Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance, on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Well the NFL season is now over and the fallout from an unbelievable end to the Superbowl (SBLVIX) still has not subsided five days after the event. Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has staunchly defended offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and has suggested the decision in many respects, was Bevell’s alone and that he agreed with the coordinator’s take and final call. My question remains, if Marshawn Lynch throughout much of the game gave the New England Patriots a great deal more than they could handle, why would the Seahawks seek to change course at such a pivotal moment in the game ? Lynch, during this contest, scored a touchdown on a short yardage gain after a reception, yet this actually escaped both Carroll’s and Bevell’s notice ? Call me naive, but the head coach’s post-game explanation given during his interview, smacks of sheer stupidity and utter nonsense !

New England ascends back to the top of the NFL world, and simply cementing their dominance of this league, as a ” true dynasty, one of the most discussed, if not one of the most alienating also, in the world of professional team sports across the North American landscape over the past twenty-five years.

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Five months into the NBA season and the talk in recent weeks has been the unbelievable play of the Atlanta Hawks and their ongoing dominance within the NBA. In the month of January, Mike Budenholzer’s vastly improved team went a staggering 17-0 , unbeaten for the entire calendar month of their scheduled games. Consider the fact, the Chicago Bulls’ team of their championship winning season of 1995-96, where they went 72-10, setting an NBA franchise record for wins in a season. The team coached by Phil Jackson was never able to achieve that feat with a roster which boasted Michael Jordan , Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman among the starting lineup , which was also well-served by several role players who contributed greatly to the Bulls’ success of that season.

There is a great deal to be said, for the days of dominance once had by the Chicago Bulls, as for years the franchise was waylaid by the fact the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics held center-stage within the Eastern Conference, while the Los Angeles Lakers were simply extending the glare of the Showtime Lakers’ extravaganza. During that time, the Chicago Bulls grew to overcome their fears and went about beginning their historic run, which rang in a new era and perhaps the most popular reign in NBA history, most certainly from a fan and global standpoint. Michael Jordan reigned supreme, as the most dominant player in the NBA and one of most recognized athletes on the face of the planet . With it, came the wealth and acclaim, few athletes today can match. LeBron James , currently, the best player in the NBA and rightfully so, the latest NBA star, seen as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant’s era of supremacy is slowly winding down and with it, the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent chapter of NBA dominance. .

As good as the Atlanta Hawks appear to be and what they have achieved has been fascinating . The true test for any NBA franchise can be judged by what they have been able to do during the NBA Playoffs. For Atlanta the type of success sought, has been fleeting for an organization still seeking acceptance as an elite franchise in the NBA. This might be the season, in which the Hawks can finally stake that claim , if they make the NBA Playoffs and then go on a prolonged run, all the way to the NBA Finals.

The Atlanta Hawks’ exceptional month of January has heightened expectations for the month of February, even with the upcoming All Star Game Weekend fast approaching. Between now and then, it will be interesting to see how this team fares as it is being led by Paul Millsap , Al Horford , Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll , Kyle Korver and John Jenkins . Needless to say this has been a collective effort from the Hawks’ players over the course of the season . They have been able to eke out their victories on the road as well as at home against divisional , conference and Western Conference opponents .

Having gone 9-1 in their last ten games the Atlanta Hawks are as sure a bet, as you can get, for them to make the NBA Playoffs, where if things were to remain as they are, their first round opponents would be the Miami Heat , last eat season’s losing NBA Finalists . It would be definitely be an enticing first-round contest to survey , with the Heat seen as an opponent , good enough to cause an upset.

I believe the Atlanta Hawks are good enough to make a solid run through to the end of the season , winning their division outright and making the NBA Playoffs. Where they then go from there, is anyone’s guess, because during the postseason, it then becomes about the teams and their players standing tall , excelling at critical points of a game. Recent signs show the Hawks are not yet at the standard required for them to be seen as a credible contender to win it all .

If ever there was a sign to indicate , Phil Jackson erred in the hiring of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks. Then look no further than what has been achieved by Steve Ker, the successor to Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors . The Knicks continue on their season of sheer ineptitude while the Warriors have not only slain the dragon, but chopped off its head. Leading me to believe, Jackson’s ego has gotten the better of him at this stage of his career.

Golden State behind the solid play of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have led the team to the best record the Western Conference and along the way lead the Pacific Division by healthy 7 1/2 game margin over the Los Angeles Clippers. Coming off a fourteen-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks it is becoming hard to envisage any team within the Western Conference actually challenging the dominance of the Warriors over the remainder of this season.

To comprehend how the guile and tenacity shown by Golden State this season, has been such a success, you simply have to look at the margin of victory in their games where they overpower an opponent. Next up for the Warriors will be a cross-conference game against the Atlanta Hawks on the road, where the team has been very good. It’s pretty much safe to suggest, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be looking have their division and conference sewn up by no later than mid-March . It gives Kerr the opportunity needed, to rest a number of his front-line starters, while assessing what his bench players are able to do before the end of the season on the 15th April, 2015

Defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs have slowly plodded along while the elder statesmen on the team have sought to gain some semblance of consistency to their season. Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have been the mainstays of the franchise’s successes and one of the reasons why they have been a perennial playoff team and contender for the NBA title. Seventeen straight NBA Playoff appearances and yet when fans, tend to talk about dynasties and dominance, rarely has the name of the San Antonio Spurs been mentioned in the same sentence as the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls or the Motown Bad Boys of Detroit under the coaching acumen of Chuck Daly, as he engineered the success of the Detroit Pistons. I suppose not playing in what is deemed to be a major-market, has a tendency of taking the gloss off a team’s achievements. While many, were surprised the Spurs were able to get past the highly favored Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals. It should not have come as any great surprise,if the suggestion was made, LeBron James and his teammates were simply complacent and went into the postseason foray, with the expectation of simply waltzing through through a seven-game series, merely based on having defeated San Antonio in the previous season’s Finals Series.

San Antonio now has a competent lineup beyond their Big Three of Duncan , Ginobli and Parker now joined by last season’s Finals’ MVP of Kawhi Leonard , it must be said the team does have have a formidable lineup , which I believe to be among the best in the NBA for a starting five, without delving into the contributions from the bench. It would also be remiss to not take into account the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich, a staff which includes the NBA’s only lead female assistant, former WNBA player Becky Hammon. As to whether or not this league will ever have its very first female head coach remains to be seen , but I am sure, it is something Hammon will seek to achieve !

With only the Cleveland Cavaliers , Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks over their last ten games having a better record, it indicates at present, how competitive the NBA happens to be. San Antonio’s thirteen-point victory at home over the Miami Heat was indicative of what we know to be the frailties of a weak Eastern Conference as another franchise drops a game to a Western Conference foe. The Spurs’ next game takes them North of the border to face the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. For both teams this should prove to be a fascinating contest as they seek to maintain their momentum in the run-up to the All Star Break .

A ninety million dollar ($90 million) payroll doesn’t appear to have aided the Brooklyn Nets this season as the team struggles to make sense of their failures at this point of the NBA schedule. It would be fair to suggest the Nets have been a major disappointment for their fans and the NBA alike. Personally, I believe the team to be lacking in leadership with Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams being overpaid and offering the franchise absolutely nothing on all levels at this stage of their respective careers.

For Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff at a loss for an explanation,while GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov wondering if changes will have to be made before or at the trade deadline, if the franchise is to make some sense of their season. In their last ten games the Brooklyn Nets are a paltry 5-5 , simply mirroring what they represent as a team, to the NBA fans at large, being average and representing mediocrity !

Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets will take to the court to face conference rivals the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This will be game, between two teams of similar ambitions, seeking to make their presence felt within the conference as well their respective divisions could very well make or break their seasons from hereon-in. The All Star festivities to be staged at the Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets will provide a timely respite for the teams as they take stock and then prepare for the second half of the season. This will be the point where executives and team owners look to make some major deals and naturally shed players for salary cap reasons.

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As the first half of this NBA season comes to a close, which team or teams have been the biggest surprise in your opinion ? During the second half of the schedule which franchise and players will play a decisive role of making a playoff push within each conference ? Also, of the teams in the league (NBA) over the past two decades, which do you believe is the most deserving to be thought of as a dynasty ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it has always been appreciated ! Thank you !

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(1) Marshawn Lynch (24) of the Seattle Seahawks completes a catch against Tyler Gaffney (31) of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Rob Carr

(2) Marshawn Lynch(24) of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jamie Squire

(3) John Wall of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the game on February 7, 2015 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NBAE/Getty Images/ Ned Dishman

(4) David Lee of the Golden State Warriors goes to the basket against Travis Wear(6) of the New York Knicks on February 7, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getty Images / Nathaniel S Butler

(5) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 7, 2015 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Getty Images / Mike Hamilton

(6) Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Scott Cunningham

(7) Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against the Miami Heat on February 6, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images North America / D. Clarke Evans

(8) Becky Hammon , left , is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich . Hammon is the first full-time lead assistant head coach with any franchise in the NBA . The NBA might just be the most progressive of any of the four main professional team sports , with Michele Roberts also recently being named the Executive Director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Popovich believes Hammon due to her vast experience as a former WNBA player and now an assistant coach , could become the first female head coach in the NBA . AP Photo /Gary Ross
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Whining gets you nowhere when you want to feel good about your team, especially when you realize they’re on the decline

Whining gets you nowhere when you want to feel good about your team, especially when you realize they’re on the decline

As the NBA season has yet to get into full swing there are now a number of situations beginning to unwind concerning the frailities of a number of teams. In something of a debate, but though a little contentious , a patron on a site suggested that the Dallas Mavericks, a perennial contender was perhaps one of the best franchises in the NBA. All true, as the Mavericks have indeed won an NBA Final where Dirk Nowitzki won the Finals’ MVP in leading the team in a surprising victory over what was then an overrated Miami Heat team led by LeBron James.

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Mark Cuban , the always none too shy, self publicity seeking owner of the Dallas Mavericks, as ever opinionated makes the statement he would like to see the Oklahoma City Thunder “tank” their season . With two of their most senior and best players sidelined by injuries , Oklahoma has made do without both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I get the feeling, Cuban sees this as the best opportunity for the Mavericks to gain a postseason berth because his team has very little chance of winning what has always been a very competitive Southwest Division within the Western Conference.

Off to a 4-3 start to the season Rick Carlisle and his coaching staff will certainly know this will almost certainly be Dirk Nowitzki’s last season in a Mavericks’ uniform. The center’s career with the franchise has indeed made him the face of the Mavericks during his tenure and a likely Hall of Fame inductee having met the eligibility requirements. Nowitzki leads the team in many of the relevant statistical categories which matter the most .

Coming off a 105-96 loss to the Miami Heat where Monta Ellis led the scoring drive for the Mavericks in this contest. Nowitzki had a solid all-round game but not one where you could state he made a difference with the result. The flaws on the Mavericks are there to be seen, with their being very little resilience from this team with regard to theirdefensive capabilities. Dallas may well be able to outscore their opponents, but clearly defensively , the team cannot defend when a game is on the line and it will continue to be the ‘Achilles’ Heel’ for the Dallas Mavericks.

Next up for Dallas will be the opportunity for the team to gauge themselves against DeMarcus Cousins and a good Sacramento Kings’ team looking to make a clear statement they are ready to compete with the very best the conference and NBA has to offer this season.

DeMarcus Cousins is now growing into his own as a player , albeit, his stature is not where it should be for a player with a great deal of talent and who has repeatedly failed to show the maturity sought by the Kings’ coaching staff and front office and team owner Vivek Ranadive .

You certainly don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the New York Knicks are struggling in the NBA this season. Head of Basketball Operations & SVP Phil Jackson was induced to return to the franchise where he made a name for himself as a player and won an NBA title with the franchise . This season the Knicks have been anything but consistent as the team led by Carmelo Anthony seeks to get over their early struggles. A six-point loss , 91-85 to the Atlanta Hawks was the Knicks’ third consecutive defeat suffered by team as they fall to 2-6 within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

New York cajoled and plead with Carmelo Anthony to remain with the Knicks, on the premise they would build a competitive lineup to complement his talents as a player and the New York Knicks’ leading scorer this season. It is pretty much safe to say the Knicks are failing miserably and thought their year is somewhat of a microcosm of what was witnessed last year doesn’t provide the fans with a great deal of confidence. While attendance at Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York remains healthy , you have to wonder at what point these fans are likely voice their displeasure with the team and the coaching staff of Derek Fisher.

The Knicks if they are to succeed, in spite of the belief of their fans that this season could be the year where they are primed to make a deep playoff run in pursuit of their first NBA title in over four decades. Derek Fisher in his first season as a rookie head coach must be wondering if his mentor Phil Jackson ever had these type of struggles at any point during his career. Other than Carmelo Anthony there is not a bona-fide superstar on the Knicks’ roster. Amare’ Stoudemire is on the downside of a rather disappointing career , along with a thirty-seven year old Argentinian guard Pablo Prigioni , JR Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Samuel Dalembert are seen as the mainstays of this Knicks’ team. Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher know there are teething problems concerning the New York Knicks and their next five games will tell us a great deal about the franchise and the inner workings of the organization owned by James Dolan .

With a net worth of over $1.2 billion the New York Knicks remain the most valuable NBA franchise in spite of the exorbitant price of $2 billion paid by Steve Ballmer in his purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers . While Ballmer strives to make the Clippers a more recognized brand around the league, the Knicks have no such worries , with the franchise perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the NBA and one of the most revered sports’ franchises in North America . The Orlando Magic will be the guests of the New York Knicks on Wednesday when the two teams meet in the first of the scheduled meetings this season. Ballmer has seen the Clippers get off to an indifferent start with a 4-3 mark , seated fourth within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference 1 1/2 games behind division leaders the Golden State Warriors (5-1).

In their most recent game the Los Angeles Clippers’ fall to the San Antonio Spurs, where the reigning champions witnessed the trio of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker combine for their five hundredth victory together as teammates. A singular feat , likely to go down in history but not necessarily lauded by the print and television media where even the NBA Network have been slow to laud the feat , but the network’s constant obeisance and ass kissing of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have become bile inducing beyond anyone’s scope and comprehension. Doc Rivers has his own trio of stars with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan laying swath to their opponents this season, but the real issue, has to be , can the coach get his team playing defense with a great deal more resilience ?

In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling fiasco the Los Angeles Clippers have shown they are ready to move on and put that lamentable chapter behind them . Unfortunately, were it not for the incompetency of the hierarchy’s handling of the issue , this matter might not have been so prolonged and a complete embarrassment to the league. As the Clippers’ ascent continues the fast spiraling descent of the Los Angeles Lakers continues abound.To date , Kobe Bryant has yet to show his anger or direct his angst towards his teammates or front office executives Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak who in recent years have blundered with their acquisition of free agents and through a number of their recent draft classes .

Bryant as a multi- time time All Star has seen the Los Angeles Lakers’ season flounder with the loss of Steve Nash and rookie Julius Randle. Add in the fact head coach Byron Scott and the coaching staff are struggling to find their best lineup much get something from the roster in terms of depth . The Lakers got their first victory of the season with a 102-97 win over the Charlotte Hornets in game where Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin led all scorers for the Lakers in the contest and for the Hornets , Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leading the way for the for the visiting team. I am not so sure Bryant will be able to pull the Lakers out of their current abyss, not with a team that seems to lack a competitive edge and nature . Nonetheless , it will be interesting how they fare over remainder of the month and then throughout December as the NBA season gets into the heart of its schedule.

As the youngest League MVP in NBA history the Chicago Bulls’ (6-2) point guard Derrick Rose has seen his career take a meteoric trajectory . Rose at his very best happens to be one of the most electrifying players in the league and almost certainly among the top-five point guards playing the game today. The issue however, remains keeping Rose healthy where he can play an entire season for this team . Without him the Bulls tend to struggle as does provide the bulk of the team’s offense . Head coach Tom Thibodeau knows Rose remains the one asset , his team can do without and though over the past two postseasons the Bulls had admirable runs , those failures can point to the fact they were without their best player.

Chicago’s 6-2 mark is one of the best in the Eastern Conference and one of the best in the entire league . GM John Paxson was heavily criticized last season with the trading of Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers , but Deng now finds himself as the centerpiece of a revamped Miami Heat roster in the aftermath of the departure of LeBron James. The Bulls do not seemed to have missed a beat and their play this season has been scintillating at times , leading me to believe they might provide the biggest threat to the Cavaliers and James’ quest to bring an NBA title to Cleveland this season , which would be to the delight of team owner Dan Gilbert . James will be looking to add to his legacy and that of the Cleveland Cavaliers .

If there is one sport where the players feel theirs is a right to entitlement, the world of professional basketball would be it. Where else can the players be rewarded so highly , while leaving their peers within the NFL , and hockey its wake ? The demented lunacy that continues to exist within Major League Baseball (MLB) and the imbalances to be seen from a financial aspect , has me wondering how soon before that particular ” House of Cards” begins to fall ?

The NBA hides behind the idiocy of a “soft ” salary cap ($63.1 million) , while David Stern and his successor Adam Silver have repeatedly failed to rein in the expenses of the teams in terms of their payroll . Adam Silver as the NBA Commissioner , is not unlike Bud Selig , in his failing to address and admit his sport, has a major economic problem , even in spite of the countless, millions of dollars in annual revenues . Yes, while the burgeoning television contracts and team revenues continue to escalate , the NBA finds itself within its own personal Utopia . There still remains the question of trying to address declining viewership and in some cases the fall in attendance for teams around the league.

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Mikhail Prokorov and Paul Allen as the owners of the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trailblazers had their teams entering this season with the highest payrolls in the NBA . Money is obviously of no issue for two of the wealthiest individuals in all of professional sports, with Prokhorov and Allen having a combined net worth exceeding $30 billion . Their teams are likely to become intertwined over the course of this season as both the Nets and Trailblazers seek to make their mark on the year. The first of their regular season meetings come on the 15th November when the Portland Trailblazers will play host to the Brooklyn Nets at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon,.

Portland will be looking to their combo of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to lead the way as they take on Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez of the Nets. Garnett the wily veteran of this Brooklyn team has long felt he can still be productive during the latter stages of his career. He has been as good as his word , giving given this roster some stability where it is needed and the coaching staff of Lionel Hollins have benefited from Kevin Garnett’s experience and leadership. Among active players, Garnett’s statstics weigh up favorably and it has been one of the defining points of his career with his durability and willingness to lead.

There is no denying , playing in a weak Eastern Conference does create the illusion great basketball is alive and well within the conference. In reality , nothing could be further from the truth with their being little to suggest the Eastern Conference is at all competitive . The hyperbole which surrounded the Miami Heat quickly brought a number of analysts and fans back down to earth, because they bought into the idiocy that LeBron James could carry the Heat though the postseason without really being assisted his supporting cast. When you consider the cast in question barely showed up during the NBA Finals , you have to wonder how anyone in their right mind favored the Heat , never mind the fact , they completely underestimated the San Antonio Spurs and their coach Gregg Popovich .

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With the NBA season still in its infancy , has there been an event or game which you feel is reflection of why the league remains pedantic ? Also which teams by your estimation are already in danger of seeing their season being flushed down the tubes ? Just leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it is gratefully appreciated !

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(1) From left to right , 2011 Finals’ MVP Dirk Bowitzki is seen alongside teammates, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion after the Dallas Mavericks’ triumph over the Miami Heat in the series to win their first championship in the franchise’s history.. Team owner Mark Cuban has not been afraid to spend money capriciously , but with Nowitzki likely to retire from the game, it will be interesting to see the lengths GM Donnie Nelson will go to , in rebuilding the team. AP Photo / Mike Carpenter …

(2) Mark Cuban left , owner of the Dallas Mavericks is seen here with the team’s head coach Rick Carlisle . The two will have a great deal of pondering to do at the end of this season , should the Dirk Nowitzki make the decision to retire from the game and the franchise where he has spent his entire NBA career . Getty Images North America / Moses Carter ..

(3) Reigning League MVP Kevin Durant shows a great deal of humility and humbleness, as he accepts his MVP Award. Durant is currently missing from the Oklahoma City Thunder lineup due to an injury that will keep him sidelined for at least two months, hampering the team’s chances of making a successful defense of their divisional crown . Head coach Scott Brooks hopes to see Durant back in a Thunder uniform by late December or early January , Also missing from the starting lineup is point guard Russell Westbrook . The duo are two of the league’s most potent offensive players accounting for over 63% of the team’s offense this past season . AP Photo/ Larry Mason …

(4) Phil Jackson now a senior executive within the New York Knicks’ front office has been entrusted with the decision making process for all personnel moves for the franchise. The former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach hired Derek Fisher to coach the team . Off to an inauspicious start Fisher and his coaching staff will have to make good on the wishes of their fans to make the postseason for the first time in three years . At their present rate the projected wins’ total for the Knicks seems to be no more than twenty-eight games . A record , unlikely get them a berth for the NBA Playoffs based on the last two years . AP Photo / Matt Turner …

(5) Former Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer is seen here with Los Angeles point guard Chris Paul , (right) at a Los Angeles Kings’ game . Ballmer purchased the Clippers for a record $2 billion , and with that an appreciation in the value of the NBA’s other twenty-nine teams is likely to take place . Getty Images North America …

(6) From left to right , Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are seen here on the bench during a game. The combo were part of the team’s lineup during which they won their five-hundredth game together as a trio. Duncan has been part of all five team triumphs in the NBA Finals with his two teammates each winning four titles . The Spurs hope to make it a sixth this upcoming season and they are off to mild start to their schedule . Head coach Gregg Popovich seeks his six title as coach and third NBA Coach of the Year Award during his illustrious career . Peter Holt and GM RC Buford have presided over the franchise’s success over the past eighteen years. AP Photo / Paul Holland ..

(7) Four-time League MVP LeBron James whose return to the Cleveland Cavaliers have seen an increase in the Cavaliers’ attendance at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio . James for his part leads the team in the most pertinent offensive categories this season . Cleveland is seen as the leading contender for the Eastern Conference title this season and James hopes to make that a reality for the franchise. Team owner Dan Gilbert was ecstatic at the return of the player who was drafted by team and as a rookie started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers . AP Photo / Manny Velazquez …

(8) Brooklyn Nets owner , Mikhail Prokhorov is seen here with the team’s point guard Deron Williams . Beyond his ownership of the franchise , Prokhorov owns the a majority (85%) stake, which encompasses the Nets’ venue the Barclays Center , in Brooklyn , New York and real estate enterprise surrounding the arena. AP Photo / Barry Marshall …

(9) Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose is seen on the sidelines discussing a play with head coach Tom Thibodeau during a game. The player has missed a significant number of games over thelast two seasons due to injury and already this early into Bulls’ 2014 season, Rose has once again been sidelined due to injury . AP Photo / Anglela Hart …

(10) Luol Deng (9) of the Miami Heat , who in a recent outing for the team scored a season high thirty points against the Dallas Mavericks , which the Heat won with ease against a Mavericks’ team, who showed poor defensive qualities . Deng signed with Heat after being part of a mid-season trade in during the 2013 season which saw him being dealt by the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Signed as a free agent this off-season by the Heat , Deng has become a solid member and performer for the team this season , leading the Miami Heat to one of the best records in the Eastern Conference. Getty Images/ Matt Jones …

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The running of the Bulls ……….

The running of the Bulls …..

As a youngster growing up in the UK , I caused my Mom a great deal of angst, as she had to raise three kids as a single mother . From my mid-teens, until I made the decision to join the military, I traveled extensively throughout Western Europe, and along the way, becoming fluent in French, albeit that my great grandparents are of Haitian descent , also speaking German and a little Italian . Of all my travels, some of the best experiences I had, were my times spent in France , Spain and Italy . Although, there was a memorable experience on the island of Cyprus, that included a moment of intimacy with a young female in the town of Limassol. Let’s just say, she knew how to “rock the mic’ “ . In the country of Spain, one the of the great experiences to be had , is the “ Running of the Bulls” in the city of Pamplona and if you are brave enough , then it is something that should be experienced , but I can tell you this , it is not for the faint of heart .

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In the NBA this season , many may well have written off the Chicago Bulls and their season , after the team’s point guard Derrick Rose went down with a another knee injury, once again incapacitating him for the season . Bad luck or simply karma, call it what you will. Suffice to say, Rose’s career is now sitting on a precipice and the dangers signs are suggesting , that it could very well be over before he has been able to make a real impact on the NBA. Rose is one of the youngest players ever to have won the NBA League MVP , all at the tender age of twenty-two , having entered the NBA as a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft .

With the loss of Rose, in many circles , it was thought that the case would, the Bulls would “tank” the season and simply look towards the upcoming draft to supplement the roster and by way of free agency , and also to jettison high salary capped players in order to make the team cap-friendly and a viable destination for any potential marquee free agent, looking for a fresh opportunity, as well as being viewed as being on a championship-caliber team. I felt at the time, that two of the Bulls’ lead front office executives , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson made a major monumental blunder in trading away Luol Deng , who at this point had been the Bulls’ best player all season long and who had also shown himself to be a great on-court leader. Yet, somehow what should well have spelt disaster for the Bulls and their season, has now turned out to be something of an opportunity as this Tom Thibodeau coached team , now seems revitalized and induced with sheer optimism , as they seek to play themselves into contention for a divisional crown and a high seeding within the Eastern Conference .

Coming off a very convincing victory over the highly touted defending champions the Miami Heat , you kind of get the feeling that this NBA season might not end up being as uninteresting within the Eastern Conference, as some might have thought it would be , as it appeared that the Heat and Indiana Pacers would have the conference to themselves , with the victor having the “spoils of war” . All of a sudden, with the wheels discombobulating off the vehicles of the Heat and Pacers, there very well could be a great deal to play for, before the regular season ends its schedule.

Tom Thibodeau has proven himself to be one of the better coaches in the NBA and given what he has to work with this season, with the loss of Derrick Rose and the departure of Luol Deng, in making the Bulls still competitive, to my mind he is a worthy candidate to be named the NBA Coach of the Year , as I do not believe that there are any other viable candidates based solely on achievement alone for this season ! ! At 35-29 the Bulls’ mark stands as the fourth best within the Eastern Conference behind the surprisingly resilient Toronto Raptors (35-27) the second placed Miami Heat (44-17) and the Indiana Pacers(47-17) who are a slim three games ahead of their closest rivals the Heat.

While I do not expect there to be a complete falloff in terms of the top two contenders within the Eastern Conference ! I do believe the momentum, now being shown by the Chicago Bulls adds a little more intrigue to the conference, rather than elements there, become something of a foregone conclusion . For Miami, that seven-point loss to the Bulls proved to be a wake-up call, as they rebounded to defeat the Washington Wizards on their home-court with 99-90 victory , with LeBron James leading the way for the Heat with twenty-three points , leading all scorers in the contest. James is seeking to prove to the naysayers that he is not yet ready to relinquish his League MVP crown to anyone as of yet , even if the cries are that Kevin Durant while leading the Oklahoma Thunder to the best record in the NBA is now having a better year from a statistical standpoint . From my own perspective , I believe that Durant apart from having a better season , he is proving , that in allowing his teammates to become involved in many of the team’s victories this season , it is simply not just about him alone . A case can be made that for the Heat , without James , their record would be considerably more troubling . The two players have this season , have stood head and shoulders above their rivals and that includes players such as Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony , who have each had their own individual moments this season .

As the season continues to spiral out of control for the Los Angeles Lakers , there have been very few positives for the franchise over the course of the year. Kobe Bryant still remains sidelined with an injury. Meanwhile, head coach Mike D’Antoni still guides this team with reckless abandonment, having not taught any of the younger group of players a thing with regard to playing defense . Doubt my word, then simply look at the team’s stats and where they lie within the conference and league as a whole. Then you can easily understand the reasons why, the Lakers have been in trouble all season long, in spite of the absence of Bryant. Although their surprising defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder might well have been the team’s biggest victory of the season , beyond that success there have been very few positives to report.

Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss , have made several mistakes in the past eighteen months that have come home to roost , by way of a lack of a real scorer on the roster beyond Bryant. An aging Pau Gasol is unable to carry the burden of the team’s offense and one or two individualistic moments from the likes of Nick Young or Jodie Meeks cannot and will not hide the fact that the lineup is simply devoid of depth and real underlying talent. Now the franchise is simply pinning their hopes on the free agency market of 2015 and the likelihood, that there will be a dearth of highly sought after players, hitting the market all at the same time. If as anticipated, the likes of Carmelo Anthony and others do make it known of their intent , then Kupchak is likely to be given the go-ahead to pursue anyone of a number of those highly sought after players with a view to bolstering the roster. From my own standpoint , with next season likely to be Kobe Bryant’s last in the NBA , it will provide the player and the franchise the last opportunity of their winning an NBA title, before his likely retirement. Having signed a two-year $48.5 million contract this past season , the deal itself might well have been seen as outrageous, it does lead many to believe that at this juncture , there is a great deal of desperation within the front office of the organization with Jim Buss being under a great deal of pressure to succeed , while following in the footsteps of his late father , Dr Jerry Buss, the erstwhile late owner of the franchise.

The Los Angeles Lakers will now face another stern test, as the now have a rematch with the Thunder for the second time in the past four days , when they are the guests of their opponents at the Chesapeake Energy Center , Oklahoma City , Oklahoma on Thursday , 13th March, 2014 .

The Western Conference continues to remain as competitive as ever, far more so, than that of the Eastern Conference. While the feeling remains, that the combatants in the West, are likely to be in for an arduous battle, as the playoffs begin , whereas, the East will be as predictable as ever, with the top two teams in the conference, likely to meet, in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It would be fair to suggest that this season has been a profound disappointment for anyone who happens to be a fan of the New York Knicks. The team has under-achieved, with head coach, Mike Woodson being unable to get any semblance of consistency from his players. With a record of 25-40 the team currently lays 3 ½ games out of eighth place for the final playoff berth within the East. The Atlanta Hawks (27-35) , holding down that final spot, have to be fearful of the Knicks finding any sort of momentum enabling a playoff push and erasing that deficit. . For all of the heroics of Carmelo Anthony this season , it is hard to envisage the Knicks finding that sort of resilience at this stage , when in the earlier part of their schedule they have simply not been able to exhibit any type of consistency whatsoever.

James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks has been very reticent to answer any questions concerning the franchise’s woes. However, in light of his agreement in principle to hire Phil Jackson , former player with the franchise and the most successful coach in NBA history , to now head up the front office as Head of Basketball Operations . It now begs the question , how much power will now be placed in the hands of the former head coach and what will be the long-term futures of both GM Steve Mills and that the current Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson ? With neither being hires of Jackson, one could speculate that both will be allowed to remain with the franchise until the end of the season , before he makes a decision as to whether or not both Mills and Woodson will remain with the organization in their current capacities .

I believe that this hire of Phil Jackson was done in large part, to impress upon Carmelo Anthony , that the franchise now means to do whatever it takes to retain his services , while seeking to build a competitive team to complement his skill-set . The player, himself has not been abundantly clear, as to what his intentions will be concerning his long-term future with the franchise . Yet, if the indications are too believed, then he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract and test the free agency market. The New York Knicks however, remain with the upper-hand, knowing that they will be able to offer Anthony a long-term deal, paying the player a far bigger contract than any likely suitor will be able to offer as mandated by the league. Yet , for Carmelo Anthony , at this stage of his ten-year career in the NBA , I do not believe it comes down to money , but more so the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender for the NBA title , rather than a franchise that in recent seasons , has simply been an afterthought in the minds of the vast majority of fans of the NBA , with the exception of those who just happen to be fans of the New York Knicks’ franchise.

With their recent lopsided victory over a dour Philadelphia 76rs’ team, the Knicks’ next contest will pit them against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts , against Brad Stevens’ young and inexperienced roster . If New York Knicks are seeking to make a serious run at a playoff berth at this juncture , then this will be a game that they simply cannot afford to lose. As to what the rest of the season now holds for the franchise, remains to be seen , and that of the intent of Phil Jackson , also .

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Picture gallery .

As the NBA season winds down , what are you expecting to see from the teams vying for a playoff berth ? Also, do you believe the hiring of Phil Jackson to head up franchise’s basketball operations will be in their best interests or do you believe that it will add a great deal of uncertainty around the organization?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona , Spain honoring St Fermin. A seven-day event, that takes place during the month of July . It has become a worldwide event , which has also its detractors , especially amongst animal rights’ group around the globe. REUTERS/UPI …

(2) Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls is seen here centering the arena at the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois, prior to the game before the Chicago Bulls played the San Antonio Spurs at their home venue . Chicago would end up losing the game 104-96 . AP Photo / Keith Kirkpatrick ……….

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs looks to make the pass during an offensive play during the game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night , 11th March , during the contest played at the United Center . Also in picture are Jimmy Butler of the Bulls , Kawhi Leonard (21) of the Spurs and defending Duncan , Joakim Noah . AP Photo Keith Kirkpatrick …

(4) Tom Thibodeau converses with Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. This season Rose has been lost to Bulls for their entire schedule but amazingly enough the team now seems likely to make the postseason without their All Star point guard . Getty Images North America / Kevin C. Cox …..

(5) Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman , seen here in the foreground, alongside the franchise’s Head of Basketball Operations , former Bulls’ player John Paxson . Forman and Paxson have worked studiously over the past four years in acquiring the talent and then with the hiring of Tom Thibodeau to make franchise a championship contender . Team owner , Jerry Reinsdorf has continued to heap praises upon the franchise’s two lead front office executives . Chicago Sun Times / Eric Moffitt ………

(6) A lost and forlorn season for Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant , who , having been declared done for the year , will now watch from the sidelines as the team embattled the rest of the season , seeking something positive out of it all . In recent months Bryant has been critical of the front office questioning the ambition of Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak and their wanting to make the roster competitive . With no chance of making the playoffs , this could end up being one of the franchise’s worst seasons in recent years in terms their year-end record. Another vocal critic of the Los Angeles Lakers’ has been former player and Hall of Fame great Magic Johnson , currently a senior managing partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group. UPI/ Anthony Hughes …..

(7) NEW YORK, NY – April 5: Phil Jackson , a member of the 1973 Championship New York Knicks team during a press conference before a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks on April 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Jackson has agreed in principle to head up the Knicks’ front office operations and will be an EVP & Head of Basketball Operations . GM Steve Mills will have Jackson as his immediate superior , with new executive reporting directly to owner James Dolan , concerning all matters with regard to the player personnel . It is unclear what sort of impression this will make on the pending status of Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony , who can opt out of his existing contract at the end of this season. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ………

(8) New York Knicks’ center . Tyson Chandler (6) is seen here alongside teammate Carmelo Anthony (7) during a game . Both are said to be tired of the team’s losing and the apparent lack of direction coming from the front office and that of the coaching of Mike Woodson. With their season floundering both players are now said to be discussing their futures with the Knicks and it is likely , one , if not both players may well seek to leave the organization . Getty Images/ Martin Stewart ……. …….

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tophatal ……………….

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NBA news and archived news

NBA standings (divisional) and by conference

NBA Playoff picture (projected)

NBA schedule 12th March

This month in NBA history

12th March

NBA milestones points

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth …

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth …

Having surpassed the midpoint of the NBA season and with its mid-season festivities , now a mere memory (All Star Game) with the event itself little more than a repartee the participants from both conferences in what was a totally meaningless , uninteresting and uncompetitive game . What now becomes something of a dash to the end of the regular season, will have teams jostling and jockeying for positions within their divisions , within the Eastern and Western Conference . To suggest that the play , in particular, within the East has been bad , would definitely be an understatement . How anyone can now believe that the NBA is now in better place from a competitive standpoint , than it was a decade or even fifteen years ago , would have to be seen as complete idiocy ! Currently , there are no budding team rivalries that have captivated the television audience much less the fans in the seats at the venues around the league , yet somehow there are those with less than a modicum of actual intelligence trying to suggest otherwise.

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Slideshow .

Coming into this season, it was felt that the Chicago Bulls would be one of the teams meeting the challenge of being considered amongst the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference, to challenge the might of conference frontrunners, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat . With the loss of Derrick Rose , to a prolonged injury for the second time inside of two years , the team’s chances were deemed lost. However, with what was at first thought to be an abandoning of a spirited fight for a playoff berth and a divisional title , with GM Gar Forman making the decision to trade the team’s best player , with the exception of Rose , with the jettisoning of Luol Deng , which now on the face of it, now seems to be something of an ingenious move . At 29-25 as of Saturday 22nd February , the Bulls possess the fourth best record within the Eastern Conference while seated in second place , some twelve games behind the Indiana Pacers, who remain at the top of the Central Division , as they have done for the majority of this season .

Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff seem to be working a minor miracle, with the current players on the roster, now buying to into his goals and standards . One shudders to think, how good this team might have been, had Rose not gone down to a second knee injury and Deng were still playing alongside the point guard . The leg injury , which many thought may well threaten his long-term career, because, it was deemed something of a re-occurrence of the ailment, suffered before . The talk within the organization, is that the player will return for the 2014-15 season, having fully recuperated and ready to play with his usual exuberance which has been display ever since he was drafted by the Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft as the number one overall pick . In each of the subsequent years , Rose’s game has blossomed, to the point where he had become one the league’s best point guards as well having won a League MVP. An astonishing achievement , considering the length of his fledgling NBA career at the time.

Coming off a well-deserved victory over the Denver Nuggets , the Bulls can now feel that there remains a great deal to play for over the remainder of their season’s schedule. Obviously the divisional race is beyond their reach, but chasing down that third place within the conference, where the surprisingly resilient Toronto Raptors (30-25) now hold a mere half game lead over the Tom Thibodeau coached team.

Next up for the Bulls, will be a game where they will surely get to test their new-found resolve when they are the guests of the Miami Heat at the AA Arena on Sunday afternoon, one of eight games scheduled to be played on the day . The season series between the two Eastern Conference teams, is tied at one game apiece(1-1) , with the Bulls winning the last contest in Chicago at the United Center , in Chicago, Illinois , 107-87. Their fourth and final meeting of the season of the series will take place again in Chicago on the 9th March. As things now stand, were the season to end as of today, with the Chicago Bulls still holding down their current position within the conference , their projected first round meeting as the number four seed , would seem them face the Washington Wizards over whom they hold a 2-0 series’ lead in their meetings over the course this season’s NBA schedule. A first round win, would lead then lead to a conference semifinals’ match-up against the number one-seeded Indiana Pacers , and from there the sky would be the limit , were they to pull off such a victory over what has been very good Pacers’ team throughout this season.

As great a player as Michael Jordan was said to be , his years as NBA executive have not been all that kind to perhaps the NBA’s greatest player over the last twenty-five years. OK, so we place Jordan on the Mt Rushmore of all-time greats , placing him above the stature of players such as Wilt Chamberlain , Magic Johnson , Julius Irving , Bill Russell , Bob Cousy , John Havlicek , Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson . As subjective as the topic will always be trying adjudge players from different eras , when the game has changed considerably , has never been an easy thing to do , no matter what arguments one tries to use placate or make a point . The idiocy of many suggesting Babe Ruth to be the greatest player in baseball history holds about as much weight , as the Titanic , after it struck an iceberg , sank in the middle of the Atlantic , thereby leaving the world to acknowledge at the time , one of the greatest maritime disasters to take place in oceanic passenger maritime history. As good as Ruth was said to be , does anyone truly believe that he could have competed against players at their peak , such as Willie Mays , Hank Aaron , Ken Griffey Jr , Barry Bonds (pre-steroids, whenever that might have been ) , much less have dealt with pitchers, such as Sandy Koufax , Greg Maddux , Pedro Martinez , Tom Seaver Randy Johnson , Nolan Ryan and lamentably without really wanting to sink such low depths Roger Clemens ? Horses for different courses , but at the end of the day , what we ought to be truly acknowledging about many of these athletes , has to be either their longevity or consistency , if not both , as the case maybe . Baseball and basketball historians can be left to argue amongst themselves , because in essence, the fans don’t necessarily care about their opinions on the matter , knowing full well , that they cannot always be trusted to show any type impartiality , much less be subjective .

I believe the writing was on the wall with regard to Michael Jordan being lured into the front office executive and the business side of the NBA , simply because David Stern , did not want to lose the game’s biggest asset in the aftermath of his retirement finally from the game in 2003 ! Backdoor wheeling and dealing , led to Jordan being named the . Head of Basketball Operations with the Washington Wizards. Once there, having bought a minority stake in the franchise , his relationship with owner Abe Pollin , was said to be tepid at best . He may well have brought some pizzazz back to the still dormant franchise , but in name only , because nothing concerning their play during the years he was a de-facto general manager suggested he knew what he was doing. Still regarded to this day, as one of the biggest blunders in NBA Draft history was the Wizards’ drafting of Kwame Brown as the number one overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft .

Michael Jordan believed Brown to be the best , of the crop of centers available in the Draft that season amongst college and high school players , who at the time were eligible (eighteen years old as NBA requirement , having graduated). The fact should you choose to peruse down that list for yourself , one could have found a litany of far more talented players than Brown at the position sought by Jordan . In the aftermath of this astounding pick , the fortunes of the Wizards simply went downhill and along with it , the former NBA great and his relationship with Abe Pollin , that would take a turn for the worst. Jordan sold his stake in the team and went off to pursue other business interests , while still presiding over a multimillion dollar business empire and his growing fortune.

All you need to know about Kwame Brown’s rookie season , was the fact he averaged 6.6 points per game and was never a factor in any game played by the Wizards that season , much less over the ensuing years did his game ever take shape, or the fact that Jordan may well have taught him nothing by way of the expectations of being a professional basketball player in the NBA .

A second opportunity would arise for Michael Jordan return to the NBA in another executive capacity , as this time billionaire media magnate Robert L Johnson invited the North Carolina native join him on the board and ownership group of the Charlotte Bobcats (who were then known as the Hornets). Johnson would relinquish controlling interest in the franchise selling his stake for a reputed $ 400 million at the time .

At 26-30 and holding down the seventh seed within the Eastern Conference the Charlotte Bobcats may well be on the cusp of doing something extraordinary during the ownership tenure of Michael Jordan. If they are able to maintain their current pace and lock down that seeding by the end of the season , then the franchise would be on the cusp of making its first playoff appearance , with Jordan as their owner. Consider the fact that the last time the Bobcats made the NBA Playoffs , came in 2010 . Being swept 4-0 , by the Orlando Magic , left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Bobcats’ players in that first round series’ loss , which was simply so lopsided !

Coached by Steve Clifford and ably assisted by lead assistant and assistant head coach , Patrick Ewing . It now looks, as if this Bobcats’ team in its current guise has some resilience about it. With a mixture of seasoned veterans and young players drafted and developed with the deft coaching of Clifford , Ewing and the rest of the coaching staff . I am not about to suggest that the Bobcats could send a few shock-waves around the NBA this postseason , but given the right set of circumstances, they might just be able to shake a first round opponent into some kind of complacency . Where it could be taken from there, would be dependent upon the mindset shown by players such as Ben Gordon , Kemba Walker , Cody Zeller , Gerald Henderson , Al Jefferson , Josh McRoberts and Gary Neal . Add in the fact that the Bobcats might have a possible Rookie of the Year Candidate in, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist , playing very well and quite possibly , there could very well be an upset in the making . Michael Jordan needs the Bobcats to be a competitive success as well as a commercial success , if the franchise is to remain viable in North Carolina , where College Basketball is the ” real magnet “ within the state, that draws some of the most knowledgeable and passionate fans in the game to see programs such as Duke (Blue Devils) , UNC (Tar Heels) and others that have made a name for themselves as being amongst the very best of what the NCAA has to offer at the Collegiate Level .

As if to emphasize that the Bobcats mean business, the team was able to push even closer towards that goal of a postseason berth, by taking down the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon , with a hard-fought 92-89 victory .

I think that it would be safe to suggest , that over the past six seasons the Detroit Pistons have been a conundrum and a puzzle all wrapped up into one. In that time, GM Joe Dumars , has literally sought to ruin the franchise rather than seek its improvement . Billionaire entrepreneur , Tom Gores , having bought this storied NBA franchise , has seen the team this season be mired in mediocrity, having posted a 23-33 record within the Eastern Conference. The firing of Maurice Cheeks , as the head coach of the team, speaks volumes as how out of depth , touch and with reality the Pistons now appear to be.

From my own standpoint, Gores has been ill-served in his retention of Dumars as the general manager of the Detroit Pistons. Gone are those years of consistency , when you knew that they would be a prominent and perennial contender for the NBA Playoffs and their surprising and lopsided Finals’ win over what was seen as a formidable Los Angeles Lakers’ team that fielded several future Hall of Fame candidates , only indicates how astonishing that series’ victory was at the time . The Pistons in their current guise , are a pale shadow of the team that won the 2004 NBA Finals over what was highly favored Lakers’ lineup coached by Phil Jackson , whose opposite number was another legendary coach in , Larry Brown . With their last postseason, coming in 2009 , it is extremely difficult to see what Joe Dumars and Tom Gores will seek to gain out of this season . Had Dumars decided to make the announcement at the beginning of the year , that it would be the franchise’s intent to rebuild around the talents of Brandon Jennings , Andre Drummond , Josh Smith and Greg Monroe , then perhaps it might have sat well with the Pistons’ fans. . Instead, the fans in attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills , have willingly voiced their disapproval of the team, but voiced the majority of their indignation towards Joe Dumars , and quite rightly so , as he has failed to acknowledge that he is as much to blame for the team’s woes , as was Maurice Cheeks, in some small part. .

Kobe Bryant can now be seen, as an elder statesman within the NBA. No longer the best player in the league , which he undoubtedly was , for several seasons , before the rise to prominence of LeBron James . With his and the Los Angeles Lakers’ window of opportunity now dwindling for him to add personally, a sixth NBA title to his career resumes’ and for the franchise to add to another , which they last won in 2010 . Of late, Bryant has once again began to show his ongoing immaturity and his disdain for the Lakers’ ownership , when he faces on-court adversity . Granted, this season he has been limited to a mere handful of games , before injury wreaked havoc on his aging body . Let us begin to see things in perspective, Bryant , an aging Steve Nash , Jodie Meeks , Pau Gasol , Xavier Henry , Chris Kaman and Nick Young , were never really seen as a legitimate contender for a conference title , much less the NBA championship itself, this season . Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak undoubtedly , already with an eye on next season’s list of marquee free agents, has now begun to dismantle the remnants of this season’s roster. While Bryant, remains the biggest asset and factor that the organization has , it does seem now ill-served that they re-signed him that ridiculous two-year $48.5 million contract . Kupchak’s first order of business , was to send Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline .

Bryant felt that without being consulted by either Mitch Kupchak or team owner Jim Buss , as to the trade of Steve Blake, it was simply a mark of disrespect on their part. Last I looked, it was not Bryant’s signature signing the paychecks of the employees of the Lakers’ organization and though in recent years he has played a large part in the franchise’s recent success . The Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise is owned by Jim Buss and it is his, to do with, as he so pleases, in conjunction, in working with Mitch Kupchak, as it relates to player personnel decisions.

To understand the plight of the Lakers’ season and the continued idiocy of their fans , the lack coaching acumen shown by Mike D’Antoni , his coaching staff , but more so the complacency shown by Mitch Kupchak in seeking to rebuild the roster through the draft and developing talent from within , will always continue to be the boon for this franchise. Now while they can point to the their multiple titles won and Hall of Fame players that are part of the Lakers’ legacy . Can we now readily admit that upon Bryant’s retirement , it could very well be a number of years before the franchise is back to the unprecedented heights of success that it has seen in the past . The failed experiment in acquiring Dwight Howard last season , resulted in Howard’s lack of leadership skills , being unable to give any memorable performances , much less being seen as a likely successor to take over the reins from Kobe Bryant , at what would be deemed his actual time of departure . Howard parlayed that one season of misfortune in Los Angeles into a sizable contract with the Houston Rockets , where he is now playing “second fiddle “ to James Harden , Chandler Parsons , Jeremy Lin and the sortie of players that now make up the Rockets’ roster . The fact , that Houston, seen at the preseason as a conference titlist at the start of the season , are domiciled in a non-major market , may well have played a great in the decision of Dwight Howard to seek his fortune elsewhere . As good a center as he is said to be , he is simply not capable enough of carrying a team on his shoulders to any semblance of real success and by that I mean an NBA title ! Idiot fans who point to his years in Orlando with the Orlando Magic are simply showing their complete lack of intelligence and knowledge of the NBA overall !

With three teams firmly rooted at the bottom of the Western Conference, with shared records of 19-36 as of 22nd February , seeing the Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz , all sharing that same mark , really does put into perspective how dire the season has become for a number of franchises around the NBA. Of the teams with a a lower mark in the league as a whole , one only has to view the bottom of the Eastern Conference to see why the play there has been harangued all season long , in spite of the idiocy of some who suggest that the outgoing commissioner has nothing to do with the present mess. The changes brought within the NBA over the past decade alone , have David Stern’s imprints all over them , along with that of the NBPA Executive Committee (Players’ Union) , owners and the NCAA . Failure in acknowledging that lone fact once again points to the lack of intelligence of those who come up with the most ridiculous of assumptions as it comes to the lack of competitiveness within the NBA at present. No team rivalries that truly capture the fans’ imagination and only wishful thinking on the part of some who now suggest that a Heat vs Pacers’ rivalry will bring the league some much sort after relevance , will only need to look at that particular record over the past two years to realize that it simply has no weight to it as an argument if adjudged against classic NBA team rivalries of the past.

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Picture gallery .

The second half the NBA season is now underway and what if anything do you hope to see materialize as the season meanders towards its inevitability of the regular season schedule ? In light of the troubles now facing the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers , which organization do you believe is the best equipped to turn around their misfortunes in the least amount of time ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1) Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers , who was the recipient of this season’s All Star Game MVP Award . Irving and the Cavaliers will be looking to a far more positive start to the second half of the team’s season . Former GM Chris Grant was fired by owner Dan Gilbert , with the owner offering his compliments to Grant for his stewardship as the lead front office executive during his four-year tenure . NBAE/ Getty Images / Stan Howe …

(2) Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose (1) is seen here with teammate Luol Deng (9). With Gar Forman thinking ahead and perhaps looking to slash the team’s payroll, the decision was made to trade Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers . With Rose sidelined for the entire Bulls’ regular season schedule , it was thought that the team would likely flounder within the Eastern Conference , but they have proven to be surprisingly resilient , while currently holding down the fourth best record in the East. Tom Thibodeau has his players playing in unison , as a team and they could pose a serious threat to the two contenders in the conference at whatever stage were they to meet. AP Photo / Alex Marsh ….

(3) Kwame Brown , is seen here being congratulated by NBA Commissioner David Stern , with the player being drafted as the number one overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards . Brown was taken by Michael Jordan , who at the time was Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise where he also happened to be a minority stakeholder in the Wizards. Kwame Brown’s career with the Wizards would prove to be non-eventful , as has been the rest of his career since entering the NBA straight out of high school . Along the way his career earnings from the NBA have surpassed $ 60 million , without the player ever positing double-digit figures in assists or points per game over the course of his NBA career except for one season in 2003 . AP Photo/ Chris Martin …

(4) Michael Jordan, center, smiles as he shakes hands with Washington Wizards minority owner , Ted Leonsis , left, and Wizards majority owner , Abe Pollin , Thursday, Jan. 19, 2000 at the MCI center in Washington, D.C. Jordan’s relationship with the Washington Wizards has deteriorated to the point that he and the franchise might part ways, The New York Times reported Sunday, May 4, 2003 With Jordan’s departure and the subsequent death of Abe Pollin , Leonsis would assume control of the franchise , buying the stake then held by the Pollin family estate. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais ..

(5) Michael Jordan is seen here with Kemba Walker at the Charlotte Bobcats’ home venue the Time Warner Cable Arena , in Charlotte , North Carolina . Walker a first round draft pick by the Bobcats is looking to lead the team this into the postseason for the first time since 2010 . Jordan as the Chairman , CEO and majority stakeholder in the franchise has long wished to have the Bobcats make the postseason during his tenure as the team’s primary owner , given his postseason heroics as a player with the Chicago Bulls as well as during the regular season where he also won six NBA titles with the revered franchise , this could very well be the year that it happens for the Charlotte Bobcats . A great of that will however be predicated upon the play of Kemba Walker and that of his teammates . AP Photo / Dave Moss ….

(6) Kobe Bryant (24) is seen here alongside teammate and close confidante Steve Blake , a point guard with the Lakers . In the aftermath of Blake’s trade to the Golden State Warriors , with Bryant voicing his displeasure , as to the decision made by GM Mitch Kupchak , but countenanced by team owner , Jim Buss . Having signed a two-year $48.5 million contract with the franchise , one seriously doubts that Kobe Bryant would once again seem himself at odds with the Lakers’ two lead front office executives concerning a player personnel decision made . Yet, this has not been the first time that the All Star guard has voiced displeasure over such a decision, made . Getty Images / Paul Dominguez …..

(7) AUBURN HILLS, MI – JUNE 23: (L-R) Joe Dumars , President of the Detroit Pistons and Tom Gores , Owner of the Detroit Pistons ‘fist bump’ to show their excitement during the Detroit Pistons Draft Night Party at the Palace of Auburn Hills on June 23, 2011 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The Pistons’ picks were not overly impressive in light of Dumars’ decisions made as to the franchise’s needs . Three years later and it would appear that the fortunes of the Pistons were no better then , than they are now , in terms of the team’s competitiveness . NBAE Photo by Allen Einstein / NBAE via Getty Images ….

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I’m wondering where they have hidden the bar of soap ?

She’s got no one to play with , but herself . So sad , too bad !

Full steam ahead ……

Full steam ahead …..

The NBA has entered a new chapter with the stepping down of David Stern as commissioner of the league, to be succeeded by his long-time deputy Adam Silver . As Deputy Commissioner, Silver will officially take the reins as the league’s commissioner immediately after 2014 NBA All Star game festivities, with the incumbent likely to return to the private sector either to practice law or in all likelihood, to be hired by a high-profiled Fortune 500 company. Stern’s three-decade long rein has been filled with highs and lows , some might say more highs, bearing in mind the NBA’s visibility on a global basis , as well the rising values of the thirty teams that now currently exist .

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In a recent discussion with a patron , he tried to suggest that the league still remains a team oriented endeavor. In reality, however, nothing, could be further from the truth, as the NBA has now become personality driven, by way of the visibility of the league’s most high-profiled players. Individual feats, are now more admired than the actual team endeavor by way of a victory . This has become glaringly true and can be seen with how the games are now reported not only on the league’s official site , but also across the wide gamut of media outlets . With stars such four-time league MVP LeBron James , Kevin Durant , Carmelo Anthony , Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki , not only being amongst the best players now in the league , these athletes are now among the most highly paid and said to be “ face “ of their respective franchises. A great deal of the financial largess of the teams has come with the fact that the league hierarchy has not sought to rein in expenses by way of the teams’ payroll . Though there is said to be a “soft salary cap” ($58.759 million) in place , few teams actually fall in line and choose to seek to remain within the cap figure.

The departure of David Stern , though expected , what has been a cause for concern over the past several years, has been the decline of the play within the NBA. Scoring , may well be up and down in a number of cases , but the repeated point , has now become the weakness of the Eastern Conference in comparison to their Western Conference counterparts. One could attest to the fact that there are some bad teams within the East , lack of depth in talent , as well as the inexperience of the coaches and their respective staffs. Stern has always been quick to point to what he believes are positives within with game, while seeking to blur the lines with regard to the negatives, the fans and media can readily point to. His autocratic rule, a tendency to place himself in the middle any high-profiled matter concerning the NBA, paints a somewhat cozy image and picture of the commissioner . Whether or not, this trait is followed by Adam Silver, once he officially assumes the reins as the league’s highest ranking executive remains to be seen.

Stern’s tenure can be best summed up , by saying that were it not for Michael Jordan and his unprecedented success and accolades with the Chicago Bulls . Then, the NBA would have remained somewhat of a pedantic pastime with fans, by way of being entertained . Jordan was the “goose “ that laid the golden egg for the league’s massive appeal nationally , . as well as on the global stage .

The Indiana Pacers (38-10) continue to keep apace , ahead of the rest of their conference and divisional rivals within the East. Head coach Frank Vogel , has his team playing some high up-tempo basketball , while having the best ten-game winning streak within the East , having been victorious in seven of their last ten games . Not to be outdone, the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat have also put together a similar mark of going 7-3 over their last ten contests. . Being the top two teams, within the Eastern Conference, these two franchises may well be on a repeat course for another conference finals’ clash during the upcoming postseason , if both currently maintain their existing pace.

Everything about this NBA season, points to a divide within the East concerning the top two, teams, while the others simply jockey for position , for the seeding’s numbers three through eight . From my own perspective , the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat simply have to play .550 basketball or better over the remainder of the regular season schedule to assure themselves of the top two spots within the Eastern Conference. Miami Heat and LeBron James this season to my mind, are not the team I witnessed at times during last season , simply exerting their dominance over an opponent . If anything , during their travails of their current schedule they have been complacent , and not showing a great deal of consistency as and when needed . Obviously, the change in the makeup of the roster from last season , has a great deal to what the fans have seen, and to my mind the additions of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley , has not borne the fruit desired in terms their combined productivity. Then you also have , an ailing Dwyane Wade , being in and out of the lineup , throughout much of this season. A Wednesday night contest against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California, should prove to be an exciting match-up between the two teams coached by Erik Spoelstra of the Heat and Doc Rivers , for the Clippers. .

The Pacers having come off a narrow four-point victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night , will have a scheduled meeting with the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night in their home venue at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indiana, Indianapolis.

There is no doubt that the success of the NBA came down to first , those legendary regular and postseason contests between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Certainly., the collegiate furor built up around Larry Bird and Magic Johnson became even more pertinent once they entered the league to begin their now legendary careers. While, there seems to be a belief that there remains a team rivalry that dominates within the NBA. There is no longer anything or any semblance of a contest that one could point to and categorically state , the league does have a rivalry of note. Both the Celtics and Lakers are currently having indifferent seasons , with the case of Boston a being newly revamped roster , head coach and coaching staff . Their season , will be one of Brad Stevens simply learning the nuances of the game at the professional, while his young team acquits itself within the league. The Los Angeles Lakers, with Mike DAntoni in his second season as the team’s head coach , the labors of the franchise have been well chronicled over the course their schedule . Kobe Bryant remains sidelined , and there seems to be no immediate timeline set for his return to the starting lineup . Los Angeles has a meaningful game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that now seems to be disillusioned , has its best player in Kyrie Irving questioning the direction of the franchise , while team owner , Dan Gilbert , now said angered by the player’s discontent.The Boston Celtics will seek to even their season series with the Philadelphia 76ers , when the two teams meet in Philadelphia Pennsylvania , on Wednesday evening at the Wells Fargo Center .

Courtesy of Forbes.com

Kobe, LeBron Lead NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2014

This story appears in the February 10, 2014 issue of Forbes.

By Kurt Badenhausen , Forbes contributing columnist & writer

The NBA is a star driven league . David Stern has spent his 30 years as commissioner marketing the game’s best players—Magic, Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, LeBron—and creating global icons. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship for both owners and players. While league revenue and franchise values soared 40-fold, the NBA’s top salaries jumped from $1 million to $30 million.

The payouts off the court have been even more lucrative for elite players thanks to shoe companies like Nike, Adidas and Reebok, who turned players into bigger than life celebrities. Michael Jordan’s first Nike shoe contract was worth $500,000 a year in 1984 when the Swoosh was a $920 million-in-sales company. LeBron James will bank an estimated total of $42 million this year from endorsements with his biggest benefactor, Nike, now a $26 billion company.

look at the NBA’s top earners on and off the court puts Bryant on top with combined earnings of $64.5 million from salary and endorsements. Bryant is in the final season of the three-year, $83.5 million contract extension he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in April 2010, including the NBA’s highest salary this season at $30.5 million. He is the first player since Jordan in the 1997-98 season to top $30 million with his playing salary. Bryant signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November that will keep his on-court salary tops in the NBA with payouts of $23.5 million and $25 million the next two seasons.

While Bryant is reaching the sunset of his playing career, his endorsements are at an all-time high thanks to his extended run atop the league and five titles with the Lakers. His deals with the likes of Turkish Air, Lenovo, Hublot, Nike and Panini for merchandise are worth more than $30 million annually. Bryant is the most popular NBA figure in China and cultivates his relationship with the Chinese people through eight straight years of extended offseason visits for Nike. Even after 18 years in the league, Bryant’s jersey is still the NBA’s second best-seller this season, behind only James.

Full Coverage: The Business of Basketball

Basketball is the only one of the four major U.S. team sports that puts a cap on individual player salaries, but don’t fret for NBA players who have the highest average salary in sports at nearly $5 million a year. Bryant benefits from a provision in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement where players can sign deals at 105% of their previous salary even if it exceeds the cap. The cap this year is $58.7 million with individual players limited to 35%, but Bryant has signed a series of max deals while still performing at a high level over his nearly two decades in the league. The result is a playing salary that is $7 million higher than any other NBA player this year.

The NBA’s 10 highest-paid players will collectively bank $358 million this year, including $149 million from sponsors. Nine of the top 10 make at least $4 million annually from endorsements. James is the leader off the court at $42 million and ranks second overall with earnings of $61.1 million. Two straight NBA titles have sent James’ popularity and fortunes soaring. The NBA’s top pitchman counts Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola , Samsung, Audemar

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There is no denying, that Kevin Durant is a prolific scorer, as borne out by the fact that he has already been a three-time NBA scoring titlist and quite possibly is on his way to securing his fourth , in his extraordinary six-year career in the NBA . What has made Durant’s season all the more astonishing, is the very fact that for a number of games he has played without the aid of Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and teammate , Russell Westbrook . While, there seems to a great deal false bravado, in celebrating a game , where Carmelo Anthony scored sixty-two points in a contest against the Charlotte Bobcats. Let us not us forget , those defensive statistics concerning the Bobcats belie the very fact, that the team is struggling to maintain its grip on the eighth seed within the Eastern Conference.

As the Oklahoma City Thunder seek to make a return to the NBA postseason , the challenge for Sam Presti , Scott Brooks and the coaching staff , will be , at what time will they seek to rest some of their prime starters not necessarily for a prolonged stretch as the second half of the season meanders. It is hard to believe that beyond the eighty-two game regular season foray , the players are then asked to subject themselves to as many as another thirty plus games during the league’s postseason schedule of contests. Too much basketball, or simply the avarice and greed of the NBA as a branded sporting and commercial enterprise ? It is clear that even in light of the Thunder’s effortless victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves , Scott Brooks will have to address the issue of fatigue and unforeseen injuries taking place to some of the more prominent players on the roster. Russell Westbrook’s return cannot come around soon enough, to take the bulk of the scoring burden and distribution off Kevin Druant’s shoulders , even if the player is amenable to assuming that role, as well as being the leader of what it is undoubtedly an extremely talent team.

As fan of the San Antonio Spurs and a long-time admirer of the talents of both Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich . I can say that the disappointment of last postseason still leaves a bitter taste within my mouth ! The NBA Finals’ series loss to the Miami Heat , notwithstanding where in games’ six and seven , the team had the series within their grasp , only to fail miserably. I have written very little about the Spurs as the 2013-14 NBA has taken shape, choosing instead to view the rest of the NBA as I currently see the state play both on and off the court.

At 36-13 as of the February the San Antonio Spurs currently have the second best record within the Western Conference trailing the Oklahoma City Thunder’s (40-11) mark of 40-11 , good enough for the best record in the entire NBA . While I do believe that the Spurs will make the NBA Playoffs once again, I believe that Gregg Popovich will have some major issues with the team in terms of its current guise . There is not enough offensive productivity from the players by way of a third and fourth alternate scorer behind the team’s leading offensive weapon , Tony Parker (18.1 ppg) . Defensively, the Spurs do remain resolute , but the results do not belie the fact that against the top teams the Spurs have been somewhat inconsistent , while losing games to lesser opponents .

For a number of years Popovich has been able to rely on his ” Big Three ” of Tim Duncan , Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli to supply the team with the preponderance of the team’s scoring and much of the success equated with the franchise over last decade. It is now time, for the younger players on the staff to step up to the plate and assume an even greater responsibility in that role. While I am sure that the head coach and his staff have emphasized that point , I am not so sure as to whether or not Tiago Splitter , Kawhi Leonard , Danny Green , Corey Joseph , Aron Baynes and Nando De Colo are yet ready to assume that role. Yet, if the Spurs are to have any semblance of success particular in the run-up before the postseason begins , where teams will have to hit a rich vein of form , the expectations will be of the highest of these players . Peter Holt , as the owner of the San Antonio Spurs, has always been reliant upon acumen shown by GM RC Buford along with that off the coaching staff led by Gregg Popovich. It is hard to envisage the franchise not attaining the success achieved over the past seventeen years, without individuals in question.

Coming off a 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC , the Spurs’ next scheduled game will be against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn , New York , where the Spurs lead the season series 1-0 .

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Picture gallery.

Less than a week away from the NBA’s All Star Break , the league is likely to commemorate David Stern’s tenure , with the likelihood , that he will be bestowed with some sort of plaque ,with the players current and past , owners and a number of general managers lauding the now departed executive for his services to the league . Adam Silver has a tough act to follow, while seeking to take the brand into a new arena , in terms of a growing fan-base globally . How he goes about seeking to achieve this will be based upon how the game itself is viewed by the consumers he and the NBA seeks to court as well as the major corporations in the regions where the league now seeks to grow. Your thoughts on what you have witnessed within the NBA this season and how do you David Stern’s tenure as the commissioner ?

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) David Stern the outgoing NBA Commissioner has stepped down from his position and will be succeeded by his Deputy , Adam Silver. A three-decade tenure and Stern has presided over a numerous changes as well as the league expand to its current makeup of thirty teams and revenues exceeding $ 5.7 billion annually. Getty Images / Paul Matthews ….

(2) Adam Silver, the incoming NBA Commissioner who will be succeeding David Stern after his three-decade long tenure as the league’s highest ranking executive. Favored by the general managers and owners , it remains to be seen how Silver will seek to stamp his own style of custodianship on the NBA. Getty Images / Paul Robinson …

(3) Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki a native of Germany celebrates a basket against the Denver Nuggets in the second half of game 4 of second round of playoff game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas USA, 11 May 2009. Dallas won 119-117. Nowitzki a NBA Finals’ MVP is amongst the highest paid players in the NBA and has been the leading scorer on the Mavericks’ team this season . EPA/LARRY W. SMITH **CORBIS OUT** ……

(4) NBA legends Magic Johnson left , is seen here with David Stern center and Larry Bird . Bird and Johnson contested several memorable NBA Finals as well as regular season contests . Each player has been a regular season MVP and Finals’ MVP award winner. @ Corbis Images ….

(5) Michael Jordan (23) is seen here alongside teammates Scottie Pippen (33) and Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls . The three players are members of the Hall of Fame and three of the most celebrated members of the team that was so dominant during the 1995-96 season that won the NBA title as well posting a season’s and league best record of 72-10 . NBA archives …. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ………

(6) Tim Duncan, left , is seen here meeting center-court with Kevin Durant before a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs . Duncan seen as an elder statesman of the league has won just about every individual honor available for a player as a professional in the NBA. Getty Images / Tim Woods ……

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All good things must come to an end , eventually ….

All good things, must come to an end eventually

With NBA season still in its infancy , perhaps /the biggest story to hit the league has been the loss of NBA All Star point guard Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls . In one fail swoop , what appeared to be an innocuous contact with an opposing player led to Rose losing his balance , twisting his knee and tearing his right MCL (meniscus cruciate ligament). The Bulls prior to this unforeseen injury, were thought to be one of the teams within the Eastern Conference , deemed good enough to challenge the defending NBA champions , the Miami Heat . With Rose now out for the remainder of the season , for the second time inside of eighteen months , the player has been lost to the franchise for what appears to be an indeterminate length of time. The ramifications for the Chicago Bulls at this juncture are incalculable and any thought of them being able to mount a serious challenge within the conference , now appears to be doomed for failure.

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Bulls’ head coach, Tom Thibodeau will now have to assess, how best to utilize his roster , and somehow replace an invaluable asset such as his point guard , Derrick Rose. Try to imagine the Miami Heat without LeBron James , Oklahoma City Thunder without Kevin Durant , Chris Paul missing from the Los Angeles Clippers’ lineup or the Los Angeles Lakers , without Kobe Bryant , albeit, that at present the Lakers do appear to be competitive within their conference. Such has been the magnitude of the loss, that it has been evident with the team’s first game without Rose, which resulted in an 89-83 loss to the Utah Jazz . Chicago’s next game will be on Wednesday , 27th November against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills , in Detroit Michigan ,. How the Bulls now acquit themselves in terms of their resilience, will be predicated upon which players on the roster seeks the desire to adopt the role a leader on this team. Be it, Carlos Boozer , Luol Deng or Joakim Noah , someone now has to step up to the plate .

One of the more unlikely situations that now arises comes out of Derick Rose’s loss to the Bulls for the season , has to be how the front office now contemplates the franchise’s long-term future. A year away from the game , and the lengthy recuperation process leaves now leaves GM Gar Forman , owner Jerry Reinsdorf and the entire front office with a number of decisions to mull over. Is it worthwhile competitively playing out the remainder of the season or as some have suggested , would it be best for the organization to seek to rid themselves of a number of the large salaried contracts and impending free agents , thereby freeing up a great deal under the league salary cap and just rebuild , by way of the next NBA Draft and simply adding a veteran presence on the roster ? Clearly, the long-suffering Bulls’ fans would not like to see any of these scenarios being raised , but definitely something has to and must be done . Rose’s own contract has left the organization in almost untenable situation and the league hierarchy simply does not provide for a situation or solution as the predicament that the Chicago Bulls now finds itself in . Granted, the insurance rider carried by the franchise, will allow for any monetary loss by way of the contract , but I cannot help but wonder if this is likely to be the road that the Bulls would like to go down , in simply abandoning the player by buying out his contract at a high premium .

It certainly has been a long time, since anyone spoke about the Portland Trailblazers (13-2) in glowing terms . Yet here we are, and the franchise has gotten off to a tremendous start to the season . A great deal of the credit has to go to the coaching staff , led by head coach Terry Stotts , but also the two leading players on the roster , LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard , whose maturity and growth as a player from his rookie season in 2012 , has been very impressive this season, with his playing a leading role in the Blazers’ progress. Only the San Antonio Spurs (13-1) have a better record than the Trailblazers within the Western Conference , and the Indiana Pacers (13-1) within the East , overall .

It may well the early stages of an arduous NBA schedule , but consider the fact that more prominent teams within the league are currently struggling , who are alleged to have even greater depth to their rosters and also a better coaching staff. To my mind, it is best to adjudge the makeup of a team not just by the talent , but also by the coaching acumen on display. And to date, nothing I have seen exhibited by either the Brooklyn Nets (3-10) or New York Knicks (3-10) has given me the impression that either franchise knows what the hell they are actually doing ! Knicks and Nets’ fans can gesticulate and show their angst , because in reality, they tend to delve far more in the past , having not learned a damn thing to actually realize , what is going on in the present , only too willing to make excuses for the omnipresent mediocrity of the respective franchises in question.

Portland has simply been playing high intensity basketball, showing a great deal of aplomb in transition and a defensive mindset. Coming off the team’s almost willful destruction of the New York Knicks , during which Carmelo Anthony in a post-game tirade, directed a great deal of anger and venom towards his teammates , in stating that they sucked and were an embarrassment to the fans watching such a display. Only further emphasizing and reiterating my earlier remarks about the Eastern Conference based franchise and their continuing woes! New York’s almost $90 million payroll in comparison to their Monday night opponent’s $62.6 million cannot be considered to have been money “ well spent “ . The biggest obstacle now for the Portland Trailblazers, will be to maintain the momentum currently in their possession , as they approach the second half of the regular season . Next up for Portland will be a visit to Phoenix , Arizona , as the guests of the Phoenix Suns in a game to be played at the US Airways Arena , in Phoenix , Arizona ,. The team, will be seeking their twelfth consecutive win and eighth road win in their last nine games . While I believe the Portland Trailblazers to be a very good and well coached team , I am not so sure that during a seven game playoff series , they are capable of defeating notable conference foes such as the Oklahoma City Thunder , San Antonio Spurs , Los Angeles Clippers or the Houston Rockets . Yet, these are only my observations, as to skill-set of the teams in question !

With Kobe Bryant now being re-signed to a two-year contract extension, paying the guard $48.5 million over the next two season and essentially assuring the franchise’s fans and the player that his career will end with the Los Angeles Lakers . As to what this says about the Lakers’ intent for its long-term future , is simply, that they are seeking a smooth transition from Bryant ,as he hands over the reins of the team to the next marquee free agent that is likely to be acquired by the franchise . Obviously , Dwight Howard was not the right fit , in spite of the rather ridiculous pleading by senior members of the Lakers’ team, as well as many of the Hollywood A List celebrities , who all were willing to ” sell their souls “ , in order for the noted center to remain a Lakers’ player. Clearly, many of these individuals as well as members of the coaching staff led by Mike DAntoni , as well GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss , chose not to see the flaws in Howard’s game well as his demeanor when faced with a great deal of adversity on the court . Never mind the fact, that so-called knowledgeable Los Angeles Lakers’ fans were trying to point out that the player had the game to complement the team. If Mike D`Antoni , who at the time, was unable to figure out what his best starting lineup was meant to be during the 2012 schedule . I would hate to think what the hell, they the fans actually thought that they were able to witness from the team last season !

While Kobe Bryant may well have taken umbrage to the fact , that the Lakers were placed as no better than the twelfth best team in the conference and as a playoff contender . In truth , the team based on its current makeup, might only be two or three places higher better than many of the analysts have the Los Angeles Lakers. A 7-7 record now have the Lakers a half-game behind the eighth placed Denver Nuggets (7-6) , with the team now sitting in the eleventh position amongst the Western Conference based franchises . The revelation for the Lakers this season, with Bryant still sidelined and recuperating from an injury , has been the play of Jodie Meeks , Nick Young and Xavier Henry . With Pau Gasol , leading all players, from an offensive standpoint , the Lakers will seek to find some consistency , while waiting the imminent return of Kobe Bryant.

A recent victory over the Sacramento Kings , during which the Los Angeles Lakers give one of their best performances of this young season , added to the angst., but also delivered some excitement for the fans, though not negating the team’s plight. Even with the return of Kobe Bryant , and the expectations always high , it is difficult to comprehend how anyone can believe that the team will be good enough to not only gain a playoff berth , but also to be likely looked upon as a credible contender for the NBA title . Bryant and Gasol are aging veterans, whose best years, are now behind them . Two-time league MVP , Steve Nash , can no longer be relied upon to give the team anything more than perhaps twenty minutes per game , wherever possible. The “smart money” says that the Lakers will be hard pressed to make the postseason and if they do , it is highly unlikely , that they will be able to take down one of the more highly ranked teams within the conference.

Michael Carter-Williams , Victor Oladipo and Ben McLemore , are certainly justifying the faith shown in them by the teams who acquired these rookies during the 2013 NBA Draft . In light of that fact , their 2012 predecessors are still finding their way, with the exception I believe of Damian Lillard , who is now proving to be a very special player . As to whether or not this season’s rookies, are likely to make their respective franchises an impact this season, remains to be seen . Yet, it is clear, their early season productivity , has given the general managers in question , a great deal of satisfaction and relief, by way of their play. . Decidedly, the Rookie of the Year will come from one of the trio of aforementioned players or possibly from one of the more than fifteen players now viewed as likely contenders based on their productivity .

I mentioned this in an earlier post , because I felt it necessary given the fact that not only has the NBA hierarchy and union (NBPA) become ambivalent as to the use of performance enhancing drugs (PED’S) s , but it would appear that David Stern has a lackadaisical attitude on the whole issue, altogether . He pretty much towed the line of bumbling idiots such as Roger Goodell and Bud Selig , when all three as well as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman each addressed a congressional committee on the use of steroids within their respective sports . As we know the NFL has yet to adopt a policy voted on and ratified by the NFLPA (Players’ Union) as far back as 2010. Major League Baseball finds itself in the midst of what has now become a farcical arbitration process involving Alex Rodriguez . In the NHL what common sense there is to be actually found , is not being imparted by anyone within the game itself, but from outsiders.

With the recent statement made by Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban that he would like to see the use of performance enhancing drugs within the NBA , strictly to aid a players’ recovery process . I would like to know why Cuban believes that action to be of actual benefit to the game ? While steroidal medicine does have its use within the field of medicine, specifically amongst those suffering from muscular atrophy. Yet, by the widespread rampant misuse within the NFL as well as baseball, it has now become a pandemic . Mark Cuban , much like his arch nemesis Donald Trump , likes to be the center of attention , no matter how ridiculous the statements that he tends to make , which are with ever-increasing regularity . When broached on the subject, as how the league would actually monitor a players’ usage of a PED, Cuban’s response , was that should be a decision, best left to the league itself. And one wonders, why no one takes either Mark Cuban or Donald Trump seriously , on a wide variety of issues ? The Mavericks’ owner is simply buying into the idiocy, that the use of a PED is the fastest way to assist a player suffering with a bad injury, without ever truly acknowledging the dangers its misuse can bring . Also , Cuban failed to acknowledge that there are other alternatives, beyond the use of what is already a banned substance by the NBA , unless a medical waiver has been obtained from the league . Either, this was overlooked by Cuban, or he has some type of asinine , nonsensical point to make. I simply believe it to be the latter at this juncture !

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In light of the points raised within this article, what thoughts if any do you have ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated !

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:Picture and slideshow details.
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(1) Chicago Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau , left is seen with point guard Derrick Rose , center and GM Gar Forman . With the player being lost to the franchise for a second consecutive season , the damage done to the moral and psyche of the team , could very well be irreparable . A prognosis of the player’s injury, would suggest that another twelve to fifteen month layoff could be on the cards for league MVP in 2011 . Chicago Sun Times / Joe Cowdrey ……….

(2) Damian Lillard , left , and LaMarcus Aldridge are two of the primary reasons why the Portland Trailblazers currently have the second best record in the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs . AP Photo / Tom Steward …….

(3) From left to right , Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers , in the foreground , head coach Mike D’Antoni , point guard Steve Nash and far right , center Pau Gasol . All three players this season and last have had their share of injury woes . Bryant is currently sidelined by an injury and hopes to make a return to the Lakers starting lineup at some point within the next two or three weeks , dependent on medical clearance from the team’s chief physician . Getty Images / Randall Carter …..

(4) LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 10: Ben McLemore (16) a of the Sacramento Kings shoots against the Los Angeles Lakers in a preseason game played at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on October 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

(5) Two egotistical idiots, whose combined net wealth exceeds $ 4.3 billion dollars . Mark Cuban and Donald Trump are two individuals who are said to have a dislike of each other . Yet , there is a common thread between the duo , it remains their outsized egos and penchant for making outrageous statements , without ever having the facts to back up their often ridiculous premise . Gunther Barnes / Telefoto Spa ….
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Squawkers and gawkers …..

Squawkers and gawkers

Just when we all thought to be a great sports’ weekend, across the panacea of that landscape , one or two oddities , idiocies and great moments are witnessed. In the NFL , week twelve provided us with some scintillating play from the players and one or two moments of dubious firsts . Chris Long and his brother Kyle Long appear to get into what was said to be a shoving match on-field , in a game played between the Chicago Bears and St Louis Rams . Brotherly love in the NFL, may well have a new face to it, beyond the typical loves-fest between perhaps the league’s two most active and famous siblings , Peyton Manning and Eli Manning . That asides , Peyton and the Denver Broncos may well have provided us with the best game played on Sunday afternoon , as the team surrendered a twenty point lead to the New England Patriots , as Tom Brady led the Patriots in a rousing come from behind win in overtime .

A minor incident this past weekend in the NFL between Chris and Kyle Long , that in some cases set the NFL world abuzz .

With losses now suffered by the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs , the AFC has now become a wide open race with four games left to the regular season and the top two berths in the conference still up for grabs . It certainly sets the stage, for an interesting race to finish line over the four remaining games of the regular season schedule.

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Somehow, both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are now having something of an astonishing turnaround to their respective seasons. Both teams have now sauntered to a one and three-win streak respectively, suddenly lifting themselves both, out of a position of mediocrity within their respective divisions . As to what this might suggest about the quality of the opponents faced on Sunday has to be also tempered by the quality of lack thereof now being witnessed in the NFL . No amount of enthusiasm a by a group of former NFL players , now on air analysts , singing the praises of the league’s teams , can now excuse the fact that the league has now become a rather bland product !

The Buccaneers’ 24-21 victory over a very overrated Detroit Lions’ team, says as much about the two combatants and the very fact that this Greg Schiano coached team along with their three-game win streak have now become the focus of attention , with their being a great deal of speculation as to whether or not the beleaguered head coach would in fact survive the season . As Matt Stafford continues to put up impressive annual stats , one has to now question the fact, that Jim Schwartz seems to have forgotten that defense is also very much a prerequisite in today’s NFL game.

Speaking of teams, who appear to show no desire to actually play with a model of consistency , beyond now losing with alarming regularity . Are there any remaining fantasy geeks out there, still willing to put their trust in Matt Ryan , much less the Atlanta Falcons as a team? The Falcons in their divisional contest with the New Orleans Saints , sank to a new level of mediocrity , with their fifth successive loss of the season , dropping the team to league low 2-9 record and at the bottom of the NFC South and the NFC , respectively . Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season for a team coming off a league-high 13-3 record in 2012 , along with a divisional title and having made it into the postseason ? Injuries asides , beyond the loss of Julio Jones , the Falcons are now indicating why this suggestion of their being ” parity in the NFL ” is simply nothing more than an urban legend . It comes down to coaching , but above all , talent on the field of play . Yet the hyperbole created and the notion of parity , it begs the question is this merely a matter of creating a ” water cooler topic ” to discuss all season long ? I will leave you, to be the judge of all that !

Last season’s NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers , are proving to be human after-all. Colin Kaepernick in particular , no longer impervious, has shown himself susceptible to being inconsistent in terms of his play , and what was said to be one of the league’s most stymieing secondary’s are also proving hype doesn’t necessarily allude to greatness .

. A two-game losing streak has placed the Niners in somewhat of a precarious position as the league enters the final quarter of the regular season schedule . Tonight’s , Monday night contest at Fedex Field against the Washington Redskins could to prove to be a very interesting game between these NFC rivals . A victory, is a necessity, for both teams, as each seeks to add their legitimacy as a playoff contender . To think that the Redskins, with their record of 4-7 , are not completely out of their divisional race , does seem to be mind-boggling . Yet consider the fact, that NFC East joint divisional leaders the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) and Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) are barely above.500 adds even more credibility behind the rationale , that not only has the play this season been abysmal , but the quartet of teams within this particular division are just not that good .

The return of Derrick Rose , this season to the NBA and the Chicago Bulls , was seen as a tremendous positive not only for the franchise , but also for the league itself. Barely a month , into the NBA season and the fans have witnessed the loss of the point guard to what first appeared to have been an innocuous injury. News’ updates, have suggested that Rose has a torn the meniscus cruciate ligament (MCL) in his right knee and is now likely out, for the remainder of the season. Having not appeared at all, in any games during the 2012 season , Derrick Rose , now being sidelined , is as big a blow to the Chicago Bulls as it will be for the rest of the NBA , without fans being able to witness one of the best point guards in the game , as well as one of the best players overall in the entire league. The team’s chances of making the postseason, will have diminished, but not to the extent where they are likely to be written off as a non-contender as an Eastern Conference titlist .

Rose’s loss for the season , came in the team’s lopsided defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers . While fans and analysts alike, continue to gauge that loss , it is the points guard’s injury and the possible long-term effect on his blossoming career that now comes into question . The Bulls as an organization has a large monetary investment in the player and how they now deal with that issue will be now be predicated upon the decisions that are likely to be made jointly by Tom Thibodeau , owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Gar Forman . The team will now have to refocus their efforts and rally behind the play of Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Kirk Hinrich , Jimmy Butler , Gibson and Joakim Noah . If the players can exhibit the type of effort and resilience shown during the 2011 postseason , then any doubts that some observers are likely to have , could be overlooked .

Chicago will get their first opportunity to perform without their All Star point guard , when they face the Utah Jazz , as these two teams meet on Monday night in an infra-conference match-up. How the Bulls perform in that contest might not be enough of a guide to indicate how they are likely to fare over the remainder of their season , but might clue us in, as to the temperament of the team as a whole , as they seek to go on without Derrick Rose .

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban , self-styled narcissist and publicity seeking hound , the majority of the time, can also be a pompous ass ! Granted , with the Mavericks having won their lone NBA title in 2011 , he may well feel that gives him the luxury of pointing out the woes of NBA Commissioner David Stern as well as criticizing that executive , as to what he still believes to be wrong with the game . Certainly , I cannot question Cuban’s wealth , but the so-called business acumen that many seem to be under the impression that he currently possesses , should be tempered by the fact he recently ran afoul of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) and US Justice Department for ‘ insider trading’. Cuban’s premise, that he was a victim of a political witch-hunt , was about as asinine as his latest comments , attributed to the Mavericks’ owner ” that performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) should now be allowed in the NBA” , with its use being strictly monitored by the league hierarchy . Educated or not , Mark Cuban’s continued stupidity and outlandish persona, is simply another reason why a great deal of the time why he has never been taken seriously by a number of his peers in and outside of the game. As to this latest statement by Cuban , it begs the question, since when was it appropriate to counteract and violate league rules in order to make a diluted product , even less attractive than it already happens to be ? Cuban may well have been acquitted of the charges , and once again , the incompetency of the prosecution (US Attorney’s Office) in the presentation of the government’s case allowed the defendant to walk .

Mark Cuban’s belief that by using performance enhancing drugs to strictly aid with a player’s recovery from an injury , would be of benefit to the league . Perhaps, the Mavericks’ owner has yet to view the pandemic created by the misuse of PED’S in baseball, and the very fact that the MLBPA (union) , much like the NBPA (Players’ Union) , have both been completely disingenuous in dealing with the issue. Cuban’s concerns, if anything, should be about the long-term future of the Dallas Mavericks and where they are likely to be, upon the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki , the franchise’s leading scorer in their history . It is not as if this team , is now likely to get any better , as Nowiztki’s career has now plateaued , and where he is no longer a force to be reckoned with, as he was during his prime.

Currently at 9-5 , fourteen games into the season the Dallas Mavericks sit in second place behind instate rivals the San Antonio Spurs (12-1) within the Southwest Division of the Western Conference . That mark is good enough for fifth place within the conference overall and sixth place within for the NBA as a whole . The Mavericks led by aging veterans , Nowitzki and Shawn Marion , could very well struggle during the latter part of their season , when health and attrition will play a great deal in what this team is likely to achieve . Coming off a two-point loss to the Denver Nuggets , the two teams will meet again on Monday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver , Colorado.

Now losers of five straight and eight of their last ten games , it is becoming extremely difficult to justify the hire of Jason Kidd , to coach the Brooklyn Nets . Furthermore, Kidd now at his worst by way of his coaching record, appears to be is no better than when Avery Johnson coached this franchise, but was summarily dismissed because of a player revolt. Nets’ GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov , I believe will soon see the error of their ways , with this asinine and ridiculous hire. Take into account the team’s payroll and the rather asinine belief by anal retentive fans, that the Nets can spend their way out of trouble will actually make them a credible force within the NBA, this season . The Nets as a team, have no defensive presence and the contributory efforts of Paul Pierce , Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry , has bordered on being anemic to say he very least.

As if to further emphasize how bad the Brooklyn Nets just happens to be , only the lamentable Milwaukee Bucks (2-10) have a worst record in the entire Eastern Conference . Sunday’s twelve point home loss by Brooklyn to the Detroit Pistons , should be seen as a reverberating wake-up call for entire Nets’ front office , but with the recent announcement that both Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov will continue to back their embattled head coach to the hilt . I guess, it will be only a matter of time , before we will either see Kidd fall on his sword and summarily re-sign or at the behest of the fans, King makes the decision to relieve the coach of his duties . No use , dressing up a pig and trying to suggest that it is a sow , because that in essence , is what the fans were asked to believe when Jason Kidd was hired to coach this team . His playing credentials were never in question , but his lack of coaching acumen has been on full show , a lack of discipline , and his not being able to communicate with his players, effectively shows this to have been an extremely poor hiring choice to begin with .

This baseball off- season, has been, one of a great deal of speculation and some rather surprising moves. The ongoing “dramedy ” of the Alex Rodriguez hearings , have taken on a life of their own and as a fan of the game , I do believe that this whole process, will not change a damn thing , as it pertains to the landscape within baseball ! The league hierarchy remains incompetent , the union simply overpowering , the owners greedy , and the vast majority of the players are simply disingenuous and under the impression that they still uphold a wonderful tradition , and nothing could be further from the truth .

In one of the more surprising moves , the Detroit Tigers sent Prince Fielder and the remainder of his gargantuan contract off to the Texas Rangers , in exchange for Ian Kinsler . Two under-achieving AL teams simply swapping juju beans, while Jack is still climbing to the top of the Beanstalk. From my own perspective, the Tigers have now reached their zenith, and their recent postseason forays under former manager Jim Leyland , suggests that this team, has nothing left to offer beyond, being very good during the regular season. While this move can be simply seen, as GM Dave Dombrowski seeking to get Fielder’s contract off the books , in order for the team’s pursuance of pitcher Max Scherzer and a contract extension , now seems one that might not be that costly , but it is still likely to leave Detroit with one of the highest team payrolls in all of baseball .

With no one being able to explain the financial mindset within the game of baseball, I believe that during this off-season , we are likely to see the game’s first $300 million player by way of long-term contract ! Some might deem this to be ludicrous, but consider the following, Alex Rodriguez is still on track to have career earnings from the game of $ 500 million , having signed two contracts exceeding $250 million apiece . No one has yet faulted the rationale behind any of the deals in question , but now with Robinson Cano and Clayton Kershaw being the two off-season marquee free agents , although the pitcher’s situation comes by way of his arbitration status . It would appear, that the Los Angeles Dodgers are eager to res-sign the pitcher and have all but promised to make him the highest paid pitcher in the game.

For Robinson Cano and his ubiquitous agent, Jay-z , it is his desire to be seen, as a legitimate conduit, able to “seal a deal” for his client. The New York Yankees can ill-afford to lose a player of Cano’s caliber, but at the same time with Hal Steinbrenner seeking to reduce the team’s payroll below his desired $200 million threshold , it will be a daunting task for GM Brian Cashman to re-sign the slugger and not actually “ break the bank “ .

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Picture gallery.

From the outside looking in , this past sporting weekend has been an interesting but strange paradigm as a number of events have played themselves out on a very public scale for the sports’ fans in general . I cannot help but wonder, what now waits at the very next turn! What observations have you witnessed or would hope to see in the coming weeks within the world of sports ?

Picture and slideshow details below .

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(1) Quarterback Tom Brady (12) hands off to running back Stevan Ridley (22) of the New England Patriots against the Denver Broncos during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Brady would engineer a fourth quarter comeback for the Patriots , with the team defeating the Broncos 34-31 to win the game in overtime . Getty Images North America / Jared Wickerham ….

(2) Running back Montee Ball (28) of the Denver Broncos fumbles the ball in the third quarter against the New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jared Wickerham …..

(3) Quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints is pressured by outside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox ….

(4) Chicago Bulls’ point guard Derrick Rose , who for the second time in three years has seen his NBA career curtailed by an injury . The player will be lost to the team for the entire season having torn an MCL in his right knee . The diagnosis , as we now know it to be , will be his having to receive arthroscopic surgery and then a long recuperation and rehabilitation process of possibly between twelve to fourteen months . AP Photo / Kerry Anderson ….

(5) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban seen here on the set of the ABC reality show ” Shark Tank” . Cuban in a recent statement believes that the NBA should allow the use of performance enhancing drugs within the game, to aid a player in the recuperative process after having suffered an injury . Failing to acknowledge the ongoing issues now facing baseball (MLB) , the gregarious owner still stands by his statement. courtesy of ABC/Disney Television …..

(6) Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw seen here in the team’s dugout from a game earlier this season will be seeking a healthy pay increase . All signs are pointing to the fact that the player who is in an arbitration year will see his salary increase considerably , with the front office also offering the player a long-term deal , likely to make him the highest paid player on the team’s roster . AP Photo / Mark Todd …………

(7) Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King (left) is seen here alongside the team’s head coach Jason Kidd. With the team off to a horrendous start to the season , the front office has issued a public statement backing the beleaguered rookie head coach. NY Daily News / AP Photo/ Jose Figueroa ……
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Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

By tophatal ………..

The Chicago Bulls in their victory over the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday became the first team to qualify for the NBA postseason . With a mark of . 40-10 the Bulls have a four game lead over their closest rivals the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference .

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That being said , I do believe that Tom Thibodeau and John Paxson would certainly like to tie up the divisional title (Central Division) and conference # 1 seed by season’s end ! And for their part this Bulls’ team has been playing at an exceptionally high level , with and without their All Star guard Derrick Rose . And while Rose has been sidelined with an injury , it has been John Lucas III stepping up to the plate and proving that you don’t have to be error prone like Jeremy Lin to be deemed a good point guard within in the NBA .

From my own perspective I believe the Bulls to be the most balanced team within the conference with their starting five being amongst the most efficient within the NBA . Now while everyone seems to be favoring the Miami Heat and maybe there is some justification to that . I simply look at one salient point and that is when power forward Chris Bosh fails play with his usual aplomb this Heat team fails to show up . At the same though much isn’t placed with regard to point differential in terms of margin of victory I do still place a great deal of substance in that particular statistic . At the same time this roster crafted by Pat Riley is nowhere as efficient as many believe them to be from a defensive standpoint . And while the fans , NBA analysts and purists alike laud the ” Big Three “ stars on the team , in LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Bosh . It has to be said that many expected this Heat team to be running roughshod over their opponents not just within the Eastern Conference but also the NBA as whole .

Riley’s protege` Erik Spoelstra is under a great deal of pressure to succeed , especially in light of last season’s failure in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks where they were heavily favored against their Western Conference opponents . That series’ defeat led to many questions being asked not just about the Heat but also the entire organization with regard to their conceit and complacency . If the Miami Heat are to fare well then it will have to come from a concerted effort from every member on the roster , rather than simply seeing James , Wade and Bosh lead apparently by example .

I’ve always maintained that an NBA title isn’t won by being the best team during the playoffs but by being the toughest team physically and mentally . And that is something that I believe we are witnessing from the Chicago Bulls . It has been amazing to see the team play without Derrick Rose but having John Lucas , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on a given night simply step up and prove that they too can lead when their team is facing some real adversity. Now while a great deal can be made that the fans will ultimately want to see style over substance , which I do believe is an appropriate way to describe the play of both Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat ! The Heat is prepared to give you style while Thibodeau’s players will give you the substance . As to how this will all play out in what many believe will be the perceived conference Finals’ match-up. It can only add to the element of excitement expected over the course and anticipation expected during the upcoming playoffs.

In the Western Conference it would appear that the smooth running Oklahoma City Thunder is the engine that could and still is running like a precision and finely in and tuned machine . Of the teams now vying for the top berth within the conference , it is Kevin Durant and his teammates who stand head and shoulders above everyone else . Specifically, with both the San Antonio Spurs and a now resurgent …. Los Angeles Lakers , the conference no longer seems to be a one horse race .

Durant, Serge Ibaka , James Harden and Russell Westbrook are now looking acquit themselves after the last season’s mala-prop in the playoffs . Once again a young team making waves with a very good coach at the helm in Scott Brooks .

As an ardent fan of the San Antonio Spurs and the always meticulous Gregg Popovich in conjunction with GM R C Buford have reconstructed a new team built around their celebrated triumvirate of Tony Parker , Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli . This season however the Spurs have seen the rise of young players Kawhi Leonard , DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal all contributing to the team’s cause which has seen them rise to the # 2 seed within the conference as the season winds down into the final month of the regular season schedule .

As to what we should look to expect as the schedule winds itself down should be as expected . Those teams still in with a chance of a playoff berth will fight tooth and nail to the very last drop in terms of a divisional race which is tight or for that eighth and final spot in the conference standings . This much do already know the Charlotte Bobcats will have the undoubted privilege of being amongst the teams in question participating in the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery . Unfortunately , for team executive and owner , . Michael Jordan and the rest of the front office this may well be the one season in the organization’s history they would rather forget altogether . This Bobcats’ team has set a historic number team and NBA lows that simply denotes the fact as to how poor their season has been . I certainly don’t believe that it is something that the players craved or that David Stern envisioned in seeing from the NBA’s most noted ambassador . Jordan may well have been a tremendous success on an NBA court but off it as a front office executive , he has left a great deal to be desired , as his contributions during that time have been well chronicled and ridiculed more often than not .

Kemba Walker may well have made a big splash in college basketball having won an NCAA title with Connecticut in 2011 but his NBA career thus far has been littered with an array of moderate displays on a totally inept and what some might describe as a totally dysfunctional team .

Once the regular season reaches its culmination I would dare say that head coach Paul Silas will meet with Michael Jordan to discuss his immediate future . As I cannot envisage this much and well-respected coach remaining with an organization where the players simply are not listening or appear to be willing to learn. At the same time one has to what indeed was behind the thought process of Jordan and his fellow executives before the Bobcats embarked upon their now disastrous season . This team will be extremely lucky if they hit the double-digit total in terms of their collective total in wins for the 2011-12 season . Such has been the mediocrity on display from the Charlotte Bobcats that I seriously doubt anyone would have expected this from an NBA franchise at all ! I certainly didn’t and I am one of those fans who will at times question the work ethic of not only the teams but also their players ! I simply look at the Bobcats and I see a franchise that is besieged with a number of issues that they have simply failed to address and until that is done we are liable to see more of the same over the ensuing seasons . Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

With the NBA Playoffs due to begin on the 28th April what are you most looking forward to from the teams that you expect to see in the NBA postseason showcase ? And what have been your overall impressions of the curtailed season within the league ? Do you believe that it has met most expectations or are you somewhat disappointed with it overall ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot between Amir Johnson (15) (L) > and Andrea Bargnani(7) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(2) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls tries to get off a shot as Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors hip-checks him at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(3) John Lucas III (15) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over Jose Calderon (8) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center , Chicago , Illinois . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(4) Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook (0) celebrate after scoring against the Miami Heat in the third quarter a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Oklahoma City won 103-87 . And the Thunder lowered “the boom” on the Heat’s ass . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(5) Kendrick Perkins (5) of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat on March 25, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images ……..

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant defends as Miami Heat forward LeBron James, right, drives to the basket during the second quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams

(7) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich , center, argues a call as Manu Ginobili , left, of Argentina, listens during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. The Spurs won 93-76 . AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

(8) San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker (9), of France, shoots as Philadelphia 76ers’ Elton Brand, center, and Evan Turner defend during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Well inter-league play is now front and center within MLB and though the purists may well be dead set against the idea here it now is. Personally from my own standpoint I see it as a chance for teams within the AL and NL a chance to play each other and for many of the fans to see their heroes up close and personal. Though I’m not an overly admirer of this format until the World Series as I alluded to , it does give the fans a chance to see their favorite players .

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As the season progresses I know that we’re bound to see the teams at their very best and at their worst. But you can be sure that won’t last long as the season heats up and reaches its halfway point by late July . By then a number of the divisions should be taking shape albeit that there still will be a great deal to play for . I’m not about to make any quick announcements as to what I think will happen other than to suggest that the teams playing the best baseball should actually be stepping up to the plate and making their present felt and their class known .

Well over the weekend several of the top NFL’s rookies gathered on the campus of UCLA Berkley for a charity event . Amongst those attending were Cam Newton , Von Miller , Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton to name but a few . Many of the players in question suggested that in spite of the league lockout they were happy to be part of the fraternity but their biggest disappointment was not being able to participate in any drills amongst their new teams or at their respective training facilities. In the midst of this all the NFL hierarchy , team owners and the NFLPA , there still remains a chasm as to their differences . Meanwhile the lockout still remains in place after being upheld by the 8th District Appellate Court . The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees in an interview granted to ESPN’s Ed Werder during which he stated that the reason why he was a willing participant in a civil suit against the NFL wherein he , Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had all signed on to challenge the league’s antitrust status . One of the points that Brees brought up during this interview was the very fact the players are doing this mainly to represent the veteran players that have retired and the very fact that they have been inadequately assisted by the NFL . If anything this might well have been one of the most pertinent points raised in this whole unsavory episode . Because to my mind it certainly hasn’t been only the NFL that has failed the retired players but also the very union who say that they represent those players’ interests. Certainly neither Gene Upshaw or his successor DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA have spoken publicly of their wish in obtaining better benefits for their members, in particular the retired veterans . But such has been the idiocy of this lockout and the very fact that the two sides seem to so far apart in trying to reach an accord as it firmly remains about money and how best to split a $9 billion piece of pie .

Well the daggers are now out for seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as the Justice Department seeks testimony and evidence that would indict the former champion of using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Such has been the absurdity of this whole spectacle where we have seen former champion Alberto Contador have his own suspension lifted after positive test which he asserts was due to having ate tainted meat at a restaurant . In light of this all I find it rather asinine that the Tour organizers L’Equipe and the sport’s governing body UCI have yet to reach an accord where there is in fact a really comprehensive drug testing policy. The IOC which oversees the Olympic Games has a part to play in this all but they appear to be taking a hands off approach as WADA and UCI try to make the best of a bad situation by trying to get the appropriate testing protocols in place that is universally recognized.

Much of Armstrong’s problems will now manifest itself even more so with the allegations now being made by former teammates of Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton has stated that he repeatedly saw the former champion inject himself with steroids and other illicit PED’S . In an interview conducted by CBS’s Scott Pelley for their magazine news program ’60 Minutes’ , Hamilton emphasizes that Lance Armstrong was a frequent user of PED’s throughout much of his career , especially during the run-up to the Tour de France. Now it’d be naive to even suggest that Armstrong might not be guilty of anything but at the same time one certainly would have doubts . The other teammate of Armstrong who also has also given testimony to the Justice Department is George Hincapie . OK , so Lance Armstrong has never tested positive while in competition or during the cycling off season but yet the allegations appear and reappear with even more frequency as time goes by . Now while Hamilton has given his sworn testimony to the Justice Department the question I would ask is what does he actually gain from all of this ? He would be an idiot to perjure himself at this juncture knowing full well that lying would mean a jail sentence in a Federal penitentiary . But at this juncture until an indictment is handed down all one can do is merely speculate on the matter . 60 Minutes who tried to get in contact with Armstrong and his legal representatives seeking a statement from the beleaguered cyclist were not met with a response of any kind. However , Armstrong has always maintained his innocence in any wrong doing on his part. For someone who was so beloved after his heroics and the fact that he overcame testicular cancer it would appear that his days now seem to be numbered as he looks keep his legacy and integrity in tact.

The vultures are now hovering and it appears that they are looking gorge themselves on the carcass of Lance Armstrong . Witch hunt or not , this might be one of the most unsavory moments in recent l history as it relates to the sport of cycling, especially as to its relevance here in North America , where Armstrong is still very much seen as the face of the sport.

As the NBA postseason takes shape with the conference finals I can’t help but wonder how the fans now view things as they begin to play themselves out ? The Eastrn Conference Finals have worked out well as the top two seeds meet for the right to represent to the conference in the NBA Finals . The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat so far , have given us an exhilarating two games wherein the series is now tied at 1-1 . And for both coaches Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra are on the cusp of leading their respective teams to what will their first appearance in the league’s showcase event as coaches. It is extremely hard to believe that other than Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers there are no other active coaches in the league that have won an NBA title . But such has been the dominance of that triumvirate as coaches within the NBA that it easy to understand the reasons why they have had the success that they have attained. They are the consummate individuals within their fraternity and have the respect of their peers and their players no less.

The stars on both teams have shone as this series has progressed and it may well take one of those stars to raise their game to another level if their team is to succeed. For league MVP —- Derrick Rose this has been an outstanding season as he has vindicated himself to many by showing why he has been so successful as a player and a leader of this Bulls’ team . With the series now resuming this upcoming Sunday at the AA Arena in Miami , one should expect an explosive and raucous atmosphere in that arena as the Heat’s Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Chris Bosh and the rest of this roster showcase their skills as they seek to take a lead in the series.

All evidence would point to the fact that should the Heat take game three then they would be viewed as being in the driver’s seat and expected to perhaps look to close out this series . At this juncture I would say that nothing is off the table because this season’s playoffs while exciting , have also been full of a number of surprises as we’ve seen both the San Antonio Spurs and the reigning two time defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers being summarily embarrassed by their respective opponents in the earlier rounds .

In the Western Conference Finals the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder look to up the ante in their series as they each look to regain the upper hand in their series . Dirk Nowitzki after his dominant performance in game one with an emphatic 48 point offensive output in the Mavericks’ 121-112 defeat of the Thunder . This series has see-sawed up and down because of the over powering offensive display of both teams . At the same time I look at the situation where it would appear that defense appears to the last thing on the mind of either team. For both Scott Brooks and Rick Carlisle this is something that has to be remedied if either team is to prevail in the series outright .

Game three resumes in Oklahoma City this Saturday with the series tied at one game apiece . In tying the series the Thunder knew that taking a game at American Airlines Center in Dallas this series is now up for grabs . Much of the post-game scenario played around the benching of Russell Westbrook by Scott Brooks for the entire fourth quarter of the game. Inconsistency or not Westbrook is uniquely aware that he’s not the leader of this Thunder team as that right belongs to the two time league scoring champion Kevin Durant . Westbrook must know that if the Oklahoma City Thunder is to be successful then he will have to defer to Durant as and when necessary . Any other alternative will ultimately lead to the team’s demise and a chance of making their first appearance in the NBA Finals as the NBA’s youngest franchise .

As this NBA postseason unfolds it will be interesting what drama now awaits the participants left the respective series .

After what appeared to be an enthralling bout a rematch was made between former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and the reigning champion Jean Pascal of Canada. In their first dramatic fight that ended in a highly contested draw , the animosity between the two antagonists actually grew. What is now undeniable is the that Hopkins seeks to further cement his legacy in becoming the oldest world champion in boxing history. The former champion is 46 years old and some eighteen years the senior of his opponent. Their title bout will take place in Montreal this upcoming Saturday (10:00 pm EST) and will be televised by HBO .

Though the state of boxing has now become mundane and pedantic , Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao remain perhaps the two biggest draw in the sport. Unfortunately however , once these two legends of the sport retire boxing will become bereft of real talent and characters that the fans can actually identify with. Pascal for his part knows that if he actually beats Hopkins his ascent up the ranks will only gain him more exposure and greater financial reward. It seems strange at the age of five Pascal he probably wouldn’t have been aware that his opponent would be making his professional debut in the sport. That being said when these two meet again at the Bell Centre , Montreal , it won’t be about Pascal showing any deference to his more experienced foe and it will certainly be vice- versa with Bernard Hopkins. The former champion felt he was cheated out of the decision on the champion’s home turf in their first outing and for that, he expects to right a wrong . And as impressive as Pascal’s 26-1-1 (16KO’s) record might appear to be the quality of opponents he has met over the course of his career pales into comparison when adjudged against that of Hopkins’ and multi-divisional championship record (51-5-1 [32 KO’s])would and resume’ would indicate.

This rematch has the makings of being an instant classic given what is on the line for both fighters. And I think that there is a distinct possibility that the challenger may well walk away with the title belt as he feels that he has something to prove . Certainly Pascal being the much younger fighter knows that he can ill afford to take Hopkins lightly as he had done in their first meeting. And if anything he was extremely lucky to have retained his title with that favorable decision of a draw by the judges . This time around there may well not be a need for the judges to actually give a verdict as this bout may well be decided by knockout . Either way this could be a fight that will dictate the careers of both fighters and the directions that they may well be heading in .

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What opinions might you have as to the topics raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as you deem fit and anything else you may well feel pertinent .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Joe Mather celebrates his one run double in the twelfth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif. The Braves won 5-4 . AP Photo/Gus Ruelas …..

(2) Alex Gonzalez (2) #2 of the Atlanta Braves scores a run in front of Hank Conger (16) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to take a 5-4 lead during the 12th inning at Angel Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(3) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players’ lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players’ lawyer Jeffrey Kessler arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ……

(4) Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Seattle Seahawks converses with quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints after the Saints 34-19 win at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. ….

(5) Cyclist Lance Armstrong holds a press conference during Day 1 of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 24, 2008 in New York City. Armstrong was speaking on his return to competitive cycling and the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative to fight cancer.2008 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting – Day 1New York, NY United StatesSeptember 24, 2008 . Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage.com @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) goes up for a shot attempt as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, right, and DeShawn Stevenson, bottom left, defend in the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals basketball series Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Oklahoma City. The Mavericks won 93-87 . AP Photo/Larry W. Smith ….

(7) Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Christian Petersen …….

(8) Bernard Hopkins of US shows his tongue after a hit by Jean Pascal of Canada during their light heavyweight championship fight for the WBC light heavyweight championship, on May 21, 2011, at Bell Centre, Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Ring veteran Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal by decision in a World Boxing Council light heavyweight bout to become the oldest major world champion in boxing history at 46 years old. Hopkins came on strong in the middle rounds and hung on in the 12th against the hard-hitting Canadian Pascal to get the decision in front of a crowd of 17,750 at the Bell Centre arena May 21, 2011. Hopkins won a unanimous decision against Pascal in an entertaining rematch of their December 18 draw in Quebec City, Canada. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES/ ROGERIO BARBOSA …….

(9) Bernard Hopkins misses a punch on Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images …….

(10) MONTREAL, CANADA – MAY 21: Bernard Hopkins punches Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

(11) Both Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal raise their hands in victory after twelve rounds of action during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The challenger would defeat his younger adversary in obtaining a unanimous verdict from all there judges . In winning the light heavyweight title Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world title holder in boxing history at the age of 46. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

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ABCDEFG ………………..

Ah the rather self absorbed Jason Whitlock once again espousing views that simply at times has no rhyme or reason. Whitlock in his latest masterpiece has written that the NBA’s ” most dynamic duo “ of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat are now a better duo than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were at their best with the Chicago Bulls . For a duo that has yet to win anything of relevance within the NBA I get the impression that Whitlock’s love the duo might well be bordering on being homo-erotic rather than based on anything tangible. Never let it be said that his idiocy also has no boundaries when it comes to Whitlock and his ideas .

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This season the Heat have been efficient not necessarily spectacular in making their way to the Eastern Conference semi finals where they’ll meet the Derrick Rose led Chicago Bulls . Kind of ironic don’t you think that in the midst of subject on the Bulls Whitlock as such would take a mocking jibe at perhaps that franchise’s best duo in its history ? Jordan , Pippen and their cast of supporting players won six NBA titles within an eight year span and during the season they won a record <a 72 games that season as well as winning the NBA championship . If the Miami Heat indeed are to prove their worth then this team will not only have to vindicate themselves by winning this season’s title but do so in a convincing fashion .

Whitlock for his part has done little to state succinctly his reasons behind this thought process , other than to suggest that the two Heat players are athletic , dynamic and entertaining . But my question to Jason Whitlock since when have those facets won anything in the NBA ? As impressive as the Heat have been in dispatching the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter final series this is still somewhat a flawed team . The Heat’s ‘Big Three’ of Chris Bosh , James and Wade have been placed under the microscope , dissected , analyzed and criticized to the nth degree . In the midst of this all team President Pat Riley has hit back at those critical of the organization’s moves that brought both Bosh and James to the Heat in the offseason. Erik Spoelstra as coach of the Miami Heat knows that a great deal is now expected of him in leading this team to what many now feels is their destiny. As one of the quintet of coaches left in the latter stages of these playoffs , Spoelstera, Scott Brooks , Tom Thibodeau , Lionel Hollins and Rick Carlisle are now aspiring to be first time winners of an NBA title as a coach. And given the fact that with the impending retirement of Phil Jackson there are only two other coaches in the NBA to have won an NBA title. That duo would be Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers and then beyond that the cupboard as they say …..” becomes bare ” .

The substantive issues raised by Whitlock goes a long way in showing how much I believe that the NBA has changed as a league over the past decade and a half ! Players during this decade, if anything aren’t necessarily as skilled as their predecessors . More is made about hype over substance concerning today’s players and the image that’s portrayed , albeit that the league now more so than ever is very much consumer driven. That could very well be the premise behind Whitlock’s perspective on making these comparisons or the very fact that he genuinely believes that James and Wade are that much better than Jordan and Pippen. Granted , Jordan had yet to win a title at the stage where both James and Wade now find their careers . But bear this in mind , Jordan led by example and that’s something that is clearly missing from LeBron James’ resume’ as a player. Indecision or not , the way he bolted from the Cleveland Cavaliers left a bitter taste in the mouths of the fans and in particular within the front office of that organization . It left Dan Gilbert an angry owner whose behavior in the aftermath of what he felt was a genuine betrayal by the player. If anything that situation was handled badly by both parties as James came off as being immature and petulant . Whereas, Gilbert simply acted out as enraged, owner who’d lost the team’s biggest asset in an unsolicited takeover bid that simply broke up the company merely leaving him with the remnants of a shell company. Incumbent coach Byron Scott has his work cut out for him in turning this team around and it will take a great deal of work by him and his immediate coaching staff .

To my mind Jordan and Pippen have epitomized what a duo and a team are about and although Jason Whitlock chose the duo to make this comparison it has me wondering how it is he came to this judgment ! This journalist’s work over the years has raised eyebrows as to the volatility and emotions he chooses to put on display with regard to the themes he chooses to address . He has been vilified by many and has the respect of others but in large part he’s either someone that you either love or hate as a journalist.

If one remembers the idiocy of the displays after James and Bosh’s arrival the trio talked of themselves winning ………. not one , not two but five or six championships . As of yet the Miami Heat with this trio in lock have yet to win anything of merit but it has been Whitlock’s idiocy and his piece that makes his subjective article to an extent all the more ridiculous in its premise and what he’s trying to substantiate as a case in making his argument . But in this day and age where journalism no longer has any real integrity to it , rather it being about the journalists simply wanting have you bear witness as to what they believe to be right rather than allowing the readers to make a judgment for themselves with the facts being laid out there for them all to see. Inasmuch as there are somewhat controversial journalists out there such Jason Whitlock , it has to be said without his smorgasboard of morsels to offer the public I seriously doubt that anyone would take the genre of sports journalism with any degree of sincerity !

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What thoughts if any do you have on this piece and in particular Jason Whitlock’s comparisons between the duos of James and Wade , Jordan and Pippen ? Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts concerning the topics raised within this piece .

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

Picture and slide show details

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(1) Jason Whitlock noted sport’s columnist and journalist . AP Photo / Eric Clarke ……

(2) Jordan (23) and Pippen seen here in one of the Bulls’ many NBA Finals triumphs . In the background is former Bulls and now NBA tv analyst Steve Kerr . AFP/Reuters Inc/ Gustav Nillson ………..

(3) Chris Bosh , Dywane Wade and LeBron Wade seen here just after their formal introduction to the Miami Heat fans this past offseason at the AA Arena ,in Miami , Florida . AP Photo / John Raoux …..

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Do The Right Thing ……………….

Do The Right Thing ……………..

There’s a great deal to be said about the legacy of baseball , its history and the fact that Jackie Robinson played a part in integrating team sports, being the first African American to play a professional sport where its embodiment was integrated . And granted, were it not for Branch Rickey willing to take a chance on a social experiment that would have lasting ramifications that would reverberate across the landscape of the country , I seriously doubt that we’d have seen the integration of the game at the time we did. Consider this, at the time that Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers the US military still hadn’t been fully integrated wherein African American soldiers could be part of the same platoon and serve alongside their Caucasian counterparts but yet this myth continues here within this country that it’d rather gloss over this whole episode concerning African Americans within the US military. The US military wouldn’t be fully integrated until 1953 , some eight years after World War II had ended .

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In light of the above evidence a patron (chappy81) of my site and I mulled over the situation with regard to the image of the NFL and that of MLB and the fact that both sports are so image conscious . He remarked about the fact baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and that baseball also has its Civil Rights —– games played this weekend . But that in of-itself I find to be a real misnomer as it simply means nothing in the greater landscape of things , given the fact that now we’re seeing an attack to repeal many of the advances made under the Civil Rights Act . And whereas Jackie Robinson’s number has been retired by the league I do find it somewhat asinine that the league especially now under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has somehow refused to retire Roberto Clemente’s number in honor of the player and his accomplishments but specifically as a human rights activist and philanthropist . If Selig and the league hierarchy simply can’t view Clemente’s accomplishments other than to institute an award in his name , I think it somewhat inane that they simply believe that honor only ought to be bestowed upon Jackie Robinson , merely because he was simply the first person of an ethnic minority to have the game as part of an integrated team at the professional level ! Baseball while steeped in its traditions has become archaic and fully out of touch with the realities of the world .

Given the current problems within the league , financial instability of teams around baseball , team owners who’ve simply put greed above common sense and a hierarchy who for the most part simply show the naivete of an immature child that it’s hard to imagine that the game has made the advancement that it has over the years. Character issue asides of the players past and present I do feel that it is now time for Bud Selig do the right thing and actually retire Roberto Clemente’s number , not just simply as an act of benevolence but also to acknowledge his achievements as a philanthropist .

Now one might suggest that in allowing Clemente’s number to retired it would diminish what Jackie Robinson’s entry at the major league level meant to the game . But I say …no ………. because if anything these are two great players who by their own deeds and willingness to beat the odds has done a great deal to establish the game of baseball across a broad demographic and therein making it relevant socially as well being viewed as America’s pastime .

Well now that the conference finals appear to be set with regard to the NBA Playoffs . The Eastern Conference Finals sets up an intriguing match-up between the top two seeds within the confrence . The Chicago Bulls will host the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday 15th May in a game one of this best of seven game series . For LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade they see this as a form of vindication having defeated the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter semi final series 4-1 .

So clinical was the defeat of the Celtics that it had many wondering whether or not this might the last charge of the Boston Celtics’ ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Ray Allen . To my mind I do feel that this Celtics’ roster labored because of the fact that is in large part an aging one . And whereas Doc Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to an emphatic triumph in the 2008 NBA Finals . This might very well be a time for a changing of the guard in some part . GM Danny Ainge and senior general partner Wyc Grousbeck may very well have to overhaul this roster if the Celtics are to have any serious chance of challenging for an NBA title next season .

And while it is being widely reported that Rivers is now in the process of accepting a renewed five year $35 million deal to remain with the organization . It may well pretty much put into effect that the Big Three will likely also remain with the Celtics . Beyond that it remains to be seen what now becomes the next saga of the Boston Celtics’ history.

In going back to address this conference finals’ matchup between the Bulls and Heat it will most certainly be an intriguing one. The Bulls swept the season series between the two teams with some ease but that was in large part before the Heat had found any real consistency in their play . If the Bulls are to prove that those results during the regular season were no fluke then they will have to play with a fluidity and resolve that they’ve shown throughout the large part of the postseason . League MVP —- Derrick Rose and his teammates have to be mindful as to the knowledge that will be imparted to them by their coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff if they’re to have any chance of beating the Heat in this series . And for the Heat who’ll no doubt be looked at as the presumptive favorites for coach Erik Spoelstra , he knows that it is now or never for this team which has been looked at to win it all ever since team President & Head of Basketball Operations Pat Riley engineered the moves that brought Bosh and James to the Miami Heat during the offseason.

Not since the Michael Jordan era led Bulls of the 1995-96 season has there been this much fervor over this organization for which the expectations are now extraordinarily high. Should the Bulls prevail in this series then it could be viewed as one of the biggest shocks in recent NBA history , in terms of postseason upsets .

Amazingly enough while the Dallas Mavericks awaits the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder . I’ve now got to ask myself after this monumental disastrous display by the Thunder in their fourteen point loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night how is it that Scott Brooks can feel that his team can now close out this series ? On a night when league scoring champion Kevin Durant had an abysmal night shooting , that this was a game that I believe that the Thunder would rather forget ! Once again it was left the heroics of Zach Randolph as he led the team in scoring and in taking the lead as its vocal leader in erasing a 3-2 deficit to even this series with everything to play for as game seven brings the two teams back Oklahoma City to bring this conference semi finals to a fitting culmination. As to what that might be , we now all wait to see what unfolds in this exhausting and thrilling series .

If the rumors are to believed as it is now being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed Phil Jackson’s assistant Brian Shaw to speak with both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as to both vacant coaching positions. Strange as this may seem , unless the Lakers are extremely confident that Jackson will be returning to the organization then I feel it somewhat less than prudent of them to allow Shaw to seek out an initial interview with either organization . Shaw if anything has to be the favorite for the position as he has the respect of a number of players on the team. But it may well be that GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well feel that it is indeed better bring someone anew to be Jackson’s successor. From my own perspective although I’ve heard the name of Rick Adelman being bandied about as a likely successor I do feel that it’d be step backwards for the Lakers should they hire this well respected coach. A retread is very much the last thing that this organization needs in light of their rather embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the Dallas Mavericks . The one candidate I feel who fits the bill as the successor to Jackson would be Tom Izzo of Michigan State and his given his coaching pedigree I think he’d certainly be the appropriate choice ! However , that decision is now in the hands of the general manager and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and it may well be some time before they come to a final decision .

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What thoughts if any do have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment and thank as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Branch Rickey , Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel seen are as the former player receives his plaque after his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame . AFP Archives ………

(2) Pirates’ outfielder Roberto Clemente whose tragic death is still mourned to this day . Baseball archives ….

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Omer Asik (3) reacts with Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls after Asik drew a foul from the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox / Getty Images …….

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Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

Don’t Hate Appreciate ………… Have You Had Your Can Of Whup Ass Today ?

I’ve said it repeatedly the tough teams know how to win when it matters most and case in point was proof positive of that as the Los Angeles Lakers simply gave up in their quest having succumbed to the Dallas Mavericks 98-92 in a decisive game three played at the American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas. Instead of being composed we saw a Lakers’ team pressed and playing rather in consistently throughout this series .

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If there was an unsung hero during this game for the Mavericks then it had to be jointly Jason Terry , Peja Stojakovic and that wily veteran Jason Kidd who belied their years in the league. Now pardon me for saying this but each time I hear TNT or ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy I simply want to throw up ! Is there no time wherein this guy can simply be observant report on what he observes rather than coming up with asinine comments and analysis. Now down 0-3 this series is now beyond the reach of the Lakers as no team in playoff history has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to come back and win that series .

This was simply a collective effort from this Mavericks’ team and it was a thoroughly convincing result and this series now seems to the Dallas Mavericks’ for the taking . If you’ve any doubt about that then simply look at the box-score and the stats for the Mavericks ? Game four of this series resumes on Sunday and we’re liable to see the Lakers be swept out of this series as the Dallas Mavericks make their way to the Western Conference Finals . Personally I can see the Lakers quite possibly taking game four but beyond that this team is liable to lose one if not two of the next three to be played at the Staples Center after the series’ departure from Dallas .

Anyone who was in any doubt why Derrick Rose became the youngest league MVP in NBA history then you simply had to witness his display against the Atlanta Hawks in game three played at the Philips Arena in Atlanta , Georgia . The Chicago Bulls simply laid the wood to the Hawks as they took them behind the woodshed and literally beat the shit out of this Hawks’ team . Forty four points simply sums up this player’s play and the fact that the Bulls’ bench took up some of the slack . Joakim Noah , Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson played with a great deal of aplomb as and when needed, as they harried the Hawks’ offense and made them look lethargic .

By midway through the fourth quarter this game was simply beyond the Atlanta Hawks’ reach and their two All Stars on this team in Joe Johnson and Al Horford simply couldn’t do anything to bring the Hawks back into this game. On this series resumption with game four we could well see the Chicago Bulls take a 3-1 lead in this series .

Can someone explain to me how it is that Cliff Lee can strike out 15 batters in a game and still come up with a loss (5-0 ) in a game played at Citizens Ballpark in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Phillies took on the Atlanta Braves ? Lee’s opposite number Derek Lowe also had the prospect obtaining a no hitter in this game in what was an exemplary display by both pitchers. In the end however this was more about the mistakes defensively made by the Phillies and solid resolute play by the Braves as they inched closer to the the Florida Marlins and Phillies within the NL East .

Andre Ethier’s amazing season continues as he embarks on rewriting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ record book. Ethier is on the cusp of becoming the Dodgers’ consecutive single season record in terms of a consecutive games hit streak . Now at thirty games and counting Ethier looks to surpass the Dodgers’ record of Willie Davis’ streak of 31 and hopes to top the mark of forty before he can think about even coming within range of Joe Di Maggio’s 56 game hit streak which is the all time record within MLB . It’s now becoming redundant to continue talking about the Dodgers’ off the field problems as nothing can now simply change that particular landscape as it now stands. The idiocy of it all is that the team’s owner Frank McCourt continues to wallow in the fact that he’s now become a victim in the aftermath of the league hierarchy taking over the day to day running of the organization. Suffice to say that the league , its team owners enabled McCourt and his executive subordinates to enact this madness . And for those opining that the Dodgers and their $3 billion tv contract signed with Fox and its parent company NewsCorp let’s just say if you’re unable to pay the staff salaries for your employees for the months of April and now May please don’t come up with the bullshit about this organization being in a viable financial position. Simply let it be , and get a dose of reality as to how business is conducted in the real world .

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams effectively announced his retirement as coach of the Terrapins’ basketball team . Having assumed tenure of the Terrapins as its coach in 1989 while the team was under NCAA probation Williams single handedly resurrected this program and put it back on the map. In doing so he won the 2002 NCAA Basketball Tournament . That title has been Maryland’s sole NCAA Men’s title but it has been the programs consistency over the years that has made Gary Williams stand apart as a collegiate basketball coach . He leaves an indelible record having won over 630 games and a run of eleven straight NCAA appearances as well as the Sweet 16 on multiple occasions . Thirty three years as a coach of, which 22 were spent as the coach of Maryland and I’d like to think that makes Gary Williams something of a special talent within the world of collegiate basketball !

Well it appears now apart from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff looking to challenge the BCS’ antitrust exemption status and its stand as a monopoly within collegiate football. It now seems that the US Justice Department and its antitrust division will now serve notice that they intend to send letters to NCAA President Mark Emmert and the BCS seeking their reasons as to why there isn’t a playoff format in place for the national championship at the D1 level. If that’s not enough to peak your interest assistant US attorney general Christine Varney within the antitrust division of the Justice Department says that she is quite prepared subpoena records from both the NCAA and BCS to seek out how they conduct their business practices as it relates collegiate football . Considering the NCAA is already facing a civil suit challenge by several former NCAA athletes as to the use of their likeness for business purposes within the Federal Court System this couldn’t have come at a worse time for both the NCAA and BCS.

If it hasn’t been enough that we’ve seen the idiocy of the NCAA and the belief that the BCS and its subordinates feel that they’re above reproach . We now have to see them having to defend themselves from what we already know to be a grossly corrupt system that is in place and that’s being defended by an idiot in Ohio State university President Dr E Gordon Gee . How in God’s name that buffoon believes that the system is above reproach tells you all you need to know when you simply survey the 2010-11 and 2011 schedule of the Buckeyes to see how they affix their schedules , wherein they’re literally playing a bunch of no name programs to pad out their stats. In the midst of this all, Gee has the temerity to suggest that mid major conferences ought not to be allowed to have the privilege of attaining a BCS Bowl game berth because they’re simply not good enough. If anything, Gee ought to be more concerned over the image of his school and the fact that its football coach Jim Tressel has no moral character or integrity and the very fact that he’s self consumed a liar and a cheat . Those ought to be Gee’s biggest concerns rather than his asinine notion that the BCS system is above reproach.

I’ve longed felt that were it not for Severiano Ballesteros the European Tour and the PGA Tour wouldn’t be what is today . Having won five grand slam majors and over 68 tournaments worldwide Ballesteros’ legacy has been well chronicled . Long before Tiger Woods held the world as a captive audience on the golf course it was the spectacle of seeing Ballesteros simply play with a fluidity not often seen on any major tour today. His shot making was uncanny and anyone who knows anything about the sport of golf will know how special Seve’ Ballasteros was . Unfortunately , the Spanish star and a successful Ryder Cup captain is suffering from cancer of the brain , having gone through repeated bouts of chemotherapy and undergone several neuro surgeries over the past eight years ever since it was discovered that he had malignant tumors on his brain. Having removed several of the tumors it was felt that Severiano Ballesteros’ would be able to make a slow and successful recovery from his illness .

Ballesteros died at age 54 in the early hours of Saturday morning, in the arms of his family, a national treasure within the country of Spain and a worldwide celebrity . A wealthy individual in his own right , from his professional earnings and as a businessman from his the off the field business ventures , he married Caroline Boutin , whose family founded one of Spain’s largest financial institutions Banco de Santander . He will be sorely missed by the golf word but it was his larger than life character , respect for and of the game as well as his fellow competitors that made Ballasteros stand apart. His dominance of the game goes without saying and for those who’ve never witnessed Ballesteros at his very best , simply imagine the shot playing of Tiger Woods at his best with the power of Jack Nicklaus and you can imagine how special Ballesteros was at the height of his game.. Thanks Seve’ for all the grace you brought to the game and in particular the world of sport , you’ll be sorely missed !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) DALLAS, TX – MAY 6: Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after hitting a three against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images …….

(2) The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant looks at his bench as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki , left, Peja Stojakovic , center and Jason Kidd , right react during the final minutes of Game 3 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 98-92. NBAE/Getty Images / Danny Bollinger ….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol shoots over Dallas Mavericks’ Jason Kidd, left, and Peja Stojakovic during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA playoff basketball series, Sunday, May 8, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …….

(4) ATLANTA, GA – MAY 06: Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls drives against Joe Johnson (2) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …..

(5) Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe(notes) delivers to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. AP Photo / Barbara Johnston ….

(6) Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward (22) steals to second base as Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Michael Martinez (19) is late with the tag during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Friday, May 6, 2011, in Philadelphia. The Braves won 5-0. AP Photo/Barbara Johnston ….

(7) Los Angeles Dodgers’ Jamey Carroll(14) greets teammate Andre Ethier (16) at the plate after Ethier’s seventh-inning two-run home run as New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino , center, looks on during a baseball game at Citi Field in New York, Sunday, May 8, 2011. AP Photo/ Kathy Willens ……

(8) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams (L) hugs his wife Dana WIlliams after announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(9) University of Maryland basketball coach Gary WIlliams speaks while announcing his retirement on May 6, 2011 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images ……..

(10) Seve Ballesteros (C) of Spain poses with Per Ericsson (R) and German Lopez of Volvo Event Management during the press conference of the Volvo World Match Play Championship 2009 presentation at Intercontinental Hotel on October 14, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. Ballesteros, who is recovering from cancer which has left him partially blind in his left eye, is hopeful that he’ll be able to take part in the upcoming Volvo World Match Play. October 13, 2009 – Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images Europe ……..

(11) Ballesteros seen here in receipt of the Green Jacket having won the 1983 Masters Tournament at Augusta National G&C Augusta , Georgia ,. Photo archives / Reuters/ Peter McKinnon ……

(12) Christine Varney (left) head of the Antitrust Divsion of the US Dept of Justice . Her department has been asked by the AG Eric Holder to look into possible grounds to see if the BCS can be considered a monopoly in terms of its business practices as it relates to D1 collegiate football . NY Times Susan Etheridge ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard & schedule 7th May 2011

MLB results 6th May 2011

MLB Schedule 8th May 2011

MLB Standings

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Results 6th May 2011

NBA Schedule 7th May 2011

NBA Schedule 8th May 2011

The Determining Factor ……………………..

The Determining Factor

It’s crazy but with the end of the NFL Draft and we already have the analysts and draft geeks assessing which team actually had the best draft class from this most recent endeavor . Now don’t get me wrong but the draft has its merits but in reality until those players actually have played down in a regular season game within the NFL we will never truly know what these players are or will be actually capable of. Can’t miss players are merely speculation and conjecture . And now where a first round draft pick especially one that is picked in the upper echelons of the first round, the financial cost and commitment for a player to a team can be well into tens of millions of dollars over the course of an initial contract. Do you think that the Oakland Raiders regret making that initial $ 65 million commitment to JaMarcus Russell right about now ? One simply has to look to their front office of the Raiders to see the cause of their demise . To put it more succinctly Al Davis no longer knows how to assess talent in spite of the continued idiocy that’s misplaced by an overbearing oaf such as radio personality and employee of the organization the nationally syndicated sports talk radio host J T The Brick . Here’s a guy who when it comes to showing any form of impartiality to an issue concerning the Raiders , well let’s just say he’d make a Klan member feel proud !

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In reality success has been fleeting for the Raiders over the last decade and half and that is in spite of the organization’s rich history within the NFL . But as with a number of teams and in particular with each generation of fans it’s not merely about those by gone years but what you have you done for me lately by way of success ? And to my mind the determining factor and in relation to the success that any organization wishes to attain be it within MLB , NBA , NBA , or the NFL itself .. It is predicated upon the front office of each organization ,from the ownership on down to the executives and coaching staff. Consider this , think of the most successful franchises within each of the four major sports and what has each got in common apart from winning ? It is the fact that each has had an owner who has remained consistent with what works for it as an entity . The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils within the NHL , the Pittsburgh Steelers , New York Yankees , the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have simply stuck to that tried and tested method of having sound fiscal policies , as well as competent coaches and executives within their respective organizations.

During the NBA Playoffs without a doubt the most disappointing display to my mind was that of the Orlando Magic and their lopsided 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks . Anyone who was witness to the sheer ineptitude of the Magic’s performances throughout this series would realize that without Dwight Howard this team simply isn’t worth a damn . What might be even more perplexing was the sheer idiocy and the belief shown by GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy that the mid-season trades made would in fact improve the team . If anything the team simply became even more inconsistent , lackluster and completely devoid of creativity on either end of the floor . Not only that but they were simply those who labored under the fact Dwight Howard because of his stats made a viable MVP candidate while his teammates simply were mediocre .

Anyone who actually has an ounce of common sense would know from the very fact that the vast majority of the winners of the league’s regular season trophy to the individual recipient has in fact made those around him considerably better as their respective teams statistically have shown signs progress during that season. Case in point , was this season’s runaway winner of the league MVP trophy , Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and the 21 game turnaround engineered by Tom Thibodeau from last season to this where the team became a 62 game winner and the top seed within the Eastern Conference never mind the fact that they’ve now made the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they face the Atlanta Hawks who as I explained earlier dethroned the Magic with effortless ease.

The Orlando Magic and its front office in conjunction with Otis Smith I feel were capricious. Smith and Bob Vander Weide team President & CEO made a gamble that simply didn’t pay off . Not only that but in acquiring Jason Richardson , Hedo Turoglu and Gilbert Arenas the organization is financially on the hook for $65 million in salary for the players in question over the remaining years of those contracts. Call me naive but the productivity by the players during the regular season as well as the postseason has been minuscule and not deserving of the Magic’s fans undoubted expectations. And with this loss the Magic and its management have a great deal of contemplating to do as it regards the moves that need to be made in order to make this team better. Dwight Howard whose contract expires at the end of 2012 can actually opt out of the contract prior to its culmination rather than seeking to start the whole negotiation process. Clearly Van Gundy and Otis Smith will have to be very persuasive in convincing Howard that he ought to remain with the organization. And at this juncture that scenario isn’t as clear cut as some would believe or would like it to be.

In baseball we have all seen the idiocy of the team owners there and their ostentatious spending. Is it any wonder Los Angeles Dodgers and in particular the New York Mets are in a mess financially with regard to their own existence and financial viability ? Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt seems to be under the misapprehension that he will be successful regaining control of the team he bought in 2003 from the local > News Corp through their wholly owned Fox Inc subsidiary. Since then, even though the team has averaged 3 million attendees per season the organization has struggled to remain financially a viable concern . Now with collateralized and none- subordinated debt in excess of $ 1.2 billion McCourt feels that the team and organization still remains a viable concern. He must feel that the his creditors will continue remain lukewarm to his overtures should they feel that he’s having problems paying down that debt. In this sort of economic climate there tends not to that type willingness from many of the nation’s major financiers and their respective institutions. And even with the league hierarchy having assumed control of the Dodgers I would like to think that Bud Selig is closely monitoring the situation as it now unfolds with Mets , in particular with co-owners —- Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon !

Success for both the Dodgers and Mets seems to have been fleeting over the past decade and it remains to be seen whether or not their aspirations remains the same and that is to win a World Series title . And as ambitious as those front offices appears to be it seems that they have lost sight of their ultimate goal . Much of that malaise has to be laid squarely upon the shoulders of McCourt and his executives within the organization . Ned Colletti may well be enjoying the prestige of running the personnel side of the organization but he too like McCourt may well have lost site of the organization’s goals. It certainly most telling that when questioned by the press as to who now controls the Dodgers and its day to day running Colletti’s response was one that seems to be an individual who just doesn’t care either way . If that is indicative of how this organization is being ran then it shows that they’re completing deserving of their fate.

The New York Mets face a civil suit that at present is being determined through a mediator appointed by the US Federal Courts and at the heart of it all appears to be whether or not the organization knowlingly gain financially from the monies received as profits from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme of which several thousands of investors were defrauded of $59 billion. Irving Picard the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in this suit has filed a motion seeking to recoup some $750 million from both Katz, Wilpon their Sterling Equities as well as the New York Mets. The lead defendants Katz and Wilpon deny any wrongdoing on their part but have stated that they are victims of the fraud perpetrated by Madoff and his associates. However , it has been the Mets unwillingness to open their books up for public scrutiny that casts a doubt upon the veracity of the argument now being put forth by the Mets as the defendants and in particular by Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon . A federal subpoena has a way of making the truth be known in the end and hopefully several of those will be put to use in the course of this case. And inasmuch the Mets once again are having a mediocre season one can’t help but feel that through the connivance and mismanagement from the executives and managerial level over the past few years that this organization is thoroughly deserving of its present predicament.

I’ve long maintained that the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns as teams within the NFL clearly have some way to go before they can be thought of as serious contenders within the league and as a legitimate team to win the Superbowl . Bengals’ owner Mike Brown and team coach Marvin Lewis are now having to deal with Carson Palmer’s petulant behavior and his wanting to be traded to a contender . If this is what is indicative of what was now being produced by USC as to quarterbacks from the Pete Carroll era then clearly there are some questions that really do need to be asked . I think that things are now likely to get a great deal murkier with the team’s drafting of Andy Dalton as the de-facto successor to Palmer as his reign is about to come to an abrupt end with the Bengals . From AFC North champions in 2009 to a team with a lackluster 6-10 record last season .

The Browns for their part have been in more of a tailspin having dumped Romeo Crennel and hired Eric Mangini only too see the team fail miserably under Mangini’s tenure . And given Mangini’s coaching record in the NFL I’ve got to ask myself what the hell was Mike Holmgren thinking as the team’s President ? Last season this team competed gallantly but in large part they faced an uphill battle trying to usurp the dominance of both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers within their division (AFC North ). Now with Pat Shurmur as the team’s head coach and there being a revamped assistant coaching staff it remains to be seen what this upcoming season may well have in store for the Browns. The team had a breakout star in Peyton Hillis and as always the dependable Josh Cribbs was at his very best and it would appear that team now has a quarterback in Colt McCoy who can actually commands the respect of his teammates.

In stark contrast to the teams that have been consistent and have attained success, much of that can be put down to the fact that apart from making the right personnel decisions . It has been the continuity not only from within their coaching regime but primarily through the fact that at the executive levels as with regards to the general manager that is in place , there has been little , if any , real turnover in that staff. It’s not always been about the coaches because that in essence comes down to the coach’s resume’ and his ability to communicate with the players and if anything above all with his general manager. Simply look at the success attained by the Steelers and New England Patriots over the years and the one constant there has been the ownership , the fact that the general managers there have been tenured with those respective organizations for a number of years and the actual willingness of the owner to defer to subordinates within the organization. And even though Scott Pioli has since left the Patriots to assume a similar position with the Kansas City Chiefs we’ve seen that even there also once Pioli was allowed to show his acumen in assessing talent the team has progressed showing a marked display last season in winning the AFC West (10-6) and making the playoffs where they would succumb to the Baltimore Ravens —- 30-7 in the wildcard round. And for head coach Todd Haley and his coaching staff though the loss had been been a tremendous disappointment , it also points to the fact that the organization has to be now heading in the right direction after so many barren years in the wilderness .

The Patriots for their part having seen their postseason woes continue with their lackluster performance in losing to their divisional rivals the New York Jets —- 28-21 in a game that pretty much summed up the team’s season. In light of that however they’ve gone about things in their usual business like manner garnering picks for future drafts and at the same time picking up the usual talent they’ve been accustomed to down the years . Much of that by design as Bill Belichick has worked in conjunction with Floyd Reese the team’s senior consultant charged with the task of dealing with personnel matters for the team.

We may well feel that in large part that success is actually achieved on the field of play because of the performances of the players. But it does essentially start with the eager willingness of the owners and their front office executives actually having the right staff in place being able assess the talent that is there to be had and as necessary spend prudently in order to get the best possible player available . How often have we seen a situation where in fact a team that simply looks good on paper just tends to implode because of the undue pressure and the very fact that the coach simply hasn’t done their job adequately ? At times we can blame the players for their lackluster performances but doesn’t that also have something to do with the coach not being able to get his point across as to what needs to be done at a given moment ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In coming to this conclusion I do firmly believe that any professional sports organization has to have all integral parts on the same page working in cohesion . If that isn’t evident within an organization then by the very evidence we tend to see the vast majority of the time that team does tend fail in its endeavors. We’ve seen it this postseason within the NBA , NHL , also within the NFL and MLB as well . What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And as such do you feel that I may well have missed some pertinent factor that should have been included ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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

(2) JaMarcus Russell (2) of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California. Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images ……

(3) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic questions a call by the official during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia . Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(4) In this photo taken on April 14, 2010, from left, Orlando Magic president and chief executive officer Bob Vander Weide, chief operating officer Alex Martins and general manager Otis Smith chat prior to an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando, Fla. Smith, by his own admission, is a risk-taker. He’s the general manager who traded three starters from an NBA finals team, moves that either will show Smith’s brilliance or become a symbol of a gamble gone wrong for the Magic in the playoffs. AP Photo/John Raoux …….

(5) Andre Ethier (16) of the Los Angeles Dodgers swings and loses his bat in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on May 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Cubs defeated the Dodgers 4-1 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……

(6) Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti (left) and the team’s owner Frank McCourt . This was Colletti’s formal introduction to the public as the team’s new GM in November 2005. Icon SMI/ Larry Goren ……. ……..

(7) Cincinnati Bengals first round draft pick A.J. Green, right, speaks at a news conference with head coach Marvin Lewis, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the NFL football team. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……..

(8) Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren watches from the back of the room as first-round draft pick Phillip Taylor holds a news conference at the NFL football team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Mark Duncan ……

(9) Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert, right, presents a jersey to first round-draft pick Phillip Taylor during an NFL football news confernce at the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. The Browns took the Baylor defensive tackle with the 21st overall pick Thursday night. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …….

(10) FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2009, file photo : Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, left, talks with general manager Scott Pioli before a news conference announcing Haley’s hiring in Kansas City, Mo. Pioli and Haley are deservedly drawing praise for taking the Chiefs from 10 wins in three years to 10 wins in 16 weeks. But they don’t deny they were blessed with a core of solidly talented young players when they got to Kansas City after a 2-14 2008 season. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

Results & scores 3rd May 2011

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NFL News

NHL News

MLB Team owners

MLB Team General Managers

MLB team managers

NBA team owners

NBA general managers

NBA coaches

NFL team owners

NFL coaches

NFL general managers

NHL team owners

NHL team general managers

NHL team head coaches

Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Well I’m not about to bore you all with my thoughts on the ongoing NFL labor dispute because I think for the most part the majority of us are fed up with the lack of any form of compromise having not been met or agreed upon as of yet. Inasmuch as with each passing second ESPN and Foxsports tries to keep us all abreast of the latest developments as if it’s going to be breaking news , merely the mention of either Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith’s name in essence simply makes me want to puke ! Suffice to say , even with the NFL coming out with a 2011-12 schedule and wherein they’ve essentially leaked the fact that they’ve a contingency plan in place that would have the season start at Week 3 and all teams playing that week would then have a bye-week later on in the calendar of the season’s schedule . Of what comfort that will be to the fans in question I can’t at present tell you . My bone of contention is that the NFL in spite of itself , in terms of PR, they continue to make the situation worse knowing full well each snippet information leaked won’t in fact undo the damage that has already been done. At the same all of the hoopla that one would come to expect has been created with the hyperbole surrounding the upcoming NFL Draft . What, the fact that a season as the fans had hoped for but yet the NFL wants to lure us all into that false sense of security with three days of the dumb diatribe and where the likes of John Clayton , Mel Kiper and Chris Mortensen will induce us all into wanting to throw something at our tv sets because of their self absorbed overblown analysis ! Simply inform the viewer that’s all we want , nothing more nothing less , it’s as simple as that .

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Three weeks into the MLB season and it seems the fans are abuzz with the play of the teams and the very fact that the divisions are playing themselves out rather nicely . And while the talk of now seems to be the fact that the MLB hierarchy has seen fit to take over the day to day running of the Los Angeles Dodgers , wherein team owner Frank McCourt has been forced to relinquish control of his debt laden organization. I can’t help but wonder why it has taken Bud Selig so long to come to making this decision . I can only surmise that he sought counsel not only from the league’s legal representative but also in large part many of the most prominent team owners within the game . I surely cannot believe that they would have agreed to this action unless they felt that it was imperative that something needed to be done. With the facts being laid bare that McCourt had sought a loan from the local Fox tv affiliate of some $30 million merely to pay primarily the players’ salaries and meet other budgetary expenses for the month of April . I can’t see how Frank McCourt can still believe that the organization isn’t in dire financial straits . Good God almighty we’re barely a month into the Dodgers’ season and the Dodgers couldn’t afford to pay the salaries of its employees ? If you don’t think that’s strange then tell me what is ?

The further we delve into this sordid mess the more murky it becomes because it’s becoming abundantly clear that many of the Dodgers’ front office executives were either simply powerless to stop McCourt in his tracks or they completely suborned his actions without taking into account what could go wrong should things begin to fall apart . Certainly GM Ned Colletti now seems perplexed because in giving a public statement when asked if he was in control of the organization as its senior most executive outside of the owner , Frank McCourt , his reply was ‘ …… I’m not so sure what I can really tell you at the moment ‘ . If you’re an ardent Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan how must you feel at the moment ?

The Dodgers’ as a team hasn’t really let the off the field problems get in the way of their on field efforts . And in their game against the Atlanta Braves we saw them give a heroic effort defeating the Braves 5-3 at Dodgers’ Stadium with walk off 2 run home run from Matt Kemp in extra innings . If that didn’t lift the spirits of the players and the fans in attendance then nothing else may well have done , other than knowing that McCourt is no longer in charge of the team for the time being. Frank McCourt has however said that he is quite prepared to challenge the league’s authority by legal means , in filing a restraining order in the US Federal Court in Los Angeles , California . That legal recourse could either be swift or it could well be a battle of wills between the embattled owner and that of the league hierarchy. Either way, no one actually wins because the damage has already been done to the game’s credibility and that of the Dodgers themselves .

With that in mind I can’t help but wonder if Bud Selig will now challenge the authority of New York Mets’ ownership group and their financial situation as it now stands . One can’t but help notice that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as lead managing partner and team president are carefully trying to portray themselves as victims of the Bernard Madoff ‘Ponzi’ scheme and scandal. Suffice to say, with the duo and their company Sterling Equities as well as the Mets’ organization being named as defendants in a civil lawsuit claiming that they profited greatly from the scheme which defrauded clients of an alleged $59 billion ($59,000,000,000 ) . The plaintiffs represented by lawyer Irving Picard are seeking the return of a sum believed to be anywhere between $450 – $750 million that the duo is said to have received over the years by the defendants and their business entities, while Madoff’s scheme was said to be ongoing . What that says about the claims of both Katz and Wilpon that they unaware that the monies received was in fact due to fraud , has to be questioned , given the exorbitant rates of return at the time on their own then alleged investment in the scheme . Both as co-founders of Sterling Equities either had to be completely naive and ignorant or they in fact weren’t duped into believing that their gains were legal _____ they knew all along that something was awry and just simply didn’t care how they derived of this monetary gain.

Personally , I’m of the opinion that Katz and Wilpon knew exactly what was going on but thought that they were never in any danger of being seen as crooked should the scenario play itself out for the press’ and public’s consumption. The fact of the matter may well have been they viewed themselves as bastions of ownership hierarchy within baseball , where as such , the owners there are viewed as captains of industry or self made multi millionaires and not white collar criminals . My feeling is , if you’re involved within the inner workings of Wall St you’re a crook because who else but high ranking executives have profited so greatly from this economic blight wrought upon the nation ?

As the NBA postseason plays itself out we’re beginning to see a number of players come into their own during the playoffs . Dwight Howard has been playing at a high caliber and if anything has been the primary force on the Orlando Magic as they’ve leveled their series (1-1) against the Atlanta Hawks . That being said watching the Altanta Hawks waste a golden opportunity in this series only further emphasizes what I’ve always thought about this team , they’re gunshy and literally scared of their own shadow . If Larry Drew and his coaching staff can’t get this team to play any better than they’re now said to be doing then this series will be closed out on its return to the Amway Center in Orlando , Florida . This much I am certain off , teams cannot afford to waste opportunities when given to them in the playoffs because there’s no looking back and saying ……’ what might have happened if only we’d done that ‘ ?

If the Hawks are to stand any chance of actually winning this series then Joe Johnson will have to step up to the plate and show that he’s indeed the leader of this team rather than an overpaid and less than compelling athlete . How he was able persuade the Hawks’ front office into offering him a 6 year $96 million contract for his less than stellar figures is way beyond anything that I for one can imagine ! I can only surmise that because there weren’t any serious takers for his talents during the trade deadline he saw fit to dupe the Hawks’ management into thinking he as their primary role player on this team would be their best chance of success and a shot at the NBA title .

As the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference the Hawks are a vastly different team from last season if anything they’ve tailed off somewhat but then again this in essence is the same team that was so convincingly swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic last season in the of the NBA Playoffs . That 4-0 series drubbing had to have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the players and the Hawks’ fans . Are we about to see history repeat itself once again this series with only a slight change somewhat in the outcome ? It remains to be seen whether or not the Atlanta Hawks can acquit themselves and redeem some honor as the rest of this series unfolds .

Is a team as good as the coach they’re playing under or does it happen to be , the players or a marquee player that in essence makes the coach’s name ? Could one as such affix that moniker to the likes of Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich or Red Auerbach for that matter in terms of their unprecedented success ? The reason I say this is because there are those who believe that the Chicago Bulls aren’t genuinely a legitimate contender because of their youth , inexperience and the fact that they’ve a first time coach in Tom Thibodeau . But there has to be a reason why this team was so successful this season and easily ran away with their division and in becoming the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . It solely wasn’t down to the heroics of Derrick Rose and his sensational season because he was ably assisted by his teammates who all bought into Thibodeau’s coaching philosophy , strategies and the lessons of his coaching staff .

The Bulls in the first round have had their struggles against the Frank Vogel coached Indiana Pacers . But in essence if the Bulls are being viewed as inexperienced then how should one judge the Pacers as a team overall …………… over achievers having made it into the playoffs with a 41-41 record ? Last night’s victory by the Bulls in game three essentially sowed up the series with a hard fought victory and all but insurmountable 3-0 series lead . The Pacers’ best player Danny Granger had a chance of winning the game in the dying moments but his three point attempt was a belated and off target effort . TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley was succinct as ever in describing the effort as ‘ garbage’. But if anything Granger wasn’t at all to blame because on close inspection were it not for the harassing defensive play and effort by the Bulls’ Luol Deng the shot may well have been a game ending winner for the Pacers. Instead they now face a series saving game four on Saturday against their conference rivals . Staving off defeat, elimination and living to fight another day is what both Vogel and his team are looking to achieve. But given the effort that has been put forth by this team and the fact that they seem to be their own undoing at the most inopportune of moments I for one can’t see them having the wherewithal or temerity to pull off the win and then trying to win the series outright ! They simply haven’t played consistently enough to convince me that they’re anywhere near the equal of the Chicago Bulls as a team.

As to the chances of Tom Thibodeau as a first year coach taking his team to the NBA Finals , well those chances seem to have improved greatly based upon his team’s efforts so far. One more win and the Bulls make the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they would meet the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks . And that series at the moment favors the Celtics with Doc Rivers’ team now up 2-0 in the best of seven series . Game two at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston , Massachusetts , saw the Celtics eke out a hard fought 96-93 victory over the Knicks . But for the heroic efforts of Carmelo Anthony and his 40 plus points in the game the Knicks would surely now be looking even demoralized . But instead they may well be even more galvanized knowing that the the next three games of the series are to be played at their home venue of Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York.

Though Tom Thibodeau may well be viewed as a first year coach, his coaching background and pedigree has proven to be invaluable. If anything the experience of having been assistant to both Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers gives him something of an advantage over the other coaches left in the Eastern Conference playoffs other than Rivers and the Magic’s Stan Van Gundy. His presence having been an assistant to a duo of coaches (Rivers and Popovich) who have won 5 NBA titles between has to be an asset rather than a disadvantage but yet I hear the naysayers out there stating that the Bulls simply aren’t good enough. If they’ve been good enough to essentially stroll their way to the conference’s best record with a series of notable team highs in terms of season success then why are they not good enough to win it all ? If their record isn’t an indictment of how good they are and that of their coach and his resume’ then what is ? It may well be the one thing that could stop the Bulls is simply that they don’t believe that they’re capable of winning it all which would be a given but would you really be willing to bet against a team who’ve proven to be hard to beat on their homecourt at the United Center and are just as difficult to beat away from home as their season schedule has undoubtedly shown us ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the topics raised within this piece and as such as the NBA Playoffs unfold what if anything so far has been of great interest you ? Simply chime in with your own comments and anything else that you may well feel pertinent to this piece .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Indianapolis Colts Vice President and General Manager Chris Polian responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, Friday, April 22, 2011. Polian talked about the 2011 NFL Draft that will be held next week in New York. AP Photo Darron Cummings ……

(2) NFL lawyer Jeff Pash speaks to members of the media after leaving court ordered mediation presided over by Judge Arthur Boylan at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images ……

(3) NFL lawyer Bob Batterman and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leave court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images …….

(4) Catcher Brian McCann(16) of the Atlanta Braves drops the ball as Jamey Carroll(14) of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides safely into home to tie the game in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……..

(5) Matt Kemp(27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a game winning two-run home run in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(6) Matt Kemp, center , (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is mobbed by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run to win the game in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(7) Dwight Howard(12) of the Orlando Magic shoots over Zaza Pachulia(27) of the Atlanta Hawks during game two Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Joe Johnson(2) of the Atlanta Hawks rebounds against the Orlando Magic during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Magic would defeat the Hawks 88-82 to level the series at one game (1-1) apiece . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball while defended by Jeff Foster (50) of the Indiana Pacers in Game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2011 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Bulls won 88-84 to take a 3-0 lead in their best of seven series . Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

MLB Results 20 th April 2011

NFL News

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Results from 21st April 2011

NBA Games scheduled for 22nd April 2011

Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks

Orlando Magic vs Atlanta Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans Hornets

NBA scheduled games Saturday 23rd April

NBA scheduled games Sunday 24th April

Winners Are Often Made But The Again They Can Be Born

Winners Are Often Made But Then Again They Can
Be Born

All of a sudden it appears that Joe Maddon and his coaching staff has a winning team on his hands with the Tampa Bays Rays having won five straight games and now making their presence felt in the AL East . Now I’m not about to pronounce the Rays as the surprise team of the season as of yet because we’re but a few weeks into an arduous 162 game regular season schedule , where as we know anything can happen.

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Slide show for your perusal .

As some of you may know I’m fan without a team to support having abandoned the Florida Marlins at the end of last season . I felt I could no longer support an organization where the team owner Jeffrey Loria was simply more about himself , his needs and wants rather than what was in the best interests of the team and the fans in general . It goes without saying that Loria like many of his peers within the game are of the same mindset and that is especially applicable to the owners amongst the small market teams around MLB . They’ll do whatever it takes to make money even if it’s to be done illegally !

The Rays this season having lost Manny Ramirez with his abrupt retirement rather than face the league mandated 100 game suspension after a second failed consecutive drug test thereby breaking the league’s steroid policy , essentially showed himself to be nothing more than a coward ! The heroes of the moment for the Tampa Bay Rays has to be Johnny Damon and Sam Fulds who has proven to be just the impetus needed to turn things around for the team and now make themselves the talk of the town at present as it regards their play. That being said it would be naive to even suggest or think that because of the team’s play they’re ready to contend within their division once again and make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title . Stranger things are known to have happened but then again who know as it concerns the vagaries of this team ?

I’m sorry but anyone of the belief that the New York Mets with their payroll of over bloated stars can contend within the NL East much less the rest of baseball has to be either delirious or still on some form of prescriptive medication . This team much less the organization has no idea what it takes to win much how to go about it with any degree of certainty or authority. I know that manager Terry Collins , his coaching staff will have the assist wherewithal of GM’s Sandy Alderson and assistant general manager J P Ricciardi providing their input as it relates to the personnel decisions but simply put the Mets’ window of opportunity to even be viewed as contenders much less win a World Series title has long gone !

The New York Mets has become a comical caricature of all that is wrong with the game of baseball ! Team President Saul Katz , team owner , senior general partner Fred Wilpon have plunged the team into an abyss of mediocrity and now it also appears the team’s immediate future could very well be at stake . Both Katz and Wilpon as well as the organization has been named as defendants in a civil suit that looks to reclaim $500 million that Wilpon and Katz were in receipt of as part of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Both defendants claim that they were unaware that the sums they’d been in receipt of was from fraudulent means . But yet somehow both Katz and Wilpon divested much of the $ 500 million into various entities including a company that both had co- founded —– Sterling Equities . What now awaits both defendants as well as the team remains to be seen .

Well the NBA postseaon has begun and we’ve already seen that what the expectations are meant to be about . Those doubters of the Chicago Bulls after their unexpected 60 plus win season shows why it is that you simply don’t gloss over the achievements of this team and its coach Tom Thibodeau . I’ve read it where some have said because of the inexperience of this team they could very well struggle throughout these the playoffs and that because Tom Thibodeau doesn’t have much of a coaching pedigree it could prove to be an impediment for this team. I simply wish when people make such asinine claims that they simply did a little research than simply speaking out their rear end ! Thibodeau has been the assistant coach on two NBA title winning organizations that collectively have won 5 titles in the last decade and a half . A fact that simply has been overlooked by individuals who’ve chosen not to look at the coach’s resume’ . Being an assistant to such noted coaches as Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich may seem slight but consider this , Thibodeau was the architect of the defensive strategies that has molded the face we see of both the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs .

Game one of the Bulls’ opening round series against Doug Collins’ Philadelphia 76ers . The United Center was packed to the rafters to see the Chicago Bulls play their first postseason game and series at the venue since the heyday of Jordan , Pippen and Phil Jackson . And though I didn’t think that series would be a cakewalk for the Bulls I knew that game one would be a stern test for the team and in particular the leadership qualities of Derrick Rose a potential league MVP candidate . And if anyone is in any doubt why Rose shouldn’t be the league MVP then yesterday’s play in which he blocked Darren Collison’s shot , then in transition dribbled the ball upcourt and then carved his way through the Sixers’ defense for the layup score . Need I anymore on the matter ?

For the better part of three quarters the Sixers had the Bulls on the rack but somehow you simply knew that this team wasn’t about to disappoint their fans and in particular a national tv audience watching. Rose for his part has led this team with authority throughout the season and in doing so we’ve seen both the maturation of Luol Deng , Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah as players . And with the team having acquired Carlos Boozer in the offseason as a free agent we saw the Chicago Bulls rise to the occasion surprising many of their contemporaries within the Eastern Conference .

The Bulls eked out a comfortable victory and will look to resume the series and increase their lead have a 2-0 margin before the resumption of the series in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center ( formerly the Comcast/ Spectrum Arena) . If anything Doug Collins would like nothing more than to even this series at one game apiece before his team’s return its home venue. I know that the Sixers’ coach had to have been disappointed to see his team give up a lead and then see it completely erased with less than 3 and a half minutes to go in the game . From being on the cusp of a surprise upset win the Bulls simply placed a dagger in the hearts of their first round opponents . That’s the way a game ought to be closed out , with complete authority and the mind of a cold boodied assassin !

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