Winners Are Often Made But The Again They Can Be Born

Winners Are Often Made But Then Again They Can
Be Born

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

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Slide show for your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jon Connor ………… feat’g ………. Elite …………. ‘Keep Your Head Up’

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You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks ………….. But Can Someone Teach The Knicks How To Win ?

You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks ………….. But Can Someone Teach The Knicks How To Win ?

With the vast majority of the teams now within the NBA having but a mere 12 games left before the culmination of the regular season a number of the teams in question are looking to make that final push to place themselves within the playoff picture. That may well be all well and good but there are some teams thought to be certainties who are now turning their runs into something of an unmitigated disaster. I’ve simply looked at the New York Knicks since the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and Lord knows as bad as this team was before the trade they’re simply appear to be getting worse by the very second . This team is now two games under .500 and in their last 10 games they’ve posted an abysmal 3-7 record . How anyone can believe that this Mike D’Antoni coached team can actually do something within the playoffs is beyond me.

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I know the saying is ………..”God don’t like ugly ” but truth be known I think that God would want to bitch slap the Knicks back into last week if not further back that’s for sure ! Anthony as much as he’s said to have contributed to the team and the excitement at Madison Square Gardens I am now beginning to think that GM Donnie Walsh may not have made a blundering mistake but I do believe that he gave up way to much for a play whose game is so one dimensional . Apart from Anthony you now have a player in Amar’e Stoudemire whose early season performances may well have seen him viewed as a viable candidate for the league MVP this season . Unfortunately with the Knicks’ play having fallen off …… literally off side of a cliff I’m not so sure that the NBA writers around the league will still look upon his candidacy as a viable one.

Though I do believe that the New York Knicks will indeed make the playoffs that’s if the remainder of their season doesn’t implode I can’t see them being beyond a 5th or 6th seed within the Eastern Conference . They’ve simply not played consistently enough over their last dozen or more games to be even considered legitimate contenders within their division much less the conference. Ahead of them in the standings within the conference are Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics , Miami Heat , Orlando Magic , Atlanta Hawks , Philadelphia 76ers with the Knicks , themselves holding down the seventh seed in the standings followed by the eighth seeded Indiana Pacers over whom the Knicks hold a 3 1/2 game lead.

That cushion should afford the New York Knicks to comfortably play themselves back into some semblance of consistency but the team’s inherent problems stems from the fact that defensively they just leave a great deal to be desired , it has and will always be their Achilles’ heel and lead to their inevitable downfall . And it is one of things that I continually find annoying about Mike DAntoni as a coach as he seemingly refuses to address the situation as to his team’s lack of defensive capability. He simply seems to remain under the impression that the team can outscore an opponent at will and that is clearly not the case given their 7-3 record over their last ten games.

The one great advantage perhaps that the team has is that in Anthony and Stoudemire they do have two prodigious scorers and with Stoudemire’s rebounding prowess on both ends of the floor it gives them somewhat an evenness and sense of fluidity. But herein lies the caveat to this team it doesn’t help if no one else is prepared to pick up the slack as and when needed. And while the fans seem to be in awe of the Knicks’ alleged relevance once again within the NBA , it could become something of a short-lived renaissance should they not even have a comfortable run in the playoffs. Doubt my word , wait watch and see if it doesn’t all pan out as I envisage it will ?

One of the more surprising stories of the season I feel within the Eastern Conference apart from the Chicago Bulls and the play in particular of Derrick Rose has been the mini resurgence of the Philadelphia 76ers ( 76Eers ) who are now coached Doug Collins . Who knew that there’d be an life after the abrupt retirement of Allen Iverson from the organization ? President & CEO Ed Snider along with GM Rod Thorn , his Exec VP Ed Stefanski and Manager Tony DiLeo seem to have lifted this team out of the rubble after its implosion last season when the team finished with a 27-55 record within the Eastern Conference . This season the Sixers will exceed that mark having already posted their thirty fourth win of season and they now sit at 2 games over .500 with a 37-34 mark within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference .

Much of the team’s improvement this season rests squarely with Doug Collins and is coaching staff where he’s ably assisted by lead assistant Michael Curry . But it has also been the veteran leadership now being shown by Elton Brand in leading this young roster and we’re now beginning to see Andre Iguodala finally flourish and actually show some of that potential that many have felt that he long had. But if anything it has been a collective effort by the team as a whole where they now sit in their present position of being the sixth seed in the East and where there’s a growing confidence amongst the younger players such as Jrue Holiday , Marreese Speights and their rookie first round draft pick Evan Turner who’s showing the promise first on view as a member of Thad Matta’s 2010 Ohio State Buckeyes team .

From my own perspective I can’t see the Sixers going deep into the playoffs should they still retain their seeding up until the culmination of the regular season . A potential first round match-up against the LeBron James led Miami Heat may well have the smell of an upset but unless the Heat come out ice cold then I can’t see the Sixers parlaying that first round series into an outright upset ! And even though I have my own doubts about the Miami Heat I for one can’t see James , or Erik Spoelstra , much less Heat team President Pat Riley letting that scenario rear its ugly head at the AA Arena at the beginning of that series. If that were to happen then the Heat would be booed out of the arena by their very own fans and they’d be ridiculed for such an inept display were they to lose the series.

Now as the regular season winds down it’s going to be interesting to see how the fates pan out for both the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers . One on appearance seems to have over achieved whereas the other seems to be unsure as to its immediate future in terms of its play , goals and expectations. This much is certain failure for the Knicks and they’re still going to be thought of as the NBA’s answer to the New York Mets ……….. just a bunch money laden wannabes ! Both organizations’ only real claim to success has been to boast about their history rather than anything that they’ve achieved in recent years . Can't really put it anymore succinctly than that !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thought if any do you have as to the postseason for either the Knicks and Sixers ? And what expectations do you have as to that of the other prospective teams vying for a playoff spot ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this and any other topic as it relates to the NBA .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……….

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) New York Yankees’ Bernie Williams performs the national anthem before the New York Knicks play the Orlando Magic in an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …..

(2) Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (12) loses control as he drives past New York Knicks’ Chauncey Billups (4) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in New York. Howard scored 33 points as the Magic won the game 111-99 . AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ………….

(3) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, right, shoots over Orlando Magic’s Quentin Richardson (partially obscured) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in New York. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II ……….

(4) New York Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire (1) drives past Orlando Magic’s Ryan Anderson (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II …………

(5) Philadelphia 76ers’ Thaddeus Young, right, reaches for a rebound against Atlanta Hawks’ Josh Smith in the half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 105-100 . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ………….

(6) Philadelphia 76ers’ Elton Brand, center, goes up for a rebound between Atlanta Hawks’ Josh Smith, left, and Zaza Pachulia, of Georgia, in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 23, 2011, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 105-100. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …….

(7) Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner, right, drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert , left, during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday March 18, 2011. The 76ers won 102-80 . AP Photo ……………..

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New York Knicks roster

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Philadelphia 76ers’ roster

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Stats shown below also show avg’s per game

NBA Leading scorers

NBA Leading rebounder

NBA Leader in assists APG

NBA Leader in Double-Doubles

NBA Leader in Free Throw Pct

NBA Leader in Pts/Reb’s/ Asst’s

NBA Leader in steals

NBA Playoff Picture

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Santana ……………… “Samba Pa Ti”

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Busty English model … Lucy Pinder

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