Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fu#k Up !

Put Up Or Simply Just Shut The Fuck Up !

I’ll say this repeatedly when it comes to the analysis being provided within the sports’ world can be so ridiculous and no amount of asinine jingoism and xenophobia can hide my disdain for many of these commentators. The third major of the season on the PGA Tour The Open has no rhyme or reason when you have the likes of Andy North be ing so ridiculous with his analysis in insisting that the American players have what it takes to be dominant in the majors and win . When it mattered most other than Phil Mickelson no one amongst the American players thought to be in with a chance had the stomach to show what they’re capable of in terms of facing real adversity.

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The British Open is by far the most difficult of the four majors to win and where a player simply doesn’t rely on his talent alone but also with their mental abilities . Well with the workman like effort of Darren Clarke and along the way Ireland secure its second successive major after Rory McIlroy’s historic 2011 US Open win . The course at the R&A’s Royal St George at Lytham St Anne’s , Sandwich , Kent , has always proven to be a very difficult with its numerous obstacles on this par 72 course . And for the competing players who sought to tame the greens and fairways on the fourth and final day of the tournament , well let’s just say if you choose to play with fire then you are liable to get burned .

It would appear while being passionate about the game Andy North’s insight of it tends to be inflated and over the top ! I’d hate to think how he will try summarize Clarke’s win and what it now means to the game . What I do know, it simply will prove that America’s once dominant stranglehold on the game is now slipping . The world rankings would suggest that its upper echelons that tree now is more diversified than ever before . And with the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek , Atlanta , Georgia , being the lone major left on the Tour schedule it will be very interesting to see who steps up to walk the walk .

Are my eyes mistaking me ? But scouring the papers in search of the latest tidbit of new within the world of baseball I almost fell out of my seat. But low and behold, it would appear that the once lowly Pittsburgh Pirates are riding high within the NL Central and are out to prove that they’re capable of challenging the likes of the Cincinnati Reds , Milwaukee Brewers , St Louis Cardinals . And what might be even more scary is that Clint Hurdle’s team is playing above .500 ball , enjoying themselves and they could very well be on their way to posting their first winning season almost two decades . Strange as it may seem the eyes of the world now appear to placing a great deal of scrutiny on on this team assembled with a mixture of youth and some veteran experience . Hurdle and his coaching staff along with GM Neal Huntington have to be very pleased what they are seeing from this team and their play this season at PNC Ballpark in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania .

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HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley (44) after making a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

If there’s a star on this Pirates’ team then one has to consider it to be Andrew McCutchen the outfielder and the exuberant leader of this young roster . As eventful as the season seems to have be for the Pirates the very thought that the organization could possibly be a part of the postseason now seems to be dawning on their fans as what could be in the offing . From my own standpoint I think that the biggest surprise would be to finally post winning season for the first time in over decade and a half . If that were to happen then you cannot deny Clint Hurdle the NL Manager of the Year Award in having led the team to a winning record for the season . Now over the final two months of the season we may very see the true character of this team and how they acquit themselves down the final stretch of run of the season .

The Pittsburgh Pirates through a great deal of resolve have proved themselves worthy adversaries for their rivals within the NL Central as well as the rest of the National League at large . And though I do believe that the team in its present guise are very good, I simply do not believe that they are good enough to win the division ! However , with that being said with the undoubted character and it appears the maturity being shown , it does bode well for the future of the team. I still have my doubts as to the intention the team’s owner Bob Nutting and his partners as I view the senior partner as being nothing more than a predatory raider or more akin to a vulture hovering above the dead carcass of animal looking to gnaw away at its remains ! For years Nutting has literally complained and plead nothing but poverty as the team has struggled to be competitive on the field of play and also from a financial standpoint. And having bought the team from the McClatchy family every effort we were led to believe would be sought in turning this organization around.

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Bob Nutting has made sure that the team’s payroll has remained amongst the lowest in the league but while that facade has continued the team has profited greatly from the league hierarchy’s tax revenue sharing scheme . If only one could simply take Nutting at his word when he continues plead his case that the team isn’t making any money. But the benefits reaped from paring down the the salary of the team and then reaping the dividends of the revenue scheme leads me to believe that the owner has less than economical with the truth ! So much so that now with the team now playing with a great deal more zeal it could very well be that the organization will be forced to become a buyer in the free agency market if they are to prove to their fans that there intent is to win. And with that very deadline due on the 31st July it could determine what we are to expect from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As the NFL lockout continues and with both sets of lawyers for the league and union now intent on working out the legal verbiage for what will be a new 10 year CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , I would like to think that the owners within the NBA and league hierarchy are carefully taking note of the events taking place between the two sides. If it’s apparent that the NBPA is not at all interested in conceding to any of the requests being made of the by the league then the fans will bear witnesses to what very well be a very contentious battle .

Commissioner David Stern and his opposite number within the union executive director Billy Hunter are now looking for the league accede to their wishes. And once again both sides are showing their intransigence while at the same not wanting to back down in the eyes of the public. It seems abundantly clear both sides are underestimating the goodwill and patience of the fans and much like the idiocy shown by their counterparts in the NFL it may well take a prolonged lockout before we see both sides actually come to their senses.

From being a scoring champion to perennial All Star the fall from grace of Tracy McGrady simply has been astounding . Last season the player simply slipped further down in our conscience from that once formidable offensive threat to someone who if anything has become more of an enigma and conundrum all rolled into one. The player this upcoming season should there be one will be a free agent and he has stated that he feels that he can be a contributor to any team willing to take a chance on him.

In 2010 we saw Tracy McGrady as a member of the Detroit Pistons and as we all know the team had a miserable season . GM Joe Dumars had a contentious relationship with coach John Kuester and it has to be said with new owner , billionaire Tom Gores now in place I for one seriously doubt that the Pistons in their present guise will be a team to be reckoned with. Dumars’ own position within the Pistons’ front office could very well become somewhat tenuous as I firmly believe that the new ownership could very well be intent on bringing in someone who they feel that they are more likely to work alongside . Kuester was summarily fired by Dumars after last season’s disappointing record and lack of play all round.

At this stage of his career , as a fifteen year veteran in the league I seriously doubt that Tracy McGrady has that much left to offer a team , other than his experience . Most notably as a player his skills simply have declined to a point where he has become more of a liability rather than an asset to a team . And that to my mind simply doesn’t bode well for any franchise who might take a chance on the player .

The coaching position with the Detroit Piston still remains vacant and with Tom Gores , incoming as the new team owner , there’s no doubt that he will assess the situation and needs of the organization before coming to a decision as to who ought to succeed John Kuester . Joe Dumars may well feel that it is either time to step down or continue to work within the Pistons’ organization in conjunction with the new owner.

And so the Women’s World World Cup comes to an abrupt end with Japan defeating USA on penalties 3-1 in a shootout after regular and then overtime play. What gave anyone reason to believe why the US ought to be deemed favorites is completely beyond me ! They may well have the experience but in straight laced terms , there were not the best team in the tournament and certainly not based on their play ! If truth be known the Japanese having beaten the two best teams in the quarters and semi finals simply showed why they were deserving of this victory. And this is not meant to demean the achievements of the US team in this tournament . Emotions and the fact that with all that the tiny nation had been through in the aftermath of a natural disaster may well have made Japan an heartwarming favorite . But I believe them to be favorites coming into this game solely based on their play. Throughout the tournament you simply see the Japanese team raise the level of their play and wherein they just played to their strengths and showed that technically they were that much better than their opponents and most notably so in the final match of the competition .

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Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..

As is usual in such cases ESPN brings in what they deem to be people with knowledge of the game of soccer . Granted , the game still has its detractors and supporters but in all honesty if they are bringing in analysts with insight , then let it be someone whose bloviated bias won’t be so pronounced that you simply are going to be resoundingly bored by their observations and commentary . And that has certainly been the case throughout their coverage of the competition. Brandy Chastain , Briana Scurry and Tony DiCicco simply have been an adulterated busts as commentators and analysts . No amount of impartiality could be shown by either of the trio even if their lives depended on it . Whether or not you are associated or have been associated with the teams as each have at least have the temerity to provide the viewers with something more than your blatant bias . With the loss came the perfunctory excuses as to their views as to why the US failed but their lack of candor in acknowledging the team on the day was simply outplayed leads me to believe that they viewed Japan as a minor hurdle in what they felt to be a victory that was guaranteed prior to the start of the game ! Don’t get me wrong if you’re going to state a reason why a team ought to win you have also got to be prepared to state the reasons why they could also fail . Something I feel that ESPN and their so called analysts seemingly forget whilst on air !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

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

Contact ….. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke poses with the Claret Jug on the 18th green the morning after winning the 140th British Open Golf championship at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, Kent, south-east England, on July 18, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Getty Images/ Peter Muhly ….

(2) SANDWICH, ENGLAND – JULY 17: during the final round of The 140th Open Championship at Royal St George’s on July 17, 2011 in Sandwich, England. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images …..

(3) Scott Van Pelt (left) of ESPN is seen here with co-host Andy North a former PGA Tour professional and two time Major winner . Courtesy of ESPN/ABC ……

(4) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Right fielder Xavier Paul (38) of the Pittsburgh Pirates leaps but can’t make the catch on a home run by Humberto Quintero (55) of the Houston Astros in the eleventh inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(5) HOUSTON – JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by Neil Walker (18) and Alex Pressley(44) after makeng a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes (12) of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images …

(6) Former Pirates CEO Kevin McClatchy and Chairman of the Board Robert (Bob) Nutting discuss the “change of control” within the Pirates ownership. The McClatchy family who owned the team outright sold the concern to Bob Nutting and a consortium of investors in 2007 . Phil Rombach/ Pittsburgh Post Gazette ….

(7) In this April 10, 2011, file photo, then-Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester reacts to a call in the first half of the Pistons’ 112-101 win over the Charlotte Bobcats in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C. The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Kuester as an assistant under new coach Mike Brown, reuniting the duo who worked in Cleveland together. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ……

(8) Pistons’ owner Tom Gores is seen here with the team’s GM Joe Dumars at the Palace of Auburn Hills , Auburn Hills , Michigan, home to the basketball franchise . Gores purchased the team from the Davidson family whose patriarch Bill Davidson died in 2009. AFP/ Chris Gould ……

(9) Tracy McGrady (1) of of the Detroit Pistons drives against James Jones (22) of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 28, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images North America / Mike Ehrmann …..

(10) TOPSHOTS: Japan’s midfielder Homare Sawa (C) celebrates with the trophy and teammates after the FIFA Women’s Football World Cup final match Japan vs USA on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. Japan won 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out after the final had finished 2-2 following extra-time. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ

(11) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: (L-R) Homare Sawa of Japan winning the adidas golden shoe award as the best player of the tournament and Abby Wambach of USA, winning the adidas silver golden shoe stand on the podium after being rewarded during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan against USA 5-3 after penalty shoot-out. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ….

(12) FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – JULY 17: Tobin Heath of USA (3rd R) comforts Sahnnon Boxx of USA (R) after failed shooting a penalty during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final match between Japan and USA at the FIFA World Cup stadium Frankfurt on July 17, 2011 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Japan won 5-3 after penalty shoot-out against the USA. Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images ……

(13) Bob Ley (left) , Brandi Chastain and Tony DiCicco discuss the role of nerves in the Final, and how this team fits into the legacy of US Women’s Soccer. Courtesy of ESPN ……..
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What In The Wide Wild Of Sports Is Going On Here ?

What In The Wide Wild Of Sports Is Going On Here ?

Well a week from this Saturday the NFL Draft will take center stage and the talent of FBS D1 college football will take center stage. To my mind given the fact that the NFL still finds itself in the midst of mediation being president over by Federal Court Judge Susan Nelson only adds to the stupidity and the naivete of not only the league but also the NFL owners in thinking it’s business as usual . And I know that even with players still making their rounds visiting the teams I can only surmise that the league believes that there’s a remote chance there’s about to the resurrection of an off season with OTA’s , strength and conditioning as well as the current players being able to visit their respective team facilities in order to rehabilitate season injuries . That being one of the situations that has arisen with the fact that the league instigated this lockout.

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The dispute has taken on a life of its own with the fans now feeling disenfranchised and aggrieved and angry with both parties. I hasten to add that at this juncture both Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith might now be two of the most despised invididuals in all of professional sports . If you though that former big league slugger Barry Bonds was disliked then how unpopular do you feel Goodell and Smith are at this juncture ? And with Bonds now having been found guilty on one of the six charges he faced in his trial all that we now await is the sentencing recommendation of the judge in that case , Judge Susan Ilston . All signs point to the fact that the recommendation won’t be the maximum penalty of ten years but something of a narrower sentence that could be nothing more than 18 months or two years at best with the player quite possibly serving the sentence under house arrest with him electronically monitored under surveillance by the Justice Department courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Prisons . From once being one of the most beloved players in the sport to a now a guilty major felon. Could things have got much worse for Bonds over the latter stage of his now infamous career ?

My own thoughts w ith regards to the case of Barry Bonds and the very fact that the Justice Department has spent in excess of $15 million over the course of their investigation and trial all at the taxpayers’ expense leads to me to believe that the subordinates of Attorney General Eric Holder had nothing better to do with their time ! Consider this fact the government saw fit to bail out major US financial institutions and insurance companies to the tune of US$ 1.35 trillion ( US$ 1,350,000,000,000) after their malfeasance in the almost near destruction of the economy from which we’ve yet to still recover . And with there being a projected 2 million home foreclosures due to take place in 2011 alone , do you get the simple feeling that there’s still a long way to go before we see any real signs a real recovery in the economy ? In the midst of this idiocy we now have rumblings as to the fact that US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may well have done the rounds in speaking with various states’ Attorneys Generals asking them not to prosecute any of the major banks and their executives , in light that , those actions could destabilize the economy . Excuse me ? But since when was defrauding the US taxpayer not a major felony , wherein it doesn’t warrant the arrests , indictment , trials of the perpetrators involved in the crimes in question ? And I do mean that a litany of crimes were committed here by not only these executives, in hiding the facts as to what their banks were doing but also falsifying records and misapropriating funds in the committing of those said crimes. I’ve now got to ask the question at what point is it that the electorate now feels that they can no longer trust this administration its President or the members of both legislative chambers of the US Congress , or more appropriately the House of Representatives and Senate ?. God knows if these assholes can’t even act to do what’s legally right , how the hell can we even trust them act with any sense of being morally right , more to the point have the nation’s best interests at heart ?

As to the NFL Draft itself I’ve about as much interest in this event as I’d have in a lion devouring its prey and deciding how that incident will actually end . Clearly about the only people interested in the event will be the various NFL sports agents out there who’ll be looking to represent their clients . Players such as Cam Newton projected to be taken number one overall in this draft. Whether or not the Carolina Panthers in spite of their numerous problems over the course of last season , it remains to be seen whether or not they will cast their lot with the Heisman Trophy winner and make him their franchise player of the future. I’m not about to suggest that Cam Newton can’t make it in the NFL but given what I’ve seen of former first round draft picks such as JaMarcus Russell whose ascent and fall from grace within the NFL was pretty like a meteorite falling from the sky . Could I have put it anymore succinctly than that ? I think not !

OK so we all know the NBA playoffs are about to start this weekend with the 16 teams now taking part in the postseason. And already there are rumblings as to a number of coaches being relieved of their positions . I’m not about to say I’m not surprised but given what I’ve seen of teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons the likelihood that Kurt Rambis and Jon Kuester will remain coaches in the NBA would come as a total shock should there be a vote of confidence to retain both. GM’s Dave Kahn and Joe Dumars have got to be disappointed with the seasons that their respective teams had but I think it even more of the general managers themselves under achieved with their performances in terms their roster decisions. You simply look at the Pistons and Timberwolves and wonder how bad they’ve performed over the course of the season .

Discontent amongst those within the locker room of the Pistons and you simply got the impression that from last season to this season the Detroit Pistions have experienced two years that they’d simply rather forget. As to the Timberwolves at what point did many of us feel that apart from watching Kevin Love’s performances over the course of the season and record setting season of double doubles . Please don’t tell me that fans were interested with anything beyond those feats of Love and the fact he was an NBA All Star this past season ? Suffice to say the Timberwolves can only hope that they’re in with a clear shot of acquiring the Huskies’ Kember Walker in the upcoming NBA Draft and perhaps their future hopes will be raised somewhat ?
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And here we are and it should it really surprise anyone that the Philadelphia Phillies are 9-3 within the NL East with Cliff Lee recently having posted 12K’s and the twenty first shutout of his career in the team’s 4-0 win over the Washington Nationals ? I’m not about to suggest that the World Series is the Phillies to lose but with the expectations being so high for the team this season if they fail to make it to the NLCS game at least their year will be viewed as a profound failure , damning indictment of the big market teams and their ostentatious spending on marquee talent .

While I know that the baseball team owners and the league hierarchy have no intentions of imposing a hard salary cap . But sooner or later the MLBPA and its Executive Director Michael Weiner will come realize that the game cannot continue down this road without there being several teams being brought to the brink of financial bankruptcy. It’s already beginning to dawn upon owners such as Stuart Sternberg , Bob Nutting and Frank McCourt whose Los Angeles Dodgers have amassed a cumulative $1.2 billion debt and have their creditors now banging at their doors looking for the Dodgers to keep up the installment payments on that debt . Is it any wonder that Dodgers’ fans are baying for the blood of Frank McCourt and the team’s front office executives ?

McCourt’s belief that the team is to do with as he pleases is more akin to a drug pusher user being allowed to sell his product to school children on school property without there being any conceivable repercussions. You simply know that sooner or later the fans will have had enough of Frank McCourt and his antics . And with the very fact that in a recent incident that led to the assault of a San Francisco Giants’ fan at Chavez Revine leads me to believe that the fans will become mutinous . The very fact that the Dodgers have issued something of a less than contrite apology for this incident and that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig or anyone from within his office has issued any form of a public statement on this incident other than to say that complete and thorough investigation will be conducted. Well if that investigation is conducted anywhere with the ineptitude shown with regard to the Mitchell Report then I conclude that the league and its hierarchy will have learned nothing from this incident ! Given the whitewash of that report without there being any blame being apportioned only on the players themselves shows me the naivete’ of Bud Selig , his subordinates , that of the players themselves and these asinine team owners !

The rest of this MLB season ought to be really interesting as it unfolds and from my perspective having not yet found a team that I’ve yet an affinity for . I’ll do my utmost to follow teams around the league with a great deal of interest .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the topics raised within this piece ? And if anything what has your blood boling either in the world of sports or on the domestic scene at present ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1) Former Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds (4th R) arrives at federal court on April 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The jury is deliberating for the fourth day in the Barry Bonds perjury trial, where the former baseball player is accused of lying to a grand jury about the use of performance enhancing drugs. The player has since been found guilty on one charge of obstruction of justice that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years as a maximum under the Federal statutes. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan ………..

(2) Obama Delivers State Of The Union Address To Joint Session Of Congress Members of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Cabinet (L-R), Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attend the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill January 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. During his speech Obama was expected to focus on the U.S. economy and increasing education and infrastructure funding while proposing a three-year partial freeze of domestic programs and $78 billion in military spending cuts. Pool Images/ Getty Images North America ……..

(3) Cam Newton (right) is seen here with his father (Pastor) Cecil Newton . The elder Newton was caught up in much of the furor concerning whether or not his son was involved in a pay to play scheme instigated by himself with an intermediary and a number of schools within the SEC . AP Photo / Maurice Clarke ……………

(4) Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (2) looks for a receiver in the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Panthers would go on to lose 31-10 in the game . AP Photo/John Bazemore ………..

(5) AUBURN HILLS, MI – APRIL 11: Detroit Pistons head coach John Kuester draws up a play during a timeout against the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 11, 2011 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NBAE /Getty Images/ John Dennis ….

(6) A fan wears a paper bag on his head during the second half of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Minneapolis where the Timberwolves ended the season with the worst record in the NBA as they were defeated by the Rockets won 121-102 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ……..

(7) Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Kurt Rambis directs his team during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, April 13, 2011, in Minneapolis. The Rockets won 121-102 and the Timberwolves ended their season with the worst record in the NBA 17-65 . AP Photo/Jim Mone ………… …

(8) Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, throws a pitch during a baseball game at Nationals Park with the Washington Nationals on Thursday, April 14, 2011 in Washington. The Phillies won 4-0, with Lee allowing three hits. AP Photo/Alex Brandon ………..

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(9) Catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) of the Philadelphia Phillies holds the ball after Rick Ankiel(43) of the Washington Nationals strikes out during the seventh inning at Nationals Park on April 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images ………….

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Trick Daddy ……………… ” In Da Wind ”
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Twice In A Lifetime ………………..

Coming off a high having beaten the Miami Heat at the AT& T Center in San Antnio ,Texas the conference leading San Antonio Spurs now had to gauge themselves against the reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers hosting them
at their home venue.

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That display against the Heat so clinical , decisive in its execution that the 30 point margin of victory shocked many who witnessed the game in its entirety. They say you can tell a great deal about a team by the way they can handle adversity and after this debacle it was extremely clear that the Miami Heat players , coaching staff and front office weren’t at all happy with the outcome. Hoisted on their own petard (backside) the team was completely embarrassed by their Western Conference rivals . What might be even more improbable was seeing Matt Bonner shoot the lights out having hit 8 of the team’s seventeen three pointers on the way to the Spurs’ 125-95 defeat of the Miami Heat.

I’m not about to use this one game as a precursor to an envisioned NBA Final as there’s still a great deal left to be played for either team as we now hit not quite the closing stretch of the NBA season . But it does give us some insight as to where both teams are respectively as it relates to their respective seasons. On the one hand you have the Miami Heat who with the litany of All Stars and the adoring fans of South Beach and within the locale it has to be said that for Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the expectations are extremely high. All their protracted discussions that their reason for getting together is to win an NBA title , multiple titles in fact . Failure to win this season and there’s going to be a great many questions asked of the triumvirate as well both Pat Riley , team owner Micky Arison and the team’s coach Eric Spoelstra . It may well have been the fact that the Heat were being viewed as clear cut favorites to win this season’s NBA title but let’s simply anoint this team before they’ve actually done anything as of yet.

The same proclamation was made with regard to the Los Angeleles in 2004 when that team had future Hall of Famers Gary Payton , Karl Malone , Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Byrant . And as well know that this team was completely embarrassed by the Detroit Pistons in one of the most lopsided series in NBA history with the Pistons subduing and shellacking the Lakers 4-1 in the 2004 NBA Finals . That one series spoke highly as to what can be expected when a unit becomes complacent and simply believes that they can essentially sleep walk their way through a season as well as the postseason.

The Spurs after their exhilarating victory as I alluded to earlier had to deal with the Lakers and if anything these games tend to be highly competitive and a true test for both teams. A match of wits also between two highly respected coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich who between them have won fifteen NBA titles over their illustrious coaching careers. Popovich seeks his fifth title as the Spurs’ coach , and all have been won during a fifteen year span with Gregg Popovich at the helm.

The game itself in front of a soldout crowd once again at the AT& T Center and a nationally televised audience it slipped out the Spurs’ hand right away as it appeared that Phil Jackson’s team simply wanted to be no part of another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Spurs whereby it was a collective effort by team and where Matt Bonner stood out as “the hero” from Friday night’s victory with his long range sharp shooting. Kobe Bryant essentially made sure that any thought of a repeat victory in a similar vein. The perennial All Star and former league MVP who simply is perhaps the most single minded individual in terms of psyche and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to win. That’s something that hasn’t been seen within the league since Michael Jordan was at the height of his fame with the Chicago Bulls and leading them to six world championships as well as having won multiple league and Finals MVP awards . Bryant is now seeking to emulate his idol by winning his sixth NBA title and further enhance his legacy as one of the all-time greats of the game.

By contrast the Spurs have their future Hall of Famer in Tim Duncan and although his stats are down somewhat this year he’s viewed as the heart and soul of this team . Along with Duncan you have also the able duo of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker who’ve been able to allow Duncan to be more of a make shift player as Popovich has sought more productivity from the younger players on the roster as well as veterans such as Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess . Each have played their role this season in the Spurs’ exceptional display this year contributing in all aspects of the game . And Sunday afternoon wasn’t to be the Spurs’ day as the Lakers held San Antonio in check on their way to a 99-86 victory narrowing the Spurs’ lead within the Western Conference .

There’s a great deal that one could as such take away from this game in terms of the way it was played and the resultant victory but I’d preface this by saying it’s merely the regular season and what really will count is the inevitability of each team’s performance as the postseason commences . Then we’ll be able to ascertain for ourselves which of the two teams has the greater chance of ultimately making their way to the NBA Finals . The two could very well meet in the latter stages of the playoffs and that event could make for an exceptional and highly competitive series . So make of it what you will.

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What thoughts if any do you have as to the aspirations of both teams and which of them to your mind at this juncture do you view as the favorite to win the conference title and quite possibly the NBA championship itself predicated upon their play ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter anything else you feel of relevance to the NBA .

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich argues a call as the Spurs play the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani

(2) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gestures to teammates after making a basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Lakers defeated the Spurs 99-83 . AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …….

(3) San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill (3) drives past Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani ………….

(4) San Antonio Spurs players Manu Ginobili (20), of Argentina, and Tony Parker (9), of France, walk up court after a turnover against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani ……

San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter , left, of Brazil, is defended by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Matt Barnes (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Lakers defeated the Spurs, 99-83. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …………

(6)San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, center, of Argentina, passes the ball after driving between the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol , of Spain, and Andrew Bynum during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …………..

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Alan aka tophatal ………………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com


NBA News

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San Antonio Spurs’ news

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Eye candy ………………… Not everything out of Jamaica tends to be violent ….. aka Jamaican Coolie . Show her some love .

Oh my !
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Nelly Furtado ………………….. “Say It Right”
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Truth , Fact or Fiction …… ?

Truth , Fact or Fiction …… ?

The wonders of the modern media , its journalists and reporters never ceases to amazet at all. It’d appear that rather reporting a story a reporter would prefer to make themselves the story and in large part interject themselves in whatever way possible even when there isn’t a reason for doing so. We’ve all seen it countless of times and more often than not it does proves to be annoying. ESPN’s —- Jim Gray has repeatedly proven the point that he’s no more a sports reporter or journalist than one could consider Snooki from MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore” to be a doctoral candidate for Harvard University or any other prestigious educational establishment . But somehow individuals such as these two repeatedly crop on our tv screens and continue to make completes asses of themselves !

Gray’s mea-culpa was to call US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin a liar concerning a conversation he had with the PGA Tour professional with regard to his captain’s pick of the US team to play Europe in the upcoming event. Gray insinuated that Pavin had categorically stated that Tiger Woods would be definitely included on the team to play the Europeans . Pavin’s take on the issue was that he would consider the player only on the basis of his form and whether or not he felt that the player would be an asset to the team . Based on Woods’ present form I for one am not too sure the world’s number one golfer would prove to be an asset at all ! Given his most recent finish in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational Akron , Ohio where he finished in 78 th place in a field of eighty golfers. It does beg the question are Woods’ off the field problems still proving to be a hindrance to his form on the Tour ? An impending divorce and the fact that the custody of his children have become an over-riding issue may well have played a great deal in the player’s particular fall from atop the leaderboards on the PGA Tour.

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Slideshow for your perusal .

Now with the final major of the season now starting as of today all eyes will once again be upon Woods as he chases Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18 Grand Slam major tour wins . The PGA Championship from Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler , Wisconsin is the lone major left on the PGA schedule . Apart from the fact that the US teamm will picked with top ten points’ holder getting an automatic berth the captain ( Pavin) is entitled to have his two picks that will be the final makeup of the twelve man field. As it now stands Phil Mickelson is atop of those standings with the next nine players set in place. The event itself will be held in Europe at The Celtic Manor Resort Golf & CC in Newport , Wales. And the European fans will be attending en masse to support their hometown heroes led by their captain Scottish European Tour player Colin Montgomerie . The event will take place between the 1st – 3rd October , 2010 and is expected to be a soldout event with countless of millions more watching worldwide.

Gray’s credibility and his stance at this juncture can’t all be taken seriously especially in light of the fact that his rather tedious and boring interview with NBA player LeBron James was such a complete waste of time and added about as much to journalistic integrity as Jayson Blair’s career has been viewed as being one of prestige in the field of news reporting. What we do know is that ESPN paid $250,000 to James’ representatives for the exclusive rights to the interview in which the player let the whole world know that he would indeed be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to make his new found home and NBA future with the Miami Heat . Credibility comes to those who earn it by carrying out their duties judiciously and who’ve earned the respect of the fans and their peers alike. One sincerely doubts that can be said of Jim Gray amongst the fans of the sports world but on the other hand within the world of the glad handing and backslapping amongst his own. Where the mere morsel of controversy is seen as something worthwhile and of journalistic integrity. One certainly has to wonder how it is that anyone can continue to take Jim Gray and his work seriously ?

As a New England Patriots’ fan I always admired the play of Tedy Bruschi as part of the team’s Superbowl success in winning three Superbowl titles. As an analyst with the four letter network his choices and prognostications while sound at times. He tends to make the most asinine of assertions from time to time and perhaps no more than his most recent statement that the now retired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive player Derrick Brooks is not to his mind a bona-fide first ballot Hall of Famer . Now to each his own but given the fact that Brooks has been a Superbowl winning player and a perennial Pro Bowl caliber player for much of his entire career. I’ve got to ask myself what hallucinogens has Bruschi been on and also was ESPN aware that when they hired the former Patriots’ player he would prove to be such as idiot to begin with ? Now all kidding asides when you’re going to put such statement out there you’d better have the balls to back it up ! In Bruschi’s case then there was none whatsoever and unfortunately his co-hosts and panelists on the show didn’t question his thoughts on the matter . Once again showing another reason why the sports outlet now has become nothing more than an entertainment medium rather than a source of information and good sports reporting. Has broadcast journalism and in particular within the field of sports really sank that low ? More to the point where are the really salient sports stories that the fans would expect to see being reported ? Instead now we’ve got a bunch of clowns who espouse the idea that they are indeed analysts or journalists as the case maybe and that they’re the best that the network has to offer.

As the NFL season beckons some of the stories that’ll be reported upon will no doubt be bound in very little fact but even more fiction. And that now tends to be the case the vast majority of the time with ESPN ! Be on the lookout for the next Brett Favre story as we’re now liable to hear from the likes of Chris Mortensen and John Clayton that Favre’s hemorrhoids have been playing up and that his surgically repaired ankle is now the least of his problems as it regards his impending future with the Minnesota Vikings . Somehow until Favre is actually suited up in a Vikings’ uniform this will be pretty much the staple as what to expect from the sports broadcast outlet.

When you’re said to be $40 million apart on a contract negotiation I can only surmise that youre agent and the team’s GM are either too drunk to carry out what they’re doing with great effect or that the lines of communication are indeed crossed. Such may well be the case with the ongoing negotiations concerning Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis and the team’s GM Mike Tannenbaum . The New York Jets are said to be offering the player a ten year $120 million contract with what is said to be as much as anywhere between $75 to $85 million plus in guaranteed money . The player and his agent are said to be looking for a 10 year $160 million contract with at least $90 million in guaranteed money and incentives. Now don’t get me wrong but when the NFL salaries are now escalating in line where we’re now seeing the type of salaries being offered to major league ballplayers I’ve got to begin to question the sanity of the teams around the NFL and their respective heirarchies. Never mind what the NFLPA might well have to say about this all because as we all know for them it has and always will be about the money and not much else !

With the Jets’ first preseason game just a few days away there’s talk that Revis is prepared to sit out the entire pre and regular season in order to get what he feels he deserves and that’s to be the highest player at his position and therefore putting him to be paid along the lines of Peyton Manning in terms of a compensatory package. Nnamdi Asomugha of the Oakland Raiders at present is the highest paid cornerback in the league herein lies the caveat the player has a proven track record whereas , Revis after one productive year expects to be paid as one of the elite at his position. Perception is everything but it can also mean absolutely nothing whatsoever ! Whether or not Rex Ryan his coaching staff and the team can do without Revis over the prolonged season remains to be seen. But this much is certain all of Ryan’s brevitas at this juncture now seems to have lost a great deal of its luster if as thought they could be without their much hyped cornerback . Never mind the fact that coach has his team winning the AFC East as well as the Superbowl this upcoming season.

Now that Tracy McGrady has signed with the Detroit Pistons I do believe that this might well be the player’s last hurrah . Once thought of as young phenom, the years and age have caught up to a player whose best years it can honestly be said are behind him. Somehow however he and Pistons’ GM Joe Dumars still feel that the player has something to offer and that he can contribute to the team . From where I sit McGrady should have hung up his spurs long ago. His dwindling ability cannot hide the fact that he’s now playing like a geriatric with only at times rarely showing glimpses of brilliance. Long having been “the lions” of the Eastern Conference the Pistons have seen other pass them by and they’re now having to look at a roster that’s lacking in leadership and real star power. Never mind the fact that in terms of sheer ability they may not have what it takes to usurp many of the now more resilient teams within their conference.

Now with the Davidson family looking to sell the team in order to curtail the estate taxes and Bill Davidson’s wife Karen since her late husband’s death is no longer keen to be a part of what he had established . The Pistons are now said to be looking for a new owner and the NBA hierarchy are now keen to make that happen expeditiously. The only real person to have shown an intense interest in purchasing the team is Detroit Tigers and Red Wings’ owner Michael Ilitch . His main reasons are the fact that he’d like to see the organization remain within Michigan and particularly at the Palace of Auburn Hills where they’re very much , still a fan favorite. He does believe that if the team were bought by an outsider then it may well be relocated and that may well be something that most Pistons’ fans would certainly feel disgruntled with. As to how that would also go down with NBA Commissioner David Stern would also be of concern . But then again Stern and the Thunder ownership certainly made light work of misleading the city of Seattle when the Sonics were moved out of town to Oklahoma City. So at this juncture nothing is written in stone and with a complete certainty concerning the storied franchise .

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The truth can be viewed in a number of ways …….. your’s , mine and somewhere in between. As to what the real truth is in any given story what we do know is that for the vast majority of the time most news gathering sources really do go out of their way to make sure that what we’re being told is the truth and that it has some rationale behind it. In the case of the likes of ESPN much of it is merely created to ramp up the interests of the viewers and that’s now become their overall claim to fame. So next time be weary of what it is that they’re reporting but even more so take a keen look at the source of the story and how it is being reported. Much of the time you get a clue as to what’s fact and what is indeed work of fiction. Chime in with a comment as to this and any other sporting topic that as of late has been of a real interest to you. We can then dissect it and perhaps in some way get to the real truth of what’s said to be happening ? Thanks as always for the continued support as it has always been appreciated !

🙂

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………. 🙂

Ravelle’s ………………..“Bolero” as conducted by Andre’ Rieu with his orchestra .

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Freida Pinto

Actress Freida Pinto .

The Real Season In The NBA Starts Now ….Because It’s Christmas And David Stern Is Santa Clause …. ?

Well if you had any doubts that the NBA season is underway, then look no further than the play of the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic , Cleveland Cavaliers , Los Angeles Lakers , Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, and the Atlanta Hawks. And perhaps the most surprising of these teams mentioned may well be the Atlanta Hawks.

Minneapolis , Minn,. December 22nd 2009. Josh Smith (#5) of the Atlanta Hawks rises to the basket against Kevin Love (#42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on December 22, 2009 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ David Sherman ...... copyrighted material @ All rights reserved ...
Minneapolis , Minn,. December 22nd 2009. Josh Smith (#5) of the Atlanta Hawks rises to the basket against Kevin Love (#42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on December 22, 2009 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ David Sherman ...... copyrighted material @ All rights reserved ...

The Eastern Conference Hawks have been playing some exemplary and an exciting brand of basketball. So much so, that one has to say that they’ve got to be looked at as the ‘surprise team’ within the NBA at present. And for Commissioner, David Stern ,this has got to be pleasing not only for him , but the NBA hierarchy and most of all the fans in general around the NBA. Without the usual up and comers shall we say , we’d still be looking at the usual suspects around the league for our entertainment. Granted , we’re also witnessing the privilege of seeing the mediocrity of the New Jersey Nets. And one sincerely hopes that their alarming slide into banality doesn’t continue throughout the remainder of the season ? If so, then their long suffering fans may well have to look elsewhere for entertainment in terms of the hardcourt game. And let’s put it this way the entertainment they seek , won’t be coming from the New York Knicks, either ! This Mike D’Antoni coached team gives a new meaning to the word putrid, in terms of their overall play. And what’s even more alarming is that there appears to be no effort forthcoming from the team.

East Rutherford , NJ,. December 19th, 2009. Kobe Bryant (#24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Josh Boone (#2) of the New Jersey Nets on December 19, 2009 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/ Gett Images/ Nathaniel  S. Butler .........
East Rutherford , NJ,. December 19th, 2009. Kobe Bryant (#24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Josh Boone (#2) of the New Jersey Nets on December 19, 2009 at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/ Gett Images/ Nathaniel S. Butler .........

We know that the game’s major stars in the guise of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Brandon Roy will be looking to hold sway over the league with their play. But it’d be remiss not to mention some of the rookies in the league who’ve started off strong. The Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings has shown that he’s a star on the rise. And though he’s no longer a rookie the play of the Oklahoma Thunder’s Kevin Durant has made everyone sit up and take note of this ‘one man wrecking crew’. It seems that on any given night when his game is on , then Durant comes out to lay waste to the opposition by running them ragged with his offensive weaponry. Never mind the fact that he’s making the scoreboard register numbers faster than the women who are coming out of the woodwork to lay claim that they’ve been bedded by Tiger Woods.

Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings, front, backs down Indiana Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. picture appears courtesy of AP/photo/ Michael Conroy ......
Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings, front, backs down Indiana Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. picture appears courtesy of AP/photo/ Michael Conroy ......

There are number of teams that are on the decline due to a number of factors. A lack of coaching , inexperienced or an aging roster and then some could also say that there might be something of mindset with the lack of a will to win. And at present those traits seem to sum up the Detroit Pistons. The loss of Rasheed Wallace to the Celtics and the return of a ‘prodigal son’ in, Ben Wallace , seems to have not made a change for the better. If anything the team is struggling to show some semblance of competitiveness. And for team coach, John Kuester and General Manager, Joe Dumars this is something of anathema and a dilemma. The acquiring of Allen Iverson backfired with the team trading Chauncey Billups in exchange for the seasoned veteran. But the turmoil that followed, in essence summed up how far the team has fallen. Then coach, Michael Curry couldn’t instill what he wanted out of the players and nor did they reciprocate with their best efforts in return. It certainly then didn’t help that there was a degree of acrimony being built up between Iverson and Curry- and also between Iverson and Dumars. It would all lead to the abrupt firing of Curry and Iverson being allowed to leave the team as a free agent.

Charlotte, NC.,HARLOTTE,  Will Bynum (#12) of the Detroit Pistons guards against D.J. Augustin (#14) of the Charlotte Bobcats on December 22, 2009 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.  picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Kent Smith ..............
Charlotte, NC.,HARLOTTE, Will Bynum (#12) of the Detroit Pistons guards against D.J. Augustin (#14) of the Charlotte Bobcats on December 22, 2009 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Kent Smith ..............

Allen Iverson’s sojourn with the Memphis Grizzlies was short lived. And he has returned to where his NBA professional career started, in the city of ‘Brotherly Love’ with the Philadelphia 76ers. His presence there, though welcomed with opened arms, it will take a great deal of more than a love-fest between the two parties for Iverson for to prove that he’s still capable to contributing to a team, not just as a player with offensive presence but also to prove himself as a team leader with veteran presence. That if anything will be the legacy now for Iverson at this stage of his career. He’s at the twilight of it and one seriously doubts if the 76ers has what it takes to be even viewed as a legitimate contender for postseason honors , much less as a contender within the Eastern Conference. At best they may well no more than a fifth or sixth seed out of the conference, when it’s all said and done.

Memphis , Tn ,. December 20th , 2009. Carmelo Anthony (#15) of the Denver Nuggets hugs Rudy Gay (#22) of the Memphis Grizzlies after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies  at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.  picture appears courtesy of NBAE / Getty Images/ Joe Murphy ..............
Memphis , Tn ,. December 20th , 2009. Carmelo Anthony (#15) of the Denver Nuggets hugs Rudy Gay (#22) of the Memphis Grizzlies after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. picture appears courtesy of NBAE / Getty Images/ Joe Murphy ..............

While there’s a great deal to be said for the talent in the Eastern Conference . It is their counterpart in the Western Conference where ‘the show’ is said to take place. The eight best teams in the conference record wise , all have an above .500 record. Whereas , in the Eastern Conference ony five of the top eight teams even have an above .500 record. The quality and the talent is in the West but in the East there the game is greatly predicated on defense. In the West that’s not always the case. Though you’d be hard pressed to believe when hearing many of the fans there speak about how their teams are defensively. Say it ain’t so ?

Now as we may wile away our time opining on our teams. We ought to remember that the season has essentially started as of now. What little we’ve seen of the teams, has been for them to start to fine tune their games for the onslaught of the next six arduous months of traveling and playing. For some teams their season is already essentially over . No disrespect to the Nets, Warriors , Timberwolves , Knicks and Sixers. Don’t call us but we’ll call you if the NBA is in need of your services for the postseason.

Los Angeles, California ,.  Kevin Durant (#35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks against Andrew Bynum (#17) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  picture appears courtesy  of NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein .............
Los Angeles, California ,. Kevin Durant (#35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks against Andrew Bynum (#17) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein .............

It has to be said that this season is one filled with a great deal if intrigue as there are so many plot lines ,suspense and theater to be had. Will LeBron James with Shaquille O’Neal in tow be able to lead the Cavaliers to a title ? This may well be his last shot at one with the organization. Can the Celtics regain their composure and acquire another title with Kevin Garnett leading the charge ? Or will we see Dwight Howard finally live up to that leadership role with the Magic, instead of the asinine portrayal of Superman ? The thing is, it wasn’t Kryptonite that led to Howard imploding in last season’s NBA Finals against the Lakers. It was his sheer arrogance and naivete’ that led to his and the team’s downfall.

For the Los Angeles Lakers and their influential coach Phil Jackson, this season and NBA championship is theirs to lose. As the presumptive favorites to win it all again this season. It’ll be down to the calming influence of Jackson and the mercurial skills and leadership of Kobe Bryant take to this once again to the ‘promised land’. And one would hope that Bryant’s new teammate, Ron Artest, can above all, keep a level head on his shoulders ? As it is, he’s already proving that his basketball mind is great but anything beyond that intellectually and he’s like a fish out of water.

Commissioner , David Stern sits down with noted columnist and tv sports personality Michael Wilbon. Stern discusses the economics of the NBA.

Plot lines , stocking stuffers , call it what you will. Because ‘Santa Claus Stern’ wants you to enjoy this festive season surrounding the NBA and up to the season’s finale. After all, it is the least he’s asking of you , or is it ? Have fun this NBA season and hopefully your team will do well !

NB: To view the NBA Conference standings click here….

General allround NBA stats click here .

NB: You can also find this post within http://thebasketballoracle.com under the same title The Real Season In The NBA Starts Now ….Because It’s Christmas And David Stern Is Santa Clause …. ?

No Big Surprise There What Do You Think ?

It never ceases to amaze me as to the stupidity of today’s athletes !They’re placed upon a pedestal by the press and to a lesser extent by the fans alike. And OK, so the press are only all too willing to tear them down , once they’re found to be all too human. Or for the mere fact that they’ve overstepped the boundaries of what’s deemed to be morally decent.

And no, this isn’t ‘bash Tiger Woods time’, as I’ll leave that to his wife, Elin Nordegren to handle that. By all accounts, she possesses a far better backswing than even Tiger could ever have imagined. LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

As to Tiger’s faux-pas , let’s just hope that he’s indeed learned a valuable lesson from this all ? As to what that might , need you ask ?

Well, low and behold, Lakers’ player , Ron Artest has admitted that while as a player for the Chicago Bulls, he sought the solace of a bottle , ne’ alcohol – to solve many of his problems while the Bulls were said to be losing game with alarming regularity. Why the curiosity you might ask ? Well, from what we’re led to believe by Artest , his consumption of alcohol took place while he was playing regularly during games. And no, I’m not talking down time, when he’s said to be in a hotel room alongside teammates or perhaps in the company of a female. But actually, on the court or court-side during the game. I guess those water bottles that we now see the players drinking from, aren’t filled with 50’s Vitamin water ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!!

Ron Artest said he would walk to the liquor store  near the United Center  to get his favorite  drink.   picture appears  courtesy  of   AP /Phot/  Dwight  Mitchell .....................
Ron Artest said he would walk to the liquor store near the United Center to get his favorite drink. picture appears courtesy of AP /Phot/ Dwight Mitchell .....................

But I digress , Artest’s admission doesn’t as such set a precedent but it may well explain in large part what appears to be his split personality. Could it be that the infamous Palace of Auburn Hills’ fracas, that involved Artest, his teammates on the Indiana Pacers against the Detroit Pistons and the fans in attendance. Would it be out of the realms of possibility to suggest that ‘Ron-Ron’ might have been a little intoxicated at the time ?

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports


Lakers’ Artest spoke about drinking to help others

By Greg Beacham , AP Sports Writer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP)—Ron Artest(notes) says he spoke out about drinking during games with the Chicago Bulls because he hopes to help youths with similar problems.

After practice Thursday at the Lakers’ training complex, Artest discussed the provocative admissions he made to the Sporting News. Artest acknowledged drinking cognac during halftimes in Chicago, where he spent his first 2 1/2 NBA seasons.

Artest says his drinking was a result of getting too much responsibility and adversity too soon in his life after leaving St. John’s. He plans to begin a youth program in Los Angeles in which he’ll teach others about the dangers of young adulthood and its temptations.

He also says he has grown up considerably after his stints with Chicago and Indiana.

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An initial scene  from what then  lead  on to the ensuing melee'  that took  place  at an  NBA game  between  the  Detroit Pistons and  the Indiana Pacers  as the Palace of  Auburn  Hills,  Auburn  Hills, Mi,.   The  fights  between  the players  and  then  with the  Pacers'  Artest  rushing  into  the stands  to  punch  a  fan led to  one  worst  scenes  of  violence  at  a  North American  sporting  event  in  recent  history.   picture  appears courtesy  of  NBAE / Getty Images/ Allen Einstein ........................
An initial scene from what then lead on to the ensuing melee' that took place at an NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers as the Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mi,. The fights between the players and then with the Pacers' Artest rushing into the stands to punch a fan led to one worst scenes of violence at a North American sporting event in recent history. picture appears courtesy of NBAE / Getty Images/ Allen Einstein ........................

Now pardon me for saying this but I’d have thought that this would be the last thing that either the Los Angeles Lakers’ hierarchy or for that matter Commissioner,David Stern would want to hear coming from the lips of Ron Artest, at this juncture. Given the fact the the NBA would like to create the perception their games being held in a family friendly environment. Well , if ever the events of the Palace of Auburn Hills could provide evidence of what can happen. Then that was most definitely it. Albeit, that alcohol consumption isn’t prohibited at the games for the fans during and prior to the games. The thought that the very players, themselves, could enter the court inebriated, is cause for great concern. No formal statement on the matter has been forthcoming from either Stern at the Lakers at this juncture. But one doubts that Stern or Stu Jackson , Stern’s enforcer will leave the issue fully unresolved to their satisfaction. It may well have been something that happened in the player’s past. But who’s to say that he might not think to do the same thing again, given his behavioral patterns ?

Ron Artest may well have matured somewhat , after that infamous incident. But given his proclivity for making outlandish statements and his unwillingness at times not to abide by the rules. I wouldn’t put it past him to ‘resumption of the bottle’. I mean who’s to know ? It’s not as if the officials or the clubs knew of his behavior in this context to begin with. And now even after the admission, will they now be more observant of the player and this particular proclivity ?

Courtesy of Chicago Sun Times

Ron Artest:’I use to drink Hennessy at halftime’

By John Jackson jjackson@suntimes.com

Except for about a four-year period just after the championship era, I’ve covered the Bulls for the Sun-Times since 1994. Fortunately for me, the Ron Artest era came during my hiatus.

Still, I heard all the stories, and I have to admit I still get a chuckle from the one about him applying for a job at an electronics chain so he could get the employee discount.

If you think that’s a myth, Artest confirmed it during an interview with a local radio station earlier this year.

Speaking of interviews, Artest’s sit-down with the Sporting News caused quite a stir Wednesday, when excerpts of the article were released.

The most salacious quote was the 6-7 forward saying that he drank alcohol — cognac to be specific — during halftime of games at the United Center when he was with the Bulls.

”I used to drink Hennessy at halftime,” Artest was quoted in the Sporting News. ”I [kept it] in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store [near the UC] and get it.”

That’s not exactly what they meant when he was told not to pass up shots.

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Click on link provided to read John Jackson’s article in its entirety
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But then again, which would be more preferable in your opinion on the court from Ron Artest ? Him being slightly intoxicated and quite possibly being provoked into an altercation ? Or him actually starting to ‘rap’ ? One has to remember that beneath the surface of Artest, are the budding embers of a rap star in the making ? Having released two poorly reviewed rap CD’s and his entrepreneurship as a music mogul , somewhat taking a backseat as to his vocational endeavor as a player in the NBA.

Artest (91) seeks retribution  against  a  fan   whom  he  believes  thew an   open container of  alcohol  at  him  from  up in the  stand  unto the   floor   during  the  game   played  between  the  Pacers  and  Pistons  played at  the Palace  of Auburn Hills .   copyrighted  material   @  All  rights  reserved  .............................
Artest (91) seeks retribution against a fan, whom he believes thew an open container of alcohol at him from up in the stand unto the floor during the game played between the Pacers and Pistons played at the Palace of Auburn Hills . copyrighted material @ All rights reserved .............................

One might feel quite aggrieved were he (Artest) to burst into song in an NBA arena, for the fans in attendance to hear. I mean I’m not suggesting that he’s as bad as teammate, Kobe Bryant. But neither has the talent to even approach what it takes to conquer that particular genre to begin with ! In Kobe’s case, rapping about his ardor for all things Versace’ might lead one to question his ‘manhood’ somewhat, don’t you think ? As to Artest , his budding ‘thug image’ and would be rap star persona, might be as threatening as, Rosie O’Donnell now threatening to ‘switch sides’ with regard to her sexual assignations.

Artest now seems to be backtracking from his original statement , now saying that he really said this all as a means of awakening others as to alcohol abuse. An act of redeeming himself ? Bearing in mind that the game’s hierarchy might not have looked favorably on his original statement to begin with. This was either a rather good self publicity stunt or a complete asinine statement once again coming from the lips of one Ron Artest. You’ve got to give him credit where it’s due. As he certainly knows how to play up to the cameras and either make a complete ass of himself or have the public simply empathizing with him because of his demeanor and at times his behavior, for want of a better word. But what you now see with Ron Artest is what you’re now liable get with Ron Artest, one way or another. There are simply no in betweens as far as he goes. You’ve either got to ‘love him’ or ‘hate him’ ?

How do you as a person ,feel about the player ?

They Say You Can Never Go Back Home …… Well AI Is Back Where It All Started

Well, for the NBA’s, Allen Iverson, there seems to be ‘no place like home’. Much like with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, Iverson is making his own personal journey in the form of his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. As to what this bodes for the rest of the season for the franchise and the player. One can only speculate. But it’s clear to see that this was a last ditch effort by the player to find a place to play out what may very well be his last days in the NBA.

Well, for the NBA’s, Allen Iverson, there seems to be ‘no place like home’. Much like with Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, Iverson is making his own personal journey in the form of his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. As to what this bodes for the rest of the season for the franchise and the player. One can only speculate. But it’s clear to see that this was a last ditch effort by the player to find a place to play out what may very well be his last days in the NBA.

Iverson makes his views known on ‘practice’ ? Yes we’s talkin’ ’bout practice !

The ‘prodigal son’ has returned and it appears that all might well have been forgiven. The player’s woes of late have been well chronicled , from his inability to play as a teammate with the Denver Nuggets. An experiment that I might add, was doomed before it even started ! His brief tenure with the Detroit Pistons and the very fact that he and the organization could not see ‘eye to eye’. And then there was the sideshow there in Memphis, with the Memphis Grizzlies. One minute he’s being viewed as perhaps the franchise’s savior , the next he makes himself feel about as welcomed as a child molester would be on the first day of his incarceration in prison. Suffice to say, that the Grizzlies’ front office were at a loss with regard to Iverson’s demeanor. The team’s coach, Lionel Hollins, the general manager,Chris Wallace, and the team owner, Michael Heisley , went out of their way to welcome him with opens arms , when they signed him as a free agent. In the blink of an eye , Iverson ‘wanted out’ of Memphis and just about anything to do with the team.

Courtesy of Associated Press and Yahoo Sports

Final Answer: Iverson back with 76ers

By Dan Gelston, AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Allen Iverson’s first stint with the Philadelphia 76ers ended with the team yanking his nameplate off his locker and editing him out of video highlights before he was even traded.

The Sixers might want to find him a new locker and cue up some clips. Philly fans, pull out that No. 3 jersey from the closet. A.I. is a Sixer again.

In a move that appeared farfetched after their acrimonious split in 2006, the 76ers reunited with the briefly retired Iverson on Wednesday in a move designed to spike sagging attendance and fill in for the injured Lou Williams.

Coach Eddie Jordan said Iverson will likely start and stay the entire season.

“I told him I would like for him to start, and that’s where it sort of ended,” Jordan said. “And he was really like a kid at Christmas.”

Iverson will make his debut Monday night at home against Denver—one of three teams he’s called home since leaving Philly. The 10-time All-Star-turned-journeyman is determined to prove he still has something to offer in that No. 3 jersey.

He antagonized his coaches and opponents his first time around. Perhaps humbled, he signed after being reduced to a bench player in Denver and Memphis and forced to accept the veteran’s minimum salary to return to his NBA roots.

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For the time being , it’s hard trying to figure out what to make of this all. But with the apparent injury to the team’s point guard, Lou Williams and his impending loss for an indeterminate period of time. Coach,Eddie Jordan and the front office staff felt it an urgency, to bring the player in and gauge his interest in rejoining the team. Ed Stefanski, as the team President , General Manager and owner of the franchise, felt it to be a good idea. Albeit , that he indeed had some reservations as to how the fans may well have felt about the player returning to the franchise. But the advantages he felt far outweighed the negative aspect of it all.

In this April 12, 2006, file photo Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson reacts during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball against the New Jersey Nets, in East Rutherford, N.J.  Philadelphia 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, on the team's Web site that Iverson will rejoining the 76ers. picture appears courtesy  of  AP/Photo/Bill Kostroun  ......
In this April 12, 2006, file photo Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson reacts during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball against the New Jersey Nets, in East Rutherford, N.J. Philadelphia 76ers president Ed Stefanski announced Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, on the team's Web site that Iverson will rejoining the 76ers. picture appears courtesy of AP/Photo/Bill Kostroun ......

With Iverson, having been formally signed by the team, they expect to make him to make his first appearance in the Sixers’ uniform on Monday. Then the team will formally reintroduce him as player back on their roster. And with the team’s record now at (5-13) within the Atlantic Division. The team now is looking up at the likes of the Boston Celtics (14-4), Toronto Raptors (7-12), beneath them the New York Knicks (4-14) and the woefully inept New Jersey Nets (0-17). The division itself , though not devoid of talent , might just be one of the weakest in all of the NBA, in terms of a real top flight team. Other than the Celtics and the somewhat inconsistent Raptors, there’s nothing there, that one would say is an entirely competitive team to watch. The Knicks remain an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum , even with Mike D’Antoni in tow as their coach. The Nets are proving that their problems are way beyond solving ,as of now. Much like the Middle East ‘peace process’ is at present, now. There’s no road map there to guide them. And by all accounts even with the aid of a compass and a map, Nets’ interim coach, Kiki Vanderweghe, will be hard pressed to lift this team off the scrap heap. Such are the vagaries of what we’re now seeing within the division.

If Iverson is to come and assist this team in being or providing some semblance of being competitive. Then , he’ll have to show that as the elder statesman on the roster, he’s prepared to show leadership skills and a great deal more maturity than he’s been showing as of late. Despite his fourteen years in the NBA, there’s still that ‘thug mentality’ and immaturity that’s still being shown by the player. The ‘baggage’ that he still continues to carry with him , despite his undoubted talents as a player will continue either drag him down, or that of an organization.

There’s no denying that Allen Iverson has the ‘heart of a lion’ and his willingness to compete is unlike any other. But what may well detract from his a player is his unwillingness to admit that he cannot do it all by himself and being prepared to put his trust in others and in particular those around him in the guise of his teammates. He’ll defer to others but only after he , himself feels that they’ll be prepared to reciprocate in a similar manner. And for the team at present , one has to look at the likes of Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand, Marcus Speights,Andre Iguodala , Rodney Carney, Jason Kapono and Thaddeus Young, can get along with a player of Iverson’s demeanor. Far be it for me to suggest otherwise but at the first hint of dissent from Iverson. The last thing that the Sixers’ organization could withstand , would be to follow suit in that of their erstwhile predecessors, who had to deal with Iverson at his worst. No one man can be an island but Iverson gives you the very best impression of being Robinson Crusoe at times without his ‘man Friday’. If it’s not about him than mightn’t be about anyone else to begin with.

Who can fail to forget his classic rant about practice ? If that’s not an indication as to what Iverson has been about over a large part of his career. Then, the world of the NBA may well have been asleep when he was on his very best behavior. It’s always good to have someone back in your home because they made you feel at peace, and it was gladly reciprocated by that individual. For Allen Iverson, it’s not so much thought of ‘returning home’ but the fact he felt the need to be loved and wanted by someone. No matter who they may well have been. Luckily enough for the player, the entity who’s now showing him ‘the love’ , is in fact the first port of call at the start of his professional career. The organization may well feel that they owe Iverson, something. But in reality , it really is the other way around. Allen Iverson owes the Philadelphia 76ers ‘a debt of gratitude’ for taking him at the start of his career and now for welcoming back with open arms , as his career now winds down formally to its inevitable close.

NB: Philadelphia 76ers roster

NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
42 Elton Brand F 6-9 254 03/11/1979 Duke 10
7 Primoz Brezec C 7-1 255 10/02/1979 Postojna, Slovenia 7
25 Rodney Carney G-F 6-7 205 04/05/1984 Memphis 3
1 Samuel Dalembert C 6-11 250 05/10/1981 Seton Hall 7
33 Willie Green G 6-3 201 07/28/1981 Detroit Mercy 6
11 Jrue Holiday G 6-4 180 06/12/1990 UCLA R
9 Andre Iguodala G-F 6-6 207 01/28/1984 Arizona 5
12 Royal Ivey G 6-4 215 12/20/1981 Texas 5
72 Jason Kapono F 6-8 215 02/04/1981 UCLA 6
14 Jason Smith F-C 7-0 240 03/02/1986 Colorado State 1
16 Marreese Speights F-C 6-10 245 08/04/1987 Florida 1
23 Louis Williams G 6-1 175 10/27/1986 South Gwinnett HS (Snellville, GA) 4
21 Thaddeus Young F 6-8 220 06/21/1988 Georgia Tech 2

HEAD COACH
Eddie Jordan (College – Rutgers)

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH
Mike O’Koren (College – North Carolina)

ASSISTANT COACHES
Randy Ayers (College – Miami (OH))
Jim Lynam (College – Saint Joseph’s)
Aaron McKie (College – Temple)

ATHLETIC TRAINER
Kevin N. Johnson (College – Indiana State)

ASSISTANT TRAINER
Scott Faust (College – Alabama-Huntsville)

Kobe You And Are I Going To Rule The World And We’ll Have the ‘Illest ‘ Rap Video Out There ! And Tell Kanye At The 2010 VMA’s We’d Appreciate His Support

As a child growing up in the West Indies, I can remember my grandmother telling me “…… what doesn’t hurt you , won’t kill you.” Imagine to my surprise then when I heard that the Los Angeles Lakers had signed the enfant-terrible’ Ron Artest . Now don’t get me wrong , as a player , I admire Artest for what he brings to the table. An unstoppable zest for the game and a zeal not too often seen from players with far more ability but even less heart. In many respects after the Kobe -Shaq era of unbridled success with the exception of the lopsided loss of an NBA championship series to the Detroit Pistons . The last thing one might have expected , was the for the Lakers to have made a full court press and to have acquired Artest as a free agent.

Kobe  Bryant  (left) and   newly  minted  teammate  Ron  Artest   picture  appears   courtesy  of  reuters /  Mike   Blake  ..............................
Kobe Bryant (left) and newly minted teammate Ron Artest picture appears courtesy of reuters / Mike Blake ..............................

And if one remembers at the time , that Lakers’ team had enough egos on it , that it would’ve made more sense to have five separate balls on the court . Rather than them all having to share one apiece. You had Kobe Bryant , Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Karl Malone and last but not least Derek Fisher.

From  left  to  right  Gary Payton,  Shaquille O'Neal,  Karl  Malone  ,  Kobe  Bryant   and   Rick  Fox.   All  have   a  forelorn   upon them as  they began  to    realize  that   the  improbable  and  the   inevitable was  about to  happen.   They  would   lose  the  NBA  Final   series  to  the  Eastern  Conference's  Detroit  Pistons.       picture  appears  courtesy  of   getty  images /    Mitchell   Russell  ........................
From left to right Gary Payton, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone , Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox. All have a forelorn upon them as they began to realize that the improbable and the inevitable was about to happen. They would lose the NBA Final series to the Eastern Conference's Detroit Pistons. picture appears courtesy of getty images / Mitchell Russell ........................

There’s a saying that oil and water don’t mix . And in the case of adding Malone and Payton into the mix. Whilst on paper , it may well have all looked good. And the NBA pundits were saying that the Lakers at the time were “a sure thing thing to win to win it all “. The fact of the matter was the Lakers were too cock sure of themselves. And as the complacency set in , so too did the acrimony between the quartet of superstars on the team. What transpired in those NBA Finals was a lesson as why the old adage stills holds true. “Too many Chiefs not enough Indians .”

Lakers'  coach  Phil  Jackson  speaks  to  the   members  of  the  media   at  a  news  conference   at the   team's   training  facility  in  El  Segundo  ,  California.      The  team   now  embarks  on the  defense  of  their  2008-09   NBA  title.    picture  appears courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Nick  Ut  ..................
Lakers' coach Phil Jackson speaks to the members of the media at a news conference at the team's training facility in El Segundo , California. The team now embarks on the defense of their 2008-09 NBA title. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Nick Ut ..................

And the NBA Finals 2003-04 truly set the Lakers apart from other teams that’ve made the NBA Finals. Point blank favorites they would succumb to the Pistons in a rout unprecedented in its execution and precision. The Lakers’ players were made to look languid and very much like a group of aged geriatrics who knowingly looked out of place. And at the end of it all the Pistons would triumph with an emphatic 4-1 series win and with Chauncey Billups being named Finals’ Series MVP.

Kobe  Bryant  speaks to  members  of  the  media   at the  team's   media  day  at  the   opening  of  their  training   camp  at  the  Toyota  Center   ,  the  team's training   facililty  in  El  Segundo  ,  California.     The   Finals  MVP  of  last  year  is   relishing  the  challenge  of   opening   up  the   2009-10  season  as  the   defending   NBA  champions  and   is  looking  to   successfully   defend  that  title.       picture  appears  courtesy  of   nbae/getty  images/  Evan  Gole   ................
Kobe Bryant speaks to members of the media at the team's media day at the opening of their training camp at the Toyota Center , the team's training facililty in El Segundo , California. The Finals MVP of last year is relishing the challenge of opening up the 2009-10 season as the defending NBA champions and is looking to successfully defend that title. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Evan Gole ................

Courtesy of nbcsports.com and The Orange County Register

Kobe, Lakers must be even hungrier to repeat

‘Our focus is on getting better. It’s not really on replicating what we did’

By Kevin Ding Orange County Register

You might’ve forgotten, and Kobe Bryant almost has by now, but the Lakers broke through for a championship not too long ago … and had some trouble when they reconvened for the first time to defend it.

It was the 2000-01 season, and it was the first time Bryant’s feud with Shaquille O’Neal spread to the public consciousness.

O’Neal had a traditional plan that they could just replay the previous season; Bryant came back with new muscles to flex. Two-and-a-half months into the schedule, they were sniping through the media about Bryant overdoing his offense and O’Neal dogging it on defense.

The issue, as described back then by one Phil Jackson, was this about Bryant: “Some nights he’s in balance. Some nights it’s over the edge with trying to find how he can do a little bit better.”

In the end, Bryant hiked his scoring average from 22.5 points to 28.5 (more than he averaged in either of the past two seasons, by the way) and infused the Lakers with a fire they needed to become a far better team.

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In order to read Kevin Ding’s article in its entirety just click on the link provided
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Ron  Artest   of the  Los  Angeles  Lakers   poses   for  his  official  team  photograph  at  the  team's  training  facility   in  El  Segundo,  California.    Artest   brings along  a  great  deal  of  veteran   experience  and  it's   hoped   leadership   that'll   prove  invaluable  alongside  that   of    his  teammate  Kobe  Bryant.      picture  appears courtesy  of  nbae/getty  images/   Juan Ocampo    ......................
Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for his official team photograph at the team's training facility in El Segundo, California. Artest brings along a great deal of veteran experience and it's hoped leadership that'll prove invaluable alongside that of his teammate Kobe Bryant. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Juan Ocampo ......................

Now come full circle, after the Lakers’ overwhelming triumph over the outmaneuvered and overwhelmed Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals of the 2008-09 season. Whereby, the Lakers secured their fifteenth NBA title and their coach Phil Jackson , his tenth . All it’s said had to be right in “Lakerland”. However , the tremors were there for all to witness, as the negotiations started in earnest for the renewal of contracts for players who were part of the team’s triumph. Lamar Odom it was suggested , that he was no longer a valid part of the team. And for Trevor Ariza , he felt that he deserved not only more playing time but also more money. For the Lakers’ hierarchy, a decision had to be made . And that laid in the hands of not only the owner , Dr. Jerry Buss . But also that of Phil Jackson and the team’s GM, Mitch Kupchak.

Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak speaks about what he feels that Ron Artest can provide for the Lakers as a player. The GM also speaks about the loss of Trevor Ariza , who signed with the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

Much to everyone’s surprise Ariza was allowed to flee and he signed with the Houston Rockets . Odom was re-signed by the team. But low and behold , within their midst came Ron Artest , hoping to pursue his goal of winning an NBA championship. And that comes with baggage included no doubt ? The question might now have to ask, is whether or not Artest can acclimatize himself amongst his new-found teammates and not become a disruptive distraction. We all found it somewhat surprising that during the playoffs with the Rockets , that he alongside Aaron Brooks ,showed leadership and played with a great deal of aplomb and zeal. And though the team’s heroic effort came up short , it showed Ron Artest in a light not previously seen before. That was with a Rockets team that didn’t have the services of either Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming for the playoffs. Yao Ming was lost prior to start of those playoffs. And McGrady as we know , well he’s about as soft as they come and then some !

The Los Angeles Lakers are most certainly looking to repeat as NBA champions. And if anything, they will be looked upon as the presumptive favorites within the Western Conference of the NBA. Though it has to be said that the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks , New Orleans > Hornets, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns would all like to think of themselves as noteworthy candidates to assume that mantel as favorites. But in all honesty, it is the Lakers who definitely have the most well rounded roster and the ability to win it all, of the favored representatives in the conference. That’s got to be the case with the addition of Ron Artest. He gives the team an additional offensive option beyond Bryant , Odom and Pau Gasol . And at the same time his defensive play cannot be questioned , as he’s amongst the very best in the game.

Lamar  Odom   of  the  Lakers   seen  here  at  the   team's   training   faclity    the  Toyota  Center   doing   some   pre-game   warmup  exercises.     The   player  was   re-signed   by  the  team    in  the   hopes  of   boosting  their  chances  of   repeating  as   NBA  champions.         picture  appears  courtesy  of   nbae/getty images/  Andrew   D.  Bernstein  .....................
Lamar Odom of the Lakers seen here at the team's training faclity the Toyota Center doing some pre-game warmup exercises. The player was re-signed by the team in the hopes of boosting their chances of repeating as NBA champions. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Andrew D. Bernstein .....................

And while there’s no doubt that in many people’s eyes the Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat. In the Eastern Conference the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic would like to feel that they’ll be able to negate those thoughts. If nothing else they’ll do their utmost to prove that the supremacy of the NBA just doesn’t reside in the West but like a pendulum it tends to swing both ways.

As to what now lies ahead for Artest and his new teammates. The whole NBA world awaits as to what may well materialize. None more so than the fans of the Lakers , who now feel that even with the loss of Ariza . They are now in much better shape than before . As to what this’ll also mean for Kobe Bryant. One can surmise that the player is no doubt happy with outcome. Let’s just hope that two won’t at all be pursuing a joint recording and rap career . God knows we’ve had to suffer the indignity of listening to Bryant rap , much less the indecipherable mono-toned absurdities of Artest. It’ll be better for all of us , if they just let their ballin’ on the court speak for itself , wouldn’t you say ?