Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

Brackets,jackets and tip-toeing around the patently obvious …

The seedings have been decided upon for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and quite rightly so. The Kentucky Wildcats having ended the season ranked number one in the nation, as well having an unbeaten season bearing a 34-0 record will enter the tournament as its prohibitive favorite, to win it all . John Calipari and his coaching staff head into the Tournament knowing, the first slip-up made, will essentially put to an end a season where a great deal more was expected.

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Players on this Wildcats’ team know a winning season and the NCAA Tournament title will certainly insure great deal of plaudits and the near- certainty of a high draft position in the upcoming NBA Draft this upcoming June . With three consensus first round draft picks among this roster of stars. The names of Karl Anthony Towns , Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson simply stand out, as players likely to be taken in the top-ten picks of the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. If not, then there is something seriously wrong among the general managers and head coaches within the NBA at this juncture.

The four seeds in the regional tournament of the NCAA Championship are Kentucky, Villanova , Duke and Wisconsin . All four teams are in regional draws which will have their pot-holes along the way . where at least one or two upsets are likely to take place as the tournament progress. Opening salvos will be fired in the when the first four teams take to the court on the 17th and 18th March , 2015, as the NCAA Tournaments gets underway to decide the Men’s national champion.

Mike Krzyzewsk and the Duke Blue Devils will certainly have their work cut out for them in this tournament, as their path is unlikely to be easy. As the top seed in the South Regional phase of the Tournament where their biggest challengers could very well be other than their own complacency a , will be the other seeded challengers in the regional phase , with those topping the list said to be , Gonzaga , Georgetown (Hoyas) and Iowa State. As talented as the this Duke team might be considered to be , I do not believe this will be the year in which Mike Krzyzewski guide the program to their fifth national title , all coming under the coaching acumen of the renowned head coach.

With either Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah missing from the Chicago Bulls’ lineup at some point of the season, it easy to understand the reasons why the team has continued to struggle in the aftermath of having lost their League MVP point guard to another season-ending injury , likely curtailing Rose’s long-term future and the rest of his career. Add in the fact, the ongoing relationship between head coach Tom Thibodeau , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson , is now said to have reached an all-time low, and one wonders how the franchise can gain anything meaningful out of this all, should they fail to make the playoffs .

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Bulls’ forward Jimmy Butler is seen here with Tom Thibodeau . In the absence of either Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose . It has been left to Butler to provide the bulk of team’s offense over the course of the season. Thibodeau’s relationship with the organization has been tenuous at best often becoming heated between the coach and executives, John Paxson and Gar Forman . Courtesy of USA Today/ ..

Not only has the rancor between the head coach and the front office said to have reached an unacceptable level , but it is believed with Thibodeau unwilling to resign, there is no likelihood Paxson or Forman will make the decision to fire their beleaguered coach and their having to honor the remainder of his contract. With Derrick Rose sidelined, it has been left to his teammate Jimmy Butler to step up to the plate in the absence of his more heralded teammate to lead the team by example.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers now raced to the top of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference , the Bulls are now left having to wonder, what to make of their season , while also seeking to play catch-up within the conference. A nine-point road loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder , a road defeat . Butler and his teammates’ next contest will be againstthe Indiana Pacers whom they host on Wednesday evening at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois ,.

In the contest between the Thunder and the Bulls, point guard Russell Westbrook continued his scintillating displays where he almost posted another triple-double . Easy to now understand why he become a consensus favorite for this season’s League MVP. Consider the fact also, Westbrook has been doing this all in the absence of his teammate , Kevin Durant.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks must be now salivating at the thought of Durant’s imminent return and the chance of his teaming up once again with Westbrook, to provide one of the most dominant and productive duos in the NBA. With only fifteen games left to be played in the remainder of the regular season, it will be interesting interesting to see how the teams acquit themselves as the season winds winds down .

All is fair in love and war . Granted, LeBron James has proven himself to be something of a warrior this season, as the Cleveland Cavaliers seek to justify themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their record suggests otherwise when compared to that of the high-flying Atlanta Hawks , who might just be the surprise team the regular season within the NBA . Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer certainly has to be considered one of the leading favorites for this season’s Coach of The Year Award , as it would a complete travesty , were he not among the top vote-getters for the prestigious accolade.

(7)    Alonzo  Mourning   now a  senior   executive  within   the  Miami  Heat    organization   has   been  extremely  critical  of    former   Heat   player    LeBron  James   after  his   decision  to  leave  the  franchise  and    return  to  the   Cleveland   Cavaliers  .  Mourning ,   failed  to   suggest   why  Heat   failed  to  surround   James     with   players   complementary  to   his    skills    capable  of   actually   of  being   competitive   enough  to  have   won   last    season's   NBA  title  .   Getty   Images/  Paul  Miller

Alonzo Mourning now a senior executive within the Miami Heat organization has been extremely critical of former Heat player LeBron James after his decision to leave the franchise and return to the Cleveland Cavaliers . Mourning , failed to suggest why the Heat failed to surround James with players complementary to his skills capable of actually of being competitive enough to have won last season’s NBA title . Getty Images/ Paul Miller

At present, Atlanta and the Golden State Warriors are the only teams with fifty victories or more to their respective resumes`. A possible Finals’ meeting between the two seems a reality, but I believe it to be unlikely given the competitiveness of the Western Conference. Steph Curry and his Warriors’ teammates are having a terrific season , albeit, many would not have considered this to have been one of the teams to beat at the start of the year, with the transition of easing in a new head coach, and Steve Kerr assuming the reins after his predecessor, Mark Jackson’s idiotic decision to alienate himself by foistering his hypocritical beliefs outside the game , upon his players and then to some extent , denigrating the organization . Joint team-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber had no other choice but to dismiss Jackson, ” freedom of speech” rights or not . There is no longer any space for outright bigotry within the realms of sports , let alone the fact , the former head coach showed a great deal of disrespect for the franchise, with his inflammatory remarks .

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Former Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson , foreground and his successor , Steve Kerr. This season the Warriors have not only the best record in the NBA , but the team also happens to be the league’s , most potent offense , leading the NBA in a number of offensive categories . Getty Images

If Mark Jackson wishes to make a point , then let him do so while not representing Warriors and most definitely, if he choosing to express his personal beliefs, it should not be done in such a venal way, with his wantoned disregard of others , his own ethnicity and historically what African Americans have gone through in this country, without then seeking denigrate others, because of their own sexuality. Obviously, Jackson’s own religious beliefs and his comprehension of Biblical teachings, indicates his lack of intelligence and compassion. This has nothing at all to do with “political correctness” having run amok, but more to do with simple bigotry . You don’t cry ” fire ” in a crowded theater , or show downright bigotry of others , without their being severe consequences , and those wishing to excuse such behavior are simply naive or just imbeciles.

In what turned out to be a surprise overtime win over the reigning NBA champions , the San Antonio Spurs . New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher suggested the team should be rewarded for the efforts in this victory. Unfortunately, victories for the Knicks have been few and far between.

If Fisher is of the opinion his players ought to rewarded for those victories , then he sure as hell does not hold these very same players accountable, for the losses amassed over the course of the season. Fisher has shown as a rookie head coach, he still has a great deal to learn , and learning on the job when you have an inadequate group of players , and a front office which remains clueless, it becomes patently obvious to see why this franchise has been a complete mess and the ongoing butt of so many jokes around the NBA. Those subscribing to the fact Phil Jackson remains a basketball genius should really rethink that whole synopsis and realize it has been his ego and complete lack of knowledge in assessing talent which has also led to this debacle. Next up for the Knicks will be a road trip to visit the equally abysmal Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday evening.

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New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher is seen here two of his assistant coaching staff Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis , as they discuss a pregame strategy in the lead-up to a game to be played the franchise’s home venue , Madison Square Garden , New York City , New York . On the road as well as at home the franchise has simply been pitiful , having been the first team this season to have lost in excess of fifty games , with a league-leading fifty-three defeats as of 17th March , 2015. AP Photo / Mark Warren .

With both the Knicks and Timberwolves likely to be part of the Lottery Pick for the right to the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft , it will be interesting to see which of the two teams in question or one of their other fellow banal franchises will be joining them as part of this ongoing facade created by the league to seek in the Draft process.

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The NCAA Tournament will likely create a great many thrills and spills, with one or two surprises along the way, in terms of the results. This tournament will ultimately provide us with another D1 collegiate champion in Men’s Basketball. Given the excitement created in last year’s tournament, with the 2015 NCAA championship now underway, let all of the excitement now begin. I may well be wrong , but I do not believe there is now an outright favorite for this year’s NBA title , and granted, there have been two or three teams over the course of this season who have proven themselves worthy favorites or perceived contenders. Yet, a caveat remains , buyer beware, beyond stating the obvious , the only conclusion and sure thing , has been the winner from each conference championship will have an equal chance of being named the NBA champion for the 2014-15 season.

Which programs do you believe will rise to the occasion and become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion ? With NBA regular season now winding down , which teams do you believe have been the biggest disappointment to the league and to the fans ? Also which franchises from the Eastern and Western conferences, will be the Finals’ contestants for this season?

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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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Picture and slideshow gallery below .

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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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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

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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Picture gallery .

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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NBA news

NBA results 25th November

NBA schedule 26th November

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This date in NBA history

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Hot chic pic of the day , Denise Milani montage .

Milani in sexy lingerie

Does Denise Milani make you feel ‘horny ” ?

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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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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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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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a sport’s fan how do you define winning and what it means to you as a fan and no I’m not talking about the ‘term’ now being coined by actor Charlie Sheen ! If anything over this sport’s weekend what result if anything either came as a surprise or met with your expectation ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……..

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, April 17, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose 4-2 to the Twins . AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……

(2) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 17: of the Tampa Bay Rays of the Minnesota Twins during the game at Tropicana Field on April 17, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

(3) New York Mets’ Josh Thole is caught stealing second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, left, makes the tag for an out in the fifth inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2 . AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(4) New York Mets’ Josh Thole, left, beats the tag of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann to score on an Ike Davis single in the first inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman ………….

(5) Fred Wilpon, General Manager Sandy Alderson, New York Mets new manager Terry Collins, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz pose for pictures during a press conference at Citi Field on November 23, 2010 in New York, New York. Getty Images North America / Chris McGrath ……….

(6) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls and Tyler Hansbrough (50) of the Indiana Pacers battle for position on a free-throw in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99 . Johnathan Daniels /Getty Images …….

(7) Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images . ……..

(8) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 16: Joakim Noah (13) of the Chicago Bulls celebrates two blocked shots in the final seconds against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls leaps to pass the ball around Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images ……

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of NBA.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eastern Conference

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

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

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

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

Western Conference

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

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

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

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

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