I love the smell of Napalm in the morning !
Well, in the aftermath a tumultuous NFL season we now know the twelve teams to have made the NFL postseason. The New Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are the two top-seeds within the AFC, leaving the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals as the top seeded contenders within the NFC.
Results emanating from Sunday’s games left us in no doubt who the top teams were within the conferences after the two hundred and fifty-six games played. As usual with the postseason approaching , speculation will be raised to the possible coaching carousel likely to take place. There is the likelihood we might well have seen the last game coached by Tom Coughlin as the head coach of the New York Giants after the team’s rather embarrassing loss to divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Chip Kelly’s abrupt firing by the Eagles’ front office , the number of coaches terminated this season are numbered at four , with the recent dismissals of Mike Pettine with the Cleveland Browns and Jim Tomsula with the San Francisco 49ers . As abysmal a season had by each of the teams in question , they were not the franchises with the worst record in the NFL during the 2015 regular season schedule . That accolade belonged to none other than the Tennessee Titans (3-13) a mark which was also shared with the Brown. What this might suggest about both teams can be best summed by their results over the course of the season and their statistical play throughout.
With the top two teams in each conference having a bye in the wildcard round of the postseason , teams seeded three through six will begin the playoffs with the scheduled games due. Those match-ups are likely to prove very intriguing with perhaps the best of the bunch being the NFC contest , which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Minnesota Vikings . The two opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings, will provide the fans to see two of the more productive passers within the NFC this season.
Though we have not yet reached the midway point of the NBA season there can be no denying which team has been the best in the league at this point of the schedule. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have set a blistering pace leaving others in their wake . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr , in his absence has seen his understudy Luke Walton guide the team with a great deal of coaching acumen , leading a number of analysts to believe, Walton will likely be pursued by a number of teams at the end of the season, once the customary firings begin to take place. There are likely to be at least six teams seeking the former player’s services, but I do believe he will be reluctant to leave, unless his desired destination is with a franchise where there is a more than reasonable chance of success.
Coming off another victory , Curry and his teammates will next take to the court to face the Charlotte Hornets at the Oracle Arena , Oakland, California on Monday, 4th January . This should prove be an easy win for the Warriors against an Eastern Conference opponent given the team’s record against the conference and their record at home . The Hornets for their part will be looking to keep apace within their conference as well as against a Western Conference opponent where the team has had relatively little success this season.
The Los Angles Lakers (8-27) and the Philadelphia 76ers (3-33) have combined for eleven regular season wins at this point of the season , having played roughly thirty-five games. It would be fair to suggest both teams could very well end up with what would be franchise lows in terms of regular season victories. There also appears to a remote possibility the Sixers are well on their of equaling the NBA league-low number for regular season wins, a mark held by 1973 Philadelphia 76ers .Wins have been have been very difficult to come by for this Brett Brown coached Sixers’ team . Philadelphia’s last victory came on the 30th December when they defeated the Sacramento Kings by the score of 110-105. The team’s next game will be a home contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday evening.
For Byron Scott and the Los Angeles Lakers , their season has been one of sheer ineptitude with only sparing glimpses of Kobe Bryant at his best among the players on the Lakers’ roster. It is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here , as GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss have very few alternatives with regard to the depth on the roster. Capable perhaps of only playing for their self-respect, the Los Angeles Lakers do not appear to have a short-term, much less a long-term strategy once Kobe Bryant has played his last game for the franchise. Bryant made it official , this would indeed be his last year with the Lakers , formally announcing his retirement for the end of this season. Unlikely to be a major player in the free agency market , salary dumping or otherwise, Kupchak can only seek to assess the current crop of Los Angeles Lakers’ players and go from there with regard to rebuilding the roster. With a game coming up against the Golden State Warriors , which will be on the road , it will be interesting to see how the team will fare against a conference opponent , the reigning NBA champions .
The College Basketball season is now in full swing and with the teams gearing up towards ‘March Madness’ ,and it has been an interesting season , which has meandered its way through a slew of games. Seated atop of the rankings are the Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) under head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks’ team . Wayne Selden , Perry Ellis and Frank Mason are the leading scorers for the Jayhawks , but a great deal of praise this season has been heaped upon Ben Simmons of the LSU Tigers . Simmons is considered to be a consensus first round lottery pick and the likely number one choice of the team privileged to have the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft . Judging by his game that is not without merit for a player whose all-round skill-set has been compared to has been compared to four-time NBA League MVP and Cleveland Cavaliers’ player LeBron James . Great praise indeed, but I believe it to be way too premature to be making such comparisons ! The LSU Tigers have an upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats.
We know the SEC to be the best conference in College Basketball and there can be no questioning of that very fact. The programs within the conference, speaks volumes as to the quality of play witnessed each year. Florida are now going it alone without Billy Donovan going as the head coach of the program. His successor Mike White is being asked to fill a big pair shoes after the considerable success achieved by Donovan during his reign. Florida is off to an inauspicious start to their season and their most recent game was an exhilarating victory over the Georgia Bulldogs with a fourteen-point 77-63 win . White and the Gators will be on the road to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a contest which should bring out the best in both teams.
I have to admit in recent years I have grown tired of the sport of boxing ! It remains corrupt , devoid of real leadership at the international level and most notably without any real transparency by way of leadership here in North America. The USBA which is affiliated to the IBF remains a constant joke, like many of the international counterparts which now hold sway over the sport internationally. Consider the fact there is no undisputed champion in any of weight categories and it is easy to understand why this sport is dying on its knees and close to being in need to resuscitation.
Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao may well have brought back a certain amount of excitement in what was Mayweather’s last professional bout which saw close out his career with an unbeaten 49-0 record. In reality however, this fight was five years too late and simply lacked the excitement the fans truly hoped for . Lackluster, would be too soft a word to describe the title fight , where both fighters walked away with an estimated $300 million to split between them , Mayweather taking the larger slice of the purse before taking into account another $200 million in television rights from the overseas sales and merchandising revenues grossed.
From my own perspective , I believe Floyd Mayweather will make a return to the ring to push his record to 50-0 . Mayweather has not really fought anyone of consequence in the past four years and even though his resume’ boasts and unbeaten record , along with multiple title defenses , one could suggest the record might well stand the test of time , but it truly lacks the hyperbole many believe it deserves.
Several boxers at the welterweight and light middleweight division would undoubtedly like to head into the ring and got toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather, but herein lies the caveat with the unbeaten fighter. He cherry-picks his opponents and simply added insult to injury , when he chose Andre Berto , to push his record to 49-0 . Berto was certainly undeserving of a title shot and the fact he was not high enough within the welterweight category clearly indicated the titleholder wanted a “patsy ” in the opposite corner for his last professional bout.
It has been ten years since the heavyweight category last had an undisputed champion with the last titleholder of the titles being British fighter Lennox Lewis. Since Lewis’ retirement from the ring there have several claimants to the differing established belts as recognized by the four main international governing bodies. Unfortunately, the entities in question have failed to give the fans what they yearned , a unified and undisputed champion. Siblings Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for years, each held claim to one version of the title but refused to defend their versions against each , seeking to unify the division. With Vitali having retired it was left to Wladimir to reign supreme over the division , which in many ways he had done with a string of successful defenses, against less than credible opponents.
Yet in what was believed to a bout where he was considered to be a clear-cut favorite , he fell to the boxing skills of Tyson Fury of Great Britain in what some considered to be one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history. The bout itself was far from being an instant classic but what it lacked in drama was made up for with the passion shown by the challenger as he wrestled away the title from the Ukrainian champion. However, in what one could only deem as farcical the IBF (International Boxing Federation) has seen fit to strip Tyson Fury of the belt he legitimately won in the ring. The explanation if it is to be believed, smacks of stupidity on the part of the governing body and from the former titleholder , Wladimir Klitschko , who was said to be not only upset with the decision rendered by the judges in a fight he lost in a unanimous decision, but also by the fact Fury sought not to grant him an immediate rematch within ninety days. If boxing has a flaw , then it is one of its own self-importance and indulgence , where the fighters themselves lack as much credibility as the various governing bodies which preside over the sport.
Boxing has lost a great deal of credibility around the globe, albeit , if there are claims it remains the one pugilistic and combative art form every fight fan yearns for . I am not so sure those claims are any longer legitimate and can be proven. While boxing has seen a marked decline , the rapid rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) now under the banner of the UFC , seems to be giving fans something they really yearn for. UFC has brought legitimacy and business acumen to a sport which has now become the fastest growing participant sport across the globe. Many of the fighters within the UFC stable of MMA stars are fast becoming recognized names as well Hollywood action stars and crossover celebrities. Suffice to say, the UFC hierarchy under Dana White has struck box-office gold , even if White is considered to be a dictatorial executive.
Ronda Rousey’s shocking and surprising loss to Holly Holm may well prove to be a welcome change for the sport and actually shape the direction and open even more opportunities for women who might see an interest in entering the genre. Rousey created a buzz needed when many felt MMA had lost some of its appeal. Now with her defeat, her drive and eagerness to reclaim her Bantamweight title could be the best thing to happen to Women’s MMA as well as the UFC in general.
In recent months several champions have seen their reigns come to an end within the UFC and added new honorees within the sport. It could well be seen as a good thing for MMA and its viability long-term if the excitement created can be maintained . Certainly , Dana White is taking a new approach of growing the UFC brand globally as well as expanding across North America , with the executive’s biggest wish being to see the sport be granted the license to promote and stage events in New York State.
For some strange reason the State Legislature of New York State sees no need to grant a license and continues to show their disapproval of a sport they deem barbaric. Last I looked, with the issues stemming from the NFL and how that particular league hierarchy has dealt with the issues of chronic head trauma , I would have to say the New York State Athletic Commission has been oblivious to the idiocy of Paul Tagliabue and his successor Roger Goodell , who have somehow chosen to remain in the dark ages as to the deniability of the damages caused from years of brutal head to head helmet contract driven by the physicality of football within the NFL. The league itself , still seeks to challenge the multi-billion dollar settlement obtained by retired by players in a Federal Appeals Court ruling , while also seeking reinstate their four—game suspension of Tom Brady for his alleged involvement in Deflate-Gate. Begs the question, at what point will both the New York State Athletic Commission and the NFL hierarchy actually wake up and smell the coffee , much less the napalm ?
Sports in general as always is in need of a good shakeup , be it at the competitive level or among its hierarchical leadership structure. One thing for sure, without real change , things tend to stagnate and show signs of recession rather than real growth or excitement.
Tophatal ………. NB : By clicking on the individual images seen below you can view them in a reformatted size along with a narrative.