Shut the fu#k up and let me finish !

Shut the fu#k up and let me finish !

It is something of a distressing time in the world of sports, as the legal ramifications of Aaron Hernandez’s legal menagerie along with his two accomplices, simply reaches all too low levels of what is now seen as a sordid and all too compulsive situation. The NFL has once again been punched in the eye and stomach , though the game is not yet down for the count . Unfortunately, the league hierarchy , team owners and union (NFLPA) simply have not learned a damn thing after this latest incident . So, it would be remiss not to say that there will be another event that will undoubtedly capture the fans and nation`s attention at some point in the future . It will be interesting to see what steps if any will be taken by Roger Goodell and the teams , as things begin to play out . The legal aspects of to this case , are not all that difficult to figure out as it relates to the defendants and how the attorneys for both sides will seek to portray the events leading up to the death of Odin Loyd .

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Certainly, the statements now being attributed to New England Patriots` owner Robert Kraft do seem rather petulant and infantile; when one considers that, the franchise drafted the now disgraced Hernandez in 2010 . The front office was simply drooling over the talented player, out of the University of Florida . Gators` head coach Urban Meyer, was said to be pleased with the player`s promotion to the NFL ranks . Yet, what it did, was to hide a deep underlying trait of deviant behavior, by several players on the Gators` roster from that season . It was also the willingness of Meyer`s staff and that of AD Jeremy Foley to completely turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of Aaron Hernandez and others over the course of Meyer`s reign , as the coach of the football program.

The fact that Robert Kraft is now seeking to suggest that e and the Patriots` organization were duped by Aaron Hernandez and the player`s agent , simply speaks to the inane stupidity of the NFL , the owners and the front office staffs around the league . At what point were the staff of Bill Belichick and GM Nick Caserio not aware of Aaron Hernandez`s prior entanglements with law enforcement and what sort of in-depth background checks were actually in place and used by this now once reputable franchise ?

As an avid New England Patriots` fan , now watching the inner most revelations , now coming to the fore and placing an even bigger blight on its image as well as that of the NFL. It was one thing to see the idiocy of the management in allowing the team`s most productive player over the past five seasons, when Wes Welker was allowed to leave. Yet, here was Robert Kraft, once again seeking to apportion blame elsewhere, because of the inane stupidity shown by Nick Caserio and the coaching staff.

Tom Brady , the franchise’s best player since 2001, took it upon himself to free up $9 million in cap space in order to allow the Patriots to retain the well-respected wide receiver. Alas, Welker sought to sign with the Denver Broncos and become an additional weapon for Peyton Manning . Now while a great deal was made of the Patriots acquiring Tim Tebow, which if anything, was more of a sign of desperation rather than an act of necessity . And this preposterous belief that Tebow , as a player given his resume` would be of benefit to a franchise such as the Jacksonville Jaguars , purely because of his popularity in the state of Florida, is simply asinine ! Tim Tebow, as a draw anywhere, is like to going to the circus simply out of curiosity . The novelty will soon wear off, as it will, concerning the under-achieving quarterback, even if he has Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks` coach . In all honesty , Tebow could very well ending being one of the biggest busts in NFL history , and that is with due respect to the likes of Heath Shuler , Tim Couch , Vince Young , JaMarcus Russell , Akili Smith and Carson Palmer .

As to the upcoming season for the Patriots from their preseason schedule to their opening day regular season game , it will be interesting to see how this newly guise team will fare . At best , I cannot see the Patriots surpassing season`s 12-4 record/ and then the clarity of their play in the postseason , until what turned to be a disastrous showing against the Baltimore Ravens , where the opposing quarterback, Joe Flacco was simply at his very best . Flacco and his teammates , in that second-half display laid siege on a Patriots` defense that has been the franchise’s weakness over the past four seasons. If the team once again sows its fallibility, concerning its secondary is once again on display in spite of free agent acquisitions and their 2013 draft class could very well be a determining factor as to how things will play out for the New England Patriots.

If ever there was a moment for a college football coach to simply shut up and either tell the truth, rather than come across as a buffoon . Then clearly, Urban Meyer now seeking to distance himself from much of the trouble created during his tenure of the Florida Gators` football program . Meyer, suggested that a great many of the issues and incidents that took place, which saw numerous arrests , allegations of cheating , team rules` violations , and the criminal infractions , were all said to have taken place off campus, or as he denotes beyond the reach and scope of the campus authority . Perhaps, it is me , but Meyer is now taking liberties, in seeking to disparage his former employer . Having succeeded Jim Tressel at Ohio State , a program where Tressel was a conduit some of the most serious program and NCAA violations in recent collegiate athletics . The fact that Buckeyes AD Gene Smith and university President Dr. E Gordon Gee stood steadfastly by the then beleaguered and disgraced coach shows the type aloofness and malevolent corruption that is widespread and rampant across the landscape of college sports . Tressel repeatedly lied to the school’s trustees, as well as to Smith and Gee to the misdeeds of the players under his jurisdiction. .

E Gordon Gee, for his part, has been critical of anyone he deems beneath the Ohio State program . And it has been Gee`s ongoing itinerant and all too embarrassing tirades that could very well see him removed from his post as the school’s top administrator .

Does anyone now truly believe that the NCAA has the wherewithal to clean up almighty mess ? NCAA President Mark Emmert is seemingly powerless to actually do anything noteworthy as collegiate athletics top administrator, while seeking to strengthen the structure of his institution .

Well, the talk of the NBA world, has been the departure of Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers as an unrestricted free agent to sign with the Houston Rockets . Team owner, Leslie Alexander pulled out all of the stops along with head coach Kevin McHale , GM Daryl Morey and James Harden . The fact that the center made the decision to leave Los Angeles , is more than indication that Howard , did not fit on a team where he simply was not sure of his role under Mike DAntoni , head coach of the Los Angeles` franchise . To further emphasize , what even the most docile of Lakers` fans were simply unwilling to admit , has been the testy relationship between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant . Anyone who failed to acknowledge that fact , clearly chose to ignore the dichotomy between the two players. Bryant has been often described, as an egotistical, selfish and narcissistic individual who simply cares about no one but himself . That may well be true, but how would you describe Dwight Howard and the perception that fans now view the player under ?

James Harden , will now be joined by Dwight Howard, on a team that this past season , was one of the most explosive offenses in the league . Harden, further emphasized his growth as a player, while it can only be suggested that the player was sorely missed on an Oklahoma City Thunder team that fell short of expectations during the postseason . Kevin Martin , considered a serviceable player, it was clear that his insertion unto the team showed how sorely missed James Harden was said to be. Martin was not able to emulate the scoring prowess shown by the player he replaced, and to my mind, Thunder GM Sam Presti , erred, . when the player was allowed to leave the franchise prior to the start of this past season .

The Houston Rockets are well placed this upcoming season to make a solid run and perhaps be seen as one top contenders within the Western Conference . As to the financial commitment made by the Rockets may to their newest acquisition , it could very well be seen as one of the more ostentatious deals made in the NBA during this off-season.

At this point of the season , baseball will soon be celebrating their mid-season showcase event. The 2013 MLB All Star Game will be held at Citi-Field in Flushing, New York, with a New York crowd looking to celebrate in a big way. The talk seems to be whether or not the Los Angeles Dodgers` …. Yasiel Puig should be on the NL roster . While having an outstanding season , it does seem somewhat ridiculous that fans are calling for Puig`s player`s inclusion after a mere thirty-three games. Impressive stats , being what they are , but when assessing a Dodgers` team that as of Monday night , at two games under .500 with a 43-45 mark , good enough for second place in the NL West . The real issue now facing the team is whether they can win the division and guarantee themselves a postseason berth . It is clear , that after last season`s disappointment , Don Mattingly and his managerial staff may well be on the clock , before a decision is made concerning his future. It will be now, or never , for Mattingly and this high-priced of stars , and how they seek to redeem themselves .

Two years ago, the Milwaukee Brewers` Ryan Braun celebrated winning baseball`s biggest regular season individual honor in winning the NL MVP . Braun , a multiple All Star, and the best player on a Brewers` roster , for a franchise, that views the player as a homegrown hero . Ryan Braun`s name was associated with the stain of steroids , and from what appears to be the utter stupidity shown by the testing facility , in not properly storing the player`s test samples. Braun was able to escape a suspension. An arbitration hearing upheld Ryan Braun`s appeal to have his fifty-game for a first time offense. All along, in pleading his innocence, Braun felt that his actions paved the way the hearing to go his way, and to show that baseball was simply on a witch-hunt, as well over-reaching with their powers . A mere two years later, Braun, Alex Rodriguez , Nelson Cruz and a slew of other players are the focus of another investigation of rampant steroid use within the game. Once again, Bud Selig and his office , comes across looking like bumbling buffoons .

The claims made by the MLB commissioner, that baseball , has the most stringent of testing policy, is proving to be a fallacy . And with the latest admission by Biogenesis proprietor and founder Antony Bosch , that has supplied as many as sixty players with steroids , as well several other performance enhancing substances , does beg the question , what is it that baseball itself , is not doing ? And why is it , that they have failed so miserably to stem the tide of steroid abuse not only at the Major League Level but also at the Minor League Level , where the use of PED`s is even more widespread ?

Braun in the accompaniment of his agent Nev Balelo and an attorney , met with the investigators from MLB to discuss whether or not he ad at any time been supplied steroids or any other prohibitive substances banned by the league hierarchy . The player was said to be uncooperative, refusing to answer the five questions he was initially subjected to . When a further question posed as to his known association with Tony Bosch , Braun was once again unresponsive , and subsequently left the MLB headquarters , again, with his name being under a cloud of suspicion . Of the thirteen players, said to have met with the league`s investigators , eleven , are said to have initially cooperated , in answering some of the questions posed . As to what this may well mean , once the ongoing investigation reaches a finality . One can only speculate as to the course of action that may well be considered and taken , should Bud Selig and the MLB hierarchy members believe it appropriate to suspend these players for any length of time . The suspensions being considered are in the region of between fifty games to one hundred games , but it is rumored that the league would like to send a clear and strong message with a one hundred-game suspension , that would be the starting point for any punishment rendered . Any such penalties, are likely to wreak havoc upon the teams where many of these players are now assisting in their ball-clubs` title hopes . From my own standpoint , Bud Selig has simply dragged his feet with this process , albeit, that the US Justice Department is also investigating Bosch and his now defunct company . That being said , with the already haphazard handling of previous cases by the Justice Department in this specific arena , and that of baseball . My own misgivings, are that we are likely to see new levels of incompetency , beyond anything yet shown by Bud Selig and his minions .

New York Yankees` third baseman Alex Rodriguez is likely to meet with the league`s investigators prior to mid-season break for the All Star Game . Rodriguez undergoing rehab, has yet to make an appearance this season for the still struggling Yankees . The consensus seems to be , if the player is met with a 100 game suspension , then in all likelihood , his career with the franchise is likely to come to an abrupt end , with the front office , quite possibly seeking to void the remainder of the approximately $104 million still owed to Alex Rodriguez.

Given Rodriguez`s proclivity for being less than truthful. I truly believe that he too, will be uncooperative in this investigation , while still trying to proclaim his innocence in terms of any wrongdoing . As if we needed a reminder as to his first go-around concerning the use of PED`s . This now seems to be a dance that the fans have become accustomed to seeing , while we are not too sure what the outcome may well be . Bud Selig is now seeking to regain a great deal of power lost to the union . Yet my response would be , what the fuck does the MLBPA (union) care to begin with ? I mean, it is not as if they have at any time, sought to be at the forefront of ridding the game of illicit substances , in spite of ambiguous collective bargaining agreement .
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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the salient points within this piece? Simply, leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site .

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(1) Mike Davies, right, of Norfolk, Mass., wears his New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez football jersey one last time while waiting in an exchange line outside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, July 6, 2013. Fans may trade an Aaron Hernandez jersey with his name on it they purchased for one of another player on the NFL team. The team released Hernandez after he was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the death of Odin Lloyd. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …..

(2) Fans wait in a checkout line inside the New England Patriots store at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., after exchanging their Aaron Hernandez football jerseys, Saturday, July 6, 2013. Fans may trade an Aaron Hernandez jersey they purchased for one of another player on the NFL team. The team released Hernandez after he was arrested for allegedly orchestrating the death of Odin Lloyd. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer …

(3) New England Patriots` owner Robert Kraft , left , is seen here with Aaron Hernandez at the team`s training facility in Foxborough , Massachusetts . The player was cut by the franchise after he was arraigned and indicted in the murder of Odin Lloyd. The owner in his first public statement , stated that he felt duped by Aaron Hernandez and was saddened for Lloyd`s family and their loss. Yet when pressed on the issue as why the player was drafted by franchise in 2010 , even after it was noted that the Hernandez had been plagued by off-the field issues concerning alleged criminal behavior. Kraft was not responsive in answering the questions posed . AP Photo / Chris Cameron ….

(4) Ohio State Buckeyes` football coach Urban Meyer is seen here addressing the convened press . Meyer seeking to deflect any negative chatter directed towards his being concerning and is handling of off the field issues of the players while at the University of Florida . The two-time winning national championship coach went as far as to suggest, that the players` behavior were not his responsibility and a great many of the incidents that took place were beyond the scope of the faculty and the athletics department . Getty Images / Paul Ross …

(5) Dwight Howard , left , is seen here with his new teammate James Harden . The two players will provide a formidable front-court for the franchise . Howard signed a four-year $88 million deal with the Houston Rockets . MMI Inc.

(6) Alex Rodriguez . left , and Ryan Braun are two of the central figures in the latest saga of steroids now seemingly raising its head once again within the world baseball . Braun met with the league`s investigators and the player was uncooperative with the investigators and the questions posed. Rodriguez is due to meet with the league officials on Friday , and it is not known how the third baseman is likely to respond . @ copyrighted material …. MLB.com MLB Properties .

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I’m all about the Benjamin’s but f#ck this !

I’m all about the Benjamin’s but f#ck this !

By Tophatal

So with the opening week of the NBA only three days away , the salvo heard around the league is that of the Oklahoma City Thunder trading away their Sixth Man of the Year , James Harden . The player who won Olympic gold , being a member of Team USA at the London Olympics , was also a member of the Thunder’s roster who lost a lopsided series (4-1) to the Miami Heat , in the 2012 NBA Finals . The deal involved Harden as a center piece of what has to be said , is something is a lopsided trade that favors the Oklahoma City Thunder .

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In what appear to be too long a protracted deal between Harden’s agent Rob </a</a</a</aPelinka and Sam Presti, general manager of the Western Conference champions . The agent sought a max contract , befitting of his client, that would see the player being offered a 5 year $60 million deal . However, it appears that the small market Thunder , in spite the rise in their acclaim fan-base and growing prominence within the league, the decision was made to deny Pelinka’s request on behalf of his client. With the deal now a nonstarter , the Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey approached the Thunder with a way out that appeared amenable to all of the parties concerned. Morey’s offer was a trade of the expiring contract of Kevin Martin and the franchise’s 2012 first round draft pick ——- Jeremy Lamb , in exchange for James Harden. Also thrown in to further “sweeten “ the deal, would be the fact that the Thunder would get two first round draft picks for 2013 and 2014. Anyone with an ounce of common sense , can see that the Oklahoma City Thunder has gotten the better end of this deal. Harden, may well be going to play alongside Jeremy Lin , but the move only marginally makes the Rockets better. In return , coach Scott Brooks gets a proven scorer , in Kevin Martin , and a player in, Jeremy Lamb , a focused young rookie , who has proven his worth as a member of the 2011 NCAA national championship team , the U Conn Huskies. Whether or not the addition of Lamb and Martin , gives a new resolve to Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka , remains to be seen . Anyone who believes that this trade makes the Oklahoma City Thunder , considerably weaker, then they should consider asking themselves what are gains and then disadvantages to this deal?

This trade may well prove to be fortuitous for the Oklahoma City Thunder , but at the same time , one has to question what this now does to the dynamics as it relates to the makeup of the roster , from last season to now ? Harden , Kevin Durant , and Russell Westbrook made up a formidable offensive threat with their scoring capabilities , and the intangibles brought by Harden on both ends of the floor . The addition of Martin provides an additional scorer for the team , and with Jeremy Lamb beginning to show that he is capable of playing the NBA , after a successful career with the U Conn Huskies’ program , it would appear that Sam Presti , could very well be unto something in terms of this trade.

As many of you might have been recently be made aware , NBA Commissioner , David Stern , will step down from his position , a role that he has held for the past three decades. The commissioner, intends to step down in February , 2014, and will be succeeded by his deputy , Adam Silver. In the three decades that Stern has presided over the league , the NBA’s revenues have grown exponentially , as the values of the teams within this enterprise, have risen to unprecedented heights. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks remain two of the leagues more forceful franchise , while also being amongst the most valuable .

While I have admired Stern from afar as being the consummate businessman , in recent years many of his decisions have become a boon to the NBA franchise who now struggle to eke out a profit . And seated at the head of the table, are the New York Knicks , who are followed by the Lakers in terms of profitability and revenues . In recent years, a number of teams have struggled due to their not being fiscally responsible. David Stern would have us believe that the problems that have ensued primarily came about due to a dour economy , but when question as to why the franchises have significantly chosen to increase their budgetary expenditure with regard to team payrolls , while not making an attempt to rein in costs, the commissioner’s response have been somewhat nonsensical and almost unbelievably naïve . Yet , somehow Stern , the NBA hierarchy and team owners have a fashioned a response to so many of their woes, by apportioning blame upon the NBPA (Players’ Union) for the league’s ills. The NBA’s handling of their forced lockout that curtailed and cut short the season from 82 games to sixty-six , left many wondering, if David Stern’s ego had got the better of him. And even after an agreement, which many of the league’s top analysts believed to be amenable , there still remains a growing distrust between Billy Hunter’s members and the league hierarchy.

Big bold season ahead for the 2012-13 season and with a rash of offseason moves made by the teams, and now the questions being asked . Can LeBron James reign supreme over the league once again, winning the NBA’s biggest individual awards, while leading the Miami Heat in making a successful defense of their NBA title? And will Derrick Rose make a successful return to the NBA, while the Chicago Bulls looks to redeem themselves after last year’s postseason demise in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Rose’s injury , and coach Tom Thibodeau’s indecision during that series , led many to believe that the Bulls’ run would be short-lived.

This season, the Chicago Bulls will be without Rose, for their first twenty to thirty five games , as he seeks to make a full recovery , having undergone knee surgery. While the Bulls’ best player remains sequestered on the sidelines , it will be left to the likes of Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich , and Luol Deng , to take up the slack and steer the team back to winning ways. Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM John Paxson were no doubt tremendously disappointed in the way the team succumbed the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs in losing that first round series 4-2.

The common feeling amongst the fans and most NBA analysts, is that the Chicago Bulls will remain legitimate contenders , but a stalwart such as the Boston Celtics , alongside the New York Knicks , Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets will be part of the Eastern Conference’s postseason fare during the 2012-13 schedule.

Of the teams mentioned perhaps the most intriguing might just be the Brooklyn Nets . Having removed from New Jersey to Brooklyn, New York, into the NBA’s newest venue , the Barclaycard Center , an almost $600 million edifice , built with the height of opulence, for even the most discerning of fans. Team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov , general manager Billy King and head coach Avery Johnson have seen fit to revamp the roster with the addition of a number of free agents along with the team’s insertion of their draft choices . The biggest acquisition made was that of Joe Johnson along with the $60 million still owed to the player over the three remaining years of his existing contract. I’ve read a number of pieces breaking down why the Nets will be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season . The consensus is that this remains Deron Williams’ team, whose leadership skills and arguably his playing ability will have to be at his optimum best if the Nets are to mount a serious challenge against the Bulls, Celtics and Heat , this upcoming season. If the Nets can prevail over the Big Three within the conference , as well as the other contenders within the Atlantic Division , the franchise’s domiciled division.

Now while a great deal of the offseason news tribulations of a number of franchises were well chronicled , perhaps the biggest story, just happened to be the Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic . Howard , was not the only All Star to have joined the renowned Los Angeles franchise , as Mitch Kupchak engineered the smooth maneuver to obtain p two-time league MVP Steve Nash. Nash’s acquisition will give the Lakers one of the best back-courts in the NBA , with the former Phoenix Suns’ point guard joining Kobe Bryant, to create a formidable force for this team. Head coach, Mike Brown, for his part knew that this team failed miserably last season , with far too much pressure being placed upon the lofty shoulders of Bryant , while many of his teammates stood idly by. Having won five championships with the franchise, Kobe Bryant remains hungry for that sixth championship ring, that would place him alongside his idol , Michael Jordan , whose six championships with the Bulls , six Finals’ MVP , and six regular season MVP awards , cements Jordan as the greatest player to have ever graced the NBA stage. Bryant will upon his retirement will be a shoo-in for the Naismith Hall of Fame .

The Western Conference , this season I believe will be a monumental dogfight between the Los Angeles Lakers , Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs . As the Western Conference champions , the Thunder will have a tough task on their hands to make a successful defense of that title. As teams chase postseason glory , it will incumbent upon the coaches , general managers and the league hierarchy itself to provide the NBA fans with a product that they will find to their liking. A truncated season in 2012 , led to poor play in a number of games , but what cannot be denied is the very fact that injuries played a large part in determining the season. David Stern tried to suggest that was not the case , even in light of the evidence that suggested to the contrary. The commissioner has served the NBA well , working in conjunction with major corporate sponsors , some of which are amongst the biggest companies on the NYSE and that venerable publication Fortune Magazine. But it was undoubtedly Stern’s keen instinct to realize an asset and then use that asset to great effect. Michael Jordan , was “ King Midas” , for the league, as the player’s fame and notoriety was elevated . The commissioner made sure that he was able to ride on Jordan’s coattails, as the NBA brand became a worldwide phenomenon , easily outstripping the popularity of the NFL, and what was said to be America’s pastime , baseball(MLB) . Granted, the NFL, remains a $7.5 billion business annually, in terms of its revenue , while baseball peaks at $7 billion , with the NBA’s own revenues topping out at $4.345 billion . But by for sheer brand recognition , it is the NBA that now has the clout that the NFL and baseball could only wish they possessed. I would have mentioned the NHL , but that remains a sport that repeatedly over the past two decades has shot itself in the foot , and seems completely bereft of common sense and amongst its hierarchy , franchise owners and union (NHLPA). Beyond that , there is not much more that needs to be said , concerning the sport of ice hockey, as the hierarchy enforces their a league wide lockout in the past two decades. And the fans of hockey don’t seem to feel slighted by this idiocy ? I guess not , if they remain not only silent with their apathy to begin with ! NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his union counterpart , Donald Fehr , Executive Director of the NHLPA , might just be , two of the dumbest executives , in all of professional sports ! Your thoughts on this ? .

Queue the season , and on opening night 30th October, 2012 and there are three games on the opening day schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers will play host to the Washington Wizards , at Quicken Loans Arena , in Cleveland , Ohio. The second , of the trio of games will have the Miami Heat taking on the Boston Celtics at the famed AA Arena , in Miami , Florida, with the final game , pits the Dallas Mavericks —– against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center , in Los Angeles , California,.

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With the regular season due to begin this Wednesday , what do you hope to see this upcoming season within the NBA ? And have you been entirely happy with the tenure of David Stern as the NBA commissioner ? Do leave a comment as you see fit on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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(1) In this May 3, 2012 photo, Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden (13) grabs a loose ball against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 3 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs in Dallas. The Thunder have traded Sixth Man of the Year Harden to the Houston Rockets, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions. The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb , two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night, Oct. 27, 2012. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez …

(2) In this Oct. 1, 2012, photo, Houston Rockets’ Kevin Martin poses during the NBA basketball team’s media day in Houston. The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to the Rockets, breaking up the young core of the Western Conference champions. The Thunder acquired guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick in the surprising deal that was completed Saturday night, Oct. 27, 2012. Oklahoma City also sent center Cole Aldrich, and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan,File …..

(3) In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 photo, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, left, and Kevin Durant, right, wait to come back into an NBA preseason basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, in Tulsa, Okla. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(4) Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder seen here announcing the trade that would send James Harden and two role players from the Thunder’s staff to the Houston Rockets , in exchange for Kevin Martin , Jeremy Lamb and two first round draft picks from the 2013 and 2014 NBA Draft. AP Photo/ Greg Edelson ….

(5) From left to right , NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver , is seen here with David Stern , commissioner of the NBA. Stern recently announced that he would be stepping down from his current role , effective in February, 2014. The commissioner has held that position for an astonishing thirty years , during which he has led the institution from a small multimillion dollar concern , to a now mutli-billion dollar industry , with satellite offices globally and commercial tie-ins with several Fortune 500 Companies . Getty Images / Chris Graythern …..

(6) Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose , left, speaks during the NBA basketball team’s news conference, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Deerfield, Ill. AP Photo/Charles Cherney …

(7) Another “Fab Five” ? In picture are , foreground Kobe Bryant , Metta World Peace, background , left to right Steve Nash , Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol . The quintet pictured , are seen at the Toyota Center , training facility for the Los Angeles Lakers , in El Segundo , California . GM Mitch Kupchak , and head coach Mike Brown hope that with the franchise’s offseason moves , this will be enough to make the Lakers a formidable force to contend with this season within the NBA . AP Photo / Emilio Etchevarria ….

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