In The Pursuit of Happiness

In The Pursuit of Happiness

With the second round of the NBA Playoffs almost in full swing , now would be the time to start assuaging the chances of the teams now left at this stage of the Playoffs. Clearly , last season’s finalists are seen as the presumptive favorites to make a return to this season’s NBA Finals , where many are hoping to see either Cleveland Cavaliers make a successful defense of their title or the Golden State Warriors rebound to reclaim the title they won in 2015. From my own standpoint, while many believe the NBA is need of a dynasty as well as a rivalry to create more excitement within this league. I firmly believe what the NBA is lacking , are truly talented players .

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While no one can deny the astonishing season had by Russell Westbrook , who averaged a triple-double throughout the regular season, the point guard failed to ignite the postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder , as the team failed miserably in their series against the Houston Rockets . The Thunder’s failings came from the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Billy Donovan and his coaching staff . During this off-season I expect there are likely to be several changes made to the team’s roster beyond their own draft selections in the upcoming NBA Draft (2017) .

It would be in everyone’s interests not to make too much of the San Antonio Spurs’ blowout loss to the Houston Rockets in the opening game of their Western Conference Semi-Final Series. The Spurs are far too experienced a team to simply lay down , without putting up much of a fight. Head coach Gregg Popovich is a Master in his role and I would expect him to make the necessary adjustments to negate the strengths of the Rockets in preparation for game-two.

If you’re looking for a definite outsider within the Eastern Conference who could possibly upset the apple-cart, then your best bet could very well be the Boston Celtics who surprised everyone by being the number-one seeds in the conference this postseason. Having dispatched the Chicago Bulls in their opening series with summary ease , the Celtics now find themselves facing the Washington Wizards in their conference semi-finals’ series. Already up 2-0 in the series , a game-three victory would pretty much place the Celtics on the path to their first conference title appearance in eight years . Teammates Al Horford and Isiah Thomas might be the primary reasons why the Celtics now find themselves on their way a possible conference finals’ appearance . During the regular as well as the postseason the two have combined to lead the team to the victories seen on-court.

Trouble in paradise ? Well , in the City of Angels , known to us all as Los Angeles , both of the NBA franchises residing in the city , the Los Angles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers , have seen their fair share of mediocrity during the regular and postseason . In the case of the Los Angles Lakers, it was another sub-par effort from a team completely devoid of leadership and play-making ability . It just seems unfortunate Luke Walton inherited a group of players who have no ambition or pride and in the case of veteran leadership, Metta World Peace has offered little to the Lakers throughout the season. Away from the basketball court, familial tensions reared its ugly head, as siblings , Jeanie Buss , Johnny Buss and Jim Buss squabbled over control of the Lakers. Magic Johnson , was brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations , while Mitch Kupchak was ousted to be replaced by Rob Pelinka as the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. I guess during this off-season , the Lakers as well as their fans, can hope Magic will be able to talk a high-profiled free agent into signing with the franchise , which in many respects looks more like a lunatic asylum , rather than a professional sports’ franchise.

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2.2 billion and since acquiring the franchise , they have failed abysmally during recent NBA Playoff appearances. Failing to get beyond the conference quarter finals and it’s easy to understand how overrated the Clippers are. I think it somewhat asinine , reading comments from clueless NBA fans, who have pretensions of insight concerning this franchise, at times describing the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the few NBA successes of the past six seasons. A highly paid roster of players and clearly with Chris Paul not getting a great deal of help from either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan , it is easy to understand why the Clippers remain so abysmal.

The significance of the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round series loss to the Utah Jazz has not been lost to a number of fans. If Gordon Hayward can almost single-handedly outplay the Clippers’ , leading the Jazz to their 4-3 series’ first-round upset . Hayward and his teammates now have the unenviable task of facing the Golden State Warriors in their conference semi-final series.

Steve Ballmer as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers is bound to be displeased with the lackluster effort of his team, but I dare say, he is likely to be peeved with the lack of coaching acumen shown by head coach Doc Rivers and the entire Clippers’ coaching staff . From my own perspective , I believe it is time for Rivers to relinquish his dual role within the organization , as Head of Basketball Operations and just remain in charge of the playing staff as the Head Coach . Rivers is placing even greater pressure on himself and for the moment , while Steve Ballmer remains loyal to his head coach , I can’t help but get the feeling , another season playing second-fiddle to the Golden State Warriors as the second-best franchise based in the state of California will not sit well with the larger than life owner.

MLB prides itself on being the first professional team sport in North America to integrate its players. Jackie Robinson is stated as being the first African-American player to play in a Major League ball-game , but in reality , Robinson was not the first. He was merely the first to play for a professional team in the twentieth century. Jackie Robinson was a the subject of such racial abuse through much of his career , albeit , that we’re told it only related to the his initial years with the Brooklyn Dodgers .

Seven decades after Robinson’s debut, it would appear racism remains alive and well within the game of baseball. We should be reminded , on the night Hank Aaron broke the career home run record held by Babe Ruth , he came under a torrent of non-stop racial abuse , threats of violence aimed at himself as well as his family. Now in , 2017, those taunts are now being aimed at players of African-American ethnicity , though it’s not being widely reported, simply because MLB’s hierarchy would rather keep this all under wraps.

In a recent game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox , the Orioles’ Adam Jones was subject to a torrent of racial and verbal abuse . Now consider, the fact this game was being played at Fenway Park , in Boston, Massachusetts , and with the Red Sox itself , having several players of ethnic minority on the roster . It does seem somewhat repugnant that Red Sox fans would seek to act in such a way with such repugnant and repulsive behavior. Then again, it should be seen as a sign of the times , when the President of the country , Donald Trump can show his utter disregard for not only women but also minorities in general , with his own outlandish behavior and he is simply given a pass by the public and the media , specifically the right-wing cabal of Conservative leading members of the press. So why would we expect any different from a bunch of inherently racist and insensitive group of Red Sox fans ? If the league hierarchy has failed to even question the behavior of the fans in this incident and when there has been no formal comment from the front office of the Boston Red Sox. I can only surmise they either condone the actions of the fans in question or they are simply apathetic and oblivious to what went on.

If you believe this incident concerning Adam Jones is an isolated situation , you should think again as it has become more common place within the game of baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball . There has been a rise in this type of behavior , though it is not widely reported in the media or through any research done by Major League Baseball , because where its leadership remains middle-aged and predominantly overseen by Caucasians , the last thing you would expect , would be for the league hierarchy to admit there is not a tinge of racism within baseball. It is common-place but just as in this game on Monday , MLB’s own coverage of the contest failed to indicate what occurred and the racial epithets directed at Adam Jones. Once again indicating, White America loves to paint this pageantry of all inclusiveness, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth, because they would rather run with the apathy and the nonchalant belief all is right with the world.

Courtesy of Newsday

CC Sabathia backs up Adam Jones’ experience with slurs at Fenway

By Roger Rubin , Special for Newsday

HIGHLIGHTS

‘When you go to Boston, expect it,’ Sabathia says
Red Sox apologize for fans’ racial taunts toward Orioles outfielder

While Major League Baseball and the Red Sox organization reacted with revulsion and condemnation that Baltimore’s Adam Jones was taunted with racial slurs and pelted with a bag of peanuts during Monday night’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park, CC Sabathia had a different take.

“It’s happened to me — not surprising,” the Yankees left-hander said. “It’s bad. You get called names — the N-word, all kind of stuff — when you go to Boston . . . I’m glad that he spoke up. It’s disgusting.”
“I heard something that caught my attention and I’m like ‘I hope I really didn’t just hear what I thought I heard,’ ” Jones recounted in an MLB Network interview. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for 10 years and I understand booing the opponent . . . but not the racial stuff. It [expletive] that it’s still going on in 2017.”

Asked if he’d heard similar accounts from other African-American players, Sabathia replied “there’s 62 of us and we all know: when you go to Boston, expect it . . . I’ve never had it anywhere else except there . . . even shagging in the outfield before the game, sometimes you get it.”

“It’s nothing new to any of us,” Braves outfielder Matt Kemp said. “He let it be known that’s what we go through. I mean, it’s pretty much normal, especially in some of these different cities. I’m not going to name all the cities, but there’s some pretty tough cities where people say some pretty ruthless things. There’s . . . nobody holding anybody accountable for some of the things these fans do.”


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Erwin Santana (5-0, 0.66 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.21 ERA) are the two best pitchers in baseball at this point of the season. with both starting pitchers unbeaten in their respective starts for the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros . Unfortunately , this is not reflected in the records of either team and where they stand within their respective divisions . The Twins sit in second place within the AL Central , but that division is likely to become even more competitive and congested as the season progresses. Given the fact the Minnesota Twins have struggled to make the postseason in recent years. I do not expect the team in its current guise to be considered a serious challenger for the AL Pennant , much less the World Series . In the case of the Houston Astros , they appear to be as good as advertised , but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were to falter by the latter part of June. With both the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins in action today , 3rd May , it will be interesting to see how the teams fare in their respective games. The Twins will play host to the Oakland A’s , while the Astros have the Texas Rangers coming to Minute Maid Field for a game in Houston, Texas.

There are several milestones likely to be met this season in baseball and for all of the idiocy in print over the length of a home-run being hit. I would like the think the productivity being seen in such cases leads to the outcome of the player producing , is doing so for a team with a winning record or at least competitive within their division . Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is now making a name for himself this season as he leads the team in home runs as well as several other team categories on offense . Let’s just say in spite of the Yankees’ deficiencies elsewhere, it’s good to know they now have someone on the roster capable of producing when it matters. Needless to say, Judge and his teammates still have a long way to go in convincing anyone they are capable of winning the AL East , much less have the aspirations of bringing the franchise another World Series title . The Yankees were in action on Wednesday evening when they faced the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx , New York. An 8-6 victory over the Blue Jays inched the Yankees closer to becoming the first team to twenty wins on the season in baseball for 2017 .

Major League Baseball works professionally within the state of Florida because , with an elderly population, the game does seem to have a lot to offer the fans during the exhibition schedule (Spring Training) . During the regular season , there are sparse crowds in attendance for the home games of the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays . In spite of the statistics provided by the league, it is obvious to even the most knowledgeable of fans, both of the Florida based teams cannot fill their respective stadiums to capacity for a home game. Marlins Ballpark and Tropicana Field have become something of a joke to those in the know. Economic impact for the cities of Miami and Tampa may well be minimal and the combined valuation as well as revenue provided by both ball-clubs pales into insignificance when measured against teams in a similar market size or bigger. From my own perspective , I believe a great deal of the blame for the lack of success with both the Marlins and Rays stems from a lack of real ambition from the respective ownership groups . Granted , pending the league’s approval , the Miami Marlins will become subject to a new ownership group led by Jeb Bush , a former governor of the state, whose partnering with Derek Jeter could see a raise in the profile of the still impoverished Marlins. Meanwhile , Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg continues to act like a petulant child whose pacifier has been taken away from him.

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I would like to think in the coming months both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are able to compete , while the MLB season itself is something the fans can truly revel in. Yet , for all sense and purpose we all know that is not likely to be the case.
As to the incident s which took place during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox, I think it speaks volumes to the never-ending social issue this country has failed to address since its inception and that is the issue of race. It is a telling sign when the President , Donald Trump > can simply make racial bigotry a focal point of his electoral campaign and the apathy of the public is there for all to see. I don’t believe we can expect anything more from a country or its political leaders , when they are simply not willing to show any form of decency or respect of others. The continued banality seen , is something which will remain ever-present and I don’t expect it to change anytime soon !

The NBA Playoffs will continue to be a wild ride , with teams looking to achieve success and for the fans , it will provide some form of happiness or joy as the case maybe.

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Tophatal ……………………… 3rd May 2017

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You can talk a good game, but can you play one?

You can talk a good game, but can you play one?

There are some troubling times ahead for the NBA , even if the outgoing commissioner would not like to admit that fact. Three decades in charge of the league and it could be said that David Stern turned a pondering sport and its brand into a multi-billion dollar global phenomenon . With global revenues now exceeding $5 billion annually, one has to be thankful Stern, as the league’s highest ranking executive, was as successful as he was. That being said, it was not without controversy, with the league and the owners seeking to apportion blame elsewhere for many of the problems, they themselves created. With something of an imbalance and with the NBA seeking to have a soft “salary cap” , it still leaves the league in somewhat of a perilous situation. Nonetheless, the league hierarchy has sought to proceed ahead under its current guise, neither seeking to truly solve that particular issue and several others that they currently face.

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David Stern’s successor , Adam Silver , brings in a new era of leadership and likely some change, with their being something of a smooth transition with his predecessor’s departure and his ascent to the current position as the NBA Commissioner. What Silver has witnessed this season in the league, as there has been for several of the past seasons , has been steadying decline of the play within the Eastern Conference of the NBA. If things were to get considerably worse , the league’s Board of Governors might have to consider either realignment of several of the divisions or quite possibly delve into the contraction of under-performing franchises , with the league taking over those teams , compensating the owners and then seeking to re-assign the players there , unto the rosters of the remaining franchises. That might sound a bit drastic, but consider the alternatives, as they might currently stand? The play continues to deteriorate and the consumers known as the fans, are still asked to endure such mediocrity , while the league itself continues to profit financially from it all and that hardly seems fair, at all.

While the Indiana Pacers (45-15) are running away with the Eastern Conference lead and well on the way to being the NBA’s first fifty-game winner of the season. It begs the question, in spite of the dour play within the conference , can Frank Vogel’s players knock off the reigning champions in what is likely to be a repeat of last season’s conference finals ? While both the Pacers and the Miami Heat have both suffered losses this season , these two teams are by far in a way the best two franchises within the conference and amongst the upper echelons of the league’s best teams this season.

LeBron James continues to be the player we have seen , since he entered the league in 2003 , during which he has redefined his game as well coming into his own as the NBA’s best player. Already, a four-time league MVP and two-time Finals’ MVP, James, has all but answered, just about every question of by doubters , as to the proficiency of his play , with a punctuation mark, suggesting there is still a great deal more to come from the ten-year veteran. This season, what appears to be a captivating battle has begun to unfold, concerning LeBron James and the player, many believe to be his closest rival as a nemesis and what could likely be a budding rivalry for individualistic and team honors in the coming years. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the Western Conference and the player is now considered to be the leading contender for the league MVP this season . Durant and LeBron James during their tenures in the league, have provided the NBA with some classic contests, with both individuals showing why they are considered the best two players in the NBA.

Frank Vogel and the Pacers could very well now be in the driver’s seat, after what I believe to be a coup-de-gras by the front office , in acquiring Evan Turner to bolster what should already be considered a very good Indiana Pacers’ roster in terms of its depth and talent . The fact that Pat Riley of the Miami Heat , did little in terms of adding to the Heat’s roster at the trade deadline could very well come back to haunt the front office executive and the Heat’s coaching staff led by Erik Spoesltra . Coming off a narrow three-point victory over the hapless Utah Jazz , Indiana’s next opponent will be the high-powered offense of the Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry , whose match-up against Paul George of the Pacers should prove to be very intriguing.

9-1 in their last ten games the Miami Heat could be considered the hottest team in the NBA over that time-frame and clearly the reason why many believe them to the odds-on favorite to repeat as a three-time NBA champion . As LeBron James goes , then so does this team, albeit, with at times , some threadbare support from his teammates. Yet, it has been in the postseason, where James has excelled , as he has repeatedly led the team in their most recent postseason triumphs . Saturday’s lopsided victory over instate rivals the Orlando Magic , further emphasizes why the Miami Heat will continue to make light of their regular season schedule , as Erik Spoelstra gauges the performances of his players in the lead-up to the NBA Playoffs.

The impact that Dwight Howard was meant to have , after being acquired as a free agent by the Houston Rockets , has not been as dominant many thought it might have been. Granted, the Rockets currently have the fifth best record , in the Western Conference with a mark of 40-15 ,as of the 2nd March . Yet, many believed, that this team would be contending at least for a top-three berth within the conference. Though I do not consider it to be a major disappointment , I do believe that with Dwight Howard , what you see is what you get , in terms of a player who at times , does not fulfill the talent that he is said to have. As good a center, as is he said to be , I do not believe him to be the most dominant player at the position , currently playing in the NBA ! If anything, I believe the player tends to simply take his foot off the gas pedal and go through the motions, while allowing others around him to lead . A clear case can be made, that Dwight Howard would never have fit in with any type of team he would have been surrounded by, had he remained in Los Angeles playing for the Los Angeles Lakers . A failed experiment from the start and failed experiment in the very end !

Kevin McHale has proven himself to be an astute head coach, along with his coaching staff , in getting this Rockets’ team to play some up-tempo basketball, while gaining themselves a credible spot in the conference rankings. The team however, is fortified by the talents of James Harden , while being ably supported by Chandler Parsons , Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin , Patrick Beverley and Jordan Hamilton . A true test of the team’s ambitions will be on view , when they play host to the Miami Heat, at the Toyota Center, in Houston , Texas on Tuesday night . That contest should tell us a great deal about McHale’s players their mindset as they head down the final stretch of their regular season schedule. Certainly, a chance to see two of the NBA’s most productive scorers , with James Harden facing off against LeBron James , should prove to be very interesting.

To my mind one of the more surprising twists of this season, has been the fact that Kevin Love still remains a player with the Minnesota Timberwolves ! They may well have an outside chance of garnering a playoff berth in the Western Conference , but at this stage of the season , I believe that it might well beyond the reach of the team ! Five and a half games out of the final playoff spot, that is currently held by the Dallas Mavericks (35-25) , the Timberwolves would have to jump ahead of the ninth placed Memphis Grizzlies (33-25) , while hoping that both the Mavericks and Grizzlies make monumental . slip-ups in their next couple of games . A highly unlikely scenario at this point of the season, when teams are not likely to be overly complacent , but then again, who could have really foreseen that the Eastern Conference would prove to be such an embarrassment as an advertising model for the NBA ? Well, the end of the season is barely a month away, with most teams having no more than twenty-five games remaining on their regular schedule. Those with intestinal fortitude, are likely to rise to the occasion, while others are likely to falter at the very last hurdle.

Kevin Love has proven to be one of the few bright spots on a Timberwolves’ team that struggled has throughout of the season, while Rick Adelman and his coaching staff have simply been outmaneuvered and out-coached at every point of the season that has mattered most to the organization. From my own perspective, I now believe that it is time for Flip Saunders , Head of Basketball Operations and GM Milt Newton to seek a trade and obtain the best possible value for their Timberwolves’ All Star power-forward , Kevin Love ! It simply serves absolutely no purpose to have the player struggle, night in and night out , all to no avail , while wasting his talents with a franchise that seems to show no signs of life or actual ambition ! These are the very same issues, that led to the growing discontent with Kevin Garnett while , a player with the Timberwolves . His subsequent departure, still did not manifest itself, by way of anything positive for the franchise.

Outwardly, Love has remained loyal to the Minnesota Timberwolves, not wanting to say anything, that might be taken out of context, as a way of showing his discontent, but if the rumors are to be believed , then this off-season a confrontation is likely to be in the offing, when the player is likely to meet with the front office to discuss his immediate and long-term future . I believe that he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract and test the free agency market , rather than remaining in Minnesota, because I do not believe that owner , Glen Taylor or any of the front office executives possess the acumen needed to build the Timberwolves into a legitimate NBA title contender !

Monday night, places the Minnesota Timberwolves back into action, as they face the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center , in Denver, Colorado, A third consecutive win for the Timberwolves, would provide the team with a great deal of confidence, but they first have to make that a reality , rather supposition.

Not for the first time, this season, have the Sacramento Kings suspended player, DeMarcus Cousins for conduct detrimental to the team . Each and every time, he has run afoul of the organization, the front office has seemingly , given him what on the face of it seems a slight reprimand. A one game suspension for physically assaulting an opposing player , is simple idiocy ! Yet , these are the times that we are living in , where athlete misconduct on or off the court , is no longer frowned upon and the lame ass apathy of some of the dumbest mother fucking fans, is to simply excuse that type of behavior altogether or come with the rather inane statements such as “ locker room behavior “ , or ” boys being boys” . Last I looked, these were grown individuals and not middle or high school players , making complete asses of themselves ! The league hierarchy under David Stern was weak and remains weak , because the NBPA remains in an extreme position of power, not necessarily unlike their counterparts within the MLBPA , NFLPA and the NHLPA ! Anyone who believes that to be the contrary , I would now like them to plead their the case , for the opposite view !

DeMarcus Cousins as a player in college , had real “character issues” , that were never addressed by the coaching staff ,led by John Calipari , a coach known shall we say , “let things slip by him “ ? I have never really thought, highly of Calipari, in terms of his character or the litany of issues that have followed him continuously over the course of his coaching career ! Allegations of recruitment violations, players with failing academic standards, still being allowed to play on his teams, as well as possibly monetary inducements for players in terms of their of productivity. Like it or not, there had to have been a multitude of reasons, why a number of programs where John Calipari has coached , have felt the wrath of the NCAA , though not to the point where there has been an outright accusation leveled at the head coach. While Calipari’s outward image appears pristine, something ” rotten smells ” this side of Denmark , as it relates to this particular head coach !

The Sacramento Kings’ own fortunes in recent years, can be best summed up with these words “the Maloof Family , with reckless abandonment , all but ruined the franchise and in the aftermath of it all , were on the precipice of duping the idiotic members of the city’s council to bail the franchise out of their financial plight ” . All of this under the watchful eye of David Stern , who in some circles, has been viewed as the savior of the NBA. The former NBA Commissioner , simply, takes on the battles, he knows he can win outright , while apportioning blame elsewhere, for his incompetency or web of deceit , when caught in an actual lie.

With the worst record in the Western Conference , a mark of 20-39 , is a true reflection of what the Sacramento Kings have been about all season long. Long gone, are the glory days , when the high-flying Kings were a dominant force within the conference led by All Star Chris Webber and the team was seen as a perennial contender for year-end honors. Feast or famine, can best now sum up the franchise, but in reality, there has been a great deal more hunger, as the fans of the organization, yearn for years past. There’s not enough food on the table and there certainly is not enough talent on this roster , to even deem them worthy of being thought of as even a moderately average team , if that !

The Kings’ remaining regular season schedule , is not necessarily daunting, and victory over the New Orleans Pelicans may well be sign that the team is determined to go out with a great deal of determination . DeMarcus Cousins remains the best player on the Kings’ roster , but herein lies the issue, he is a troubled individual who remains immature and unable to handle the real pressure of being assumed the leader of the franchise . Other than Rudy Gay , there is absolutely no real reason to believe that GM Pete D’Alessandro can continue to believe that Cousins is a valuable asset to this team and the organization as a whole , not with the continued problems that he provides. Sacramento, may well to decide to cut their losses and seek a trade of the troubled player.

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Vivek Ranadive having recently purchased the franchise may well now be having regrets , because I personally believe he was “ sold a bill goods” , that were in no way shape or form is what he was told it would be ! Thankfully , Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer and his business partner , billionaire venture capitalist Chris Hansen dodged a bullet , when they failed in their bid to purchase the team , having bid a great deal more than the reputed $575 million paid by Ranadive’s consortium . With the league’s hierarchy’s, reluctance to relocate the franchise to Seattle, Washington, as was previously discussed between Stern and the potential purchasers. I can only assume , with David Stern reneging on that deal, having given Ballmer firm assurances that there would not be a problem , it simply shows that the former commissioner is really a less than honorable individual .

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The second half of the NBA season is already underway, what do you hope to see in the latter stages of the schedule ? Also, which player or group of players, have provided you with the greatest surprise over the course this NBA season ? Of the teams in contention, for a divisional or playoff berth, which do you believe , are likely to triumph and to fail ?

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(1) David Stern is seen here handing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Miami Heat team President Pat Riley after the team’s triumph in winning the NBA title in 2013 , having won in a tough seven-game series against the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling NBA Finals’ series , 4-3 . Stern formally stepped down as the NBA Commissioner after thirty years as the league’s highest ranking executive . He is succeeded by Adam Silver , who hopes to make a smooth transition into his new role . AP Photo / Chris Hughes ………..

(2) Nicola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic is seen here challenging the New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler during a game played at the Amway Center in Orlando , Florida on the 23rd December , 2013 . The Magic would go on to lose the contest 103-98 with both teams under-achieving this season within their respective divisions as well as the Eastern Conference , there is likely to be major shakeups within the rosters of both franchises during the off-season . NBAE/ Getty Images / Max Miller ….

(3) February 27, 2014 The Milwaukee Bucks gave the Pacers a formidable test on Thursday night, but Indiana made enough plays down the stretch to come away with a 101-96 win in a game played in Milwaukee , Wisconsin,. Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds), while Paul George added 18 points , eight boards, and six assists . NBAE Getty Images / Frank McGrath ….

(4) LeBron James of the Miami Heat goes up for the dunk as he rises above Kemba Walker and Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Bobcats in a game played at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida on Monday night . James would go on to score a career-high 61 points during the contest , which the Heat won convincingly. This has been the second time this season , that the Bobcats have given up more than sixty points to a player during their schedule with the first such incident , coming when they played the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden , where Carmelo Anthony torched the team a career-high , also, of sixty-two points . AP Photo / Emile Toussaint …..

(5) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder is seen here alongside the Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) . Both players are the leading candidates for this season’s League MVP . Their rivalry may well be the best to be seen in the NBA in several years , but not yet on the level of the classic match-ups between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson , which many purists believes set the bar for individualistic rivalries within the NBA and from a team standpoint , especially in many of their postseason contests . Durant and James have met once in a postseason series with the Miami Heat prevailing in their 2012 NBA Finals’ , with a rather lopsided series’ victory. AP Photo / Mike Patton ….

(6) Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard (12) looks to make the play against Miles Plumlee of the Phoenix Suns in a game played between the two Western Conference teams on the 23rd February , 2014 . The Rockets would defeat the Suns 115-112 . NBAE /Getty Images / Ross Hart ……

(7) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, left, drives as Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game , Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, in Minneapolis. The Clippers won 102-98 . These two young players are two of the brightest young stars to have entered the NBA in the past seven seasons . AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(8) Kentucky coach John Calipari thinks 6-11 center DeMarcus Cousins should go top 3 in this year’s NBA Draft. But GMs fear the player’s immaturity , which has been justified since his entry into the NBA as a first round draft pick in 2010 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings . US PRESSWIRE/ Mark Zereof ……

(9) Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins is seen here with the team’s head coach Michael Malone on court sidelines during a game at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento , California . After a recent on-court physical altercation with an opposing player where Cousins is said to have punched his opponent in the lower abdomen and then having been ejected for his conduct , he then verbally assaulted the referee , using several profane expletives , heard within earshot of the crowd . DeMarcus Cousins was fined $20,000 and suspended for one game, forfeiting his $ 44,000 game check . . Vivek Ranadive , the Kings’ owner , will meet with GM Pete D’Alessandro and Michael Malone to discuss the troubled center’s ongoing behavioral problems . All signs seem to be pointing to the fact that the franchise may well seek to trade the player this off-season rather than retain his services . This recent suspension has been the third of DeMarcus Cousins’ three-year career in the NBA and poses the question as to his lack of maturity while in college at the University of Kentucky and since his entering the NBA in 2010. AP Photo/ Chris Affeldt ……

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With the biggest event of the North American sports’ world, taking place on Sunday afternoon , when the Denver Broncos play host to the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl (XLVIII) . The last-minute builds up and news, has now reached fever pitch . With journalists from around the globe reporting on the event , it will be interesting to see how these individuals report the contest, the images and their take on it all. Now while, much of the NFL related news has been about rants and ravings of the Seahawks’ corner back Richard Sherman and his thoughts. From my own perspective , Sherman has simply been trying to “cash in” on the newfound notoriety , while hoping to be part of a victorious Seattle Seahawks’ team . For the NFC West based franchise, this will their second appearance in the NFL’s , biggest postseason event.

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For opposing quarterbacks, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks , their respective careers are now at their nascent , in one case and in the other , it has reached a plateau , that is likely to see Manning add to an astonishing NFL career , in terms of the accomplishments and accolades received during his fifteen-year tenure in the NFL.

Wilson will be seeking to win his first Superbowl title, after a little less than three seasons in the league . All the more astonishing, when you consider the draft class in which the young quarterback entered the NFL . . In what will be only his fifth postseason career start ,the Seahawks’ passer will be facing Peyton Manning , who will be making his twenty-third postseason start and third Superbowl appearance , having already won a title with his former team the Indianapolis Colts and also walking away with the Superbowl MVP, for good measure after that victory . This contest, even if it is likely to be played under inclement weather conditions , with the likely weather forecast suggesting game-time conditions will be contested with freezing temperatures. I would like to believe, that this match-up will be competitive and highly entertaining! ! Yet, with that in mind , I would proffer this question to Roger Goodell , did he really have to capitulate to the owners of the New York Giants and New York Jets in acquiescing to their demands in staging the Superbowl at Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey, which houses both franchises, knowing that the match-up was likely to be played during icy temperatures during Winter ?

The NFL Commissioner, is proving to be an individual with even less intelligence than first thought. A case of the dog wagging its tail or someone else wagging the dog’s tail on their behalf?

Say what you will about this NBA season , but it is becoming abundantly clear , with it being formally the last month of David Stern’s three-decade long tenure as the NBA Commissioner and the league’s highest ranking executive . He leaves the league , in somewhat of a dire situation. His successor was already being groomed as heir-apparent and Adam Silver will succeed Stern as of Monday morning. The league itself is going through not growing pains, but a lack of competitiveness within the Eastern Conference and what appears to be not only dour coaching . but also the lack of a truly engaging team rivalry within the NBA, itself . Gone are the days, where a regular season showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics actually meant something . As of today, both of these heralded franchises are going through pains of their own , borne out by the respective conference and divisional records this season. Lackluster results and some truly unbearable performances and it is easy to understand why both teams are currently struggling.

For the Boston Celtics and their off-season upheavals, that led to the departures of Doc Rivers to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers , a triumvirate of players , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry being traded to the Brooklyn Nets , and what now appears to be a resurgent Nets’ team . The travails of rookie head coach Brad Stevens and this young Celtics’ team looks as if it is likely to be an arduous first season for the former Butler head coach.

For GM Danny Ainge and managing general partner , Wyc Grousbeck to now start afresh , when it might have been best to have contemplated these moves last season , when it was widely known that Rivers was not satisfied with the direction of the franchise. An influx of young talent by way of the NBA Draft over the past two seasons , and still the signs are that this will be something of a long hard slog for a coach still finding his legs in the NBA.

As losers of nine straight of their last ten contests , it would be safe to suggest that beyond non-availability of Rajon Rondo , suggestions that Danny Ainge might also seek to trade the point guard does seem somewhat speculatory in nature, as well as suicidal , in that concluding that the franchise should simply give up on the season. Granted, the fans are already disappointed with a team bearing a 15-33 record languishing at the bottom of the Atlantic Division , 10 ½ games behind divisional leaders the Toronto Raptors (24-21) . Growing pains abide , but all that is really needed , is for this group of players to find some sort of consistency , with Stevens and his coaching staff getting the best possible contribution out of his starting lineup and bench players .

A narrow one-point loss by the Boston Celtics at home to the Philadelphia 76ers , and then they face another conference rival on the 2nd February , against the Orlando Magic whom they host , before a return engagement with the 76ers at their home venue , the Wells Fargo Center , in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , on Wednesday evening .

A the leading candidate, in the MVP race , Kevin Durant has been laying siege to the NBA this season. On a tear, that has seen the player score thirty or more points for twelve straight games , along with near double-digit assists or rebounds in several of those contests , in leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the NBA. That feat of Durant’s, puts him in the rarefied air of Hall of Fame great Oscar Robertson , who himself , was also prolific scorer and player. An NBA title has so far do eluded Kevin Durant , his teammates and the team must now be seen as the prohibitive favorites to come out of the Western Conference as a likely contender for this season’s title .

If to further emphasize the growth in Kevin Durant’s game , he and his teammates were recently the guests of reigning NBA champions, the Miami Heat . That contest in some circles , may well be seen as a precursor to the title match-up this upcoming postseason , albeit , that the Indiana Pacers are no pushovers and are likely to give the Heat their biggest test of the postseason , if the two teams are indeed to revisit their budding rivalry within the Eastern Conference . The Thunder’s lopsided seventeen-point victory over Miami, led many to believe that not only has Kevin Durant been out playing LeBron James this season , but in all likelihood with his performance in that contest he has to be seen as the current frontrunner in the League MVP race. As good as Kevin Durant’s play might have been against the Miami Heat , I believe his leading the Thunder in a come from behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks was just as scintillating and quite possibly the best individual scoring feat of this NBA season and that is with due respect to the “overrated “ sixty-two point outburst recently by Carmelo Anthony , against what I deem to be a totally inept Charlotte Bobcats’ team . A team that I might add, whose defensive stature at present belies the fact that they have one playoff appearance in their current guise , but yet, there seems to be idiotic hyperbole as to the magnitude of what Anthony was able to achieve against the Bobcats. Mediocrity, can come in many forms and currently , there are no two better representatives of that, than the Charlotte Bobcats and New York Knicks within the Eastern Conference.

I will say this for Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant as the owner and general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers , both laid the groundwork in running LeBron James right out-of-town , when the player declared his free agency options ! Neither thought it appropriate, to consult with the star prior to firing Mike Brown . As the head coach of the franchise , he led the franchise to their only NBA Finals’ appearance , a series that they would subsequently lose to the San Antonio Spurs in a lopsided 4-0 loss , during which Tony Parker was named the Finals MVP . In the subsequent years after that series’ loss, things have simply spiraled out of control for the franchise , with Byron Scott’s tenure being a tumultuous one as the head coach . Brown’s firing, led to his being hired by the Los Angeles Lakers , only for his stay there to be undermined, by the simple idiocy of Mitch Kupchak and owner, Jim Buss . Brown’s successor, Mike DAntoni is currently feeling the heat , if not necessarily the wrath of the Lakers’ fans , as that franchise’s season sinks into oblivion . Mike Brown has since been rehired by the Cavaliers , but it now looks as if history might be on the brink of it repeating itself, as the franchise’s biggest asset and best player , Kyrie Irving is now said to be dissatisfied and unhappy with the current “state of affairs” Cleveland. Any idiotic hope, that there was said to be, of LeBron James returning to the Cavaliers, can be rightfully shot down. Are there still individuals who now believe that James would be willing to opt out of his contract to return to Cleveland , when he is guaranteed a max-contract simply by remaining in Miami that is likely to net him upwards of $140 million gross over six years (averaging $23 million plus a year) ?

Kyrie Irving if nothing else , is simply unhappy with the fact that the team as it is currently built does not complement his skill-set , nor does it make the Cavaliers a competitive franchise within their division or the . Eastern Conference. His reasons for shying away and not actually placating those fans who now fear the worst, seem so contrary to what has been said in private, now becomes a matter of conjecture and a great deal of speculation, while making the media simply ravenous for more concerning Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers . Though, he cannot become a free agent until 2015 , it seems highly unlikely that Chris Grant would seek a trade of Kyrie Irving, a player whose rookie scale contract is still in effect .

Coming off a thirty-one point drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . The Cavaliers’ next game is unlikely to do them any favors , when they face the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston Texas on Saturday evening . How Mike Brown gets his players to acquit themselves in that contest , may well play a big part in possibly determining the short and long-term future of Kyrie Irving and the likelihood of his remaining with the franchise.

The NBA 2014 All Star balloting votes , have been accounted for and we now know the conference starters , as well as the reserves for the East and Western Conferences. Suffice to say, if you did not vote , then your voice was not heard . Shall we now “Rock The Vote” for next season’s event, because of the number of snubs of players, who were simply overlooked purely through favoritism in favor of those less deserving ? I’m sorry Deandre Jordan , but mine is not to reason why, as the league’s best field goal percentage shooter , you were overlooked , even if you are playing alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers .The teams, will be coached by Frank Vogel for the Eastern All Stars and Scott Brooks for the Western counterparts. Fan friendly, with the league’s stars making themselves accessible in the weekend’s revelry from the 14th to the 16th February , makes this break, just past the midpoint of the season , a fun time for all of the NBA’s most discerning fans alongside all of the events being staged at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans , Louisiana , and home to the New Orleans Pelicans .

All the chips seem to be falling into place , as it relates to baseball’s marquee free agents , with many of them having signed lucrative contracts , either to remain with their current teams or to move on elsewhere . Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson , formerly of the New York Yankees , have each found themselves a new home . As the drama in New York continues, with a great deal of it, now surrounding how much of an effect will the acquisition of Masahiro Tanaka have on the Yankees and their pitching lineup . Tanaka’s deal by no means the biggest signed by pitcher this off-season was enough to have even the most fiscally prudent of individuals wondering when will baseball start to take heed and reign in their obligatory team payroll commitments . In 2013 , the combined financial outlay for the starting day payrolls of the league’s thirty teams exceeded 3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the first time in MLB history . While, Bud Selig , continues to sing his melodic refrain as to the financial expediency being shown by the teams. I can’t help but wonder, when was the last time an in-depth audit held for each of the baseball franchises !

Projected figures, for this season’s Opening Day lineups in terms of payroll obligations are likely to come close to surpassing last season’s figure of $3 billion , with once again the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees likely to share top billing at number one and two of the league’s thirty teams.

Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , the present owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors have shown an interest in purchasing the Oakland Athletics (A’s) , where majority stakeholder Lew Wolff and GM Billy Beane have rebuffed what is believed to be an offer topping $675 million for the ball-club . In recent years, the A’s have been successful , having made the postseason in successive years and as two-time AL West divisional champions . Unfortunately,their progress in both postseason appearances was somewhat short-lived . Manager Bob Melvin and his managerial staff have assembled a young and experienced team , which has been a revelation recent seasons. In 2014 , the A’s are likely to be seen as the preseason favorites to retain their divisional title. Given that fact, that the Houston Rangers , Los Angeles Angels , Seattle Mariners , Texas Rangers have proven to be less than adequate adversaries over the past two seasons . It begs the question, which of those teams this season will be best equipped to truly challenge Bob Melvin’s group of players ?

In recent years , Lew Wolff has struggled in his dealings with the MLB hierarchy, in seeking their assistance in obtaining a new venue . Not surprising , when you consider that Bud Selig went out of his way to aid New York Mets , New Yankees and the Miami Marlins in the furtherance of their efforts for new stadiums , which were built at an estimated of . over $2.455 billion , much of it, being the use of public funds. The A’s are now left in an unenviable position of being a competitive franchise, but playing in a now aging and archaic venue, the O Coliseum in Oakland , California ,. Stuart Sternberg as the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays should heed the problems of the A’s in their endeavors and stop trying to appease Bud Selig and his coterie of buffoons, who make up the league’s hierarchy.

The reluctance of Lew Wolff to sell the ball-club is understandable, as he now has a winning on-field product , albeit that the A’s still struggle somewhat , in terms of attendance , which remains amongst the lowest in all of Major League Baseball . Yet, I cannot help but wonder , if a new owner with greater financial resources purchased the A’s , would it not be better for the organization overall and perhaps, further aid the A’s pursuance of a new ballpark ! Both Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , have the financial resources , with their respective backgrounds. Were they make another unsolicited bid, that would prove to be successful , then Guber would have to relinquish his interest , which he currently owns in the Los Angeles Dodgers , having been one of the several partners brought in by Mark Walter and Magic Johnson , to make that now record $2.16 billion purchase of that particular ball-club .

Commissioner Bud Selig, like his NBA counterpart David Stern,will be relinquishing their respective roles before the end the 2014 calendar year. Stern will be succeeded by his immediate deputy , Adam Silver , and it remains to be seen what changes if any , are made to how the NBA is operated , and the type of product that is displayed for the fans’ consumption. The MLB hierarchy, have yet to formally announce a successor to the incumbent commissioner, but it is widely believed that Rob Manfred will succeed Bud Selig at the time of his stepping down . Joe Torre , seen as a fan favorite , perhaps isn’t seen in a friendlier light by some who are part of the MLB hierarchical structure, that also includes the owners with their voting clout.

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Picture gallery .

What other sports’ story or stories over the past week or month, have piqued your interest and what do you feel might be the outcome , given the facts as you know them to be ? By all means do leave a comment on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos will face opposing quarterback Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Superbowl , to be played at MetLife Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey . With a national television audience expected to 90 million viewers and a global audience of 1 billion. This is likely to be one of most eagerly anticipated watched Superbowl’s in recent NFL history . Carter Evans / AP Photo ….

(2) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is seen here holding the Lombardi Trophy which will be contested by the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLVIII (SB48) on Sunday afternoon , when the two teams meet at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. AP Photo / Neil Sharpe …

(3) Dec 30, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks corner-back Richard Sherman (25) celebrates on the field following a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field . Sherman has been one of the most visible players during the lead-up to the Superbowl , giving countless interviews to members of the press and fans alike . The thought being , why not “cash in” when you get the chance ? Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports …..

(4) NBA Commissioner David Stern is seen here with Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls after the team’s triumph in the 1996 NBA Finals over the Seattle Supersonics in a 4-2 series’ win . In each of the Bulls’ six appearances in the Finals , Jordan would be named Finals’ MVP. Michael Jordan’s entrance into the NBA as a first round draft pick during the 1984 NBA Draft , draft pick in that now moment in which Hakeem Olajuwon was taken number one overall , only to be followed by Sam Bowie drafted out of Kentucky and taken by the Portland Trailblazers. Jordan was seen as the likely number two choice , but dropped to number three and taken by the Chicago Bulls. His relationship with David Stern and his meteoric career are seen as the organic reasons why the NBA exploded unto the scene and then to become a global phenomenon. The NBA as a commercial entity , has grown from $400 million in revenues in 1986 to become a commercial behemoth with annual revenues exceeding $ 4.8 billion . This growth has been presided over by David Stern , but the greatest contributing factor has been Michael Jordan , his iconic appeal and ability to be seen as a commercial spokesperson for numerous Fortune 500 companies . Down the years, that mantle has been passed on from Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal , to Kobe Bryant and now LeBron James of the Miami Heat . Michael Jordan today. still ranks as one of the highest paid athletes in the world , even after having retired for the final time in 2003 , playing out that final season with the Washington Wizards , a franchise , where he was a part owner at the time along with then majority stakeholder , Abe Pollin . UPI / Getty Images / Christopher Marshall …..

(5) Boston Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens is seen here with the team’s point guard Rajon Rondo . In a season of transition after the departures of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry . GM Danny Ainge has seen fit to revamp the roster by way of the draft and trades . The team has got distinctively younger , but also showing a great deal of inexperience . With Rondo also having missed several games on the team’s schedule , their on-court issues have been magnified a great deal , shown by way the Boston Celtics’ record this season . Their next scheduled game will be against the Orlando Magic at the TD North Garden Center in Boston , Massachusetts on Sunday , 2nd February , 2014. AP Photo / Sara Glover …..

(6) Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers is seen here court-side at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland , Ohio , along with head coach Mike Brown as the two discuss a team play that was not executed to the coach’s satisfaction. With growing locker room dissension and Irving having stated that Brown has lost control of the team and the locker room morale. It would appear, r that there is likely to be some major upheaval within the roster prior to or at the trade deadline . AP Photo / Marcus Spears ….

(7) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are the co-owners of the Golden State Warriors . The pairing in late 2013 made unsolicited bid to buy the Oakland Athletics from managing partner Lew Wolff and the syndicated group of managing partners . Guber and Lacob’s bid of $675 million was rebuffed by the front office of the A’s , who may well have felt that the billionaires’ offer , was far too low a price. For the moment , it would appear that intended buyers, are likely to regroup , rethink their strategy and perhaps come up with a revised offer for the AL team . AP Photo/ Andrew Garcia ……

(8) Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff, left, and General Manager Billy Beane watch their team warm up before the start of Game 1 of their American League Division Series game against the Detroit Tigers , Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Mich. The A’s are at present having to fend off an unsolicited bid from a prospective purchaser and it is likely that both Wolff and Beane will seek to strike a deal with Oakland Alameda County government concerning a new ballpark , something that this pairing have been working on for several years without much assistance being provided by Bud Selig or from anyone within the league’s upper hierarchy . D. Ross Cameron/Staff …….

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen …………..

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

By Tophatal

A patron of my site tried to suggest that a the presumed leader on a renowned NBA franchise was being disingenuous, in being critical of his teammates . From my own perspective, by appearance alone, when the player happens to be the best athlete and player on that team and he is expected to carry the burden of that organization upon his lone and competitive shoulders . Then he has every right to be “calling out his teammates” no matter what the circumstances , especially in the case where it would appear that the head coach takes a nonchalant and laissez-faire approach , merely seeking to make excuses for the team’s poor play and then drawing the ire and complete disdain from the fans . If you haven’t caught on by now , the team in question just happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers (25-28) and of course , the player , just happens to be , none other than Kobe Bryant .

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Now while the talk of the NBA at present has been outstanding play of play of LeBron James and his six-game run of averaging 30.4 points, 6 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game . Meanwhile , James, and the Heat, hold a comfortable seven-game lead over their closest rivals within the Southeast Division , the Atlanta Hawks (29-22) . It would remiss to think that Miami Heat and their head coach , Erik Spoelstra have had this season all to themselves . At present, the team is being is pushed hard, within the Eastern Conference , by none other than the New York Knicks (32-18). Who themselves have it on their minds, if at all possible , to supplant the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference . With that in mind, it is clear that Mike Woodson and his players had hoped to make that a reality before the All Star Break. The Knicks’ head coach however, can feel pleased with the fact, that his team leads the Heat, in their regular season series’ meetings (2-0) , so far, as part of the duos’ regular season scheduled contests.

It has to be understood , that there are as such, for all sense and purpose only three teams that certainly matters in terms of piquing the fans’ and public’s interests when it comes to the NBA , namely those franchises are the Boston Celtics , the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat . And granted , a case can be made for the San Antonio Spurs , but for the fact that they’ve won four NBA titles since 1997 , one seriously would have thought that the Gregg Popovich coached, and Tim Duncan led franchise , would be seen as one of the NBA’s marquee franchises . And perhaps, over the last four years with the ascent of Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder , as a rising powerhouse not only within the Western Conference but the NBA as a whole .

While I am not against players showing their passion or zeal on the court for the game , away from it , I would like to think that they can hold themselves accountable for their actions. A great deal of criticism has been leveled at Kobe Bryant over the course of his career , much of if it valid , and other cases , most definitely . With Bryant’s recent criticism, of his teammates, for their lackluster efforts on the court , it could be seen that the player’s frustrations had boiled over into sheer anger and contempt. And much of that, I believe has been brought about from the mere fact Kobe Bryant no longer has any faith in the abilities of general manager , Mitch Kupchak and SVP Jim Buss , son of team owner, Dr. Jerry Buss. The duo of senior executives, have simply made a mess of the season, with some rather curious and dubious personnel decisions. And while, the pundits were singing the praises of the acquisitions of Dwight Howard , and Steve Nash and their insertion unto this team . It has to be said , that the experiment so far, has worked out about as successfully, as the 72 day ‘marriage’ of Kim Kardashian to Nets’ power forward , Kris Humpheries. All of the hoopla behind that sham of a marriage” could not hide the fact , that intellectually and emotionally, the pairing was contrived and orchestrated, simply to whet the appetite of the public’s fascination of a publicity hungry female and a moderately successful NBA player . I just hope, that you had at least one chance, to tap that ass Kris ? Just simply, tap that ass !

On a one game winning streak , but losers of seven of their last ten games , there is no denying that you would have to be simply naïve , not to understand Kobe Bryant’s frustration. The team’s head coach, Mike D’Antoni, seems to be completely devoid creativity and ideas ! And to this asinine theory , that D’Antoni would bring about a defensive resilience to this unit , that is tantamount to suggesting that Lindsay Lohan’s acting career, has been a resounding success, given all of her off-screen problems . In the case of D’Antoni , he simply, has not brought anything meaningful to the table , by way of his alleged coaching prowess. In terms of defense the Los Angeles Lakers rank sixth , in the Western Conference allowing an astonishing 100.5 points per game , while in the league as a whole they rank eighth in points allowed . And when one takes into account that Bryant has been the primary offensive weapon on a team that is devoid of leadership , beyond the player , himself , and the very fact that the Lakers are physically and mentally soft ! What would now give anyone the notion that this team is simply good enough to make a credible run deep into the playoffs , much less actually garner a playoff berth based on their current standing within the conference ? If there happens to be a loyal Lakers’ fan still pinning their hopes and beliefs that the team can somehow turn things around . Then I, for one, would appreciate a succinct explanation as to how this will come about , given the franchise’s present situation ! Anyone, surely, there is a Los Angeles Lakers’ fan with the gravitas to show their undying allegiance to this renowned franchise?

The Lakers’ next game pits them against their co-habitants of the Staples Center in Los Angeles , Los Angeles Clippers (38-17) , in what is sure to be a heated and highly contested match-up . Vinny Del Negro’s Clippers hold a 2-0 series’ lead in their head to head match-ups this season , with their last meeting ending in a five point , 107-102 victory for his team . Will the Lakers be up to the challenge or will Blake Griffin led Clippers be like marauding mercenaries laying waste to the Lakers’ slowly evaporating season ?

While the Lakers and Clippers are dueling it out , a repeat of last season’s NBA Finals will be on tap , as two of the game’s most prolific scorers and some arguably might say , the NBA’s two best players , LeBron James and Kevin Durant will face off against each other , when the Miami Heat are the guests of the Oklahoma City Thunder , at the Chesapeake Energy Center , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma ,. It is likely that the fans in attendance and those watching the cable broadcast are likely to see a highly entertaining and offensive minded game. Two of the game’s, biggest scorers , and a pair of teams , with the players , who, are good enough , to keep the electronic scoreboard rattling along at a phenomenal pace .

I firmly believe that the NBA over the last eight years, has simply sold its very soul to the Devil ! And while it has a great brand on perception , if you simply delve beneath the surface and sift through the bull-crap , espoused by David Stern and so many of his subordinates , you will find that there is not a great deal of transparency or clearly defined demarcation points, in terms of the hierarchy’s leadership. Stern , simply eschews it all , and rules his fiefdom with a rod of iron , that the likes of Joseph Stalin and Muammar Gaddafi would have been proud of . Thankfully, the NBA does not, suborn the use of torture , life-long imprisonment, or execution by a firing squad , as a means of rendering punishment , or as a harsh deterrent for those who oppose his every whim. Be warned Mark Cuban , as I know at, $1.25 million in fines and counting , your adversarial foe (Stern) is simply looking for you to be critical of his very next idea of grandeur. As for the NBA commissioner , when will he get it into his thick skull that the wide latitude given to him , is not given in order that he belittles the fans , and the cities in which the NBA franchises are domiciled . If you think that last statement just happens to be off base , then consider David Stern’s distinct lack of aid , given to the city of Sacramento as the municipality and the fans of that franchise fought for the Sacramento Kings’ retention within the California state capitol . .

With the Kings having been sold for a reputedly exorbitant $ 525 million to a consortium led by hedge fund manager and venture capitalist billionaire , Chris Hansen, Microsoft Chairman Steve Ballmer , and a number of minority stake-holding partners , who now await the NBA Board of Governors’ approval , in relocating the beleaguered franchise to Seattle , Washington. And even with a last-ditch effort mounted by Californian billionaire , Ron Burkle , jointly with ex-President Bill Clinton with their last-ditch bid , which seems unlikely to be favored , even with the backing of Sacramento City Mayor Kevin Johnson , now leading the municipality’s efforts . This wouldn’t all be so comical and sad , when you realize that the basketball franchise is one of the NBA’s least supported teams , and in terms of competitive success , the Sacramento Kings’ last postseason appearance , came back in 2006 , that ended , with a first round series’ loss (4-2) to the San Antonio Spurs. Subsequently, things have been pretty sparse by way tangible success competitively , personnel wise and most definitely , from an economic standpoint , with the team eking out a mere $2.6 million in profits, on revenues of $96 million . A rather meager return , given the franchise’s locale and region , but yet one asinine Kings’ devotee , once suggested to me, that the franchise is a profitable concern compared to many of its peers. What this idiot failed to acknowledge because of his undoubted lack of business acumen, was that the franchise had distinct advantages over many of its rivals, but in reality, the ownership group and front office , clearly were , mismanaged the franchise and placing it on the brink of financial insolvency . All of which, he failed to acknowledge, when the evidence was placed in print for him to peruse. Well, if you can’t damn well balance a check book , then it’s clear that a financial balance sheet would be right above his intellectual being.

For the soon to be departing Sacramento Kings’ owners , Joe and Gavin Maloof , and their siblings . Well, let’s just say, that their sale of the franchise has come about at least, five years too late. During, their tenure, the Sacramento Kings have seen their fair share of highs and lows. In retrospect , I would definitely say more lows , than highs , but those are just my personal opinions ! I can only hope that with relocation and a far more resourceful ownership group , the Kings can hopefully see a return to better days ! The Maloof’s sheer indulgence and lack of forthrightness has to come into question , but so too must David Stern’s apparent willingness to let a franchise owner almost single-handed take the franchise to brink of extinction without ever once questioning the motives of Joe and Gavin Maloof. Well this should not at all come as a surprise to anyone , given the commissioner’s instincts and his own overall lack of honesty and integrity . One only has to follow the David Stern’s actions , and that of the present owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder, to fully comprehend the web of deceit and lies which took place during the sale of the Seattle Supersonics , and their subsequent relocation to their new locale , in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma .

The recent injury to the Kentucky Wildcats’ Nerlens Noel , a point has to be raised . In clearly what was a season ending injury , Noel , thought to be a consensus number one overall pick for the 2013 NBA Draft , will be sidelined for the rest of the team’ regular season schedule , with not even a remote chance of a return , for participation in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament . Wildcats’ basketball coach , John Calipari , in a somber mood , having spoken to the player after his injury , simply stated that he hoped to see the player back in a Kentucky Wildcats’ uniform next season . The chances of that happening , I e firmly believe just went up in smoke ! Should Nerlens Noel make a full recovery , and he is looked upon favorably by the draft experts , NBA coaching staffs , then it seems abundantly clear , that the player will declare his eligibility for the NBA Draft and seek to make his fortune in the professional ranks . A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee , is the injury which has sidelined the young Wildcats’ star for what is not necessarily an indeterminate period .Surgery , and recuperation period of six to eight months is considered a bare minimum time for recovery . And this is the exact same injury that NFL running back Adrian Peterson was able to recover from in record time . Therefore, it all bodes well for Nerlens Noel, now, if placed under the appropriate medical staff for treatment. I would like to think, that the player seeks to make a return to the collegiate ranks , but everything would suggest that with the untold millions that awaits in the NBA , a young athlete of Noel’s potential would find it hard forgo the chance of that fortune .

Nerlen’s injury came in a game between the Wildcats and the Florida Gators . Billy Donovan’s , players came away with an exciting 69-52 victory , in which there were some thrilling plays from both teams . With Nerlens Noel scoring a game-low eight points in the Kentucky Wildcats’ loss. Their next scheduled game will be an interesting contest against the Tennessee (Volunteers) in Knoxville, Tennessee , this Saturday , the 16th February , 2013.

With the NBA hierarchy’s apparent intent to review eligibility status of college players , questions will arise of the intent of the league to review present rules governing the college athletes’ eligibility, of their entrance into the NBA Draft. Once again, the “one and done rule” becomes a subject of great conjecture, debate and speculation. Is it really the league’s duty impinge and deprive a potential employee a right to earn an income merely because the NBA sees it as a way controlling the apparent quality and branding of their product ? This essentially, is what this maneuver will all boil down to, should there be any anticipated changes. Fighting this, will be the agents, whose clients will be subject to this edict. NCAA President, Mark Emmert , will undoubtedly seek to offer his input with regard to this issue. This will either all come crashing down around the NBA’s ears or David Stern , will once again be able to use his power and cast aside any opposition to his authority. Your thoughts, on this all ?

Inasmuch as it pains me to say this , this an NBA season just seems to be mirroring many of their predecessors , in a great deal of the play we see being exhibited . Scoring seem to be on the increase ,meanwhile there are deficiencies on defense that fans seem to be overlooking , while they seek to gloss over these issues within the league (NBA) at present . A number of fans seem to be oblivious to this all , as they seek to make light of these obvious flaws within game , which is being ignored by David Stern , as his only thought seems to marketing a waning product to anyone willing to listen to his spiel . Suffice to say , with the NBA brand having saturated the North American market , the NBA’s need for growth , will come from the continents of Australia , Africa , Europe , and Asia .

The league’s biggest growth area will be in China , where its population of 1.6 billion people are now fans of the NBA. And with the Beijing Olympics , and the success of Team USA Men’s and Women’s basketball teams in bringing home Olympic gold, heightened the popularity of the game , even more so. Even, in light of retirement of former Houston Rockets’ , center, Yao Ming , a Chinese native , and the country’s most popular and prominent sporting export , until the recent ascent of WTA Tour player , Li Na . The female tennis professional is now idolized by young girls and women , in very much the same way , as Yao has been admired and appreciated by the country’s population. His popularity still remains high , as he now seeks to broaden the base and popularity of the sport of basketball across the country of China.

Na’s rise to prominence , has seen her become a three-time Grand Slam finalist and winner of the 2011 French Open title on the clay courts of the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris , France. Add in the fact , of her seventeen career singles’ titles , 16 doubles’ titles and over $10 .6 million in prize money , and one can fully appreciate why she’s held in such high esteem by the Chinese people and the People’s Republican Party of China. Li Na , is currently ranked fifth in the WTA rankings , with top spot held by Victoria Azarenka of Belarus . And with both sports , basketball and tennis reaching such a widespread audience globally , with each reputedly becoming multi-billion dollar enterprises , then clearly, any room for growth will be eagerly sought by the NBA , FIBA as the international governing body of the sport of basketball , and the WTA , as the custodians of the sport of women’s tennis.

Sunday, the 17th February , marks the fiftieth birthday of Michael Jeffrey Jordan, arguably , the greatest player in NBA history. Most certainly justified , as being one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-time . The question now becomes, how will the NBA celebrate their most famous and universally recognized ambassador ? Jordan’s name is still revered globally , and that is in spite of the rise today’s era of stars , such as Kobe Bryant , LeBron James , Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony , Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose . Jordan’s legacy and his achievements will long be remembered after his passing and thankfully many of the accomplishments are either etched in our memories or held on film , where we can view them all for prosperity . Who can fail to remember his game winning shot over the outstretched arms of a then bewildered Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers , in the waning seconds , of what was a career defining play , of which he has repeated countless times over ? Yet this game winning shot, in Game 5 of the first round of the 1989 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs , meant a great deal more than just a victory , as it elevated Jordan to a God like, deity status. Michael Jordan remains one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet , and his universal acclaim might only be outshone at present, by retired boxer , Muhammad Ali and PGA Tour golfer, Tiger Woods . And no doubt , LeBron James , would like to see his fame take that ascent into the stratosphere , but first, it will take at least another three or four NBA titles , several league MVP’s , 6 or more Finals’ MVP awards , 8 more scoring titles , an additional ten more All Star Appearances, and shall we say, 20,000 more career points as an added bonus , before the comparisons can be made to Jordan , the icon , and the player who James , models himself after ?

Comparisons, will continually be made between NBA players of the past, and those of the present. Moreover, at times it may seem somewhat at disingenuous to gauge the greatness of these players , in thinking old versus new . In reality, there are no other means , nor is there an exact science to come up with a result that will meet everyone’s satisfaction , and that would deem to be fair . In my honest opinion to best way judge the players of the past against today’s crop of stars is to wait until an NBA of today makes his formal announcement to retire . And then we can start to deliver our verdicts , as to what we determine greatness to be !

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Picture gallery .

What do you believe may well be the NBA’s biggest failure as a sport’s brand ? In addition, do think that they can rectify those problems on long-term or the short-term ? By comparison , do you believe it to be justified in trying to suggest who is the better player of the two , in making a decision between Michael Jordan and Michael Jordan ? Do bear in mind that James is only now entering his tenth year in the NBA , having been drafted as the number one overall pick , from the 2003 NBA Draft. Your thoughts or comments on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article is greatly appreciated . So do take time, and chime on in .

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Picture and slideshow details below for your perusal .

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(1) “Faces of the NBA “ … the past and the present. Left, LeBron James holds the Bill O’Brien Trophy , signifying, his first NBA title (world championship). And right, Michael Jordan , long considered the NBA’s greatest player past or present . AP Photo / Chris Pearson …

(2) Los Angeles Lakers center , Dwight Howard , left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game , Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill ….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill …

(4) Left , NBA Commissioner , David Stern and the Dallas Mavericks’ owner , Mark Cuban . The two individuals have had a contentious relationship , which is said to be built on ” mutual respect” . Yet, herein lies the dilemma , over the course of Cuban’s custodianship of the Maverick. He has reputedly, paid over $1.25 million in fines rendered by the league hierarchy led by David Stern . Cuban , a billionaire , tech entrepreneur will no doubt think of the fines as a mere pittance , when by comparison his net worth exceeds $2.35 billion . Getty Images/ Stuart Gough …

(5) Houston Rockets basketball center Yao Ming attended a press conference in Beijing, China to announce a partnership deal with the Brisbane company Monster Cable Products Inc. Yao and Monster has developed a broad range of co-branded “Yao Monster” consumer electronics and lifestyle products for distribution in China. Yao Monster products include headphones, bags, 3D glasses and home theater connectivity and power products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a portion of the proceeds will go to the Yao Ming Foundation, which builds schools for disadvantaged children in China. Courtesy of Pacific Coast News … @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

(6) Nerlens Noel , the Kentucky Wildcats’ guard is seen lying on court during a game between Florida and the Kentucky Wildcats . Noel tore his Anterior cruciate ligament in his right, knee and will be lost to the team for the rest of their schedule , missing in its entirety the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament . Florida would go on to defeat Kentucky 62-59 . While Noel hopes to make a quick return , it is highly unlikely that he will return for his sophomore season with the team . Nerlens Noel is considered to be a ” consensus top five pick overall “ , if not the number one pick for the 2013 NBA Draft. It seems almost a certainty that Nerlens Noel will forgo his sophomore season , declaring his eligibility for the draft , recuperating , while honing his game in the ranks of the NBA . A number of NBA coaches and scouts have seen Noel’s game and have been impressed with the player’s all-round skill-set . AP Photo / John Thorn …

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Consequence , feat’g Kanye West …….. “ The Good The Bad & The Ugly “

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

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

By Tophatal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

Hold Unto Them Horns The Heat Are In The House Hoping To Spoil The Running of The Bulls …….

By tophatal ………..

The Chicago Bulls in their victory over the Toronto Raptors this past Saturday became the first team to qualify for the NBA postseason . With a mark of . 40-10 the Bulls have a four game lead over their closest rivals the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference .

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That being said , I do believe that Tom Thibodeau and John Paxson would certainly like to tie up the divisional title (Central Division) and conference # 1 seed by season’s end ! And for their part this Bulls’ team has been playing at an exceptionally high level , with and without their All Star guard Derrick Rose . And while Rose has been sidelined with an injury , it has been John Lucas III stepping up to the plate and proving that you don’t have to be error prone like Jeremy Lin to be deemed a good point guard within in the NBA .

From my own perspective I believe the Bulls to be the most balanced team within the conference with their starting five being amongst the most efficient within the NBA . Now while everyone seems to be favoring the Miami Heat and maybe there is some justification to that . I simply look at one salient point and that is when power forward Chris Bosh fails play with his usual aplomb this Heat team fails to show up . At the same though much isn’t placed with regard to point differential in terms of margin of victory I do still place a great deal of substance in that particular statistic . At the same time this roster crafted by Pat Riley is nowhere as efficient as many believe them to be from a defensive standpoint . And while the fans , NBA analysts and purists alike laud the ” Big Three “ stars on the team , in LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Bosh . It has to be said that many expected this Heat team to be running roughshod over their opponents not just within the Eastern Conference but also the NBA as whole .

Riley’s protege` Erik Spoelstra is under a great deal of pressure to succeed , especially in light of last season’s failure in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks where they were heavily favored against their Western Conference opponents . That series’ defeat led to many questions being asked not just about the Heat but also the entire organization with regard to their conceit and complacency . If the Miami Heat are to fare well then it will have to come from a concerted effort from every member on the roster , rather than simply seeing James , Wade and Bosh lead apparently by example .

I’ve always maintained that an NBA title isn’t won by being the best team during the playoffs but by being the toughest team physically and mentally . And that is something that I believe we are witnessing from the Chicago Bulls . It has been amazing to see the team play without Derrick Rose but having John Lucas , Carlos Boozer , Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on a given night simply step up and prove that they too can lead when their team is facing some real adversity. Now while a great deal can be made that the fans will ultimately want to see style over substance , which I do believe is an appropriate way to describe the play of both Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat ! The Heat is prepared to give you style while Thibodeau’s players will give you the substance . As to how this will all play out in what many believe will be the perceived conference Finals’ match-up. It can only add to the element of excitement expected over the course and anticipation expected during the upcoming playoffs.

In the Western Conference it would appear that the smooth running Oklahoma City Thunder is the engine that could and still is running like a precision and finely in and tuned machine . Of the teams now vying for the top berth within the conference , it is Kevin Durant and his teammates who stand head and shoulders above everyone else . Specifically, with both the San Antonio Spurs and a now resurgent …. Los Angeles Lakers , the conference no longer seems to be a one horse race .

Durant, Serge Ibaka , James Harden and Russell Westbrook are now looking acquit themselves after the last season’s mala-prop in the playoffs . Once again a young team making waves with a very good coach at the helm in Scott Brooks .

As an ardent fan of the San Antonio Spurs and the always meticulous Gregg Popovich in conjunction with GM R C Buford have reconstructed a new team built around their celebrated triumvirate of Tony Parker , Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli . This season however the Spurs have seen the rise of young players Kawhi Leonard , DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal all contributing to the team’s cause which has seen them rise to the # 2 seed within the conference as the season winds down into the final month of the regular season schedule .

As to what we should look to expect as the schedule winds itself down should be as expected . Those teams still in with a chance of a playoff berth will fight tooth and nail to the very last drop in terms of a divisional race which is tight or for that eighth and final spot in the conference standings . This much do already know the Charlotte Bobcats will have the undoubted privilege of being amongst the teams in question participating in the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery . Unfortunately , for team executive and owner , . Michael Jordan and the rest of the front office this may well be the one season in the organization’s history they would rather forget altogether . This Bobcats’ team has set a historic number team and NBA lows that simply denotes the fact as to how poor their season has been . I certainly don’t believe that it is something that the players craved or that David Stern envisioned in seeing from the NBA’s most noted ambassador . Jordan may well have been a tremendous success on an NBA court but off it as a front office executive , he has left a great deal to be desired , as his contributions during that time have been well chronicled and ridiculed more often than not .

Kemba Walker may well have made a big splash in college basketball having won an NCAA title with Connecticut in 2011 but his NBA career thus far has been littered with an array of moderate displays on a totally inept and what some might describe as a totally dysfunctional team .

Once the regular season reaches its culmination I would dare say that head coach Paul Silas will meet with Michael Jordan to discuss his immediate future . As I cannot envisage this much and well-respected coach remaining with an organization where the players simply are not listening or appear to be willing to learn. At the same time one has to what indeed was behind the thought process of Jordan and his fellow executives before the Bobcats embarked upon their now disastrous season . This team will be extremely lucky if they hit the double-digit total in terms of their collective total in wins for the 2011-12 season . Such has been the mediocrity on display from the Charlotte Bobcats that I seriously doubt anyone would have expected this from an NBA franchise at all ! I certainly didn’t and I am one of those fans who will at times question the work ethic of not only the teams but also their players ! I simply look at the Bobcats and I see a franchise that is besieged with a number of issues that they have simply failed to address and until that is done we are liable to see more of the same over the ensuing seasons . Your thoughts ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

With the NBA Playoffs due to begin on the 28th April what are you most looking forward to from the teams that you expect to see in the NBA postseason showcase ? And what have been your overall impressions of the curtailed season within the league ? Do you believe that it has met most expectations or are you somewhat disappointed with it overall ? Chime in with a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot between Amir Johnson (15) (L) > and Andrea Bargnani(7) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images …

(2) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls tries to get off a shot as Amir Johnson #15 of the Toronto Raptors hip-checks him at the United Center on March 24, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 102-101 in overtime. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(3) John Lucas III (15) of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over Jose Calderon (8) of the Toronto Raptors at the United Center , Chicago , Illinois . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ….

(4) Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook (0) celebrate after scoring against the Miami Heat in the third quarter a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Oklahoma City won 103-87 . And the Thunder lowered “the boom” on the Heat’s ass . AP Photo/Alonzo Adams ….

(5) Kendrick Perkins (5) of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat on March 25, 2012 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images ……..

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant defends as Miami Heat forward LeBron James, right, drives to the basket during the second quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 25, 2012. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams

(7) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich , center, argues a call as Manu Ginobili , left, of Argentina, listens during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. The Spurs won 93-76 . AP Photo/Eric Gay ….

(8) San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker (9), of France, shoots as Philadelphia 76ers’ Elton Brand, center, and Evan Turner defend during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 25, 2012, in San Antonio. AP Photo/Eric Gay …..

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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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The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

The More You Know ……….. In Reality It’s The Less You Know

As the NFL lockout looks as if it’s running its prolonged course I find it all the laughable when I hear fans stipulate that there’s nothing that’ll be lost for some of the teams from a financial and economic standpoint. Well as things now progress we’re now learning that a number of teams are gravely struggling to even sell preseason game tickets much less season tickets for the upcoming season . Amongst the teams looking to stave off the problems now besetting them are the Oakland Raiders . In light of the fact that during the 2010 season the Raiders in terms of their attendance for their home games were amongst the lowest in the NFL . Team owner Al Davis as an added incentive to his staff at all levels within the organization has requested that they each try sell no less than 10% of their salary in terms of ticket sales . This is something that he’s not only asking of the sales staff but all employees within the Raiders’ organization. If the front office is on board in terms of this then it can only benefit the Raiders’ organization as a whole .

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There’s a feeling that as the lockout shows no signs of an accord being met between the parties concerned in terms of the damage done to the NFL’s image is now beyond irreparable . NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with the team owners now find themselves trying to how best spin this situation wherein in order the premise of the situation is in their favor.
The fans however don’t actually see it that way and if anything they do feel alienated by this whole situation. The NFLPA for its part along with its members are looking to challenge the NFL’s antitrust exemption status within the Federal Court System . Signees to this civil suit are some of the most prominent players in the NFL , each are Superbowl winning quarterbacks Tom Brady , Drew Brees and Peyton Manning . The trial itself is still ongoing and it looks as if it will be a while before the judge renders a verdict in this particular case.

We all can look back on the fact that the 2010 season was quite an enthralling one with the Superbowl itself turning out to be quite an exciting spectacle with the Geen Bay Packers finally hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in their defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers . Superbowl MVP Aaron Rodgers stood tall in the saddle and has pretty much eradicated the memory of Brett Favre amongst the Packers’ fans at Lambeau Field . And given Favre’s antics in the past few years with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings I feel that it’s a great thing that the player has since walked away from the game under his own steam !

In light of Favre’s retirement I must say that in the latter years of his storied career I found the player to be self serving and an ingrate ! If nothing else I have to admit the longer Brett Favre stayed in the game thinking that he could in fact bring a championship to any franchise willing to meet his asking price like a mercenary for hire simply showed what a narcissistic asshole …… Brett Favre had become ! What might be even more comical was the mere fact that the idiot analysts covering the game within ESPN and Fox Sports clung unto Favre’s every word as if he were a deity rendering his thoughts on the NFL and his own aspirations. Statistics asides it’s almost certain that Favre will become a first ballot Hall of Famer having met the criteria for his induction .

I’m not so sure that the Western Conference Finals of the NBA postseason is all that enticing . Granted , we have two offensively minded teams in the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder . Defense seems to have gone out the window as both teams are intent in merely showing us their offensive prowess . In this series we also have two of the most prominent scorers in the game with Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki .

With the series tied at 1-1 , game three’s resumption of this series in Oklahoma City with the Mavericks looking to take the upper hand in the series by taking a 2-1 lead in this best of seven playoff match-up. For Scott Brooks as the coach of the Thunder can ill afford to go down to 2-1 at home in this series knowing full well that they will have dug themselves int a hole. Brooks will have to emphasize to his players that they need to step up their game and be fully aware as to the dangers that this series brings if they continue to remain complacent. Durant in conjunction with Russell Westbrook will have to be weary of what their contributions must be throughout this series . Anything short of their regular season performances and this series will end up being beyond the Thunder’s retrieval .

Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle has in large part instilled a workman like commitment from his players in doing what’s best for the team from a collective standpoint and we’ve seen that in the contributions from a number of players on this roster . Asides from Nowitzki we’ve seen aging veterans Jason Kidd , Jason Terry show their guile . But if anything it has been the play of the bench players such as J J Barea , Tyson Chandler , Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood that have played their part in the Mavericks’ success this season and in the playoffs. Now that the success is now being replicated in this series it augurs well for the Mavericks and their ambition to win their first NBA title .

Mark Cuban as owner of this franchise has long sought to bring success to the organization. Now it may well be finally be within his grasp . The fact that in the organization’s sole appearance in the NBA Finals they came up short to an enlivened Miami Heat team that simply outplayed them in every facet of that particular series . A humbling 4-2 series loss was enough to send the Mavericks packing their bags home and back to the Lone Star State.

I’d like to think that the Dallas Mavericks in their endeavor to make it to the NBA’s showcase event can actually redeem themselves. In the aftermath of that NBA Finals series’ loss I felt that the window of opportunity may well have closed on this organization. But now I know that to be oh so false as the Mavericks have shown me that they finally possess some grit and determination . As this series plays itself out it will be interesting to see how both teams will acquit themselves knowing that there’s a great deal on the line for both of these organizations.

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In terms of the NFL’s continued lockout what remedies do you feel would best bring the two sides together in reaching an amicable accord ? And as you observe the NBA Playoff series has there been anything that has come a complete surprise to you as it’s about to reach its latter stages ? Simply chime in with your own thoughts on the points raised within this piece and as always thanks for the continued support .

Alan aka tophatal …….

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson (L) looks on as Raiders owner Al Davis (R) speaks to reporters after introducing Jackson as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders on January 18, 2011 in Alameda, California. Hue Jackson was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Tom Cable. Getty Images North America / Justin Sullivan …..

(2) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates winning Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 with his family at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. Kevin Terrell/NFL) ….

(3) Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre leaves the field after warmups at Ford Field before their their NFL football game against the New York Giants in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. Favre is inactive for the game with the New York Giants, ending his record consecutive starts streak at 297, dating back to 1992. The Giants would defeat the Vikings 24-3 AP Photo/Paul Sancya …..

(4) James Harden (13) of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Jason Kidd(2) of the Dallas Mavericks in the second half in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Mavericks would go on to defeat the Thunder 93-87 to take 2-1 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Finals . Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ……

(5) OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 21: (L-R) Jason Terry(31) , Peja Stojakovic (16) , Brendan Haywood(33), Dirk Nowitzki(41) and Jose Juan Barea (11) of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate on the court in the second quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez ………

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Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Questions I’ve No Wish To Be Answered But Yet They Remain Within The Public Domain So Does Anyone Have An Answer ?

Well inter-league play is now front and center within MLB and though the purists may well be dead set against the idea here it now is. Personally from my own standpoint I see it as a chance for teams within the AL and NL a chance to play each other and for many of the fans to see their heroes up close and personal. Though I’m not an overly admirer of this format until the World Series as I alluded to , it does give the fans a chance to see their favorite players .

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As the season progresses I know that we’re bound to see the teams at their very best and at their worst. But you can be sure that won’t last long as the season heats up and reaches its halfway point by late July . By then a number of the divisions should be taking shape albeit that there still will be a great deal to play for . I’m not about to make any quick announcements as to what I think will happen other than to suggest that the teams playing the best baseball should actually be stepping up to the plate and making their present felt and their class known .

Well over the weekend several of the top NFL’s rookies gathered on the campus of UCLA Berkley for a charity event . Amongst those attending were Cam Newton , Von Miller , Blaine Gabbert and Andy Dalton to name but a few . Many of the players in question suggested that in spite of the league lockout they were happy to be part of the fraternity but their biggest disappointment was not being able to participate in any drills amongst their new teams or at their respective training facilities. In the midst of this all the NFL hierarchy , team owners and the NFLPA , there still remains a chasm as to their differences . Meanwhile the lockout still remains in place after being upheld by the 8th District Appellate Court . The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees in an interview granted to ESPN’s Ed Werder during which he stated that the reason why he was a willing participant in a civil suit against the NFL wherein he , Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had all signed on to challenge the league’s antitrust status . One of the points that Brees brought up during this interview was the very fact the players are doing this mainly to represent the veteran players that have retired and the very fact that they have been inadequately assisted by the NFL . If anything this might well have been one of the most pertinent points raised in this whole unsavory episode . Because to my mind it certainly hasn’t been only the NFL that has failed the retired players but also the very union who say that they represent those players’ interests. Certainly neither Gene Upshaw or his successor DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA have spoken publicly of their wish in obtaining better benefits for their members, in particular the retired veterans . But such has been the idiocy of this lockout and the very fact that the two sides seem to so far apart in trying to reach an accord as it firmly remains about money and how best to split a $9 billion piece of pie .

Well the daggers are now out for seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong as the Justice Department seeks testimony and evidence that would indict the former champion of using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). Such has been the absurdity of this whole spectacle where we have seen former champion Alberto Contador have his own suspension lifted after positive test which he asserts was due to having ate tainted meat at a restaurant . In light of this all I find it rather asinine that the Tour organizers L’Equipe and the sport’s governing body UCI have yet to reach an accord where there is in fact a really comprehensive drug testing policy. The IOC which oversees the Olympic Games has a part to play in this all but they appear to be taking a hands off approach as WADA and UCI try to make the best of a bad situation by trying to get the appropriate testing protocols in place that is universally recognized.

Much of Armstrong’s problems will now manifest itself even more so with the allegations now being made by former teammates of Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton has stated that he repeatedly saw the former champion inject himself with steroids and other illicit PED’S . In an interview conducted by CBS’s Scott Pelley for their magazine news program ’60 Minutes’ , Hamilton emphasizes that Lance Armstrong was a frequent user of PED’s throughout much of his career , especially during the run-up to the Tour de France. Now it’d be naive to even suggest that Armstrong might not be guilty of anything but at the same time one certainly would have doubts . The other teammate of Armstrong who also has also given testimony to the Justice Department is George Hincapie . OK , so Lance Armstrong has never tested positive while in competition or during the cycling off season but yet the allegations appear and reappear with even more frequency as time goes by . Now while Hamilton has given his sworn testimony to the Justice Department the question I would ask is what does he actually gain from all of this ? He would be an idiot to perjure himself at this juncture knowing full well that lying would mean a jail sentence in a Federal penitentiary . But at this juncture until an indictment is handed down all one can do is merely speculate on the matter . 60 Minutes who tried to get in contact with Armstrong and his legal representatives seeking a statement from the beleaguered cyclist were not met with a response of any kind. However , Armstrong has always maintained his innocence in any wrong doing on his part. For someone who was so beloved after his heroics and the fact that he overcame testicular cancer it would appear that his days now seem to be numbered as he looks keep his legacy and integrity in tact.

The vultures are now hovering and it appears that they are looking gorge themselves on the carcass of Lance Armstrong . Witch hunt or not , this might be one of the most unsavory moments in recent l history as it relates to the sport of cycling, especially as to its relevance here in North America , where Armstrong is still very much seen as the face of the sport.

As the NBA postseason takes shape with the conference finals I can’t help but wonder how the fans now view things as they begin to play themselves out ? The Eastrn Conference Finals have worked out well as the top two seeds meet for the right to represent to the conference in the NBA Finals . The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat so far , have given us an exhilarating two games wherein the series is now tied at 1-1 . And for both coaches Tom Thibodeau and Erik Spoelstra are on the cusp of leading their respective teams to what will their first appearance in the league’s showcase event as coaches. It is extremely hard to believe that other than Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers there are no other active coaches in the league that have won an NBA title . But such has been the dominance of that triumvirate as coaches within the NBA that it easy to understand the reasons why they have had the success that they have attained. They are the consummate individuals within their fraternity and have the respect of their peers and their players no less.

The stars on both teams have shone as this series has progressed and it may well take one of those stars to raise their game to another level if their team is to succeed. For league MVP —- Derrick Rose this has been an outstanding season as he has vindicated himself to many by showing why he has been so successful as a player and a leader of this Bulls’ team . With the series now resuming this upcoming Sunday at the AA Arena in Miami , one should expect an explosive and raucous atmosphere in that arena as the Heat’s Dwyane Wade , LeBron James , Chris Bosh and the rest of this roster showcase their skills as they seek to take a lead in the series.

All evidence would point to the fact that should the Heat take game three then they would be viewed as being in the driver’s seat and expected to perhaps look to close out this series . At this juncture I would say that nothing is off the table because this season’s playoffs while exciting , have also been full of a number of surprises as we’ve seen both the San Antonio Spurs and the reigning two time defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers being summarily embarrassed by their respective opponents in the earlier rounds .

In the Western Conference Finals the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder look to up the ante in their series as they each look to regain the upper hand in their series . Dirk Nowitzki after his dominant performance in game one with an emphatic 48 point offensive output in the Mavericks’ 121-112 defeat of the Thunder . This series has see-sawed up and down because of the over powering offensive display of both teams . At the same time I look at the situation where it would appear that defense appears to the last thing on the mind of either team. For both Scott Brooks and Rick Carlisle this is something that has to be remedied if either team is to prevail in the series outright .

Game three resumes in Oklahoma City this Saturday with the series tied at one game apiece . In tying the series the Thunder knew that taking a game at American Airlines Center in Dallas this series is now up for grabs . Much of the post-game scenario played around the benching of Russell Westbrook by Scott Brooks for the entire fourth quarter of the game. Inconsistency or not Westbrook is uniquely aware that he’s not the leader of this Thunder team as that right belongs to the two time league scoring champion Kevin Durant . Westbrook must know that if the Oklahoma City Thunder is to be successful then he will have to defer to Durant as and when necessary . Any other alternative will ultimately lead to the team’s demise and a chance of making their first appearance in the NBA Finals as the NBA’s youngest franchise .

As this NBA postseason unfolds it will be interesting what drama now awaits the participants left the respective series .

After what appeared to be an enthralling bout a rematch was made between former light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and the reigning champion Jean Pascal of Canada. In their first dramatic fight that ended in a highly contested draw , the animosity between the two antagonists actually grew. What is now undeniable is the that Hopkins seeks to further cement his legacy in becoming the oldest world champion in boxing history. The former champion is 46 years old and some eighteen years the senior of his opponent. Their title bout will take place in Montreal this upcoming Saturday (10:00 pm EST) and will be televised by HBO .

Though the state of boxing has now become mundane and pedantic , Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao remain perhaps the two biggest draw in the sport. Unfortunately however , once these two legends of the sport retire boxing will become bereft of real talent and characters that the fans can actually identify with. Pascal for his part knows that if he actually beats Hopkins his ascent up the ranks will only gain him more exposure and greater financial reward. It seems strange at the age of five Pascal he probably wouldn’t have been aware that his opponent would be making his professional debut in the sport. That being said when these two meet again at the Bell Centre , Montreal , it won’t be about Pascal showing any deference to his more experienced foe and it will certainly be vice- versa with Bernard Hopkins. The former champion felt he was cheated out of the decision on the champion’s home turf in their first outing and for that, he expects to right a wrong . And as impressive as Pascal’s 26-1-1 (16KO’s) record might appear to be the quality of opponents he has met over the course of his career pales into comparison when adjudged against that of Hopkins’ and multi-divisional championship record (51-5-1 [32 KO’s])would and resume’ would indicate.

This rematch has the makings of being an instant classic given what is on the line for both fighters. And I think that there is a distinct possibility that the challenger may well walk away with the title belt as he feels that he has something to prove . Certainly Pascal being the much younger fighter knows that he can ill afford to take Hopkins lightly as he had done in their first meeting. And if anything he was extremely lucky to have retained his title with that favorable decision of a draw by the judges . This time around there may well not be a need for the judges to actually give a verdict as this bout may well be decided by knockout . Either way this could be a fight that will dictate the careers of both fighters and the directions that they may well be heading in .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What opinions might you have as to the topics raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as you deem fit and anything else you may well feel pertinent .

Alan aka tophatal ………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Atlanta Braves’ Joe Mather celebrates his one run double in the twelfth inning of an interleague baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Anaheim, Calif. The Braves won 5-4 . AP Photo/Gus Ruelas …..

(2) Alex Gonzalez (2) #2 of the Atlanta Braves scores a run in front of Hank Conger (16) Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to take a 5-4 lead during the 12th inning at Angel Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images …..

(3) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 17: Former NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith (second from left), NFL retired players’ lawyer Michael Hausfeld and NFL players’ lawyer Jeffrey Kessler arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images ……

(4) Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) of the Seattle Seahawks converses with quarterback Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints after the Saints 34-19 win at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. ….

(5) Cyclist Lance Armstrong holds a press conference during Day 1 of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on September 24, 2008 in New York City. Armstrong was speaking on his return to competitive cycling and the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative to fight cancer.2008 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting – Day 1New York, NY United StatesSeptember 24, 2008 . Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage.com @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ……

(6) Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) goes up for a shot attempt as Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, right, and DeShawn Stevenson, bottom left, defend in the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals basketball series Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Oklahoma City. The Mavericks won 93-87 . AP Photo/Larry W. Smith ….

(7) Dirk Nowitzki (41) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena on May 21, 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Getty Images / Christian Petersen …….

(8) Bernard Hopkins of US shows his tongue after a hit by Jean Pascal of Canada during their light heavyweight championship fight for the WBC light heavyweight championship, on May 21, 2011, at Bell Centre, Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Ring veteran Bernard Hopkins beat Jean Pascal by decision in a World Boxing Council light heavyweight bout to become the oldest major world champion in boxing history at 46 years old. Hopkins came on strong in the middle rounds and hung on in the 12th against the hard-hitting Canadian Pascal to get the decision in front of a crowd of 17,750 at the Bell Centre arena May 21, 2011. Hopkins won a unanimous decision against Pascal in an entertaining rematch of their December 18 draw in Quebec City, Canada. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES/ ROGERIO BARBOSA …….

(9) Bernard Hopkins misses a punch on Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images …….

(10) MONTREAL, CANADA – MAY 21: Bernard Hopkins punches Jean Pascal during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

(11) Both Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal raise their hands in victory after twelve rounds of action during the WBC Light-Heavyweight Championship fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal at the Bell Centre on May 22, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The challenger would defeat his younger adversary in obtaining a unanimous verdict from all there judges . In winning the light heavyweight title Bernard Hopkins became the oldest world title holder in boxing history at the age of 46. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images ….

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Do The Right Thing ……………….

Do The Right Thing ……………..

There’s a great deal to be said about the legacy of baseball , its history and the fact that Jackie Robinson played a part in integrating team sports, being the first African American to play a professional sport where its embodiment was integrated . And granted, were it not for Branch Rickey willing to take a chance on a social experiment that would have lasting ramifications that would reverberate across the landscape of the country , I seriously doubt that we’d have seen the integration of the game at the time we did. Consider this, at the time that Robinson suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers the US military still hadn’t been fully integrated wherein African American soldiers could be part of the same platoon and serve alongside their Caucasian counterparts but yet this myth continues here within this country that it’d rather gloss over this whole episode concerning African Americans within the US military. The US military wouldn’t be fully integrated until 1953 , some eight years after World War II had ended .

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In light of the above evidence a patron (chappy81) of my site and I mulled over the situation with regard to the image of the NFL and that of MLB and the fact that both sports are so image conscious . He remarked about the fact baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day and that baseball also has its Civil Rights —– games played this weekend . But that in of-itself I find to be a real misnomer as it simply means nothing in the greater landscape of things , given the fact that now we’re seeing an attack to repeal many of the advances made under the Civil Rights Act . And whereas Jackie Robinson’s number has been retired by the league I do find it somewhat asinine that the league especially now under the tenure of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has somehow refused to retire Roberto Clemente’s number in honor of the player and his accomplishments but specifically as a human rights activist and philanthropist . If Selig and the league hierarchy simply can’t view Clemente’s accomplishments other than to institute an award in his name , I think it somewhat inane that they simply believe that honor only ought to be bestowed upon Jackie Robinson , merely because he was simply the first person of an ethnic minority to have the game as part of an integrated team at the professional level ! Baseball while steeped in its traditions has become archaic and fully out of touch with the realities of the world .

Given the current problems within the league , financial instability of teams around baseball , team owners who’ve simply put greed above common sense and a hierarchy who for the most part simply show the naivete of an immature child that it’s hard to imagine that the game has made the advancement that it has over the years. Character issue asides of the players past and present I do feel that it is now time for Bud Selig do the right thing and actually retire Roberto Clemente’s number , not just simply as an act of benevolence but also to acknowledge his achievements as a philanthropist .

Now one might suggest that in allowing Clemente’s number to retired it would diminish what Jackie Robinson’s entry at the major league level meant to the game . But I say …no ………. because if anything these are two great players who by their own deeds and willingness to beat the odds has done a great deal to establish the game of baseball across a broad demographic and therein making it relevant socially as well being viewed as America’s pastime .

Well now that the conference finals appear to be set with regard to the NBA Playoffs . The Eastern Conference Finals sets up an intriguing match-up between the top two seeds within the confrence . The Chicago Bulls will host the Miami Heat at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday 15th May in a game one of this best of seven game series . For LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade they see this as a form of vindication having defeated the Boston Celtics in their conference quarter semi final series 4-1 .

So clinical was the defeat of the Celtics that it had many wondering whether or not this might the last charge of the Boston Celtics’ ‘Big Three’ of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Ray Allen . To my mind I do feel that this Celtics’ roster labored because of the fact that is in large part an aging one . And whereas Doc Rivers was able to lead the Celtics to an emphatic triumph in the 2008 NBA Finals . This might very well be a time for a changing of the guard in some part . GM Danny Ainge and senior general partner Wyc Grousbeck may very well have to overhaul this roster if the Celtics are to have any serious chance of challenging for an NBA title next season .

And while it is being widely reported that Rivers is now in the process of accepting a renewed five year $35 million deal to remain with the organization . It may well pretty much put into effect that the Big Three will likely also remain with the Celtics . Beyond that it remains to be seen what now becomes the next saga of the Boston Celtics’ history.

In going back to address this conference finals’ matchup between the Bulls and Heat it will most certainly be an intriguing one. The Bulls swept the season series between the two teams with some ease but that was in large part before the Heat had found any real consistency in their play . If the Bulls are to prove that those results during the regular season were no fluke then they will have to play with a fluidity and resolve that they’ve shown throughout the large part of the postseason . League MVP —- Derrick Rose and his teammates have to be mindful as to the knowledge that will be imparted to them by their coach Tom Thibodeau and his coaching staff if they’re to have any chance of beating the Heat in this series . And for the Heat who’ll no doubt be looked at as the presumptive favorites for coach Erik Spoelstra , he knows that it is now or never for this team which has been looked at to win it all ever since team President & Head of Basketball Operations Pat Riley engineered the moves that brought Bosh and James to the Miami Heat during the offseason.

Not since the Michael Jordan era led Bulls of the 1995-96 season has there been this much fervor over this organization for which the expectations are now extraordinarily high. Should the Bulls prevail in this series then it could be viewed as one of the biggest shocks in recent NBA history , in terms of postseason upsets .

Amazingly enough while the Dallas Mavericks awaits the winners of the series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder . I’ve now got to ask myself after this monumental disastrous display by the Thunder in their fourteen point loss to the Grizzlies on Friday night how is it that Scott Brooks can feel that his team can now close out this series ? On a night when league scoring champion Kevin Durant had an abysmal night shooting , that this was a game that I believe that the Thunder would rather forget ! Once again it was left the heroics of Zach Randolph as he led the team in scoring and in taking the lead as its vocal leader in erasing a 3-2 deficit to even this series with everything to play for as game seven brings the two teams back Oklahoma City to bring this conference semi finals to a fitting culmination. As to what that might be , we now all wait to see what unfolds in this exhausting and thrilling series .

If the rumors are to believed as it is now being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed Phil Jackson’s assistant Brian Shaw to speak with both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as to both vacant coaching positions. Strange as this may seem , unless the Lakers are extremely confident that Jackson will be returning to the organization then I feel it somewhat less than prudent of them to allow Shaw to seek out an initial interview with either organization . Shaw if anything has to be the favorite for the position as he has the respect of a number of players on the team. But it may well be that GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Dr Jerry Buss may well feel that it is indeed better bring someone anew to be Jackson’s successor. From my own perspective although I’ve heard the name of Rick Adelman being bandied about as a likely successor I do feel that it’d be step backwards for the Lakers should they hire this well respected coach. A retread is very much the last thing that this organization needs in light of their rather embarrassing 4-0 series loss to the Dallas Mavericks . The one candidate I feel who fits the bill as the successor to Jackson would be Tom Izzo of Michigan State and his given his coaching pedigree I think he’d certainly be the appropriate choice ! However , that decision is now in the hands of the general manager and owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and it may well be some time before they come to a final decision .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment and thank as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Branch Rickey , Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel seen are as the former player receives his plaque after his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame . AFP Archives ………

(2) Pirates’ outfielder Roberto Clemente whose tragic death is still mourned to this day . Baseball archives ….

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat gets emotional after closing out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(4) Omer Asik (3) reacts with Luol Deng (9) of the Chicago Bulls after Asik drew a foul from the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox / Getty Images …….

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They Came , They Saw , They Conquered ………………..

They Came , They Saw , They Conquered …………….

Well they came, they saw they conquered and the post-game interview by San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich essentially was magnanimous in defeat but clearly couldn’t explain his team’s inauspicious departure from the NBA Playoffs in the first round . A 99-91 defeat on the Memphis Grizzlies’ home-court at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennesse left the home crowd fans ecstatic as their team will now make their first appearance in a conference semi finals where they will face the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder .

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Now for only the second time since expansion of the playoff format from a five game first round to the best of seven series’ format has a number one seed bowed out the of the NBA Playoffs in the first round. This 4-2 series loss will certainly have its ramifications and repercussions as the Spurs’ management assess and reassess why they failed so miserably . GM R C Burford and Popovich’s coaching staff will certainly have to look at this roster and note where their deficiencies are . Most certainly to my mind the contributions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess were minimal at best but what might be even more disturbing was the fact that the Grizzlies man-handled the Spurs with seasoned veteran Zach Randoplh being allowed to shred the defense almost at will . Randolph’s heroics was indicative of what has gone on throughout this series all along with him being allowed to roam free _____ but he was also ably abetted by Marc Gasol , Shane Batter and Mike Conley whose play at the point guard position has developed since his entrance into the NBA . It has been a profound disappointment to me in seeing the San Antonio Spurs bow out of the playoffs but I’ve seen the highs and lows of this organization. Remarkable as this might seem the Spurs have made the postseason for fourteen straight consecutive seasons and have averaged 55 wins per season over that time frame . As an avowed Spurs’ fan it goes without saying that in the aftermath of this series loss the organization will undoubtedly have to make some changes .

As to the Memphis Grizzlies their postseason is now in their own hands and they can essentially write their own story as to their aspirations . This much we do know their season has shown us all what to expect when you have no doubts as to your own will to win . That if anything to my mind was most definitely lacking in the persona of the San Antonio Spurs !

Just when I thought things simply couldn’t get anymore asinine with regard to the NFL lockout it has been reported that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals have rescinded Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s original verdict , which now allows the NFL owners and league enforce the lockout . Never mind the fact that the league hierarchy has gone ahead with the NFL Draft which is being staged at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and culminates with the seventh and final round of picks this Saturday 30th April , 2011. As contentious and litigious as this episode has become I can’t but help wonder why bother with all the facade being created by the league with the staging of the draft ?

I’ve always maintained that the league created this monster with the alleged labor relates issues and that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seriously underestimated the hierarchy of the NFLPA which has now become a trade association. That being said neither party is without fault here with the asinine stance that each party has taken in being unable to decide how to split the $ 9 billion in revenues that the league has coming into its coffers each season . And as ridiculous as it may sound , neither side wants to be viewed as being the culprit here but in essence this has simply been about sheer greed with little if anything really having to deal with any inherent labor issues ! Question if you can’t find a way to seriously deliberate how best find a solution sharing $ 9 billion amenably then what would that suggest to you about both of the parties involved ? Greed or merely that both the league hierarchy and union are simply too stupid for their own good ?

Andy Dalton welcome to the NFL and you now more likely than not will supplant Carson Palmer in the pecking order for the quarterback position with the Cincinnati Bengals . Given the Bengals’ disastrous 2010 season where Palmer and his teammates were an immense disappointment having been the AFC North divisional champions in 2009, 2010 simply showed how much the team had simply regressed.

Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis knows that his job is on the line this season and anything short of a divisional title and postseason berth and effectively his managerial career with the organization will come to an abrupt end . As for Andy Dalton this now becomes his team to lead in light of the continued displeasure of Carson Palmer and his wish to be traded . However with the player’s demands having not been met and the continued scenario within the NFL his only option appears to be to proceed with his original announcement that he would retire if his demands were not met . Personally, if this is indicative of quarterbacks coming out of USC and the fact that they have no heart or will a will to win once in the NFL then my advice to Palmer would be ………. “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out ” !

Unequivocably the game of baseball is in a complete mess and this season has simply been indicative of that. If anything it hasn’t been the play of of the teams on the field that have made the headlines but namely the stories off it. Frank McCourt is now prepared to challenge the league’s hierarchy in providing an outside presence to deal with the day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers . McCourt as the team’s owner has if anything been a complete ass in thinking that he can place this organization in dire financial straits but at the same time fails to address the issue as to why he needed to borrow some $30 million from the local LA Fox affiliate to meet the team’s budgetary expenses for the month of April. Frank McCourt has also maintained that the league hierarchy has within their possession documents related to a possible television deal with Fox that woud pay the Dodgers $3 billion over the next two decades . At this juncture it simply means nothing if that document remains unsigned with the deal not physically in place awaiting league approval .

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for his part stated that his greatest concern were the dire consequences that McCourt had placed the organization in . But here’s the caveat, if as such the Dodgers met all of the league’s rules as it concerns the conduct of its business affairs then how is that they’ve allowed McCourt to systematically d to use the Dodgers repeatedly as collateral in many business deals with outside parties not related at all with the game ? Having installed former US Ambassador to Japan J Thomas Schieffer as the league’s representative while the Dodgers undergoes this period of intense scrutiny . I’ve now got to ask what now awaits the team and organization over the course of the their season ?

If anything this is what has been endemic within the game of baseball and the unwillingness of the team owners and the hierarchy itself to be openly transparent in the conduct of their business affairs . And it goes without saying that this conduct has been suborned by the fact that MLB’s antitrust exemption status allows it carte-blanche /free rein as to how they conducts themselves in almost every facet of their dealings both on and off the field of play . And I’m led to believe that the House Oversight & Gov’t Reform Committee weren’t aware as to the league’s conduct over the past decade and a half ? The league has become archaic , its leadership structure as are the team owners , the MLBPA are simply clueless and are a bunch of blithering idiots ! With the New York Mets’ episode yet to be addressed fully by the league do you get the feeling that MLB would rather the respective owners there Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon removed from their executive posts as well ? Where else could one find such mismanagement within the game but in essence the league hierarchy continues to act as if they’re rearranging the life boats on the Titanic thinking that they’re in no imminent danger .

I know that the MLB season is one of 162 games but the way that the Cleveland Indians have been playing as of late you’d be under the impression that they’re now on the cusp of making the postseason. Winners of five of their last seven games the Indians sit atop of the AL East . If anything they’ve been the surprise team within the division with their play and seems to be infectious amongst the younger members on this Cleveland Indians’ roster .

In their game against the struggling Detroit Tigers the Indians simply showed why they have been playing with the resolve that they have shown since the very start of their season . In a fitting way to end the game Indians’ slugger Carlos Santana hit a walk off grand slam to deny the Tigers victory on their way to a 9-5 win over their divisional rivals . And although it’s still early in the season it’s good to see that for now the Cleveland Indians appear to be relevant once again. With that win the Cleveland Indians now share the best record (17-8) in baseball alongside the Philadelphia Phillies . A nice resurgence for a franchise that seems to have been in the doldrums over the last decade but now appears to be back where they and their fans feel that they belong.

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Whether or not you’ve been watching the initial part of the NBA postseason unfold what to your mind has been the biggest surprise or disappointment from your own standpoint ? With regard to the NFL its Draft and everything that now seems to be unfolding how do you envisage this episode finally ending ? From your own perspective do you feel that there’s now time for a real drastic change within the hierarchy of MLB and also do you feel that the owners should be more transparent in their business dealing in and outside of the game when they are as such using their team as any part of a business transaction ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) MEMPHIS, TN – APRIL 29: Zach Randolph(50) of the Memphis Grizzlies talks with Greg Popovich after the Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images …..

(2) San Antonio Spurs players watch the final moments of their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of a first-round NBA basketball series on Friday, April 29, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 99-91 to win the series 4-2 . From left are Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Daniel Green, and Steve Novak. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ……….

(3) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, and his fiancee Jordan Jones, left, pose for a picture being taken by the Bengals third round draft pick Dontay Moch, right, after an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ……….

(4) Cincinnati Bengals second round draft pick Andy Dalton, left, a quarterback from TCU, and third round draft pick Dontay Moch, a linebacker from Nevada, right, pose with their jerseys during an NFL football news conference, Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Cincinnati. AP Photo/David Kohl ………

(5) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, left, poses with the team’s first round draft pick A.J. Green during an NFL football news conference, Friday, April 29, 2011 in Cincinnati. Green, a wide receiver from Georgia, will wear number 18 for the Bengals. AP Photo/Al Behrman ……

(6) Gary Guyton (59) of the New England Patriots carries the ball in for a touchdown as Carson Palmer (9) of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to tackle during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Guyton intercepted Palmer’s pass. Getty Images North America / Elsa Martinez …….

(7) LOS ANGELES – APRIL 29: the San Diego Padres the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images …….

(8) Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana watches the flight of his game-winning grand slam off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5. Tigers catcher Alex Avila, left, looks on. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta …….

(9) Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana celebrates as he jumps to home plate after hitting a game winning three-run walk off home run off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Friday, April 29, 2011. The Indians won the game 9-5 . AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……..

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Have You Had Your Dose Of The NBA Today ?

Have You Had Your Dose Of The NBA Today ?

Well it’s back to the hum drum return of an NBA schedule that will play its part in now separating the contenders from the pretenders amongst the stalwarts of the league. And I’ve no doubt at present we’ll see one or two surprises as the season now enters its post midseason point. The San Antonio Spurs still remain the team with the best record in the league but they’re closely followed by what seems to be a resurgent Dallas Mavericks team led by their All Star —– Dirk Nowitzki .

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Now while the talk has been about the multiple team , multiple player trade that sent both Carmelo Anthony , Chauncey Billups and several other players to the New York Knicks in exchange for Raymond Felton and what GM Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni feels are players obsolete to the team’s needs in the opposite direction to the Denver Nuggets I can’t help but wonder what happens should the Knicks not go deep into the playoffs ? And as much as the Knicks’ fans are in awe of this deal , on the face of it , it merely adds some luster to a team and fanbase that has been in need of it for over a decade . I mean as heralded the legacy has been for Madison Square Gardens you’ve got the readily admit the place has resembled a graveyard in terms of recent success when it comes to the New York Knicks. The days with which the Knicks under Pat Riley were thought of as a constant omnipresent threat in the Eastern Conference seems an eternity ago.

Courtesy of NBA.com news

From West to East, the balance of NBA power starts to shift …..

Dallas-Tx,. Tyson Chandler wasn’t speaking on behalf of the just Dallas when asked about the balance of power relocating from the Western Conference to the East. He might as well have been a spokesman for anyone with designs of winning the West after Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams split for Greater Gotham.

“I wish we could get Kobe and Duncan and Ginobili and all those guys over there, too,” he quipped, “but I guess then it wouldn’t be any fun.”

No doubt there has been a seismic shift in the makeup of the two conferences. The West, for the past decade, has been considered the superior collection of teams from top to bottom. Twice in the previous three years, all eight of the West playoff teams won at least 50 games.

Not gonna happen this season.

And while the East may struggle to field more than six playoff squads with winning records, the so-called Least only figures to get more Beast in the years to come. The days of Western dominance are over, according to a certain All-Star known to wear a cape.

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Don’t get me wrong I’ve no doubt that the Knicks will do well with their new revamped team but here’s the caveat , in acquiring Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups while they gain a great deal of offense the team now loses to an extent a great degree of defensive capability. But then again a Mike D’Antoni coached team has never been known for its defense and therein now lies the dilemma facing the Knicks over the remainder of the season . As good as this team now becomes unless Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony are on the same page in conjunction with the coach then this costly experiment will all be for nought ! And this experiment is proving to be costly as the Knicks are now committed to a $65 million commitment for the next three seasons. For some of the Knicks’ most vociferous fans in terms personalities Spike Lee and ESPN radio sport’s show host Stephen A Smith this now becomes their personal Utopia and future aspirations as it relates to the Knicks.

The trade deadline itself wasn’t without other deals that took place but in reality the real talk was in essence WWCAD ……………..”what will Carmelo Anthony do” ? Well for the Denver Nuggets under coach George Karl their future may well seem bright and the coach himself feels that his team can make a run at a Western Conference playoff berth. It may well be that a sub .500 record or slightly above that may well garner the team a playoff spot. For Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri this maneuver may well the deal that breathes life into the Nuggets or casts a shadow organization for the immediate and long term future. It seems along way from a postseason where the team made the playoffs before succumbing to the Utah Jazz in a rather lopsided series .

Of the teams that I’ve followed within the NBA this season the Oklahoma City Thunder to my mind are a team to be feared and coach Scott Brooks does seem to have this team playing at a high level . Potential league MVP candidate Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook provide one of the “most potent one two punch ” in the NBA . And if things do pan out as I believe that they will concerning this team I do believe that they will be one of the teams to be feared come playoff time !

From the sublime to the ridiculous as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their slide into an abyss of ineptitude . I’m not saying that coach Byron Scott has suddenly found himself in quicksand or in a riverbed filled with piranhas but given the state of things there in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena I’d have said that either of those two scenarios might’ve been preferable . This team now seems to have found enumerable ways to lose —- games with ghastly consequences not only for the team but for the entire organization from a competitive and financial standpoint . Dan Gilbert may well be ruing the day that he sought to remain in control of this team rather than sell it outright to a Chinese investor .

Not to be outdone when it comes to showing ineptitude this season we have the continuing woes of the Washington Wizards , Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves proving to us that you can’t teach can’t teach an old dog new tricks . Losing with increasing regularity has become ingrained into these teams and when that happens the fans do tend to depart in droves from the those teams’ respective home venues. I’ve read where fans of some of these complaining that no one comes to watch them play . Well , would you be willing to shell out your hard earned cash to watch three teams who have a combined 36 wins and 130 losses between them ?

The reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t dive into the trade market looking to bolster their roster but you can bet that Phil Jackson has bent the ears somewhat of the players whom he feels have been underachieving . It has been left as usual to the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to lead the charge offensively but there continues to be disappointment as to overall erratic and inconsistent play of the team. Arguably , Lamar Odom , Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum have played nowhere near their perceived potential when measured by their contributions to the team last season .

There’s now a growing belief that the Los Angeles are now ripe for the taking as it now seems that the team is now more susceptible than ever before in losing the grip on the defense of their NBA title. The two time defending champions are a pale comparison at present of the team that took control of last season’s finals when it looked as if the Boston Celtics to have the championship all sewn up. Instead we saw this Doc Rivers’ coached team flounder like a capsized vessel with the passengers on board being without the assist of a life jacket ! I do firmly believe that both of these teams will make the postseason and should they meet once again in the NBA Finals it will be fascinating to see whether or not this current Celtics’ embodiment of a team can usurp their Western Conference foe.

Now it goes without saying that while the season progresses our thoughts can’t be far away from the current situation evolving the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between the league’s hierarchy and the NPBA (union). Union President Derek Fisher and Executive Director Billy Hunter have stressed the fact they wish to come to an amicable resolution during this process. And it has to be said that David Stern wants no part of the madness now taking place between the NFL and NLFPA (union) . That whole slew of cow dung now being mediated by a federally appointed mediator can only suggest that these two groups of mindless idiots are so out of touch with reality that it simply doesn’t bear thinking about. And I can only hope that their NBA counterparts show some insight and wisdom and actually do what’s right rather than thinking solely about greed and their pockets ! If not , then both of these sports could very well lose whatever goodwill is left to be had from the fans .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning the most recent incidents that’ve have taken place within the NBA over the past few days ? And how as such do you see the remainder of the season panning out ? By all means leave a comment as to your take on it all and as always thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated .

Picture and slide show details below as a guide .

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(1) Amar’e Stoudemire is joined by new teammates Carmelo Anthony (left) and Chauncey Billups (right) in an official picture to introduce the duo to the convened press at Madison Square Gardens , New York City, New York. The duo were part of a multi-player , mutli-team trade that brought them from the Denver Nuggets with several players from the Knicks heading in the opposite direction to the Western Conference team and elsewhere. Getty Images / Chris Trotman …………..

(2) Cleveland Cavaliers general ganager Chris Grant announces a trade which will send Cavaliers’ Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and a first round draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft , at a news conference at the Cavaliers training center in Independence, Ohio on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. AP Photo/Amy Sancetta ……

(3) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks drives against Carlos Delfino (10) of the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Bucks 114-108 . Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ……….

(4) Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks shoots the ball over Andrew Bogut (6) of the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Bucks 114-108. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …….

(5) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, celebrates with teammate Ron Artest after Bryant scored two free throws to ice the game in overtime during their NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Feb.23, 2011. Bryant scored 37 points and Artest scored 24 as they beat the Blazers 106-101 . AP Photo/Don Ryan ……..

(6) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots against Tim Duncan (21) and Manu Ginobili (20) of the San Antonio Spurs on February 23, 2011 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Spurs would end up defeating the Thunder 109-105 . Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images ………..

(7) In this Jan. 26, 2011, file photo shows Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams , center, attempting to score over Spurs guard Tony Parker of France, left, and Spurs forward DeJuan Blair , right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City. A person with knowledge of the trade says the New Jersey Nets have agreed to acquire All-Star point guard Deron Williams from the Jazz in a three-team deal. The Nets are sending rookie Derrick Favors and point guard Devin Harris to the Jazz as part of the package in a deal that also includes the Golden State Warriors . AP Photo/Colin E Braley ……..

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Alan aka tophatal ………………………

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https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

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It’s Now Phil’s World And The Rest of The NBA Are Simply Just Living In It ….

It’s Now Phil’s World And The Rest of The NBA Are Simply Just Living In It ….

Well the NBA __ season is just around the corner and the Los Angeles Lakers/” will soon begin its quest to win its seventeenth NBA title. In doing so it’d equal the tally attained by the Lakers most heated rivals the Boston Celtics. In saying that also should Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson win what will be his twelfth title as a coach . And having surpassed Red Auerbach’s total of ten titles as a coach. That being said Jackson’s legacy as a coach and across the panoramic landscape of sports has been set. And if he’s not one of the most beloved coaches in all sports it says a great deal that finally Jackson is now attaining the respect that he so rightfully deserves. Before the criticism was that Jackson has only coached and won with superstars. Well this time around Jackson in his last two triumphs has won with merely Kobe Bryant and a complimentary supporting cast .

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While on paper that Lakers’ team may not look all that impressive other than Bryant’s name being already circled in . You do get the impression that players such as Bryant, Derek Fisher , Pau Gasol , Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum have simply loved the experience of being part of this most revered coach’s legacy. Phil Jackson’s contemporaries such as Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich may well be viewed as charismatic and deferential . But now at the end of it all no one can deny the achievements this triumvirate. Over the course of their tenured careers within the NBA these three have won 19 NBA titles between them.

My own feeling this upcoming season is that the Los Angeles Lakers are most definitely the team to beat _____like it or not. OK so “Hollywood” has come to “South Beach” with the much heralded move of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat where they’ve joined Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley as team President , as the club looks to win its second NBA title . And with the thinking that the Heat will be the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference and an odds on certainty to win the title outright. I certainly do believe that while there might be some justification in that there’s no reason to think that the Heat will have this season all to themselves. As good as that triumvirate will no doubt be the supporting cast most definitely have to contribute greatly if the Heat are indeed to succeed. The challenges for the Heat within the Eastern Conference will come from the likes of the Orlando Magic , Boston Celtics , Chicago Bulls and quite possibly the Atlanta Hawks if they can actually believe in themselves.

Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic to my mind in terms of their window of opportunity I truly believe it is quickly closing . Dwight Howard , Vince Carter and the supporting cast (team) continually disappoint. For a team that was built to win the past two seasons Howard if anything has been an utter disappointment and the coaching prowess of Stan Van Gundy has come into question. If Van Gundy can’t guide this team back to another run deep into the NBA playoffs then my view is that GM Otis Smith may well have to rethink his view that the team is built for an NBA championship run and title. If the team simply isn’t good enough and the idiocy of the local writers within the market who cover the team simply have no idea as to what is they’re watching as they continually try and sell the fans a ‘bill of worthless goods’. Power forward Rashard Lewis rarely can put together a series of competitive minded games and the physical aspects of his game is so limited. It’s almost as if he’s gun-shy and scared to attack the low post and rim but yet Van Gundy continues to stand by a player who’s somewhat lazy and often at times lethargic in his play. In Carter you now have an aging veteran whose best days are behind him and if nothing else the explosiveness which once signified his game is no longer there.

All Star center Dwight Howard either wants to be an NBA caliber center or the “class clown”. I’ll best leave it for you all to decide as my own opinion of Howard is that he’s a player who still has a great deal to learn about this game and what it takes to apply one’s self to that specific task.

The Celtics and Bulls could prove to be problematic for the Heat and I do believe that although the Celtics have added both Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal to their roster that already has Ray Allen , Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce . I think that the Doc Rivers’ coached team will face an uphill task in making to at least the Eastern Conference semi-finals. And while this team can only go as far as Garnett can take them much of the team’s play I do think will be predicated upon the performances of Rajon Rondo throughout the season and beyond. The Bulls given their performances of last season we saw the maturity of Derrick Rose , Joakim Noah and with the addition of Carlos Boozer from the Utah Jazz via free agency. If the Bulls can get off to a great start and continue show improvement on the form they showed last year then I do believe that they could prove to be a team contend with , within the conference.

The Hawks are an enigma wrapped up within a conundrum and as a team I just can’t understand how it is that they ended up as the number three seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season . While the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic were deemed to be the immovable force within the playoffs. The Hawks made their way to the postseason and then had the proverbial meltdown in the playoffs and never got beyond the second round . And while I believe that a team can simply learn from their experiences in order to make themselves better I’m not so sure that the Atlanta Hawks have actually learned enough wherein they can actually make it beyond the first round of this season’s playoffs , should they even get there.

Now as I alluded to earlier within this the Western Conference it will be all about the Los Angeles Lakers and whomever amongst the teams there who visibly have the will to take them down. Teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder , Phoenix Suns , Denver Nuggets , San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks would all like to think that they’re in with a chance of usurping the Lakers. The added advantage however is in the fact that the Lakers possess Phil Jackson as their coach and with his postseason experience which is unmatched by any of his contemporaries so how can you simply bet against him ? Percentage of postseason victories and victories themselves are amongs the highest in NBA history and let’s not forger also those eleven NBA titles as a coach.

The Thunder could well be a team given their maturity and the play of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook __ this is a team that seems intent on making their presence known this season . And given the year long growth for this team last season their fans fully expect them to make improvements on last year. It would not surprise me at all to see this team fully make the playoffs as one of the top four teams claiming a playoff spot this upcoming season. I fully expect this team to upset the applecart amongst the top tiered teams within the Western Conference.

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What thoughts if any do you have on the career of Phil Jackson ? And what if any are your hopes as to the upcoming season within the NBA ?

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Miami Heat roster ….

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Alan aka tophatal ………………. 🙂

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Eye candy vocalist Miss Issa courtesy of Lowridermagazine.com