There is no place like home and home is meant to be where the heart is ……….

There is no place like home and home is meant to be where the heart is ….

In the last few days we have seen an upheaval within the professional basketball world with the departure of LeBron James as he leaves the Miami Heat to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers . From my own standpoint, I believe that LeBron simply grew tired of having to support a team where his supporting cast were anything but supportive. As to this idiocy, Dwyane Wade’s sporadic appearances and performances during this past postseason were of benefit to the Heat would be like suggesting that Greg Oden became a force to be reckoned with during the season.

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Slideshow.

Pat Riley’s ambitious rebuilding of the roster this past season, was so misguided, it begs the question what was he thinking to begin with ? Michael Beasley was meant to add to something to this lineup beyond the menial productivity of Rashard Lewis ? Granted, this was the Miami Heat’s fourth consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals was a great accomplishment, but the menial return of only two title wins, is a reminder of how overrated this team was said to be in their appearance against the San Antonio Spurs in this past NBA Finals.

LeBron James saw no reason to resign with the Miami Heat, knowing that the organization had shown little concern in rebuilding the roster with the talent needed to make the team more competitive. As to the talk of his wishing to be offered a max contract, one that would likely see him being offered a six-year $125 million deal, now seems more imaginary on the part of the media , in light of James signing with Cleveland in a two-year $42 million deal.It will be interesting to see the dynamics of the relationship LeBron James will have with his new head coach David Blatt , in comparison to that of his relationship with Erik Spoelstra .

The Miami Heat’s loss, will be the Cleveland Cavaliers’ gain as the Prodigal Son is welcomed home. A far cry from the events of just over five years ago when LeBron James left the Cavaliers under a cloud of controversy, with their being a great deal of controversy and antagonism between the player and Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert . The front office have to be pleased with themselves, in pulling off such a coup, in resigning the franchise’s best player James, along with point guard Kyrie Irving will be the focal point of this lineup in the upcoming season. Cleveland, almost overnight have gone from being outsiders for the NBA title to a presumptive favorites for this upcoming season’s championship.

Whether or not Gilbert and the front office will seek to pull off anymore deals during this off-season will obviously be predicated on the attractiveness of playing alongside the four-time League MVP . I certainly believe the Cleveland Cavaliers will make the upcoming postseason, simply because the NBA’s Eastern Conference remains extremely poor and will continue to be that way over the coming years. Cleveland are .likely to be seen as presumptive favorites alongside the Chicago Bulls and perhaps the Miami Heat, if the franchise is able to resign both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh . The pairing of Bosh and Wade along with LeBron James were the primary reasons behind the franchise’s most recent success, but the failing of the coaching staff and the front office led by Pat Riley in addressing the Heat’s lack of depth must be seen as one of the many reasons for their failure during the NBA Playoffs .

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison has yet to issue a public statement on the departure of LeBron James, but there has to be some disappointment with the owner’s knowing that the player’s departure will likely lead to a possible decline in the Heat’s play. Acquiring seasoned veterans such as Danny Granger and Luol Deng might well have added some respite ,but the makeup of Miami’s roster as it now stands , no longer makes them a legitimate threat within their division much less the conference.

If the disappointment of the Miami Heat’s postseason was said to be a surprise then the Los Angeles Lakers’ fall from grace has to be seen as one of the most embarrassing in recent NBA history . Lakers’ fans remain optimistic , that Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss can turn things around with a great deal of urgency. Yet, with the franchise being unable to land a marquee free agent during the off-season leads me to believe the team is likely to have another woefully inept season. An aging Kobe Bryant can no longer single-handed lead this team without considerable aid from his teammates. Anyone believing the likes of Robert Sacre , Nick Young , Marshon Brooks, Xavier Henry , Jordan Hill , Wesley Johnson and Jeremy Lin can make the Lakers a force to be reckoned with within the Western Conference , has no idea as to the considerable mountain the team is being asked to climb. You simply have to look at their failure this past season under Mike D’Antoni to fully appreciate, how the head coach and his coaching staff were completely out of their depth ,without considering the loss of Bryant for a large part of the season .

The Lakers remain without a head coach, while Mitch Kupchak conducts what he says, remains an in-depth interviewing process of prospective candidates . I liken the statement, to one of a suitor, who is not so sure of his choices of a companion for an upcoming dance . Such has been the incompetency shown within the Lakers’ front office , that it is hard to have any faith in the leadership or acumen shown by either Kupchak or team owner Jim Buss. . Among the candidates that are known to have shown some interest in the vacant head coaching position are former Lakers’ players Kurt Rambis and Byron Scott . Both have varying degrees of success as former head coaches in the NBA. Yet, it appears Mitch Kupchak would rather prolong the situation’s process, in the hope of hiring the right d candidate as the successor to Mike D’Antoni. . Unless the Los Angeles Lakers can hire a coach with a proven track record, then the franchise is likely to struggle in the upcoming years , without ever being able to challenge for an NBA title . As optimistic as their fans continue to be , in reality, they have to know that the writing is on the wall. Kobe Bryant is now in the waning days of an undeniably successful career , but it would be foolish to think he will still be playing for the franchise three or four years from now .

While I believe the NBA has been a marketing phenomenon on the global stage , I believe its hierarchy , first under David Stern and his successor Adam Silver have been negligent in their handling of the Donald Sterling issue ! As the legal process now plays out within the legal system , with the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner and his estranged wife Rochelle Sterling now fighting over the ownership of the franchise as well as their matrimonial assets.It begs the question, how could things have spiraled out of control , after Sterling’s repeated egregious behavior ? As to this idiotic insistence , the former commissioner has been of great benefit to the NBA , well if you value the rising value of the NBA teams , then you would be correct , he has been of benefit to the league. In the case of his custodial responsibilities in upholding the integrity and image of the NBA, I would say he proven to be a disaster , with his lack of leadership and corralling the behavior of the players, that of the team owners and in some cases the front office executives . Excuses continue to be made for the lack of common decency with apathy being shown not only by the fans themselves but also the media, in the ways they have continued to cover the stories within the league concerning player misconduct and that of the owners. But I believe this is simply a reflection of the society we now live in , where a lack of respect no longer seems to be the norm !

The NBA off-season is said to be encompassed by hyperbole, then a great deal of it comes down to the issue of the free agency period. Where conjecture, rumors and speculation make up a great deal of the idiotic news we are continually being force-fed by the media , but specifically, the on air talent who cover the league in general. If they cannot create the suspense surrounding a story , then why not simply create the perception it is for real by sprinkling some falsehoods. Sports’ journalism is no different from that of real news being played out on the domestic front and the o global stage . The journalists themselves now believe they are as popular as the stars they cover, if not more so in some cases , furthering their own profile in the public eye. Buy into their garbage and you are likely to believe just about anything that they will say or write.

Other than LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony was the biggest free agent to hit the market during the off-season. Anthony’s willingness to resign with the New York Knicks now makes him among the highest paid players in the NBA, by way of his contract and annual salary. The player’s six-year $124 million deal slightly dwarfs Joe Johnson’s still ludicrous contract with the Brooklyn Nets . And there are those who suggest that the NBA in terms the contracts being offered reflects a player’s worth and what the market is ready to bear ? An instant recipe for disaster for franchises without any financial expediency and fans who do not understand the nuance of how a business works and that sports’ economics, especially as it relates to the NBA.

Anthony’s return to the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson’s persuasive powers would prove to be too alluring, but I cannot help wonder if the reason was not the fact, the player knew, once LeBron James chose to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers , the chances of the duo teaming up together remained simply an elusive gambit. Carmelo and LeBron James in New York would have been a persuasive image for fans of the NBA to watch the Knicks with a great deal more intensity. Now it comes down to, how the Anthony will readjust his mindset under rookie head coach Derek Fisher and being surrounded with a new supporting cast , which on paper looks a great deal better than what was on offer from the team last season .

Far be it for me to suggest, but Kevin Love’s last three seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ organization have been a complete waste of the player’s talents. Glen Taylor , Flip Saunders and the front office have spurned the issue of seeking to make the team more competitive. This has worn thin one of the NBA’s most talented players as he seeks with a great deal of legitimacy the chase for that elusive first NBA title . Love, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant might be the best players currently in the NBA without an NBA title to their list of achievements.

Now with the Timberwolves quite ready to trade the power forward, with a great deal of interest being shown by the Golden State Warriors , it will be interesting to see what directions the now ongoing deliberations take between the two teams. Will the asking price be too high and are the Warriors ready to give up a bevy of players to make the deal a reality ?

The Warriors’ co-owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are known to very ambitious individuals who are well versed in their respective fields. Yet the thought of making their franchise , perhaps the best NBA team in the state of California is not something that can be overlooked. I certainly believe that the Golden State Warriors are the equal of the Los Angeles Clippers , certainly better than either the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings in almost every aspect of the game ! The continued knock against the Warriors , will be that until they make a deep playoff run with Steph Curry leading the team , they can only be looked upon as a franchise with a great deal of flair and offensive firepower .

The Golden State remains a work in progress and I believe the team in its current guise with the potential addition of Kevin Love are credible challengers to the San Antonio Spurs , Oklahoma City Thunder , Los Angeles Clippers for conference supremacy. As things now stand even with the Spurs having the same cast of characters with an addition or two they are still likely to remain the best team within the conference and the NBA in general. Their clinical dismantling of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, was simple proof of the fact, they remain a team be reckoned with, just as long as their Hall of Fame destined triumvirate are part of their arsenal. With Gregg Popovich also having signed a contract extension with the Spurs, team owner Peter Holt and the front office have reaffirmed their faith in the head and his coaching staff . Now comes the defense of their title ,where they are likely to caught in the cross-hairs of the NBA’s other combative teams.

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Picture gallery .

During this NBA off-season, which story or event do you believe to be the most important? By all means 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 !

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(1) In a scene from the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz “ , from left to right , Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion, Ray Bolger , Scarecrow, Judy Garland , as the heroine Dorothy Gale and Jack Haley as the Tin Man. The movie made in 1939 remains a timeless classic loved by generations . Courtesy of Warner Bros .

(2) A pensive LeBron James speaks to the convened press during this past season’s NBA Finals . James’ gallant effort was not enough to stave off the Miami Heat’s embarrassing 4-1 series’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals. His announcement that he is rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers took the NBA world by surprise including the front office of the Miami Heat . AP Photo/ Chris Charles …

(3) Luol Deng of the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a two-year $20 million deal with the Miami Heat as team President Pat Riley seeks to rebuild the roster after the departure of LeBron James who rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers, signing a two-year deal with the franchise . AP Photo / Amy Morton ….

(4) Jeremy Lin who this off-season was traded by the Houston Rockets , joining the Los Angeles Lakers . Lin hopes to add some much-needed productivity to a team that languished at the position within the conference this past season . Getty Images / Christina Belcher …. ..

(5) Byron Scott is rumored to the frontrunner to succeed Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers . Scott is the only known candidate to have been interviewed twice by Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss for the vacant head coaching position . AP Photo / Paul Matthews ….

(6) Minnesota Timberwolves’ power forward Kevin Love . The Timberwolves are said to be interested in trading the player , with the main suitors in such a deal, being the Golden State Warriors . Team owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber , a highly ambitious duo, are keen to make a big off-season splash and see the acquisition of Love as a big part of gaining a much higher profile for their franchise . AP Photo/ Morton Parker ……..

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The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum

by Tophatal

With the NBA season now in full swing , and having reached its midway point , teams are now jockeying themselves into position divisionally , as well as within their respective conferences , to make that second half push for a playoff berth , for the NBA postseason. And already the league has seen its sheer of controversy, with the summary dismissals of Mike Brown from the Los Angeles Lakers , five games into their season , and that of Alvin Gentry from the underachieving Phoenix Suns . And while I do not believe that this will be the last of the managerial firings that will take place over the course of this NBA season , it is my belief that a number of coaches have now been put on notice , that the general managers and team owners are not prepared to put up with incompetence on the part of their head coaches .

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In the Eastern Conference , it does now look as if the Miami Heat , will not be as dominant a team as they were said to be last season , on their way to marching through the NBA Playoffs and their second NBA title . Defensively , we have seen something of a drop off from this current roster, in comparison to last season , albeit , that there have been certain changes , as to the makeup of the team. Team President and de-facto general manager , Pat Riley , has seen fit to bring in Ray Allen , Rashard Lewis, and Chris Anderson , to add what is an already formidable squad of players , with a payroll to match , which is now amongst the highest in the NBA .

When one bears in mind, that the league hierarchy , this past season , were simply asking for two-fold concessions across the board, from the NBPA (union) , while there has been “ little “ real resolve shown by the teams, to scale back on their exorbitant spending in terms of team and players’ salaries , and simply making it, somewhat asinine of a notion, that there is a “soft salary cap” of $58.044 million and a luxury tax for teams whose payrolls are above the aforementioned figure . It is at times like this , I have to question the alleged business acumen of David Stern , albeit , that he has led the NBA , for the past quarter of a century, to unprecedented success from an economic standpoint, but upon a downturn in the economy , he and his subordinates , as well as the owners ,and front office executives have not seen fit to rein in their expenses , while simply gouging the fans in terms of ticket prices , for what has essentially now become, something of a watered down and thoroughly diluted on-court product.

Heat , head coach , Erik Spoelstra , certainly has his team playing with a great deal of resolve and after their crushing and lopsided victory over the Brooklyn Nets , it is clear to see why they are at present are in a class by themselves within the Eastern Conference . Fans of the New York Knicks , however , might feel to the contrary , and would be very much willing to dispute that fact, as Mike Woodson , has his team playing some great basketball at present . . And one has to admit , that whenever these two noted franchises have met , they simply have not let the fans down , be it , in the regular season or in the postseason , as their much-anticipated and heated rivalry continues unabated . . The next scheduled meeting between these two teams , will not be until 3rd March , in a match-up at Madison Square Garden , home to the famed , New York Knicks . And with Woodson’s team currently leading the season series 2-0 , with the Knicks’ most recent victory over their arch rivals , coming by way of a 20 point shellacking of the LeBron James’ led Heat 104-84 in early December . Prior to that , in their initial meeting of the season series , the New York Knicks would have their way , with what appeared to be an undisciplined Miami Heat team. .

I am not about to suggest that David Stern , ought to consider contraction , given the poor play of a number of teams around the league . Yet, I have to ask , why should the fans be paying good money to witness the mediocrity of teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats (11-34), Washington Wizards (11-33) , Cleveland Cavaliers (13-33) , Orlando Magic (14-31) , New Orleans Hornets (15-31) and the Sacramento Kings (17-30) . About the only thing that has been continuously this incompetent , has been both legislative chambers of the US Congress , along with the present Presidential administration .

The next scheduled game for the Miami Heat, will be an away encounter against the Indiana Pacers , at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse , in Indiana , Indianapolis . The Pacers are one of the more surprising teams within the Eastern Conference this season , as head coach, Frank Vogel has the likes of Roy Hibbert , albeit , deferentially, David West , Paul George , Gerald Green and Danny Granger , playing with a great deal of confidence . Much of that , I believe has come from the presence of Brian Shaw , as an assistant head coach , providing more resolute defense from his team . This game , should provide both teams with a stern test , as each seeks to impose their will upon the other .

So at this point of the Boston Celtics’ season , is now on the cusp of imploding , as they have arguably lost their best player , point guard, Rajon Rondo , for the entire regular and postseason, should the team be in with a chance of gaining a playoff berth. Yet , GM Danny Ainge , is said to be unsure as to whether not he should delve into the free agency market and pursue a trade for a point guard . His own cupboard, within his roster, is threadbare , and looking at the options via free agency for a suitable fit . without having to break the bank , the situation overall doesn’t appear to be all that bright. It is likely that Ainge will consult with head coach , Doc Rivers , and team owner, Wyc Grousbeck , before a final decision is made .

Without a field court general and a productive point guard such as Rondo , the Celtics would quickly become a demonstratively average team , struggling to score and play in transition with any ease . >. And the team , does not seem to be helping themselves at present , with their undoubted inconsistency , due to the loss of the valuable point guard. A test of the team’s resolve will take place when they host the struggling Orlando Magic (14-31) in a game to be played at the TD Banknorth Center , in Boston , Massachusetts , on Friday night. This match-up should give both teams a chance, to gauge themselves at this point of the season and see what , if any positives they can take away from their respective situations . For first time head coach , Jacque Vauhgn of the Orlando Magic , to say that he has been made a “ sacrificial lamb” would be a great understatement , as the team is lacking in confidence . There seems to be no apparent leadership forthcoming , either on the field of play from anyone amongst Vaughn’s coaching staff , or from the coach , himself . For GM Rob Hennigan and CEO Alex Martins , the choice of Vaughn , might have been a prudent one , given the coach’s overall lack of head coaching experience .

I don’t think that at this point of the season , I can remember so many teams within the NBA playing sub . 500 basketball and wherein , the fans feel as if they are being short-changed by the on-field product . >. Yet , this is what the league hierarchy feel that they can bestow upon the consumer , fans and their corporate sponsors , while the league’s revenues increase exponentially primarily through the renegotiation of the NBA’s television contracts with their broadcast partners , such as ABC/ESPN , TNT Tv , WGN , none affiliated broadcast outlets nationally, and global network broadcast partners. The NBA has now become an annual $4.5 billion industry , and with teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks seeing their value , rise above the rate of inflation , with a number of the franchises also eking out fairly substantial profits in a down economy . It should be noted also, a number of teams are the recipients of an outmoded and archaic formula , wherein they are the benefactors of a luxury tax sharing scheme . Teams with payrolls in excess of the league’s “ soft salary cap” of $58.044 million are penalized as much as $1-00 for every dollar they are over that soft salary cap figure . The monies, derived from that scheme, are then disbursed amongst the so-called small market teams within the NBA. It does appear that even with the luxury tax in place , the teams do not appear to be showing the financial restraint one would have come to expect , albeit , that this latest CBA (collective bargaining agreement) , agreed to , between the league hierarchy , led by David Stern and the NPBA (union) remains littered with potholes and numerous dangers , that they clearly do not wish to address publicly .

The core of the Spurs’ roster , revolves around the team’s “ Big Three” , players, Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker , each of whom , has won an NBA title ring with the franchise . With four titles to the Spurs’ trophy cabinet , there would be nothing better for the organization , than for this team to add a fifth NBA championship to their treasure trove . As Duncan , Ginobli and Parker go , then so does the rest of this team , with the role players and certain youngsters coming off the bench to add to the team’s productivity . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . Hopefully , we can see that same sort of being shown by the players during the course of the postseason . With the team playing host to the Washington Wizards on Saturday , at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas , it will be interesting to see how the Spurs fare against a team , that as of late , has become less inspiring and more of an embarrassment to themselves as well as to the NBA . The Wizards’ organization, just seems to be crumbling under the continued weight of mediocrity .

I could well be wrong in my assumption , but I have always maintained , if a business entity cannot hold its own executives accountable for their actions , then whatever befalls them as a concern , no sympathy can be shown for that entity. In the case of the NBPA (union), and the ongoing saga , and revelations of the misappropriation of monies ($80,000) from within the organization , by family members employed by the union’s Executive Director Billy Hunter . It leads me to believe that either Hunter was simply naïve and completely unaware of these actions , or somehow he chose to turn a blind eye to the fraudulent acts committed by Alexis Hunter , daughter of the union executive , when there is a clear case of a conflict of interest , when his daughter also just happens to be an employee in a struggling bank , where the executive sought to use the union’s funds for investment purposes , but in reality those funds were being used as a precursor , to shore up that bank’s capital base . What might be even more exacerbating in this whole saga , is the very fact that Billy Hunter , may well have countenanced this maneuver without first seeking the approval of the union’s executive committee .

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports & AP (Associated Press)

NBPA executive director Billy Hunter sought union investment for bank with ties to son

On the weekend of the 2009 All-Star game in Phoenix, Pat Garrity, the treasurer of the National Basketball Players Association, walked into a conference room inside the Sheraton Phoenix determined to make one final stand in his decade of service to the union. Garrity had warned peers and NBPA executive director Billy Hunter prior to the ’09 executive committee meeting that he planned to challenge Hunter on business practices, and several players purposely steered clear of the confrontational scene.

In the aftermath of the U.S. banking crisis in 2008, Garrity had grown increasingly suspicious of an investment bank project that Hunter had been pitching to the executive committee and player representatives. For Garrity and some peers in the NBPA, the investment made no sense.

Hunter had sought a $7 million to $9 million investment from the union into Interstate Net Bank of Cherry Hill, N.J., a financial institution that federal and state banking regulators had slapped with debilitating “cease-and-desist” orders, sources said.

Garrity discovered information online that left him feeling obligated to confront Billy Hunter: Hunter’s son, Todd, had a seat on the board of directors of Interstate Net Bank.

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Billy Hunter , has now sought a leave of absence , as he now seeks to defend himself from what could very well turn out to be serious legal action , if it is proven that he knowingly sought to countenance and misappropriate funds from the union which he presides over . For union President , Derek Fisher , this has to be a complete embarrassment , as he has always maintained what appeared to be close personal relationship with the union’s executive director. There is no evidence to suggest that Fisher , himself , may well have known what might have been going on , but clearly with a number of the union’s player representatives voicing their concerns, as to how , and why , $7 million of union funds , were being used as an investment vehicle , when no communication or a vote took place between Hunter and the executive committee, to approve such a move , has to be seen , as a real cause for concern.

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Picture gallery .

With the NBA All Star Break , a little under two weeks away (15th – 17th February) , what do you hope to see , when the second half of the season half of the season gets underway ? And what thoughts , if any , do you have , concerning what now appears to be some serious allegations that are being leveled at Billy Hunter of the NBPA ? Chime in , on this , and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
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(1)MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 1: Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers pushes the ball up the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game on February 1, 2013 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images ….

(2) Minnesota Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio , left, of Spain, goes high to defend but Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Nash gets off a pass in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone ….

(3) Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) reacts to a call alongside Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. The Heat would go on to lose the game 102-89 against the Indian Pacers . AP Photo/Doug McSchooler …

(4) BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 1: Paul Pierce (34) of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic on February 1, 2013 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Magic 97-84 . Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images …

(5) Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives to the basket as Kevin Garnett blocks out New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(6) SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 30: Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs looks to pass the ball in game played against Kemba Walker (15) of the Charlotte Bobcats on January 30, 2013 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas . Getty Images /Greg Carmody ….

(7) San Antonio Spurs’ owner , Peter Holt , right , is seen here with the team’s head coach Gregg Popovich . The two individuals have a close and trusted relationship , which has been to the mutual benefit of the Spurs’ franchise . AP Photo / Ian Turner ….

(8) In the foreground , seen are , NBPA President , Derek Fisher , left , alongside him also, is the union’s Executive Director , Billy Hunter . The besieged union executive has voluntarily taken a leave of absence pending an investigation as to the improprieties that have taken place , with the misappropriation of union funds by a family member of Billy Hunter . The union leader has denied any wrongdoing on his part , but there does appear to be mounting evidence to suggest that Hunter did not make the executive committee or the players’ representatives or for that matter union president aware of what had taken place . With the possibility of legal action being taken against him (Hunter), as well as his daughter , Alexis Hunter , who was also in the employment of the NBPA. It seems highly debatable that can and will be allowed to retain his position as the executive director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Getty Images North America / Elise Amendola ……

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Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Some Things Are Best Left Unsaid …………. But F#k It I’m Going To Say It !

Ah the latest tidbit in the sports world that seems to be norm at present PGA Tour professional Tiger Woods made the formal announcement that he will not be playing in the US Open at Congressional Country Club , Bethseda , Maryland . And once again the bell seem to be tolling as most prognosticate whether or not Woods’ reign at the top is about to implode . The player is now ranked outside the top ten (ranked 15th in the latest rankings) of the World Rankings for the first time in over a decade . From my own standpoint the player apart from recurring injuries, Woods is now gunshy and is completely lacking in confidence . Now sliding down the rankings faster than a cheetah at full speed , it is becoming abundantly clear that we’re now seeing a player whose determination to win is still there but the physical attributes that made him a once dominant player no longer remains . His peers on the PGA Tour no longer seem to be intimidated by their once great nemesis . And this being the national championship I’m not sure that the second major of the season will be won by a US born player , it could well be won by a foreign player and therein lies the situation with regard to the PGA Tour. US talent is now merely about the players here winning the mundane events on the PGA Tour rather than the Majors (The Masters, US Open , British Open and PGA Championship) .

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Slide show for your perusal .

I have got to admit I will be pleasantly surprised if the winner of the US Open is an American because simply put the inconsistency of Phil Mickelson , Hunter Mahan , Steve Stricker simply doesn’t cut it amongst the real fans of the PGA Tour . It is Woods who drives the meters and the gossip on the Tour while lesser lights are simply the topic of the moment .

Can someone remind me why it is that I simply ought to be interested in the career of Floyd Mayweather as a boxer ? Undoubtedly talented , Mayweather is now more widely known more for his outside the ring run ins with the law , rather than for anything that he has achieved within the ring . A multiple weight divisional champion , the fighter now hopes to challenge Victor Ortiz for his WBC welterweight title this September (venue yet to be arranged) , as Maywether will be making a return to the ring for the first time in almost 18 months since he last fought and defeated Shane Mosley in a bout that was about as entertaining as the viewing of a head on collision between two high speed locomotives.

Ortiz , twelve years Mayweather’s junior knows that this will be a step up in class and at the same time he knows that should he pull off the impossible and defeat the former titlist , then the world becomes his oyster with limitless opportunies to establish himself amongst the top fighters in the world . The sport of boxing has become mundane and the mere fact that the desired fight between Manny Pacquiao no longer seems to be a priority amongst either fighter or the respective promoters. All the talk and hype in the world won’t change the fact that the proposed bout was never on the cards to begin with . They say money talks bullshit walks , well walk it did , as there was such a stench created by Bob Arum , Mayweather’s own camp and co promoter Oscar de La Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions Inc.

When this bout actually takes place between Floyd Mayweather and Ortiz there may well be some passing interest there but I for one simply don’t believe that Mayweather is the draw that he once was ! His own failings as a father , a man and as an example to his children leaves a lot to be desired . And with the allegations of spousal abuse , verbal abuse of his children and the threatening of a witness with physical violence simply indicates that from a mental standpoint Mayweather’s faculties might not be all there . If Floyd Mayweather were to step away from boxing today he may well be sorely missed but from my own perspective the sooner he walks away the better off the sport will be !

Well the MLB Draft for 2011 (held in Seacaucus New Jersey) this past Monday , and before we knew it , it was over. Truth be known, it was something of a non-event given the fact that the highlights weren’t shown on either network television or on ABC/ESPN , Fox Sports or for that matter TBS . Instead the whole event was televised live by the MLB Network . There’s a reason why the MLB hierarchy cooperates with their broadcast partners but somehow this wasn’t a time they felt it necessary . Now don’t get me wrong but a from business standpoint I’m not so sure that the league itself much less its teams are on a sure footing financially. The ongoing saga with the Los Angeles Dodgers has become cannon fodder for the sports pages across the nation . And less we forget, the woefully inept the New York Mets in spite of the $200 million investment in the organization by hedge fund manager David Einhorn has me believing that the league has to intervene sooner rather than later.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the beneficiaries of having the number one overall pick with the organization taking the UCLA Bruins’ Gerrit Cole as their choice. One can understand the reason why the MLB Draft plays second fiddle to the NBA , NFL in terms of their respective drafts and the mere fact of the visibility raised when the events are televised . Granted , there’s more of an interest in the NFL’s Draft and the mere fact that the draft geeks are front and center in assessing the merits of the decisions made by the respective general managers around the league. Inasmuch , as Bud Selig would like to sell us on the merits of the event I don’t really believe that the commissioner himself believes that other than the consumed fan who’s so into the draft there is a heightened interest in the decisions being made.

Well the madness has to stop , it is now or never but fu#k it , sanity has to enter the domain at this juncture. In the sports world where it’s about the immediacy of the here and now , in terms of what have you done for me lately ? In the NBA it appears that the vast majority of fans were already prepared to anoint the Miami Heat as the 2011 NBA champions. Having seen the San Antonio Spurs bow out in the first round of the postseason and as a fan that result was a profound disappointment to me ! The Dallas Mavericks simply made their way through the playoffs with consummate ease and then in the Western Conference Finals they simply manhandled the Los Angeles Lakers , the two time defending NBA champions .

The Finals’ match-up that many had been had desired didn’t materialize as we now have the workman like Mavericks teeing up against the star laden Miami Heat led by LeBron James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade . With the series now tied at two games apiece and the knives are out after a diabolical display on Tuesday night by James __ eight points though from a defensive standpoint the player stood his ground but offensively he was more of a detriment to his team . The knives will be out and directly aimed LeBron James. And this being the player who actually anointed himself ‘King James’ and then simply ran with it ? The two time league MVP had one of those games where nothing seem to have gone right but at the same time he rode into town announcing that this team would be good enough to win multiple titles __verbatim “not one , not two but three , four , five and why not six titles ” ? Hey LeBron let’s not get completely ahead of ourselves, you’ve already become an ingrate and are about as welcomed in the Cleveland area multiple doses of the ebola virus . Now you’re bringing your undoubted talents to South Beach but an ego that is large as the Grand Canyon will not make you all the more likeable at this juncture. I just hope for your sake at this moment in time should this team fail …….. you don’t choose to apportion blame elsewhere ?

The three point loss (83-86) told me a great deal about the Miami Heat and in particular about the ‘ Big Three’ on this team ! When placed under a great deal of adversity they are inclined to wilt under pressure and nowhere was this more self evident than last night . James was guilty of failing to deliver the goods and now the excuses will be made as to the reasons why and whether or not LeBron bears a great deal of that blame . While the protagonists out there were trying to make a case that James is now ready to wear the crown worn by Michael Jordan as the best player in the NBA . Here is simply another reason why those very same protagonists should simply shut the hell up and let history take its course , rather thrust upon LeBron James something that he has yet to deserve. It does a great disservice not only to the game but also to its image and Jordan’s legacy.

Lebron James may well yet become a truly great player and have a long and successful career in the league but as of now he’s yet to lead a team to a title and when last I looked , a runner up finish simply meant nothing to even the most ardent of fans !

On the flip side of the script Dirk Nowitzki simply showed why without him the Dallas Mavericks would simply be viewed as an also ran within the league . Now as they look to claim their first NBA title it will be interesting to see whether or not his teammates finally are beginning to believe that they are indeed capable of defeating the Miami Heat . It’s all well and good Jason Terry emblazoning a tattoo on his right bicep as an omen . But given the fact that Terry’s own displays during this series and the playoffs overall have been intermittent I’d say it’s time for him to get with the damn program !

There’s a great deal at stake for both teams in particular for the Miami Heat and their financial viability. Repeated losses over the last few years can’t hide the desperation of team President Pat Riley and Heat owner Micky Arison . The acquisition of Bosh and James wasn’t about merely a last ditch attempt to retain Dwyane Wade but also to shore up the financial coffers of the Miami Heat. Had they not been able to lure the two All Stars then in all likelihood Wade would have been playing elsewhere this season and with that the growing losses of the organization would be like a dead weight around the neck of the organization . Riley knows that a compelling series victory will bode well for the future of the Miami Heat and from a financial standpoint it would be greatly beneficial. As of now this series is far from over and the worrisome situation is that for LeBron James, his struggles continue in an NBA Final. Swept aside by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007 in the Finals of that year when James was a player for the Cleveland Cavaliers . That sole appearance until this year has been something of a nightmare for the player that many have stated has become the new “King of the NBA “ . Doesn’t a King wear a crown and just to add mere substance to those claims shouldn’t he have at least won something that actually resonates with the fans as a whole ? Style over substance means fu#k all but there are those who actually believe otherwise . How naive !

Game five is scheduled for tonight hosted by the Dallas Mavericks in what will be no doubt a sold-out American Airlines Center in Dallas , Texas . Vociferous Mavericks’ fans are sure to get behind Rick Carlisle and his team , with those very same fans being of the belief if they can eke out a victory then they are but a win away from winning their first NBA title . Can you imagine what the fallout may well be should the Miami Heat fail to win what many believe had been preordained ? I for one believe nothing is merely given to you without you actually deserving it ! And nothing that the Miami Heat has achieved so far would suggest that they deserving of winning the NBA title , merely because they are now in the Finals . It has been this sort of complacency that has been clearly visible with many of the players on this Hear roster , including James , himself .

Should Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks triumph this may well be right way for him to bow out of the game with his legacy firmly entrenched within the annals of the game and perhaps the best European player to have played in the NBA ?

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Simply chime in with a comment on the topics raised within this piece as you see fit and as always thanks for the continued support as it is gratefully appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) This December 3, 2010 file photo shows Tiger Woods of USA as he puts his hat back on as he walks off the 18th green after finishing the second round, at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, said June 7, 2011 that he will not play in next week’s US Open golf tournament. Left knee and tendon pain has bothered Woods for the past month. “Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain,” Woods posted on his Twitter microblogging website. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES ……

(2) In this June 25, 2008 photo, golfer Michael Whitehead, who is currently a senior at Rice, poses for a photograph in Houston. Whitehead, who was first alternate from the Dallas qualifier, will replace Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open after Woods withdrew due to lingering issues with his left leg. AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Karen Warren ….

(3) PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – MAY 12: Tiger Woods addresses the media after withdrawing on the ninth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods announced June 7, 2011 that he will not play in the U.S. Open because of an injury to his left leg. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images …..

(4) Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the par 4 10th hole during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 4, 2011 in Dublin, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(5) FILE – In this April 30, 2010 file photo, Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps on the scale at a weigh-in ceremony before a WBA welterweight boxing title fight against Shane Mosley in Las Vegas. Mayweather, the undefeated six-time world champion, says on his Twitter feed Tuesday, June 7, 2011, he will end a 16-month hiatus from boxing when he faces WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz on September 17. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File ……

(6) Victor Ortiz (left) the challenger makes sure that Andre Berto’s (left) defense of his WBC welterweight title will be a brief one . Ortiz would defeat the former title holder in a unanimous decision in the bout held at the Foxwoods Resort , Mashantucket ,Connecticut ,. Getty Images / Chris Borbon ……

(7) Miami Heat managing general partner Micky Arison, right, talks to president Pat Riley during a basketball practice for the NBA finals, Wednesday, June 8, 2011, in Dallas. The Heat will face the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2, Thursday, June 9, 2011. Do they now have something to be extremely worried about ? AP Photo/David J. Phillip ………

(8) DALLAS, TX – JUNE 08: LeBron James of the Miami Heat attends NBA Finals Media Availability on June 8, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images ………

(9) Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle applauds while Dirk Nowitzki (L) walks off the court during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK /GETTY IMAGES …………

(10) LeBron James (C) of the Miami Heat is guarded by Jason Kidd (L) and Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks during game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 7, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 86-83. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK / GETTY IMAGES ……..
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Ship Ahoy ………. Look Out For Another Mystery That’s About To Take On A Life Of Its Own

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal ………………….

Picture and slide show details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There’s No I In Team ………….. In Miami They’ve No Team But They’ve Got A Great Many Flaws !

There’s No I In Team ………….. In Miami They’ve No Team But They’ve Got A
Great Many Flaws !

Explain this to me the Miami Heat were meantt to be the team to beat and the conventional wisdom of thinking was that they would be the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference to win the NBA title . Pardon me for saying this but when you’re 1-7 against the five of the top teams within the league it shows that you’re simply overrated !

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Coming off giving up a 24 point lead in a loss to the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena the Heat would fall flat in their blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs . And as a statistic consider this the Spurs were able to hit seventeen 3 pointers in the game as the Heat and their big three were simply no match for the conference and division leading Spurs in their runaway win .

The “team” that Pat Riley built is more style over substance and it continues to show despite the rationale of Dwyane Wade , LeBron James and Chris Bosh talking about growing as a team shows that this Heat roster still has a long way to go. And it simply hasn’t helped that the bench play of this team has been awful throughout the season and defensively their inconsistency continues to be a cause of great concern.

Though the Miami Heat has the third best record within the Eastern Conference the thought is that now Eric Spoelstra and his coaching staff will now have to truly prove their worth over the remainder of the season. It’s all well and good when a team is winning but in reality when the expectations of the fans and the front office are so high that failure is not an option and by failure I mean winning this season’s NBA title. The Heat players may well tell you that this season is simply about playing with consistency but their most recent trials and tribulations have been anything but that .

From a coaching standpoint I certainly don’t believe that Spoelstra’s position is in danger as of yet but if things continue to get worse then I do believe that Pat Riley may well have to rethink that issue and be quite possibly willing to step down from his executive suite of the Heat’s front office and step back into the fray as an NBA coach. The mindset of this team is the belief that three players all with their own abilities makes a unit considerably better but then you don’t complement them with a core group of players that can play at both ends of the court then any aspirations that you might have won’t at all come to fruition. Players such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas , Eric Dampier are past their sell by date and please tell me that Carlos Arroyo has something to offer the Heat rather than simply just portraying a mannequin !

If there’s anything that the Heat can take away from this loss is the mere fact that they still lead Atlantic Division even in light of the Orlando Magic’s loss to the Chicago Bulls . Next up for Miami is a game against the Bulls at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois. And their situation won’t be made any easier with the fact that the next six of their eight games are against teams with records above .500 within the NBA .

For Gregg Popovich he had to have been pleased with what he saw from his team and in particular the play of Matt Bonner , Gary Neal and Tigao Splitter but simply put this was a collective effort in the team’s seemingly effortless 30 point victory (125-95) which was the Heat’s largest loss inflicted on the team this season .

The Spurs’ trio of Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker may well believe that this team is quite capable of winning their first title since 2007 . And most certainly bodes well for the rest of the regular season for the San Antonio Spurs as they look to put their own seal of approval on the year .

This NBA postseason promises to be one filled with a great deal of intrigue and it remains to see what will transpire from it all . As to the immediate fate of the Heat and how they might fare over the remainder of the season it all comes down to the fact this team has no heart when they steer real adversity in the face and that was plain for all to see in this rather humiliating loss . At no point did anyone step up to the plate and show any semblance of leadership in any regard . Certainly not from Wade , James or Bosh much less anyone else on the team and the postgame interviews of the triumvirate merely reiterated that fact with usual rhetorical response as to their disappointment. This Miami Heat has simply shown more style over substance and far too many people have bought into that hype rather than looking at the heart and soul of this team and that has been what has been missing all along. It’s all been style over substance and you simply no that style points get you nowhere when it comes to the postseason. And as to the asinine summaries from TNT analysts such as Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson as they really need to look at how the Heat play rather than simply being in awe of LeBron James !

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What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the play of the Miami Heat and their season so far ? Simply chime in with your thoughts on this topic and anything else as it relates to the NBA ?

Picture and slide show details below.

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(1) Tony Parker (9) of the San Antonio Spurs takes a shot against the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center on March 4, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images ……….

(2) Dejuan Blair of the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on March 4, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas while the Heat’s Chris Bosh is unable to defend the play. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images …..

(3) Guard Dwyane Wade(3) of the Miami Heat takes a shot against Tim Duncan(21) of the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on March 4, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images ……………

(4) Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra speaks with referee Michael Smith during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Friday, March 4, 2011. The Spurs won 125-95. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …….

(5) San Antonio Spurs center Matt Bonner shoots a 3-pointer as players on the Miami Heat bench watch during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Friday, March 4, 2011. Bonner was 6-for-7 on 3-point attempts as the Spurs beat the Heat 125-95 . AP Photo/ Bahram Mark Sobhani ………

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Alan aka tophatal ……………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/


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All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

All Star ? Is This American Idol ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on each frame you can view that picture in its orginal formatted size.

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

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

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

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

Picture and slide show details …………….

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

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

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

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

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

NB

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

NBA News

NBA Scores & results …..

NBA schedule

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

NBA Team Stats

NBA Player Stats

NBA All Star ballots

Alan aka tophatal …………………………………

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

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Karmen

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

What’s not to like ?

Karmen  Sutra

Bootylicious !

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

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Fu_k You And The Horse You Rode In On !

Fu_k You And The Horse You Rode In On !

Having been away from contributing pieces within this forum I must admit that work as of late has me working to be productive alongside my colleagues (economics research analyst within the corporate office of a law firm) on a multiple of tasks for a major corporate client . And the same has to be said amongst the players within the NFL and teamwork has to e prevalent and of the utmost if the goal is to achieve success . Having witness the maelstrom and the enigma and the NFL season that has become a complete misnomer one can’t but help ask the question as to what has taken place over the first three quarters of the season. The Buffalo Bills have become a complete parody and wide receiver Steve Johnson now blames God by ‘tweeting’ for his big mistake in dropping the ball in the endzone when he was on the cusp of winning the game for his team in their most recent outing. Pardon me for saying this Steve ………. but you’re the weakest link and a complete fu_king asshole for blaming your mistake on a ‘supreme being’ (deity) when it’s clearly you who’ve been at fault in the Bills’ resultant loss .

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Courtesy of The Wall St Journal

You Never Know Who’s on Twitter

By Jason Gay

Dear Steve Johnson,

Dude, what’s up with blistering me on Twitter? Do you think I have time to respond to everyone on that crazy thing? Last I checked, I have somewhere north of six billion Twitter followers. That’s at least 43 more than Ashton Kutcher.

But OK, let’s address your complaint. It says here you’re a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. That’s, let’s see…a rest-stop steakhouse in Wyoming? No, OK, sorry: It’s a professional football team in upstate New York. And this past Sunday, you apparently dropped a sure-thing game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

All right, we’re watching the replay now on the DVR. You’ve just torched the Steelers secondary, the pass lands softly in your hands, you stride into the end zone, press the ball to your chest, and…oh wow, Steve, how in heaven’s name did you drop that? Sorry, don’t mean to laugh, but: R2-D2 could have pulled that one down.

Apparently you think I’m responsible. After the game you logged onto Twitter and pecked out this tweet:

I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW ???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…

First of all, what’s with the ALL CAPS, STEVE? Don’t you know that’s tantamount to yelling at me? Next time, unlock the caps-lock key, OK? And take it easy on the exclamation points—you’re not at a Katy Perry concert.

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Now as the season progresses and Week 13 awaits us what else can actually be said as to what the fans have witnessed over the past few weeks ? The hype still still seems to be there concerning the Minnesota Vikings and as far as I’m concerned that particular story for me creates about as much interest as the political aspirations of Sarah Palin ! The less said about the two parties the better off the country will be at present .

Now when it comes to the BCS system and the fallout that now seems to be taking place I’ve got to ask myself what is it that about Boise State that hasn’t already been said ? You either put up or simply shut the fu_k up ! Can we get a kicker in here please ?

OK so LeBron James and his teammates of the Miami Heat are about to placate themselves by laying blame for the team’s malaise on coach Eric Spoelstra . Now pardon me for saying this but if the players aren’t executing and the coach simply isn’t able to communicate with the players on the roster then clearly there seems to be something awry for the Miami Heat. The real problem here concerning the Heat is that this isn’t a team but simply a trio of egos assembled together by ‘Professor’ Pat Riley for his own vanity in the pursuit of another NBA title. If one remembers the last time a team had this many egos assembled together in such a way it was with the 2004 ______ Los Angeles Lakers and as we all know what befell that roster of future Hall of Famers led by Shaquille O’Neal , Gary Payton, Karl Malone , Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher . Idiocy abounded there and here also in the present roster of the Miami Heat. LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have shown little respect for their coach and it appears that while all this foments for the public’s consumption it shows clearly that Riley and the fans are clearly not entirely happy with the present situation. Now we have ‘Bumpgate’ and that in ofitself could lead with the possible demise as Spoelstra as the coach of the Miami Heat. Say it ain’t so …… but Riley coming down from his executive suite could very well be a distinct possibility.

So New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and team ownership led by Hank Steinbrenner have essentially stated to team captain Derek Jeter that he’s quite welcome to seek out other teams’ offers as he’s about to become a free agent. The face , heart and soul of the franchise over the last decade plus , now finds himself the unwanted child and persona non grata within the Yankees kingdom. Does anyone truly believe that the Yankees would be stupid enough to allow the face of this ballclub to leave and create a maelstrom of discontent amongst the fans ? A fool and their money are easily parted but as we know nobody spends money as lavishly and as foolhardy as the Yankees have been known to . Can I hear $30 million for Alex Rodriguez whose postseason productivity this past season was about plentiful as a speech given by Sarah Palin as she speaks about the malaise of the country and what ails it. Simply put that wasn’t money well spent but the idiotic Yankees’ fans will continue to regale us with the fact that they’ve won 27 World Series titles . Who really gives a fuck when your last postseason appearance showed simply how overrated and what a complete mess the team was this past postseason. Could I have put it anymore succinctly ? I guess not !

The sporting weekend and all that it has brought us has been simply nothing more than we ought to expect. In some circles specifically the NFL, the ensuing weeks will be about how a number of teams will fare as the season progresses. A number of teams are sure to be under a great deal of scrutiny in particular the San Diego Chargers and how they’ve fared over the season. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers are on a mission and it’s finally to allay the fear of those who feel that the team aren’t capable of winning a postseason game much less make it to the Superbowl . And until this team actually shows me in particular that they are capable of doing that I’m not thoroughly convinced that they’re the team to beat ! As good as Rivers has been this season until he and head coach Norv Turner can prove to us all that they can be great in the postseason I’m not thoroughly convinced that they’re the ones to watch this upcoming postseason within the AFC !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What sporting events if any this past weekend was something that you felt was something of a surprise for you as a fan ? Once again for me it was the fall from grace of a team in the BCS collegiate football standings . If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen then simply get the hell out of the kitchen !

😛

Alan aka tophatal …………………… 🙂

Video vixens on parade for your pleasure and edification so do enjoy.

Kianna Lynae . Lord have mercy upon my soul .

Less is never better than more because it’s a fact that we guys are simply ‘horny bastards’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal. By clicking a frame you can view that frame in its original formatted size.

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

NB: Below are news and views as well as the NBA itinerary for the season.

Miami Heat roster ….

Los Angeles Lakers’ roster …

Click here for NBA news

NBA schedule

😦

Alan aka tophatal ………………. 🙂

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Miss-Issa

Eye candy vocalist Miss Issa courtesy of Lowridermagazine.com

The Boogie Man Came Out And There Wasn’t A Hooded Man In Sight

The Boogie Man Came Out And There Wasn’t A Hooded Man In Sight

Preseason in the NBA and already the controversy is raising its ugly head and if things surrounding the LeBron James’ saga hasn’t been weird enough . It now appears that James won’t let this episode die a natural death. LeBron James in a statement allays to the fact that one the reasons he left the Cavaliers is that ‘race’ became an issue in his departure from the franchise. And it certainly hadn’t helped that neither of the lead characters in this soap opera appears to have been able to show any sign of maturity. Instead Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert came off looking like an ass and the player wasn’t that far behind in his own behavior and that rather idiotic interview (entitled ‘The Decision’) he granted to ESPN with reporter Jim Gray, in tow. In all honesty this whole episode has been about as interesting as having an enema !

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One would’ve thought with the PR people surrounding the player that he’d be able not to court this at all but instead he issued a statement that now becomes cannon fodder for the press and those who’ll use this as evidence to make a inane statement about race in this country. This whole issue has nothing to do with race but more about ego and more about two individuals who are driven by greed and money . James states that he’s striving to win a title and granted he was ill equipped to win with an organization who literally didn’t know how to assemble the prerequisite staff to make the Cavaliers a competitive team. Danny Ferry who at the time was the general manger of the team couldn’t galvanize this roster to mesh and Mike Brown as coach, couldn’t communicate with the players on this team. But what might have been even more telling was that in the off-season with the firing of Brown , Gilbert sought not to seek any input from his star player as to who Brown’s successor should be. If that wasn’t enough of an indication to James that it was time to move on then I don’t know what is. And the rather idiotic fans there in Cleveland who sought to burn the player’s replica jersey in what they felt was an act of betrayal by LeBron James clearly have no concept of business or for that matter integrity or loyalty. Now all they have to show for the franchise there in Cleveland is an aggrieved owner in Dan Gilbert and unfortunately for Mike Brown’s successor Byron Scott, a team that’s liable to become a bottom feeder within the Eastern Conference of the NBA .

Now while this is all going on there has been sniping at the Heat organization and the fact that Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison had the bravado to pull off such a coup in landing both James and Chris Bosh. Truth be known, the Heat needed to do this merely to stay a viable concern within the NBA from a financial standpoint. The franchise having posted a $45 million loss in 2009 had a declining attendance for the Heat games at the AA Arena (Miami) and it has to be said that without this orchestration to land the duo we might have been looking at the departure of Dywane Wade from the team. Now the pressure is on the triumvirate to prove that this all isn’t a ruse and that they’re intent on bringing another title to South Beach.

And while the Heat seem to have been anointed the preseason favorites to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy next June , I’m of the opinion that it’ll take a great deal more than the showmanship and the greeting of the crowds before James and his buddies can simply think that the title has been won. The NBA season simply isn’t about creating hype and then not playing the games as can be seen in the pitiful experience and aftermath of the season had by the Los Angeles Lakers and their subsequent loss in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons . That year all the praise being heaped upon this team which at the time had five predetermined Hall of Famers on the roster led by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton , Karl Malone and their coach Phil Jackson . The Lakers were summarily dispatched by the Pistons in five games (4-1) with there being a great deal of dissent and bickering between the quartet of players.

Now while I don’t discount the fact that the Miami Heat will be viewed as the prohibitive favorites for the NBA title, to my mind absolutely nothing is set in stone. The Lakers as reigning champions are still the team to beat and until they’re knocked off their throne all things start and end with them . Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has the enviable task of coaching this triumvirate but at the same time he also has to get the best out of the role players on this team. And it will also be interesting to see who defers to whom and the roles to be played by LeBron James and Dywane Wade in this whole scenario. One ball and two rather egotistical showmen on the court at the same time each looking to showcase their talents and attain the praise of the fans . Can anything go wrong? Well, each of the three say that they simply want to win and that their goal is to bring another championship to Miami. The thinking is that should the team fail to make it to the Finals then the finger pointing begins and all eyes will be on James as to the reasons behind any failure.

From the social standpoint and the racial accusations by James I think he ought to step back and think long and hard about his statement ! If he really wants to talk race then he ought to take a look back at the pages of history and the plight of the “Little Rock Nine” and then see that his situation bears nothing at all about race , more to do with ego and the fact that he was slighted by an owner who simply didn’t want to defer power to him as it concerned the Cleveland Cavaliers. And though to my mind neither party is without blame at the fallout from his departure from Cleveland , I do now believe that James if anything is now showing further signs that he’s yet to mature as an individual. Winning they say “cures all” and that may well be the case as clearly James yearns to be seen as a winner _ an Olympic gold medal and two time league MVP pales into comparison when you can say “look at me I’m an NBA champion” ? And that is literally what is biting at LeBron James at this juncture as he’s seen his peers in Kobe Bryant having won twice since his entry into the NBA and that of elder statesman Kevin Garnett lead the Boston Celtics’ team to their most recent title win. James doesn’t want to be viewed as the player all the hype was created over and at the end of the day he simply has nothing to show for it after 5 years in the league. Impatient as he may well be , he’s simply got to learn that before you can earn respect you have to give respect to the game. And while undoubtedly he’s done a lot since his entrance into the NBA you get the feeling that the player feels that he’s entitled to have it all lavished upon him simply because of who he is ………. and the fact that he’s the self anointed ‘King James’ global icon and superstar.

Whatever the season now holds not only for the Miami Heat but also the remaining 29 teams around the NBA, one thing is certain the scrutiny that the Heat will be placed under will show warts and all the underside of everything that’s good and bad about the game. Commissioner David Stern and the league’s hierarchy may well welcome this all, as it takes all eyes off the game’s state of affairs as it relates to the league’s ongoing negotiations with the NBPA (players’ union) and trying to renegotiate the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Take that from under the microscope and have this, a season long running roadshow and that might just keep the fans at bay and extremely happy. One way or another it’ll make a number of teams in the Eastern Conference exceedingly happy knowing that the Heat is part of their schedule and the same can be said of their counterparts in the Western Conference as there’ll be a great deal of money to be made for all parties concerned.

One thing that does placate this whole situation somewhat is that once the controversy has been created the easiest way to negate that all is to simply have money awash the whole scene and it’s so easy to forget what brought this all to the fore. Chances are a month from now all this will have died down and we’ll be talking about the Heat , how many games can they win and whom they may well face in the NBA Finals ? Not so fast may well be those dissenting voices who feel that the Miami Heat roadshow isn’t the only game in town as they’ve won nothing as of yet in their present guise. But it will be fun watching to see whether or not this team does prevail or if they simply fall by the wayside as some may well expect them to do. From my own view point I look at this all as a jigsaw puzzle that’s yet unfinished as there are so many pieces yet to fit into place. Once that the puzzle is finished then we’ll see the whole picture clear and as it’s meant to be.

For LeBron James, he brought up the subject of ‘race’ and the ‘tabooed boogie man’ was nowhere to be seen ……… no hooded horseman ranting and shouting racial epithets . So it begs the question what was this all about in the first place ? Ego once again quite possibly ? Or is it James and his handlers wanting to court the press merely because he wants to be viewed as the face of the NBA ? Clearly he’s still not happy at his perceived treatment by Dan Gilbert and the remarks that were made by the owner after his departure. But as I alluded to earlier the evidence shows that neither party handled the situation well and in fact they both showed the petulant behavior of a rather infantile child . Common sense still hasn’t prevailed and it’s unlikely to at this juncture .

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on an individual frame you can view that picture in its original sized format.

James’ statement as you view it , do you feel that he makes a valid point ? In his making the claim the way he was treated by Gilbert had to do with his race was one of the reasons he left the franchise, do you truly believe that there’s any veracity behind his argument ? Chime in with a comment as to your thoughts on the matter and anything else that might be of interest to you with regard to the NBA and its ongoing story-lines.

NB James’ manager Maverick Carter reiterated in an interview conducted with a journalist from CNN that ‘race’ did play a part in the player’s decision to leave the team.

To read more about the Little Rock Nine simply click on the link provided . Little Rock Nine

Brown vs. Board of Education …

Alan aka tophatal …….. 🙂 _ 😦 _ 🙂

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Candace-Cabrera

Eye candies courtesy of Smooth Magazine . Candace Cabrera

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Candace-2

More ‘candy’ Candace for us all and that has got to be a good thing don’t you think ?

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My Horse My Horse My Kingdom For A Horse

My Horse My Horse My Kingdom For A Horse

Well the NBA ___ preseason will start within the next three weeks and all signs point to the fact that all of the power will return to the Eastern Conference. I could well be wrong in my interpretation but with the possible move of Carmelo Anthony moving from the Denver Nuggets to the New Jersey Nets . It would appear that the conference could see a re-emergence in terms of supremacy.

No doubt with the Miami Heat with its trio of stars corralled by Heat President Pat Riley , his three musketeers in the guise of LeBron James , Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will look to be the dominant team within the conference. However with such teams as the Orlando Magic , Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics all looking to make the Heat the pretenders to the crown that's still in the possession of the Los Angeles Lakers. And until the champions are knocked off their pedestal then all homage has to be paid to the Lakers.

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Courtesy of The New York Daily News

Donnie Walsh regrets using draft pick for Tracy McGrady, which may help Houston land Carmelo Anthony

By Frank Isola

Donnie Walsh admitted Wednesday that he second-guesses himself for including a first-round pick in last year’s Tracy McGrady deal.

In fact, the Houston Rockets are dangling that 2012 first-round pick in a potential deal for Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, a player the Knicks are also heavily pursuing.

“I’ll second-guess myself forever on that,” Walsh said of including a 2012 first-round pick in the McGrady trade. “I’ve always wondered about that. I didn’t like it when we did it.”

On Feb. 18, 2010, McGrady was traded to the Knicks as part of a three-team deal involving Houston and Sacramento. The Knicks and Rockets exchanged 2011 first-round picks in the deal, and because the Knicks added their 2012 first-round pick, they are prohibited by league rules to trade their 2013 first-round pick.

In fact, Walsh revealed that he is trying to acquire a first-round pick that he theoretically could include in a deal for Anthony.

Both Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni believed the McGrady trade helped the Knicks because it created enough salary-cap space to sign free agents Amare’ Stoudemire and Raymond Felton over the summer.

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Now while it's yet to be confirmed that the trade will go down it's expected that Anthony could be looking to land with a team that has the potential to be considered a contender not just within the conference but quite possibly as a title contender . And while there's every belief that a trade will happen , I'm not entirely sure that the player will go to the lowly Nets spite of the team now being owned by Russian multi-billionaire entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov. This much we do know Prokhorov is an ambitious owner who wants to set his seal of approval within the NBA. I'm under no illusion about Prokhorov, that he is serious about making the Nets a contender but this team is at least two years of actually being considered a contender within its own division much less the rest of the Eastern Conference. And while there's burgeoning talent there in terms of Derrick Favors, Brook Lopez and Devin Harris beyond that there's very little there to suggest that with the addition of Carmelo this team would make a sizable gain in terms of wins when measured against last season's total of 12 wins.

And while no one might view this as significant I'm in agreement with ESPN's NBA analys and writer Chris Broussard that either Chicago Bulls or the Houston Rockets could very well make a play for Carmelo Anthony. They have the contracts that are coming to a close an end and a number of players that are surplus to their needs. Acquiring Anthony would be of benefit to the team and Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey being as insightful as he is , he knows that obtaining a player of this magnitude would be of benefit not only to the organization from a business standpoint as it would help the bottom line of a franchise that has struggled eke out a profit and being seen as the lesser light within the “Lone Star State” , as the rise in prominence of the Dallas Mavericks and the four time NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs. For the Rockets they've not been viewed as a perennial contender since the halcyon days of Hakeem Olajuwon and the coaching pedigree of Rudy Tomjanovich.

What we do know is that the Western Conference is still the weighted conference in terms of quality laden teams. The talent is there and with the emergence of the Oklahoma City Thunder and two truly rising stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook we could well see the further dominance of the NBA by Western Conference teams. Now there are those fans within the Eastern Conference who view the Heat and their trio who are looking to bring back some prominence to South Beach. And while no one is under any illusion that the Heat are expected to have a dominant season it has to be said anything short of winning the title will be looked upon as a complete failure. There's a reason why Heat owner Micky Arison , team President Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff has set this all in motion. The franchise needed a boost and with declining revenues and the fact franchise's bottom line had shown a steady decline over the last four years something had to be done. And now with general ticket sales on the rise , that of the executive suites and memorabilia it could mean all or nothing for the club.

I'm under no illusion that the Heat are presumptive favorites I do feel that we ought not to overlook teams such as the Celtics , Lakers , Magic, Spurs and Thunder. The latter I've stated because to my mind I view them as contenders who could very well upset the apple cart. On the other hand I'll be looking to see whether or not the Dallas Mavericks can prove me wrong by showing that they can actually play with some heart. To my mind this team has always built on the premise that if they have a good regular season that's enough to satisfy their fans . Mark Cuban to my mind while he's demonstrative and highly opinionated his greatest problem is that the talent of the Mavericks isn't as good as he believes it to be. And unfortunately while Dirk Nowitzki is a year older the talent around him simply doesn't show that they can play with a passion and can be physical when needed to be. A closet full of "queens" (homosexuals) show more passion and physicality than the Mavericks have shown. Less we forget their sole appearance in the NBA Finals led to them having their asses handed to them on a silver platter. And at present there's nothing that'd lead me to believe that the same outcome isn't liable to happen again. Rick Carlisle as the team's coach hasn't the wherewithal to have the team batten down and the hatches when adversity stares them in the face. If anything as we've seen repeatedly over the years they've buckled under the weight of expectation. Is it liable to happen again this ? Well I think that will the case and there's not much that can dissuade me to think otherwise.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Are you as a fan looking forward to the upcoming season in the NBA and how do you see things panning out for the Miami Heat ? Are they capable of usurping the Lakers and bringing the championship back to the Eastern Conference and in particular to South Beach ? Chime on in with your thoughts and observations and as always thanks for the continued support .

🙂 _ 😦

Alan aka tophatal

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Russian model , actress and former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko .

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Less is more as they say and the more of Olga that we see the better off we are !

Winding Down Or Winding Up As The Case Maybe

Winding Down Or Winding Up As The Case Maybe

Like me I suppose for the rest of you the topic and I do mean topic of conversation in the sports world may well have rested on LeBron James’ announcement that he was leaving Cleveland to resume his NBA career in Miami with the Miami Heat . Glasses were raised on South Beach while the once loyal fans of James in Cleveland showed their “disdain” for the player by burning his jersey replicas and whatever else they had in their possession associated with player. Not to be outdone Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert had a scalding reprimand for the player and essentially called him a coward.

Now far be it for me to show no real concern over this but once ESPN and their reporter Jim Gray chose to bilk this story for far more than it was worth , I essentially became tired of the story and of James the self appointed ” King” without a kingdom . Now don’t get me wrong with James now joining the Heat along also the recently acquired Chris Bosh to play with Dwyane Wade . This has now in essence made the Heat the presumptive favorites in the Eastern Conference and a legitimate challenger to the Los Angeles Lakers and the defense of their NBA title .

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Now while all of this has come into play perhaps the two proudest and most certainly the happiest are Heat team President Pat Riley and the team’s multi-billionaire owner Micky Arison who also happens to be the owner of Carnival Cruise Lines . My concern now has to be for the Heat’s coach Erik Spoelstra , given the fact that Riley engineered this coup-d’etat with little or no input from his coach. And with that in mind I wonder if Spoelstra will go now the same way of his predecessor Stan Van Gundy ? We all know that Van Gundy was relieved of his position so that Riley could make a quick exit from his executive position to take charge of the team win an a title and then relinquish the coach’s position and make a quick return back to his executive duties. Could this once again happen given the fact that the Heat now has Bosh , James and Wade all on the same team and with the lure there for Riley to return to the fray of coaching ? If I were Spoelstra at this juncture I’d be deeply concerned and looking over my shoulder with each passing second to see if Riley were there and whether or not he had a dagger in his hand !

Now while this has been going on the African continent and the country of South Africa has been hosting the World Cup. Outside the Summer Olympics this might just be the most watched sporting event and spectacle on the planet. FIFA President Joseph (“Sepp”) Blatter says that he expects as many as 700 million viewers worldwide to tune in and watch the finals itself. It has now all come down to this with the 64th and final game of the competition between Spain and the Netherlands . And though Spain would prevail as the 1-0 victors from a goal scored by Andres Iniesta in overtime , the game itself was something of a monotonous bore. With each team failing to convert a number of chances during regulatory play. As to what this might suggest to the first time observer of the sport I’ll leave that up to you to decide !

The most recent edition of FHM an adult oriented male magazine dealing in a wide range of topics issued their list of the “100 Sexiest Women In The World” and specifically dealt with their final top ten . Nothing wrong in that by my way of thinking but then again not all heterosexual males might well feel happy with FHM’s findings and their end result. Much like Maxim Magazine has its own list of their Top 100 Most Desirable Females , I for one feel that it’s something of a trade off in order to create some hype and controversy between the two publications on their observations and then leaving it for their patrons to continue to argue over or discuss !

And amongst FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women (2010) they have Desire Siahaan , Freida Pinto , Megan Fox and slew of bodacious looking females that would be enough to make a guy salivate and drool like a newborn child . But then again what grown man doesn’t when looking at a voluptuous and beautiful female ? My own thoughts on the matter goes with the old saying ………..”beauty is in the eye of the beholder” .

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Picture gallery for your perusal. Click on frame to see the picture in its original format.

Chime in with a comment if you so wish and your thoughts on the sporting weekend in general.

NB: Click on the link provided to view the list of FHM’s Sexiest Women In The World For 2010 . You will most certainly enjoy this pictorial . And that I can assure you will be the least of your concerns !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………….. 🙂

Black Sheep ………………………. “The Choice Is Yours”

And The Winners Are

And The Winners Are

Well now that we know that LeBron James will resume his professional NBA career elsewhere there are now bound to be winners and losers amongst this all. Obviously the biggest losers here are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization , the city of Cleveland and the team’s now once again emotionally stricken fans. The team hierarchy of Dan Gilbert gave it his best shot but it became abundantly clear that he and GM Chris Grant were out of their depth and faced an uphill battle to entice the player to remain with the team. They’d done nothing to assure the player that they were serious in acquiring the talent to make the team better! . And the hiring of Byron Scott was too little and much too late .

The fallout from this is now clear as James will be now viewed as a pariah by the fans who many of which will have felt that he betrayed them. Furthermore for the businesses in the city of Cleveland this will come a boon to them with the thought that James will no longer be there. Especially given the fact that at home games at Quicken Loans Arena ___ business was brisk for businesses there that catered to the fans. The ramifications now will be devastating for all within the sector.

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With James having made his decision known in a public interview granted to ESPN last night. Let’s just say that once it became formal, a weight had been lifted off the shoulders of Art Modell , long felt and often thought of as the most reviled and despised person in the history of Cleveland area sports. In the space of thirty seconds last night, once LeBron had uttered the words “I’ll be leaving Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat those words were like a dagger to the heart of the Cavaliers’ fans . Never mind the fact that another half a dozen teams around the league may have felt that they were in with a chance of signing the player.

Courtesy of USA Today

LeBron adds to history of Cleveland sports setbacks

By Nichole Auerbach , USA Today

Cleveland’s sports history took another hit Thursday when LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Cleveland fans remember these events all too well:

PHOTO GALLERY: LeBron James in pictures
GAME ON! LeBron vs. Modell
NUMBERS: LeBron’s career stats

The Drive: The Cleveland Browns were less than six minutes from a 20-13 victory in the AFC Championship Game and the organization’s first trip to the Super Bowl, in January 1987. The Denver Broncos muffed the kickoff, and quarterback John Elway took over at the Broncos’ 2-yard line.

Six passes, three rushes and a couple of Elway scrambles later, Denver had tied the score with 37 seconds left. The Broncos won in overtime with a field goal.

The Fumble: A year after The Drive, the Broncos had a seven-point lead with four minutes to play in the AFC Championship Game vs. Cleveland in January 1988.

The Browns moved the ball to the Broncos’ 8-yard line with 1:12 left in the game. Running back Earnest Byner got the handoff, took off for the end zone but was stripped by Jeremiah Castille and fumbled at the 2-yard line.

Denver recovered, gave the Browns an intentional safety and won 38-33.

Cleveland is one of four NFL teams never to have reached the Super Bowl.

The Shot: In the fifth and deciding game of the first round of the 1989 NBA playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a 100-99 lead against the Chicago Bulls with three seconds left.

Michael Jordan got the inbounds pass and shot over defender Craig Ehlo. The basket counted at the buzzer, leaving the Cleveland crowd stunned, the first of many such game-winning shots in Jordan’s playoff career.

The Move:Art Modell, who owned the Browns for 35 years, had promised he would never move the team from Cleveland. But after the 1995 season, he began secret discussions with the state of Maryland about placing a team in Baltimore, which had lost the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984.

When the move was announced, fan reaction was overwhelmingly negative. Cleveland sued for breach of the stadium lease. The Browns franchise was ultimately deactivated for three years. With the 1999 season, the NFL gave the city an expansion team, which took the Browns name and colors.

The Collapse: The Cavaliers were the top seed in the Eastern Conference this past season after 61 wins. Led by James’ 31.8 points a game, Cleveland cruised through the first round vs. the Bulls.

In the second round, the Cavs took a 1-0 series lead on the Boston Celtics. Boston won Game 2 on Cleveland’s court, but the Cavaliers buried the Celtics 124-95 in Game 3 in Boston. The series seemed all but over.

Inexplicably, the Cavs came out flat the next three games and couldn’t score more than 88 points in three consecutive losses. James, at times, looked uninterested. The conference’s top team was knocked out, leaving James still looking for his first championship and Cavaliers fans wondering if they had seen the last of him in a home uniform.

The Decision: Or, as Cleveland fans will see it, The Failed Decision.

ESPN’s one-hour special, The Decision, sent Cleveland fans into a frenzy before James revealed where he would next play. He not only angered them by abandoning his hometown team but also humiliated them in what they saw as an over-the-top, prime-time debacle.

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For Pat Riley team President of the Miami Heat and their multi billionaire owner Micky Arison this must have felt like Christmas had come early and for the fans of the Heat and especially those in the luxurious enclave of South Beach , this just further adds to the visibility and vitality of the area. For Dwyane Wade , Chris Bosh to now have James as a teammate this now makes the Miami based team the presumptive favorites within the Eastern Conference for the upcoming season. Anyone of the belief that the addition of James doesn’t immediately impact the odds of that statement had better seek psychiatric help . And for the team’s instate rivals the Orlando Magic whose lone move in the free agency market has been to sign backup point guard Chris Duhon from the New York Knicks . In due deference they might as well have signed the female who does the Pine Sol ads on television for all the good that will do. Magic GM Otis Smith is either naïve or he clearly believes to remain as they are will still make the team a contender. Given the lack of tenacity shown by the likes of Rashard Lewis , Vince Carter and the rare glimpses of brilliance shown by Dwight Howard in the NBA playoffs one seriously doubts that the Stan Van Gundy coached team will genuinely have what it takes to take down a newly revamped Miami Heat team.

While the immediate fallout hasn’t been lost on the fans the hierarchy of the NBA must have been rubbing their hands in delight knowing that this subject will become the water cooler topic of discussion for months to come in the off season until the new season resumes.Think of it as the NBA’s own version of the ongoing Brett Favre saga , only it‘s not about “will he or won‘t he “ ? But in actuality it‘s how the hell did that happen and how did the Heat pull off this coup d’etat ? In actuality this outcome was in the making the moment that all there players, Bosh , James and Wade sat down and broke bread together discussing their immediate future. And all of the subterfuge created with their multiple meeting with different teams was merely to keep the writers on their toes and build up the suspense for James’ announcement last night.

The New York Knicks for their part under GM Donnie Walsh thought that they were in with a very good shot of signing LeBron but given the fact that the nucleus of the team they had about as much synergy as oil and water mixing. Mike D’Antoni while being an admirable coach just doesn’t seem to be a person that a character such as LeBron James can learn a lot from, much less have respect for. And for spirited Knicks’ fans, think of the experience as something that you can learn from. If it hasn’t been enough with the moronic belief that because you were in the biggest market you gave the player the best opportunity to win an NBA title. No, the only opportunity being offered was the lure of Madison Ave to the player. Common sense would tell you that from the beginning but then again are they are any enlightened Knicks’ fans about ?

The New Jersey Nets were never in with a really serious chance of landing James despite his close friendship with rapper Jay-Z . So unless LeBron is interested in the pursuit of a rap career at some point in his future , then that baby has just been laid to rest once and for all !

It was felt that other than the Cavaliers __ the Chicago Bulls were the best bet to land the player. And given the proactive moves made by team executives John Paxson and GM Gar Forman with the team were some $30 million under the NBA salary cap. Everything seem to have pointed to the fact that an aggressive pursuit would be underway to land the talented league MVP . But things don’t always go as planned and with a wily veteran such as Pat Riley waiting in the wings . Let’s just say it was like watching an anaconda survey its surroundings before devouring its prey while everyone else watched. Unfortunately the Bulls are now left with little more than their pride intact and not much else to show for their pursuit. Michael Jordan isn’t about to walk back into the United Center to suit up anytime soon as he’s got the Charlotte Bobcats now to deal with. Ergo Chicago , you’ve just been punk’d !

You have to hand to it Pat Riley , he’s not only a move and a shaker but the guy can make it rain. How else can you explain it wherein he signs the three of the biggest free agents on the market at reduced salaries with little more than a three to five year commitment ? Screw that, Barack Obama should hire him in some capacity within his administration and to hell with the likes Tim Geithner and Ken Salazar . That duo is led with the responsibility of one, trying to reverse the economic downturn and the other to deal with BP Gulf oil spill disaster. And I’d hazard a guess if push came to shove that Pat Riley could pull a rabbit out of his ass and it wouldn’t hurt in the slightest ! Which begs the question what’s happening in the Gulf and is there an end in sight ? Does anyone really know ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

OK so it now comes down to this, how long will it take for the Cavaliers’ fans to perhaps forgive and forget ? And if they do, will they be comfortable in the fact that while LeBron James was with the team they all enjoyed a glorious ride ?. Unfortunately, what the future now holds for the team doesn’t appear to be a pleasant one and it points to a situation where they could now go into free fall and become one of the more inept teams within the NBA. As a dispassionate observer on the outside looking in, my condolences go out to the Cavaliers’ fans but at the same I think that they were somewhat naïve to think that the player wasn’t going to come to the decision that he did. I mean , what were meant to be the pointers to suggest that he was about to remain with the team ? Does anyone care to evaluate and then offer up an answer ? Chime on in with a comment and thanks as always for the continued support as it has always been gratefully appreciated . Thanks once again !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………………

Rick Ross ………………………. “Push It”

Reality tv star Shay aka “Bucky”

Hey Pat You’re Going ’bout Things The Wrong Way ……… Dwyane Ain’t Comin’ Back If The Heat Are This Bad !

Hey Pat You’re Going ’bout Things The Wrong Way ……… Dwyane Ain’t Comin’ Back If The Heat Are This Bad !

If you thought that billionaire cruise line operator and NBA sport’s franchise owner , Micky Arison had problems, then you’d be absolutely right. The economic downturn being what it is, Arison and his company, Carnival Cruise Lines , has seen something of a drop-off in not only revenues but also in terms of passengers being able to afford cruises aboard his luxury vessels and cruise liners. A marketing push has been started by the company to lure passengers back to the fine art of cruising , traveling the seas and enjoying one’s self amongst the camaraderie on-board a cruise ship .

<strong>  Pat Riley (l), Erik Spoelstra , team  head coach (center) and  right  ,team owner , Micky  Arison </strong>.    Here  the  three are  seen  after  the   formal  announcement  had  been  made  that  Riley  would  return  to the front office  of  the   Miami  Heat  to  resume his  duties  as  President of  Basketball Operations   and  General Manager of the  team.   Spoelstra  would  assume  the  position  as  coach  of the  Miami   Heat.   photo  appears   courtesy of   Associated Press /  Mark   Thomas   ..............
Pat Riley (l), Erik Spoelstra , team head coach (center) and right ,team owner , Micky Arison . Here the three are seen after the formal announcement had been made that Riley would return to the front office of the Miami Heat to resume his duties as President of Basketball Operations and General Manager of the team. Spoelstra would assume the position as coach of the Miami Heat. photo appears courtesy of Associated Press / Mark Thomas ..............

Arison for all of his brilliance as a businessman has seen limited success with his sport’s endeavors , with regard to his ownership of the Miami Heat. Granted, the franchise has to its name , its lone NBA title won (2006) under the tutelage of NBA coaching great, Pat Riley. But since that win , with both Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal< at the helm to lead the charge to NBA championship glory. Things for the franchise have literally cooled off. Were it to get any colder , then the streets of Miami and South Beach would be littered with ice , several inches of snow , sledges, Eskimos and Alaskan huskies. That’s how bad things have now gotten for the team and their young head coach, Erik Spoelstra. The coach was Riley’s hand picked successor, having succeeded the NBA legend , after his return to the Heat’s front office as President of Basketball Operations and the team’s de-facto General Manager. Power they say ‘corrupts’ but for Pat Riley , it seems to be an elixir that even he simply can’t ever seem to get enough of . It was the same way when he was the head coach of the New York Knicks and it may well have been the thing that led to his abrupt departure from the franchise , after his contentious relationship with team owner, James Dolan.

<strong> Dwyane Wade (#3) </strong> of the Miami Heat lays one in against the Toronto Raptors during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  photo  appears courtesy  of  <strong> NBAE/Getty Images/</strong> Ron  Turner  .................
Dwyane Wade (#3) of the Miami Heat lays one in against the Toronto Raptors during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Ron Turner .................

The relationship between Riley , Arison and Spoelstra, on the face of it seems to be a pleasant one. With each individual doing what’s needed to make the organization productive and a well ran business concept and entity. However, on the field of play the Heat are having their problems and by all accounts underachieving. The standings being what they are at present continues to bear this out. Within the Eastern Conference the team has posted a 23-22 mark that puts it two games over .500. A challenge at best for a team that was expected to be amongst the elite within the conference this season. But we are talking about the Eastern Conference where a .500 record can garner you a playoff berth at the end of the regular season. And I’m to believe that’s meant to be competitive ?

<strong> Chris Bosh (#4)</strong> of the Toronto Raptors celebrates a basket late in the game against<strong> Jermaine O'Neal (#7) </strong>of the Miami Heat during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The  Raptors  would  go  on  to defeat the  Heat  <strong>111-103 </strong> in  the  match-up  between  the   two   Eastern  Conference  foes.  photo  appears  courtesy  of  <strong> NBAE/Getty Images/</strong>  Ron Turner  ...............
Chris Bosh (#4) of the Toronto Raptors celebrates a basket late in the game against Jermaine O'Neal (#7) of the Miami Heat during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Raptors would go on to defeat the Heat 111-103 in the match-up between the two Eastern Conference foes. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Ron Turner ...............

Based on that record the Heat as a team would garner the sixth seed in the conference , were the playoffs to start today. And within the Southeast Dvision the Heat now lies in third place behind the surprise division leading, Atlanta Hawks (29-14) , with in second place, last season’s Eastern Conference representatives in the NBA Finals, the Orlando Magic (29-16). And beneath the Miami Heat within the division are the Charlotte Hornets (22-22) followed by the last plaaced and woefully inept Washington Wizards(14-30). The standout teams within the division this season are Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic. And it would appear that both will be contesting the divisional honors based on their present form. The same cannot be said of the Heat , as they have lacked consistency and Dywane Wade has been lacking in support from his teammates. And one well understand the frustrations behind the player and his lack to make a full commitment to the team, as it concerns his immediate future. At the end of the season Wade become an unrestricted free agent. And he, alongside LeBron James are thought to be the most prized assets of what likely will be ‘a blockbuster crop of talent laden stars’ on the open market.


Courtesy of Miami Herald

Miami Heat’s Jermaine O’Neal could be dealt for Amar’e Stoudemire

By M Wallace , Miami Herald

Toronto — The last time center Jermaine O’Neal was traded, he was involved in just about every step of the negotiation process in his move last February from the Raptors to the Miami Heat.

If the Heat has any plans to move O’Neal and his $23 million expiring contract before next month’s trade deadline, the 14-year veteran apparently is not aware of them.

O’Neal could be a major cog involved in a potential deal if the Heat is serious about acquiring Amare Stoudemire from Phoenix.

The Heat has been mentioned among a half-dozen teams that might pursue a trade for Stoudemire if the Suns make him available. Stoudemire has a $17 million contract option for the 2010-11 season, but could opt out after this season to join free-agent class highlighted by Cleveland’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

League and team sources confirmed Wednesday the Heat is in its “due diligence” process, something team president Pat Riley does when a big-name player surfaces who could help Miami.

Despite concerns at times over his role, O’Neal is not believed to have publicly or privately asked to be traded, and would like to make it work in Miami. The Heat seemed committed to O’Neal for the season and had not ruled out trying to resign him.

Riley’s plan has been to maintain enough salary-cap space this summer to re-sign Wade, add another maximum-level player and also convince a third star free agent to take less money on what would be a title contender.

If Miami is reluctant to package second-year forward Michael Beasley in a potential offer for Stoudemire, then O’Neal and a first-round pick might entice Phoenix.

Such a package could be constructed under salary-matching guidelines that would allow the Heat to swap O’Neal for Stoudemire and still get beneath the league’s $71.2 million luxury-tax threshold.

Riley has said Miami is about $2.5 million over the tax and is intent on getting under it.

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Fearful of the fact that he could lose the player to free agency , Pat Riley has sought to do almost everything within his power to try and persuade the player to stay. Wade for his part, has said all of the right things but at the same time he’s been critical of the organization and none committal as to his immediate plans for the future and whether not the Miami Heat are part of those plans. Which leaves the Heat fans thinking that they could be once again facing those dark days wherein the team was merely used as a stop off point for South Beach by an opponent and at the same time as ‘cannon fodder’ in an NBA contest. Well that would appear to be the scenario were Dywane Wade not a part of this team in the future. And the Heat certainly hasn’t helped its cause with the understated play of Michael Beasley . Nor has it helped that aged veteran, Jermaine O’Neal appears to be at least five steps too slow from his prominent days where he was considered to be a top ten performer in the league. Such has been the falloff in his play that one wonders why he’s still on the Heat’s roster ? Beasley for his part, has had his moments but they’ve also been overshadowed by his private off the field issues.

<strong> Michael Beasley (#30)</strong> of the Miami Heat throws down the dunk ahead of <strong>Hedo Turkoglu (#26)</strong>  of the Toronto Raptors during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  <strong>photo  appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/</strong>  Ron  Turner  ...............
Michael Beasley (#30) of the Miami Heat throws down the dunk ahead of Hedo Turkoglu (#26) of the Toronto Raptors during a game on January 27, 2010 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Ron Turner ...............

One can surmise that until Beasley’s mindset is completely on basketball , then he’ll continue to disappoint not only the Miami Heat fans but also those of Kansas State (Wildcats), where Beasley attended college. It’s too early yet to conclude that Beasley has been ‘a complete bust’ in the NBA. But given the fact that a player of the caliber of Kevin Durant is lighting up the NBA with his enormous presence and phenomenal play. Albeit, that he preceded Beasley by a year in the NBA Draft. Whilst Durant’s game has steadily progressed with each year ,for Beasley it has been just moments of rare glimpses of brilliance and little much else. So much so, that is was widely believed around the league that Riley might pursue a trade of the young player, feeling that a change of environment might to be better Beasley altogether. However, there ‘were no takers’ for the number 2 overall pick from the 2008 NBA Draft , where the overall pick was the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose. Far be it for me to suggest that in making the pick, Riley erred on the side of caution. But given the facts and the play of Rose during the NCAA tournament of that year. It would’ve proven to be fortuitous had he chosen Rose over Beasley by having initiated a change of picks with the Bulls on draft day. But as they say ‘……hindsight sight is 50/50’ ? For Pat Riley this wasn’t necessarily about hindsight but poor judgment by him and the entire Heat coaching staff on the day.

There’s no bone of contention however, that for the Miami Heat to retain Dywane Wade , then the play of note Beasley will have to improve but so too will the play of Jermaine Neal and the entire Heat roster for that matter ! They face enough of an uphill task as it is trying to hold unto the sixth seed within the Eastern Conference. The struggles of this Miami Heat team paints an ominous picture were they to miss the playoffs entirely. So acute now is their situation that Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra , has to be looking over his shoulders to see if Riley will step down from his palatial executive suite in the front office of the organization to return to coaching, relegating his young protoge’ back to the assistants’ bench. After-all he’d done it once before with Spoelstra’s predecessor, Stan Van Gundy, on his way to coaching the team to his fifth NBA titleas a coach and the team’s first and only championship in their entire existence. The latter scenario may not happen but given the present situation , anything is possible at this juncture.

For the Miami Heat fans this may not be something that they can envisage or stomach. And that’s a team without the best player in team history no longer being part of the organization or even the fabric of the local community. Dwyane Wade’s appearances and his philanthropic efforts in the community and beyond have been well documented. And Wade’s recent efforts in not only raising awareness of the Haitian crisis within the community but also putting on a fundraiser amongst fans and members of the team , speaks well as to how much as to how beloved he is within the community but also in the City of Miami. He has in effect become their ‘favorite son’ .

If the Heat are to fare well throughout the remainder of the season , then it will have to be through a collective effort by the team as well as the entire coaching staff. And with trade deadline just around the corner it will be very interesting to see whether or not Riley will be a player in the market , either by trading a player or acquiring one that’ll be of benefit to the team. But it has become very clear to see that the initial gamble made by Riley in the draft hasn’t paid off at all . But where success is now judged by the immediacy of the here and now and what have you done for me lately ? This might well prove to be the last chance for Pat Riley to show us all how good a personnel executive he really is . If he and Erik Spoelstra can’t turn things around then for all sense and purpose they might as well wave goodbye as Dwyane Wade departs from the city of Miami and away from Miami Heat, also. There’s a sense of inevitability that this is about to happen. But as alluded to earlier , Pat Riley will do his damn best to make sure that scenario doesn’t take place in the very near future.

What are your thoughts if any on the possible or imminent departure of Dwyane Wade from the Miami Heat ? Do you believe that it is likely to happen or not ?


Ever  wanted  to  know  what  a   female  JAG  lawyer  looks  like out  of   uniform  ?  Well  here's   your  chance.  It's  Catherine  Bell   from  the  CBS  hit  show  <strong> 'JAG'  </strong>  of  which   Bell  played  US Marine  Cpt  and  lawyer <strong> 'Sarah Mackenzie' </strong> .   A  role   which  she  played  for   six   years  on  the network.    The  spin-offs   from  the  show  has  been   NCIS   and   its   counterpart  NICS-Los  Angeles.  Both  shows are   <strong> bonafide hits  </strong for  the  network.    And   Bell  to  my  mind  is  a hit  in   or  out  of   uniform .

Catherine Bell, the former star of the CBS hit action-drama ‘JAG’. On the show Bell player US Marine lawyer and‘ Lt. Colonel , Sarah Mackenzie. Let’s just say in or out of uniform , Bell looks ‘damn fine’ !

And as an added treat , here’s a video covering Bell’s photo shoot for FHM . Can we praise Bell for showing us some skin ? Yes we can as it’s change that we can all believe in !

50 cent ‘drops it’ for Pat Riley as a reminder as to what’s needed. ‘Window Shopper’

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………. 🙂

He Stoops To Conquer ………..

 

He Stoops  To  Conquer    ………………

 

 

 

 

As  of  late   a  great   veracity   of  an  argument   can  be  made as   to  why  the  Miami  Heat’s   Dwyane  Wade   ought  to be  added  into  the  mix   of   MVP  candidates.  The   player  has   been   putting  up   monumentally  astounding   numbers   alone.  And   almost  single  handedly   he’s  defeated  the   Boston  Celtics  and  Chicago  Bulls  in successive   games.    

 

 

A  Miami  Heat  fan  makes  it  plainly  known  where  his  allegiances  lie in  expressing  his  sentiments  towards  his  favorite player  Dwyane Wade.
A Miami Heat fan makes it plainly known where his allegiances lie with regard to his favorite player Dwyane Wade . picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..............

  

 

His   play   in  particular   against  the  Boston  Celtics   could   be  described as   being   spectacular .   And  it  can  be  borne   out   by   the   stats   accumulated  by  the  player  on the   night  in  his   team’s   success   in  defeating  the  Celtics   107-99  at  the  American Airlines Arena  in Miami, Florida. Wade  on the  night   would   score  32 pts to go  along  with  a  well  balanced   display   of  on  both   ends  of  the  court.

 

Dwyane Wade  signals  to the  bench   during  the game  played against the  Boston  Celtics.
Dwyane Wade signals to the bench during the game played against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Arena , Miami , Florida. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/Victor Baldizon ...............

 

 

 

 

One   might  suggest  that    we  can   overlook   Wade’s   feats    as    he’s   playing   on   a  team  that’s  not   necessarily    viewed   championship  caliber   material.  But   I’d   hasten   to  add    the  way  that   this   team  is  playing  and   given  the   confidence   being   shown  by  the  player.  They    might   well   be  a  danger   to  any  of the  top   contenders  within  the  Eastern   Conference   at  this  juncture.     And   though  the   talk   throughout  much  of the  season   has   been  the  play   of  LeBron   James ,  Kobe  Bryant and   Dwight  Howard.   I’d  say  personally    that   we   ought to  broaden   our   horizons   beyond  that   triumvirate.  To  ignore   Wade   at this   juncture   would  be   akin  to  stating  that   Jack  Nicholson’s   role  of  Randle Patrick  Murphy  in  “One  Flew  Over The Cuckoo’s  Nest”  wasn’t  an  Oscar  worthy portrayal.    But  then  again  the   adjudicators  of   this   award   have  been   known  to  make  mistakes.   And   at  this   juncture    I  think  that  we  can  leave  it at  that.   To   pursue  that  road   and  to  stake  a  claim  as   to   the  mistakes  that’ve  been  made    would   take   far too  long   to   discuss  the  merits   to  anyone’s  satisfaction.  Suffice to  say  it’s  a   subject   best  left  untouched.

 

Jermaine O'Neal of  the  Miami  Heat  blocks  the  shot  of  a  Celtics'  player  during  the  game.
Jermaine O'Neal of the Miami Heat blocks the shot of a Celtics' player during the game. The Heat would go on to defeat the Celtics 107-99. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..............

 

 

 

 

As   to  Wade’s   own   play  this   season     one   can   say  that  we’ve  seen a   rebirth   of  the  player.  He’s   rejuvenated  and   coming   off  an   impressive   Olympic   display.   One  can   say  what  we’re  now  seeing   …..”  is  The  Flash  of  old “.    And   in  no  way   is  that  meant  to   demean  the   exploits  of   his   peers  at   this   juncture.  Each  of  them   in  their   own   right  are   having   outstanding   seasons.   But it’d  be  a  gross  injustice   if  Wade   were  not   to   be  considered  in  the   voting  process  at this   time.   And  I’m   sure   if  anything  that   the other    contenders   mentioned   have   their  own   supporters  and  arguments   are   being   made  why  their  choice   ought to  be  considered.   However  at the  end   of the  day    the  choice   won’t   be  made    by   you  or  I.  But   by     those   who  are   believed  to be   more   insightful   and  with   more   of  a  keen  sense   as  to what  is  being  sought    and    warrants   being  the  regular  season  league  MVP.  The   award   has  been   one   by   litany  of  the  league’s  best  players  over  the   years ,   some   more    warranted  than  others.

 

 

Erik Spoelstra coach of  the Miami  Heat   speaks  to  his players  before  the  game  against the  Boston Celtics played  at the American Airlines  Arena, Miami, Florida,.
Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat speaks with his players before the game played against the Boston Celtics. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ................

 

 

As  to  Wade’s  own  standing  within   the  NBA .  It  has   to be   said   that   he  is   one  of  the  elite   players    within  the  league   whose    bravado   on  the  court   is  unquestioned.   Night  in  , night   out  his   game  is   of  a  consistently   high  level.  And   he  tends  to  lead   by   example.   One  can  only  surmise   how   good   the   Miami  Heat  might   be   were   he   complemented  with  a  group  of  players  who   possessed   his   passion   for   the   game.  And  who   also  are  willing   to    play  at    that   heightened    level.

 

Celtics' coach  Glenn 'Doc'  Rivers  speaks  with  his   point  guard  Stephon  Marbury    during the  game.
Glenn 'Doc' Rivers coach of the Boston Celtics speaks with his point guard Stephon Marbury during the game against the Miami Heat. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ............

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  Miami  Heat (35-29)  are  chasing   a  playoff  spot  under   first  year  coach  Erik  Spoelstra.  One  might  hasten  to  add that   President  and GM Pat Riley  is  waiting  in the  wings. But   I  sincerely   doubt  that  he’d  be  willing  to   rain   on Spoelstra’s   parade.  And  as  much  as   we   know  that  Riley   craves the   limelight . Even   he  wouldn’t   have  the   temerity  to  derail   his   young   protégé’s  ambitions.  Would  he  ?

 

 

The Miami  Heat's  Dwyane  Wade contests  a loose   ball  with the  Boston Celtics' Mikki  Moore  during  the  game.
The Maimi Heat's Dwyane Wade contests a loose ball with the Boston Celtics' Mikki Moore during the game. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Victor Baldizon ..................

  

 

And  with  the   standings   being  what  they  are  in  the  Eastern Conference.  The   Miami  Heat   it  can  be  said  are   sitting   pretty   in  the   fifth  spot.   A  favorable   matchup   against  the  Atlanta  Hawks   would  look   mighty   tempting  were  those   standings  to hold  up  at the  end  of  regular  season.  But   as such  the  games   aren’t  played  in the  minds  of  the   fans   but  on  the   court  and   are   played   out  to   the  end. If  nothing  else  we know   that   making   presumptions   are   not   in  anyone’s   best   interests.    And  the  case   can  also   be  made   when  it  comes  to   adjudicating   the   league  MVP  as  far  as   the  NBA  is  concerned.

 

 

 

  Continue reading “He Stoops To Conquer ………..”