When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

When, it’s all said and done , the better man, or team won . Or were they ?

By Tophatal

Well, the 2012-13 NFL season has come to close , with the Baltimore Ravens winning their second Superbowl since 2000. The “ Harbaugh Bowl” lived up to all of the hype and expectations , one have come to expect of the nation’s biggest sport’s event . The city of New Orleans were wonderful hosts, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana , was the perfect setting for the event.

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With Ray Lewis now riding off into the sunset as a retiring NFL player , happy with the knowledge of having won his second world title ring , whatever awaits defensive lineman , undoubtedly will be a great deal of wealth and adulation. The wealth, will come in the form of the monies that will obviously be offered to a player by a number of broadcast outlets seeking to have Lewis become an NFL analyst , and who might well be described greatest defense player of his era, and quite good enough to be placed amongst the top five players at the position to have played the game in the NFL . The Ravens came away with a moral and well deserved victory , in a thrilling 34-31 win over their NFC counterparts , the San Francisco 49ers . Opposing quarterbacks , Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick , for the most part , were excellent , and it would suggest that both of these players, should have long and successful careers for their respective teams. Flacco was named the MVP of Superbowl 47 , albeit , that I felt either Jacoby Jones or Ed Reed could have supplanted Flacco for the award, but at the end of the day, the recipient of the award , seemed just right.

For winning head coach , John Harbaugh , he now becomes the first coach in NFL history to have taken a team to the postseason in each of his first five seasons , and to have won a Superbowl in his very first attempt. Baltimore Ravens’ owner, Steve Biscotti , billionaire industrialist , and avid sport’s fan has worked tirelessly in making the franchise he now owns a source of pride in the greater Baltimore area . Both Bisciotti, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome , have built the Ravens into a formidable franchise both on and off the field of play. And this victory was a culmination of their efforts along with that of the entire coaching staff , the players and the fans , themselves . . Newsome drafted prudently , and acquired players , using due diligence , while not having to pay outlandish salaries , in assembling this current roster . Inasmuch, as we know that there is bound to be off-season upheavals amongst the playing staff, there simply can be no denying that the Ravens will be amongst the contenders and quite possibly be viewed as a prohibitive favorite for the Superbowl , for next season. . Your thoughts, on this ? Simply chime in with a comment.

At a time when the NBA should be content with its environment , the game is mired in mediocrity , and lo and behold the self-indulgent union, the NBPA (union) now finds itself mired in controversy , that can only be deemed as an embarrassment not only to the union , league but also the sport , and the brand itself. The now embattled union has seen its Executive Director, Billy Hunter , be forcibly asked to step down , but he states, he is in fact taking a voluntary leave of absence , while the union’s executive committee conducts an in-depth investigation into the misappropriation of league funds , and suggestions that Hunter , sought to transfer $ 7 million in NBPA funds , to be used as an investment to shore up the finances of a Cherry Hill , New Jersey based bank, where two of his children , just happened to be employees . What makes this latest mea-culpa so embarrassing, at the center of this all, is the very fact that Billy Hunter’s intent was have this transaction take place without having advised any senior executive member of the union hierarchy. And here was I thinking , the only such organizations who conducted themselves with such secrecy, were the Teamsters Union , UAW , AFL-CIO and the now inept US government .

It is hard at this juncture to feel any empathy towards the union , Billy Hunter , who is being paid a $ 3 million annual salary to provide the union with his expertise in labor laws, as well as a wide variety of union related issues concerning the NBA . Somehow, I now feel, that Hunter’s days with the union are numbered , with him being in all likelihood being fired. Only a formal announcement awaits , pending the outcome of the investigation , with union President , Derek Fisher , or his deputy , VP , Keyon Dooling , making the statement that Billy Hunter will be relieved of his duties, as the union’s Executive Director , to take effect , immediately .

At the start of the season , in the midst of the upheavals around the league with so many off-season moves . A great deal was made of the fact that the Brooklyn Nets would be seen as a viable candidate to challenge the perceived dominance of the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference . After an inauspicious start to their schedule , Nets’ GM Billy King summarily fired , beleaguered head coach , Avery Johnson and promoted , his assistant , PJ Carlesimo to the position of interim head coach , until the end of the regular season . And while the Nets under Carlesimo , have proven to be a great deal more energetic in their play , I am not so sure that this team , will be able to challenge the likes of the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks , were it to come down to a postseason seven game series !

At 28-19 , the Brooklyn Nets , currently sit in second place , three games behind the New York Knicks (30-15) within the Atlantic Division . In what might be seen, as one of the more competitive divisions within the NBA , it has to be said that the three teams in contention within the division , cannot now afford to make any major slip-ups between now and the end of the regular season , with so much being on the line , and where a drop in a conference position , can mean a life or death situation for those teams and their postseason aspirations. Personally , I am not convinced that the makeup of this current Nets’ roster is simply good enough or anywhere near talented enough to win an NBA title. The team led by Deron Williams , Joe Johnson , Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have proven to be somewhat inconsistent , albeit , that since the installing of P J Carlesimo as the head coach , there has been a gradual overall improvement in the team’s play.

Are you beginning to wonder how good the Chicago Bulls(29-18) might be , were Derrick Rose fully fit and playing on that current roster ? Taking up the slack , in the absence of the point guard , have been Luol Deng , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah , and Nate Robinson . And this has all been borne out , by having the third best record within the Eastern Conference ,while leading the Central Division over their closest rivals , the Indiana Pacers (28-19) . Bulls’ head coach , Tom Thibodeau , in spite of his postseason letdown in 2012 in the playoffs , which at the time , it was the scene of what precipitated to the loss of the Bulls’ point guard , in their first round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers . Thoroughly outplayed in the entire series , the reverberations from that series’ defeat to suggest that beyond the inexperience shown by the team at the time , Thibodeau’s inexperience was glaringly transparent for all to see. With Rose, now on the mend , and thought to be almost nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his surgically repaired left knee . The anticipated timeline for his return, is said to be, after this year’s All Star Break (15th-17th February 2013) , which will be played at the Toyota Center in Houston , Texas , with the rosters of the East and Western Conference being made up of the game’s biggest stars.

The Bulls’ next game will be on Monday night , when they face the Indiana Pacers in a pivotal match-up , that should tell us a great deal about these two teams and where they currently now stand . However , with the anticipated return of Derrick Rose , Tom Thibodeau , has to be mindful , as to how the insertion will affect the rhythm, that the team currently now have. Winners of seven of their last ten games , which is amongst hottest streaks now going in the NBA . As I alluded to earlier , the expectations are high for the return of Derrick Rose , and the likelihood , his first game back could very well be either against the New Orleans Hornets on 19th February , or quite possibly against the Charlotte Bobcats on the 22nd February . There is an intervening game in between 19th and 22nd , on the 21st February , which would I believe would prove to be too stern a test for the player, in having to face the Miami Heat at home in the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois .

If Rose can recapture the form that won him the NBA league MVP , in 2011, then it would certainly bode well for the Chicago Bulls and their very ambitious point guard .

Call me naïve , but it may well take more than a kick in the a$s for David Stern to realize that the NBA brand is in the midst of a down year from a competitive standpoint in comparison to last season . And it would certainly help if the commissioner and the league hierarchy would acknowledge that fact, rather than continually extol the virtue of a league that is lacking in truly appealing stars. Granted , the likes of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Dwyane Wade , Kevin Durant , Russell Westbrook , James Harden , Tony Parker , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin , are some of the most recognized names , and well-paid stars in the NBA at present . Yet, even that by itself, is no real guarantee concerning the success of the league. The revenues of the brand , will grow and decline exponentially , as the NBA finds itself in the midst of another economic downturn .

At a time when the NBA calls out for a rivalry to match the most famous of them all , that of the “ heated rivalry “ between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers during the regular season , but one which took on a life its own during the playoffs , but even more so during the NBA Finals . The budding embers of what could be this best era’s rivalry , that of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder was on view last season during the 2011-12 NBA Finals. And we have seen growing stature and respect between the game’s two best players , in Kevin Durant and LeBron James . Their teams , which they represent , the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, are considered to be amongst the best in the NBA , but this season it is clear that the league is seeing some rather mediocre play being exhibited by the teams in the NBA .

For the Thunder’s head coach , Scott Brooks , his team’s play has been as resolute as ever , even in light of the departure of James Harden from last season’s roster in a stunning trade that sent Harden to the Houston Rockets , and one which literally took everyone by surprise. Currently, with the second best record in the Western Conference. At 36-12 , the Thunder sit two games behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs (38-11) who are winners of ten consecutive games , currently the longest such winning streak in the NBA at present .

In their regular season meetings between the Heat and Thunder , since the inception of Western Conference franchise , these two teams have met a total of 54 times , when one takes into account the franchise’s former being as the Seattle Supersonics . The Miami Heat currently leads the series 30-19 during the regular season , and by a margin of 4-1 in the postseason , as reflected in their only series’ postseason meeting , which took place in last season’s NBA Finals.

In the 2012-13 season , and their only meeting thus far , the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-97 in the Heat’s regular season opener to start the defense of their NBA crown. Kevin Durant , and LeBron James, led all scorers , scoring 33 and 29 points respectively , for the Thunder and the Miami Heat, during the game. The next scheduled meeting between these two franchises will take place on the 14th February when they will meet at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma , in front of what is sure to be a rabid and vociferous crowd of primarily loyal Thunder supporters . It could be seen as a precursor, as to another possible encounter in the postseason , but much of that will be predicated upon how both teams acquit themselves over the remainder of their respective regular season schedules, and in the earlier rounds of the postseason.

Shrewd businessman and some might say perhaps , one of the ” most despised “ owners in the NBA . Yet somehow , Mark Cuban , owner of the Dallas Mavericks , and a constant thorn in claw of David Stern, has always found a way to either keep himself in the news , or that of the franchise that he owns. In the subsequent years, since the Mavericks won it all, in 2011 , when they defeated the Miami Heat in a surprisingly easy 4-2 series’ victory , with Dirk Nowitzki , being named Finals MVP. Since that triumph , the Mavericks have fallen on hard times, with Cuban and general manager , Donnie Nelson , having to shed burdensome contracts , or simply players who were under-achieving with the franchise. Head coach , Rick Carlisle , will be asked to work his magic once again , this time however , with something of a younger cast to complement the aging and declining skill-set of Nowitzki, who is now , in the twilight of an illustrious career.

Now playing for pride more than anything else , it is extremely difficult to see how the Mavericks can hope to play themselves into playoff contention , and currently playing with a sub .500 record at 20-28 ! The team lacks real scoring , and defensively , there remains a great deal to be desired , from unit that gives up on average 102.9 points per game and a staggering 33.7 defensive rebounds a game. Definitely, not the sort of statistics that is likely to win a franchise a championship. Away from the court , Donnie Nelson, is having a tumultuous time in dealing with troubled star , Delonte` West , a player , whose off the field troubles and well chronicled run-ins with law enforcement , have shone a light on West , far more than anything he has ever achieved on the field of play throughout his troubled career . His refusal to originally report for duty , with the Mavericks’ D League affiliate the Texas Legends , can only cast further doubt , on whether or not he has a role to play for this franchise , much less a have a future at all within the NBA . At this juncture , I would think it pretty safe to suggest that either by the trade deadline or at the end of this season , Delonte West will no longer be with the franchise ! I mean , why have a loose cannon , within your midst , when your coaching staff is trying to create some semblance of camaraderie and competitiveness amongst the players ?

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Picture gallery .(By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in a larger formatted size)

During the Superbowl , which incident or incidents do you believe may well have been the focal and turning point of the game ? And do believe, the explanation of electrical the power outage was good enough, given the importance of the event? Last but not least , what do you believe to be the biggest disappointment behind such lackluster play season in the NBA at this point of season ? Chime on in with your thoughts as you see fit

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal.
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(1) A fan looks around the Superdome after half the lights went out during a power outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert …

(2) Baltimore Ravens players look around the Superdome after the lights went out during the second half of NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The game would resume after a 34 minute delay with the Ravens defeating the Forty Niners 34-31 , in the most watched Superbowl game in NFL history . AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(3) Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during a news conference after NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with MVP Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco at a news conference after the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. The unassuming quarterback whose contract expires on the 31st March seeks a new deal with Ravens’ organization . Team owner , Steve Bisciotti , in conjunction with GM , Ozzie Newsome have stated that they will do whatever it takes to retain their Superbowl and MVP winning quarterback without having to resort to “breaking the bank” . AP Photo/Darron Cummings ….

(5) San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh , left, greets Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh after the Ravens defeated the 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Dave Martin …

(6) Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, left, and linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Matt Slocum ….

(7) Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome , who also happens to be the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager . Newsome became the franchise’s general manager in 2002 , having worked as a consultant with the Ravens prior to being promoted by owner Steve Bisciotti . In the subsequent years , it has been the executive’s keen eye for talent , which has drawn rave reviews from his peers. He now joins a select group of NFL individuals to have won a Superbowl as a player and in the role as a front office executive , but it should be noted that with the victory, he becomes the first African-American to have guided a franchise to a Superbowl victory , in his present capacity, as a general manager. Courtesy of USA Today /AP Photos / Mark Warren …

(8) NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left, is seen here with the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter , right , taking questions from the convened press , at a time when the union was at an impasse with the NBA hierarchy over the renegotiating of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Hunter , is now embroiled in tawdry scandal that involves the misappropriation of union funds by a subordinate in his employment who was in fact a family member (daughter – Alexis Hunter) . Further allegations. though not fully substantiated but showing a pattern of behavior suggesting that the union executive sought to transfer $7 million in union funds to a Cherry Hill's , New Jersey based bank , where his son just happened to be a mid-level executive . The intent was to use the funds to prop up the balance sheet of what was then a financially impoverished concern.

(9) Brooklyn Nets forward Kris Humphries (43) shoots over defending Chicago Bulls players in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center , Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in New York. AP Photo/Kathy Willens …

(10) Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(10) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives past Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee ….

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NFL news & archived NFL news

Superbowl 47 (SBXLVII) results & stats

Baltimore Ravens news

San Francisco 49ers news

2013 NFL Draft

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA standings by division & by conference

NBA playoff picture

NBA results 3rd February

NBA schedule 4th February (8 games)

NBA statistics

NBPA (Players Union) & news and events

2013 NBA All Star Game to be played at the Toyota Center , in Houston , Texas (15th -17th February, 2013)

NBA All Star rosters (Eastern & Western Conference )

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Actress , author , philanthropist and entrepreneur , Jaime Pressley .

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And as most would aspire to see Pressley !