I yield to no man !

I yield, to no man!

Over the weekend, the NFL opened up its postseason with the wild card round series of games . As usual, the summary surprises came with games that resulted with a number of unwanted endings . Suffice to say, in spite of the huge television ratings one comes to expect , it is by no means a guarantee that the contests themselves are necessarily outstanding.

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All the hype earlier in the season, concerning the coaching acumen and in-genius mind of Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles came to nothing , as the Eagles succumbed to the New Orleans Saints in a highly entertaining contest . From my own perspective, I simply could not buy into an Eagles’ team whose head coach has never been known for his propensity for his teams to play an iota of actual defense. That was the case with Kelly as coach of the Oregon Ducks at the Collegiate Level and it has most certainly been the case with the Philadelphia Eagles throughout much of this past regular season and then coming into this contest against the Saints .

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, now go on to a divisional round contest against the Seattle Seahawks , at Q West Field in Seattle , Washington, with the winner gaining a berth into the NFC championship game . . As to the other NFC contest, that pitted the San Francisco Forty Niners against the Green Bay Packers in a game played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay , Wisconsin. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were being asked to take on not only a Packers’ team , but also a raucous and vociferous home crowd in a game that lived up to all of the hype and a great deal more. . San Francisco came away with a well-deserved three-point 23-20 victory , and now move on to play the Carolina Panthers in what is likely be a real slug-fest between two of the more entertaining teams within the NFC over this past regular season.

The contests within the AFC , were no less riveting than their NFC counterparts , but all in all, the lesson to be learned , has been , all that glitters is not necessarily gold as and when it came to teams, who showed a great deal of dominance early in the regular season , but somehow over their last five games , they seemed to falter and showed no signs of being able to play themselves back into contention, with any type of consistency.

Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs made quite a splash early in the season , with the Chiefs actually challenging the Denver Broncos for divisional supremacy within the AFC West , as well as who ought to be looked upon as the best team in the AFC altogether. Unfortunately, for Reid and his team the script was flipped , as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts summarily hoisted the Kansas City based franchise unto their own petard . In what turned out to be, a completely wayward performance, the Chiefs were found wanting in all areas of their game. . A twenty-one point lead, by the Kansas City Chiefs, was slowly erased, as Andrew Luck showed why he is one of the best young quarterbacks now playing in the entire NFL. As to the abrupt end to the Chiefs season , it all comes down to what might have been and the missed opportunities.

To say, I expected more from Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals this postseason would be an understatement ! However, in light of that premise, I have to say in all honesty their contest against Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers ,was about as lopsided a postseason game that I have seen in some time. A 27-10 shellacking by the Chargers, not only indicated how bad the Bengals just happened to be, but quite possibly how overrated the AFC North may well have been over the course of this season. . I certainly felt that Andy Dalton and the presence he has shown since entering the NFL would be able to lead a Bengals’ team , that over the past two seasons under Marvin Lewis, has shown a great deal of progress, as Dalton’s own game itself, has shown a great deal of promise.

With Greg Schiano’s dismissal after two seasons of rather pedantic football by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . Nothing actually delighted me more, than also seeing Mark Dominik’s firing by the franchise’s owners led by Avram Glazer and the rest of the Glazer family . Truth be known, the family has shown all of the alleged business acumen in dealing with the franchise as of late , as the collective intelligence of the House Finance Committee and that of the Senate Banking Committee when dealing with the economy and the financial sector of the country. Suffice to say, this is a Buccaneers’ franchise that has lost complete direction , so much so, that their fans would be none the wiser , even in light of their apparent apathy and complete lack of understanding as to what they have witnessed over the past four seasons under Schiano and his predecessor , Raheem Morris . As to this idiocy, that , Dominik himself, was a great assessor of talent. One simply has to look at the fact that the Buccaneers’ play under both of these coaches , was simply lackluster , unimaginative and completely lacking in guile .

Greg Schiano’s successor , Lovie Smith , the former Chicago Bears’ head coach and a disciple of the Tony Dungy coaching philosophy may well be seen as the right candidate for the position , but unless the Buccaneers show the actual wherewithal to hire a knowledgeable front office executive. Then the franchise is likely to witness more of the same incompetency that has been witnessed in the last five years , without any major strides, having been made by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mike Glennon might be viewed as a more than apt successor to Josh Freeman in the quarterback position ,but in all honesty the franchise has not had a player of note in that particular position in well over a decade and that includes their Superbowl winning quarterback, Brad Johnson . You may well disagree with my summation in that context , but please do go ahead and proceed to change my mind on the matter !

The travails of the NBA season and there still remains the banality of a league , where a highlight reel of a slam dunk, simply, is now meant to dictate the actual prowess and the game now being witnessed in the league. Far be it for me to suggest, but if things get any worse in the Eastern Conference , then the division leaders , should be handed their divisional titles by default , because the fans should not have to bear witness to such ineptitude ! Hell, at times, I would rather watch paint dry , than having to witness a game in the NBA , when teams have wish to play defense and where the talent that is said to be on show, is the best that this league is said to have on offer . There remains but a handful of truly gifted and talented players currently in the NBA, and the rest are simply playing a game that no one actually wants to see and where the coaching has truly become downright awful.

The Golden State Warriors may well be the “hottest team” in the NBA ,while currently on an eight-game winning streak . Yet , don’t be fooled into thinking that as they now stand , they ought to be seen as a legitimate candidate for the NBA title . While, head coach, Mark Jackson and his coaching staff have begun to instill a great deal of resilience into a team led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson , David Lee and Harrison Barnes leading the roster in scoring . Golden State’s sixteen-point destruction of the Washington Wizards , shows the team’s offensive prowess , and also the weakness of the Eastern Conference as a whole. The less I see of the conference , with the exception of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers , the more comfortable I am likely to feel about the league in general , as it now stands !

In general, if someone is going to opine on a subject , it does pay to at least use some facts to bear out your case . Nothing can be more asinine at present than to merely suggest that the issues that currently encompass both the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks , simply comes down to the fact that they would rather spend money on their teams. In reality, it comes down to a litany of issues, that both franchises have failed to address in recent years. Coaches that are simply not good enough , owners who have no damn idea what it actually takes to place a competitive product on the field of play and finally a front office made up of general managers , whose acumen, is simply minute and where their knowledge can be debunked. To top it all, you have the undoubted stupidity of the respective fans in question for both franchises , whose ideas can simply be summed up by stating that , apathy is now acceptable , when it comes to professional sports within the state of New York and the surrounding areas , where the majority of the fans are domiciled. Need we be reminded of by the ineptitude shown by the Buffalo Bills , New York Giants and New York Jets this past season without having to look at both the pitiful Knicks and Nets ?

The Warriors will be on the road on Tuesday evening, when they are the guests of the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee Wisconsin , in a game that could push the team’s franchise’s record streak and further enhancing their reputation. While I believe the Golden State Warriors to be a competent team, there remains doubts as to whether or not they are good enough to take on the might of the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trailblazers . All teams I believe to be better than the Warriors not just on merit , by way of their respective records , but also because of each of the teams in question are better balanced, with coaches who show a great deal more awareness as to the nuances changing tendencies with a game . Mark Jackson , has been able to instill confidence into his roster and given them the wherewithal to play the game with abandonment , but the Warriors’ reliance on three-point shooting is likely to be their Achilles’ Heel when adversity stares them in the face. . If the Golden State Warriors are to prove themselves as legitimate candidates within the Western Conference , then theirs will be a task, where they will have to prove themselves a competent unit defensively , when facing a far more experienced adversary within the conference.

Times are changing and with the recent move by the Orlando Magic to waive Hedo Turkoglu and move ahead with a young roster . Head coach Jacque Vaughn with his coaching staff are seeking to resurrect the fortunes of a franchise that has been languid and without direction for a number of years, even with the drama that surrounded the departure of Dwight Howard , from the franchise to then join the Los Angeles Lakers , where Howard’s stay was less than satisfactory to say the very least.

. Turkoglu , a long-time mainstay of the franchise and someone who was viewed as the elder statesman on the team and perhaps a leader for several of the younger players on the roster , has seen his minutes decline , as well as his productivity . GM Rob Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn came to the decision to waive the seasoned veteran , without their being a great deal of controversy arising out of the move . In all likelihood Turkoglu will find a place with another franchise within the league seeking a veteran presence or simply to add to the productivity of a team looking for a streaky player .

At 10-24 , the Orlando Magic are firmly rooted at the bottom of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference . They are 4 ½ games behind their divisional rivals the Charlotte Bobcats (15-20) and a distant sixteen games behind the division’s leaders , defending NBA champions the Miami Heat (26-8) . A four-game losing streak has pretty much summed up the Orlando Magic’s season , which has literally been filled with inconsistency , with the sole bright spot coming with the play of Victor Oladipo , the franchise’s rookie taken in the 2013 NBA Draft . . In that draft, Oladipo was joined by Romero Osby , who at some point in the season is likely to see some playing time should the front office believe it necessary to simply start now looking towards the franchise’s long-time future.

Orlando last night, as guests of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles , California, were simply no match for their Western Conference opponents . To put this contest more succinctly , were the Magic spotted a twenty-point lead , they would have still found a way to lose the contest , while looking abysmal in every aspect of their game. Such have been the woes for Jacque Vaughn this season , that it is my belief that team President Alex Martins and Rob Hennigan are likely to consider a coaching change by the midpoint of the season , or allow the beleaguered head coach fulfill the year in terms of his contract. Vaughn’s hire, was nonsensical to begin with, his having very little coaching experience and merely a bystander, on a staff where he may well have been no better than a janitor. Yet, this has simply been the utter stupidity shown by the Magic hierarchy and that has been continually exhibited by owner Rich de Vos .

The Orlando Magic, is being ran by a bunch of simpletons, who have proven that alongside the political environment within the city, just about any type of stupidity can take place. Wherein, a political savant, such as Mayor Buddy Dyer thought it prudent to spend tens of millions of dollars on a needless venue the Amway Center , merely because he felt it was in that city’s best interests to have a new stadium built for the NBA franchise , when there were far more urgent needs within the city of Orlando . Though, the Orlando Magic are now domiciled in one of the NBA’s most expansive and expensive arenas , one should consider the fact that, the NBA franchise over this past season and now in 2013 , have rarely played in-front of a sold-out crowd.

As the NBA season meanders through its eighty-two game schedule , it will be interesting to see which teams rise to the challenge not only within the ,divisions, but also the Eastern and Western Conference , and how the determination of the playoff berths will be met , as the teams in question, make themselves ready for what is likely to be a grueling postseason.

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Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the points raised within this article and anything else you believe to be relevant to the topic in general .

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Nick Foles (9) celebrates as LeSean McCoy (25) of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a 1 yard touchdown in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images /Al Bello …

(2) Nick Foles (9) of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with head coach Chip Kelly and teammate Michael Vick (7) on the sidelines against the New Orleans Saints during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Elsa Martinez …

(3) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the NFL Wild Card Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images /Andy Lyons ….

(4) Quarterback Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble against the Kansas City Chiefs during a Wild Card Playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 4, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images /Rob Carr ….

(5) Former Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano and the team’s general manager Mark Dominik are seen here having a discussion . Both individuals t were relieved of their duties this off-season after a disastrous season within the NFL. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with a 4-12 record within the NFC South , barely beating out the Atlanta Falcons for the worst record within the division as well as one of the worst in the NFC and the entire NFL . Former Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith has been hired to succeed Schiano , but a general manager has yet to be hired to replace Dominik , who bore a great deal of the responsibility for the franchise’s failures during his five-year tenure with some rather lackluster and uninspiring draft picks , especially during 2011, 2012 and 2013. AP Photo Marcus Hendricks ….

(6) Golden State Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson is seen here with Steph Curry as they discus a play during a game this season . Curry , Jackson and the Warriors’ organization are seeking to make even greater strides this season , which saw the franchise make the postseason in 2012 , before bowing out to the San Antonio in the Western Conference semi-finals with a 4-2 series’ loss. Currently lying in second place in the Pacific Division a 1/2 game behind division leaders the Los Angeles Clippers (24-13) the Warriors are hoping overtake their instate rivals atop of the division and further enhance their position within the conference and a guarantee themselves a playoff berth. The team is on pace for a 53-29 record , if they are able to maintain their current pace and their next scheduled start will be a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee , Wisconsin, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center . AP Photo / Matthew Hall …..

(7) Steph Curry. left is seen here alongside teammate Klay Thompson, during a game . The duo, are the leading scorers on the Warriors’ roster this season and are also one of the top offensive combos in the Western Conference and one of the primary reasons why many believe them a legitimate contender within the West this season . AP Photo / Mark Clarke …..
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Chicken soup but not necessarily for the soul.

Rub a dub-dub , two breasts in a tub .

I’m sorry , but Dwyane Wade couldn’t get an erection., because Gabrielle Union (actress ,picturedabove) wasn’t desirable or had no desire to ” rock the mic” ? LOL,LOL,LOL, !!!

No sleep ’til Brooklyn …………

No sleep ‘til Brooklyn

Week nine in the NFL offered few surprises , unless you just happen to be buying into the fact that Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles might now be the second coming of Joe Montana and Steve Young all rolled into one ? The fact of the matter is , when your opponent just happens to the Oakland Raiders , the opposition with all due candor , that is unlikely to prove to be a stern test . Let us just say at present , the Raiders’ season is already over , bar the shouting and Mark Davis , along with GM Reggie McKenzie are likely to bring about to an end , the tenure of Dennis Allen as the team’s head coach . The talent level on this Raiders’ team might just be at its lowest in several years , with the franchise likely to miss the postseason , as well as posting a sub .500 record or worse for the eleventh consecutive season . Consider, the fact also , that the Oakland Raiders’ last postseason appearance, came during the 2002 postseason . The franchise has now become historically woeful, with only the “Raider Nation ” faithful, standing by the team. As to what may well happen next, is now a matter of conjecture and speculation , as the Raiders prepare for their week ten opponent the New York Giants who they will face at the Met Life Stadium , in East Rutherford , New Jersey , this upcoming Sunday .

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The Raiders’ rather lopsided 49-20 defeat suffered at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles , should come as no surprise for those who bore witness the spectacle via the national broadcast . However , what has to be treated with a great deal of skepticism has to be the performance of Foles , who matched an NFL record for the most touchdown passes during a regular season game , with seven scores against a poorly coached and hapless Raiders’ team and secondary . As good as the Eagles’ performance just happens to be, at the midway point of the season, this Chip Kelly coached team has a sub .500 record (4-5) within a division , the NFC East , that at present, might the worst in the entire NFL .

In a season , where the Houston Texans were seen as the presumptive favorites to win the AFC South , with an explosive offense led by Matt Schaub , Arian Foster and Andre Johnson . This season , the Texans have proven to be all too inconsistent with starting quarterback , Schaub having a year on that he would undoubtedly like to see in a rear view mirror. Currently sidelined with an ankle injury , it appears unlikely that he will return this season in his former role . Inconsistency has plagued the veteran starter , with the Texans’ fans showing their pleasure, in seeing Matt Schaub sidelined for the present. Beleaguered head coach Gary Kubiak can for the moment take pleasure that he might well have found the answer to his prayers with the emergence of Case Keenum , and his play during the Texans’ game against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday. Unfortunately, for the home team , this contest ended in a defeat, that should have been a decisive victory against their divisional rivals . The heroics of the day once again belonged to the Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck who showed a great deal of composure in bringing his team back for this unexpected victory .

If you thought all of the drama simply took place on the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on Sunday afternoon. Then seeing Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak fall to the ground from what appeared to be a fainting spell or quite possibly cardiac arrest . The coach was immediately taken to a hospital, having first been provided with immediate medical attention on the field and then in the locker room. It is likely, that Kubiak will be held at the medical facility, where he will undergo a battery of tests, before being released. No pubic statement has yet been made, as to the cause of the head coach’s condition , which is likely to kept private at the request of the family and the team , itself. Matt Schaub’s immediate and long-term future is now under a great deal more scrutiny than at any time during his nine-year career in the NFL , having been drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft . . Schaub who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2017 , signed a five-year $66.15 million deal in 2012 , of which $29.15 million was guaranteed money . His base salary for this season is $ 7,250,000 with a further $3.500,000 due in part as a bonus . Whether or not the franchise will seek to retain the veteran, is now likely to be open to a great deal of conjecture and speculation , but I do believe that a great deal of that will be prefaced upon the progress shown by Case Keenum. If GM Rick Smith believes that Keenum is the future of the Texans as they proceed forward , then in all likelihood , Schaub will be supplanted in the starting quarterback position by his younger teammate , with the franchise seeking a trade of the veteran signal caller

In week ten, the Texans are the guests of the Arizona Cardinals , for whom week nine, was a bye for the NFC West based franchise . Coming off a decisive week eight 27-13 victory over the fast slumping Atlanta Falcons , there is every reason to believe that this contest will prove to be a stern test for Houston, as they seek to rebound from a heartbreaking loss to the Colts .

The struggles of the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be an ongoing issue that now seems to have not only the Steelers’ fans worried but also a great many observers around the NFL . It has been considerably long time, since we have seen this franchise sink to such lows, where one now has to question the heart of this team as well as the play calling of offensive coordinator Todd Haley . From my own perspective, I do believe that the Steelers’ issues stem from some poor draft picks over the past three seasons , with the players in question having not shown the progress sought by head coach Mike Tomlin and the GM Kevin Colbert .

Sunday afternoon, the Steelers came to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro’ , Massachusetts , seeking to inflict a loss on the New England Patriots. Instead, the Patriots simply used all of the offensive weapons available to Tom Brady , who simply raised the level of his game to give one of his : best performances of the season as the Patriots annihilated the Pittsburgh Steelers in game that became beyond the Steelers’ reach in the final quarter as England rattled of twenty-eight points on their way to a thoroughly convincing 55-31 victory . Where this now leaves players such as , Ben Roethlisberger , Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu , Will Allen , Ryan Clark , Jerricho Cotchery .a , Lawrence Timmons and several other of these experienced players on the roster have shown no heart , as this team has now slumped to a 2-6 record within the AFC North . The fact, that the Steelers were lambasted in a lopsided hammering by the New England for the Steelers’ worst loss of the season , now leaves a number of fans wondering where the franchise now goes from here .

The Kansas City Chiefs remain the league’s lone unbeaten team and at 9-0 , with and two more wins, guarantees the Chiefs a playoff berth . A further loss by the Denver Broncos and the AFC West , the Kansas City Chiefs are likely to become the divisional champions for this season . The Chiefs have a potential game of the season awaiting them in week eleven , when they meet at the Sports Authority Field in Denver , Colorado, on Sunday, 17th October , in a conference and divisional contest . That game will certainly have a bearing on the seedings for the AFC at season’s end, but for now the fans should take heart in the very fact that division and conference does not remain a forgone conclusion

Still early days yet, in the NBA season and the defending champions have shown a few chinks in their undoubted armor . The Miami Heat are seeking to rewrite history, cast their own legacy in the annals of NBA history, as they seek to win a third consecutive NBA title . New additions to the roster , Michael Beasley , Roger Mason Jr and Greg Oden are seeking to contribute to this Erik Spoelstra coached team . At 2-2, the Heat sit jointly atop of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference , alongside the Orlando Magic , whose quick start out of the gate has not exactly caught everyone off-balance . From my own perspective this , Magic team will be in for a rough ride over the course of the season as they seek to rebound from a rather lackluster year in 2012 . One which saw the departure of Dwight Howard , whose last season with the team was mired in a great deal of controversy that in the end , led to the dismissal of Stan Van Gundy .

. Miami’s next scheduled game, will see them head north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario , . That match-up should prove to be very interesting contest , as the Raptors seek to gauge themselves against the best team in the Eastern Conference over the past two seasons .

Four-time league MVP LeBron James , also a two- time Finals’ MVP will seek to add to his own legacy , as he seeks to join the ranks of the greats of the game. At this juncture , if James adds another NBA title as well as league MVP to his already distinguished resume` , then I would have to rethink my view as to whether or not he has been the best player to grace the NBA over the past fifteen years . Granted, James’ idol Michael Jordan , will be considered the greatest player to have played the game , but quite possibly , at the point at which LeBron James chooses to retire from the NBA , he may well have surpassed many of Jordan’s greatest personal achievements as a player in the NBA. James has yet to reach his maturation point as a player and over the past four season , we have seen the growth of his all-round game . In terms of a rival to match James’ play and skill-set , the analysts agree that the rivalry may well come from the Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant , a three-time league scoring champion and again a three-time runner-up in the League MVP voting .

Scott Brooks head coach of the Thunder must be greatly enthused by the fact that Kevin Durant has returned to the league this season with the mindset that the team has unfinished business . The postseason of 2012 something of nightmare for the team as they were swept aside in the NBA Finals by LeBron James and the Miami Heat , where the match-up between Durant and the Heat superstar failed to live up to the perceived hype , as the Thunder were brushed over in a lopsided 4-1 series’ victory . Last year’s postseason for the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of more heartache with the loss of the team’s point guard Russell Westbrook , as he suffered an injury in the team’s first round series against the Houston Rockets . Westbrook was injured in a collision with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley , which would require orthopedic surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. The point guard’s loss would prove to be impactful for the Thunder, as Russell Westbrook and the team would be unceremoniously dumped in the first round, with a 4-2 series’ loss. All season long, the point guard would prove to be one the most productive players on the roster, alongside teammate Kevin Durant.

A new season beckons, it will be interesting to see what type of mindset will be shown by Russell Westbrook when he makes his first appearance for the Thunder . His return would suggest that the player has not missed a step after the team’s 103-96 defeat of the Phoenix Suns , during which he scored twenty-one points , dished out seven assists , with four rebounds and a steal . Yet there were signs of rustiness displayed with some momentary lapses that led to four turnovers and 1 personal foul. As he begins to find his rhythm, we are likely to see Westbrook regain the form that has made him one of the most explosive point guards in the NBA over the past four seasons . I strongly believe that the Oklahoma City Thunder will be one of at least four teams in the Western Conference seeking to be dominant within the conference this season, as well as within their respective divisions . The other teams I see playing a part within this whole year-long scenario, are the Los Angeles Clippers , Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs . In the Clippers’ case , that is solely based on the mindset brought in by Doc Rivers and whether or not , he can get this team to actually play a modicum of defense . We are aware as to what they are capable of from an offensive mindset , as we all bore witness to that last season .

The Clippers now seeing a resurgence in not only their play but also fan-base , and now of the belief that they’re on an equal footing with their in-house residents at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Lakers . This season, will be a test for both franchises , as they each seek to carve out a niche for themselves within the NBA landscape. As I alluded to earlier, while the Clippers are a robustly talented team on offense , their issues remain on the defensive side of the ball. With the mindset of Chris Paul , now a determining factor, things are likely to change after the point guard’s first season with the team in 2012 . Alongside , Blake Griffin , DeAndre Jordan , Darren Collison , J J Redick , Antawn Jamison , Ryan Hollins the rest of this cast , we will be able to gauge whether or not there is any justification for there to be a presumption that they are legitimate contenders for the NBA title this season . Evidence of that may well have been on hand last night, as they completely manhandled the Houston Rockets on their way to a 137-118 victory for the highest scoring game in the infancy of this NBA season . Houston with the off-season acquisition of Dwight Howard , were also being looked upon as a championship caliber team . To my mind , beyond James Harden , there is little to suggest that the addition of Howard will factor into the Rockets chances of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of this postseason . Dwight Howard has yet to prove himself when it matters the most , and that is during the postseason and he certainly cannot be considered a player readily and willing to assume the mantle of leadership , should James Harden be otherwise indisposed due to a prolonged injury .

During last season within the NBA schedule , one of the more idiotic comments I read concerning the NBA, was that of a patron, who suggested that New York sports’ fans tend not to expect a great deal from or off their teams , even when the rosters assembled are considered to be that of a championship caliber team . Personally, I felt the statement, was lacking in intelligence and obviously from an individual, who simply does not spend a great deal of time informing themselves of what is routinely happening in the nation’s largest sports environment, where all four of the major professional team sports are well represented alongside having perhaps having some of the most gregarious and often most acerbic and volatile sports’ journalists in the country . With, both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks , having made the postseason in 2012, as the fourth and second seeds respectively, in the Eastern Conference standings . A great deal was expected of both teams, as each sought to make a respectable showing in the league’s showcase event of the postseason .

The New York Knicks led by Carmelo Anthony and an assortment of ill-fitting parts , made light work of the Boston Celtics in the first round of a highly competitive and volatile series . Meanwhile , the Nets, with their wildly exorbitant payroll of underachieving players , suffered the ignominy of bowing out in their opening round series to the Chicago Bulls , who were at the time without their best player , Derrick Rose . As to what that might suggest about a team , whose owner Mikhail Prokhorov , who remains of the mindset , that the best way to solve a problem is to simply to throw money at the issue and then let things fall where they may. Somewhat like this present White House administration , and that of the US Congress , and their omnipresent ideas , as how best to deal with an ongoing and still ailing economy. Print money, borrow money , spend money , on just about any damn idiotic idea that you think might fly or curry favor , not with the constituents , but their financial backers , by way of the funneling of monies by lobbyists and the special interest groups they represent .

Prokhorov as the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, has simply sought to play second fiddle to no one , not even to their in conference rivals the New York Knicks. The fact that these two teams have now created an intense rivalry , with both sets of fans now foaming at the mouth , while showing not quite utter disdain for their foe . I am not so sure , what this will amount to , even with the addition of Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to a Nets’ roster whose team payroll of just over $70 million in 2012 , will balloon to over $102.6 million for this upcoming season and creating a liability for the Nets franchise where they will be paying in excess of forty-three million dollars for exceeding the league’s soft salary cap ($58.648 million) .

While, I believe that both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks to be very good teams , I simply do not believe, that either, are the equal of the Miami Heat, in terms of being able to mount a serious enough challenge to dethrone the defending NBA champions .

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Picture gallery . (By clicking on an individual frame , you can see that picture in its original formatted size)

With the NFL now its midway point , what are you hoping to see in the second half of the season by way of the play from the teams in the NFL ? Also with the NBA still in its infancy this season , have there been any teams , team , player or players that you believe will have a successful year within the league itself ? Leave a comment, as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site , as it has always been greatly appreciated first and foremost !

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(1) Nick Foles (9)/ is seen here attempting a pass during the game played between the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders played at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland , California on the 3rd November , 2013 . The Eagles would go on to defeat Oakland 49-20 , with Foles equaling an NFL single game record in passing for seven touchdowns during the contest. Getty Images / Brian Bahr …

(2) Tight end Zach Ertz (86 ) of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Nick Foles (9) against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on November 3, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. Getty Images North America/ Brian Bahr …

(3) Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is loaded on a stretcher after he collapsed on the field as the team left for halftime against the Indianapolis Colts at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(4) Case Keenum (7) of the Houston Texans breaks the tackle of Ricky Jean Francois (99) of the Indianapolis Colts as he rushes in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(5) Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin and team GM Kevin Colbert are seen here at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania . The franchise this season within the AFC North is having a horrendous year , bearing a 2-6 record which has them firmly placed at the foot of the division . The Steelers’ draft picks over the past four seasons has proven to be unfruitful , with several of the players failing to live up to the perceived hype . AP Photo / Carl Rogers …

(6) Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat is seen here in his official team photo for the franchise . Beasley is seeking to resurrect his often troubled NBA career in his second stop with NBA franchise . Beasley , along with Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr are the newest members of the team , which has seen the retirement of Juwan Howard , who has since become a member of the coaching staff . AP Photo / Hector Hernandez ….

(7) From left to right , Brooklyn Nets’ GM Billy King , team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov , head coach Jason Kidd , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Jason Terry . This season the Nets will have one of the league’s highest team payrolls which will exceed $102.6 million , with guard Joe Johnson being the highest paid player on the roster this season . It remains to be seen whether not franchise can be seen as a legitimate title threat to the Miami Heat as well as the rest of the NBA this season . The addition of the three former Boston Celtics’ players should add some vitality to the franchise . AP Photo / Gerry Thomas ….

(8) Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks is seen here with teammates , J R Smith , center and Iman Shumpert . Anthony during the preseason stated that he was prepared opt put of the final year of his contract to test the free agency market in 2014 . Yet , is highly unlikely , that Carmelo Anthony will seek to go elsewhere, knowing that can get a max six-year contract that cumulatively earning $129 million six years averaging , $21.5 million per year while remaining with the New York Knicks. . AP Photo / Paul Hamilton …….

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A Deal Is A Deal , Or Is It ?

A Deal Is A Deal , Or Is It ?

By tophatal

So , Dwight Howard after all of the stalling , insufferable and infantile behavior , has finally stated what everyone knew . He wants out , and he wants “out now” . The Orlando Magic center and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year making demands of the front office led by team COO Alex Martins and newly installed general manager Rob Hennigan .

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Howard and his agent Dan Fegan now having made their intentions clear that the center would like to be traded to the Brooklyn/New Jersey Nets . The center who is a restricted free agent had originally sought a long-term deal with the franchise but ever since the heated exchange and meltdown in his relationship former head coach , Stan Van Gundy . The writing has been in essence on the wall , wherein with the abrupt firing of Van Gundy , it was either Howard remains , or he would depart from the only professional franchise he has ever played for. Rob Hennigan could proceed to meet the demands of the disruptive center but he could also seek the trade of the player elsewhere . The Nets have very few pieces on their current roster that would be desirable for the Orlando Magic . And with New Jersey Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy King now looking to retain the services of his franchise’s heralded point guard Deron Williams . One could attest to the fact that the billionaire owner will move heaven and earth , to make it possible to have both Williams and Howard on the team roster for the start of the 2012-13 season . It may well take a multi-player , multi-player trade to facilitate such a deal . The requirement for such deals are that the salaries of the players in question must be a match or within 5% of the salaried contract. Williams however , has garnered the interest of the Dallas Mavericks and team owner Mark Cuban .

The Mavericks are in need of a replacement for seasoned veteran Jason Kidd , who it appears may well be superfluous to the team’s needs . Deron Williams for his part has met with Cuban and GM Donn Nelson to discuss a possible deal that would see the player sign a long-term multi-year deal . However, with the possibility that Dwight Howard could possibly be joining him as a teammate could stall the player’s decision to leave the Brooklyn Nets . At the same time , Williams has made it clear that he would like to have situation completed , in order that he can focus his attention on his preparations as a member of Team USA for the Summer Olympics in London , England .

The Orlando Magic’s fall from grace has been to the dismay of their fans and was self-evident with the team’s anemic display in the first round of the NBA Playoffs . The Philadelphia 76ers dispatched the Orlando Magic with utmost ease (4-1) , with the Magic being a complete embarrassment throughout the series . This team was not built for success and that is in spite of the rather asinine comments of the franchise’s former head coach , Stan Van Gundy and then general manager Otis Smith . The roster had ill-fitting pieces and at no time was there any cohesion being shown by the players over the course of the season .

The acrimony between Dwight Howard and the Magic organization cannot be quantified and it does not bode well for the franchise as they proceed forward . Hennigan has yet to hire a head coach to succeed Stan Van Gundy , and even with the drafting of Andrew Nicholson in the first round (19th overall) of the NBA Draft , to be followed by Kyle O’Quinn , you simply get the feeling that the franchise is at a loss as to the direction that they now need to be heading in . There is such disarray within the Orlando Magic as an organization , that is extremely difficult to view them as legitimate threat within the Eastern Conference of NBA , much less throughout the league as a whole .

With such individuals as Brendan Malone and Patrick Ewing still remaining on the coaching staff , it seems inconceivable that neither has been given the common courtesy of being granted an interview for the vacant head coaching position with the Orlando Magic . Team owner Rich De Vos seems to be completely oblivious as to problems of his beleaguered franchise and one cannot help but wonder if with the departure of Dwight Howard , we will see a significant decline in the value of this organization . By conservative estimates , the franchise is said to be worth $385 million , which ranks eleventh among the league’s thirty teams .

The Orlando Magic’s starting point guard Jameer Nelson has decided to opt out of his contract and it remains highly unlikely that he will return to the franchise . As the team’s third highest paid player on the roster , conversely one could ask the question during the reign of Otis Smith , what was the general manager seeking to achieve ? His failures and that of Stan Van Gundy have been highlighted and well chronicled over the course of their tenures . At no time could you genuinely state this team or in their previous guises while the duo oversaw the on-field personnel provided the fans with a great deal of excitement . The Orlando Magic has always been offensively challenged and they simply “lived and died “ with their three point shooting . When they were hot , then they were extremely good . On the opposite end of the spectrum , when they were bad , then they would have been better off working on a construction site , laying bricks . It has been this sort of ineptitude , that has been indicative of what we have seen by the Orlando Magic , and those purporting to suggest that this franchise was good enough to win because they played to their biggest greatest strengths .

If the perceived upheaval does take place , then it sets the Orlando Magic back several years . The last time there was an upheaval of this magnitude , it led to the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal as a free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1997 . And that renowned franchise by no means having an aversion to drama are themselves in the midst of uncertainty , after a season of great disappointment and underachievement . It is believed that GM Mitch Kupchak , head coach Mike Brown and Jim Buss , son of team owner , Jerry Buss , will assess the needs of the team this offseason , as they seek to remain a perennial contender for the NBA title . This past season for the Lakers , it was simply about Kobe Bryant once again taking this team on his shoulders while his teammates remained a constant audience on the sidelines , giving little aid , if any , to the shooting guard . Whether or not this leads to a major upheaval , with a number of players being jettisoned this offseason , it remains to be seen as to the possible decisions that will be made . You simply get the feeling that Jerry Buss and Lakers’ hierarchy were not too tolerant of the team’s poor performances the regular and postseason . Kobe Bryant always known as a fierce competitor has to be viewed as a player now in the declining years of what has been an illustrious career .

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Picture gallery , for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have concerning Dwight Howard and his request for a trade ? And do you believe that organization should acquiesce to the player’s request ? By all means do leave a comment as you deem fit on this and anything else you believe to the subject matter .

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Slide show and picture gallery details below .
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(1) Rob Hennigan , the new general manager of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team, speaks during a news conference, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux …

(2) Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, left, shakes hands with Rob Hennigan, center, the new general manager of the NBA basketball team, next to the team’s chairman, Dan DeVos , at a news conference Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux

(3) FILE – This April 3, 2012 file photo shows Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy watching from the sidelines during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Magic have fired coach Van Gundy after a rocky season. The moves came Monday, May 21, 2012 after the team’s second straight first-round playoff exit. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(4) ORLANDO, FL – DECEMBER 18: Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith speaks to the media regarding the acquisition of Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. It was reported on May 21, 2012 that the Orlando Magic fired Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images …

(5) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(6) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, right, and Dwight Howard smile at each other as Howard comes off the floor in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Michael Perez

(7) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wipes his face with his jersey during the first quarter of Game 5 in their NBA basketball Western Conference semifinal playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Monday, May 21, 2012, in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City won 106-90 . AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki …

(8) Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team’s new head coach Mike Brown (2nd L) poses with team owner Jerry Buss (2nd R), Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss (L) and general manager Mitch Kupchak after a news conference in Los Angeles, California, May 31, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL …

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This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

This Is Not The House That Walt Built For Mickey And It’s Certainly Not One That The Three Little Pigs Would Wish To Live In ………… A House Of Straw

By tophatal …. 20th April 2012

It’s beginning to look like a circus within the Orlando Magic organization as it was announced today that the team’s besieged and beleaguered center Dwight Howard is going to miss the rest of the regular season schedule and will now forgo participating in the NBA Playoffs . A little over a month ago the Magic held the third seed within the Eastern Conference . But a rash of bad results , inconsistent play and the loss of Howard and several of key players over that stretch due to injury has seen them fall from grace .

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The injury which has seen the end of Dwight Howard’s season is one of a herniated disc in his lower back which , is apparently causing the player a great deal of pain. Given the center’s offensive prowess and the fact that he is the team’s leading scorer . The problems for Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff will be an acute one. I’ve long-held the contention , the moment that Howard and Van Gundy began their infantile bickering , it led to simply where this organization was heading down a slippery slope . There has been a lack of respect and civility between the coach and player. Internal strife within the locker room and most certainly no clear leadership . I’ve said that Dwight Howard while being one of the game’s best players his attitude and lack of maturity has been the biggest “chink” in his armor ! He has yet to show that he has leadership abilities and I for one doubt that Howard will ever develop that trait ! Undoubtedly , Howard is the best center currently playing in the NBA but herein lies the caveat to this whole scenario , without a great supporting cast of characters the player’s game simply becomes moot. And in all honesty , this current roster of the Magic is not that impressive to begin with ! GM Otis Smith has cobbled together an ill-fitting cast of characters that simply haven’s meshed well together .

This off-season the Magic’s front office certainly has some issues to deal with as it concerns the players currently on this team . COO Alec Martins will certainly have to look at the players superfluous to the organization’s needs . Contract issues asides , if the Magic are to contend against the likes of the Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks , then most certainly Alec Martins will have to upgrade the player personnel. Stan Van Gundy , to my mind has outlived his usefulness as a coach with the organization and it is time for the Magic to cut him loose ! His shtick , constant , bitching , whining and failure to hold his players accountable , plus accepting that he too has been at fault for many of the team’s failings. Well , it clearly shows that his time has come , and he needs to go ! And that criteria also fits a hopelessly out of his depth general manager , such as Otis Smith .

In spite of Dwight Howard’s injury issues , my bone of contention with the player , has been the fact that when given the chance to simply leave the Magic . He somehow felt that out of some undue loyalty , it would be in his best interests to remain with the organization . Given the fact , that his postseason’s forays with the Orlando Magic have seen those experiences to be an all too painful , in terms of the chapters written . Well compensated and soon to be in the final season of his contract , whatever advice that has been rendered to Howard by his agent has to my mind seen his value decline ! And now with this injury , for which he will need surgery , which will be performed by a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles , California , will see the player miss playing for Team USA at the Summer Olympics in the United Kingdom this July , 2012 .

To Howard’s credit , while he has missed the last five games with this injury , the player has been supportive of his cast-mates . It has been left to back up center Glen Davis in conjunction with Ryan Anderson to lead the team . The former Celtics’ center has gladly taken up the gauntlet and has excelled in this new-found role . Anderson for his part an excellent three-point shooter , has displayed those skills with great aplomb but his game has improved greatly over the course of this season . It will be incumbent upon this duo , along with Jason Richardson , J J Redick and Hedo Turkoglu to lift their game to new heights, if the Orlando Magic are to have a realistic chance at all of going deep into the postseason .

With the Orlando Magic currently holding the sixth seed (36-25) within the Eastern Conference , with five games remaining to go in this curtailed regular season schedule . If the conference standings remain as they are then Magic would square off against Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers , led by All Star …. Danny Granger and his supporting cast . And no doubt Frank Vogel would like nothing better than to have his team to a series victory over his Eastern Conference rivals . And seen as prohibitive favorites with a great deal of justification I might add , there is nothing better that I would like to see than for this Orlando Magic season come to an all too abrupt end . Simply put , Stan Van Gundy and this team have been vastly overrated . At no time have they truly shown that they are worthy of being looked upon as a championship caliber contender , and certainly , I do not believe that they have what it takes to defeat an eager and young and Pacers’ team !

As to what the future now holds for the Orlando Magic once the regular and postseason reaches its finality . It will be interesting to see what decisions may well be made by the front office as it relates to the team and other managerial and executive personnel . Dwight Howard’s eight years in the NBA since being drafted number one overall in the 2004 NBA Draft has me now wondering what ambition if any , does the center still have ! An NBA championship no doubt would ” seal “ the deal besides the accomplishments of the player. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year may well seem nice but in reality it all pales into insignificance when adjudged against that of a championship ring. Dwight Howard wants to add to his legacy but as of now it all seems to be diminishing by the second . And by no means after reconstructive surgery on his spine is there that added assurance that the player will be back his very best . The exhaustive and physical battering that his body has taken has to now be a cause for concern for the player and his future . This is not typically an injury wherein , once having returned he’s assured of being back to anywhere at his best . It will take time but also he has to be cautious if he wishes to have a prolonged career within the NBA .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the regular season winds down where do you believe that the Magic’s future may well lay ? Is it as a franchise with Dwight Howard ? Or as many believe it will be one without the player , with the famed center departing , leaving Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to take charge of the personnel and its immediate future ? Chime with your thoughts on this and anything else that you believe to pertinent on the subject matter and the NBA in general .

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(1) FILE – In this April 9, 2012, file photo, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic’s 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons in an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla. Howard told ESPN.com he will have season-ending back surgery on Friday, April 20, to repair a herniated disk. The operation will also prevent Howard from playing in the Olympics in London. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic on April 18, 2012 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(3) Boston Celtics forwards Brandon Bass , left, and Kevin Garnett , right, combine to try to stop Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis (11) on a drive to the basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. The Celtics won 102-98 . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(4) Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) tries to grab a rebound between Orlando Magic players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, April 18, 2012. From left are Magic’s Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson . AP Photo/Charles Krupa …..

(5) Me , not too dumb ” ! Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith speaks to the media regarding the acquisition of Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns at Amway Arena on December 18, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Getty Images North America / Sam Greenwood …….

(6) The Orlando Magic’s very own lil’ ‘ Oompa Loompa ‘ ! Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic motions to his team from the bench during the second half against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on February 29, 2012 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images …….
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It’s Not The Economy Stupid But It’s Not What’s Said To Be Causing The Mess With The NBA !

It’s Not The Economy Stupid But It’s Not What’s Said To Be Causing The Mess With The NBA !

I’ve never been overly enamored with the NBA All Star and NFL Pro Bowl …. games . In light of this weekend’s events and the absolute nonsense of what’s said to be taking place proves absolutely nothing at all will have been achieved . David Stern and the league hierarchy seem to be of the perception that this mid-season showcase simply brings the fans closer to the game and their heroes . When one bears in mind the idiocy of what took place in the off-season and I now understand the real reason why the league and in particular the union seeks to have the fans seem all the more intertwined with the game. The league mandated lockout did more harm than good in terms of the fans’ affinity for the NBA .

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With the alleged accord between both parties and wherein the teams’ owners now appear to be all the more happier, I can’t help but wonder what this now means for teams such as the New Orleans Hornets , Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings ! The trio of NBA franchises have been amongst the most poorly supported within league and are not that competitive within their respective conferences and divisions .

The Miami Heat seen as the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference and they currently sit atop Southeast Division . And with LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ….. playing at a heightened level there’s a belief that the triumvirate and team would like to make up for the loss in last season’s NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks . Perhaps that series’ defeat may well have been one of the biggest upsets in Finals’ history .

The Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra and his coaching assistants are under a great deal of scrutiny as too is the organization’s president Pat Riley who through his protegé orchestrated and assembled the team in its present guise along with acquisition of Bosh and James back in 2010 built what they felt was a roster capable of winning multiple titles . No offense to LBJ but we’re still waiting for that first of the presumptive six or seven titles that he felt that they were capable of winning !

With the Heat now a profitable and going concern after four consecutive seasons of multi-million dollar losses that cumulatively exceeded $145 million collectively , there was a reason why Pat Riley knew that something had to be done lure the fans back to AA Arena in Miami , Florida . Team owner Micky Arison , the multi-billionaire CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines has been known to spend lavishly but when it came to the Miami Heat , he knew that something had to be done not just from a competitive standpoint but also from a personnel and financial standpoint . Now comes the hard part for the organization and that’s to live up to the lofty expectations of the Heat fans and in particular the NBA analysts now jumping aboard the Miami Heat bandwagon .

Now while the Miami Heat are said to be riding high for the Orlando Magic it has been anything but that . Inconsistency and the lack of cohesiveness from the players has simply set tongues wagging as to whether or not the organization is now ready to give up on the season and perhaps trade their All Star center Dwight Howard before at the trade deadline on the 15th March , 2012. Such has been the speculation with head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith not publicly commenting on the matter but clearly something may well happen between now and the deadline concerning Howard’s future.

Now should Dwight Howard become a free agent he is likely to be most prized of those coming to the market . And amongst the teams that no doubt will be interested will be the Los Angeles Lakers , New Jersey Nets , Chicago Bulls and quite possibly the Dallas Mavericks . That being said Orlando Magic CEO Alec Martins may well feel that it would not be in the organization’s best interest to let the play go elsewhere , with history possibly repeating itself . Shaquille O’Neal , a one time player with the Magic having been drafted number one overall in 1992 NBA Draft by the franchise , by then general manager John Gabriel . During O’Neal’s playing …… career with the organization there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind the he was their most respected player and best offensive weapon during his tenure with the NBA franchise .

It’s extremely hard to imagine how the center can remain with the franchise when one bears in mind that successive general managers in John Weisbrod and Otis Smith have at best made some disastrous trades and draft picks that simply haven’t panned out for the organization. So much so , that it must not only team’s fans wondering what the hell is going within this basketball franchise but ultimately is said to be making the decisions . And when one considers some of the disastrous contracts taken on-board most recently by the Magic in terms of Gilbert Arenas and Quentin Richardson , one would have to question the motives and the productivity shown by the players in during that period . At the same time you would most certainly have to look at the on the job performance of Otis Smith because clearly he is now in way over his head ! During his tenure by way of success one could best describe the Magic’s record as amenable but in no way could you make the assertion that it has been stellar !

As a fan of the NBA from afar with no real affinity for either the Miami Heat or Orlando Magic I do believe that both franchises have served the state of Florida well . But herein lies the caveat of the idiocy that seems to have arisen and that is in many fans’ eyes the Miami Heat as in some way preordained and have in some way a god given right to be seen as champions . Take into account that this team in its present guise has yet to have won anything , and if anything last year’s team failed miserably when …. all was on the line and a great deal was at stake . Need I say anymore on the matter ?

If Dwight Howard were to leave the Orlando Magic for no matter what the alleged trade might be , it would have irreparable repercussions and ramifications for the franchise beyond what most could very well imagine . The player is and has always been the biggest draw for this organization ever since he was drafted by the Magic as the number one overall pick in 2004 . And during that time the player has become one of the most reliable and productive players and centers in the NBA . Is it possible that Howard will remain with his current team ? Well that’s dependent upon who you may well choose to believe at this juncture . The loyal Orlando Magic fans want the player to remain with the organization but it has become abundantly clear that this team in its present guise clearly isn’t good enough to challenge the likes of the Chicago Bulls or the Miami Heat . within the Eastern Conference much less the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder , Dallas Mavericks , San Antonio Spurs , Los Angeles Clippers , Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies for that matter !

It wasn’t that along ago where might not have questioned such a trade but given what has transpired with regard to the trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers . It has left Paul’s former team a shell of its self and nowhere near competitive as an NBA franchise . At the same this league owned organization sits adrift within its division with and no end in sight as to its mediocrity . What might be even more asinine has been the insinuation by David Stern is that the franchise is a viable concern with a great fan-base . Is he fu@#king kidding or what ? The team barely or rarely attracts anyone at its venue for their scheduled home games and the players at present are about as competitive as an NBA D League franchise taking on one of their illustrious counterparts . The commissioner only recently has attested to the fact that the Hornets’ franchise now in transition will be sold . But in reality what prospective owner would be at this point be willing to purchase one of the league’s worst teams and least supported franchise and one which is nowhere near as competitive as the commissioner is trying to insist . Never mind the fact that any prospective owner may well seek to relocate the New Orleans Hornets altogether . It’s not as if that has been a guarantee that David Stern is now said to have sought from any of the so-called potential bidders that he and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver are said to have met privately to discuss the potential sale of the NBA franchise.

Throughout the league lockout , Stern , the league hierarchy and franchise owners have pled poverty but at no time have they chosen to make their financial statements open for public scrutiny . Even when in arbitration ,the documents seen by the arbitrator were nothing more than pro-forma statements as to the league’s finances but in large part they gave no real indication as to the length and depth of financial morass that the NBA claims it had on its hands. With projected losses this season for the league, that is said to be in the range of $400 million to $475 million it is hard to see how any potential suitor for the New Orleans Hornets would be interested in buying that franchise , at what is sure to be an inflated price sought by the NBA.

Once the NBA’ s mid-season showcase has ended , it will be interesting to see what transpires between now and the trade deadline transpires as there are bound to be several trades that will take place . Most certainly there are a number of teams looking to position themselves in a position to seek a playoff berth . As to the impending future of Dwight Howard a great deal obviously will be dependent upon the player’s own wishes more than anything else . But it is my belief that unless the front office of the Orlando Magic can prove to their All Star center that it is their intent to win an NBA title by way of improving their roster then there is no way in hell that the player will choose to remain with the only franchise that he has known and played for during the course of his professional career.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In light of the NBA All Star Game what were your impressions overall ? Also which teams to your mind has been of the biggest surprise at the halfway point of the season and what do you hope to see over the remainder of the NBA schedule ? Do you believe that at the trade deadline Dwight Howard will remain a player with the Orlando Magic ? Plus as a potential suitor for the New Orleans Hornets would you be keen to be an owner of that particular NBA franchise ? Simply chime in with your thoughts as to the points raised within this piece .

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Picture and slide show details
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(1) ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 26: Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic and the Eastern Conference dunks against Blake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Western Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Pool/Getty Images ….

(2) (2) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference drives for a shot attempt during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. The Western would go on to defeat East 152-149 in the NBA’s mid-season showcase event. Photo by Jeff Haynes-Pool/Getty Images ……

(3) LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference attempts a dunk during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……

(4) Blake Griffin (32) of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Western Conference attempts a shot against Chris Bosh (1) of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images ……

(5) Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference drives against Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …. …..

(6) Eastern Conference’s Dwight Howard (12), of the Orlando Magic, and Dwyane Wade (3), of the Miami Heat, talk at mid-court during the second half of the NBA All-Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. The Western Conference won 152-149 . AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …..

(7) Kevin Durant (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Western Conference holds up the MVP trophy after the West won 152-149 against Eastern Conference during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center on February 26, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …..

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Oh Really ….. ?

Oh Really ?

By tophatal

Coming into the season I fully expected the Orlando Magic would be a team that would certainly be one of the main contenders within the Eastern Conference . But such has been the inconsistent play of the players and the very fact that it would appear that Dwight Howard’s days with this organization could very much remain numbered . In spite of the there being no movement of the player by way of a trade , it would appear that the front office led by CEO Alec Martins and GM Otis Smith could still seek to orchestrate a trade of the center .

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With that being said, it is hard to understand how this team could be playing without any passion and having lost three straight at an average of 23 points per game . Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them if this roster is to succeed and make their way into the NBA’s postseason . Dwight Howard in large part is a one man army with there being little support coming from his surrounding cast . Hedo Turkoglu , Glen Davis , JJ Redick , . Brandon Bass and Jason Richardson have to step up their play if the team is to have any chance of making the postseason .

On Thursday night the Orlando Magic played host to the Boston Celtics but the game itself could be best described as a lopsided event with Doc Rivers’ ….. team prevailing in match-up that saw the Magic give a monstrous performance . And if Stan Van Gundy believes that his players’ next game gets any easier then they should consider the fact their next opponents the Indiana Pacers are themselves having a very credible season having posted a 12-7 in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference .

I have always maintained that while Dwight Howard is a phenomenal player but he will never fulfill his ambition of winning an NBA title with the Orlando Magic ! The team simply isn’t good enough and their coach Stan Van Gundy simply doesn’t possess the prerequisite skills as a coach to lead this or any other franchise within the NBA to a title . To my mind the NBA’s best center will have to leave this organization and resume his career elsewhere . And given the fact that a number of teams around the league are said to be interested in the services of Dwight Howard it remains to be seen what will transpire between now and the trade deadline comes into being . Rod Thorn , team President of the New Jersey Nets knows that if he is to retain Deron Williams then acquiring a player of Howard’s magnitude will have to be his first priority .

As to the ambitions of the Orlando Magic what has become all the more befuddling is that this organization, while appearing to eager to prove themselves amongst the elite teams within the NBA but it would appear that owner Rich De Vos and the senior executives of the franchise’s sole intent might just appear to be to cultivate a business template simply to make a profit rather than looking for on-court success .

For all of this talk about the New York Knicks now being once again relevant in the NBA the team’s style of play and the very fact that they’re amongst the worst defensive teams within the league . And it is something that Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff simply hasn’t addressed , in spite of the front office having acquired Tyson Chandler from defending NBA champions the Dallas Mavericks this off-season.

Team owner James Dolan knows that if the organization and in particular Madison Square Gardens , home to his NBA franchise is to have any type of resounding success then the on-field product has to be one that simply resonates with the fans . At 7-12 by all counts reflects the play of the team being five games under .500 reflects what this over-hyped organization is simply about . Amare` Stoudemire may well have joined the Knicks to further his career but to my mind he simply left the Phoenix Suns not just for the money but also because of the fact that he had to play “second fiddle” to veteran point guard Steve Nash .

Now , even with Carmelo Anthony alongside Stoudemire the primary assets to this team , it has been their offensive capabilities with these two prominent scorers that this team still remains a topic of conversation . It is becoming abundantly clear that D’Antoni knows that the team can only play to its strengths and that has to be their offense ,whereas , from a defensive aspect this simply isn’t a unit can play with that type of mindset . Even with such players as Landry Fields , Iman Shumpert , Tyson Chandler , Carmelo Anthony and Amare` Stoudemire , I do believe that as a cohesive unit they are a good regular season franchise but I have my doubts as to how capable they might be in the postseason . As good as the Knicks’ fans may well think that this team might be one can simply has to look at the their record to realize that this roster isn’t as good as advertized .

It’s funny but once the trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers took shape the belief was that the shape of basketball within the city of Los Angeles was about to take change and head in a new direction . Clearly, some people have really short memories as it relates to the history of the Clippers and the mere fact that franchise hasn’t made the postseason much less had a winning season in almost two decades . Such has been the ineptitude of the franchise that even with a change in ownership under Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , one has to be patient and face the inevitability that it may well take a while before we see Vinny Del Negro’s players rise to the level of expectation and potential many believe that this team will simply have .

The growing partnership of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will augur well for the franchise and most notably for the front office of this organization . Gone are the days of former owner Donald Sterling and his henchman in arms former GM Elgin Baylor that the Clippers in their present guise are simply looking to up the ante in terms of their presence within the NBA .

If the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to gauge their progress then their most recent game against their neighbors the Los Angeles Lakers clearly shows that they are going in the right direction albeit , that the end result was a 96-91 loss for Del Negro’s players. Ryan Gomes , Randy Foye , Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups make up a great complement of a roster that at some point in the future will have their say within the NBA .

With the NBA season just past the quarter mark of its 66 game schedule of what has been a truncated schedule due to the league mandated stoppage that delayed the season’s regular start. At this point we now see the Los Angeles Clippers leading the Pacific Division within the Western Conference . There is a growing sense that although the Clippers’ star might be on the rise they are going to play second fiddle to the likes of the reigning champions the Dallas Mavericks , Oklahoma City Thunder , Memphis Grizzlies and quite possibly the always dangerous San Antonio Spurs . The Spurs at this point however , do seem to be no better a team than they were last year when we saw them parlay their season into becoming the one seen in the Western Conference only to fall in the first round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies .

This season during the San Antonio Spurs’ schedule they have struggled away from from home while being near invincible at their home venue. Gregg Popovich in knowing that he has lost Manu Ginobli for what appears to be an indeterminate period due to injury now knows that he has rely on Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to lead this team if they are to have any chance of succeeding this season .

Though Duncan is now playing in a diminished role for the team has to be more of a leader than ever before . With that in mind it would also be in Popovich’s best interest if he could see more of an effort from the likes of Thiago Splitter , Kawhi Leonard , Dejuan Blair , Danny Green , Matt Bonner and most notably from Richard Jefferson . The latter of whom I believe has never fulfilled his potential as a player in spite of his career with the New Jersey Nets when he was a prominent player during his tenure there and also be becoming an All Star . Since that time , his journey through the NBA, wherein , he has become something of a utility player for the Spurs , his contributions at best could described as being sporadic .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As the NBA season undulates down its path it remains to be seen how the teams will progress over the course of their respective schedules . I simply look at the play of the teams over the season thus far and considering what I have seen , to put it mildly I’m not exactly impressed by what I have seen ! The NBA is said to be back with a bang but in all sincerity David Stern and the teams hierarchy have served up an irrefutable dud this season ! What thoughts if any do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? By all means do leave a comment as you see fit .

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(1) Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert , left, posts up against Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(2) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, and guard J.J. Redick sit on the bench during the final seconds of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. The Pacers won 106-85. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(3) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, looks on as head coach Stan Van Gundy, right, reacts late in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. The Pacers won 106-85 . AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack …..

(4) There’s a reason why D’Antoni hasn’t won ##it in the NBA ! He was never that good a coach to begin with ! New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni yells at a referee in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Houston. The Rockets won 97-84 . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ………

(5) Houston Rockets’ Chase Budinger (10) tries to block a shot from New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin (17) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Houston. The Rockets won 97-84 . AP Photo/Pat Sullivan ….

(6) New York Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire (1) and Houston Rockets’ Courtney Lee, right, fight for the ball in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in Houston. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan …….

(7) San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) closes his eyes and listens to coach Gregg Popovich during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. The Mavericks won 101-100 in overtime . AP Photo/LM Otero ………

(8) San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) looks to shoot against Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. The Mavericks won 101-100 in overtime. AP Photo/LM Otero ……..

(9) San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles past Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter (25) as Spurs center Tim Duncan watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. AP Photo/LM Otero …..
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Young Jeezy …. feat’g ……. Jay-z … & …. Andre` 3000 …….. ” I Do , I Do , I Do “

Oh The Tom Foolery ………..

Oh The Tom Foolery ……..

In the aftermath of the All Star Game and the shambles that we all witnessed was in essence a clear indication that the league hierarchy couldn’t sell donuts to a room filled with cops , much less have the fans wanting for more. Much of the idiocy stems from the mere fact that the team owners and hierarchy are bereft of creativity and ideas . Can we have a show of common sense from anyone within the game for merely a brief minute ? I was once told by a patron that my ideas as it relates to talking about sports economics were way off base. But herein lies the fact this individual’s idea is to opine about the young players and that the teams are building for the future and they will somehow garner success .. He simply works on supposition, rather than the realities in the midst of the game at present . It may well work within his own mind but in the real world that’s simply not the case .

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There have been a number of suggestions to try and make the game more appealing to the fans , many of which are plausible but on the whole they would not necessarily cure what ails the game . Realignment of the divisions is simply placing a Band Aid on an open festering wound which in the end will do more harm than good . Not that I am not partial to a great deal of blood but that scenario simply creates false hope when there is none ! The one issue that the league hierarchy and owners refuse to get themselves involved in is that of the financial imbalances as it relates to the teams and the mere fact that they are unwilling to adopt a hard salary cap . They would rather simply continue to shoot themselves in the foot until they either end up crippled or paralyzed . And as we can see this is now being borne out by the ever growing problems for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets .

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New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

New York Yankees’ out-fielder Curtis Granderson in a candid interview with the Ft Worth Star -Telegram stated that when he now looks up into the stands he finds it a rarity to see an African American face in attendance . The player then went on to suggest that with a dwindling of ethnic players from his own race leads him to believe that the league hierarchy is doing a poor job of luring the fans to the game . And that is in spite of baseball’s RBI (Reviving Baseball In The Inner Cities) initiative in the inner cities across the country . I wonder how that is actually working out , given the expense and working in conjunction with a number of organizations as well as various school systems ? According to the league hierarchy there are over 200,000 participants across the country involved in this (RBI) all but it is difficult to decipher what the findings have led to at the professional level. From my perspective this is simply another one of Bud Selig’s warped ideas that is akin to throwing up fecal matter against the wall and then going with what sticks ! The commissioner hasn’t had an insightful or succinct idea in two decades but if anything should their be an act of flatulence on his part you can’t be sure whether or not he’ll sneeze or his head might explode .

Courtesy of USA Today

Curtis Granderson: Where are all the black fans?

By Seth Livingstone USA Today

New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson isn’t telling Major League Baseball anything it doesn’t already know.

Baseball appears to lack appeal and access to some blacks , whether they are participants or fans. And Granderson wasn’t necessarily trying to stir the pot when he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Count the number of African-American fans.”

On a recent trip to Texas, Granderson said it was difficult to push the count to double digits.

“At first, it starts off as a joke (with teammates),” Granderson said. “As the game moves on, you’ll get to 10, or maybe 15. Depends on where you are, too. Places like Chicago or New York, other places it’s easy. (In Texas), it’s hard. So after a while it becomes, ‘Told you so.

As it was reported in April , the percentage of black players dropped to 8.5% on opening day this year, down from 10% at the start of last season and its lowest level since 2007, according to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. More than 80% of NBA players are African-American and the percentage of black players in the NFL is more than 60%.

Possible reasons appear myriad for baseball’s drop in black players. The Star-Telegram cites costs for equipment and league participation as possible reasons for baseball’s lack of appeal, to say nothing of admission prices.

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I’ve long held the contention that Branch Rickey’s social experiment to integrate the game by bringing Jackie Robinson and making him the first minority to play in MLB was simply done for business reasons and little else . Integrating the game was one thing but given the fact that those attending the games were separated along racial lines while at the same time the US military itself still had yet to be fully integrated shows that not only had the game along way to go socially but also the country as well . Robinson as a player was not only open to a torrent of racial abuse but also threats upon his life by racially intolerant fans as well as many of his fellow players and from the owners within the game .

Now I would like to think that the game of baseball has made enormous strides and it has in a number of areas but the game has yet to have an African American owner in the modern era . Though it can claim that it has had a select number of managers and executives holding the position of general manager of a ball-club. The game has yet to have an African American owner and at the highest level of the game where ownership of a team would be a sign of a real break through this has yet to happen. Baseball has a number of acute issues that it needs to address , their RBI initiative being one of them but I certainly don’t believe that Bud Selig is the man to be leading that charge ! What he lacks in outright candor he more than makes up for that with his asinine edicts and complete lack of intelligence ! That asides the team owners simply love the fact that his lips are placed so firmly on their sphincters as and when needed . At the same time Michael Weiner who succeeded Donald Fehr as the executive director of the MLBPA has shown little to suggest that his tenure will be any different from that of his predecessor . Suffice to say that the game of baseball is now being ran by a group of individuals who are akin to headless chickens running around in a chicken coop waiting to die as they bleed to death profusely.

Did I miss something ? The NBA hierarchy has seen fit to publicly release the 2011-12 NBA schedule while they are involved in the midst of what they claim to be a labor dispute . Last I looked this was simply about money and who was actually garnering the bigger slice of a multi billion dollar piece of the pie ! The NBPA guided by executive director Billy Hunter and their President Derek Fisher have all but said that they are not prepared to concede to any request or requests from the league unless they are prepared to make concessions themselves . This dispute has all the making of being a bitter contentious battle from which no side will come out of it unscathed . The union’s executive committee have kept their members abreast of the ongoing deliberations much of it behind closed doors with the press and public not really being informed of the meetings . But as usual we can rely on ESPN to inform us of the latest by their usual group of insiders.

David Stern may well have bitten off more than he can chew in seeking to institute a stoppage and no doubt his ego has taken a beating . The team owners may well be sticking behind him at this juncture but sooner or later the likes of Mikhail Prokhorov , Jerry Buss , Peter Holt , Mark Cuban and James Dolan will decide to voice their opinions as to the impasse between the two sides .

The NBA hierarchy and owners have been a law unto themselves showing their gullibility , naivete but above all sheer idiocy in thinking that they could spend money at will while seeing their revenues decline . The soft salary cap instituted by the league of $ 57 million but several teams have exceeded that figure as they chased winning an NBA title . The two finalists from this past season’s Finals between them had a combined salary exceeding $125 million , hardly a figure that David Stern would actually care to discuss .

I find it somewhat ironic while the teams are pleading poverty they’re spending money as if there’s no tomorrow . Leading the charge are the idiot general managers of the game who’ll do just about anything including selling their first born if it guarantees success . Perhaps a clear indication of such inanity were the trades made by the Orlando Magic and their GM Otis Smith as they sought a championship. One only has to look at the team’s roster and their salary implications to see that Smith simply encumbered the organization with so much dead weight that it was laughable to watch the team play .

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Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

For Bob Vanderweide the COO & President of the Orlando Magic and the other senior executives this will be a trying time for the club. Not only do they have to deal with the financial implications of the team commitment in salaries but there’s also the growing belief that Dwight Howard may well seek to opt out of the final year of his contract and seek to ply his trade elsewhere . There’s no denying that a player of Howard’s caliber would be the envy of the teams around the league willing to acquire the player. But what would the Magic be seeking in return for the player if a deal were to be made ? Given the stakes as they stand and what this could very well mean for the organization it is hard to see anything advantageous for the team coming out of such a transaction ! Dwight Howard may well now feel that the Orlando Magic are not capable of winning a championship and the best opportunity for him as a player lays with another team. That team could very well be the Los Angeles Lakers if the rumors circulating are to be believed .

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mitch Kupchak , Jim Buss and Jerry Buss would pull the trigger on such a deal to land Dwight Howard and then for all essence and purpose the Lakers would have their own equivalent of the Miami Heat’s “Big Three” of Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade . The Lakers’ answer would be the teaming of Howard to play alongside Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant . And I’m sure for newly installed coach Mike Brown this would give him the added assurance that the teaming of the three along with the other players on the roster would be of benefit to the organization and fans . Whether or not such a scenario arises remains to be seen but there’s no denying that this would be an enticing situation for all of the parties involved should it start to foment within each of the front offices in question.

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NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

As to David Stern’s own ego , it may well be plausible to make next season’s schedule public as a means of showing the fans the NBA ……. is still business as usual . But at present there is nothing at all to suggest that the league and the players are any closer to reaching a compromise much less the fact they are ready to actually get back to the courts . For a number of player who have sought to ply their trade overseas until the lockout ends they get the chance to hone their skills and take in some culture while pocketing a sizable amount in compensation. For others at the lower rungs of the food chain that are not so lucky there’s isn’t a great deal that they can do other than to sit , wait to be notified as to what is going on by their player representatives from the NBPA. Chances are that they too after a while will become fed up of the situation and voice their concerns but I’m guessing that’s a long way off if they now view the situation where they have both and Stern and the owners by the balls !

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

As to the points raised within this piece do you feel that Curtis Granderson’s claims are to an extent valid ? And what recommendations would you make in order to lure not just more minorities to take an interest in the game but also to make baseball more appealing for the fans ? And where do you see the NBA now going from here in terms of the ongoing dispute ? Please leave a comment as you would deem fit and thanks for the continued support !

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

Contact ……… rapptu@ gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) A fan holds up a sign during the ninth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 20, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Rangers 9-8 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ….

(2) Ryan Braun (8) of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates in the dugout before umpires review instant reply on a possible home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 20, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The ball was called foul and the home run was taken back. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-2 in 10 innings . Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images …

(3) New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson (14) is helped to first base by manager Joe Girardi after being hit by a pitch form Tampa Bay Rays’ David Price ) during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Yankees won 4-0 . AP Photo / Joe Blanco …

(4) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 20: Outfielder Curtis Granderson (14) of the New York Yankees scores on a first-inning home run against the Tampa Bay Rays July 20, 2011 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images ….

(5) Branch Rickey (left) seen here with Jackie Robinson holding the plaque denoting his official enshrinement into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Also pictured is Robinson’s wife Rachel . Courtesy of White Archives …

(6) Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sits after the Magic’s 84-81 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, Thursday, April 28, 2011, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Amis ….

(7) NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, pictured with Deputy Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Adam Silver , said in a news conference Thursday that the league is seeking to cut payroll and benefits for players by about a third. AP Photo/ Phil Reed …

(8) From left to right Orlando Magic executives Alex Martins , Bob Vanderweide and Otis Grant take questions from the convened press at the team’s headquarters the Amway Center in downtown Orlando , Florida . Orlando Sentinel/ Michael Halloran ….

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Make It So ………………

Make It So …………..

In the aftermath of the Orlando Magic’s postseason foray the organization now faces a difficult task in trying to retain their All Star center Dwight Howard . The three time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has categorically stated that he wishes to become a free agent at the end of the 2011-12 season . With that in mind , the GM Otis Smith and President /CEO Bob Vander Weide will have to do their utmost in assuring Howard that they will do their best to improve the roster . Inasmuch as the player has what seems to be a very good relationship with his coach Stan Van Gundy and the coach’s assistants I can’t help but feel that the relationship and the coach’s tenure has ran its course .

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Smith’s moves during the free agency period prove to be done more out of urgency rather than necessity . And in doing he saddled the organization with a number of burdensome contracts that were on the verge of expiring or that could well be bought out further leaving a somewhat financially strapped organization once again looking for a monetary handout from the NBA hierarchy . Encumbered with this mess , it is understandable why the player might well feel aggrieved knowing that while the team may well have finished with the fourth best record (52-30) in the Easter Conference it simply didn’t equate to much in the team’s postseason play and expectations. There was little to suggest that the acquisition of Jason Richardson , Quentin Richardson , Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu added much to the team . It was felt somehow that the Magic needed that offensive tenacity about them but in doing so they gave up something of a far more balanced team , for a team that in terms of defense was lacking and the overall cohesiveness was completely missing.

I’ve long felt that Stan Van Gundy while being a good regular season coach simply cannot get the best out of his players during the postseason. He becomes to animated , clearly can’t communicate with his players whereby he gets across his points succinctly . But what might be even more telling, is that as a coach I for one do not believe he truly knows how to assess talent at the college level and that’s even with the assistants at his disposal. If you’re trying to tell me that the likes of JJ Redick and Jameer Nelson are to be the future of this team along with Dwight Howard I would tell you this organization simply hasn’t a chance in hell of winning an NBA title !

The history of this franchise is well known and chronicled to such an extent that it’s great achievements are the two appearances made in the NBA Finals of of 1995 and 2009 . Both of which ended up being rather lopsided series’ losses for the Orlando Magic . And it would appear that if the organization is ambitious to make another appearance in the NBA’s showcase event then Otis Smith and Bob Vander Weide will seriously have to look at making a major overhaul of this roster. Unfortunately , through being too capricious and encumbering the team with a saddled beast in terms of salaried commitments totalling almost $75 million for the 2011-12 season it’s hard to see how the two executives will address this matter . Buyouts notwithstanding , the organization would still have to address the issues of trades and the NBA Draft . And if as to be expected Howard is unwilling to sign a two year contract extension then the organization will most certainly have to look to trade their All Star center.

And in the upcoming draft the situation for the Orlando Magic hasn’t been made any easier given the fact that the team does not have a pick in the first rounds . It is not until the second round and the 23rd pick (number 53 overall) that the Magic will have the benefit of making their first choice in the 2011 NBA Draft. And given that there isn’t a dearth of marquee talent in this draft beyond the first 10 to 15 picks that t I do believe that the organization will actually struggle to replenish the roster with the prerequisite requirements thought to be needed by the Orlando Magic .

With the Magic now housed in their new multi million state of the art venue the Amway Center housed in downtown Orlando at the taxpayers’ expense ___- to say that the organization isn’t now chasing after the proverbial pot of gold in terms of competitive success, contending for an NBA title is of the utmost desire for team owner Rich De Vos and his fellow executives . Coming off a 2010 —- season where success was short of expectations and once again where the team is expected post a loss for the fiscal year it has to be said the impending loss of Dwight Howard could be a forebearer of impending doom and gloom for the team and its fans. In 2009 the Orlando Magic and fifteen other NBA franchises were the recipients of $ 450 million by way of the league hierarchy secured in loans from various financial institutions. NBA Commissioner David Stern said at the time …… ” that these loans shouldn’t be viewed as a bailout of the teams in question but merely as a way of bolstering their financial security “. The very same edict and feat was repeated again this past season with a further $ 300 million again loaned to teams and it now begs the question if these franchises are said to have acute financial problems then what does that say about the league hierarchy itself ? Financial woes notwithstanding , I firmly believe that even with the ongoing issues at hand between the NBA and NBPA concerning the existing collective bargaining agreement (due to expire 30th June) it is quite obvious that the plight of the Orlando Magic will almost certainly be one where a prudent choice may well be the right decision that could end up being determining how the negotiations between the two parties are resolved and where Dwight Howard’s future will ultimately lay.

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter and union President Derek Fisher know full well with the 53/47 split in terms of the league revenues totaling approximately $4.5 billion there has to be an accord reached between the league and the union. With the two sides meandering towards some type of agreement but no real sign that there’s a compromise it leaves the sports fan if we are about to see the same sort of stupidity shown by the NFL , NFLPA and the team owners . And at this moment in time that scenario looks as if it could also raise its head amongst the NBA team owners , league hierarchy and union .

The consequences of Dwight Howard possibly leaving the Magic from a competitive and financial standpoint would be a disaster in numerous ways . Having lost Shaquille O’Neal due to a lack of ambition on the part of the organization and quite possibly due to the fact that O’Neal felt that he was a minnow in a small pond . As we know the recently retired player went on to great success with the Los Angeles Lakers and thereon after. GM John Gabriel who has since left the organization and coach Brian Hill had a measured amount of success with the Magic but in the aftermath of it all that success has been fleeting with the organization . Upheavals within the front office and through the coaching carousel that tends to happen with such instances the turnaround started with the drafting of Dwight Howard and not long after the installation of Smith as general manager and acquiring at the time what the a group of players who would complement the player’s skill-set.

The decisions that are made within an organization can shape that entity either immediately or over the course of its future . This will be one decision that either way could have a long and lasting effect on what direction that this basketball franchise could very well be heading in . It remains to be seen what decision will be made by the Dwight Howard and whether or not he will be persuaded to stay with the team . The persuasiveness of Bob Vander Weide and Otis Smith has to be pronounced and with intent if they are to have any chance of proving to the player that they are capable of being prominent and perennial contenders within the NBA .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As an NBA fan do you feel that it would be in the best interest of Dwight Howard to remain with the Orlando Magic or simply leave the organization as a free agent or would it be in the Magic’s best interest to seek a sign and trade deal for the player ? Your comments if any as you deem fit .

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 28: Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic reacts after a missed basket during game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …….

(2) A message for and to Dwight ? A fan holds up a neon green sign with the words “Kryptonite” written on it during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(3) Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic reacts after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(4) Gilbert Arenas (1) of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against Josh Smith (5) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …..

(5) Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy (C) yells at referees to play the game as forward Hedo Turkoglu (R) and CEO of the Magic Bob Vander Weide (L) look on as their team plays the Atlanta Hawks during second half of Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff basket ball game in Orlando, Florida April 19, 2011.The Magic beat the Hawks 88 – 82 . REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski …..(UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

(6) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith (right) received 3-year contract extensions from the NBA franchise. They are talking about it with the Orlando Media . courtesy of Orlando Sentinel ………

NBA commissioner David Stern, left, chats with Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round of the NBA basketball playoff series between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Stern announced earlier Tuesday that the 2012 All-Star Game will be held in Orlando. AP Photo/John Raoux ……..

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NBA News

Orlando Magic news

Orlando Magic history

Orlando Magic front office

Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith

Stan Van Gundy coach

Orlando Magic team roster

Orlando Magic team stats

NBA Team Payrolls 2010-11

NBA Player salaries for 2010-11

Orlando Magic payroll for 2010-11 season and their future salary commitments

NB: NBA salary cap is $57.75 million for the 2010-11 season

The Determining Factor ……………………..

The Determining Factor

It’s crazy but with the end of the NFL Draft and we already have the analysts and draft geeks assessing which team actually had the best draft class from this most recent endeavor . Now don’t get me wrong but the draft has its merits but in reality until those players actually have played down in a regular season game within the NFL we will never truly know what these players are or will be actually capable of. Can’t miss players are merely speculation and conjecture . And now where a first round draft pick especially one that is picked in the upper echelons of the first round, the financial cost and commitment for a player to a team can be well into tens of millions of dollars over the course of an initial contract. Do you think that the Oakland Raiders regret making that initial $ 65 million commitment to JaMarcus Russell right about now ? One simply has to look to their front office of the Raiders to see the cause of their demise . To put it more succinctly Al Davis no longer knows how to assess talent in spite of the continued idiocy that’s misplaced by an overbearing oaf such as radio personality and employee of the organization the nationally syndicated sports talk radio host J T The Brick . Here’s a guy who when it comes to showing any form of impartiality to an issue concerning the Raiders , well let’s just say he’d make a Klan member feel proud !

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Slide show for your perusal .

In reality success has been fleeting for the Raiders over the last decade and half and that is in spite of the organization’s rich history within the NFL . But as with a number of teams and in particular with each generation of fans it’s not merely about those by gone years but what you have you done for me lately by way of success ? And to my mind the determining factor and in relation to the success that any organization wishes to attain be it within MLB , NBA , NBA , or the NFL itself .. It is predicated upon the front office of each organization ,from the ownership on down to the executives and coaching staff. Consider this , think of the most successful franchises within each of the four major sports and what has each got in common apart from winning ? It is the fact that each has had an owner who has remained consistent with what works for it as an entity . The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils within the NHL , the Pittsburgh Steelers , New York Yankees , the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have simply stuck to that tried and tested method of having sound fiscal policies , as well as competent coaches and executives within their respective organizations.

During the NBA Playoffs without a doubt the most disappointing display to my mind was that of the Orlando Magic and their lopsided 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks . Anyone who was witness to the sheer ineptitude of the Magic’s performances throughout this series would realize that without Dwight Howard this team simply isn’t worth a damn . What might be even more perplexing was the sheer idiocy and the belief shown by GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy that the mid-season trades made would in fact improve the team . If anything the team simply became even more inconsistent , lackluster and completely devoid of creativity on either end of the floor . Not only that but they were simply those who labored under the fact Dwight Howard because of his stats made a viable MVP candidate while his teammates simply were mediocre .

Anyone who actually has an ounce of common sense would know from the very fact that the vast majority of the winners of the league’s regular season trophy to the individual recipient has in fact made those around him considerably better as their respective teams statistically have shown signs progress during that season. Case in point , was this season’s runaway winner of the league MVP trophy , Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and the 21 game turnaround engineered by Tom Thibodeau from last season to this where the team became a 62 game winner and the top seed within the Eastern Conference never mind the fact that they’ve now made the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they face the Atlanta Hawks who as I explained earlier dethroned the Magic with effortless ease.

The Orlando Magic and its front office in conjunction with Otis Smith I feel were capricious. Smith and Bob Vander Weide team President & CEO made a gamble that simply didn’t pay off . Not only that but in acquiring Jason Richardson , Hedo Turoglu and Gilbert Arenas the organization is financially on the hook for $65 million in salary for the players in question over the remaining years of those contracts. Call me naive but the productivity by the players during the regular season as well as the postseason has been minuscule and not deserving of the Magic’s fans undoubted expectations. And with this loss the Magic and its management have a great deal of contemplating to do as it regards the moves that need to be made in order to make this team better. Dwight Howard whose contract expires at the end of 2012 can actually opt out of the contract prior to its culmination rather than seeking to start the whole negotiation process. Clearly Van Gundy and Otis Smith will have to be very persuasive in convincing Howard that he ought to remain with the organization. And at this juncture that scenario isn’t as clear cut as some would believe or would like it to be.

In baseball we have all seen the idiocy of the team owners there and their ostentatious spending. Is it any wonder Los Angeles Dodgers and in particular the New York Mets are in a mess financially with regard to their own existence and financial viability ? Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt seems to be under the misapprehension that he will be successful regaining control of the team he bought in 2003 from the local > News Corp through their wholly owned Fox Inc subsidiary. Since then, even though the team has averaged 3 million attendees per season the organization has struggled to remain financially a viable concern . Now with collateralized and none- subordinated debt in excess of $ 1.2 billion McCourt feels that the team and organization still remains a viable concern. He must feel that the his creditors will continue remain lukewarm to his overtures should they feel that he’s having problems paying down that debt. In this sort of economic climate there tends not to that type willingness from many of the nation’s major financiers and their respective institutions. And even with the league hierarchy having assumed control of the Dodgers I would like to think that Bud Selig is closely monitoring the situation as it now unfolds with Mets , in particular with co-owners —- Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon !

Success for both the Dodgers and Mets seems to have been fleeting over the past decade and it remains to be seen whether or not their aspirations remains the same and that is to win a World Series title . And as ambitious as those front offices appears to be it seems that they have lost sight of their ultimate goal . Much of that malaise has to be laid squarely upon the shoulders of McCourt and his executives within the organization . Ned Colletti may well be enjoying the prestige of running the personnel side of the organization but he too like McCourt may well have lost site of the organization’s goals. It certainly most telling that when questioned by the press as to who now controls the Dodgers and its day to day running Colletti’s response was one that seems to be an individual who just doesn’t care either way . If that is indicative of how this organization is being ran then it shows that they’re completing deserving of their fate.

The New York Mets face a civil suit that at present is being determined through a mediator appointed by the US Federal Courts and at the heart of it all appears to be whether or not the organization knowlingly gain financially from the monies received as profits from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme of which several thousands of investors were defrauded of $59 billion. Irving Picard the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in this suit has filed a motion seeking to recoup some $750 million from both Katz, Wilpon their Sterling Equities as well as the New York Mets. The lead defendants Katz and Wilpon deny any wrongdoing on their part but have stated that they are victims of the fraud perpetrated by Madoff and his associates. However , it has been the Mets unwillingness to open their books up for public scrutiny that casts a doubt upon the veracity of the argument now being put forth by the Mets as the defendants and in particular by Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon . A federal subpoena has a way of making the truth be known in the end and hopefully several of those will be put to use in the course of this case. And inasmuch the Mets once again are having a mediocre season one can’t help but feel that through the connivance and mismanagement from the executives and managerial level over the past few years that this organization is thoroughly deserving of its present predicament.

I’ve long maintained that the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns as teams within the NFL clearly have some way to go before they can be thought of as serious contenders within the league and as a legitimate team to win the Superbowl . Bengals’ owner Mike Brown and team coach Marvin Lewis are now having to deal with Carson Palmer’s petulant behavior and his wanting to be traded to a contender . If this is what is indicative of what was now being produced by USC as to quarterbacks from the Pete Carroll era then clearly there are some questions that really do need to be asked . I think that things are now likely to get a great deal murkier with the team’s drafting of Andy Dalton as the de-facto successor to Palmer as his reign is about to come to an abrupt end with the Bengals . From AFC North champions in 2009 to a team with a lackluster 6-10 record last season .

The Browns for their part have been in more of a tailspin having dumped Romeo Crennel and hired Eric Mangini only too see the team fail miserably under Mangini’s tenure . And given Mangini’s coaching record in the NFL I’ve got to ask myself what the hell was Mike Holmgren thinking as the team’s President ? Last season this team competed gallantly but in large part they faced an uphill battle trying to usurp the dominance of both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers within their division (AFC North ). Now with Pat Shurmur as the team’s head coach and there being a revamped assistant coaching staff it remains to be seen what this upcoming season may well have in store for the Browns. The team had a breakout star in Peyton Hillis and as always the dependable Josh Cribbs was at his very best and it would appear that team now has a quarterback in Colt McCoy who can actually commands the respect of his teammates.

In stark contrast to the teams that have been consistent and have attained success, much of that can be put down to the fact that apart from making the right personnel decisions . It has been the continuity not only from within their coaching regime but primarily through the fact that at the executive levels as with regards to the general manager that is in place , there has been little , if any , real turnover in that staff. It’s not always been about the coaches because that in essence comes down to the coach’s resume’ and his ability to communicate with the players and if anything above all with his general manager. Simply look at the success attained by the Steelers and New England Patriots over the years and the one constant there has been the ownership , the fact that the general managers there have been tenured with those respective organizations for a number of years and the actual willingness of the owner to defer to subordinates within the organization. And even though Scott Pioli has since left the Patriots to assume a similar position with the Kansas City Chiefs we’ve seen that even there also once Pioli was allowed to show his acumen in assessing talent the team has progressed showing a marked display last season in winning the AFC West (10-6) and making the playoffs where they would succumb to the Baltimore Ravens —- 30-7 in the wildcard round. And for head coach Todd Haley and his coaching staff though the loss had been been a tremendous disappointment , it also points to the fact that the organization has to be now heading in the right direction after so many barren years in the wilderness .

The Patriots for their part having seen their postseason woes continue with their lackluster performance in losing to their divisional rivals the New York Jets —- 28-21 in a game that pretty much summed up the team’s season. In light of that however they’ve gone about things in their usual business like manner garnering picks for future drafts and at the same time picking up the usual talent they’ve been accustomed to down the years . Much of that by design as Bill Belichick has worked in conjunction with Floyd Reese the team’s senior consultant charged with the task of dealing with personnel matters for the team.

We may well feel that in large part that success is actually achieved on the field of play because of the performances of the players. But it does essentially start with the eager willingness of the owners and their front office executives actually having the right staff in place being able assess the talent that is there to be had and as necessary spend prudently in order to get the best possible player available . How often have we seen a situation where in fact a team that simply looks good on paper just tends to implode because of the undue pressure and the very fact that the coach simply hasn’t done their job adequately ? At times we can blame the players for their lackluster performances but doesn’t that also have something to do with the coach not being able to get his point across as to what needs to be done at a given moment ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

In coming to this conclusion I do firmly believe that any professional sports organization has to have all integral parts on the same page working in cohesion . If that isn’t evident within an organization then by the very evidence we tend to see the vast majority of the time that team does tend fail in its endeavors. We’ve seen it this postseason within the NBA , NHL , also within the NFL and MLB as well . What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? And as such do you feel that I may well have missed some pertinent factor that should have been included ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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 / Justin Sullivan ……

(2) JaMarcus Russell (2) of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California. Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images ……

(3) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic questions a call by the official during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia . Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox …..

(4) In this photo taken on April 14, 2010, from left, Orlando Magic president and chief executive officer Bob Vander Weide, chief operating officer Alex Martins and general manager Otis Smith chat prior to an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando, Fla. Smith, by his own admission, is a risk-taker. He’s the general manager who traded three starters from an NBA finals team, moves that either will show Smith’s brilliance or become a symbol of a gamble gone wrong for the Magic in the playoffs. AP Photo/John Raoux …….

(5) Andre Ethier (16) of the Los Angeles Dodgers swings and loses his bat in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium on May 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Cubs defeated the Dodgers 4-1 . Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……

(6) Dodgers’ GM Ned Colletti (left) and the team’s owner Frank McCourt . This was Colletti’s formal introduction to the public as the team’s new GM in November 2005. Icon SMI/ Larry Goren ……. ……..

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

(8) Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren watches from the back of the room as first-round draft pick Phillip Taylor holds a news conference at the NFL football team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Mark Duncan ……

(9) Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert, right, presents a jersey to first round-draft pick Phillip Taylor during an NFL football news confernce at the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio Friday, April 29, 2011. The Browns took the Baylor defensive tackle with the 21st overall pick Thursday night. AP Photo/Mark Duncan …….

(10) FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2009, file photo : Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, left, talks with general manager Scott Pioli before a news conference announcing Haley’s hiring in Kansas City, Mo. Pioli and Haley are deservedly drawing praise for taking the Chiefs from 10 wins in three years to 10 wins in 16 weeks. But they don’t deny they were blessed with a core of solidly talented young players when they got to Kansas City after a 2-14 2008 season. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……

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MLB News

MLB Scoreboard

Results & scores 3rd May 2011

NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NFL News

NHL News

MLB Team owners

MLB Team General Managers

MLB team managers

NBA team owners

NBA general managers

NBA coaches

NFL team owners

NFL coaches

NFL general managers

NHL team owners

NHL team general managers

NHL team head coaches

Now What ?

Now What ?

Well the NFL Draft began and over the course of three days Radio City Music Hall , New York City well become the epicenter of the NFL world . Never mind the fact that although Judge Susan Richard Nelson has sided with the players over their challenge of the league’s mandated lockout the nation’s top collegiate players will be front and center as the teams and their front office executives and coaches will assuage and assess their merits .

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Slide show for your perusal .

No real surprise as Cam Newton was taken number one overall by the Carolina Panthers having been the league’s worse team record wise last season. The draft itself as it continues and until its culmination on Saturday will provide the fans with a great many surprises and no doubt a great deal of disappointment as to the choices that’ll no doubt be made by the various teams. As a discerning fan I for one am not overly interested in the process , as from my own perspective until that first snap and first down is made on an NFL field during a regular season game we’re totally unsure what to expect from the rookies stepping up to the professional ranks . Suffice to say , that the likes of Newton , Von Miller , Marcell Dareus , A J Green , Patrick Peterson and Julio Jones are now set for life financially having been taken as the first six players in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.

That being said I expect a number trades to take place too as some teams may well look to off-load a prospective free agent in order to move up in the draft order in order to obtain a player that meets their needs. Given the still unclear picture of the league landscape and the very fact that though a 2011 schedule has been made public the fans are still unclear as to what awaits them in terms of there actually be a regular NFL season. The owners have still vowed to fight on in spite of Nelson’s verdict and her denying them a right of appeal at the Appellate Division . So the only recourse for the league and owners would be to challenge that decision in the Supreme Court , with that challenge being heard by the Justices there . And the likelihood that Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues supersede or overturn that decision seems highly unlikely , unless the the league as the plaintiffs, can provide a clear and substantive proof that Nelson erred in rendering her original decision .

For now in terms of anything tangible all the NFL fan simply has at this moment in time is that draft and the parade of the players as chattel bound for a new owner. For the analysts and draft geeks I’m of no doubt that they’re well on their way to making prognostications as to who has done well in the first two rounds and who may well have made a profound miscalculation with their picks . Be that as it may , no one really knows for sure what is liable to happen with these players until that first whistle is blown and the season should there be one , gets underway. Then and only then , will we be able to gauge these players and how they’re likely to do.

I’m sorry, but now is not the time for excuses ,…………. especially when your team gets handed its own ass on the proverbial silver platter for all to see . Having watched in large part several of the games in the NBA playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic , I have come to the conclusion that the Magic have and become the softest team in the Eastern Conference merely not only from a mental standpoint but also from a physical one as well ! At no time throughout this series has the Orlando Magic actually played well much less with any degree of consistency . If anything their play has been erratic and if anything the hype over these players and in particular the aspirations of Dwight Howard being a viable league MVP candidate was simply hyperbole and not much else . Big players step up and lead , here’s been a clear cut case wherein Howard has simply bitched and complained as things haven’t gone his way and where the team’s animated coach Stan Van Gundy has simply proven that when it really matters most , in the face of real adversity he simply cannot instill anything into this team. I’ve heard it said that a league MVP simply means being the best player on the team , I think it goes way beyond that , as it means also showing leadership qualities and actually getting those around you to raise the level of their play. If anyone can point to the fact where Howard has shown any semblance of the latter during this series where a teammate has stepped up and followed his lead then someone please intervene and show me such an instance ?

This series essentially was over once the Hawks took to taking the Magic and exposing all of their flaws bare for all to see . A one dimensional team that lacked creativity and imagination. The likes of Gilbert Arenas , Jason Richardson and Quentin Richardson have literally been stealing money from the Orlando Magic and undeniably it has been Van Gundy , the front office executives and GM Otis Smith who have been culpable in creating this unmitigated mess with the Orlando Magic in its present guise . There has been no cohesion on this roster as it has simply been assembled as a group of mismatched pieces . The trades that took place that gave berth to the roster must’ve been thought up as a quip at first because in terms of offensive presence what had been hoped simply didn’t materialize and in terms of defensive voracity it wasn’t on display by the Magic as Jamal Crawford , Josh Smith , Al Horford and the sighting of Joe Johnson made the Magic seem all the more irrelevant during the series . Hard to believe that Magic were actually the number four seeds in the Eastern Conference but that’s what one tends to get suckered into if you simply take a record at face value rather than looking over the entire body of work and what’s brought to the table in terms of anything tangible .

Game six and that result (84-81) was an emphatic statement as to which team was simply deserving of this series . Having lost the series (4-2) the Magic , the coaching staff and team will have to reassess where , why and how things all went so badly wrong . This much is certain the Orlando Magic in its present guise I firmly believe will be completely new entity for the start of the 2011-12 season . I certainly don’t believe that Smith , Van Gundy and in particular team owner Rich DeVos , President & CEO Bob Vander Weide and the other senior executives of the Magic can be entirely happy with the outcome of this seris from a competitive or financial standpoint. Especially in light of franchise’s ongoing difficulties , albeit, that they’re now esconced in their new facility the Amway Center in downtown Orlando . The NBA and in particular in order to remain viable not just from a competitive standpoint also have to remain a viable one from a financial standpoint also . And that if anything has cast a shadow over the organization over the past several years . With NBA Commissioner David Stern and the league hierarchy projecting a fiscal loss of anywhere between $400 to $500 million you can well understand why it was imperative for the team to have had some semblance this postseason . Instead they’re now back to the drawing board looking to start over again with a plan in face hopefully with something that will lead to that ultimate goal of securing the club its first NBA title .

Given that in 2009 , the Orlando Magic were one of 18 teams around the NBA who were in receipt of a $175 million bailout courtesy of the league hierarchy by way of several financial institutions which the league itself has guaranteed . In 2010 the same exercise was again the norm with a further $300 million and it begs the question what’s going on with the NBA and in particular with its own financial template ? Anyone care to take a guess ?

I don’t know about you but as more information is divulged about Jim Tressel’s actions and the fact that he knew full well of several players’ improprieties , in their actions of selling memorabilia for financial gain. The more I ask myself , how is it that he still has a job at Ohio State ? Pardon me for saying this but how the fuck can the university condone these actions with a mere slap on the wrist by simply doing nothing more than asking Tressel to make a public apology and handing down a rather menial suspension ? The players involved in this subterfuge as such still have their athletic careers in tact but this simply gives further credence as to how corrupt collegiate athletics has become and the mere fact that the universities and the NCAA are powerless to stop any form of malfeasance that takes place . If Tressel can be allowed to remain on campus without there being real consequence for his actions , lying to senior faculty members and the press alike then it simply tells about this coach’s complete lack of integrity and character. And to think there are idiots about who still think of him as some type of role model ? Only a friggin’ idiot would be of that mindset I believe !

Dr E Gordon Gee the university’s president and Athletic Director Gene Smith have stated that they hope that episode can be put behind them and the school can proceed forward with its integrity still in tact . Well my answer to both Gee and Smith ….. ” had you had the balls to do what is morally right then perhaps your statements could be treated with a degree of realism “ . But given the fact that both have shown that they’d rather keep Tressel within their midst and with a tainted reputation simply emphasizes that within collegiate athletics ….. money simply trumps everything . There’s no denying that the football program brings in countless millions for the school but what that says about the school’s own image and the mere fact that they’d believe that Tressel’s less contrite apology makes up for his misdeeds shows and indicate how naive they actually are .

NCAA President Mark Emmert has stated that he’d like see a situation where student athletes would be able to receive some form of stipend while their collegiate athletic career is ongoing . But that’s something that I for one believe that the purists and many of the various athletic conferences might not be willing to part-take in . Not if it’s going to diminish what they’re receiving in terms of filling their monetary coffers . Imagine you have SEC Commissioner Mike Slive who’s now more concerned whether not the actions of Mark Shurtleff as Attorney General of Utah is stepping outside of his legal parameters ? Merely because Shurtleff wants to challenge the BCS’s antitrust exemption status and where he also feels that the BCS is an illegal monopoly in terms of its existence and how it conducts itself as a business entity. One could well understand Slive’s concerns , as he simply doesn’t want to see that gravy train dry up in any way .whatsoever . Not with there being countless millions at stake and pouring into coming into the major BCS conference coffers each year through various sports and business formats .

At some point there has to be some semblance brought into the midst as to how the NCAA deals with the misdeeds of not only the student athletes but also of the coaches who have been allowed in large have gone untouched for their actions . Simply look at what has taken place with Jim Calhoun , Bruce Pearl and Lane Kiffin recently and you can understand how pointless it as times to expect any sense of integrity coming from within collegiate athletics ! Integrity and greed simply doesn’t mix , much like oil and water is said not to . And that’s why nothing will ever change within the collegiate athletics landscape because in retrospect no one there actually wants it to change , the status quo has to remain the same . Integrity and honor be damned because that’s the least of the concerns of the schools , much less the NCAA itself .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do have on the topics raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you see fit .

Alan aka tophatal …………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

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(1)Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Cam Newton answers a question after being introduced during an NFL football news conference at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, April 29, 2011. AP Photo/Bob Leverone ………….

(2) Washington Redskins first-round draft pick Ryan Kerrigan addresses the media during an NFL football news conference at Redskins Park, Friday, April 29, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez ……

(3) Cam Newton receives a hug from his mother Jackie on stage after he was selected #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Mark Ingram, #28 overall pick by the New Orleans Saints, holds up a jersey on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ………

(5) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic reacts after a missed basket during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …..

(6) Dwight Howard(12) of the Orlando Magic reacts after a turnover to the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin Cox / Getty Images …….

(7) A fan hold up a neon green sign with the word “Kryptonite” written on it during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox ……….

(8) Gilbert Arenas (1) of the Orlando Magic drives to the basket against Josh Smith (5) and Al Horford (15) of the Atlanta Hawks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 28, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images/ Kevin C Cox ………

(9) NBA commissioner David Stern, left, chats with Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round of the NBA basketball playoff series between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Stern announced earlier Tuesday that the 2012 All-Star Game will be held in Orlando. Courtesy of Forbes Magazine & AP Photo /John Raoux ……

(10) E. Gordon Gee, left, Ohio State University president; football coach Jim Tressel, center; and athletic director Gene Smith take questions during a news conference Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State suspendedTressel for two games and fined him $250,000 for violating NCAA rules by failing to notify the school about information he received involving two players and questionable activities involving Buckeye memorabilia. Tressel also will receive a public reprimand and must make a public apology. AP Photo/Terry Gilliam ………..

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NBA News

NBA Playoffs 2011

NBA Games schedule

Friday 29th April 2011

Conference Semi Finals match-ups

Eastern Conference

Home team designated on the left

Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics

Western Conference

Los Angeles Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs/ Memphis Grizzlies vs Oklahoma City Thunder TBA

The series between the Spurs has yet to be decided with game six to be played tonight at the Fedex Forum in Memphis , Tennessee . . The Grizzlies at present have 3-2 lead in the best of seven game series .

NFL News

2011 NFL Draft

Draft by rounds : Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6


Round 7

NFL Draft 2010

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Wyclef Jean …….. feat’g ….. Mary J Blige ……………. “911”

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Playoffs ? What Playoffs ? The NBA Playoffs Dummy Get With The Program

Well this much is certain the NBA Playoffs have began to set about a number of surprises and then there have been the teams that you simply know have underachieved during the first round of the playoffs . The New York Knicks were summarily swept out of the first round with consummate ease by the Boston Celtics . And for those out there saying that the Knicks are a work in progress …….. here’s my retort for you the gestation period for a female pachyderm is a work in progress the New York Knicks are unadulterated friggin’ mess ! How this team was assembled by Mike D’Antoni and GM Donnie Walsh gives me every reason to believe that this organization now, is no better off than when former team President and GM Isiah Thomas was running the show the whole god-damn show ! And God knows, we all know how fu_cking bad that team was under Thomas’ tenure .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Throughout this series not once had this team chosen to even play a modicum of defense but yet somehow there were idiots out there joyous that the Knicks had actually made the playoffs because in their eyes it made the club relevant once again . I’m sorry but the Knicks were about as relevant within the NBA as I’d consider Muammar Ghadaffi to be a beacon of light to democracy within the Middle East and on the African continent ! Unfortunately for all of the talk of Amar’e Stoudemire being paired together with Carmelo Anthony had the makings of a dynamic duo . Let’s say had Batman and Robin been homosexual crime fighters they’d still be far more intimidating than this duo have been throughout this series . Contributions asides when a team built primarily around offense and not a lick of defense is being played, how the hell is anyone of the belief that the Knicks were actually in with a chance of even winning this series ? At no time was I even convinced that the Knicks could win the series , much less make it a competitive one. Much of the team’s malaise can laid squarely on the shoulders of D’Antoni and Walsh. I hazard a guess that with Chauncey Billups having a series he’d rather forget , I can only surmise that his career is now in its twilight years . From a Finals MVP to a non-descript passenger on a derailed passenger train is very much how I’d assess the Knicks’ foray in this postseason along with the lackluster performances of Billups .

Speaking of a team that could very well be on the cusp of being humiliated in the playoffs are the Orlando Magic . Stan Van Gundy for all of animated demeanor and being so vocal is completely adrift with a team that is simply overwhelmed by its surroundings. The moves made by the Magic at the trade deadline were meant to improve the offensive productivity and creativity of this team . Who would’ve thought that the Atlanta Hawks would have the upper hand in this series with the Hawks not only taking a decisive a 3-1 lead but also Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson are actually outplaying the entire Magic front court by showing so much creativity and the tenacity to get the job done . The only player on the Magic roster who appears to be showing any proclivity in wanting to play with any aggression, happens to be the team’s All Star center Dwight Howard . Other than Howard there has been little contribution if any from anyone on this team.

Unfortunately the Magic are now on the hook financially for the contracts of Jason Richardson , Hedo Turkoglu , Gilbert Arenas and Quentin Richardson who collectively are owed a cumulative sum of $63 million over the next three years. I somehow get the feeling that GM Otis Smith and the front office executives within the Magic organization gambled heavily and that bet hasn’t worked ! In fact this whole maneuver has been an unmitigated disaster . If anyone was of the belief that this Magic team was remotely in with a chance of winning this series much less being taken as a serious contender for this season’s NBA title clearly hasn’t been watching this team play. Inconsistency has been their mantra and the very fact that they’ve been unable able to close out a game with any effectiveness during the regular season and then expect them to do the same in the postseason would suggest that they were in with a remote chance of actually winning this series . And clearly that hasn’t been the case as they’ve been continually outplayed and outcoached throughout the entirety of the series .

However what might be even more surprising is the mere fact that during last season’s playoffs the Orlando Magic actually swept the Hawks in a 4-0 series drubbing that is considered to be the most lopsided series’ victory that has been seen in the NBA in quite a while . Unfortunately game five to be played at the Amway Center in Orlando this Tuesday can be viewed as a series decider as the Magic are fighting for their very survival . A loss for the Magic and Larry Drew’s team makes their way into the Eastern Conference semi finals where they’ll meet the Chicago Bulls the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . That should be a which could very well prove to be thoroughly entertaining and at the same time somewhat suspenseful.

Another series which seems to be heading towards an unlikely outcome should things remain as they are . The San Antonio Spurs face a daunting task in trying to erase a 2-1 deficit against the Memphis Grizzlies . Coming into the series as the number one seed in the Western Conference . And the Spurs’ performances during this series if anything cannot be described as that of the best team in the conference or NBA record wise . It has been the Grizzlies led by Zach Randolph who have been playing like a team that on appearance has been playing like a number one seed . The Spurs have been playing below par and if anything they’ve been complacent in taking the Grizzlies far too lightly . Game four to be played tonight in Memphis will certainly let us know whether or not the Spurs are capable of erasing this deficit or whether or not the Memphis Grizzlies can push the number one seeds to the brink of elimination by winning what could very well be a very scintillating game .

San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff will most certainly have to prove that these series’ results are no mere fluke . But if anything credit has to be given to the Grizzlies who in essence have shown us that they’re quite capable of knocking off a top seed . It has been pretty incredible to see this Spurs’ team labor throughout this series . Tony Parker has been inconsistent and while Manu Ginobli has struggled with injuries the Spurs’ bench has contributed little if anything to this series overall. The veteran presence of Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess has made little difference as the Grizzlies have simply outran , out-thought and completely outplayed the San Antonio Spurs . Should they bow out of this series at this juncture it would be the earliest exit by the team in over five years.

As an ardent fan of the Spurs I must admit that I’ve been surprised by the lackluster effort that put forth by the team . If anything I expected a competitive series between the two teams . Excuses are the last thing I’m about to make for the Spurs should their be a monumental collapse because I do believe that teams that encounter adversity can learn something from it . And should it prove to be the case for the Spurs then hopefully Popovich and his coaching staff and in particular the Spurs’ players can learn something from this all.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

These series so far have been intriguing so far but there’s still a great deal to come . So if anything go ahead and enjoy what is left of the NBA postseason , so make of it what you will .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 24: (L-R) Amar’e Stoudemire(1) , Carmelo Anthony(7) and Shawne Williams (3) of the New York Knicks celebrate a play against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Celtics won 101-89 . Nick Laham / Getty Images …..

(2) Carmelo Anthony(notes) #7 of the New York Knicks gets set to receive an inbounds pass as director Spike Lee yells at referee Derrick Collins #11 against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nick Laham / Getty Images ……

(3) Paul Pierce(34) of the Boston Celtics looks to go up for a shot against Amar’e Stoudemire(1), Ronny Turiaf(14) and Landry Fields (6) of the New York Knicks in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City . Getty Images/ Nick Laham …..

(4) New York Knicks owner (C) Jim Dolan , General Manager Donnie Walsh and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni introduce new players Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups at a press conference at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America ……

(5) Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, left, defends San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis , Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey …….

(6) Not looking good at all . San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, left, and guard Tony Parker, right, of France, watch the final minutes of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies won 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP Photo/Lance Murphey ….

(7) Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic converses with his offense in the final minutes against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …….

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. NB Game four was won decisively by the Memphis Grizzlies 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the best of seven game series with a semi finals’ conference berth awaiting the winner .

I’m Not Buying ……….

I’m Not Buying ……….

It’s becoming rather idiotic to see what might be the meltdown of the Orlando Magic and the fact that All Star center Dwight Howard having received his eighteenth technical foul has to sit out a one game mandatory suspension without pay. All this coming from a player who’s meant to be the leader on this team ? Howard has shown his offensive and defensive capabilities but in terms of moral and real vocal leadership it just doesn’t seem to be there . And granted the Magic’s coach Stan Van Gundy has complained to the NBA —- hierarchy that the officials are gunning for Howard each times he steps unto the court . There may well be some veracity to that argument but Howard doesn’t do himself any justice with his candor and irrational behavior when he runs afoul of the officials and the officiating .

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In terms of support from Dwight Howard’s teammates this team is so inconsistent that it’s hard to make an argument as to why they can be viewed with any justification as a favorite for the NBA title much less being viewed as conference favorite . They’ve fallen somewhat down the standings in terms of a playoff berth and now sit behind conference leading Chicago Bulls , Boston Celtics and Miami Heat . And with the Heat and Celtics due to meet this weekend in what will be viewed as a series decider and who will ultimately gain the number two seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Orlando Magic’s season if anything has been uneven and in large part that has been down to the fact their inconsistency and the fact that they simply don’t close out games that they need to win. Whether or not that is the fault of Stan Van Gundy and his coaching staff I’ll let you be the judge of that ! With what appears to be a potential playoff match-up against the Atlanta Hawks another team to my mind that continually underachieves and how it is that Joe Johnson is continually viewed as a marquee player within the NBA is simply beyond me ! If it’s OK to steal money from an organization by simply offering them nothing in return then Johnson may well be the poster child for such a sentiment . Given the value of his current contract with the Hawks I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from as it relates to this argument. The Hawks’ front office may well have impressed with something about Johnson prior to the trade deadline as he was being courted by several teams around the league while he was an unrestricted free agent. Joe Johnson can play but as a leader he’s simply not the player I’d view as a franchise player , if anything I see him as rather the number two scorer for a franchise that it is need of offense . Beyond that there isn’t really much to Joe Johnson’s game.

If the Orlando Magic are to have at least a remote chance of going deep into the playoffs then Dwight Howard will have to really corral his aggressiveness and show that he can undoubtedly lead this team with a great deal of authority . And given the trades made by GM Otis Smith as sought by Van Gundy , as goes Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson then so will the fate of the team as they seek to return to the NBA Finals . Gilbert Arenas in spite of his waywardness while with the Washington Wizards you knew that he had the potential to give you 20 , 30 if not anywhere up 40 plus points in a game when he sets his mind to it . Now with the Magic he’s simply become something of a non-factor and if anything he’s got to improve his productivity along with that of Quentin Richardson and Brandon Bass will be needed to make the Magic more of an all round team and a constant threat.

The Eastern Conference in spite of its ‘star power’ what still resonates with me is that you still have teams that qualify for the postseason with sub .500 records and I’m suppose to think that the quality of play has been heightened by the addition of LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams who are viewed as elite players within the NBA ? Granted , within the conference the play is in large part predicated upon defense . And undoubtedly it has played a factor for many of the teams but in essence I feel that a team has to be well balanced in the aspect of its play. And that is also one of the primary reasons why I cannot see the New York Knicks going deep into the playoffs. No team coached by Mike DAntoni has ever been known for their defensive prowess and the Knicks aren’t about to become the first.

The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire by the Knicks at the behest of team owner James Dolan and GM Donnie Walsh had more to do with the fact that Madison Square Garden was on the way to becoming an elephants graveyard in terms of attendance for Knicks’ home games than it was a place to be seen by the paparazzi . What might be even more troubling is the fact that the Knicks are a moribund 11-15 since the trade acquisition of Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets . And granted the player has come in and showed his offensive prowess for the team but beyond that the Knicks have little to show for it all by way of anything tangible . What that says about the Knicks as an organization clearly will be translated by the success achieved by the team this postseason.

The NBA’s most valuable franchise needed to make a big splash merely to remain relevant within the NBA as a whole . And if anything it had to have been a welcoming sight for NBA Commissioner David Stern to see the organization cap off the move of acquiring both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire . What awaits the team this postseason remains to be seen but it has become clear for those with any knowledge of the game the New York Knicks had better be able to prove the naysayers wrong if they’re to have any real semblance of success rather than the perception that the trades alone instantly made them a great deal better and a major force and threat in the NBA this postseason and for the foreseeable future .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the overall chances of both the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks’ chances in the playoffs ? And what signs if any are you most looking forward once the postseason starts this postseason ? By all means leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matters raised here in these topics and as usual thanks 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) Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, argues a call with referee Bennett Salvatore in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …………….

(2) Charlotte Bobcats’ Kwame Brown (54) reacts after being charged with a technical foul after an altercation in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, center, and Magic’s Ryan Anderson , right, look on. AP Photo / Chuck Burton ………

(3) Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans, right, tries to defend as Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard shoots during first-half NBA basketball game action in Toronto on Sunday, April 3, 2011. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn ……………

(4) Orlando Magic’s Gilbert Arenas (1) shoots over Charlotte Bobcats’ D.J. Augustin (14) in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in overtime in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

(5) Orlando Magic’s Jameer Nelson, left, passes the ball around Charlotte Bobcats’ Dante Cunningham, right, in the second half of the Magic’s 111-102 win in overtime in an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 6, 2011. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …….

(6) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony pulls down a rebound during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93 . AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ………….

(7) New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire wears a boot on his foot as he looks on during a timeout in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ……

(8) New York Knicks’ Bill Walker, left, puts up a shot over New Jersey Nets’ Stephen Graham during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 8, 2011 in Newark, N.J. The Knicks won 116-93. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun …………..

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NBA News

NBA Schedule Sunday 10th April , 2011

NBA Conference Standings by Conference …….. Standings by division

Playoff Picture scenario before today’s scheduled games .

Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic history

Orlando Magic front office ….. General Manager Otis Smith

Orlando Magic roster

Team stats

Magic team splits

Orlando Magic 2010-11 schedule

Head coach Stan Van Gundy

Orlando Magic news

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New York Knicks

New York Knicks News

New York Knicks front office

New York Knicks’ roster

Team Stats

Team Splits

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Chris Brown ………….. ‘ Look At Me Now ‘ ……….. feat’g …. Lil’ Wayne & … Busta Rhymes

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He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good !

If you remember these particular sound bytes then you’ll know that the coaches in question simply were being animated and couldn’t hide their disappointment of the failure of their respective team’s performances. We have Dennis Green’s now infamous meltdown and rant …….” they are who we thought they were” ! It’s become legendary and will there for all too see in the annals of sport’s history. We also have former Indianapolis Colts’ coach Jim Mora’s ……….” playoffs ? What playoffs” ? And who can forget Herm Edwards’ ……..”you play the game to win” !

Former Arizona Cardinals’ coach Dennis Green’s now infamous meltdown after his team’s loss to the Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately , all of those anecdotes as they relate to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs may well be now falling on deaf ears. This coming from a team that swept its way through the first two rounds of these playoffs with effortless ease . Who knew what we’d now be seeing from this Stan Van Gundy coached team would be a worthless effort and more so out of complacency and the lack of a will to win ? While one cannot deny that Van Gundy has been thoroughly out-coached by his opposite number in Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics . It’s been made to look worse, given the fact that the Magic were presumed to be the prohibitive and outright favorites to take this series with some ease.

Jim Mora reminds us what the “playoffs” are allegedly meant to be about ?

With the Orlando Magic down 0-2 to a Celtics’ team that’s playing with a renewed vigor and being commandingly led by point guard Rajon Rondo who may just be the best player in the 2010 NBA Playoffs based on his performances throughout the entire NBA postseason so far. Last night at the Amway Arena in Orlando , we saw the difference between two teams that are about as close in ability as one could envisage. But based on the effort being put forth they are about as far apart as the city of Los Angeles is from Cape Town, South Africa. And that’s a distance of approximately 9,974 miles. Could the distance between the two teams be any farther apart than that ? Let’s just say that while one team appears to be heading in one direction to an NBA Finals’ appearance while the other may well be on its way back home unable to fully understand what went wrong and why it all went wrong.

Hem Edwards let’s us know that you play the game to win. Unfortunately Herm’s record ___ (139 games__ 57 wins , 87 losses) as an NFL coach , simply doesn’t bear this out.

The game two loss by the Magic to the Celtics 95-92 now places the Eastern Conference second seed in an unenviable position. Having lost home-court advantage they now have to go the Celtics’ home court at the TD Banknorth Garden Center , Boston looking to at least win two of three to keep themselves in contention for the remainder of this series. And while the talk has been the match-up between the two opposing point guards. It’d be foolish to suggest that the Magic’s Jameer Nelson is anywhere near close to performing as effectively as Rajon Rondo . He’s yet to show it in this series and while he was center stage for the Magic’s earlier sweeps of the Charlotte Bobcats and Atlanta Hawks . Those two teams collectively put up about as spirited a performance as a wet sponge would’ve been about as much use on-board the Titanic .

The Orlando Magic lives and dies by shooting the threes and if their center Dwight Howard isn’t posting up then their offensive presence in essence becomes one dimensional ! And for Van Gundy and his coaching staff the tenets “adapt” and “evolve” don’t appear to be in their glossary when it comes to strategy. And one wonders why they’re being completely outplayed and annihilated in this series so far ? If Howard isn’t on top of his game then this Magic team has the tendency of wilting under pressure. It’s become the norm thus far as the Celtics have found ways to negate the presence of the Howard’s teammates such as Rashard Lewis , __ Vince Carter and Matt Barnes . Players whose contributions will be greatly needed if the team is to stand a chance of evening the series and perhaps win it outright. But in reality , this will be more about the collective effort of the team more than anything else and their capability in overcoming in adversity when it’s staring right back at them. Dwight Howard , however, will have to show that he’s the leader of this team rather than trying to live up to a rather asinine caricature of a superhero. If Howard thinks that he’s Superman then it’s become completely obvious to those watching ____ the Boston Celtics are a large dose of Kryptonite that’s not only negating Howard’s alleged powers but it is also making Magic look all the more ordinary as a team !

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Slide show gallery for your perusal. Use the arrowed indicator to move the
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At this juncture it’s hard envisioning the Magic overcoming this two game deficit ! At best this series is liable to go no more than six games at best. They’ve simply not shown enough resolve to even come within a hair’s breath of beating the Celtics in this series. Everything they’ve thrown at Doc Rivers’ teams they’ve been able to withstand and in return the Celtics have merely demoralized the spirit of the Orlando Magic , its fans and in large part those who thought the Celtics were past their “sell by date” . As the title of this piece would suggest ……………”He’s Got Game …………. The Magic Are Who We Thought They Were It’s Just That Now They’re Proving To Us That They’re Simply Just Not That Good” !

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As things now stand how do you as a fan see this series ending up ? And which teams do you feel that we’ll be seeing in the upcoming NBA Finals ? By all means chime on in with a comment and as usual thanks for the continued support ! I look forward to reading your responses and commenting in kind.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

Public Enemy ……………”He Got Game” If only Dwight had the game of Jesus Shuttlesworth ? Oh I forgot , Jesus is playin’ for the Celtics and he’s none other than Ray Allen . Well fancy that ?

* NB Allen co-starred in the Spike Lee directed movie He Got Game ___(1998) . The movie starred Denzel Washington in the lead role as Jake Shuttlesworth , who’s son Jessus is portrayed in the movie by the NBA star. Also co-starring in the movie are Milla Jovovich and Rosario Dawson .

Movie trailer for “He Got Game” .

The Fallout …………………

The Fallout

Well it’s happening the ramifications of not living up to expectations. It is to be expected in the highly volatile world of competitive professional sports. The NBA has seen its first casualty of the postseason as the Atlanta Hawks’ ___ Mike Woodson was informed that his services will no be longer be required as coach of the Eastern Conference __ team . A rather somewhat understated and lackluster performance in the playoffs was enough for the Hawks’ front office to come to a quick and conclusive decision.

With Woodson now out as coach of the Hawks this makes it four vacancies within the NBA. The Chicago Bulls , __ New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets now are in search of a coach. Now one might think that this might not have any bearing on the prospective free agency market. And with all the hype over LeBron James and his impending free agency decision. With at least five or six teams said to be in the mix for James’ service apart from his home state team . It has to be said that should James decide to leave the only club he’s played for professionally. It’s obvious that should he make the decision to leave then he could overnight become the most despised person in the state of Ohio. Well we know that former Browns’ owner Art Modell is about as liked within the state as Osama Bin-Laden is said to be liked by the US government and the rest of the Western hemisphere.

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Now there’s no denying that the whole NBA universe will be waiting with baited breath as to impending decision to be made by LeBron James. He can remain in Cleveland and re-sign with the team for the maximum contract possible. Or he could seek out pastures green and make his desired destination either to the East Coast or stay essentially within the mid-west. That asides Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and team GM Danny Ferry have a great deal to think about concerning James and building “a team” that would be complementary to his skills .

While it was clear that during the regular season the Cavaliers were a competitive team. It became increasingly clear that once the postseason was under way there were a great many flaws that came to the fore concerning this team. None of them more transparent than the fact that James failed to live up to those perceived expectations of grandeur. Only rare glimpses of brilliance did we actually see from James in his postseason performances. That being said it was far better than the contributions made by his teammates . And for Ferry this has to be frustrating to see a team that was assembled in mind towards winning an NBA title . The team’s abysmal performance in the Eastern Conference semi-finals loss (4-2 the Boston Celtics) indicated to us all that this squad was actually no nearer to an NBA title than Lindsay Lohan could be considered to be a legitimate contender or nominee for an Oscar . Would it be fair to say that the Cavaliers under achieved this season ?

Now with the conference finals now set to get under way with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Phoenix Suns and in the East we have the Boston Celtics taking on their conference rivals and perhaps most competitive adversary in the Orlando Magic . And it would be fair to say that the quartet of teams would have something to prove to not only their respective fans but also to the rest of the NBA. The Magic as the defending conference champions will be looking to defend their crown successively and make a return to the NBA Finals . As the losing finalists in last year’s finals . The Magic led by their dynamic center Dwight Howard will be looking to avenge their 4-1 series’ defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. And for coach Stan Van Gundy this will give him the chance to prove once and for all that he’s finally ready redeem himself after last season’s loss in the NBA Finals.

It ought to come as no surprise that NBA Commissioner David Stern looks to the game’s showcase event as a way of ensuring the game’s burgeoning popularity . To be sure that the game has its fans the world over. The game’s popularity in particular in the Pan Pacific basin is astonishing.. And when one considers that the three most popular selling branded jerseys are that of Yao Ming , Kobe Bryant and LeBron James . It gives you the evidence that suggests that the , Beijing Olympics did more than open up the Asian market for the NBA brand.

Either way the stage is being set for what could be the decidedly perfect setup of a possible rematch of Celtics ___ Lakers’ NBA Finals . But then again the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns might have a great deal to say about that. Suns’ coach Alvin Gentry can use this to prove to his peers and the fans alike that he’s more than capable of leading “a team” to the NBA Finals. He has been widely accepted as a very good coach at the assistant level. But we’re now finally seeing how capable he is as a head coach . And the possibility of Gentry leading this Suns’ team to raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy would be viewed as quite a tremendous achievement and accolade. And given the fact that for Suns’ veterans Grant Hill , Steve Nash and Jason Richardson this may well be the last chance that they will have to grace the game’s grandest stage with their presence.

The Los Angeles Lakers are simply looking to add to last year’s triumph and for this team to cement their own legacy. At the same time Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant merely wants to show the rest of the world that having reached the NBA summit once , without the assistance of Shaquille O’Neal he can still do it a second time with a much understated cast of players. And at his side once again providing the venerable advice will be the team’s legendary coach Phil Jackson . And for Jackson with the speculation once again rising as to his immediate future with the team. It will be very interesting what arises out of this all at the culmination of the NBA postseason. Speculation may well begin as to who his immediate successor might be should he choose to step down from his position, as coach of the team.

The two conference finals are now being viewed as something of a mismatch. And it has to be said that in reality at the end of the day ” this is a win win situation for the NBA” ! . The viewership will be there for the event , no matter what the two final teams might be. The preordained belief that a Cavaliers ___ Lakers match up would be of benefit to the game as well as the fans was essentially shot to hell. And the given reason was due to the fact that the Cavaliers were vastly overrated to begin with. As I’ve alluded to in earlier pieces, it’s all well and good to rave on about LeBron James. But it is becoming abundantly clear that the player is not in the class of Michal Jordan , Magic Johnson , “Dr J or Larry Bird when it comes to leading a team in the game’s premiere event. His supporting cast has been anything but glorious and the player himself , has finally shown that he has what it takes but clearly can’t do it all by himself. And the reality may well be that it is now in the best interest for the player to go to a team that would better serve his needs and ambitions. Truth be told there’s the suspicion that the player may well choose to remain in Cleveland and give it just one last shot at a title run . Why you say ? Essentially because James is a businessman and economically it is in his best interests to do so. I’ve read the asinine assumption that the player would seek to go to a club were he would be offered a stake in the franchise. Well given the fact that the contributor was using the most ridiculous of and speculative of situations and the notion from the outset that this isn’t allowed by the NBA hierarchy . One has to assume that this individual has very little knowledge about the game, much less the rules governing the sport. And from a business standpoint his knowledge might be in light with that of Sarah Palin’s knowledge on the US economy and its macro economic diversity upon the nation and around the globe.

The one thing that we can however be sure of is , that as of now , absolutely nothing will be out of the ordinary as these series now unfold. You make your choices now and simply just stick with them. As for what the future holds for LeBron James does anyone really care ? Well perhaps those teams who are actually in with a chance of landing him to begin with. And the way I view it , if you haven’t even assembled a core group of talent that would complementary to the player’s talent to begin with. Then why in hell’s name would you even consider trying to lure the player to begin with ? I mean we’ve seen what has taken place with the Cavaliers to begin with. An aging Shaquille O’Neal and a player in Antawn Jamison who simply couldn’t get the job done with the given talent there. So anyone who’s under the assumption that the New York Knicks might fare any better simply ought to look at the team and their legacy recently . Need I anymore on the matter ? They haven’t a coach worth a damn or a general manager who knows what the hell he is actually doing !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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The resumption of the “NBA Playoffs” may well tell us a great deal about the remaining quartet of teams and their ambitions ! Who do you view as being the final pair left standing and ” which team” do you actually see being triumphant in the end ? By all means chime in with a comment . I look forward to responding with as succinct a response possible . Thanks in advance for the continued support as it’s always appreciated !

NB: Prospective list of 2010 NBA restricted and unrestricted free agents. Simply click on link provided to view the list of names in question. Click here to view . Heading the list as we know is LeBron James but there will be a wide and assorted list of names coming to the market. Here are but a few of the names.

1) Carlos Boozer __ Utah Jazz
2) Ray Allen __ Boston Celtics
3) David Lee ___ New York Knicks
4) Dirk Nowitzki _____ Dallas Mavericks
5) Dwyane Wade ___ Miami Heat
6) Amar`e Stoudemire ____ Phoenix Suns
7) Chris Bosh ____ Toronto Raptors
(8) Carlos Bozer ____ Utah Jazz

To view the list of restricted and unrestricted free agents for the 2010 NBA Free Agency class just click on the link provided. 2010 NBA Free Agents ………..

For details of the ongoing 2010NBA Playoffs click link provided for further information. 2010 NBA Playoffs ……….


Alan Parkins aka tophatal

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Mary J Blige ……………… “I’m Going Down”

Hump Day Wednesday Let’s Have Some Fun With A Caption Contest ……………… !

Hump Day Wednesday Let’s Have Some Fun With A Caption Contest ……………… !

Well it’s Wednesday and it’s hump day but two days left ’til the weekend. It’s safe to say this juncture that two of the four playoffs series in the conference semi-finals of the NBA are all but over ! Pardon me for say this but the level of resistance being put up by the Atlanta Hawks against the Orlando Magic is somewhat reminiscent of some of the females I’ve known in my youth. Often known as the girls who’d be willing to do absolutely anything just to please a guy. It appears that it’s the same way with the Hawks ! I’m not saying that they’ve given up but they (Hawks) make the French military seem like venerable heroes ! The Orlando Magic are “puttin’ a can of whup a_s” on this Mike Woodson coached Hawks’ team ! Sportschump please accept my profound apologies but sir, you are absolutely right this Hawks’ team are about as scary as being confronted by Ricky Martin in a biker bar filled with heterosexuals males . The bikers in the bar mightn’t feel all that comfortable and are probably wanting to kick Ricky’s a_s. But given the fact that Ricky may well be into sado-masochism , I’m not so sure that he might not be entertained by the idea of having his a_s beaten to a pulp by some male bikers.

<font face="andalus"  size="3">   Jameer  Nelson of the  Orlando Magic  goes  for  the   layup  in  the  Eastern  Conference  semi-final  game  played  against  the  Atlanta  Hawks.    NBAE/ Getty Images/  Fernando  Medina   .........</font>
Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic goes for the layup in the Eastern Conference semi-final game played against the Atlanta Hawks. NBAE/ Getty Images/ Fernando Medina .........

The way that the Hawks are now playing I expect Stan Van Gundy and the Magic to lay waste to Phillips Arena and close out the series with surgical precision. The Hawks might just be the worse #3 seeds ever to be represented in the Eastern Conference of the NBA Playoffs ! Game 1 and the 114-71 rout of the Hawks signifies that the Magic are in the driver’s seat for the remainder of this series .

Personally I’ve to empathize with the Utah Jazz‘s Jerry Sloan . One of the nicest guys ever to have graced the game. But unfortunately for him he is coaching in the era of Jordan , Phil Jackson , Kobe Bryant and Gregg Popovich . And because of that quartet it is unlikely that he’ll ever win an NBA title as a coach.

<font face="andalus" size="3">  Head Coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz fields questions from the media following his team's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NBAE Getty Images _  Andrew  D  Bernstein   </font>
Head Coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz fields questions from the media following his team's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NBAE Getty Images _ Andrew D Bernstein

For the third consecutive season Sloan’s Jazz have had to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason. And no matter how you try to spin it the outcome becomes inevitably the same . It’s as if it’s deja-vu repeatedly for the Jazz. For Jazz point guard Deron Williams , he may well have felt that he didn’t sign on for this but it may well be for the moment the best that he can expect for the time being.If Kobe Bryant is on the opposing end of the court, then for now it’s Kobe’s world , Williams and his teammates are merely guests at the dining table. But unfortunately for them , they are not only the entree but they’re also the main course and dessert at the end of the meal. Whoop , there it is !

<font face="andalus" size="3">  Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Deron Williams (8 )of the Utah Jazz in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NBAE Getty Images/  Noah Graham  </font>
Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against Deron Williams (8 )of the Utah Jazz in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NBAE Getty Images/ Noah Graham

The Utah Jazz are already down 0-2 in this series and after last night’s 111-103 loss to their Western Conference rivals. I think we’re now getting the distinct feeling that there’s not much that can derail the Lakers’ freight train as they “march inevitably on” to the NBA Finals. The victors of the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs series are the only ones who now stand in the Lakers’ way as the conference representative in the championship game . Make of it what you will but please do enjoy.

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