Time For Change ……

Time For Change …

Baseball has entered the last complete month of its regular season and there is a great deal on the line for several teams . The likelihood is that there will be major changes within several of the organizations either from a managerial standpoint or among the front office. We already know the Miami Marlins will see a change in ownership with the Sherman group coming in led by Bruce Sherman , Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan . Jeter and Jordan give more visibility to the ownership group because of their high profiles .,instant visibility and name recognition . Yet, I am not so sure that will be enough to turn around an organization which his has been mismanaged and starved of resources by outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria .


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Within the NL East the Miami Marlins have played themselves out of contention for the divisional title and while their hopes are faint for a wildcard berth , they remain in the hunt for one of the two positions on offer. Fans have been salivating over the season attained by Giancarlo Stanton and his having hit a franchise record fifty-four home runs. Sixty remains out of his reach and while this is all admirable for the player , I don’t believe he will be taking home the NLMVP for this season . I believe it would be a great disservice to the other leading candidates who have contributed to a winning season for their teams who have been in the hunt throughout much of the season. The same cannot be said for the Miami Marlins at any point during this season . Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly and his managerial staff are likely to be retained but I do believe Derek Jeter will be looking to bring in his own people to run the front office. Jeter’s role will be to oversee the overall operations with the new general manager reporting to him directly.

The Miami Marlins will be in action over the weekend as they continue their current series against the Milwaukee Brewers at home. With very little to play for other than pride , it is imperative the Marlins round out their regular season on a high note.

Say what you will , but I do believe seven years is more than enough for a Big League Manger to try and turn an organization around . The New York Mets have been a complete bust with the triumvirate of front office executives , Sandy Alderson , JP Ricciardi and manager Terry Collins at the helm. The trio have gotten to the stage, where they might be even funnier than The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers. Comedic pratfalls being one thing, but the level of incompetence seen with the Mets over the past seven years has sunk to a new low. This team has been far from being competitive and there has not been one saving grace to suggest they have been worth watching at any point during 2017. Their fans are not only opinionated . but also clearly delusional and obnoxious as always. The Mets have several free agents at the end of this season as well as players set for arbitration and it will be interesting to see the decisions made by Sandy Alderson as they will undoubtedly make changes.

An injury-prone and non-productive David Wright is of no use to the New York Mets and it is unclear why he remains part of the Mets roster . Wright’s best years are behind him , certainly not ahead of him and it is hard to envisage who is meant to be the leader on a team of highly overpaid players . Granted , the Mets don’t have a payroll which ranks alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees their crosstown rivals . Yet clearly the organization believes they rank up there alongside teams of that caliber, having not shown anything of note this season much less over the past five seasons. Another failed year and the idiocy of continually suggest they have prospects when many of them since 2010 haven’t stepped up to the plate , leads me to believe this organization and their fans are just eternal optimists.

Terry Collins will lead the team into action on Saturday when the New York Mets will face the Atlanta Braves at Sun Trust Park in Atlanta , Georgia . The opposing pitchers will be Jacob deGrom of the Mets as he goes up against R A Dickey , the knuckle-baller who once played for the Mets. This game isn’t critical for both teams but it should prove to be interesting just as many of their regular season meetings have been this season. If this is to be Terry Collins’ last season with the Mets , then his departure can’t come about quick enough along with the dead weight of players who have under-performed over the course of this season. The same can be said for Sandy Alderson and JP Ricciardi .

For Dusty Baker a great deal of weight has been placed upon his shoulders ever since he assumed the role as manager of the Washington Nationals succeeding Matt Williams in the position. With stars such as Bryce Harper , Gio Gonzalez , Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Murphy on the roster , it was assumed it would plain sailing for the ball-club . Instead near misses and a lack consistency prevailed with regard to their postseason ambitions . Washington has seen the rise of the Chicago Cubs with the end of their one hundred and ten-year drought . I get the feeling Baker and the entire Washington Nationals’ organization wouldn’t mind being in the driver’s seat while being called World Series champions.

The Washington Nationals have not made a postseason appearance since 2014 when they appeared in the NLDS losing to the San Francisco Giants in four games . In the three subsequent yeas the ball-club is eager to make another return to the postseason. A commanding lead in the NL East , the Nationals will be there and everything suggests they will be among the favorites for the NL Pennant . . Baker and his team are in the midst of a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers being played at Nationals Ballpark in Washington , DC. Game two of the current three game series takes place today , Saturday 16th September , 2017. It will be interesting to see what Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are able to do in this series against the Dodgers. Dusty Baker and his managerial counterpart Dave Roberts are different stages of their managerial careers , but both are under a great deal of pressure to succeed.

While I wasn’t surprised by the sale of the Miami Marlins , the price paid by the new owners was simply ludicrous and outrageous. The Marlins are not a big market team and their accessibility by way of marketing revenues is nowhere as great as baseball’s hierarchy would have us believe. Bruce Sherman and business partners may well have paid $1.2 billion for the team , with Jeffrey Loria’s original asking price being in excess of $2.1 billion , but even in this day and age of wealthy owners within the game of baseball. Unless that ball club is competitive , profitable and a perennial contender then there’s no way in hell they’re worth the type of money now being banded about within the game. The only thing driving these upward trends within baseball’s economics remains the television deals and marketing which MLB continues thrive off.

Baseball’s players are some of the highest paid athletes in the world , but their names are not among the most widely recognized or the most marketable , while being able to attract major commercial sponsors. Mike Trout might well be considered the best player in baseball , but beyond North America the two-time ALMVP is not universally known across the planet. It is indicative of one of the many reasons the sport hasn’t really resonated around the globe even in light of the miserably mundane World Baseball Classic which elicits about as much excitement as watching paint dry on hot Summer’s Day . From Bud Selig to Rob Manfred , baseball and its hierarchy is still figuring out to make the game more widely accepted across the globe.

At this stage last season it was difficult to foresee what was about to happen as the postseason approached . It certainly wasn’t the case where there were many believers in the chances of Chicago Cubs pulling off the impossible , changing the course of the club’s history with their improbable run to the 2016 World Series . Once again they have all but sealed the deal , leading the NL Central as they look to round out the season with another divisional title. Having just ended their weekend series against the St Louis Cardinals with a decisive 4-3 home victory , Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will now take his team on the road to face his old club the Tampa Bay Rays in a nostalgic visit to Tropicana Field , St Petersburg , Florida on Tuesday 19th September .

While Chicago’s fortunes have risen , the same cannot be said for the Tampa Bay Rays since Joe Maddon’s departure from the organization. The Rays remain in a state of disarray and for manager Kevin Cash things have not come easy for himself and his managerial staff . This team lacks confidence even with the leadership of Evan Longoria at the helm of the roster and the continued lack of self-confidence is no longer bewildering . Rays’ front office executives Brian Auld and Matt Silverman will have their work cut out for them this off-season as they will undoubtedly have to make some changes up and down the team. The penny-pinching , continues as team owner Stuart Sternberg continues to gripe over the reticence of the local governmental authorities to build them a new stadium at their expense.

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of support coming from Rob Manfred as Stuart Sternberg vies to have a new stadium built. A stark contrast to the efforts of the Miami Marlins, New York Mets and New York Yankees. It seems when you have the ear of baseball’s hierarchy , as it actually counts for something, rather than continually being seen and treated as if you are at the bottom of the food chain. Sternberg is unwilling to put up any of his own money as a sign of good faith to even get the possibility of the project started . Furthermore , there is no evidence to suggest even with the new venue the Tampa Bay Rays’ fan-base of a paltry 23,500 would be able to continually support such an extravagance, with the stadium likely to take years to pay for itself were it to be publicly financed.

Kevin Cash’s position is not necessarily in jeopardy, but how his team looks next season is going to be far more different than the opening day roster of 2017. Make of it what you will , but these are the continued dire times for the Tampa Bay Rays who have been plodding from season to season over the last eight years without a real plan for growth and stability. It might well be another four or five years before the Rays make another return to the postseason. This is an organization devoid of leadership a t all levels within the ball-club and it shows. Evan Longoria has long been considered the franchise’ s best player , but he has never really led by example . Pretty much sums up what to expect from professional sports’ franchises within the Tampa Bay area in general .


Picture gallery . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture while also reading the accompanying narrative.

This MLB postseason could very well be a very interesting one if the teams thought to be in the hunt play to their full potential . As for those on the outside looking in , they simply have to look at their issues and make the changes necessary .

Tophatal ……… 09/16/2017

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It is , all about me !

It is , all about me !

They are willing to talk the talk, but not often enough do they walk the walk. I find it rather disingenuous, when I read or hear an analyst’s or sports’ journalists using an athletes’ background or ethnicity , to suggest that they have been through a troubled life . In recent months. we have seen the hypocrisy of today’s athlete manifest itself in a some ways and following suit, have been the anal retentive fans , through their own ignorance and stupidity seeking to make excuses for the behavior of these athletes. Nowhere has this been more clear than within the NBA and NFL , where there the respective hierarchies seem to be just as idiotic as the players themselves.

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In the NBA , perhaps the player with the biggest image and profile , is that league’s four-time regular season MVP and current member of the of two-time defending NBA champions , the Miami Heat . Globally, LeBron James has become a superstar , and he might now be the closest thing that the fans have seen to Michael Jordan , since the six-time NBA champion walked away from the game for the final time. James, like Jordan, has closely manicured an image that has seen very little major controversy. Granted, Michael Jordan’s private life has seen some controversy, with his penchant for gambling and what was said to be a multi-million dollar divorce from his now ex-wife Juanita Jordan . The former NBA great and current owner of the Charlotte Hornets is now seeking to make that franchise a competitive entity within the league and so far Jordan and the reviews of his achievements have not exactly been favorable.

For much of his playing career , Michael Jordan stayed out of the political fray , choosing not make his thoughts felt on a range of subjects , even when one of his main corporate sponsors Nike Inc was facing charges of using child labor in the Far East to make apparel that bore the Nike and Jordan name . Somehow , the league and then NBA Commissioner , David Stern did not feel it proper to step in and even make a statement on the matter , even when it became abundantly clear that Nike was in fact ethically wrong, without an admission of guilt on their part.

Phil Knight over the past decade , has tried to create a much softer and socially conscious image of the company he founded , which also made him an extremely wealthy individual . Nike remains one of the most recognized names in sports’ apparel manufacturing, with a global presence on all seven continents. Their presence will be seen and felt at the 2014 FIFA World Cup , where they are one of the tournament’s major corporate advertisers. on soccer’s biggest international stage and the world’s second biggest sporting event behind the Summer Olympics, upwards of 1.7 billion people will be watching this month-long tournament to decide international soccer’s next world champion..

Today’s athlete, rarely speaks out on any type of political issue or social injustice. When they seek to do so , their response tends to be either innocuous or actually downright idiotic, almost as if, they are uninformed and lacking an education, much less being knowledgeable on a specific issue. Prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics , LeBron James was questioned about his thoughts on the actions taken by the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square in the Chinese nation’s capital. The player’s response was befuddling and somewhat idiotic , but then again, I would not have expected anything less from someone who now espouses education and being informed. Yet , here is a player, who simply eschewed a college education , because it was widely known that he would have been sanctioned by the NCAA, coming under a great deal of scrutiny by college athletics’ governing body for what is believed to be unsolicited monetary payments made indirectly to James and a member of his family. James for his part , with his battery of advisers , tries to now represent himself as a spokesman for his peers.

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Donald Sterling , it was once again rather amusing to hear LeBron James suggest that if the league hierarchy did not take action against the beleaguered Los Angeles Clippers’ owner , he and many of the peers would take action , by simply failing to show up for the remainder of the NBA postseason . I believe the player’s bark is actually worse than his bite and his stance was nothing more than a show of strength , that in reality , his proposed action would never have taken place.

As great a player as LeBron James is said to be , he has yet to truly step into the fray and be truly vocal on any type of issue. Handing out bicycles as part of a philanthropic effort , means nothing, when on the other hand , you brazenly suggest that your biggest wish, is to become a billionaire and shower your teammates ostentatiously, while within earshot of the Miami home venue , you have over 7,500 homeless individuals, sleeping on the streets , many of them children and US military veterans. A further case can be made, about how out of touch with reality the NBA and their players are said to be. In what was known to be a very emotional case, where the justice system failed miserably , the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman held the nation spellbound for weeks, as the trial unfolded on national television. The failure here, was not only shown by the incompetency of Florida legal system but also the complete lack of intelligence of the jury and the incompetence of the State’s Attorney prosecuting the case. Somewhat reminiscent of the incompetency shown by Christopher Darden and Marcia Clarke , in their handling of the OJ Simpson ” trial “ in Los Angeles County two decades ago. Simpson , as we now know, is incarcerated , for kidnapping and taking two victims hostage , while he and his accomplices are said to have confronted his victims , with a view to gain what was said to be his personal property. You win some and you lose some.

The NBA players’ response, in showing solidarity with the victim Trayvon Martin was to take the action of wearing hoodies and standing to attention in a moment of silence. As to what this ultimately signified , can be best left for the players themselves to answer, in particular LeBron James and his teammate Dwyane Wade , who in the aftermath of their actions could not succinctly explain what was achieved. The tragedy here was that Trayvon Martin’s slaying was just one of countless deaths that have been similar in fashion, to have taken place in the state of Florida during the past eighteen months and it should not matter concerning the ethnicity of the victim. It should be noted also , that prior LeBron James’ entry into the NBA in 2003 , David Stern saw fit to use as a sales’ gimmick the genre of gangster rap to market the NBA brand to America’s youth , while on the streets of Los Angeles , teens and gang members were being needlessly gunned down. Unfortunately, neither Stern, nor anyone from within his odious group of subordinates, saw fit to proffer up an apology. I guess even when you are an autocratic asshole , you see no wrong in your actions, even when they are lacking in taste ? Meanwhile, the players themselves , whose majority remains African-American in its makeup, did nothing, by way of any type of vocal protest against the commissioner’s actions .

The NBA remains a hotbed of controversy , ran by a bunch of incompetent buffoons , where the owners are simply about greed and wealth . Never mind , that you still have a union that remains in complete disarray. No Executive Director and no real consensus, on how they are likely to deal with a legal suit of which they are the defendants and the likelihood of a loss could lead to a multi-million dollar payout in a settlement, should they lose the case.

While LeBron James leads his teammates in a rematch of the 2013 NBA Finals as they seek to make a successful defense of their title against the San Antonio Spurs . Around the league , the coaching carousel began, with the notable rebuff by Steve Kerr , as he turned down the opportunity to become the next head coach of the New York Knicks . I guess that as impressive a head coach as Phil Jackson was said to be , as an NBA Executive he is still steering his way through the maelstrom of continued idiocy within the Knicks’ organization . Adding insult to injury , I believe was the decision to sign an aging Lamar Odom to a team that remains in disarray and where there is no guarantee that the team’s best player , Carmelo Anthony , will be a part of the playing staff for the upcoming season.

As Jackson tries to bring a sense of normalcy to the Knicks after a season of disappointment. Anyone who believes that the eleven-time championship winning head coach can bring about overnight success for one of the NBA’s most famous franchises , will have to wait for a considerable amount of time before that situation is likely to materialize.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown , never one not to let his voice be heard , has been extremely vocal and critical of many of today’s top athletes . He has not been afraid to call Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant “soft” and someone caught up in his own self-importance. Brown may well be right , but those criticisms valid or not , this is not the place where such a debate should take place, without both parties being ready to discuss the issue. Bryant for his part is something of a hypocrite by suggesting he does indeed take a great deal of interest in the issues that affect not only the African-American race , but the nation in general . Unfortunately, Bryant’s words mean nothing, when his deeds , mean little and where his own immaturity and credibility continues to come into question and under a cloud of suspicion. . Bryant after the barrage of criticism leveled at him by Brown , tried to suggest that the Hall of Fame great didn’t know what he was talking about . The Las Angeles’ guard may well have not been aware that Brown stood alongside such luminaries as Dr Martin Luther King , Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X , as the triumvirate stood up for equal rights , being at the forefront of the Civil Rights’ Movement and the fight for equality for African-Americans. Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, might well have fallen short in the education of Bryant , albeit , that the player has also lived abroad , in Italy , while his father , Joe Bryant sought to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.

Kobe Bryant now lives the life of luxury and in no way can he understand the plight of the African-American , much less the economic divide between the rich and the poor in the country at present. Any thought, he understands those issues, have never been mirrored in any action that he has undertaken within the city of Los Angeles , as he has often stood aloof from many of his peers , while seeking out the press only when he believes it right, to belittle the Lakers’ organization led by owner Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak , or a number of his teammates . Less than ten miles away from the Staples Center , a hotbed of violence remains and at no time has Kobe Bryant ever spoken out on the issue of gang violence, that continues to be a pandemic within the city . Brown for his part, has been front and center , in seeking to be a mediator and negotiator , in the stemming of the rising tide of gang violence , rising proliferation in the use of hard drugs . Last I looked, the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, were not voicing their opinions on such issues , but merely looking to try and uphold their pristine images , while selling their overpriced wares to an unsuspecting public. Get the feeling their alleged biggest concerns have nothing at all to do with the pubic at all , but merely a facade created by their agents and litany of advisers and handlers alike ?

The now departed head coach Mike D’Antoni after his abrupt resignation, has left the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise without a head coach for the second time in the space of eighteen months . Now the Lakers, are left in search of another coach, while the playing staff itself has become uncompetitive and old. Bryant is at the end of an illustrious career and it seems highly unlikely that he will be guiding this franchise to another NBA title anytime soon.

In the aftermath of the Jonathan Martin , Richie Incognito “affair” , it was simply amazing to witness the incompetency of the NFL , Roger Goodell and the complete ambivalence of the Miami Dolphins’ organization . Even worse were the actions of head coach Joe Philbin and his coaching staff, who claimed that they were completely unaware of Incognito’s behavior . The fact that a member of Philbin’s own coaching staff, was also subject to a torrent of racial abuse, without his knowing was simply farcical and actually comedic. With Mike Pouncey , also having joined Richie Incognito in orchestrating the abuse of not only that coaching assistant but also Jonathan Martin., leads me to believe that the Dolphins as an organization, was simply bereft of intelligence as well as accountability within the franchise . Say nothing of which, team owner Stephen Ross made the idiotic statement of his wishing to see those involved be punished to the full extent and with every measure possibly allowable by the NFL. The league’s punishment of Pouncey was soft , while Incognito’s career which now seems to be on hold , is likely to find himself back in the NFL at some point in the future . Mike Pouncey for his part, still believes he did nothing while stressing that he has put the episode behind him. As to the idiocy of those who question Jonathan Martin’s soft nature , I wonder how many of those anal retentive fans, believe that racism and misogyny is the right environment for the NFL ? Fu#k you all , with your downright stupidity , complete lack of education and intelligence.

The NFL’s elite players are often seen as their quarterbacks , running backs and wide receivers . We know that the likes of Peyton Manning , Drew Brees and Tom Brady can be seen to uphold that age-old tradition, of having the league be seen in a positive light . It must be said , in spite of the pratfalls of Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy , I am not so sure that the NFL is completely out of the woods as of yet ! Goodell has seen fit to be less than economical with the truth, in dealing with a litany of issues , none more so, than the constant rhetoric of the commissioner and his dealing with veteran players and neurological disorders. Strange as it seems , the hypocrisy does not just stop with the league hierarchy but also with NFLPA (Players’ Union) and the current players in the league , whose whole approach to this issue, remains completely mystifying. Elderly retired veterans of the NFL , are having to cry foul , on how they have been mistreated , with the denial of benefits and only now , has the NFL seen fit to discuss the matter head on . Meanwhile, the likes of Manning (Peyton) , Brady and Brees remain silent on the matter , not wanting to upset the apple cart and that of the union hierarchy. Credibility seems to be lacking all-round , in a number variety of aspects concerning the league’s conduct and practices.

I was once told that the world that we currently live in a world where things have changed and where we now have a dialog between the masses and the races that make up the country . Personally , I believe that simply to be a great deal of garbage , because, when we still have athletes owners simply wanting to behave like assholes , and their actions go unchecked , with the equal stupidity being shown by fans with their ongoing apathy. It simply shows the signs of the country having made no real advancements socially or economically at all. The voices of such luminaries as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, John Carlos , Arthur Ashe , Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson are now left hanging in the wind , while today’s athletes spoiled by wealth , have nothing meaningful to say.

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Do you believe that today’s athlete can be positive, without being seen to hurt their corporate image by simply speaking out on a social issue ? Or should that aspect of their lives, be left private and the public not be made aware of their thoughts on such matters ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below.

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(1) Miami Heat forward LeBron James shoots the ball during practice on Saturday, June 7, 2014, in San Antonio. The team plays Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. James leads the team in scoring during this current series against the Spurs , with things now even at one game apiece (1-1) after Sunday’s narrow two-point victory by Miami . AP Photo/Eric Gay …

(2) Michael Jordan , team owner and Chairman of the Charlotte Hornets , hopes that with a new franchise name and .logo the team can resurrect past glories while seeking to be competitive within the NBA. Getty Images North America / Jeffrey Hodges …..

(3) Phil Knight , founder of sports’ apparel company Nike Inc. With annual revenues exceeding $8 billion , the company is one of the most powerful business enterprises in all of professional and collegiate sports. Knight in recent years has tried to soften the image of the company , while also seeking to make it socially responsible. Nike is a corporate sponsor of some of the biggest names in sports across the globe . UPI / Christopher Mitchell ….

(4) Members of the Miami Heat are seen here wearing hoodies , as they show solidarity and support in the aftermath in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin . However , very little was achieved by the stance , with the players themselves saying little about the case or the very fact Martin’s death, was one of several, where a young unarmed African-American teen was gunned down by an assailant. The determination the Florida ” Stand Your Ground Law” has become a subject of great debate within the state , with no real consensus about how this statute can be reviewed and changed within the state legislature. Getty Images / Chris Robinson …..

(5) Phil Jackson a SVP & Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks, having been rebuffed by Steve Kerr who accepted the vacant coaching position with the Golden State Warriors. Jackson now seems to be down to secondary alternatives. A person speaking in with anonymity has stated that the former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach has his eyes firmly set on hiring Derek Fisher currently a point guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder . Fisher is said to be keenly interested in coaching within the NBA . but there are those who believe that the Knicks might not be the perfect fit for the veteran point guard. AP Photo / Austin Pearce ….

(6) Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown , left, has been critical of Los Angeles player Kobe Bryant , pictured right . Brown’s stinging act of the player has set of a wave criticism within the print and television media who have come out in support of the NBA players. However, there are those who feel that Jim Brown’s pointed attacks are not without merit and where by comparison it would seem that Bryant and a great many of his peers would shy away from many hot-potato topics merely to appease their corporate sponsors. AP Photo/ Robert Hall ….

(7) Drew Brees , left , and Peyton Manning , two of the most revered quarterbacks now playing in the NFL . During their destined Hall of Fame careers , both players have done a great deal within their respective communities , with their philanthropic and humanitarian efforts , but have rarely placed their names or let their thoughts be known on certain political topics. Even the issue of the denial of rightful benefits to veteran NFL players , neither Brees or Manning were seen to offer their thoughts on the matter. A distinct belief , was with their union being part of the legal suit where in part the NFLPA was a co-defendant in the suit . It was best left to the legal counsel of the Players’ Union to publicly comment on the matter . Getty Images North America / Scott Halleran …..

(8) From left to right Bill Russell , Jim Brown , Muhammad Ali and Lew Alcindor, more commonly known today as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The quartet joined together to speak up vocally on the rights of African-Americans and their struggles during the Civil Rights’ era , with all four being supporters of Dr Martin Luther King Jr . Unfortunately , in today’s world of sports such voices are rarely heard being vocal on any type of real social injustice , because of the athletes not wanting to scare of their major corporate sponsors . Russell , Brown and Alcindor backed Ali , at a time when he was made a pariah for his objecting to be drafted to fight the war in Vietnam, a conflict that the boxer felt was unjust and senseless. Time Magazine …….. all rights reserved .

(9) Arthur Ashe , US Tennis player and a Grand Slam tournament winner, who during his career , became the first African-American , male or female to be ranked number one in the world. Ashe was also vocal supporter for the boycotting of South Africa at a time when the US’ policy on apartheid was favorable , while the rest of the world had began to impose sanctions on the country of South Africa . Yet the idiocy, that Ronald Regan played a part in the political change in the climate of the South African nation remains a complete fallacy and flight of fantasy of ” Reaganites” who try to portray the former President as someone who was compassionate , understood that particular conflict and situation . UPI/REUTERS/ Paul Drew …..

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Gladiators in the arena would state we who are about to die, salute you. Today’s NBA has no gladiators , merely characters and a little scripted drama thrown in for good measure

Gladiators in the arena would state we who are about to die, salute you . Today’s NBA has no gladiators , merely characters and a little scripted drama thrown in for good measure

Midpoint of the NBA season and the and the . news seems to be the season high score individually by Carmelo Anthony , as he broke the New York Knicks’ franchise scoring record for a contest , with sixty-two points against the Charlotte Bobcats at Madison Square Garden this past week. Now, the holder of that record, is a Knicks’ all-time great, in Bernard King . While Anthony’s achievement in that game should be applauded , let us not forget that although the Bobcats are holding the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with an odious record of (19-27 [0.413]) . If that mark is not a damning indictment how bad the conference has become along with the league in general . Then, can someone please explain to me, what is ?

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Perhaps, the irony of all ironies , coming out of this contest, might well have been the fact that the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats happens to be none other than Michael Jordan , someone who during his playing career , was known for some rather spectacular single game achievements , beyond the numerous other accolades , that highlighted perhaps the greatest career in NBA history . Fans and analysts may well have been drooling at Carmelo Anthony’s display , with his teammates at the time ,simply reveling in that prolific output . Unfortunately, currently for the New York Knicks’ fans there has not been a great deal for them to either revel in or simply suggest that this team has finally turned a corner . Their season so far, has been strewn with inconsistent performances , lackluster displays by a number of players , beyond the perfunctory excuses of players being sidelined due to injury . Take into account that Mike Woodson and his coaching staff have shown about as much acumen for their roles, as the US Congress, has in trying to abate the ongoing economic crisis still submerging and threatening the nation.

With all of the awe and fervor being thrown about, concerning the accomplishment of Carmelo Anthony, consider the fact that the sixty-two point outburst, albeit, a career high , it still ranks behind the eighty-one point explosion by Kobe Bryant against the Toronto Raptors in a game dating back to January 2006 , and the seventy-one points scored by Hall of Fame center David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs in a contest against the Los Angeles Clippers . Need we be reminded that the all-time single game scoring record belongs to the late Wilt Chamberlain , and that one hundred point explosion that had so many career and NBA highs interspersed within the contest between the Philadelphia Warriors and New York Knicks in a game that took place on March 2nd , 1962.

Now, while I do believe that the New York Knicks could quite possibly play themselves into contention for a postseason berth . I simply cannot see this team in its present guise being a nuisance to the likes of the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat , undoubtedly , the two best teams within the conference by far . New York on Sunday afternoon, will play host to another laboring franchise , in the Los Angeles Lakers and their woes over the course of this season. The once mighty Lakers might not be the best NBA franchise in the entire state of California , given the present fortunes of late of the Los Angeles Clippers , Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings . There was a time when a contest between the Lakers and Knicks actually meant something within the NBA, but those times now appear to be long gone and it simply does not bode well for this league when there does not seem to be a major team rivalry within the NBA at present or even on the horizon. The league has now become all about individualistic achievements , rather than that a collective team achievement and success , in spite of what the on air analysts and members of the NBA hierarchy would like to have us believe .

In a match-up of last season’s NBA Finals , the San Antonio Spurs were the guests </a. of the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, where LeBron James and his teammates were looking to reestablish their dominance over the Finals’ foes, as well as send a sobering reminder why they are the reigning two-time NBA champions. A third consecutive win of the championship would certainly legitimize the franchise’s claims of being a dynasty, but over the course of this season the team has shown some worrying signs of complacency as well as what appears to be a lack of depth at certain positions. Take into account also, that Dwyane Wade has become a virtual invalid , is day-to-day in terms of a game-time appearance and only one-third of Miami’s “Big Three ” are now said to be playing at a high level, while still being productive . Granted, momentary glimpses of Chris Bosh might send shock waves around the league , but I find it somewhat comical to hear many say that he is a vital asset to the franchise. For the monetary outlay being made to Bosh , his productivity for the team should be a great deal more than it is .

I am sure that Miami Heat President Pat Riley along with Erik Spoelstra and the coaching staff are likely to continue to gauge the progress of the team before coming to a decision as to whether or not an acquisition or a trade needs to be made. Somehow, you get the feeling, that Riley is likely to pull the trigger , but not at the expense of taking breaking up his trio of All Stars. Wade and Bosh and Ray Allen , have now become the complementary foil to the still growing repertoire of LeBron James’ game.

The Western Conference now seems to have found calmer waters and the now surging Oklahoma City Thunder now appear to be the best team within the conference . With due respect to the always formidable San Antonio Spurs and the still surprising resilience being shown by Terry Stotts and the Portland Trailblazers . Perhaps, the second half of this NBA season , might be better spent, surveying the likely carnage that will be wreaked by the top teams in the West , rather than glaring at the ongoing futility that still exists in the East and has done for the past two years , at least .

Kevin Durant this season has been on a tear, while staking a really legitimate claim , that he is having a better all-round season than LeBron James . Durant along with teammate Russell Westbrook , while the point guard is on-court , remain the league’s best offensive duo averaging well over 28,5 points per game each as a duo. With that type of offensive output backed up by the play of Serge Ibaka , it is understandable to see the reason why many now feel that this team is likely to be the Western Conference Finals’ representative in this year’s NBA Finals . As an avid San Antonio Spurs’ fan, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see both of these teams facing off in the aforementioned conference finals , and then letting the chips fall where they may ! A twelve-point victory over the Philadelphia 76ers’ has given the Thunder the best record in the NBA, with a current mark of 35-10 as of Saturday afternoon . That win simply an exclamation mark and stamp on the first half of the season , albeit , with a game on Monday night at home to the Atlanta Hawks , within the confines of the Chesapeake Energy Arena , should provide the Oklahoma City Thunder and their fans a great send off for the players likely to be a part of the Western Conference’s All Star roster , where Durant leads all players in the voting count within the West.

Of the teams in the Western Conference, vying to take that next step into the upper echelons of the conference are the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. Two teams made up of prodigious young talent , but with a great deal of coaching acumen being exhibited in two of the game’s great point guards , now having made great strides within the coaching fraternity , with Doc Rivers of the Clippers and Mark Jackson with the Warriors . Both are likely to be part of the playoff picture as they each seek to position themselves within their respective divisions and the conference as a whole.

In the regular season meetings , between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the two contestants have split their first two contests, with the margin of victory in each game , being no more than ten points on each occasion . The next scheduled meeting between the two will take place on the 30th January at the Oracle Arena , in Oakland , California ,. It will be interesting to see whether or not Doc Rivers will have the services of point guard Chris Paul , a player who is of pivotal and vital importance to the team , if they are to succeed this postseason. For Warriors’ owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , to have the franchise back to the point, where the team is gaining respect , while being given the added publicity , all stemming from the consistency of the players , but also combining that with the play of Steph Curry and his maturity , since entering the league as a first round draft pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors.

Curry, along with teammates , Harrison Barnes , David Lee , Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala are providing the fans with reason to believe that the team is capable of pulling off a major surprise during the playoffs. Certainly, a case could be made that were it not for the lack of experience , then last season during the NBA Playoffs the Warriors would have pulled off the biggest upset in the franchise’s recent history, had they got past the San Antonio Spurs in their conference semi-finals’ contest . A fifteen-point victory over the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday , further emphasized the strides made by the Warriors, as they seek to make themselves be viewed as a force to be reckoned with within the Western Conference.

Living in the shadows of the Los Angeles Lakers cannot be an easy thing, if you happen to be a Los Angeles Clippers’ fan or a member of the player personnel of the franchise. Having to share the same home venue is one thing , and then meeting in home and away games , does tend to provide something of a novelty. Be that, as it may, for the past two seasons , it has been the Clippers with the bragging rights , as the Lakers have floundered , providing the entire NBA with enough drama to be viewed as something of an ode to being self-absorbed and conceitedness .

From the ongoing petulance of Kobe Bryant, to the incessant stupidity of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss , for the Los Angeles Lakers , this season as well as last season is something I believe that the entire organization would rather forget ! While, they continue to flounder , it has been the Clippers providing the noteworthy headlines in terms of basketball success for the City of Angels. Some might beg to differ, with Pau Gasol and Nick Young providing the Lakers’ fans of something of a momentary respite , but clearly Mike D’Antoni still has his issues in trying to get this team playing with a great deal of resolve . With Bryant still ailing from a persistent injury, it has hard to conceive how the Lakers’ most revered active performer, actually believed that this team in its current guise was capable of making the postseason. It has to rile and rattle the angst of every fan of the franchise, that the Los Angeles Lakers are now being belittled as less than average . In truth, this is exactly what the Lakers now just happen to be, with their record simply bearing this out.

As Kevin Love continues to put up impressive numbers for the Minnesota Timberwolves , it is becoming extremely difficult to see how he can remain with an organization that has done very little to assist in lifting the burden off his shoulders , while seeking to make the team competitive. While Flip Saunders , a former head coach with the franchise has been brought in as a special consultant and to aid GM Milt Newton and the coaching staff of Rick Adelman with regard to player personnel decisions. With Love having signed a four-year $61 million deal to remain with the Timberwolves in 2012 and not due to become an unrestricted free agent until 2016 . It could be argued , that the power forward has been ill-served by that deal , given the lack of support overall that has been provided by the Timberwolves to fulfill his own personal ambitions well as those of the franchise as a whole.

From my own standpoint , I believe that Glen Taylor , owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves , has been one of the most incompetent owners not only within the NBA , but perhaps amongst the very worst in all of the four major professional team sports. Years of mismanagement and simply idiotic personnel moves , have seen this franchise , simply mired in mediocrity . The franchise’s last postseason appearance came almost a decade ago, during the 2003-2004 NBA season , in which the team was led by Kevin Garnett . Minnesota would make it to the Western Conference Finals that season, eventually losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, with a 4-2 series’ loss . In the ensuing decade, there have been very few highlights for the franchise, beyond the exploits of Kevin Love.

With a record of . 21-22 , good enough for eleventh seed within the Western Conference , the Timberwolves are 3 ½ games out of the eighth spot, currently held by the Dallas Mavericks(26-20). A game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois awaits Minnesota , and it will be interesting to see whether not they can make some inroads into the lead of the Mavericks, while seeking to chase down a playoff berth. It may well be, that the organization could seek to abandon that chase , with their being mounting speculation that the All Star power forward of the Timberwolves, has become decidedly unhappy with the current direction of the franchise. A trade might well be the only objective that can be sought, where Kevin Love can feel satisfied , and at the same time the front office can obtain an equitable exchange for the player, that would be financially advantageous for the Timberwolves. Far be it for me to suggest , but I believe it would be preferable to allow Kevin Love to play on a championship contender , rather than remain on a team that seems to be aimlessly heading nowhere are at this juncture !

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Picture gallery .

As the NBA schedule, meanders towards the NBA All Star Break , what if anything do you believe has been a positive for the league during the first half of the season ? Also , with David Stern due to step down in his role as NBA commissioner , do you believe that the leadership under his successor Adam Silver will be of benefit to the league as a whole ? Your thoughts on this and anything else, you believe pertinent to this topic.

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Picture and slideshow details below.
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(1) Carmelo Anthony (7) is all smiles , having just hit a three-pointer during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats . Anthony would go on to score a career high sixty-two points for the New York Knicks during the contest , which was also a franchise record. That mark was previously held by former Knicks’ great Bernard King . The Knicks would go on to defeat the Bobcats 125-96 . AP Photo / Bill Kostroun ……

(2) The Bobcats’ Anthony Tolliver (43) tries to make the defensive play as Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks looks to make the lay-up play during the game between the New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats, played at Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York , on Friday , 24th January , 2014 . AP Photo / Bill Kostroun …..

(3) LOS ANGELES – 1984: Bernard King (30) of the New York Knicks calls for the ball on the wing against the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA game in 1984 at the LA Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California. Copyright 1984 NBAE Photo by Ron Koch/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Kobe Bryant of the Los Angles Lakers and Jalen Rose of the Toronto Raptors are seen here during a game between the two teams. Bryant would go on to score a career high 81 points during the contest played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on the 22nd January, 2006. Getty Images / Marty Webb ….

(5) Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat looks to strip the ball away from Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs . Bosh’s teammate, LeBron James (6) looks on, hoping that the defensive play is a successful one during the contest played at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida this past weekend . Miami would go on to defeat San Antonio 113-101 . AP Photo / Pat Carter …..

(6) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Durant and Westbrook are the NBA’s leading offensive duo and one of the primary reasons why the team now has the best record in the Western Conference as well as the NBA as a whole . Getty Images / Richard Hart …..

(7) LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers looks to drive the lane as Kevin Love (42) of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks to make a decisive defensive stop during the game between the two Western Conference opponents played at the Moda Center in Portland , Oregon on Saturday , 25th January , 2013. AP Photo / Don Ryan ….

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tophatal ………….. 01/26/2014

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA transactions

NBA standings (division) and by conference

NBA schedule 26th January

NBA team stats offense

NBA team stats defense

NBA players’ stats scoring

NBA players’ stats field goal percentage

NBA players’ stats rebounds and assists

2014 NBA All Star Game & weekend

This month in NBA history

On this date 26th January in NBA history

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Saving the best , for last and then some .

Yes I can give you one of those as a treat

Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

Stupid Is , Can’t Be As Stupid Does , Can It …. ?

So just when you thought that all that would appear just when we had seen it all concerning the rabid stupidity that exists within collegiate athletics. It would appear that Auburn Tigers’ football coach Gene Chizik is extremely unhappy that the NCAA is still continuing its investigation of the school. Chizik had an impromptu conversation with the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement Judie Loah Roach during which the officer informed the coach that the school and its recruitment of Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton was still under investigation. As we all know there said to be a number of improprieties concerning the player’s recruitment . The player’s father Cecil Newton is said to still be a person of interest in this ongoing investigation . It’s plain to see that there is a great deal at stake should the school be found to be in violation of any type of NCCA rules . The jury is out and the blow-back from this all could very well be another nail in the coffin of another very prestigious collegiate athletics’ program.

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Slide show for your perusal .

So the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive player James Harrison is simply proving once again why players from the NFL are better to be seen on the field of play rather than being heard . The player fresh off last season’s numerous fines has become a bona-fide asshole of the highest order ! . In criticizing the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling him “a crook” , “a devil “ , “a tyrant” and an ” autocratic despot “ whose power simply knows no bounds . At the same time the player was also critical of his teammate Ben Roethlisberger and the very fact that the player at times was simply not playing to the best of his abilities and was being reliant on the defense to bail out the team far too often over the course of last season . Pardon me for saying this , but shouldn’t Harrison be the one to voice these opinions behind closed doors amongst his teammates and the coaching staff as it relates to the team’s play ? As to his criticism of the commissioner , once it’s out there it becomes too late to take it all back . And that is now what the player now seems to be doing by stating that his statements were completely taken out of context. I certainly believe that when it’s all said and done if it is not Mike Tomlin who ends up speaking to James Harrison about his comments then quite possibly look a senior official from the front office to hold a private conversation with the player .

The Pittsburgh Steelers has always been an organization that chooses to conduct their problems behind closed doors and to try and make sure that the players as such are of the highest order in terms of their character. It is easy to undersstand why the are considered one of the most respected teams within the NFL and the success achieved in large part has come down to the fact here has been very little volatility within the organization and turnover in terms of the coaching staff. Unfortunately , with the antics of Santonio Holmes , Plaxico Burress and in particular Roethlisberger , his infantile and rather asinine antics over the last few years has led the Rooney family to once again scrutinize the players on the roster. Recently we had the team’s veteran wide receiver Hines Ward busted for DUI and with the player initially stating that wasn’t intoxicated, only for the police to later inform us that Ward was indeed driving over the legal limit . He would later offer an apology to his teammates and the organization for his behavior .

Shit we know rolls downhill but boy , oh boy the NBA and in particular the league hierarchy now looks as if they will try and do anything to shovel it uphill. The hierarchy feels aggrieved that the NBPA (union ) will be allowed to retain the larger part of $160 million from an escrow account that they funded based on the terms that should their cumulative salary exceed 57% of the basketball related income . Now with the teams owners and hierarchy now under siege with their position now looking all the more perilous David Stern seeks into increase their profile and take the upper hand in the ongoing lockout . It would appear that management would seek to impune the integrity of the union. The league feels that the funds in question should be placed back into a general fund rather than be at the players’ disposal . Somehow you simply knew that the league could not be trusted to show any type of integrity at all.

The NBA is still at odds with the players and the fact that they are still asserting that they are losing money. But many of the league’s problems can be traced back to the fact that Stern allowed the teams and in particular the general managers run amok with in terms of the team salaries as they seek success with apparent abandonment . David Stern has long maintained that the teams are on track to lose hundreds of millions of dollars for the fiscal year. Last season’s losses were in excess $300 million and this year it is projected to be considerably higher . It seems rather ridiculous to think that the league having set a soft salary cap in place would then seek to allow those very same teams to far exceed the figure of $57 million and then expect there not to be any serious ramifications for the league’s excessive spending .

It seems rather strange that many of the league’s high profiled owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Michael Jordan , James Dolan , Peter Holt and Michael Heisley have all remained steadfast behind the commissioner . However , the longer this situation goes on there is the likelihood that we may well begin to see some dissent amongst the owners who may challenge the stance the league hierarchy is taking . From my own perspective , the lockout has become simply an issue of egos and which party feels that their stance appears to be the best option available. At some point this impasse has to be resolved because before we actually know it the preseason training schedule will be upon us. It’s pretty much safe to say that neither side wants to be in this for the long haul and now with a number of players envisioning that this dispute may well be for a prolonged period we are seeing a number of them considering the lucrative option of playing abroad. It certainly will be advantageous for New Jersey Nets’ point guard Deron Williams who has signed a one year $ 5 million contract with the Turkish side Beseitkas.

Unless I missed something which I am glad that I did but the MLB All Star Game had to be one of the most boring in recent memory. Never mind the 5-1 lopsided result and win for the National League but the game had one of the lowest ratings in almost a decade and this can’t have been what Fox actually wanted from the game’s midseason show case event. At the same time the question now being asked is how best the whole format of the All Star Game can be changed where it is more of an exhilarating event not only for the participants but also for the fans in attendance and those watching the broadcast. Given the actual idiocy of the whole damn format with the fans picking the actual players they want to see on the respective rosters makes this whole event all the more asinine to begin with.

Baseball is a sport that in large part looks to its past in terms of its legitimacy and legacy as the nation’s pass-time . But once Bud Selig assumed control as commissioner of the league his reign and the fact that the league hierarchy has essentially become clueless as the most acute needs of the game , it should not have surprised anyone at all as to the outcome of the spectacle. One listless team simply didn’t turn up at all but somehow they were assured of their respective team incentives. The NL simply dished out an ass whupping of the highest order leaving the AL with their tails hanging between their legs . At this point will there anyone at all interested in the fact that next season’s game will be held at the home of the Kansas City Royals ? Well , I guess not ! The league hierarchy much like the team owners have become totally bereft any ideas and creativity when it now comes to the marketing of the game , its brand in general and likewise as it relates to the All Star Game . Tuesday night was very much a clear indication of that and it was there for all to bear witness to !

Well at last someone had the foresight to hire Brian Shaw with the former Los Angeles Lakers’ assistant coach being overlooked for several of the offseason vacancies that came about . Indiana Pacers’ general manager Larry Bird having interviewed Shaw , hired the former player to be the assistant to Frank Vogel and his staff. Bird has made it clear the new assistant’s role will to teach the players on the Pacers’ roster how best to improve their all-round game . I’ve no doubt that Shaw will prove to be a valuable asset to the team and with being able to provide to a great deal of insight as to what it takes to be successful from a player’s standpoint . If anything this steadies a listless ship and all but assures the team of retaining their best player Danny Granger who could opt to become free agent after the upcoming season.

The Pacers’ organization is flushed with youthful talent but Vogel’s biggest problem has been to harness it all into one cohesive and effective unit. With the addition of Brian Shaw and the existing members of coaching staff we could very well see something of a resurgence from this team. Not since the days of Reggie Miller and Rik Smits have the Pacers been deemed worthy to be considered a legitimate force within the NBA . And granted over the years the organization has had its problems stemming from neglect and the fact that the team was seen as one of the back-water stop offs in players’ career when they’re said to be on the decline. If things are to change with the thought of a turnaround in mind then perhaps with Brian Shaw and Frank Vogel working in tandem there could very well be something beginning to foment within the organization.

On the outside looking in I am not so sure to make of the situation now encapsulating the furor of the US women’s soccer team having made it to the finals of the World Cup . As great an accomplishment as this has been and the fact that the country will be chasing its first Cup win since 1999 the game barely registers a blip on the consciousness of the masses domestically here at home . Granted , all of the patriotism comes to the foreground in the times of triumph but what one sees as a triumph then is simply eroded when you considers that attendances for games at the club level within the WPSL ( Womens Premier Soccer League) averages no more than 2,500 per game . Salaries for players at the club level where the median is approximately $25,000 per year offers the players little by way of comfort with many of them choosing to hold down a civilian position beyond playing or for many of the top stars , some choose to split their time playing overseas.

The 2011 World Cup has to be considered a success for FIFA and in particular for the entrants to this year’s competition. Some of the matches have been competitive while others have been what one might consider to be extremely boring. But the back-drop to this all has been the very fact that the US team has sought redemption and they now have a chance at that by defeating their upcoming opponent Japan in the final game of the tournament .

Both sides have reached this stage of the competition having defeated two teams in semi-finals thought to be their equal at the international level. Japan defeated Sweden in a thoroughly convincing fashion 3-1 and the US had their problems with Brazil having to overcome a deficit before defeating the team in a penalty shootout (5-3) after a 2-2 tie in regulation .

In the final itself , we should expect a highly competitive game between two evenly matched teams . Team USA brings along the experience and a more physical style of play but Japan has speed , exuberance and a technical aspect that one would not normally associate with a team from the Far East. But much of that may well come down to the fact that there are a number high quality European coaches at the club level within the country where fan support for the game reaches rabid proportions. Obviously something that the WPSL yearns for here in the US but it still lacks support of the fans in general and the willingness of the networks to give the game much or airtime than it is now obtaining . Coverage of the game has been primarily with ESPN where basically much of women’s sports now finds its support from a viewing standpoint not only at the professional level but also at the collegiate level. Somehow one can only imagine that Title IX (Title IX) was meant to create something of a level playing field but in reality the success attained by the enactment by this legislation has not really done enough to put women’s sport on the map in the true sense of the word.

Should the USA win Sunday’s final match then we may well see something of an advancement in the game here domestically but considering the missteps along the way previously in trying to create a professional league at the club level , I firmly believe that soccer at the women’s level here much like their male counterpart still has a long way to go before it gets any real level of respect that they feel they rightly deserve . The nation has yet to take the game into its heart , feel as if it is something it can truly appreciate and that is in spite of the fact that now the game is now being played by more children at the middle , high school level and by collegiate players than baseball and basketball combined . Something to think about don’t you think ? And while the game of soccer resonate around the globe with its throng of fans it remains a bewildering back-drop for most here simply because the NBA , NFL , MLB , NASCAR and NHL rule the roost when it comes fans wanting to see something a great deal more exhilarating than 22 players chasing a round ball up down a field .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the points raised within this piece what thoughts if any do you have ? Do leave a comment as to your thoughts and thanks as always for the continued support !

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

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Auburn coach Gene Chizik watches the first day of spring football practice for the national champion Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala., Wednesday, March 23, 2011. AP Photo / Garry Finkel …..

(2) FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2010 file photo, Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton (2) dunks coach Gene Chizik following a 49-31 win over Georgia in an NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala. Chizik wants Auburn fans to remember Newton “as a great individual,” not just a Heisman Trophy-winning player. The Tigers coach defends the No. 1 NFL draft pick in the upcoming book “All In” but says it is “really a story about football, family and faith.” Chizik discussed the book Wednesday, June 29, 2011, ahead of its July 5 release that will have him hit the road for a promotional tour with nine stops in four states. AP Photo/Dave Martin ….

(3) FILE – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell listens to questions during a news conference at the NFL football owners meetings in Rosemont, Ill., in this June 21, 2011 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….

(4) FILE – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) warms up before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Pittsburgh, in this Dec. 23, 2010 file photo. Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” among other insults, in a magazine article in the August issue of Men’s Journal. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ……

(5) NBA union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting with the NBA, Thursday, June 30, 2011 in New York. The NBA is headed to deadline day, with perhaps one last chance to avoid a lockout. Negotiators for owners and players will meet Thursday, about 12 hours before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement and seemingly nowhere close to a deal. That meeting however would lead to the league mandated shutdown of the NBA . AP Photo/Mary Altaffer ……

(6) National League All-Star Prince Fielder (28) of the Milwaukee Brewers and his sons Jaden (R) and Haven pose with the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award after the National League defeated the American League 5-1 in the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jeff Gross ……

(7) National League All-Star Lance Berkman (12) of the St. Louis Cardinals is tagged out at second base by American League All-Star Robinson Cano (24) of the New York Yankees in the bottom of the second inning of the 82nd MLB All-Star Game at Chase Field on July 12, 2011 in Phoenix,Az . Getty Images North America/ Jeff Gross ….

(8) Indiana Pacers new assistant head coach Brian Shaw responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, .Wednesday, July 13, 2011. AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(9) Pia Sundhage (2nd L) coach of the U.S. laughs as she listens to striker Abby Wambach (2ndR) during a practice session for the upcoming final of the women’s soccer World Cup in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. The U.S. will play Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach ….

(10) USA’s goalkeeper Hope Solo is stretched during a training session on July 15, 2011 in Frankfurt/Main, two days before the final football match of the FIFA women’s football World Cup Japan vs USA at the FIFA Frauen-WM-Stadion in Frankfurt/Main, central Germany, on July 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE …..

(11) Members of Japan’s women’s soccer team pose with placards from Japanese children from Frankfurt’s International School prior to a practice session in Frankfurt July 15, 2011. Japan will play the U.S. in the World Cup final on Sunday, July 17, in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach …….

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FIFA Women’s World Cup

MLB News

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Pop Goes The Weasel ……………..

Pop Goes The Weasel …..

Well it is now being widely reported that the NFL in conjunction with the NFLPA have gotten an accord wherein an agreement has been reached between the two sides. From what I’ve been led to believe it will be that the union and Commissioner Roger Goodell on behalf the team owners have suddenly had their wits about them. It took the two sides just over 100 days to suddenly realize that neither side can do without the other . At the same time I do believe that Federal Court Judge Arthur Boylan simply made both sides an offer that neither could refuse ! Either they reached a compromise or Boylan would render a decision that would most certainly have some serious repercussions for both sides.

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If the teams now get back to full practice mode with them all returning to their training facilities then quite possibly a preseason and some form of a regular season will proceed as planned . From my own perspective I think it is more liable that we will see a preseason of 2 games with regular season of 16 games as planned, kicking off on time on the 8th September . As to what this says about the NFL and in particular for the players of the NFLPA , it may well all come down to wanting to save face rather than being forced into a situation where they may have to come off on the wrong side of a legal verdict .

DeMaurice Smith as the NFLPA Executive Director now knows that he and his members face something of an uphill battle in assuring the player representatives that this is now all in their best interest. Other the flip side of this coin , Goodell’s legacy may well appear to be in tact knowing that he dodged a bullet . And for the fans of the NFL well let’s just say that there are some amongst us who feel that it’s great that the league will be back in action . I simply hope that the news that is now coming down the pike concerning the NFL has some real veracity to it and that the new CBA is equitable and amenable to all of the parties concerned !

If the actions of the NFL doesn’t have a bearing on the NBA and their own situation then quite possibly we could very well see the two sides there reach some sort of a compromise. But herein lies the caveat , NBA Commissioner David Stern as the league’s highest ranking official has ruled the NBA as if it were his own personal fiefdom . Stern’s autocratic rule would make a third world despotic tyrant feel proud of their own accomplishments and achievements. In the case of David Stern he now appears to be fighting his toughest battle yet . The NBPA in all likelihood will most certainly be against making any concessions that has them appearing weak and at the same they are not prepared to lessen their grip on the league revenues which sees them receiving a 53/47 split of the $3.95 billion that comes into the league’s coffers each season .

One wonders how it is that repeatedly when such instances arise in the wake of a hierarchy induced stoppage how it is that no foresight is shown wherein a collective bargaining agreement that the two sides prior to that expiration the two sides don’t start negotiating in advance ? That was most certainly the case with the NFL and also once again here with the NBA ! It would appear reasonable to suggest that they ought to have done that in the first place ____ starting off in good faith rather than the intense , sometimes rather animated and infantile exchanges that are said to have taken place during these negotiations between the NFL , NFLPA and now between the NBA and NBPA. Kind of makes one wonder who actually is the child here and who if anything is the adult overseeing this all ? It may well be that things will indeed have to take a real turn for the worse before any semblance of common sense is actually shown. I’m sure that Stern or his union counterpart Billy Hunter surely are not willing to have the FMCS (Federal Mediation & Conciliation Services ) or the US Federal Court intervene in this matter because should that occur then no party comes out in the end looking like a winner under any circumstance.

Now there’s a great deal to be said about the utter stupidity that has shown by the team owners , league hierarchy and in particular the general managers of the teams in the NBA . And now with a number of players now seeking to ply their trade elsewhere knowing that while a lockout remains in force they know that they are not covered in terms of insurance coverage during a league enforced lockout. Salaries , well it’s obvious that those won’t be paid at all so for the players who choose to play in Europe or elsewhere so that they can then earn a sizable sum in the midst of the stoppage and at the same time remain relatively fit is of benefit to themselves and their financial well being .

I find it somewhat naive of the fans are of the opinion feel that the league isn’t losing money but then again it all boils down the league showing very little by the way of transparency . They certainly are averse to opening their books for public scrutiny and it certainly has made David Stern look the complete idiot , when he , himself has sold the golden goose as a brand that simply was all in good standing. In the last two years Stern has made sure that teams around the league have been the financial recipients of over $600 million in loans , all of which the commissioner stated wasn’t to be viewed as a bailout . Somehow in the midst of this all David Stern is now finding out that all that glitters simply isn’t gold . Admittedly the ratings for this past season’s NBA Finals were a bonanza for ABC but the attendance for scheduled regular season games around the league saw a marked decline . Much of which has led to part of the financial instability for a number of teams. Owners such as Mikhail Prokhorov , Dan Gilbert , Joe Lacob and Peter Guber vastly overpaid for the respective franchises purchased but herein lies the caveat as in the case of Gilbert he’s amongst a number of team owners who are now cash strapped in more ways than they would actually care to admit . Nowhere is this more self evident than in the case of the Sacramento Kings and the ownership group led by Joe and Gavin_Maloof as they’ve simply looked to seek financial aid courtesy of the league hierarchy and advantageous tax exemptions from the city of Sacramento .

The plight of the Kings is by no means clear albeit that they will remain in Sacramento for one more year . Do not be surprised were the Maloofs to take off like thieves into the night with their bags packed and the city of Sacramento is left without an NBA franchise . One simply has to remember what took place with the Seattle Supersonics and their move from that city to Oklahoma City and the lies that permeated through the decision to move all orchestrated by David Stern and the Thunder ownership group led by Clay Bennett . Money may well have exchanged hands to finally facilitate the move but the city (Seattle) remains without a franchise and that simple feeling that they had been duped all along by the NBA . That once again is liable to happen with the city of Sacramento and the Sacramento Kings when it’s all said and done .

Falling attendances in an economic downturn is one thing but when the teams choose not to rein in their expenses and Stern seems to be adverse to actually initiating a hard salary cap rather than insisting that a soft cap now works for the teams. This has proven to be misplaced and even more so given the fact the commissioner has admitted that teams are hemorrhaging red ink like a corpse exsanguinate blood after receiving a nasty abdomen wound from a shotgun. I personally believe that the league hierarchy , the general managers and owners around the NBA have simply lost touched with reality . And the union and its executive committee are not that far behind in this whole asinine charade as they each look to one up each other. The league hierarchy wants to hold on to what little power it still has whereas the union simply wants the status quo to remain as is or perhaps get an even slightly larger slice of that pie.

This stoppage may well be the wake up call that this image enriched league needs to bring it back to reality. And the case can be made that much of this was simply brought about by the ambition of David Stern as he viewed that the best way to market the league was through its stars rather than the marketing of the teams . This scenario worked well when the league was in need of real vibrancy and they found it in a marketing and basketball phenom in Michael Jordan . And the rest as we say is history as the league and Jordan had some rich and wonderful years that have benefited both financially beyond their wildest dreams. Since the six time championship winning player retired from the game it has to be said that the NBA hit some lean years from a fan and attendance standpoint. Competitively the NBA is has had its ups and downs but the teams we expect to see make the NBA playoffs usually do , with there being one or two surprises along the way.

As I have alluded to earlier the league hierarchy simply are averse to any real transparency as to the their business practices and how they actually conduct their operations . The asinine situation remains is the very fact that there are fans out there who simply believe that the league can’t hit upon hard times. If they believe that to be so then simply look at the problems we now see befalling such teams as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are not mere hiccups . If only these fans would care to look beyond what takes place on the field of play and look to what is actually going on in the boardrooms of the teams then they would actually understand what is happening. Many of the thought processes I’ve heard _____ “we have a horrible owner and he needs to sell the team then we’d be much better off “ .

Given the situation with the economy and the asinine belief of some fans that billionaires such as Mark Cuban , Larry Ellison , Carlos Slim Helu and Eli Broad would even be interested in overpaying for a franchise that simply has seen its profits decline and many of its streams begin to dry up with the seller seemingly seeking prices that are inflated and not based on being anywhere near being realistic . Buyers simply don’t buy a sports’ franchise on a whim, they look to make sure that the purchase will be of benefit to them and that there is most certainly a chance of success before they would even consider plowing their money into such a venture . But then again that may not have been the case with the purchase made by Frank McCourt of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the sheer ineptitude shown by the team owners and baseball hierarchy in approving the deal to begin with for the sale of the team. Most certainly due diligence can’t have been used by the league hierarchy and anyone who simply believes that to have been the case has to be an idiot to begin with ! This very same hierarchy and owners voted against McCourt when he originally sought to purchase the Boston Red Sox but a mere three years later they saw fit to vote him in amongst the team owners’ fraternity by approving his purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers . Somehow words escape me as to the mere ineptitude that has been shown by Bud Selig , the league hierarchy and in fact the team owners of Major League Baseball !

Dan Gilbert though a multi millionaire is now finding out the hard way having seen the marked decline in the value of the Cleveland Cavaliers but at the same time he’s having to pay down the principal and interest having purchased the team by way of a loan from a major financial institution. This could very well be one of the numerous reasons why we are now seeing a number of owners beginning to voice their disapproval with the way that Stern has handled the matter but somehow they remain steadfast in their support of the commissioner and league hierarchy for now. Long time owners having bought their teams relatively cheap simply haven’t that much to worry about in large part but there are those recently new team owners that have spent hundreds of millions in their purchase that have yet to see anything tangible from that purchase by way of success or in the form of a profitability standpoint.

So apparently as one door closes another is still left ajar as the NBA continues with its own form of infighting . It will be interesting to see what now permeates between the two sides and how each looks to make their presentation of their case for the public’s consumption. I doubt that the vast majority of the league’s fans actually favor one side or another but they would simply be rather content to see both sides reach an agreement rather than what could turn out to be a rather bitter dispute between the two parties . It’s bad enough that the public has to endure that same sort of stupidity with the members of the House and Senate up on Capitol Hill without it now having to be shown of all places within the domain of big time professional sports . But this simply has become a microcosm of our society and when greed rather than common sense gets in the way of a real issue then for all sense and purpose stupidity sets in and ‘pop goes the weasel ‘.

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If the related news is said to be true are you happy that the NFL will be back in full swing with a scheduled formatted season of games to be played ? And what are your own thoughts on the NBA’s self imposed lockout and how do you see that scenario ending ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts and as always thanks for the continued support .

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

NB : At the time of writing this piece the news concerning an agreement having been reached between the NFL and NFLPA _ no formal statement had yet to be issued , so as of now things still remain as they are .

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(1) Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert talks with the media at a press availability at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence, Ohio on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …..

(2) Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp., talks about his company during an interview Monday, May 8, 2000, in Dallas. Ellison, who unveiled a $199 Internet machine before an audience of students at a performing arts high school, said Oracle will donate more than 1,100 of the machines to 23 Dallas schools. The machine, which lacks a hard drive, is targeted at the education and consumer markets. Ellison the founder of Oracle is an ardent basketball fan who lost out in trying to acquire the Golden State Warriors earlier this year. AP Photo/Tim Sharp ……

(3) Billionaire real estate mogul and philanthropist Eli Broad . Courtesy of Forbes Magazine / Joe Puglise @ all rights reserved copyrighted material …

(4) David Stern (left) and Oklahoma City Thunder principal managing partner Clay Bennett are seen here at an NBA game in Oklahoma City , OK. AP Photo / Gabriel Barnes …….

(5) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith speak to reporters outside the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Sarasota, Fla., after speaking at the NFLPA’s rookie symposium, Wednesday, June 29, 2011. AP Photo/Brian Blanco ………

(6) (L-R) Brothers George Maloof, Gavin Maloof and Joe Maloof watch a preseason game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Thomas & Mack Center October 13, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Lakers won 98-95 . Getty Images North America /Ethan Miller ……

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Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

So here we are and with the ongoing NFL work stoppage now looking as if it’s liable to be a prolonged situation . It no longer comes as a surprise to me that the players are looking to paint the league and the team owners in a poor light. At the same time the league hierarchy isn’t about to make any concessions only seeking to further make this embattled situation more intolerable for the fans . At this juncture it’s pretty safe to say the longer the situation goes on the more suspect that I am the league schedule for the proposed 2011 season won’t commence on time as projected for the 3rd September . Suffice to say that both Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith as the highest ranked executives within the NFL and NFLPA might just be the most despised individuals in professional sports at present.

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Drew Brees in a public statement made the claim that the NFL were circled _____ that their target was indeed the NFLPA like sharks smelling blood after the death of former union executive director Gene Upshaw as they left it would be the right time to seek a change in what was the collective bargaining agreement as it stood at the time. I’m not so sure that I’d disagree with the claims being made by Brees but at the same time I’ve also got to question the confrontational approach of the union as this has all played itself out. From my own standpoint as this idiocy plays itself out and with there now being talk of the NBA quite possibly having their own problems with there also being a lockout there as well I can’t help but wonder when the next shoe will drop. David Stern and his counterpart Billy Hunter are now trying to create the perception that they are capable of acting like mature adults , albeit that the league hierarchy seems to be frustrated at the divergence in the differing views as to what’s best for the league. Union President Derek Fisher and the executive committee has said that the union isn’t prepared to make any concessions without the league itself acceding to the union’s own demands . Given the financial instability of the NBA and the fact that they are projected to lose in excess of $450 million for the fiscal year 2011 .

The NFL is up the creek without a paddle and it appears that the NBA isn’t that far behind as to their stupidity . The NBA’s postseason show case event the NBA Finals are now front and center with the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Miami Heat . A clash of styles and with a quartet of All Stars in Dirk Nowitzki , <a href=”http://nba.com/playerfile/lebron_james/”&gt; LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . This series has the makings of being a classic if both teams play up to their true potential . But with that being said I can’t help but wonder if the outcome could once again be the same as before when these two teams last met in an NBA Finals in 2006 . The Mavericks would go on to lose that series 4-2 in what turned out to be very much a lopsided finals’ series . The Heat for their part during that series saw Finals MVP Dwyane Wade have a memorable NBA Finals in leading the team to their sole win of a championship. For then coach Pat Riley that would be his fourth NBA title as a coach over the course of his already legendary NBA career.

With Riley now as the team President he now has his protege` Erik Spoelstra coaching this star studded team . The young coach along with his Dallas Mavericks’ counterpart Rick Carlisle are both looking for their first title as a coach. And for Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and team GM Donnie Walsh they may well now see this as the organization’s chance at redemption. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler has certainly bolstered the mindset of this Mavericks’ team . Certainly throughout this postseason Dirk Nowitzki has been playing like a man on a mission and he’s been ably assisted by a supporting cast that have simply stepped up to the plate .

The Dallas Mavericks for their part made light work of the Oklahoma City Thunder in a thoroughly convincing fashion defeating Scott Brooks’ team —- 4-1 . For many this result may not have come as a surprise but I for one certainly didn’t feel that the Thunder would wilt so easily but then again with this being such an inexperienced team it is understandable that they would succumb under such circumstances.

The Miami Heat are heavily favored to win this series match-up and with their dynamic trio all playing at a </ahigh caliber this postseason showcase event could either be suspenseful or an unmitigated disaster with the Heat simply walking over the Dallas Mavericks with a great deal of ease. I’d certainly like to think that Mavericks will abate all our fears and make this a memorable NBA Finals ! I’ve no doubt that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would like disprove that although the Mavericks may well have won their regular season series 2-0 the postseason becomes a completely different environment altogether. There’s a great deal more on the line and as such NBA immortality and a legacy to play for as well as an NBA title. That should be enough an incentive for both teams to showcase their undoubted talent and supply the discerning NBA fan with the best possible extravaganza that they can witness . With a worldwide audience approaching 500 million hoping to witness the event ABC as the host broadcast network will be looking to magnify the brand of the NBA as well as their own broadcast talents. And I am sure that David Stern will be hoping that the emerging markets will like what they see. The NBA brand has reached its maturation and saturation point within North America and the league hierarchy now has to look elsewhere to see how best to make the game still a viable and profitable concern. God knows with the mismanagement of the league and the financial mismanagement amongst the teams by their owners and the respective general managers and you can well understand why the league wants a thoroughly entertaining series . Anything that can showcase the league as a entertaining concern would undoubtedly make the NBA a lure for the fan.

As a bye note can someone explain to me how it is that all of a sudden idiocy rears its ugly head with the regard to the comparisons and contrasts with regard to the careers of LeBron James and Michael Jordan . Now looking to add their own thoughts on the matter happens to be none other than Jordan’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Scottie Pippen . The former Bulls’ player stated in a radio interview with hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on their morning radio show “Mike & Mike” would state that Jordan being the game’s greatest scorer but James to his mind can be considered to be the game’s greatest player. Perhaps his statement can be misconstrued but in reality the idiocy of that statement at this juncture simply doesn’t make that much sense . James has yet to win a title and when I last looked two consecutive league MVP awards simply means nothing albeit that there’s a a couple of scoring titles to be added to that resume`. LeBron James needs to win NBA multiple titles before the contrasts and comparison can actually be made . Scottie needs to take a chill pill , quieten down before he alienates himself not only within the city of Chicago but also with his former teammates . If there’s one thing I know…… you simply don’t bite the fu#king hand that feeds you and for Scottie Pippen the hand that fed him was indeed Michael Jeffrey Jordan ! Enough said on the matter I do believe !

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Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 03: New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees makes his way into the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for the NFL negotiations on March 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images ……….

(2) Drew Brees has organized workouts for his teammates while trying to organize labor negotiating efforts with NFL owners.
Jonathan Bachman/Cal Sport Media ……

(3) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, right, watches fellow teammate Jason Terry, left, during practice on Sunday, May 29, 2011, in Dallas. AP Photo/Mike Fuentes ……

(4) Miami Heat basketball players LeBron James (left) and Dwyane Wade talk to the media after a practice session in Miami, Sunday, May 29, 2011. The Heat will play the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA basketball finals on Tuesday . AP Photo/J Pat Carter ………

(5) Jordan and Pippen in a moment of triumph , one of many that the duo had over the course of their career with the Chicago Bulls. Also pictured is Steve Kerr a multiple title winner himself.

(6) A young LeBron James (left) gets the chance to meet his idol Michael Jordan . courtesy of je520wordpress.com ……

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ABCDEFG ……………

ABCDEFG ………………..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Picture and slide show details

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

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

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

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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
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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 .

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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


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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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Chances Are ………. Things Could Get Worse Before They’ll Get A Great Deal Better

Chances Are ………. Things Could Get Worse Before They’ll Get A Great Deal Better

OK so the NFL and the NFLPA are about to have their set to and I’m thinking how is that a $ 9 billion a year industry cannot seem to deal within the parameters set by their template ? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his state of the NFL address to the convened press at Cowboys Stadium , Arlington , Texas has reiterated his wish to hammer out a deal with the union’s Executive Committee led by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and union President Kevin Mawae .

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The league hierarchy and the owners opted out of the league’s collective bargaining agreement which was due to expire on March 3rd 2011. Both sides knew exactly the impasse that this would create and at the same time they’re now looking for the empathy of the NFL fans. Personally I do believe that the NFL and the players had completely underestimated the resolve and tenacity of the fans who in essence will abandon the NFL and their support of their teams . The players see the league as the villains of the piece whereas the league’s view of the union is that they’re self serving and unwilling to acquiesce and make the concessions being asked by Goodell and the owners . The league seeks a give back of $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) a year for the next seven years and on the face of it that might not seem a great deal but when you consider that the figure merely accounts just over 11% of the league’s annual revenues. But also what I’d like to ask of Goodell and the league is given that when the NFL’s next television broadcast agreement comes up for renewal what are they prepared to seek from the networks in question ? I’m sure that NBC , ABC/ESPN , Fox and CBS Sports are closely monitoring these negotiations very closely. As too no doubt are league’s corporate sponsors as they’ve a lot to lose should there be a labor stoppage and a prolonged lockout.

Courtesy of CBCSports.ca

Goodell says bargaining with players ‘beneficial’

Sunday session was first formal talk since November

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says this weekend’s bargaining session with the players’ union was “beneficial.”

In an interview with Fox News Sunday that aired the morning of the Super Bowl, Goodell called drug testing a key issue in labour talks.

Goodell said “a number of” individual players and owners participated in a two-hour meeting Saturday, the first formal bargaining session since November. The labour deal expires in March.

“It’s always a positive when both parties are talking,” he said.

Outlining major sticking points, Goodell talked about revenue division, rookie salaries and benefits for retired players, adding “We want to continue on with the integrity of the game, which is my No. 1 issue.”

He also spoke of “making sure we have the best drug program in sports.”

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As to the league’s showcase even this may well be the last chance the fans will get to see a Superbowl (SBXLV) for a while . Imagine there being no 2011-12 season and nothing but an uproar from the fans while the players themselves simply sit back and wait ? Blank television screens and stadiums across the league empty , never mind the economic impact the loss would create to the 32 league markets . These are the things that I believe that Goodell knows will hamper the league’s image and the brand itself. The last stoppage to affect the league was over decade and a half ago and the fans who witnessed this all left them aggrieved and angry at the NFL.

At this juncture I’m not so sure that this impasse will be quickly resolved as both sides are entrenched and don’t appear to want to budge from their current positions. Goodell in part and the owners are also looking to have an eighteen game schedule in place by either the 2011-12 or 2012-13 season . The NFLPA aren’t about accede to that request unless the league will make several concessions , one of which would be to decrease the number preseason games from four to two. Also as a bone of contention is that of the NFL rookies’ salary contract and the idiocy that simply goes on there. Agents such Drew Rosenhaus and Leigh Steinberg may not view this as acceptable but either way they should be thankful that their clients will still get paid.

I’ve read with interest that the Wilpon family will be looking to sell a minority stake in the New York Mets and this has come about because the family has a judgment against them seeking some $350 million that they were able to profit from in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal which defrauded several thousand clients to the tune of an estimated $59 billion ($59 ,000,000,000). This was as such the largest fraud perpetrated and whereby the SEC in conjunction with FBI and Justice Department were able to catch the felon , in the case Madoff and his co-conspirators. Madoff is now serving a 125 year jail sentence in in a Federal penitentiary
The Wilpon family it has been said also lost heavily which resulted in what is said to be losses of anywhere between $250 million to $ 500 million if the estimates are to be believed.

Amongst the interested parties is a syndicate of which Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s son Martin Luther King III will be part of the group seeking to become a minority stake owner in the team. Given the history and legacy of the game of baseball I find it rather ironic that it’s only now that we’ve actually seen a genuine attempt for there to be an African American owner in the sport. There’s only one other prominent minority owner in the sport and that is Arte Moreno of the Los Angeles Angeles . Albeit that the league can boast several general managers of ethnic persuasion there simply hasn’t been that ardent fervor you’d have come to expect from Commissioner Bud Selig and the baseball hierarchy for there to be a prominent African American owner within the game.

Martin Luther King III should he and his syndicate group to be successful this would most definitely be a first in MLB. It would also send a clear indication to the ethnic community at large that there is a place for them at the owner’s table should they seek to ascend to those levels. It certainly hasn’t hurt the image of the NBA where Michael Jordan still the face of the NBA is now the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats . And the franchise’s history has been well chronicled in its present guise and it’s hoped that Jordan during his tenure can lead this team some semblance of success.
This much we do know about the Mets in its present guise with the upheaval felt within the front office after the firings of Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya does portend that incoming Head of Baseball Operations Sandy Alderson and VP and Head of Scouting J P Ricciardi are the new brooms brought in by COO Jeff Wilpon to clean house and discard of the unwanted pieces in this underachieving team .

Courtesy of USA Today


Madoff lawsuit: Mets owners owe victims $300 million

New York — The owners of the New York Mets, along with their relatives and other businesses, were “collectively one of the largest beneficiaries” of Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme, receiving approximately $300 million in phantom profits that financed the team and other ventures, a newly unsealed lawsuit charged Friday.

The business empire of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz had 483 Madoff accounts — including 16 for the Mets, from which $90 million of burned investors’ money helped pay the National League baseball franchise’s “day-to-day operations” — according to the lawsuit filed by Irving Picard. Picard is the court-appointed trustee seeking Madoff assets to repay the fraud’s thousands of victims.

The action alleges Wilpon and Katz ignored “gathering clouds” of repeated warnings from financial experts and others that Madoff’s investment operation was in reality a scam, because the owners had come to rely on the uncannily steady profits to substantially support their Sterling Equities Associates empire for a quarter of a century.

PICARD vs Mets : Read the complaint

The owners realized they “were simply in too deep,” the lawsuit says.

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Click on link to read this article in its entirety .

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The Mets’ history has been a storied one of ups and downs more downs given their recent history as they’ve seen their crosstown rivals the New York Yankees have unprecedented success over the last decade and a half. And if the Mets are to succeed then it will have to come down the coaching staff , the prudency shown by the front office and the performances of the players. If they can’t get it done this upcoming season then the New York Mets might as well throw in the towel once and for all.

I’m sorry but given the horrid season the Minnesota Timberwolves are now having and perhaps the only reason to be joyful, as they’ve seen the team’s lone All Star —– Kevin Love have a truly astonishing season with his play. A constant threat now to throw up 20 and 10 with amazing regularity the player is now being viewed as a must see around the NBA .Both Love and the Los Angeles Clippers’ —- Blake Griffin are simply just letting it rip.And they’ve quite rightly both been rewarded with roster spots on Western Conference All Star team for 2011.

Now while on appearance the Timberwolves’ season has literally spun out of control the team , Kurt Rambis’ and his coaching staff have done their utmost to put on a good face as they’ve struggled to maintain some sense of consistency . And the situation hasn’t helped that O J Mayo has had to serve an NBA mandated 10 game suspension for abusing the game’s substance abuse policy. The player himself however contends that the reason for his positive test stems from the fact that he’s used a supplement which had DHEA . That particular substance is viewed as a PED (performance enhancing drug) by the league’s hierarchy .

Whatever the outcome of this season will be for the Minnesota Timberwolves it’s clear that as of now the organization can only hope for things to get a great deal better. If not then the continued malaise will have the fans deserting the organization and looking elsewhere for to heap noteworthy praise on a team .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

What thoughts if any do you have on the subjects raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment and I’ll do my utmost to respond expeditiously and clarity. Thanks as always for your continued support.

Picture and slide show details .

(1) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been front and center at the Super Bowl this week, dealing with questions about both this season and the possibly delayed one to come because of labor issues. David J. Phillip/Associated Press …..

(2) Center Kevin Mawae (68) of the Tennessee Titans and President of the NFL Player’s Association speaks to members of the media during the NFL Player’s Association Press Conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 4, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Inset also if NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith . Doug Benc / Getty Images North America Inc ……….

(3) DeMaurice Smith, NFL Player’s Association Executive Director, speaks to members of the media during the NFL Player’s Association Press Conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 4, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Getty Images / Doug Benc ……

(4) New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left) and team owner Fred Wilpon patriarch of the family. The front office of the Mets has been completely revamped and so too has the coaching staff . The organization now finds itself in an intensive lawsuit that could have some adverse effects on the team’s long term financial stability and viability as the family has been ordered to pay the victims of the Madoff Ponzi scheme an estimated $350 million . AFP/ Reuters / Michael Findley ……..

(5) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, left, and Denver Nuggets’ Chauncey Billups battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, in Minneapolis. The Nuggets won 113-100 . Billups scored 21 points and had 13 assists while Love scored 18 and had 19 rebounds for the Timberwolves. AP Photo/Jim Mone ……….

(6) Martin Luther King III (R) and his sister Bernice release a dove from the balcony where their father, Martin Luther King Jr., was shot to death at the conclusion of a vigil in King’s honor at the Lorraine Hotel April 4, 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee. King was killed by James Earl Ray 40 years ago today. Win McNamee / Getty Images ………

😛

Alan aka tophatal ……….

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C Black

Eye candy ……………………. Courtney Black

Courtney 2

Eight ball corner pocket, my balls and pen_s are feeling great ! Thanks Courtney !

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Ashanti ……….. ‘Rain On Me’

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You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !

You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !

I’m sorry but being an avid NBA fan I’ve always loved the spirit of competition and that goes through a whole litany of sports that I’ve either grown up participating in or watching from afar. At present but there’s no other way to explain it but there really are some god-damn awful teams in the league at present . And it’s clearly down to the lack of real quality coaches in the NBA and the very fact that in large part many of the players simply aren’t that good.

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At present the two worst teams in the league record wise are Minnesota Timberwolves (11-30) and the preposterously bad Cleveland Cavaliers (8-39). I’m sorry but not even Byron Scott can now coach this team out of the mess that they’re in. Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert may well have made the fans in Cleveland a promise that a NBA title banner would be raised inside the Quicken Loans Arena before LeBron James and the Miami Heat would be a led to title by the former Cavaliers’ player. And I know that as of late the Heat have had their problems in the league with a number of setbacks and the fact that their triumvirate of James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have suddenly become injury prone and the very fact that the team’s —- productivity has been a little inconsistent . Well it won’t hide the fact that they’re still one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference .

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra I’ve no doubt is a capable coach and will right the ship and I can see them contending . The same however cannot be said of the Cavaliers as they descend into an abyss of mediocrity. There’s not been enough that can be said about this team as they have lost 20 consecutive games . And if you thought that statistic was bad then you’ve only got to simply look at the team’s statistics to see how bad things have really become for the organization as a whole. Even with a veteran such as Antawn Jamison on board the Cavaliers simply hasn’t had an answer for any of their opponents that they’ve met this season.

It goes without saying that the only hope that the Cleveland Cavaliers may now have is to go for broke and simply just “tank the season” in the hope that they can earn one of the top picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. And with there being such an abundance of talent in the college ranks namely Kemba Walker , Jared Sullinger , Darius Morris , Marcus Morris , Jimmer Fredette , and Kyle Singler amongst a litany young college players who’ll be looking to make their mark at the professional level. It may well on appearance not be such a bad thing were the Cavaliers to go down that particular path. At this juncture I’m wondering also how Dan Gilbert’s demeanor has to be doing . In an offseason where he berates LeBron James for abandoning the team , I find it mildly amusing that much of this could have been avoided had both parties involved acted with common courtesy rather than letting this idiotic play out in public for their own personal consumption !

Now while no one can deny that John Wall had a stellar collegiate career with the Kentucky Wildcats but his career thus far with the Washington Wizards (13-35) has been anything but average at best. And while praise has been heaped upon the player I can’t help but feel that they’re simply not good enough to be even competitive within the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. A number one overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft Wall was seen as the corner piece of this team with him perhaps working in part alongside Gilbert Arenas . But alas, that wasn’t to be as the seasoned veteran was shipped off to the Orlando Magic as part of a multi-player multi-team deal .

Say what you will but the Wizards’ fans in attendance at the Verizon Center in Washington , DC can’t have envisaged this all unfolding as a spectacle in front of their very eyes. Their season has been bad enough as it is with the inconsistency playing to all facets of the Wizards’ game . And with what has taken place with the Washington Redskins and their rather mundane season under the tenure of Mike Shanahan , Kyle Shanahan and that rather mediocre coaching staff , in truth one could have a great deal of sympathy for the fans in the nation’s capitol. It’s not as if the Washington Nationals were about to provide them with any solace whatsoever. Although the fans are holding out for a change in fortunes for the team this upcoming season at the Nationals Ballpark . I’d say at this moment in time they’d be better off praying for hell to freeze over first before they can see any of the three teams in question actually turn themselves into championship contenders.

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I’m not so sure as to what needs to be done in order for the Washington Wizards to be competitive. From a coaching standpoint this young roster needs to learn as much as they can as fast as they can if they’re to show any semblance of progress . And that’s the real task that Flip Saunders is now facing even with the assistance of his coaching staff led by Randy Wittman and former NBA player Sam Cassell . If this staff cannot get this Wizards’ team heading in the right direction then to my mind then the turnaround in fortunes that they seek won’t be happening anytime soon ! And that will be to the embarrassment of the Wizards’ front office , GM Ernie Grunfeld and that of principal managing partner Ted Leonsis .

Now when these two teams meet at the Verizon Center I’d certainly like to think that the NBA hierarchy won’t have the temerity to make this part of the national broadcast or through their cable broadcast on their own in-house provider NBA Tv . As poor as the two teams have been playing I certainly don’t think that the nation ought to have to endure such garbage ! Simply put , this will do absolutely nothing to enhance the brand of the NBA , certainly not the brand and product that has given us Jordan , Kareem , Malone , Ewing , Magic Johnson , the 95-96 Bulls’ team and a slew of other NBA greats !

As an avid fan of the game just like any other NBA fan I’d prefer to see competitive games with levels of dexterity and athleticism . Unfortunately when the Cavaliers and Wizards meet on Sunday 13 th February that’s unlikely to happen ! Somehow I think at this juncture I’m sure that David Stern is looking for options if not a chance perhaps to ask that both teams simply settle the result of the game by playing checkers rather than subjecting the nation to this particular form of mediocrity on an NBA basketball court .

What thoughts if any do you have on the NBA season and the woefully inept form of the teams lumbering at the bottom of their respective divisions ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this topic and any other as it relates to the NBA .

Alan aka tophatal

Picture and slide show details immediately below .

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(1)Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph, right, knocks the ball away from Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Minneapolis. Randolph was charged with a foul on the play. AP Photo/Jim Mone ……….

(2) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Darko Milicic, center, of Serbia, crouches between Memphis Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol, left, of Spain, and Sam Young in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(3) Danny Granger (33) of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Christian Eyenga (8) of the Cleveland Cavaliers at The Quicken Loans Arena on February 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images ……

(4)Fans hope for the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers losing streak, in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers continued a disappointing season, losing 117-112 to the Pacers, as the streak reached 22 straight. I’d like to think that the Cavaliers’ fans have now become very much more appreciative of the team’s losing streak and their continued mediocre effort being shown on the court ? AP Photo/Mark Duncan …….

(5)Cleveland Cavaliers’ Manny Harris shoots against Indiana Pacers’ Mike Dunleavy, right, in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011, in Cleveland. The Pacers won 117-112 to hand the Cavaliers their 22nd straight loss. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …..

(6) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott, center, is flanked by his coaching staff, from left, Paul Pressey, Chris Jent, Jamahl Mosley and Joe Prunty , Monday September 27th 2010 at the team’s training facility in Independence ,Ohio ,. Picture courtesy of Associated Press .

(7) Alonzo Gee (33) of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against the Indiana Pacers at The Quicken Loans Arena on February 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images ……

(8) Washington Wizards point guard John Wall walks onto the court at the end of a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Wall shot two for 11 with four points in Washington’s 97-89 loss to New Orleans. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ………..

(9) Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts to an official’s call in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. New Orleans defeated Washington 97-89. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ……

(10) Washington Wizards guard Nick Young, right, shoots over New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. New Orleans defeated Washington 97-89, despite a game-high 30 points from Young. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky ……..

(11) LeBron James smiles as he’s introduced to the crowd at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with owner Dan Gilbert, left, general manager Danny Ferry, second from the left, and coach Mike Brown, second from the right. In happier times the quartet saw untold success from a competitive and financial standpoint but the past offseason led to a tumultuous upheaval with Danny Ferry re-signing as general manager , Mike Brown being fired and as we all know James left the Cavaliers to ply his trade elsewhere with the Miami Heat. Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer ….

(12) Billionaire internet and media mogul Ted Leonsis the principal owner of the Washington Wizards as well as the NHL’s —- Washington Capitals . Leonsis and his partners bought the Wizards from the late Abe Pollin and his family . Courtesy of The Washington Post/ Getty Images/ Christian Hascher …………

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NB: Click on the links shown below to read the latest news and views around the NBA .

NBA News ……………

NBA Standings ………. Conference

Division

Daily Statistics

NBA Team Statistics

NBA scores & results

Tuesday results

Thursday’s scheduled games

Friday’s scheduled games

Saturday’s scheduled games

Sunday’s scheduled games

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Cavaliers’ news

Wizards’ news

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Junk-in-the-trunk

Eye candy ………………. Meet ‘Biscuits’ whose assets seem to be very well rounded wouldn’t you say ?

Continue reading “You’re Only As Good As Your Last Game ……. Unfortunately If Your Last Game Was Good As The Ones That’ve Been Played By The Cavaliers and Wizards Then Than That’s Not Saying A Great Deal ………….. !”

All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

Well at the midway point of the NBA season teams are now jockeying for positions as the meat of the season now awaits after the game’s midseason showcase event the All Star game. Now what many view as one of the better professional staged midseason events amongst the four major sports it has to be said that beyond the MLB All Star game the NBA All Star event might just be the most popular of the four major sports.

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Slide show for your perusal

From my own perspective the game itself is about as competitive as the NFL Pro Bowl is meant to be. There’s no real incentive and it is in essence really about the multi million dollar owners —- players of the league merely to have one great big party that in essence in the end comes at the expense of the all too willing public who are in attendance at the game and the surrounding events that take place over the All Star weekend. Now the voting itself for the event borders on the insanity that we see each quadrennial when the Presidential elections take place. Do you vote for who you favor because of their popularity or from the substance of their being ? There’s more acrimony over who’s been slighted but in the end there it’s also nothing more than a popularity contest as the fans participate in this alongside the coaches of the teams participating in the All Star event. And what’s portrayed isn’t far off the non-sense we see on the ratings juggernaut reality show American Idol . Only here there’s no three panel of arbitrators offering up their thoughts of the talent on view but at times you might feel that there ought to be . I mean Paula Abdul use to show about as much insight on the show than the idiocy we’ve seen being shown as to the nominees for some of the spots on the NBA All Star roster .

The Eastern Conference may well give us starters Dwight Howard , Kevin Garnett , Amare’ Stoudemire , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . Coaching the Eastern Conference team will be Doc Rivers but that may well change given precedence that’s normally set . Reserves for the team will be firmly adjudged with the fans’ voting and that of the input of the coach himself.

The Western Conference will throw up the usual suspects Kobe Bryant former league MVP and the likes of Steve Nash , Carmelo Anthony , Dirk Nowitzki , Deron Williams , Yao Ming who’ll miss the event due to season sending surgery . Cases are now being made for the Los Angeles Clippers’ —– Blake Griffin , and the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love after the outstanding seasons that they’ve had. There are some who may well feel that neither is deserving while others who feel that there’s a possibility that one of the duo will make it unto the Western team roster while the other will be a reserve for the game.

Now while I’ve never really been enamored with the event I do think that for Commissioner David Stern the league’s hierarchy and the owners this is more of getting the NBA global brand further out there. With countless billions of dollars in revenues each season and the mere fact that the game is perhaps more widely recognized across the globe than the NFL and MLB combined. Michael Jordan was and still is the pre-eminent face of the NBA albeit that he’s retired from the game . The mantel may well have been assumed by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as they seek basketball fame and immortality but other than the regular season and the NBA postseason the regular schedule as such provides us with nothing more than seeing the stars and team we’ve come to support .

Reigning champions the Los Angeles Lakers have had their season of ups and downs but they’ve been able to maintain their status amongst the West’s elite as they seek a three-peat with coach Phil Jackson at the helm of this team . While I’ve no doubt that they’ll be a part of the postseason parade I must admit that they do need to get more solid contributions from players such as Ron Artest , Lamar Odom and in particular Andrew Bynum if they’re to prove to be the team to beat not just within the conference but as the presumptive favorites for the NBA title.

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Well it does go without saying that glamor of the “Big Three” in Miami engineered in part by Pat Riley at the insistance of owner of Micky Arison that if they should fall short of the expected goals that many believe has been set within the organization even though no one has gone on record that winning the NBA title has been set as the target. It’s clearly evident that this is what is actually wanted by all associated with the team and organization. Should they fall short of that presumed target then questions will have been asked and answered and I’ve no doubt that James’ former employer and team owner Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the happiest man in the world should LeBron James come up short with the Miami Heat.

At midpoint of the season there’s no denying that a number of teams have underachieved and there have been one or two pleasant surprises. The San Antonio Spurs have come flying out of the gate and have the best record in the league . Tony Parker , Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan are still omnipresent on this team and with there being added contributions from the young players on the roster DeJuan Blair , George Hill , Tiago Splitter and seasoned veteran Antonio McDyess who are making Gregg Popovich quite possibly a shoo-in for the NBA Coach of the Year .

If there’s said to be an immense disappointment it may well be the seasons for the Sacramento Kings and that of the Minnesota Timberwolves . If nothing else both teams could be on the cards for the top pick in the NBA Draft . Jared Sullinger , Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith are thought to be the top three players liable to be the top picks in the draft. And given that triumvirates’ play this college season I’ve no doubt in my that they’d be able to contribute to the Kings and Timberwoves greatly !

At the midpoint of the season what are your impressions of the NBA and the upcoming All Star event itself as a spectacle ? And if anything are you entirely happy with how the players are voted unto the respective team rosters ? Fans’ contributions apart and that of the coaches do you believe that there’s justification as to how the votes are accorded for the NBA midseason showcase ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on the topic and as always thanks for the continued support !

Picture and slide show details …………….

(1) In this file photo taken Jan. 17, 2011, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant rests during a timeout in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Los Angeles. Representatives for Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood announced Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, that Bryant will have a ceremony setting his hands and feet in cement at the theater as part of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities on Feb. 19, the day before the All-Star game in Los Angeles. Bryant will become the first athlete honored with the ceremony. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo …..

(2) Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, left, dunks over Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Przybilla during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. AP Photo/Don Ryan …………

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Arena on January 18, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images ……

(4) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, left, congratulates DeJuan Blair during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 104-95 . AP Photo/Darren Abate ……

(5) Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, below, dunks as forward Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ………..

NB

The 2011 NBA All Star Game will be held at the Staples Center home to the Los Angeles Lakers

NBA News

NBA Scores & results …..

NBA schedule

NBA Standings ……….. Conference ………. Division ….

NBA Team Stats

NBA Player Stats

NBA All Star ballots

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………

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Lenny Kravitz ………… “Come On Get It” NBA TNT theme song for the season

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Karmen

Eye candy ………………….. Karmen Sutra and a continued montage of the beauty .

What’s not to like ?

Karmen  Sutra

Bootylicious !

As Kravitz says in his song ‘Come On Get It” …….’come get some of this’ !

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A Good Workman Never Blames His Tools But You Can Be Sure That Others Will ………………..

A Good Workman Never Blames His Tools But You Can Be Sure That Others Will ………………..

Well the ramifications have been felt from the abrupt departure of the Cleveland Cavaliers from the NBA Playoffs and they’re being bounced out in the Eastern Conference semi-finals (4-2) by the Boston Celtics . Anyone who was of the opinion that the Cavaliers were in for an easy ride to begin with , obviously were riding on the LeBron James’ bandwagon. And for much of the season it was quite a pleasant ride. But for me when I’m taken on a journey I also like to have a change of scenery and view many of the different venues on that journey. In essence what I’m saying is I just don’t want to see how LeBron plays but also how his teammates contribute to the play of the team and its makeup. And it would be fair to say that for much of the season it was essentially all about LeBron . I mean the NBA writers and the broadcasters such as ABC/ESPN , TNT and NBA Tv wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Never mind what the tv pundits had to say about it all.

To see the like of Kenny Smith , Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller fawn over LeBron was akin to watching several pubescent teenage boys discover a Playboy centerfold expose’. I’m not saying that their erections lasted way beyond 4 hours but it wouldn’t have surprised me if each had used more than the average dosage prescribed of Cialis “Charles have you got a hard on for LeBron ” ? Kenny Smith . “Course Kenny , I gets a hard on anytime I sees something that I want to stick my di_k into and that includes your momma” !

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Slide show for your perusal .

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With the fallout , now comes the speculation as to whether or not James leaves the only professional franchise he’s ever played for or whether or not he remains with the team and gives it another shot at chasing that elusive first NBA title . Given the fact that the Cavaliers’ front office placed a team around around the player that was hardly complementary to his skill-set. I can see how some would surmise that this isn’t all LeBron’s fault ! But is it Mike Brown’s fault or that of his coaching staff ? Or does the blame actually lay with GM Danny Ferry who essentially was the architect of this roster with some input from the star player (LeBron), himself . Apparently , it was mentioned that the player and the executive couldn’t agree upon whether it was prudent at the time to acquire Amar’e Stoudemire from the Phoenix Suns just prior to the trade deadline. Instead the team went after and acquired an aging Shaquille O’Neal .And the rest as they say is history.

As the three tv pundits and former NBA players made claims as to the argument to be made. It was plain to see that all three were enamored with the two time league MVP and the prowess shown throughout much of the season . But not once did any of them make a case that any of LeBron’s teammates had contributed to the team’s success as they perceived it. Albeit, that TNT show host , Ernie Johnson did try to set them straight on that very fact. But to see Johnson try and interject himself between the triumvirate to make a case was in essence, a losing battle.

What we can candidly take away from this all without reservation is that LeBron James while being a phenomenal player, he is no leader either on or off the court. If he is , then someone show me a clear indication where that is in fact the case. He strives to be like his childhood hero , Michael Jordan . But he’s so far away from reaching that pinnacle of excellence that it doesn’t bear talking about. And even if you start to make comparisons as to either player’s abilities at varying points of their careers. What is it that we already know about Jordan that we’ve yet to see in LeBron ? It is the fact that Jordan over time trusted those around him and made them an integral part of the success that he and his teammates strove for . Can we actually say that about LeBron at this juncture ?

Now one could make the claim that James has been given little to work with. And that may well be a fair observation. But how can one explain away the abrupt demise of the team that posted the league’s best record of 61-21 ? And then the next minute they fall as flat as a pancake ? And this was a team that many believed to be the prohibitive favorite to win it all this season . So much so, that they were even favored over the defending NBA champions , the Los Angeles Lakers . And the talk was of a finals for the ages with a matchup of the two best players of this generation in LeBron James and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. As we now know , it wasn’t to be.

With there being little left to say on the matter other than to say stop with the inanity of making comparisons between James and his predecessors and that of his peers as of today. All we’re now seeing from those who choose to chime in with comments are tidbits of idiocy that as such have no merit on where , how and what may well happen in the future. It is the immediacy of the here and now that actually counts. And what I believe that we can now all agree upon is that the lavish praise and hype heaped upon LeBron James while to many it was deemed justified . It has now in fact cast a giant shadow over the player and his presumed greatness. If we’re now questioning his abilities then what do you think is going inside the player’s head at this moment in time ? He was expected to lead the Cavaliers to triumph and he’d been given the tools to get the job done. Instead , not only did he fail miserably but his leadership now comes into question as does his temperament and whether or not he’s capable of handling real adversity when it looks him in the face.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .
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And while this is all going on James can only look from afar and admire while Kobe Bryant makes it all look so damn easy ! The Lakers are now embarking upon making a successful return and defense of their title. Having defeated the Phoenix Suns – ____ 128-107 in game one of the Western Conference Finals. Phil Jackson’s __ team are now but three wins away from making an impressive run and return to the 2010 NBA Finals .

There’s a great deal to happen between now and the culmination of the NBA postseason. Come July 1st we could know a great deal more about what lies ahead for the NBA and its future. Chances are we could see LeBron James with a new set of work tools , a new team or we won’t. Which is it to be ? How do you as such view the debacle surrounding the Cavaliers and where as such should the ultimate blame lay ? With the player and his teammates ? With the coaching staff or indeed the front office ? By all means chime in with a comment and I’ll do my utmost to answer succinctly and in an appropriate time frame.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………………………….

Johnny Cash ………………..”I’ve Been Working On The Rail Road”

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Who’s Now Getting More Bang For Their Buck ? Kobe , LeBron Or Nike ?

Well now that the NBA Finals are upon us. It has to be said that the marketing behemoths of Madison Avenue will do their very best to entice us all to divest ourselves of our hard earned cash, as they look to bombard us with their wares. And no one will be more likely to do this throughout the series than Nike Inc.And the one thing that you can’t deny about this particular marketing behemoth is that when it comes to using the tools of their trade. There’s absolutely no one better at it on the planet than they are ! Much like Coke , Pepsi, McDonalds are known globally as a brand that transcends the market place. So to now does Nike and all that it represents. And yes there are those amongst us who view them as exploiters of cheap labor and children.As pertaining to the labor laws . Perhaps even much more asides. But there’s no escaping the fact that as Nike goes . So too does the world of sports apparel and sport’s fashion.

Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine

Bill Bowerman co-founder of Nike Inc seen here with former track star Steve Prefontaine. It was Bowerman, who devised the Swoosh motif that’s readily identified with the sport’s apparel company. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Cale Langer …….

From humble beginnings in Beaverton , Oregon . The company founded by Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight has become a colossus amongst its noted peers. The company still strives for excellence in all of its endeavors. And its tentacles now stretches across the globe in terms of its very presence. And with revenues in excess of $18.6bn for last year alone. It’s quite easy to see why the company is still strongly revered and on the same hand so widely despised. It has to be said that we can either choose to ignore the actions in the market place or we can admire them from afar.

Phil Knight

Phil Knight co founder of Nike Inc along with Bill Bowerman the renowned track coach. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ ……..

As of late they’ve become socially conscious and also making sure that the public is very much aware as to the philanthropic efforts around the globe.

But the genius of Nike has always been their marketing and the quality of the product that they place within the market for the consumer. It also hasn’t hirt them by the fact that they make use of the most visibly high profiled athletes to endorse their wares. And from those halcyon days of the Spike Lee directed Michael Jordan ads . We now come full circle where we now have both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James now endorsing Nike made shoes.

So here’s one or two of the ads just in case you’ve not seen them as of yet. I’m sure that throughout the remainder of the NBA Finals they’ll be bandied about our television screens. And at the same time these particular ads will provide us with a great deal of humor.

And while no doubt that LeBron is sitting at home watching the NBA Finals. No doubt hoping that he were participating in. He can at least be content with the fact that residuals he’ll no doubt earn as the ads are replayed again and again. It’ll go some way in making amends for that exit that he and his teammates had to endure at the hands of the Orlando Magic. As for Kobe, he’s having his day in the sun and he appears to be loving it nonetheless. As if anything else really matters as he pursues a fourth championship ring ?

Continue reading “Who’s Now Getting More Bang For Their Buck ? Kobe , LeBron Or Nike ?”

Common Sense And Phil Knight Have Nothing In Common …………….

For all of his posturing and wealth , it’d appear that a businessman , such as Nike co-founder Phil Knight just doesn’t seem to get it. Here’s a man whose company is one of Tiger Woods’ primary commercial endorsers. Nike pays Woods in excess of $25 million annually, plus his apparel company markets a range of clothing and golf equipment that bears Woods’ name. Over the past decade upon Woods’ entrance on the PGA Tour, theirs is a relationship that seems to have been an amicable and fruitful one , for all of the parties concerned.

Nike  co-founder   , Phil Knight  .    picture  appears  courtessy  of Business  Week /Getty  Images/  Stan   Strouther   .............
Nike co-founder , Phil Knight . picture appears courtessy of Business Week /Getty Images/ Stan Strouther .............

Courtesy of Sporting News

Nike’s Phil Knight tells SBJ: Tiger’s indiscretions just ‘minor blip’

By Tripp Mickle , Sports Business Journal

Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight has long been regarded as one of the sports industry’s leading innovators, his influence stretching across the entire sports landscape. He was in New York last week being honored as the National Football Foundation’s 2009 Gold Medal recipient, the organization’s highest award. Before the ceremony, Knight, who wore blue jeans, a sport coat and black tennis shoes, spoke to SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Tripp Mickle at the Waldorf-Astoria.

SBJ: How would you characterize the state of athlete endorsements right now?
Knight: It’s a market like other things and the market like other markets has gone down. When the economy comes back up, they’ll go back up.
SBJ: When?
Knight: You tell me when the economy is going to get better and I’ll tell you right about that same time.
SBJ: You look at someone like Tiger Woods and this episode of infidelity. Does this change the concept of building brands around athletes?
Knight: Not for us. It’s part of the game.
SBJ: Does a company like Nike or another company run a risk in building brands around athletes?
Knight: There’s always a risk. One of the things we always try to do when we have a big endorsement is check out the character and the pattern of the individual. But you’re not going to get it right all the time, and if you’re going to be in the business you have to recognize that.

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Knight, a well respected and an astute businessman, who built his company into a global conglomerate that has revenues in excess of $11 billion a year , annually. Its size and power, dwarfs its nearest competition on the global stage. Albeit , that Nike now tries to portray itself as being socially active and aware. It has come a long way from where its work practices where being viewed and questioned when using child labor to mass produce the Nike product line , in particular the Michael Jordan, sneaker line in the Far East . At the time, they were paying a meager wage, to women and children who were working 12 to 16 hour days, for a mere pittance. For which the product was being sold on the North American consumer market from anywhere between $200- $400 a pair. But that’d be only half of the story concerning the company and its apparent labor malpractice issues.

Woods (right)  and   former  NBA great,  Michael   Jordan   share  some time  on  the  golf  course.   Jordan  prior  to  Woods'  introduction  on  the  PGA  Tour  was  Nike's  main   pitchman   in  terms   of  sales  and   endorsements   for  many  of   Nike's  top  products.   Woods  has  since  eclipsed   Jordan  as  the   company's  main   source  of  product  income   and sales'   pitch  endorsements.         picture  appears   courtesy   ap/photo/   Frank   Hutchinson   ...........................
Woods (right) and former NBA great, Michael Jordan share some time on the golf course. Jordan prior to Woods' introduction on the PGA Tour was Nike's main pitchman in terms of sales and endorsements for many of Nike's top products. Woods has since eclipsed Jordan as the company's main source of product income and sales' pitch endorsements. picture appears courtesy ap/photo/ Frank Hutchinson ...........................

As Nike has steered a path towards business respectability , the company has taken on a tone of social reform and awareness. But if you were to think that those particular changes would as such make the company appear better to the consumer. You’d be entirely right. But at the same time there still remains that somewhat maniacal fervor on Knight’s path, to conquer its competitors by whatever means possible within the tenets of the law.

Nike and Woods are tied at the hips and their symbiotic relationship will continue while Tiger undergoes whatever is necessary to bring his familial environment back on track. As to the possible ‘commercial hit’ that the company will take from the uproar over Woods’ misplaced sexual shenanigans. No one can really quantify what it will be. But they are bound to lead to a drop-off in sales of any Tiger Woods’ based apparel and product. It just stands to reason. There are some things that the public can be forgiving about but when the alleged offender chooses to hide behind a web of deceit and intrigue . Then the public and media alike , will turn their wrath upon that same individual. Deserving or undeserving as the case maybe. It’s not so much that Woods was placed upon a pedestal but he chose it for himself , the very moment he sought to use that public forum for his philanthropic efforts concerning young children. It’s one thing to preach honesty and the benefits of obtaining an education. But it’s another to then lie to not only to the public but also the closest members of your own family, as to your own shortcomings and misdeeds. Tiger literally has learned nothing than the very fact he felt he was above the fray and invincible. The character flaw is now there for all too see and so too is that now ever enlarged chink in his armor.

Phil Knight views Woods’ misdeeds as nothing more than a slight bump in the road. Wherein , he believes that in some respects it’s much ado about nothing. Well , for Knight as he stands nothing to lose from this all emotionally. It clearly shows however , that he’s an individual who thinks nothing of a client of his , being a philanderer , a liar but above all someone who’s a conduit for the very consumers that his company elicits in buying his products. Either , he’s condoning Woods’ actions or he simply just doesn’t get it all ? I certainly think that on the face of it , Phil Knight isn’t a naive individual. But his statement concerning Tiger Woods makes him (Knight) look like a complete ass ! It may well start to hit home once the consumers start to buy less of his client’s product and forsake those products and go elsewhere for their needs.

Common sense , intelligence and clarity pertaining to one being held accountable for one’s actions just doesn’t seem to sit at all well with either Tiger Woods or Phil Knight. And in the case of Phil Knight , it just appears to be that he wanted to make that idiotic sound byte without at all thinking about the ramifications of Woods’ actions.

Yo Lakers’ Fans Boo All You Want ’cause Once Kobe’s Gone The Lights’ll Go Out At The Staples Center …………….

They try to makes themselves out to be sophisticated fans and knowledgeable about their team. And of course, courtside you’ll always find the likes of Dyan Cannon and Jack Nicholson showing their unbridled passion and support for the Los Angeles Lakers.Granted, court side at the Staples Center is the place to be seen, when your team is winning on a consistent basis. And especially when the game’s best player is now happy with his lot. Kobe Bryant is atop of his game and the basketball world and it can’t be taken away from him.Not unless, he has a mindset to relinquish those accolades festooned upon him ? And at this juncture , I think that’s unlikely to happen.

Head Coach Phil Jackson and Ron Artest  of the Los Angeles Lakers talk after the Lakers practice on November 16, 2009 at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.    picture appears courtesy  of nbae/getty images/ Noah Graham ...............
Head Coach Phil Jackson and Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers talk after the Lakers practice on November 16, 2009 at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Noah Graham ...............

So undoubtedly, I’m as perplexed as the next person to find out that some itinerant Lakers’ fans saw fit to berate, disparage and boo the team after a recent loss on their homecourt. And as fickle as fans can sometimes be. I think that the Lakers’ fans in particular ought to be happy with their lot and appreciative of the talent that Bryant has been surrounded by. Hell, it could be a hell of a lot worse , you could be watching the Clippers ? OK , so I threw that in there to annoy you, the most discerning of Lakers’ fans ! But like I’ve said be appreciative of what you have in front of you. Not only in terms of Kobe Bryant , but also the team’s coach in , Phil Jackson and that of his coaching staff. Because without the likes of Frank Hamblen, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Brian Shaw,Craig Hodges and Jim Cleamons. One seriously doubts that the Lakers would’ve made it as far as they did last year. he old adage is that….’players wins games and defense wins championships’. But to my mind without the proper coaching they’re not able to achieve the goals that are set for them to begin with. And that’s most certainly where the abilities Phil Jackson and his coaching staff comes mightily handy.No one’s of the belief that this Lakers’ team could’ve rode single handedly on the shoulders of Bryant alone, on their way winning last season’s NBA title ?

 Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Trevor Ariza  of the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Rockets won 101-91.    picture appears courtesy  of  getty  images/ Stephen  Dunn
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Rockets won 101-91. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports and Associated Press

Lakers booed at home in 101-91 loss to Rockets

By Beth Harris , AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Trevor Ariza(notes) got his NBA championship ring and his Houston Rockets got the win.

Aaron Brooks(notes) saw the ring dripping with diamonds and suddenly he was off on a career night. He took the Houston Rockets with him, scoring a career-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers, in a 101-91 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday night, sending the Lakers to a second consecutive loss.

“That’s my first time seeing an NBA ring,” Brooks said. “It moved us and we played inspired basketball.”

And the NBA champs? Well, they looked downright ordinary again.

The Lakers were coming off a 105-79 drubbing at Denver two nights earlier only to have another team they vanquished in last season’s title run show them up at home, where they got booed.

“Defensively, we need to step it up,” Andrew Bynum(notes) said. “That’s what we’re lacking right now. We got guards trying to box out bigs. Bigs trying to box out guards. We’re all over the place right now.”

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So forgive me for saying this, but we’re a mere eleven game into the season, with the Los Angeles Lakers (7-3) having the fourth best record tied with the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference. Whereupon, they only sit 1 1/2 games behind the division leading, Phoenix Suns (9-2) in the Pacific Divsion . And within the division you have the likes of the Sacramento Kings, L. A. Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. And while one might only view the Suns as their most serious threat within the division. That isn’t to say that Phil Jackson and his players are overlooking the Suns, or any other team within the Western Conference.

Winning, we know cures all that ails but the true test of a team is how they handle the adversity of losing. And whether or not the lessons that are learned from a loss makes them a better team in the future. Something it appears that the Lakers’ fans in attendance couldn’t care less about. But as I alluded to earlier they’d have you believe that many of them are the most knowledgeable NBA fans around. That may well be the case in some instances but I can only surmise that those who were showing their displeasure during and after the 101-91 loss to the Houston Rockets, were either inebriated or they’re just your normal belligerent oafish fans, you’d come to expect in attendance at a sporting event. And OK, so we know that this loss didn’t help, knowing that this came off an earlier loss to the Denver Nuggets,some nights earlier. The result there too was another blowout loss 105-79 and where the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with an almost effortless 25 points,4 reb’s,3 steals, 2 assists and a thoroughly engaging display. But if anything,it was an allround team effort, with some stifling defense from the George Karl coached team.

Two consecutive losses and you’d have thought that the Lakers’ season is already over ? But nothing could be further from the truth and if anything the majority of Lakers’ fans ought to know this. But it would appear that far too many of them are about the here and now- what have you done for me lately ? That sort of thinking shows the crass side of the fans who are essentially unintelligent ! Yes, I said it ,unintelligent ! What are going to do, piss on me for telling the truth ?

The Lakers’ display,though woefully inept against the Nuggets. No one
could’ve imagined that it would carry over the game against the Rockets and result in the 101-91 loss. It may well have come out of over complacency, exhaustion. Or the mere fact that having just received their championship rings they were to in awe of the event and just thought that they’d ride their through part of the game and then turn it on at will, against the Rockets ? For Ron Artest formerly of the Rockets and now with the Lakers. This must’ve been a night that he’d rather forget. And for the Rockets, Trevor Ariza was facing his former team and no doubt hell bent on showing what they’d be missing out on , in not having re-signed him.

And while one can appreciate that the Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA champions. The hardest thing in the world to do , is to come back and successfully defend that championship. Albeit, that Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant have been recipients of such a feat. In the case of Jackson, he achieved his three-peat with the Chicago Bulls twice, with Michael Jordan being the tour-de-force on each of those occasions. And then came a third three-peat , this time around with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in tow with the Lakers. We know that if the Los Angeles Lakers are indeed to successfully defend their title. Then it’ll have to be an allout effort right across the board from the team .

Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.   picture  appears courtesy of  getty images/ Stephen  Dunn   ..............
Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn ...................

A great deal is expected from the likes of Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom ,and in particular both Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. Artest, in particular has to show that the organization’s faith in signing him was justified. And Bynum has to prove that he’s finally ready to take his game to the next level. For Bryant, all he has to do is just lead this with the resolve and maturity he’s shown. While undoubtedly showing that he’s still marquee player in the league , bar none ! People can opine about LeBron James and how he is the best player in the NBA. But until his legacy as a player, shows something tangible by way of a championship. In essence ,he’ll be viewed as nothing more than a protoge’ and an exceptional player.

As I alluded to earlier though Kobe Bryant has yet to bow from the NBA stage and ride off into the sunset. Chances are that if the behavior of those alleged Lakers’ fans continue. Then he may well choose to ride off into the sunset, not into retirement but to ply his trade elsewhere in the NBA. Stranger things have happened and will happen in this game we call basketball. But the strangest of them all, would be to see Kobe Bryant driven out of Los Angeles because of the bellicose fans who call themselves true Lakers’ fans. We expect fans to be critical of their teams when they’re not playing well. What one doesn’t expect, is for those fans to behave as if they’ve suddenly found the art of being an absolute moron. Appreciate Bryant while you can. Because I’d hate to see the lights go out at the Staples Center , should Kobe up and leave. Because if ‘The Mamba’ leaves, there won’t be much to entice the fans to the Staples Center. And then what would the likes Jack, Dyan, Will, Jada , Tom and Katie do for an evening out ? Go watch the L A Galaxy of the MLS ? I think not !

Los Angeles Lakers’ Team Roster 2009-10

NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
37 Ron Artest F 6-7 260 11/13/1979 St. John’s 10
12 Shannon Brown G 6-4 210 11/29/1985 Michigan State 3
24 Kobe Bryant G 6-6 205 08/23/1978 Lower Merion HS (PA) 13
17 Andrew Bynum C 7-0 285 10/27/1987 St. Joseph HS (NJ) 4
1 Jordan Farmar G 6-2 180 11/30/1986 UCLA 3
2 Derek Fisher G 6-1 210 08/09/1974 Arkansas-Little Rock 13
16 Pau Gasol F-C 7-0 250 07/06/1980 Barcelona, Spain 8
28 Didier Ilunga-Mbenga C 7-0 255 12/30/1980 Kinshasa, DRC 5
6 Adam Morrison F 6-8 205 07/19/1984 Gonzaga 2
7 Lamar Odom F 6-10 230 11/06/1979 Rhode Island 10
21 Josh Powell F 6-9 240 01/25/1983 North Carolina State 4
18 Sasha Vujacic G 6-7 205 03/08/1984 Maribor, Slovenia 5
4 Luke Walton F 6-8 235 03/28/1980 Arizona 6

HEAD COACH
Phil Jackson (College – North Dakota)

ASSISTANT COACHES
Frank Hamblen (College – Syracuse)
Brian Shaw (College – UC-Santa Barbara)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (College – UCLA)
Craig Hodges (College – Long Beach State)
Jim Cleamons (College – Ohio State)

ATHLETIC TRAINER
Gary Vitti (College – Southern Connecticut State, Utah)

C – Captain
** – Unsigned Draft Pick
(FA) – Free Agent