon Jones , the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, having recently defeated challenger , Daniel Cormier , for his record-breaking ninth title defense , suddenly saw his pristine image come crashing down with an almighty fall. Jones having tested positive for cocaine use , a I might add which cu is manadatory for all UFC title bouts , the UFC hierarchy knowing full well the test results, prior to the scheduling of UFC 182 , where the title defense was made, allowed the champion to go ahead with his bout. Yet all of this seems to have been overlooked by not only the fans but also the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) whose own integrity in recent years, has come into question alongside that the commissioner who presides over this particular state agency, which covers all professionally sanctioned sporting events within Nevada. The fact , that both boxing and MMA falls under the NSAC’s governing umbrella, comes as no surprise, but what now comes as a surprise , must be depths of of malfeasance and incompetence now taking place, with White either being complicit in this all or his just turning a blind eye, all for the sake of the “Almighty Dollar” .

With the absence of Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva from the octagon, Dana White has suddenly realized , Jon Jones’ stupidity and the fact Ronda Rousey has no credible challengers leaves his sport in something of a quandary , because there have been no real breakout stars currently drawing fans to the sport in even greater masses than witnessed in the past five years. Jones’ mea-culpa , has White hoping Silva’s return to the octagon for a third saga of a trilogy against Chris Weidman will bring about a welcome return of fans , along with the possible return of the former welterweight champion GSP (St Pierre). The Welterweight Division division at present has become something of farce with St Pierre’s successor , Johny Hendricks losing his title in his very first defense. with a less than striking performance. Far be it for me to suggest, but Dana White should not only be bending over trying to kiss his own @ss, but he should also be practicing pressing his lips firmly against the sphincters of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre , requesting that they ” pucker up ” , while he also slips his tongue into their orifice, giving them some welcomed pleasure after the undue criticism leveled at both fighters and former champions.

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Picture gallery .

What to your mind in recent weeks, has brought about your close attention in the world sports, be it on the field of play or away from it ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Doug Baldwin of the Seattle Seahawks holds aloft the NFC Championship trophy , after the Seahawks’ late game heroics and then overtime play , earned the team their victory and second successive Superbowl appearance . Seattle will meet the New England Patriots in Glendale , Arizona on the 1st February , 2015 in Superbowl 49 . AP Photo / David J Phillip …

(2) Members of the New England Patriots’ secondary celebrate after the team’s 45-7 blowout victory over the Indianapolis Colts . Patriots MVP of the game was running back LeGarrette Blount who had another astonishing postseason performance with a three touchdown game for the Patriots . This will be the franchise’s sixth Superbowl appearance in the last fourteen years all coached by Bill Belichick . AP Photo / Chris Moore …

(3) Andrew Luck (12) , left, of the Indianapolis Colts is congratulated by Tom Brady after the Patriots’ victory over the Colts . Luck remains win-less in four attempts against the Patriots in his professional career with this 45-7 loss the biggest defeat during his postseason appearances for the Colts. AP Photo / Adrian Myers …

(4) Curt Schilling currently a baseball analyst with ESPN , voiced his disapproval having been omitted from being inducted into the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame class , claiming his omission was because of his political beliefs. Schilling could provide no proof to substantiate his claims , further opening himself up to the inevitable ridicule , which most certainly will come his way . Getty Images North America

(5) Having sat out the 2014 season due to a league mandated year-long suspension Alex Rodriguez will return to the New York Yankees in 2015 , hoping to reestablish his career and lead the franchise to another World Series title , with the ball-club’s last appearance in baseball’s Fall Classic coming in 2009 . His presence on the team will likely come under close scrutiny throughout this entire season, as he will once again will have to shrug off any suggestions of returning to the use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs). AP Photo / Barry Young …

(6) LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to move against the Los Angeles Clippers during the game on January 16 , 2015 at STAPLES Center in Los Angles , California . Getty Images/NBAE/ Andrew D Bernstein

(7) Marshall Plumlee (40) , Matt Jones (13) and Jahlil Okafor (15) of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate with fans following their game against the Boston College Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 3, 2015 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Boston College 85-62 . The Blue Devils seeking to avoid a third successive defeat this season defeated the number sixth ranked Louisville Cardinals 63-52 . Getty Images North America / Lance King

(8) Floyd Mayweather (left) considered the linear champion within the welterweight division has actively suggested he wants to fight Manny Pacquaio , but in the five years since a fight was first proposed to take place , a bout has never taken place . Mayweather remains unbeaten , the Filipino fighter has encountered a number of losses along the way , while recently coming back into form avenging his loss to Timothy Bradley and then successfully defending his version of the welterweight crown (WBO) in a rather nondescript bout against Chris Algieri .

(9) UFC President Dana White is seen here standing at the dais , while UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones speaks to the convened press at a press junket publicizing UFC 128 . The fighter recently tested positive for cocaine use, prior to his most recent title defense against Daniel Cormier at UFC 82 . It is alleged White knew of the positive test results but allowed the contest to go ahead rather than promoting one of the under-card bouts from the event . Something the UFC President refuses to address publicly , while expressing the fact Jones was fined $25,000 and mandated his taking a drug rehabilitation stay at a facility . It has since come to light Jon Jones merely had an overnight stay at a drug prevention facility and is now back in training for his next title defense. No formal statement has been forthcoming from White on this latest new,s but has led to a number of fighters now questioning Dana White’s leadership and inconsistencies when dealing with fighters known to have violated the UFC drug policy . MMA World / Outright Features Inc. all rights included @ copyrighted material

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) connects on WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title with a unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

(11) LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 17: Deontay Wilder (L) celebrates after going 12 rounds with WBC heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne during their title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder took the title by unanimous decision. Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

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(2)

A year to savor …

A year to savor

In the blink of an eye the remnants of the last few monents of 2014 disappeared before our very eyes and from a sporting standpoint it was mainly a big disappointment from my own point of view. Nothing said or suggested mediocrity more than a regular NFL season so embarrassing , with the incompetence of a litany of teams. Major disappointments came thick and fast , along with the customary off-season firings and walkouts by either front office executives of head coaches. Jim Harbaugh now rides off into the sunset , assured that he will be welcomed with open arms by the Michigan faithful as he seeks to resurrect their fortunes and status among College Football’s fraternity. San Francisco 49ers’ front office executives may well have parted ways with their former head coach by mutual agreement , but if the rumors are to be believed , Harbaugh’s relationship with GM Trent Baalke , CEO , Chairman & team owner , Jed Yorke had deteriorated to such an extent , communications between the executives and Jim Harbaugh were simply cordial , professional , and nothing more than that. Off the field issues may well have also played a part in Harbaugh’s downfall beyond the complacency shown by the team throughout the course of the season, with the players simply lacking leadership and Colin Kaepernick seemingly more concerned with his growing public image and own self-importance , rather than his performing at a very high level in comparison to last season.

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The San Francisco 49ers failed to make the postseason and barely challenged within the NFC West , where they finished a disappointing third within their division, behind the Seattle Seahawks as the newly crowned divisional champions and perhaps the NFC’s surprise team of the season the Arizona Cardinals who finished in second place. Where San Francisco now goes from here will be solely dependent upon the choice made by Trent Baalke as he goes in search of a successor to fill the vacant head coaching position with the NFL franchise. There will be a litany of candidates qualified and not so qualified looking to be interviewed for the position. It’s safe to say, the question now becomes about who wants to be out on the West Coast coaching a team with a great deal of talent, but now lacking direction and a real sense of purpose ?

Having won their sixth AFC East title in succession the New England Patriots will now be looking to cement their status as the best NFL franchise over the past decade and a-half. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady remain the main building blocks of this franchise , but the Patriots’ long-term future will soon be about the younger players on the roster and the organization seeking a successor to Belichick , at the time of his choosing to ride off into retirement. As the number one seed in the AFC , New England has a bye in the first round of the postseason . Their closest rivals within the conference the Denver Broncos squandered their chance of positioning themselves to take that mantel by falling apart in the last few weeks of the regular season . Hopes of a Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning match-up is still very much on the cards, if both of these teams play to their true potential during the postseason. That very premise could take place in the AFC championship game.

The wildcard round of this postseason has some very intriguing games on the schedule, where the match-up between the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys takes center-stage among the NFC contests . In the AFC , the ongoing rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers takes off on another chapter of what has been often described as one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL and certainly one, which tends to provide a great deal of drama , if not explosive outcomes . John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin will also get the chance to match wits against each other as the opposing coaches on the sidelines .

The drama surrounding this postseason will not be lost on the fans or the broadcast outlets alike , as they seek to pour over the events as they unfold. One can only hope the fans are not disappointed by the games or the sense of foreboding as things unfold over the course of this weekend.

Money is aid to be the ” root of all evil “ and that definitely would be the case in the world of politics, where the politicians’ greed is not only furthered by their avarice , but also by their sheer contempt of the electorate and the very fact that they believe themselves to be above reproach . That same analogy I believe can be used in the world of baseball (MLB) , where during this off-season we have seen some major moves in the free agency marketas well as a number of teams striving to either deplete themselves of talent or take on the pretext of proving to their fans they are ready to compete .

For the past two seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the biggest spending team in Major League Baseball , making an outlay in excess of a half-billion dollars ($500,000,000) during the time span in question. Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff have proven to be adroit during the regular season, but in 2013 as well as last year the ball-club failed to meet the expectations of their fans and the front office , with abysmal performances during the playoffs . The decision by Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten to hire Andrew Friedman to become the Head of Baseball Operations indicates the franchise has decided to change their philosophy somewhat, when it comes to acquiring talent and not overpaying , but taking into account, there are several players on the current roster earning in excess of $15 million a year , it is hard to see how anyone can take the Dodgers seriously as they seek to turn over a new leaf.

Don Mattingly and his team capitulated to the St Louis Cardinals in this past season’s NLDS , a series where it was inexplicable to surmise how bad the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to be on all counts . The Dodgers’ offense may well have been anemic , but their pitching by comparison was nowhere to be seen . As the Dodgers embark upon their off-season sojourn before they begin their preparations for Spring Training and then the 2015 regular season , there will be some new faces as part of the roster , after the departure of several familiar figures who were a staple of the club over the past few seasons. One of those departing faces was Matt Kemp , now a member of the San Diego Padres .

It would be fare to suggest the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants provided baseball fans with one of the more memorable World Series in recent years , with the perceived underdogs the Royals looking usurp the NL franchise . Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy and the team triumphed in a thrilling seven-game series downing the Kansas City Royals in a climactic final game . In a pitching performance for the ages Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of the postseason performances of pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen . It seemed only fitting Bumgarner was named World Series MVP . GM Brian Sabean during the off-season replenished the team’s roster with several acquisitions likely to make the ball-club stronger at several key positions while also knowing there are a number of players within their farm system ready to make that leap up to the Majors .

The “stain” which remains part of baseball’s folklore, beyond the ” Black Sox ” scandal will forever be the “steroid era ” and the fact Bud Selig failed miserably in reining the abusers , who sought to cheat the fans and the game of baseball by smearing some of the most historic feats within the sport. With the departure of Roger Clemens and others associated with that sordid chapter , baseball still has the remnants of Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun still within our midst , albeit , both players have served league mandated suspensions for their egregious transgressions with somewhat asinine acts of contrition on both their parts. Rodriguez will make his long awaited return to the New York Yankees and to a ball-club in the midst of change with the retirement of Derek Jeter after a two-decade long career with the ball-club. In the throes of this upheaval GM Brian Cashman will be looking to several of the veterans on the current roster to assume the mantel of leadership , the role Jeter assumed for several years as well as being the team captain. If Cashman now believes Rodriguez can fit the role , then he is sadly mistaken, along with the belief the player can provide the productivity needed to challenge within the AL.

New beginnings and a resurgence of a franchise still seeking its first NBA title. This was meant to be the storyline for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season . The return of LeBron James brought back Cavaliers’ fans to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in droves. The four-time League MVP brings with him his productivity and an all-round game that has become the envy of the league and erstwhile fans alike. James’ departure from the recent two-time defending NBA champions the Miami Heat shook the foundations of the organization and simply took everyone off guard including his former former teammates. Miami’s failure in last seasons NBA Finals indicated a flawed team whose over-reliance on LeBron , was simply overwhelming the player during that Finals’ series. That heartbreaking loss may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to his decision to leave the Miami Heat.

As The Prodigal Son, whose return was welcomed with open arms by the organization led to the upsurge in ticket sales , increased merchandize revenue and the appreciation in the value of the Cavaliers. This has been the impact LeBron James on the NBA and the franchise. Beyond his salary , the player’s annual income along with corporate endorsements places him among the upper echelons of international athletes and the top-paid NBA star . Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin sought to bring in also ,a wealth of experience by way the team’s roster . Point guard Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are meant to be the complementary foils guiding the ambitions of the team this season. A rookie head coach , David Blatt and his coaching staff have struggled to gain any real semblance of consistency the Cavaliers this season .
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Cleveland’s record (18-14) places the team five games behind the the Central Division leading Chicago Bulls (23-10) . Now with the reported loss of LeBron James for two to three weeks due due to a lingering injury , this will likely put a severe dent in Cavaliers’ divisional title hopes as well as the possibility of a high conference seeding within the Eastern Conference. James in the Cavaliers’ lineup offers the team the best chance of winning , rather than his being seated on the bench . The Cavaliers without LeBron James in the lineup after the announcement of his injury , saw the team take on the Charlotte Hornets in a road game at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte , North Carolina . All hands were on deck for the Cavaliers as Kevin Love led the team in scoring as they defeated the Hornets 91-87 .

Next up for Love and his teammates will be a home game on the January 4th , when they clash with Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo of the Dallas Mavericks at the Quicken Loans Arena . This contest could one of the highlights of the games scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Dallas comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak , with Rondo’s acquisition having set the tone for the team , as they move forward . The trade of the former Boston Celtics’ point guard immediately provides an uplift for the Mavericks and gives the a facilitator who is among the best in the NBA and who will also provide them with a very good defensive presence. Mavericks’ Mark Cuban’s insistence and pursuance of this deal that acquired Rajon Rondo , has certainly made the team a lot better and an almost certainty of being among the top contenders for the number one seed within the Western Conference this season. It would take a rather foolish individual to bet against this team and its pursuit of a second title, to add to the crown won in 2011 .

I’ll fight the good fight in support of a sport , just as long as I feel it will be of benefit to the masses ! Yet for all of the showmanship and acknowledged popularity of Floyd ‘ Money’ Mayweather , I have gotten to the stage , where I find the sport of boxing to be a complete comedy of errors and tragic parody of a once proud sport , which captured the fans’ imagination and held it drawn with its excitement and intensity !. No longer can it be case or where anyone can try to justify it, as still being truly relevant. Other than the world welterweight champion, there is not really a major draw in spite of the fact his greatest rival just happens to be an aging Manny Pacquiao . These two fighters for one reason or another have never sought to face each other at the prime of their careers , instead , often choosing to face lesser opponents along the way , to pad their statistics and the pursuit of multi-million dollar payday .

Mayweather and Pacquiao have passed the pinnacle of their respective careers and the legitimacy they each now seek will not be determined by final contest between the two , because in essence it will prove nothing at all. A proposed mega-fight would likely gross well over $200 million in revenues worldwide with each fighter guaranteed a minimum of $50 million apiece , but in the end of what profit would be to a sport now dying on its knees when there are no other high-profiled boxers on the horizon with the charisma or talent to be seen as the face of the sport and its long-term future? Multiple international governing bodies preside over boxing and there is no real uniformity other than the mandatory twelve rounds of boxing for a world title fight at the international and national levels dependent upon the allegiances of the national boards of the sport worldwide.

The alphabetical melange of who’s who , and the pecking order of the IBF, IBO , WBA , WBC and WBU created this actual nonsense within the sport of boxing and even now , with the pursuit and support shown by current WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman for a unified world champion primarily within the heavyweight division . The appeal for such distinction is lost on the fans and the litany of claimants of the various versions of the crown in question . It has been almost two decades since boxing had a undisputed heavyweight champion , with the last claimant being Lennox Lewis and it should be noted there is not an undisputed champion in any of the weight categories in the sport of professional boxing . Yet , this is the sport Senator John McCain (R-Az) , by his rationale believes relevant , while denouncing its upstart rival the genre of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) as being barbaric , with their being no rules or etiquette ? McCain’s idea of barbarism should be considered a joke , while he ought to be looking at his own legacy within the Congress and its lack of productivity over the last six years .

The rise in prominence of the UFC and the sport of MMA over the past decade and half , ought to be seen as how to brand , manage and package sport , where its reach is now global and in many ways has surpassed the branding and marketability of both the NBA and NFL. NFL combined . Dana White , UFC President along with the Fertitta brothers own the UFC and its affiliated concerns , a company with an estimated value of over $2 billion ($2,000,000,00) , making the three primary partners in this enterprise , extremely wealthy individuals . Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta , were already self-made billionaires , having made their fortunes in the casino and hospitality and hotel management business . Now their primary goal is to expand the growth of the sport globally , which they have been extremely successful in doing , with a stable of fighters from around the world signed to their company , as well as having affiliated associations across the globe.

In 2015 , UFC will ring in its schedule (UFC 182) with its first major title bout of the year, when Light Heavyweight Champion , Jon ‘Bones’ Jones makes a defense against challenger Daniel Cormier . Jones , the division’s best fighter is making his record ninth defense of his title. On January 3rd , 2015 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas , Nevada , UFC will unveil UFC 182 with an under-card of several terrific bouts, along with the marquee title title fight , with Jones’ Light Heayweight crown being on the line. Jon Jones , can be seen as the protagonist , with Cormier viewed as the antagonist , but there is the feeling the titleholder may well be looking to play ” the villain ” of the piece , because of the apparent ‘bad blood’ between he and the challenger , Daniel Cormier. Undoubtedly, Jones has become one the biggest names within the sport , with perhaps only Ronda Rousey , UFC’s most prominent female fighter, Cain Velasquez , Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo among active fighters , considered to be extremely popular among the genre’s mass appeal of fans . The title fight itself , could be a contest, where Jones’ experience will out-match the simple bravado of his challenger Daniel Cormier . A thrilling five rounds of combative MMA should tell us a great deal about the champion and his opponent on Saturday night .

Tiger Woods remains the biggest draw in the world of golf, but he is no longer the best player in the game . I once read an asinine comment by someone, who determined because of his drawing power , it made him not only the best but also the only relevant person on the PGA Tour . Granted his having won his own version of the Tiger-Slam and having a career Grand Slam (the feat of winning golf’s four major tournaments [ US Open, PGA Championship , The British Open & US Masters]) gives him that aura of actual invincibility. Quite rightfully so, but over the past eighteen months , Woods’ game has been on the decline , he knows it and only an idiot would try and suggest otherwise , much like the buffoon and his comments concerning the former world number one ranked golfer. Tiger Woods’ legacy is unquestioned, but my question____ is beyond his off the course sexual peccadilloes , where he does he stand on social activism, his well-staged and manufactured philanthropic efforts ? Tiger Woods remains a damn hypocrite of the highest order, while trying to be a role model to young kids . Far too many of today’s professional athletes as well as those within the collegiate level, fit that very mold. Unfortunately, the media and fans alike, with a great deal apathy and naivete’ would prefer the salaciousness and candid sordid details , rather than witnessing great feats of athletic achievement . Never-mind the fact , when many of these athletes are continually caught in a lie, they will repeatedly seek to apportion blame elsewhere.

This upcoming season on the PGA Tour , it will be interesting to see whether or not Tiger Woods can wrestle away the number one ranking from Rory McIlroy , by far the greatest challenger to Woods’ once dominant presence on the PGA Tour . Phil Mickelson remains an afterthought , because more often than not , his challenges to Woods have ” petered out”, because of his missed opportunities. With over $265 million in official prize money being offered on the Tour(PGA Tour) , golf has now become one of the most lucrative way of earning a nice income from professional sports, without taking into account the enormous bye product of commercial endorsement from national and international corporate behemoths .

At the peak of his earning power, Tiger Woods earned well in excess of $100 million annually , now that figure is down to $65 million , still not bad for a player whose last Grand Slam Major victory came by way of the 2008 US Open in La Jolla, California ,. Yes, I can see why Woods is still considered a draw , with that victory , six years later , still toiling for his fifteenth Grand Slam victory , while Jack Nicklaus’ giant shadow and his own accomplishments in the Majors are simply glossed over by idiots and a buffoon with little knowledge of the sport or the African-Americans who created the legacy for Woods’ access to the game. Far be it for me to suggest this @sshole , has any damn idea what he is talking about to begin with .

Billy Horschel (three career wins) was feted , having won the FedEx Cup (2014) and with it a $10 million annuity as prize , but even with his consistency on the Tour in 2014 , the player was never a fixture or a major threat in any of the Grand Slam Majors , but yet I am being asked to be transfixed by character-less stereotypical androids who now make up the bulk of the players on the PGA Tour ? I think not !

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Picture gallery .

What sporting event of 2015 is likely to have you closely watching a performance or set of performances during this year ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.

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(1) Ryan Lindley (14) is here along the sidelines speaking with teammate Drew Stanton during a brief interval. A decision will be made by head coach Bruce Arians as to which of the quarterbacks is liable to be the starter for their wildcard round game to be played against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte , North Carolina , on Saturday, 3rd January , 2015 in the first of the two scheduled wildcard contests to be played on the day. Neither of the Panthers’ quarterbacks has any postseason experience playing in the NFL . The visiting Cardinals are deemed to be the slight favorites in the NFC contest. AP Photo / Keith Mitchell …

Ryan Lindley(14) of the Arizona Cardinals passes in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ersat Levi’s Stadium on December 28 , 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images North America/ Ezra Shaw ..

(3) Former San Francisco 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh is seen here on the dais having just been introduced as the new head coach for the Michigan Wolverines program by AD Dave Brandon.Harbaugh and San Francisco formally parted ways by mutual agreement , but it is rumored the head coach had outlived his welcome within the organization because of his brash behavior . The Forty Niners for their part, thanked the head coach for his contributions and the resurrection of the team’s fortunes during his tenure . AP Photo / Jenny Hart ..

(4) Tom Brady (12) and Rob Gronkowski(87) of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 14, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. . Getty Images / Jim Rogash ..

(5) Los Angeles Dodgers’ team President Stan Kasten , left is seen here team manager Don Mattingly ,center and senior managing partner Mark Walter . The organization in the past two years have committed in excess of $500 million on payroll , only see the team squander their chances in the postseasons of 2013 and 2014. In both cases , the Dodgers fell in those hurdles to defeat the hands of the St Louis Cardinals . The decision was made to bring in Andrew Friedman to head up the Baseball Operations of the Dodgers with Ned Colletti given a lateral move within the front office, on becoming a special assistant and adviser to Kasten. Some changes have been made to the playing personnel , where fan favorite Matt Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres. It is unlikely this will be last major move made by the Dodgers during the off-season . AP Photo / Ted Ross ..

(6) LeBron James(23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call by the referees during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. James will be sidelined for a prolonged period believe to be between to two three weeks as he seeks to recuperate from an injury , leaving his teammates to pick up the slack as they contest several games in the upcoming weeks. LeBron James is not the only major NBA star to be felled by an injury , with Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks also out , adding to the Knicks’ turmoil this season and their moribund record . Getty Images /Kevin C Cox …

(7) Considered the best fighter of his generation and the linear champion within the welterweight division , Floyd Mayweather has never really shown the inclination to meet Manny Pacquiao in the ring in spite of his denials . At the same time, a proposed mega-fight between the two fighters has never taken place , because of disputes in how the purse would be split or the antagonism created by Pacquiao’s main promoter in the US Bob Arum and his continued disdain for Mayweather. In 2015 , the fight many have yearned for may well be scheduled but do not hold your breath waiting for the event to actually take place . Mayweather is likely have at least two fights placed on his schedule as he seeks to fulfill his $200 million fight-deal with cable broadcast outlet Showtime (CBS subsidiary) . AP Photo / Matt Engle ….

(8) Jon Jones ,left is seen here facing his challenger Daniel Cormier for the UFC Light Heavyweight title fight due to take place at the MGM Grand Casino & Hotel Resort Complex in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 3rd January, 2015. The main marquee event is the headliner for UFC 182. Range Finder Inc . @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(9) From left to right , background UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer , Jon Jones , UFC President Dana White , Daniel Cormier and comedian and fight analyst Joe Rogan . There have repeated physical altercations between Cormier and Jones with the insults hurled at an alarming speed between the two. Whether or not this is being done to publicize the bout remains to be seen but UFC is expecting a high PPV audience for the clash . …

(10) Jack Nicklaus, left , an eighteen-time Major winner also having won a carer Grand Slam of golf’s four major tournaments (The Masters British Open, US Open and PGA Championship ) is seen here alongside Tiger Woods . The two are considered to be greatest players of their respective generations and two of the greatest players in the history of the game. Woods seeks to emulate his idol by surpassing his historic tally of eighteen Majors wins . Yet his record pales in comparison to Nicklaus not solely because of fourteen wins of the four Grand Slam tournament but the mere fact Woods has not had as many top-five or top-ten finishes in each of the four tournaments in question , albeit, Tiger Woods has yet to compete in as many Slam tournaments over the course of his career. AP Photo / Eric Messner .. ….

(11) Rory McIlroy the world number one in the official World Golf rankings is already a three-time Major tournament winner, with only the The Masters yet to be added to his resume’ of Grand Slam victories . McIlroy joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won the first their first three Grand Slam tournaments before turning the age of twenty-five.. The Irish player is seeking to improve on his triumphant 2014 season, where he topped the PGA Tour and European Tour winners’ list in official prize money earnings . Getty Images Europe /. Henrik Thorstvaldt .. …

(12) Billy Horschel is seen here at the 2014 Valero Texas Open at the TPC in San Antonio , Texas . The tournament was won by Steven Bowditch. Horschel would go on to claim the FedEx Cup prize and with it a $10 million paycheck (annuity) . Billy Horschel has three PGA Tournament victories to his name and over $8.2 million in career prize money earnings. AP Photo / Eric Parsons ….

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It’s that time of year to reflect , review and then ponder as to what happens next …

It’s that time of year to reflect, review and then ponder as to what happens next …

There can be no denying this year within the world of sports we all witnessed the highs and lows of the sporting season. Basketball crowned a new champion in the NBA with Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs winning the title, the franchise’s fifth in their admired and revered history. The fact the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat with so much ease , came as a major surprise to many who favored the LeBron James’ led lineup that boasted Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen among their ranks. Complacency and a lack of support for James, were the contributing factors leading to Miami’s demise. With James departing during this off-season, a bewildered Pat Riley , the organization and the coaching staff of Erik Spoelstra will now have to start from scratch rebuilding the roster which hopefully, will have some semblance of competitiveness this season.

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Off to what might deem a favorable start to their schedule , the Miami Heat are no longer a team to be favored or feared, though I believe they are good enough to gain a playoff berth this season, given the mediocrity of the play encountered in the Western Conference , in a season where in its infancy, the basketball in the conference has been truly astounding and banal. The results bear z this out , without delving further about the reasons why beyond stating , two obvious factors, bad coaching and no depth of talent by way of the rookie players .

While of late, singular achievements have been given a great deal of praise, with Kobe Bryant having surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time career points list (third) and LeBron James moving ahead of Charles Barkley for twenty third in the rankings. While I believe this all to be commendable achievements, it begs the question, why are fans now beginning to make comparisons with today’s players and those of the past ? The game has changed drastically during the respective eras, along with a number of rule changes initiated by outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern. This is all overlooked as fans and analysts alike try create a debate that will be filled with conjecture and a great deal of nonsense behind the supposed logic by a number of the debaters on the matter.

On the court the Golden State Warriors led by their dynamic duo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are seen as capable of leading the team on a dominant run in the NBA and to a deep NBA Playoff foray, albeit, they have encountered some stiff opposition resulting in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (20-4) the Warriors still maintain a healthy lead within the Pacific Division of the
Western Conference . No major fallout from this loss, as the loss ,as the team has been able to show its resilience over the course of the season .

In the collegiate ranks of basketball, the NCAA Tournament . Kevin Ollie and the U Conn Huskies won another title which heightened the prestige of the program and the fourth title in the school’s history. The Huskies’ victim in that tournament victory, the John Calipari coached Kentucky Wildcats are once again atop of the college rankings with an unbeaten season and the deemed the best team in the country. They are likely to be a team to be reckoned with as Calipari seeks a second title win to add to his burgeoning resume’. Kentucky has cut a swath through their opponents , but I feel we are reading far too much into the accomplishments at this stage of the season ! The run up to this season’s NCAA Tournament and the event itself will place an d even greater emphasis on how good the Kentucky Wildcats are likely to be. Hard to suggest where a likely challenge is likely to come from in stopping the Wildcats’ dominance.

With its inaugural format within College Football now in motion , last season’s defending national champions the Florida State Seminoles will be looking to make a successful defense of their title. Jameis Winston the program’s 2013 Heisman Trophy winner in spite of his off the field problems has been able to lead the team to their unbeaten run this season. The Seminoles ended the regular season ranked in the top four availing the chance to be part of the playoff schedule which has been essentially adjudged a four-team semi-finals’ playoff format with contests’ winner playing in the national title game.

The four programs who are the recipients of this inaugural system are Alabama , Oregon , Ohio State (Buckeyes) and Florida State making up the quartet. While there will be continued debate as to the veracity of this format , many feel a four-team playoff is by no means the best way to decide a national champion . Yet for all of the criticism leveled and the fact an empaneled body were arbiters on this whole scheme, not everyone can state this was of satisfaction to the doubters as well as some protagonists of the new format. Money remains the driving force behind this all, without anyone trying to suggest this system has been the best possible solution after years of idiocy with the BCS format and a system so void of legality , that it was simply ridiculous for anyone to try and justify its legitimacy. Come full circle, in reality the progress made is simply miniscule , even if the new format is tinkered with at various points in the future, as is likely the case.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota can go out on a high if he is able to lead Oregon past Florida State in their highly anticipated game on the 1st January, 2015. Mariota is highly regarded within the college ranks and seen as one of the most dynamic players in the game as well as perhaps the best quarterback in college football. A victory in that that game, to be followed with a championship victory , will lead to certain financial gain, a high draft pick the upcoming NFL Draft of 2015.

In light of the recent disaster of Johnny Manziel’s first professional start in the NFL this season was such a catastrophe it is hard to see any positives which could come out of the debacle, where the Cleveland Browns were shutout by the Cincinnati Bengals in their divisional clash 30-0 . The fact this was a home game for the Browns was all the more embarrassing for the fans. Manziel in the aftermath of his disaster has suggested he can play better , but that must now come into question after the idiotic decision made by Mike Pettine to sit Brian Hoyer merely to gauge what the team’s 2014 draftee was capable of doing. We’ve now seen what Manziel is not capable of doing and that is to lead a team with any great authority, much less play competently at the NFL level.

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders , merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure .

As the NFL season has unfolded we have witnessed the disasters of teams thought to be contenders, merely to have their hopes blown asunder, because of sheer complacency or simply bad play and extremely bad coaching. Jim Harbaugh’s tenure with the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) is likely to come to an abrupt end after a disastrous season for a franchise which has he taken repeatedly taken to the postseason in four of the five years of his tenure . San Francisco’s home loss in week sixteen to the San Diego Chargers put an immediate end to their postseason hopes. The fallout from it all , has been the growing speculation Harbaugh will fired or he resigns and accepts the vacant coaching position at Michigan (Wolverines). An 8-8 is the best the San Francisco 49ers can now hope for , something no might have envisage at the start of this season’s NFL schedule.

It is extremely difficult to now try and justify any reason why Rex Ryan should be retained as the New York Jets’ head coach for next season. In spite of their narrow one-point loss o to the New England Patriots(12-3) the defeat dropped the Jets’ record , with a with a penultimate game left on their schedule, they now find themselves bearing a mark of 3-12 . The franchise’s front office will have several decisions to make beyond Ryan’s immediate future, there is also the questionable performances of Geno Smith and Michael Vick over the course of this season. It remains to be seen wheter not both players are likely to be retained for the upcoming season, but clearly , GM John Idzik and the front office staff have to ponder the drafting of a quarterback or acquiring a reliable free agent to fulfill their needs .

The NFL enters its final week of games, with a number of divisions having been decided . Yet,for all of their accomplishments, there still remains the preposterous diatribe served up within the NFC South all season long . With the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) now holding a slender one-game lead over the New Orleans Saints (6-9 and Atlanta Falcons (6-9) , a great deal still remains on the line as they each head into the final week knowing that a defeat could end their hopes of winning the division and gaining a playoff berth . Atlanta made sure, they still remain in the hunt, with their total annihilation of the Saints in Sunday’s game, beating a demoralized New Orleans’ team 30-14 . Carolina for their part, kept up their side of the ongoing equation by making sure the Cleveland Browns’ woes continued as the team suffered their second successive defeat . Thankfully, for the Browns’ fans, Johnny Manziel was kept on the sidelines for the entire game,as his services were not needed , not even for mop-up duty .

While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploits of the Kansas City Royals during this MLB Postseason . The AL Central franchise became the rallying cry for the underdogs within the game of baseball, as they wore down team after team on their way to the World Series . Alas, for the Royals it wasn’t to be, as the San Francisco Giants and Madison Bumgarner had more in store for the underdogs than they could ever have imagined . The series’ statistics may well stated the Giants won their third World Series’ title in five years . with some ease (4-3) and in part they actually achieved that. Yet to my mind, the Royals were never in with a chance of winning game seven , simply because of their lack of postseason and veteran experience being part of their lineup !

During this off-season with the Winter Meetings in full swing , teams made their play a> to acquire the free agents sought, while also jettisoning players they believed superfluous to their needs. The Miami Marlins made the headlines for the right and wrong reasons, dependent upon your point of view , but their signing Giancarlo Stanton to his now ridiculous $325 million contract smacks of sheer lunacy and a great deal of narcissism and conceit on the part of the organization . Two years ago this very same ball-club had a burgeoning roster of high-paid stars who simply flamed out under the misguided managerial acumen of Ozzie Guillen . A last place finish in the NL East games out behind the the divisional winner and a further out of card berth sealed Guillen’s fate for the year, leading to his dismissal after a disastrous season where the team was uncompetitive and > in complete disarray on and off the field . In the aftermath of the disaster, GM Michael Hill summarily initiated the fire sale which led to the trading away of those highly paid players from 2012.

A great deal will be expected of Mike Redmond and his managerial staff this upcoming season, because of the high and renewed expectations of this team led by Giancarlo Stanton and their NL Rookie of the Year pitcher Jose Fernandez , who was also signed to a very lucrative deal by the Marlins.

For the greater part of my youth and into my teenage years, I was an avid and voracious boxing fan and aficionado . My two biggest idols from the sport are still remain Muhammad Ali , ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler with former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins not far behind . All three fighters were great champions during their prime with each rewriting the history books with records likely to be surpassed. I now champion the world of MMA and as an actual martial arts’ practitioner (karate & tae-kwon-do) this sport I believe has far exceeded what has boxing has failed to do in the last decade and that is to draw fans in, rather than systematically pushing them away . The death of another peer of Ali’s , at the age of seventy-five Ernie Terrell died but his career was memorable for the bout in which a charismatic , flamboyant Ali taunted Terrell in a lopsided contest where Muhammad Ali showed his dominance and gave light to what he would go on to achieve in the future . .

Muhammad Ali faces Ernie Terrell for the WBA Heavyweight title at the Houston Astrodome on the 6th February , 1967.

In light of the recent news, that Ali has been admitted into hospital with what is alleged to be a slight bout of pneumonia and with the former champion’s health having deteriorated over the past two-and a half decades. It may well seem sordid, in surmising he could now be at death’s door , wherein, if Parkinson’s disease doesn’t take him from within our midst, this latest health setback, likely will. Ali remains to this day not only the biggest icon in the sport of boxing, but his name and face are the most universally recognized in the world of sports. Outside of Michael Jordan in the NBA and Pele’ in the world of soccer, I sincerely doubt that there has been a more revered icon in the world of professional sports on a global scale.

Boxing has now become a sport, lacking in a charisma , where the top fighters in the various weight categories, simply avoid each other while formulating their prowess and claims of being the ‘true champions’ of their weight divisions . Personally, for all of the hype surrounding a potentially lucrative fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, I will continue to maintain, it is a fight a number fans have become completely disinterested in ! Is there anyone willing at this juncture, to pay in excess of $55.00 for the “privilege” of seeing these two fighters, who have spent the past three years padding their stats with meaningless bouts , while earning exorbitant fight purses ? This has become the ” new norm” within the sport, along with the petulance of the fighters, promoters , connivance and continued corrupt practices of the various international governing bodies which preside over the boxing. Yet we wonder why the sport no longer truly resonates with fans and how it now lacks a broad-based appeal ?

Meanwhile, a viewed as a pugilistic upstart, continues to dominate the landscape and has become a multi billion-dollar industry under the main promotional flagship of UFC . MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) has now become the fastest growing sport in the world , with an increased audience participation , rising viewership and gate attendances for many of their biggest events staged around the globe. Idiots such as promoter Bob Arum and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard continue to question the legitimacy of the sport , but have failed to recognize , while boxing has become pallid and stagnant, the growth of Mixed Martial Arts has been explosive. . In little over a decade, this combative style of fighting has caught the imagination of fans around the world and now has a growing legion of female fans, while holding on to its main demographic of males aged between eighteen to thirty-five . If you think fans of the the sport , is strictly confined to adults alone , then you would be wrong, as martial arts’ dojos are now beginning to incorporate MMA within their criteria , while still teaching their main forms of combat , such as karate, judo , taekwondo , Ju-jitsu , Krav-magav and other lethal forms of fighting.

Dana White rules the roost of the UFC, but he has now become more a totalitarian dictator, rather than a lead executive and arbiter of the sport. His apparent idiocy, in chastising many of the biggest names in the sport, who helped place it on the global map, shows not only White’s bombastic attitude, but also his naivete’ and complete stupidity. Can you imagine David Stern questioning the abilities of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson , Kobe Bryant or even LeBron James at the height of their careers ? Well, White has managed to do that with the MMA fighters, while becoming the antithesis of what is expected of a governing sports’ executive.

It may well be a great deal of schtick and panache’ on the part of Dana White, but before too long his idiocy will being to grate on the nerves of not only the fans but also the fighters themselves. The two biggest names in the sport at present are Cain Velazquez and Jon Jones , but with neither fighter having recently defended their respective titles, a small void has been created , yet to be filled by any other fighter, with the character or genuine appeal to strike a note with the masses. Ganted, the likes of Jose Aldo , Anthony Pettis and of late the sport’s only genuine female ‘star’ Ronda Rousey have a growing fan-base , but that might not be enough, unless there is a major title bout involving Jones, Velasquez or former champions Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre. Rousey and St Pierre may well carved out side careers having appeared in a couple of Hollywood action movies, but their ” bread and butter ” remains the UFC for now .

Having been justifiably critical of the UFC and the lack transparency shown by the hierarchy concerning the drug testing of its fighters with repeatedly violations , most notably by Chael Sonnen , it will be interesting to see if Dana White is willing to welcome back the former UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. Johny Hendricks’ first championship defense of the title , he won in an vacant title bout title as the successor to St Pierre, ended with his loss to Robbie Lawler. . All of the hype and actually nothing to back it up, simply indicated, Hendricks , was not all he was cracked to be .

With no major event on the schedule until January 3rd , 2015 , when Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier in a bout that will see the finality to what has already become contentious period between the two fighters , name calling asides , it’s time for both Jones and Cormier to sort their ” beef out”, rather than act like petulant children . I know the fight scene has to create an angle , with a ” hero” and a ” villain” , but when you are being asked to choose between two self-absorbed individuals, there isn’t much to actually throw your support behind. Your thoughts on that ?

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Picture gallery.

This was my simple breakdown of some of the interesting events I witnessed during the sports’ year and granted, I failed to touch on the PGA , NASCAR the NHL and even the WSOP (World Series of Poker) . So by all means chime in with your thoughts on the event or events of this sporting year which piqued your interest.

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Picture and slideshow gallery .

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(1) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures against the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York . The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91 . Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(2) Dec 16 , 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts to losing the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports …

(3) Dec 16, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) holds his head as Miami Heat guard Norris Cole (30) and Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) high-five late in the fourth quarter at the Barclays Center. The Heat defeated the Nets 95-91. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports ..

(4) Nov 11 , 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (right) pats guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena . The Spurs defeated the Warriors 113-100 . Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports …

(5) Kentucky players from left, Devin Booker , Tyler Ulis , Trey Lyles, and Willie Cauley-Stein celebrate their 83-42 win over UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in Chicago. AP Photo Nam Y. Huh …

(6) Left , Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State . Both college quarterbacks are one of the primary reasons why their respective programs will be part of the inaugural college playoff format which will decide this season’s national champion at the FBS Level of College Football . Both players will likely declare their eligibility status at the end of the playoff season , seeking to enter the 2015 NFL Draft . Mariota and Winston are considered consensus first round draft picks . Yet , there is a common belief teams in need of a passer might well be weary in light of the recent issues of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Johnny Manziel . AP Photo / David Parsons …

(7) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after the 49ers lose 38-35 in overtime to the San Diego Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on December 20th, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw …

(8) Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with free safety Eric Weddle(32) of the San Diego Chargers after the Chargers defeat the 49ers 38-35 in overtime at Levi’s Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images/ Ezra Shaw ….

(9) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to his team in the huddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …

(10) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan , left, and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, right, shake hands after an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Patriots won the game 17-16 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez

(11) Quarterback Geno Smith (7) of the New York Jets is tackled by defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (75) of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on December 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez …

(12) Miami Marlins’ manager Mike Redmond left and Giancarlo Stanton are seen here in the dugout at Marlins Ballpark in Miami , Florida during a home game on 2nd September , 2014 played against the New York Mets . Miami would go on lose the contest 8-6 . …

(13) In what is believed to be the last known public appearance by former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is seen here attending the funeral of boxer Joe Frazier in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , in November of 2014. Ali was recently admitted to a local hospital where he is said to be suffering from a mild respiratory problem and a bout of pneumonia . Ernie Terrell whom Ali beat during his illustrious career recently died at the age of seventy-five. AP Photo / Steve Woods … …

(14) Ernie Terrell gets advice from his advisor Joe Louis between rounds of the vacant 1965 WBA World Heavyweight Title fight versus Eddie Machen at the International Amphitheatre , Chicago, Illinois on the 5th March , 1965 ,. UPI Syndicate ….

(15) Anderson Silva (left) is seen here with UFC President Dana White prior to Silva’s defense of his world welterweight title against Chris Weidman . The challenger would score a surprising knockout of the champion and then follow up that victory with a successful defense against Silva in their rematch which ended with a TKO after the former champion suffered a broken leg in their bout at UFC168 . Courtesy of MMA Magazine . @ all rights reserved …

(16) From left to right , Georges St Pierre , Anderson Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones . St Pierre relinquished his welterweight title, taking a prolonged leave of absence from the sport . The former champion has been critical of Dana White for his lack of consistency and a stringent drug testing policy. White in retaliation, was less than salutary to one of the sport’s biggest attractions and most successful fighters in MMA history . MMA Junkie … …

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It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as good as it’s liable to get .

It’s still bad , at the top or the bottom and that’s as
good as it’s liable to get .

College Basketball’s season has began and in many respects, the level of basketball of being played is not seen as glamorous as its professional counterpart within the NBA. Atop of the rankings remains one of the NCAA’s basketball powerhouses with the Kentucky Wildcats (9-0) casting its eye over the landscape where they reign supreme. John Calipari and his coaching staff having guided this team to the best record in College Basketball . This early in the season and one shouldn’t place a great deal in those standings as the teams have yet to find any type of consistency to their respective schedules.

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With the Wildcats ranked at number one, the second spot in the rankings is held by the Duke Blue Devils) coached by their acclaimed head coach Mike Krzyzewski, he seeks to win his fifth national title with the program. Krzyzewski and his team will be looking to be the dominant program once again within the ACC. Duke will likely be part of ” March Madness”,the climactic postseason soiree of College Basketball, unlike any other collegiate event. The Blue Devils’ next game will be against Elon in what is sure to be a lopsided contest. Kentucky will have a battle on their hands when they face the Pac-12 storied program UCLA (Bruins) in their next game .

To my mind, while the College Basketball season still remains in its infancy, we will not begin to witness the real resilience of the teams until mid January, when many of the programs have their sights set on the postseason fare and all of the visibility it brings. At the same time, there will be several players looking to shine with their displays in the run-up to that particular event.

Last season, in College Basketball the general belief and hype concerned players such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker , Joel Embiid and the litany of rookies drafted into the NBA. The presence of these freshmen, has simply proven to be one of the many reasons why the play in the league continues to be dire. Granted, there were always going to be bad teams in the NBA , but this season at this stage , how many of us could have imagined that so many of them would be playing so badly , with their being little coaching acumen being shown by the coaching staffs of these franchises ?

The Los Angeles Lakers have proven to be a monumental bust this season, with the team simply failing to show up, even then, it tends to be rather sporadic before they once again shift back to the depths of mediocrity . Not that Kobe Bryant and his teammates have been able to climb out of the morass frequently, judged on their play. Head coach Byron Scott could very well meet the same fate as his two predecessors if this continued ineptitude shows no signs of changing. Bryant for his partremains single-minded,not in chasing team goals , but more now at this stage of his career chasing personal goals. He is now nine points behind the career points’ total of Michael Jordan and his protagonists are trying to suggest it places the Lakers’ player on the same plateau as the NBA’s greatest player. That notion is simply asinine, needs to be seen as just sheer stupidity and without merit . Bryant will never be viewed as Jordan’s equal , never-mind being remotely close to him in stature or character.

Los Angeles will be on the road today, when the team meet the Minnesota Timberwolves . A game I might add, has a great deal at stake , with both of these Western Conference franchises looking to steer themselves away from the lower rungs of the conference. I have never been a great admirer of Byron Scott as a head coach even with his success coaching the New Jersey Nets, where he was able to take the franchise to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

The Brooklyn Nets as they are now known , owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov . This season in particular, Prokhorov has seen his team struggle with head coach Lionel Hollins , seeking to instill a great deal of discipline into a lineup that seems to have no intent on playing an iota of defense on both ends of the floor. The fact that the Brooklyn Nets have by far the highest payroll in the entire NBA should not be lost on the fans or league hierarchy , who seem to have little sense of being financially prudent , much less the executives and owners around the league being prepared to show that sense of urgency on the matter.

Lionel Hollins will takes his team bearing a 10-12 record as they sit 6 1/2 games behind the Atlantic Coast Division leading Toronto Raptors (17-6). Brooklyn just happens to be 5-5 in their last ten games and on a two-game win streak. Brooklyn’s next contest will be against the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening when the two teams meet at the AA Arena in Miami, Florida,. Miami after the abrupt departure of LeBron James have sought to build their roster around the talents of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade , with head coach Erik Spoelstra seeking rebuild his lineup around this duo of stars.

Coming off a lopsided twenty seven point victory over what appears to be the hapless Charlotte Hornets , where the Nets sank sixteen three point attempts in this contest. The Hornets I believe are a team who remain an aberration in spite of last season’s success and their having made the NBA Playoffs this past year . Michael Jordan in his new found role as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats must hope his players are able to show the discipline needed to make another run at the playoffs. As good as we might assume the Hornets’ team to be there is clear evidence the front office and coaching staff cannot be entirely happy with what they have witnessed so far this season.

Kemba Walker remains the face of this Hornets’ franchise and it will be interesting to see what moves are made if any, by GM Rich Cho at the behest of head coach Steve Clifford as they seek to bolster the roster. Next up for this franchise will a game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the guests hope to place a dent in the hopes of the Cavaliers, as that team seeks to make a push at gaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference . James for his part, has lost none of scoring prowess as he leads the team in scoring and is well-placed in a number of other offensive categories . Yet, LeBron’s offensive prowess cannot be the sole proviso for the Cavaliers if they are to be successful this season, because his teammates will have to step up to the plate, along with David Blatt and his coaching staff showing a great deal more ingenuity than we have witnessed so far this season. Defensively , the Cavaliers have yet to prove themselves as one of the better teams in the conference or in the NBA overall . James and the Cavaliers’ next contest will see them line up against the Charlotte Hornets at home when they take the court at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio in front of a sold-out crowd on Monday night.

Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans might be considered to be having a great season, with the power forward consistently being among one of the topscorers in the league on a consistent basis during the infancy of the Pelicans’ schedule and this NBA season. This is a far cry from what the fans witnessed last season from the team as they struggled to find some consistency during 2013.

The addition of Tyreke Evans has given the lineup a great basis for their progress with their being a greater emphasis on defense as well as offense from this young team . Davis has played like an early season leading contender for the League MVP and it would prove to be extremely difficult to state he is not justified to be listed among the leading candidates for the trophy at this juncture, one quarter of the way through the NBA schedule. There might be no more than five players who considered to be having great all-round seasons , but among those names, one might consider Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, James Harden of the Houston Rockets , DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and LeBron James .

A narrow six-point loss to the the Golden State Warriors was a clear sign , that the New Orleans Pelicans are on the right track, but there is still a great deal of work to be done by this team , with head coach Monty Williams and his coaching staff undertaking the task to the best of their abilities. Team owner, Tom Benson having bought the franchise, rather than seeing it be relocated with the organization’s previous owner, George Shinn , only all too willing to plead poverty, has begun to engineer a turnaround , that will hopefully see a return to competitive play , but also a profitable economic return on his investment for the owner.

Steve Ballmer paid an exorbitant and outrageous $2 billion for the privilege of owning an NBA franchise. In doing so he merely helped the NBA hierarchy out of a hole of their own making, with the gutless David Stern showing that he has no stomach to come down hard and punish an owner for their egregious actions and behavior. Even when left to his successor, Adam Silver to mete out punishment to the now departed Donald Sterling , the league still found a way make themselves look like complete fools , in their handling of the former Los Angeles Clippers’ owner. Come full circle , with Ballmer assuming control of the organization and still within the fans’ midst remains, Rochelle Stein-Sterling , the estranged wife of the former owner. Somehow, the continued idiocy to be found within the NBA remains , even when a new e owner comes within its midst , with Steve Ballmer acknowledging Stein-Sterling and making her an honorary lifetime member of the organization, albeit, she is said to have been well aware of her husband’s despicable racial beliefs and overtures, during his tenure as the owner of the Clippers. In this case , not only has complicity being rewarded but also he sheer mendacity of Rochelle Stein-Sterling.

As the Golden State Warriors’ ascent has been well-chronicled , with the franchise having the best record (20-2) in the NBA, there can be no denying Steve Kerr has this team heading in the right direction. Joe Lacob , Peter Guber and the members of the front office knew the successor to Mark Jackson had to be someone with skilled basketball IQ, a disciplinarian and an individual who would fit in with the ideals the owners had in mind for their franchise. Jackson for his part, proved to be far too outspoken on a number of issues that bore no relation to the Warriors’ principles or that of basketball. Along the way , he showed his ignorance and some might say bigotry , yet this should be not lost on the public when one bears in mind how out of touch the league remains on a litany of social issues which David Stern and the league hierarchy barely paid lip service to.

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been the primary reasons why the Warriors are off to a flying start , with the team now on a sixteen- game win streak, easily their best start to a season and a franchise record. Curry has fast become a fan favorite, with Thompson not too far behind, with his growing influence and popularity among the Warriors’ fans around the league. These two players are likely to be among the list of candidates to be team’s representatives on the Western Conference All Star Ballot for the NBA’s mid-season showcase. The prowess shown by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson make the pairing a force to be reckoned with in the NBA and be looked upon favorably against any other duo of offensive players in the league.

Kerr and the Warriors will have their next outing against the Memphis Grizzlies , a team with the second-best record in the Western Conference , while leading their division with a great deal of ease. This contest will provide us with a great deal of insight about these two teams, where Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will lead a Grizzlies’ team intent on proving , they are to to be taken seriously as a legitimate threat within the conference as a playoff contender. I am certainly beginning to think the landscape has shifted within the Western Conference , where the only known commodities as perennial playoff contenders are the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, the defending NBA champions.

Two of the NBA’s most storied franchises are certainly having indifferent seasons. The Boston Celtics under second-year head coach Brad Stevens are still in the early stages of their rebuilding phase . A maneuver , I certainly believe GM Danny Ainge should have started at least three years ago, but inexplicably he chose to wait and here we are with a Celtics’ team still getting its feet wet and showing incrementals signs of improvement in their overall play. The New York Knicks remain an undisciplined team with their being little of positive recommendation to be made about this Derek Fisher coached lineup . To top it all , the Knicks’ front office remains clueless and that is with all due respect to Phil Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise, but even he has to see , his task has now become a great deal tougher than first thought. Anyone of the belief that a roster made up of players such as Samuel Dalembert , Tim Hardaway Jr , Iman Shumpert , Pablo Prigioni, Amare’ Stoudemire, JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony were going to possibly compete n this league would have to be delusional or simply long-term diehard Knicks’ fans who welcomed the torture they have been subjected to over the past decade.

Personally, I do not believe fans of the franchise are either eloquent or intelligent enough to succinctly state the problems this team faces but yet they appear to be of the belief Jackson will be able to engineer a quick turnaround. Well, the famed head coach will not be stepping back into his coach’s shoes anytime soon and it is clear to see Fisher is way in, over his head. As to this continued idiocy, the coaching staff is experienced enough to guide these players, clearly that has become a farce of epic proportions. If anyone is trying to suggest Kurt Rambis and Roger Hinds can provide the tutelage needed, let alone assist Fisher to the best of their abilities in making this roster remotely competitive. The evidence is there for all too see, as borne out the team’s record without the continued asinine excuses being made for their plight. A five-point loss suffered at the hands of the Toronto Raptors on Sunday evening at Madison Square Garden , served notice as to how soft the New York Knicks have becomeand the fact this team is simply not that good by any stretch of the imagination to compete in the NBA.

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While I know the NBA season remains very much in its early stages , we have already reached first quarter of the schedule. The troublesome and prevailing premise has to be, when are we likely to see any type of improvement from the teams at the bottom end of the pedestal ? Certainly there is a great deal of room for improvement from the likes of the Brooklyn Nets , New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, but their issues are of their own making and not likely to get any better anytime soon. By all means, leave a comment as to your thoughts on the NBA and what you would like to see come out of this season concerning the teams ?

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , middle, looks for a teammate amid Kentucky defenders, from left, Aaron Harrison , Dakari Johnson , and Willie Cauley-Stein during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game , Saturday, Dec. 13th, 2014. Kentucky won 84-70 . AP Photo/James Crisp

(2) North Carolina’s Marcus Paige , left, draws a charging foul on Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. AP Photo/James Crisp …

(3) Duke’s Tyus Jones (5) shoots past Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Duke won 80-70 . AP Photo/Andy Manis …

(4) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski , left, and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan greet each other before an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, in Madison, Wis. AP Photo/Andy Manis ….

(5) Oct 7 , 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) posts up against Indiana Pacers guard George Hill (3) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 103-90 . Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ….

(6) Klay Thompson , Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 14, 2014 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Lane Murdoch Jr . …

(7) Anthony Davis (23) of the New Orleans Pelicans looks to make an offensive play as DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers looks to defend . Davis has been one of the league’s most explosive players offensively , during this season and by far the most effective power forward at this juncture of the NBA schedule. The Clippers would go on to defeat the Pelicans 120-100 in a high scoring game played on the 6th December , 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California ,. Getty Images / Paul Fleming …

(8) LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 23: The Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff (L-R) Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis , Phil Jackson, Frank Hamblen and athletic trainer Gary Vitti share a laugh on the bench during the game game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 122-96. Rambis is now the lead assistant on Derek Fisher’s coaching staff of the New York Knicks where Jackson is now the Head of Basketball Operations for the Knicks’ organization. Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images …

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Lana del Ray …. “Ultraviolence ”

A case can be made ….

A case can be made ….

The four teams have been set for College Football’s playoff format and while there will continue to be disagreements as to the merits of the four programs atop of the rankings. While no one can deny Alabama has been the best team in College Football this season , questions are likely to be asked as to why TCU (Hornfrogs) was not given a higher ranking . Yet based on the merits , we can only accept findings of the panel as being diligent. With the Bowl games still in tact , those programs not rewarded with the chance of taking part in the inaugural playoff system will still be part of a lucrative postseason extravaganza. Make no mistake , money remains the sole driving force behind this new format, alongside College Football’s wish to be seen as changing with the times . The first of those Bowl Games will be on the 20th December when Utah faces off against Colorado State .
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Squaring off the right to be designated as the national champion in what will amount to the semi-final round of the Playoff Format will be the number one ranked Alabama (Crimson Tide) staring down to face Urban Meyer and number four ranked Ohio State (Buckeyes) . The two opposing coaches Nick Saban and Meyer have a combined six national titles between them. In the other title bearing contest we have Oregon (Ducks) and their Heisman Trophy leading candidate Marcus Mariota leading the team against the defending national champions Florida State (Seminoles) . With so much at stake for the quartet of teams , it will be interesting to see how both contests will come to their respective conclusions on the 1st January, 2015.

I am not about to suggest that either Alabama or Oregon will have their way with their opponents in their contests, but the prevailing thought might well be these two teams would provide the fans of College Football as well as the nation at large the best possible finale sought ,with their being ranked number one and number two in the nation. Granted, Ohio State and Florida State will have other ideas with view to upsetting the perceptions of those favoring the top-two contenders.

There has been little to suggest this has been none of the more memorable seasons in in the annals recent NFL history . If anything this year has provided us with a litany of games we would rather forget , with so many teams playing sub-par football and their being very little defense being shown in a wide variety of ways . Week fourteen provided us with another reason why you can never take anything for granted in today’s NFL and that point was so well emphasized in the San Francisco 49ers’ embarrassing loss to the lowly and hideously abhorrent Oakland Raiders . To suggest Jim Harbaugh’s players were simply complacent would be an understatement and while the Raiders should be lauded for a splendid effort, let us not forget the tea