If you want to know how I feel, walk a mile in my shoes ….

If you want to know how I feel, walk a mile in my shoes ….

The NBA season is now in full swing with the often less than memorable Christmas week schedule of games either being of great interest or simply an eyesore . Ongoing stories have evolved around the worsening crisis befalling the New York Knicks (5-28) and the fact this Derek Fisher coached team simply cannot win anywhere , be it on the road or at home. Truth be told , the Knicks simply suck and they are sucking the life-blood out of their season and the league in general. It is a stunning fact one of the NBA’s most renowned franchises is stuck in a morass of its own making. The “quick fix” many felt Phil Jackson might be able to effect has not been a resounding success for a team simply bereftof talent with the exception of Carmelo Anthony whose decision to re-sign with the team must now come into question , bearing in mind he signed a max-contract with the understanding Jackson as Head of Basketball Operations would seek to improve the roster.

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Essentially, the Knicks’ front office executive has simply shown what I believe to be true and it is the fact, he simply has no idea how to assess talent and is simply a great motivator and coach, when the right pieces are in place. How else can you explain the success of the eleven titles won during his now legendary coaching reign , with players such as Scottie Pippen , Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as the centerpieces of those championship winning teams ?

New York’s last victory came by way of a win over the Boston Celtics on the 12th December, 2014, whom they beat 101-95 at the TD Banknorth Gardens Center in Boston , Massachusetts, in a game marred by some sloppy play from both teams . Eight successive defeats has a way of indicating the lack of confidence shown by a team , but more indicative, has been the lack of leadership from any of the players, along with Fisher’s coaching staff , led by lead assistant Kurt Rambis. Add to this, the idiocy of some suggesting the assistants are experienced enough to provide Derek Fisher, a rookie head coach in his first season,with the experience needed to bring about some semblance of competitiveness. Well that premise, can be quickly put to rest , along with the belief Fisher’s learning on the job will in the end lead to success. During this run , it has been Carmelo Anthony leading the charge from an offensive standpoint. The Knicks’ continued woes are tied to the fact, they simply do not know how to know how to defend, nor are the players inclined to add the facet to their game.

Alongside Carmelo Anthony on this lightly restructured roster are Amare Stoudemire , Pablo Prigioni , Cole Aldrich , Quincy Acy, Jose Calderon , Samuel Dalembert , Cleanthony Early , Iman Shumpert and JR Smith . Suffice to say, if the rumors circulating are to be believed, with Phil Jackson having asked Carmelo Anthony to consider waiving his no-trade clause, it would suggest the Knicks are quite willing to bail on their season , while looking to build for the future. If that premise were to actually take flight , then it is clear the organization have suddenly come to the realization the team is simply not good enough to compete at the highest levels , much less gain a playoff berth for the NBA’s annual end of the regular season foray.

The New York Knicks’ next scheduled contest will be a road gameon the 31st December , 2014 when they face the Los Angeles Clippers (21-11) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, in what will be the last of the regular season scheduled games of 2014.

It was the move meant to send “shock waves “ across the NBA landscape, but instead LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-12) as the ” Prodigal Son” has fallen well short of expectations . James and the Cavaliers are merely three games above.500, although they sit comfortably, as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and four games behind the division leading Chicago Bulls (22-9) within the Central Division. Yet , for all of the brouhaha made of LeBron James’ departure from the Miami Heat to make a heralded return to the Cavaliers, the fact remains, the four-time League MVP while impressive on the on the court, his teammates have failed to follow his lead.

The top-pick from the 2003 NBA Draft remains a prodigious talent and now the standard bearer and face of the NBA, alongside Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder . This duo, one would hope will create a rivalry which will be long-lasting and appreciated as much as many of the greatest rivalries the league has offered over the course of its history. For the moment however, questions are being asked as to why , LeBron James , Kyrie Irving , Kevin Love and the supporting cast have not been more dominant within the NBA. In their last eight games the Cavaliers 5-3, something of a reflection of the team as a whole and the inconsistency witnessed over the course of the season .

As if to emphasize the issues the Cavaliers continue to face, consider the fact they are coming off a twenty-three point home loss to lowly Detroit Pistons . If that contest was not indicative of why Cleveland cannot be currently considered one of the top teams in the NBA, then someone needs to explain to me why there has been such a hype over this franchise merely because of LeBron’s return to this organization ! From the get-go , there was this rather idiotic rationale James would single-handed, make this team an omnipresent force, but seemingly , everyone who ran with this idiocy, failed to recognize the fact, rookie head coach David Blatt was a novice to the NBA and its coaching style . Blatt , his coaching staff and the team will get the chance to reassert their presence in the Eastern Conference, while also seeking to take the lead (1-1) in their season series against the Atlanta Hawks. With the Hawks having built a solid foundation around a core of Elton Brand , Jeff Teague , Paul Millsap , Al Horford , DeMarre Caroll, Mike Muscala , Kyle Korver and John Jenkins . Tonight’s contest between these two Eastern Conference teams could go a long way in telling us the directions the these franchises may well be heading in .

I certainly believe last season’s NBA Playoffs told us a great deal about the Indiana Pacers . As the number one seeds in the Eastern Conference as the playoffs began, it was felt Frank Vogel and his coaching staff had assembled a team make things tough for the Miami Heat during their postseason foray. Instead, the Pacers capitulated under little duress , albeit, the Pacers capitulated under little duress , albeit, the Pacers played a great deal of the Eastern Conference Finals’ series lacking the offensive firepower to match Miami during the best of seven-game series conference finals’ contest.

Coming into this season the Indiana Pacers remain a flawed team without a backbone and showing very little resilience. In their last five games the Pacers have managed to gain some semblance of consistency winning three of those contests, with their last victory coming in a twenty-five point demolition of the Brooklyn Nets on the 27th December , only to follow up that win with a loss to the Chicago Bulls in what can only be seen as the ongoing weakness of the Pacers as a team. A record of 11-21 is a clear indicator as to where this Frank Vogel coached team should expect to be , with the best player on the roster this season , none other than George Hill, being ably abetted by Roy Hibbert, David West, Rodney Stuckey, Luis Scola , Ian Mahinmi and CJ Watson. Indiana will renew their regular season rivalry when they meet the Miami Heat on Wednesday evening in a highly anticipated game at the Conseco Life Field House Center , Indianapolis , Indiana ,.

Having been the NBA’s youngest League MVP, it is hard to define the career of Derrick Rose. Certainly , on his best days , he can be considered one one of the league’s elite point guards,a facilitator , prolific scorer , stout defensive player and clearly an all-round asset to a team . Yet. for all of those very traits, the question remains, can Rose stay healthy enough to play an entire season, staying injury-free, to aid the Chicago Bulls winning their first NBA title since the era of Michael Jordan being with the franchise ? Tom Thibodeau coaches a tremendous Bulls’ lineup led by Rose , but with the talented shooting guard and small-forward Jimmy Butler coming into his own this season , it would appear the Bulls might now be as talented and with even greater depth than in recent years.

If there remains any doubts about the Chicago Bulls at this juncture, consider where they now stand and then take into account how effective they have been been with the ascent of Jimmy Butler. Derrick Rose and his teammates might be in for a stern test when they face the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois , on Wednesday night. The Nets are in need of win , while the Bulls simply want to distance themselves from their nearest rivals within their division.

A great offense can undoubtedly aid a team’s effort to come into its own during a season. Nowhere has it been more evident than with the Golden State Warriors (24-5) and Portland Trailblazers (25-7) who continue to blow their opponents away with almost effortless ease . Leading the charge for both teams are Steph Curry and Damian Lillard . These two extraordinary point guards are providing the league with some exhilarating play and perhaps some of the richest evidence to suggest, that in the last five years this has the been richest era of the game, where these positional players have been so dominant and prominent.

Steve Kerr’s easy transition in succeeding Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors has made his task simple and his merely instructing his players to play with gusto has brought them to the point where they are now at, atop of division and the upper echelons of the Western Conference. Trailblazers’ head coach Terry Stotts has simply shown his coaching acumen , while GM Neil Olshey has merely put together a competitive roster ready to play for a well-respected head coach and his coaching staff .

The Warriors’ most game had them playing the woefully inept Philadelphia 76ers (4-26) , a franchise I now believe should be demoted to the NBA’s D League , simply as a matter of common decency and to stop the promulgation of mediocrity exhibited by the Sixers throughout this entire season. The fact this contest ended in a 3 forty-point blowout loss (126-86) for Philadelphia should come as no surprise, but it ought to be for the NBA hierarchy who still try to brand and sell their on-court product, as riveting and of great appeal to the fans . A blind and deaf mute, is likely to find more excitement in their own solitude, than fans of the Sixers, who continue to watch this team while trying to extol the franchise’s virtues of being a worthy diversion within the NBA. It has been these type of issues the hierarchy has refused to address, along with instances of gross misconduct by team owners , until there is known to be public outrage for such antics, but what else would you expect of sports’ entity ran by a bunch of Neanderthal Caucasian middle-aged males, who are from a bygone age .

Stotts and the Traiblazers would likely make for a formidable contender in the NBA Playoffs if they can maintain their current pace. A projected win total of fifty-six or fifty-eight victories could see them land the top seed within the Western Conference , but that would all be based upon supposition and barring any serious injuries to front-line players on the roster. A well-deserved overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors , one of the surprising stories and teams within the Eastern Conference this season is a telling sign as to how well Portland just happen to be doing at present. The Portland Trailblazers’ first game of 2015 will be on the 3rd January when they play the Atlanta Hawks . A fitting way for Portland to begin the New Year than seeking to take down an Eastern Conference foe and further emphasize the fact the East is weak , while the West is extremely competitive among their top-ten teams.

For all of the continued bellyaching by fans of the Los Angeles Lakers , it is always good to know, we are always only moments away from annually seeing the petulant and self-absorbed behavior of Kobe Bryant. I understand his need to win and to be viewed in the eyes of the fans and public alike, that he is indeed this generation’s answer to Michael Jordan . Bryant may well have surpassed the Bulls’ and NBA icon for third all-time on the career points’ list , but that is all all he is likely to achieve in comparison to Jordan. He will not win a sixth NBA ring or title , most definitely not with the Los Angeles Lakers and their current lineup, coached by none other than Byron Scott and his clueless coaching staff !

Double-digit wins, ten (10-22) in total, have been all the Los Angeles Lakers can muster, just over one-third of the way through the NBA’s eighty two game schedule. Begs the question, if the Lakers were supplanted into the WNBA , would they fare any better ? The fact the Lakers have been unable show any type type of consistency putting together only three back-to-back wins should tell you all you need to know about this team and why they are currently one of the major laughing stocks around the NBA and among the game’s fans. Never kick a dog when it’s down, flea-bitten or not, as there is a likelihood for them to jump right up and take a bite out of your @ss. Something this current Lakers’ lineup is incapable of doing . Continuously over much of the season, Byron Scott’s players have sought to play beneath the level of their opponents, rather than above them . I do not believe I can put it anymore succinctly than that !

An eight-point victory victory over the Denver Nuggets , closed out 2014 for the Los Angeles Lakers but their task will not be any easier when they open up 2015 with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies . I believe Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are prepared to provide an outcome the Lakers players and their fans will not be entirely happy with ! Kobe Bryant may well seek to return to the Lakers next season for an eighteenth year in this league, but at what cost to the organization ? A franchise where GM Mitch Kupchak remains at a loss at this stage of his professional career knowing how to assemble a competitive team, while team owner Jim Buss continues to look bemused , non-cognizant of his actual surroundings and what is happening to the organization he presides over .

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Picture gallery .

Based upon the evidenced witnessed within the NBA , what do you believe has been the biggest surprise in the infancy of the league schedule and which players , team or teams have proven to be the biggest disappointments ? Your comments are more than welcome , so take a stab at making your thoughts known .

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) John Wall(2) and Rasual Butler (8) of the Washington Wizards guard Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks in the second half of their game at Madison Square Garden on December 25 , 2014 in New York City. Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky …

(2) Rasual Butler (8) of the Washington Wizards shoots over Carmelo Anthony (7) of the New York Knicks in the first half of their game at Madison Square Garden on December 25, 2014 in New York City. Getty Images/ Jeff Zelevansky

(3) NEW YORK, USA – MARCH 18TH : New York Knicks introduce Phil Jackson as the new Knicks’ President at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. Also pictured are , far left , team owner James Dolan and GM Steve Mills . Jackson and Mills have seen the team struggle this season and there now seems to be growing speculation the front office will seek to trade their prized and only valuable asset , Carmelo Anthony , with the player being asked to waive his no-trade clause . Anthony is not due to become a free agent until 2019 , having signed contract with the New York Knicks prior to the beginning this regular season. AP Photo by Anthony J. Causi ….

(4) Paul Millsap (4) of the Atlanta Hawks defends against Kevin Love (0) of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena on December 30 , 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C Cox/ Getty Images …..

(5) LeBron James (23) and Kevin Love (0) of the Cleveland Cavaliers react after a play in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio . Getty Images / Mike Lawrie …

(6) Jimmy Butler , left , defended by Alan Anderson , was held to eight points during the Nets’ 96-82 blowout win over the Bulls Tuesday night in Chicago at the United Center . AP Photo / Holly Anderson …

(7) Deron Williams (8) of the Brooklyn Nets moves against Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 23 , 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Johnathan Daniel /Getty Images …

(8) (L-R) Damian Lillard (0) , Wesley Matthews , Nicolas Batum and Meyers Leonard of the Portland Trail Blazers wait on the court as a play is reviewed during their game against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on December 22 , 2014 in Houston, Texas. Getty Images North America/ Scott Halleran …

(9) Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks with Kobe Bryant (24) during a time out in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 14, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lakers defeated the Timberwolves 100-94 . Getty Images/ Hannah Foslien ….

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From  left to  right ,  Kevin  Durant  ,  LeBron    James  and   Anthony  Davis .
From left to right , Kevin Durant , LeBron James and Anthony Davis .

Act like you’ve got a pair , …balls that is

Act like you’ve got a pair , balls that is ……..
Strangely enough, hearing a sports’ fans continue to opine on the ills within the game, be it baseball, football, basketball or hockey. My take on it all, if your teams suck , don’t just look at the players , but also the coaches and owners in particular . How they act , will trend to give you a clear idea as to whether or not they know how to handle real adversity. The NBA season remains in its infancy , but we already witnessing several teams struggling to step away from their own ineptitude . There were high hopes for the New York Knicks after Phil Jackson was brought in , to lead their Basketball Operations where GM Steve Mills would be ultimately answerable to Jackson within the Knicks’ hierarchal organization . Owner James Dolan remains the one constant within the organization , whose decision-making continues to come into question. Granted , the franchise remains popular among its fan-base , profitable and still the most valuable team in the NBA.

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Nine games into the regular season and the New York Knicks are 2-7 , just above the win-less Philadelphia 76ers(0-7) within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference . For rookie head coach Derek Fisher it would be fair to suggest having seen his team get off to such a sluggish start should be cause for concern. The players themselves have been lackluster with only forward Carmelo Anthony actually showing signs of life .

In their two most recent games the New York Knicks suffered a six-point home loss to the Atlanta Hawks , then followed that up again with another defeat , where their guests, the Orlando Magic inflicted more pain upon what has become a troubling start to the Knicks’ season. Fans of the New Yorks, all too often, tend to point to the positives about their team , one , mainly from an offensive standpoint they can put up points on just about anyone , what they fail to indicate has been the very fact the team simply has no idea how to defend leading their ever increasing issues , which have yet to be addressed by Derek Fisher and his coaching staff

New York came into the season with one of the highest payrolls in the NBA , but nonetheless , Phil Jackson and Steve Mills felt they could live with just as long as the players lived up to expectations . Hard to believe this current roster is no better than the lineup from last season that failed to make the NBA Playoffs . As good as the New York Knicks believe themselves to be , this is not a team currently showing it can compete with the best that the NBA has to offer. Next up for Derek Fisher’s team will be a home game against the Utah Jazz , a contest which will likely tell us a great deal about the mindset of the host.

For two straight years the Chicago Bulls (6-2) have been heavily reliant on Derrick Rose being around for the long haul . In 2012 and again in 2013 , the Bulls’ point guard was felled by an injury . Come full circle and here we are , already wondering about the fitness of Rose after another injury scare. I doubt Tom Thiboadeau wants to head into the next three to six weeks of the Bulls’ schedule without their most prized asset .

In their two defeats the margin of victory for the Bulls’ opponents have been less than seven points in each case. This points to the fact Chicago remains a resilient defensive force , one of the best in conference as well as the entire NBA .

The departures of Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer , two of the Bulls’ best scoring options from last season may well prove to hinder the team’s chances this season, but there is every reason to believe with the addistion of Paul Gasol and the ever-improving play of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson , Joakim Noah , Mike Dunleavy and Aaron Brooks , there is every reason to believe the Chicago Bulls can make a long and spirited run during the NBA Playoffs for this season . Chicago’s next scheduled game will be a match-up with the surprise of the team of the early part of the basketball season, the conference leading Toronto Raptors.

There will come a time when a price has to be paid for the alleged belief the NBA and its idiocy of a soft salary cap has been of benefit to the game. Not unlike the idiocy within baseball (MLB) , where Bud Selig and his successor Rob Manfred are still mired with their own hierarchical ineptitude . It begs the question, which idiotic fans of professional basketball actually has a clue as to what happened with regard to the economic vagaries of the NBA . Last season the Philadelphia Sixers’ willingly ” tanked “ the final quarter of their schedule , all with the hope gaining a lottery pick from the NBA Draft . Sixers’ owner Joshua Harris has given cart-blanche to ruin the franchise while fans think nothing of the destruction now taking place . Win-less and off to an 0-7 start , there seems to be clear evidence that this team cannot win a game no , matter who the opponent just happens to be .

Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown and his coaching staff have been far from inspiration for this team . Nerlens Noel , Luc MBah a Moute , Jason Richardson , Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams are simply not enough to lure anyone to see the Sixers play . It is pretty much safe to say this season beyond being viewed as an eyesore is far from being desirable for the NBA . Yet , there you have it , with the league hierarchy unwilling to intervene when an organization shows an obvious unwillingness to compete . As to suggesting who the best player on the Sixers’ roster might be , well given what you might see as desirable , I would leave that choice in your hands ! Michael Carter-Williams having been a Rookie of the Year might just be the lone asset on this team .

Two consecutive losses for a combined eighty-five points defines mediocrity in the NBA. Philadelphia’s next game will be on the road when they face the Houston Rockets led by e James Harden and .Dwight Howard . The contest will be a decidedly lopsided affair favoring the home team.. Make no bones about it , the NBA remains a brand is in need of some real coaching talent beyond Gregg Popovich , Erik Spoelstra, Rick Carlisle and Doc Rivers .

Denver Nuggets’ (1-6) head coach Brian Shaw was overlooked when he sought to succeed Phil Jackson as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers . The Nuggets’ record this season reflects how bad this team just happen to be . In the Nuggets’ most recent game the team gave up eighty-four points in the first half of a contest against the Portland Trailblazers . Blazers’ players Damian Lillard , LaMarcus Aldridge and their teammates had a field-day in wiping the court with the Nuggets in their twenty-three point victory over their divisional rivals .

Beyond Kenneth Faried , Ty Lawson and JJ Hickson , there is absolutely nothing to suggest the Nuggets are capable of competing in the NBA . Team owner Stanley Kroenke and GM Tim Connelly have not shown the acumen to suggest they have the best interests of the fans let alone the league , but yet consumers are asked to tolerate this type of ineptitude not just from the Denver Nuggets, but with several teams around the league . Some fans are willing to show their apathy and ignorance by simply pointing to teams who are winning and not the dire consequences which . take place when the franchises are far from being competitive .

When the Nuggets face the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse , in Indianapolis , Indiana the meeting between these two teams should prove to be an caution as to the meaning of ineptitude based on the play of the two clubs this season.

Adam Silver the successor to David Stern as NBA Commissioner, seeks to spread his global brand and professional basketball remains the most popular sports’ brand North America has exported around the globe , far exceeding the reach of MLB , NFL and NHL . Silver has been engaging, while offering little to suggest he is the right person to be leading the NBA. As an executive he has been quick to point out that he believes the federal government should legalize gambling on all professional sports nationwide with their being tight restrictions , due diligence and oversight for the proposed statute. Given the lobbying presence of the hierarchy (NBA) up on Capitol Hill , is anyone actually surprised by Silver’s comments on the issue ? Sorry , but the commissioner is now creating a conflict of interest for his sport because , there are likely to be serious ramifications and misgivings should there be the slightest slightest impropriety within the game by a player coach or executive seeking to decide the outcome of a game by giving a less than forthright effort.

Granted, given the lax play at this point of the season , might I suggest , things might well have gotten off to the start neither Silver the league and the world of sports? College sports specifically football and basketball are aware of the problems encompassing their respective sports and it would be fair to suggest the monitoring by the NCAA under the leadership of Mark Emmert has been less than adequate. Yet , these are some of the issues likely to be faced by the NBA and Adam Silver , has not suggested if the league will seek to monitor the wagering , lines offered on the games and the final results. All well and good in the commissioner’s eyes , but once Pandora’s Box has been opened , the chances of it being closed will be remote .

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Picture gallery .

At this point last season the NBA was still in its infancy but then too., there were signs the league would be in for long and arduous year of rather mediocre play . What if anything has been the most disappointing aspect of the league this year ? By all means simply leave a comment as you see fit on on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article.

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) New York Knicks’ front office executives from left to right owner James Dolan, Phil Jackson SVP & Head of Basketball Operations and GM Steve Mills . The team is off to a bad start and hindering their chances within the division and Eastern Conference. Derek Fisher and his coaching staff struggled to find any form of consistency from the playing staff this season . AP Photo / Barry Gill …

(2) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls has been limited in his play this season through eight games , having only appeared in four contests for the team at this point of the season. Head coach Tom Thibodeau may well seek lessen the minutes for the point guard over the next month as he seeks to regain full fitness . Bulls’ general John Paxson may add his input advising Thibodeau because of the franchise’s immediate and long-term investment in the player . Getty Images/NBAE/ Clark Jones …

(3) Head coach Brett Brown center is seen here with members of the Philadelphia 76ers’ coaching staff and players . The teams remain win-less and struggling to make leeway this season. Team owner Josh Harris has shown few signs that he seeks for the Sixers to be competitive over the course of this season, much to the dismay of their fans and several former players including Allen Iverson , who has been critical of the organization. AP Photo / Marcus Shaw ….

(4) Denver Nuggets’ head coach Brian Shaw and the team’s point guard Ty Lawson are seen here on the sidelines during a game . The Nuggets are far from being competitive this season and the fans are now voicing their displeasure with the team and play of the Nuggets. AP Photo / Bob Foster ..

(5) Josh Kroenke left , is seen here alongside his father Stanley Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets . The two are senior executives within organization . The elder Kroenke is also the owner the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche as well as Premierleague soccer team Arsenal . Getty Images / Tim Johnson …

(6) (6) Adam Silver commissioner of the NBA has issued the statement he would like to see legalized wagering for all professional sports, as well as at the collegiate level . Silver believes it would be of great benefit to the NBA but in his comments he made has stated little of how he believes the federal government can mandate a statute covering legalized gaming . The NBA has offered very little , by way their team owners, general managers or the players, . leading many to believe this whole scenario was not thoroughly well thought out . Clearly, Silver since being elected commissioner of the NBA , has sought to stamp his authority , identity on the league and creating the type of dialog that places him front and center of what is likely be a controversial debate . Getty Images / Harry How …

(7) Allen Iverson whose retirement from the NBA after a distinguished career winning a League MVP Award and multiple All Star appearances and litany of franchise records for the Sixers . Iverson has been extremely critical of his former team , management and the front office staff concerning their lack of competitive spirit. AP Photo / Matthew Miller … ….

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tophatal 11/13/2014

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Related article : https://tophatal.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/whining-gets-you-nowhere-when-you-want-to-feel-good-about-your-team-especially-when-you-realize-theyre-on-the-decline/

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If a tree falls in the woods, can it be heard from afar ?

If a tree falls in the woods, can it be heard from afar ?

As the NBA season now enters the final dozen games of the NBA. regular season schedule, there now seems to be an inevitability about the year for several teams . There are likely to be some tumultuous off-season moves , with quite possibly one or two executive upheavals and perhaps two or three head coaches, losing their current positions. Such is the price of failure, that if the success sought , is not with the immediacy of here and now , then the decision is made for the executive or head coach to jettisoned from that organization.

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With Phil Jackson , having accepted the position to become the Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , the widespread feeling around the league , is that head coach Mike Woodson and several members of his coaching staff will not be asked to return next season. Moreover, Jackson , is now likely to use these final few games of the Knicks’ regular season to assess the makeup of the roster and what are likely to be the team’s overall needs , as they head into the off-season, in preparation for the 2014 NBA Draft .

Phil Jackson has been extremely critical of the New York Knicks and their play , and that is in spite of the team’s recent ten-game streak , during which they posted an 8-2 record . This however, came to an abrupt end, when they succumbed to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers with a four-point 100-96 loss and then follow-up that abomination, with an even more embarrassing defeat , in losing , in a thirty-one point blowout loss 127-96 on Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California , to the Los Angeles Lakers , who currently have one of the worst records in the entire NBA. Yet , in recent days , because of this run, there have been some idiotic rumblings amongst Knicks’ fans and analysts alike, that the team might just be capable enough of mounting a credible run , leading them to gain a playoff berth .

Were it not for the pragmatist in me , I would resoundingly state that these fans have lost their minds, but in reality to find an intelligent New York Knicks’ fan nowadays, is somewhat like trying to seek out a completely honest member of Congress or better yet, someone within that hallowed chamber as befitting their intelligence, who is actually capable of succinctly telling and explaining to the public, how the economy still remains in a quagmire in spite of the claims and the statistics yielded by the Commerce Department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Knicks are simply not good enough to mount serious challenge, whereby they can jump ahead of the eighth placed Atlanta Hawks (31-38) or seventh placed Charlotte Bobcats( 34-37) , two teams with a five and two game lead over the ninth placed New York Knicks (29-42) .

With eleven games remaining on the New York Knicks’ regular season schedule , of which four of those contests , at their home venue of Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, for which that stage has been a less than pleasant domicile, as a place for the Knicks to defend their home turf. On the road , they simply fare not much better , but somehow , there we have many, singing the praises of a team with a sub.500 record , as if they are a major contender for this season’s NBA title. As absurd as that sounds , it is something one has come to expect of the franchise , who still have ideas of grandeur way above their station. With Phil Jackson, now firmly on-board and looking to entrench himself in the day-to-day workings of the organization, supposedly working alongside GM Steve Mills , it will be interesting to see the dynamics that will take place between Jackson and his subordinate .

The biggest issue Phil Jackson is likely to have , will be seeking to dissuade Carmelo Anthony from opting out of the final year of his existing contract to ‘test’ the free agency market. In knowing that he can obtain a more lucrative contract by resigning with the New York Knicks, I do firmly believe that unless , the front office can prove to the player that it is their intent to bolster the roster. I do fully believe , that he is likely bolt and make a move to a major contender within the NBA. A team such as the Los Angeles Lakers , with a great deal of money under the cap, are likely to try and entice Anthony to make the move to the West coast to play alongside Kobe Bryant , who would undoubtedly welcome the Knicks player’s presence in taking the burden off his back as being the franchise’s primary offensive weapon . Yet , the Lakers too , are not without their own internal problems and struggles , with their being mounting criticism coming from within and outside of the organization.

Former players, Magic Johnson , James Worthy and most recently Byron Scott , have been extremely critical of GM Mitch Kupchak and senior executive Jim Buss , de-facto managing partner of the venerable franchise , where his younger siblings , Jeanie Buss , SVP of Business Operations and Johnny Buss , assistant Head of Scouting , all having significant roles within the organization. Jeanie Buss, the fiancée of Phil Jackson, now has a decision to make, as to ultimately, where her loyalties may well lie. Does she remain in support of Jackson, standing at his side ? Also, what happens when the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks face off in a regular season contest , never mind the fervor likely to be raised , were the two teams to meet in a future NBA title series contest , with the couple on opposing sides of the court ?

Not to be left out of the controversy of the inward struggle within the Los Angeles Lakers, has been Kobe Bryant’s vocal dissent and the very fact that the franchise did not seek to lure Phil Jackson back to an organization. that he coached to five NBA titles during his two tenures with the team. It now makes you wonder what the current intent may well be of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, as they seek to engineer a turnaround of a franchise , that for the most part has been mired in mediocrity all season long .

With Kobe Bryant, seeing his season come to an early end, with a recurrence of an earlier injury, curtailing the shortest playing spell of his extraordinary career . The player has been left strolling the sidelines, watching his teammates , labor for the greater part of the year, under the impression, that they were capable of playing a great deal better , than they have been. Granted, the shellacking of the New York Knicks, provided one of the few positive respites of what has been otherwise, a simply monstrous season, under a clueless ‘ Mike D’Antoni and his beleaguered coaching staff ! With their clearly being no real thought process, as to how he prepares his players for each ensuing contest , one has to wonder what the hell, the Lakers’ head coach feels that he may have achieved , during this season of adversity ?

A Thursday night contest against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks (13-58) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin , is simply another sign of how far the Lakers have fallen, as their continued swoon, is proving to be so fateful. Not that the decline, likely to continue to the point, where the franchise would become one of the array franchises, deemed a lottery pick in seeking to avail themselves of the number one draft pick , in the upcoming NBA Draft. It has been a considerable period of time, where the Los Angeles Lakers were placed in a position where they had a first round draft pick, that was inside the top five of any draft in recent NBA history.

Before the Brooklyn Nets’ billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov entered the NBA , purchasing the franchise for what appears to be an astonishing sum and along the way simply opening up his check book like a rich benefactor. The capricious spending, amongst NBA team owners , was once led by the Dallas Mavericks’ , Mark Cuban , as the franchise chased after that elusive first NBA title. Having been able to achieve that feat, while feeling the wrath of former NBA Commissioner David Stern , the Mavericks’ owner has paid over $2.5 million in fines levied by the former league executive for the continued criticism of the league itself , as well as the officiating . With the former commissioner , now having stepped down , to be succeeded by Adam Silver, it will certainly be interesting to see the dichotomy of the relationship between the self-absorbed and publicity seeking owner and that of the somewhat taciturn Silver.

Silver has yet to bring about many major edict, as he seeks to stamp his own identity on a league that for almost three decades, was simply viewed as David Stern’s fiefdom, to do with as he pleased . Stern’s dictatorial rule, would make the likes of Pol Pot, Idi Amin , Muammar Gaddafi and even Saddam Hussein shudder. Things were either done to his liking, or you would somehow, feel his wrath directly or indirectly. As to this repeated idiocy, that the commissioner, built the NBA into what it has become. The league’s explosion, into a global phenomenon had more to do with the charisma of Michael Jordan and the marketing ingenuity shown by Phil Knight and his then fledgling sports’ apparel company Nike Inc , with Stern riding in on the coattails of the five-time League six-time Finals’ MVP .

For the Dallas Mavericks, since their decisive series’ victory over the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, the franchise has sought to regain that sort of form. An aging Dirk Nowitzki , around whom the team is still centered , has now become somewhat more athletic , with Rick Carlisle and his coaching staff presiding over the player personnel changes and the revamping of the roster, altogether. GM Donnie Nelson has seen fit to be fiscally responsible paring down the team’s payroll to a manageable size , yet at the same time , the front office executive has his eyes on the upcoming free agency period, where there will be a litany of players , that he feels might be able to assist the organization in winning a second NBA championship.

With the likelihood that this will be the last year with Dirk Nowitzki leading the Mavericks, the task of steering their way through the Western Conference and specifically the conference playoffs , within the conference , will be the toughest thing for the team to achieve. The conference and the divisions themselves, are truly competitive , unlike the morass of mediocrity that the fans have been subjected to within the Eastern Conference and the divisions there. The Miami Heat , as defending NBA champions, might well be everyone’s favorite at present, but in recent weeks, the team has looked far from infallible . If anything, Erik Spoelstra’s players, have looked nothing like NBA championship caliber material, much less defending champions.

As the eighth seed in the Western Conference and if things are to remain as they are, until the end of the regular season . Then, a first round match-up, between the Dallas Mavericks and their instate rivals, the San Antonio Spurs would provide the conference with one of the more enticing contests . That, is not to suggest, that the other prospective clashes are any the less meaningful. Bragging rights, as to who ultimately is said to be the best NBA franchise in the state of Texas will be up for grabs and while fans of the Houston Rockets might beg to differ. I would suggest that the fans there, simply ask themselves the question, when was the last time your team made a deep run into the NBA postseason?

The Mavericks’ recent victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder , was certainly a morale booster for the franchise, as they look to wind down their regular season schedule , in the run-up to the playoffs.

Sixteen consecutive seasons and counting , with the likelihood that this season, once again the San Antonio Spurs (55-16) will make it to the NBA Playoffs for a seventeenth consecutive year . It will be an unprecedented feat , but somehow it will be lost on the rest of the NBA, while not even being appreciated by the league hierarchy or the league’s fan-base . The franchise is simply not seen as one of the NBA’s more glamorous teams or organizations. Granted, there remains a healthy respect of head coach Gregg Popovich , his achievements, while he seeks to win a fifth NBA title as the head coach of the Spurs . Yet, Peter Holt, RC Buford and the rest of the organization are simply viewed as an afterthought around the league and in no way , were they even thought of as a likely contender for this season’s championship. Now with the best record in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference, as well as the conference and league overall . What are the fans, much less the odds-makers to make of another astonishing season from the Spurs?

A fifteen-game win streak has pretty much summed up, why record-wise, the San Antonio Spurs have been the best team in the NBA over the time-span covering this streak and might one now suggest the best team in the NBA all year-long ? Fans and analysts alike, over the season, have been gushing about the Golden State Warriors , Indiana Pacers , Los Angeles Clippers , Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder . On balance, it will be pretty tough to now suggest, that the Spurs will actually come out of the Western Conference playoffs unscathed . The competitiveness within the conference, is far greater than that of their Eastern counterparts , and the consensus remains that the conference champion within the Eastern Conference will come through, far fresher and ready to compete at a far greater preparedness , than their Finals’ opponent.

A five-point win over the Denver Nuggets and leading their season series’ meetings 2-0 , Popovich will take the San Antonio Spurs to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on Thursday evening , seeking to push that mark to 3-0 , after Wednesday’s home victory over the Nuggets in San Antonio , Texas at the AT& T Center . The Spurs’ head coach has in recent games, been using his triumvirate of All Stars sparingly , in order that Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are ready for the arduous postseason sojourn . Parker at present , remains the team’s biggest health worry , having missed several games over the season , with some form of a malady . A Finals’ MVP in the Spurs’ most recent triumph in the NBA Finals , where a return to that form , would certainly help the franchise in their quest for a fifth title and what would be Parker’s fourth with the team , having part of their success in 2003 , 2005 and 2007 .

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What, to your mind, has been the biggest disappointment within the NBA this season ? In light of the previous question, which team and player do you believe have to be legitimately taken as serious contenders during this postseason ? ? Simply leave a comment as you see fit, on this and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter .

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(1) Larry Drew , head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks , whose season has been mired in mediocrity with the team currently holding the worst record within their division , conference and the league . Team owner , Herb Kohl , while seeking to sell the franchise under the understanding that the new owner would retain the team the city of Milwaukee , may well now have to consider the on-court issues of the franchise and what may well be necessary, in order to resurrect the fortunes of the team. The firing of Drew and his coaching staff , is likely to be considered amongst the number of options at the front office’s disposal . Getty Images / Keith Ferguson ….

(2) Milwaukee Bucks’ general manager , John Hammond is seen here alongside head coach Larry Drew . After a tumultuous season with the Bucks’ current record of 13-58 , makes it extremely difficult at this late a stage of the season to see how Drew can bring about some semblance of resiliency to what has been a very dysfunctional team . Getty Images / Mark Hurst ……

(4) LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Assistant coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers is congratulated by former Laker champions James Worthy and Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper , after receiving his 1988 NBA Championship ring before the season opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on October 27 , 2009 in Los Angeles, California. In recent weeks , Johnson , Worthy and Byron Scott have been extremely critical of the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization and the lack of direction under GM Mitch Kupchak , team managing partner and owner Jim Buss . Copyright 2009 NBAE /Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images …..

(5) Dallas Mavericks’ GM Donnie Nelson is here alongside team owner , Mark Cuban . The rambunctious owner always an attention seeker , has been overly critical of the franchise’s all-time leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, claiming his lack of productivity has been one of the main causes behind the Mavericks’ lack of success this season . AP Photo / Tim Riggins …..

(6) San Antonio Spurs’ GM RC Buford is seen here with team owner , Peter Holt at the AT&T Center in San Antonio , Texas . Buford has been the main architect of the franchise’s three most recent triumphs in the NBA Finals, having been a been a behind the scenes front office executive before ascending into his present position . For the Spurs in making the postseason this year, this will be their sixteenth straight appearance in the NBA Playoffs since 1997, an NBA league record in terms of consecutive postseason appearances . The team’s head coach Gregg Popovich is the longest continued tenured head coach in the NBA and one of the longest tenured coaches in each of the four major professional team sports covering baseball , football (NFL) , hockey and the NBA , itself . AP Photo / Chris Hodges …….
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That’s not a crossover dribble .

Definitely not a part of either Bucks or Lakers’ team film watching after regular season losses .

It is what it is …………

It is what it is …………

Well the sports’ environment at present has taken a back seat to the NCAA Tournament , with the event itself , having provided the fans with a number of stunning upsets , while there have been some that were not totally unexpected . With the number one ranked Florida Gators having now made their way to the ‘Sweet Sixteen ‘ , the road in some respects does now seem all but clear , for Billy Donovan and his team to capture the program’s third national title in the past eight seasons . Were the Gators’ head coach able to manage that feat , it would certainly make him the school’s most successful coach in terms of national titles won , beating out the likes of Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier .

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From my own perspective , I believe Donovan the equal of both of the aforementioned coaches , albeit that, Meyer and Spurrier left Florida to further their careers , elsewhere . In the case of Urban Meyer, his departure and subsequent criticism of his former employers and the program he coached to two BCS titles , may well have more to do with his egotistical character and the level of criticism aimed at him , with the failure of Tim Tebow to become a resounding success in the NFL . A great deal of that criticism is more than justified , when you simply bear in mind that Tebow’s collegiate career while stellar , at the next level of his evolution , his game simply did not materialize into anything more than that of a moderately average quarterback , who could barely read defensive tendencies , much less make a pass attempt in excess of fifteen yards or more , without their being a tendency of an interception or the pass simply falling short of its target , but there were , the vast majority of less than intelligent Gators’ fans, still singing Tim Tebow’s praises as a player. With his career now coming to an abrupt end , he has now been hired by cable sports’ programming network ESPN to provide fans with his insight into the Collegiate Football and the games , where he will be covering . One can only wish Tebow, all the success possible in his new endeavor , in the hope that he is likely to be more successful in his new vocation.

With a number of programs now having fallen by the wayside, in this particular NCAA Tournament, by contrast , at this point last season , things in some respects were somewhat similar. Florida for its part, have more than justified that national number one ranking , and proof of that , come by way of their regular season schedule and their run through the SEC (Southeast Conference) ,where the team went undefeated , a first for conference play, within the Southeastern Conference. Leading the way for Florida, in terms of the team’s play , have been Casey Prather , Patric Young , Michael Frazier and Scottie Wilbekin , but it has truly been a collective team effort , along with that of Billy Donovan and the coaching acumen shown by his coaching staff , which has taken them this far and proven their season-long dominance this year.

Through their first two games of this tournament, Florida has not truly been tested , with their first round contest against Albany NY being nothing more than a cakewalk , with their 67-55 defeat of that team , before facing an even less sterner test in taking down the Pittsburgh (Panthers) with another somewhat lopsided victory 61-45 . The Gators’ path to the ‘Elite Eight’ in the NCAA Tournament, will see them having to overcome the UCLA Bruins , in what is likely to be the best game scheduled during the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ .

Of the games , still to be played in the round of the Sweet Sixteen , beyond the featured contest, which I believe to be the best at this stage of the tournament. There are games between Iowa State versus Connecticut , Tennessee and Michigan , Louisville (Cardinals) and Kentucky , Baylor and Wisconsin , Arizona and San Diego State , finally Dayton versus Stanford . All great match-ups befitting a tournament, that now lures shall we say, degenerate gamblers into wagering billions of dollars, into the most lucrative sports’ event, for the gaming industry in North America .

Rick Pitino , as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, when he faces off against an old foe and nemesis in John Calipari , in a contest , of well-versed coaches , that will be a match of wits . What might also make this match-up also intriguing, with both coaches, having reached the pinnacle of collegiate coaching in winning a national title. Pitino, will now seek to take down a program , where, he was once a head coach and a well-respected one at that.

There are few coaches as well-respected as Tom Izzo within Collegiate Basketball and while one can be critical of the game at this level . It has to be said, that with the continued controversy of tainted programs , abuses of privileges and the ongoing issues of recruitment violations . Rarely, has Izzo’s tenure at Michigan St (Spartans) raised any suspicion of the program being mired, in any major impropriety. However, that is not to suggest, that Spartans athletics’ program has been pristine and above-board. Collegiate Athletics has become embroiled and awash, with far too much money , that the temptation to do something amiss, has become even more tempting than ever before. At the same time, the continued incompetency of the NCAA does not cover the distrust that the public has not only the entire landscape of college sports but also the hierarchical structure of the that particular body , under its current President , Mark Emmert , who came to the position, carrying a great deal of baggage of his own, concerning a number of improprieties and a lack communicative and administrative skills .

Izzo and the Spartans, while seeking to make their way to the Elite Eight, are not likely to have an easy time when they face the Virginia (Cavaliers) . Cavaliers’ head coach, Tony Bennett will undoubtedly want to pull off the upset , in taking the program this deep into the quarter-finals of the tournament for the very first time ever. The outcome of this contest, between Michigan and Tennessee , will definitely be predicated upon the offensive prowess shown by both teams and the coaching acumen of the respective staffs.

This NCAA Tournament has certainly lived up to expectations so far and the contests have provided the fans with a great deal more than most would have expected .

The big news within the NBA over the past eight days , has been the New York Knicks’ acquisition of Phil Jackson to head up the franchise’s Basketball Operations and being entirely responsible for all player personnel decisions. Jackson , himself, has been quick to point out, that the level of the play by the current roster has bordered on being inadequate and lacking the basic fundamentals , that the team itself , simply looks like a group of individuals at play on a high school playground. Subsequent to that statement by the Knicks’ front office executive , the players have responded in kind rolling off eight victories in their last ten games , perhaps reminding Jackson that they are capable of playing as a cohesive unit. As to what this might suggest as to the coaching strategies of Mike Woodson and his coaching staff , may well spell doom and his departure from the franchise at the end of this season. Woodson, might not be a proponent of the “Triangle Offense” and Phil Jackson has suggested that the scheme need not be adhered to, by the team, but , what he would like to see, is a great deal more resilience and tenacity from the players.

The New York Knicks’ continued malaise over the past seven seasons at least , has been brought on by the negligence of team owner , James Dolan and the litany of general managers heading up the front office during that time-span. Anyone who would try to suggest that under Isiah Thomas’ tenure , or that of Dave Checketts , Ernie Grunfeld , Scott Layden and in some respects Donnie Walsh , have in some way brought about some semblance of competitiveness to the franchise, need only look at the Knicks’ overall record from 1999 to 2013 and the number of playoff appearances made . In large part, the organization has spent more time acquiring nondescript talent and simply overpaying for the players assembled to represent the team during that time. It is certainly something, that will clearly have to be addressed by Phil Jackson and the staff that he will likely assemble to assist him in that stead, as he seeks to build a roster that will be viewed as a perennial contender, rather than being seen as an also-ran.

A playoff berth is now beyond the New York Knicks’ reach for this season, but in large part several players on the roster will be playing for their long-term future and livelihood with the franchise , in light of Jackson’s wish to revamp this roster. The team (29-41) at present , is lying in ninth place , within the Eastern Conference and three games out from that final berth , which is currently held by the Atlanta Hawks(31-37) as of 23rd March , 2014.

As if to further emphasize the numerous reasons why the Knicks have been woefully inept , consider the fact that at home, they are amongst the worst teams in the entire NBA , never mind the fact that they are simply unable to close out games, but yet the asinine analysis provided by on air commentators would have you believe to the contrary. Sunday’s six-point loss (106-100) at home at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, New York, to the Cleveland Cavaliers , is a damning indictment of not only the poor play of the New York Knicks , but also how damn awful , the Eastern Conference just happens to be overall , in terms of the poor play.

Inconsistency has now become the norm for the New York Knicks , while the air-headed print and television media within the New York market tend to be enraptured by Phil Jackson’s arrival , what they seem to be forgetting is actually how bad this team just happens to be and that is even with Carmelo Anthony having to carry his teammates on his shoulders for the majority of the season. One can choose to spin the tale of the New York Knicks for this season and then suggest that next year all of the events of 2013 , will be forgotten, because Phil Jackson , by then, will have begun to work miracles. Let’s get something clear, Phil can only work with the tools given him and what he has been provided with at this juncture , are a bag of nuts , bolts, and rusty tools, in seeking to get the job done . As to what transpires, in the coming months of this off-season, remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see whether or not, Jackson can indeed revamp an impoverished franchise, with them regaining some semblance of respectability.

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The events of the NCAA Tournament, as they have unfolded, which result has been of the greatest surprise to you ? Which program do you now believe to be in the driver’s seat, with the easiest task of making it to the Final Four and then going on to win the Men’s NCAA title outright ? With Phil Jackson’s introduction as the new Head of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks , do you believe his task will be an easy one to turn things around for the franchise and how much time in your estimation, will it take for him to make the Knicks relevant and competitive ? Simply take time to leave a comment, as you see fit and thank you for the ongoing support of this site, as it is greatly appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, bottom, gets past Pittsburgh forward Lamar Patterson for a shot during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Florida won 61-45 . AP Photo/John Raoux ….

(2) Florida coach Billy Donovan gestures during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/John Raoux…

(3) Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin (5) and center Patric Young (4) talk on the court during the second half in a second-round game against Albany in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Albany, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(4) Louisville coach Rick Pitino , right, yells at guard Russ Smith (2) during the second half in a third-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament against Saint Louis , Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack ….

(5) Kentucky head coach John Calipari works from the sideline against Wichita State during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. A highly rated Wichita State team that seemingly could not match the intensity shown by the Wildcats during this contest, which ended in disappointment for the Shockers. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel ……..

(6) Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) passes the ball as Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet (23) defends during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 23, 2014, in St. Louis. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson …..

(7) Tony Bennett head coach of the Virginia Cavaliers . Bennett’s team face the MSU Spartans on Friday , with the victor guaranteed a berth in the Elite Eight as the prize . AP Photo / Rafael Gomez …..

(8) Michigan State’s Tom Izzo whose long and proud coaching resume’ indicates an impressive track record . Getty Images / Keith Turner …..

(9) NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 23: Jarrett Jack (1) of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the New York Knicks during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images …
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(10) New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony talks with New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson during the second half of the NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, March 23, 2014, in New York. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 106-100 . .AP Photo /Adrian Miller …..

(11) New York Knicks’ executive Phil Jackson is seen here, inlaid, team head coach Mike Woodson’s ,whose tenure with the Knicks’ franchise now seems more perilous than ever , with the team not completely responding to his coach style, in spite of a recent impressive run of eight consecutive victories . Yet, the team’s home record remains one of the worst in the entire NBA and one of the numerous reasons why they have fallen out of contention within the Eastern Conference this season. It seems highly unlikely that Woodson will be returning to coach the team next season , with their being no guarantee whatsoever, from the front office , even if there have been some reassuring words coming from unconfirmed sources within the hierarchical structure of the franchise. AP Photo / Lou Mason …..

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College Basketball & NBA related pieces :

The running of the Bulls

It’s that time of the year again , and things are said be right with the world ….

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

Stick to what you know and not what you’re told is the truth

Full steam ahead

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The running of the Bulls ……….

The running of the Bulls …..

As a youngster growing up in the UK , I caused my Mom a great deal of angst, as she had to raise three kids as a single mother . From my mid-teens, until I made the decision to join the military, I traveled extensively throughout Western Europe, and along the way, becoming fluent in French, albeit that my great grandparents are of Haitian descent , also speaking German and a little Italian . Of all my travels, some of the best experiences I had, were my times spent in France , Spain and Italy . Although, there was a memorable experience on the island of Cyprus, that included a moment of intimacy with a young female in the town of Limassol. Let’s just say, she knew how to “rock the mic’ “ . In the country of Spain, one the of the great experiences to be had , is the “ Running of the Bulls” in the city of Pamplona and if you are brave enough , then it is something that should be experienced , but I can tell you this , it is not for the faint of heart .

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In the NBA this season , many may well have written off the Chicago Bulls and their season , after the team’s point guard Derrick Rose went down with a another knee injury, once again incapacitating him for the season . Bad luck or simply karma, call it what you will. Suffice to say, Rose’s career is now sitting on a precipice and the dangers signs are suggesting , that it could very well be over before he has been able to make a real impact on the NBA. Rose is one of the youngest players ever to have won the NBA League MVP , all at the tender age of twenty-two , having entered the NBA as a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA Draft .

With the loss of Rose, in many circles , it was thought that the case would, the Bulls would “tank” the season and simply look towards the upcoming draft to supplement the roster and by way of free agency , and also to jettison high salary capped players in order to make the team cap-friendly and a viable destination for any potential marquee free agent, looking for a fresh opportunity, as well as being viewed as being on a championship-caliber team. I felt at the time, that two of the Bulls’ lead front office executives , GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson made a major monumental blunder in trading away Luol Deng , who at this point had been the Bulls’ best player all season long and who had also shown himself to be a great on-court leader. Yet, somehow what should well have spelt disaster for the Bulls and their season, has now turned out to be something of an opportunity as this Tom Thibodeau coached team , now seems revitalized and induced with sheer optimism , as they seek to play themselves into contention for a divisional crown and a high seeding within the Eastern Conference .

Coming off a very convincing victory over the highly touted defending champions the Miami Heat , you kind of get the feeling that this NBA season might not end up being as uninteresting within the Eastern Conference, as some might have thought it would be , as it appeared that the Heat and Indiana Pacers would have the conference to themselves , with the victor having the “spoils of war” . All of a sudden, with the wheels discombobulating off the vehicles of the Heat and Pacers, there very well could be a great deal to play for, before the regular season ends its schedule.

Tom Thibodeau has proven himself to be one of the better coaches in the NBA and given what he has to work with this season, with the loss of Derrick Rose and the departure of Luol Deng, in making the Bulls still competitive, to my mind he is a worthy candidate to be named the NBA Coach of the Year , as I do not believe that there are any other viable candidates based solely on achievement alone for this season ! ! At 35-29 the Bulls’ mark stands as the fourth best within the Eastern Conference behind the surprisingly resilient Toronto Raptors (35-27) the second placed Miami Heat (44-17) and the Indiana Pacers(47-17) who are a slim three games ahead of their closest rivals the Heat.

While I do not expect there to be a complete falloff in terms of the top two contenders within the Eastern Conference ! I do believe the momentum, now being shown by the Chicago Bulls adds a little more intrigue to the conference, rather than elements there, become something of a foregone conclusion . For Miami, that seven-point loss to the Bulls proved to be a wake-up call, as they rebounded to defeat the Washington Wizards on their home-court with 99-90 victory , with LeBron James leading the way for the Heat with twenty-three points , leading all scorers in the contest. James is seeking to prove to the naysayers that he is not yet ready to relinquish his League MVP crown to anyone as of yet , even if the cries are that Kevin Durant while leading the Oklahoma Thunder to the best record in the NBA is now having a better year from a statistical standpoint . From my own perspective , I believe that Durant apart from having a better season , he is proving , that in allowing his teammates to become involved in many of the team’s victories this season , it is simply not just about him alone . A case can be made that for the Heat , without James , their record would be considerably more troubling . The two players have this season , have stood head and shoulders above their rivals and that includes players such as Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony , who have each had their own individual moments this season .

As the season continues to spiral out of control for the Los Angeles Lakers , there have been very few positives for the franchise over the course of the year. Kobe Bryant still remains sidelined with an injury. Meanwhile, head coach Mike D’Antoni still guides this team with reckless abandonment, having not taught any of the younger group of players a thing with regard to playing defense . Doubt my word, then simply look at the team’s stats and where they lie within the conference and league as a whole. Then you can easily understand the reasons why, the Lakers have been in trouble all season long, in spite of the absence of Bryant. Although their surprising defeat of the Oklahoma City Thunder might well have been the team’s biggest victory of the season , beyond that success there have been very few positives to report.

Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss , have made several mistakes in the past eighteen months that have come home to roost , by way of a lack of a real scorer on the roster beyond Bryant. An aging Pau Gasol is unable to carry the burden of the team’s offense and one or two individualistic moments from the likes of Nick Young or Jodie Meeks cannot and will not hide the fact that the lineup is simply devoid of depth and real underlying talent. Now the franchise is simply pinning their hopes on the free agency market of 2015 and the likelihood, that there will be a dearth of highly sought after players, hitting the market all at the same time. If as anticipated, the likes of Carmelo Anthony and others do make it known of their intent , then Kupchak is likely to be given the go-ahead to pursue anyone of a number of those highly sought after players with a view to bolstering the roster. From my own standpoint , with next season likely to be Kobe Bryant’s last in the NBA , it will provide the player and the franchise the last opportunity of their winning an NBA title, before his likely retirement. Having signed a two-year $48.5 million contract this past season , the deal itself might well have been seen as outrageous, it does lead many to believe that at this juncture , there is a great deal of desperation within the front office of the organization with Jim Buss being under a great deal of pressure to succeed , while following in the footsteps of his late father , Dr Jerry Buss, the erstwhile late owner of the franchise.

The Los Angeles Lakers will now face another stern test, as the now have a rematch with the Thunder for the second time in the past four days , when they are the guests of their opponents at the Chesapeake Energy Center , Oklahoma City , Oklahoma on Thursday , 13th March, 2014 .

The Western Conference continues to remain as competitive as ever, far more so, than that of the Eastern Conference. While the feeling remains, that the combatants in the West, are likely to be in for an arduous battle, as the playoffs begin , whereas, the East will be as predictable as ever, with the top two teams in the conference, likely to meet, in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It would be fair to suggest that this season has been a profound disappointment for anyone who happens to be a fan of the New York Knicks. The team has under-achieved, with head coach, Mike Woodson being unable to get any semblance of consistency from his players. With a record of 25-40 the team currently lays 3 ½ games out of eighth place for the final playoff berth within the East. The Atlanta Hawks (27-35) , holding down that final spot, have to be fearful of the Knicks finding any sort of momentum enabling a playoff push and erasing that deficit. . For all of the heroics of Carmelo Anthony this season , it is hard to envisage the Knicks finding that sort of resilience at this stage , when in the earlier part of their schedule they have simply not been able to exhibit any type of consistency whatsoever.

James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks has been very reticent to answer any questions concerning the franchise’s woes. However, in light of his agreement in principle to hire Phil Jackson , former player with the franchise and the most successful coach in NBA history , to now head up the front office as Head of Basketball Operations . It now begs the question , how much power will now be placed in the hands of the former head coach and what will be the long-term futures of both GM Steve Mills and that the current Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson ? With neither being hires of Jackson, one could speculate that both will be allowed to remain with the franchise until the end of the season , before he makes a decision as to whether or not both Mills and Woodson will remain with the organization in their current capacities .

I believe that this hire of Phil Jackson was done in large part, to impress upon Carmelo Anthony , that the franchise now means to do whatever it takes to retain his services , while seeking to build a competitive team to complement his skill-set . The player, himself has not been abundantly clear, as to what his intentions will be concerning his long-term future with the franchise . Yet, if the indications are too believed, then he is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract and test the free agency market. The New York Knicks however, remain with the upper-hand, knowing that they will be able to offer Anthony a long-term deal, paying the player a far bigger contract than any likely suitor will be able to offer as mandated by the league. Yet , for Carmelo Anthony , at this stage of his ten-year career in the NBA , I do not believe it comes down to money , but more so the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender for the NBA title , rather than a franchise that in recent seasons , has simply been an afterthought in the minds of the vast majority of fans of the NBA , with the exception of those who just happen to be fans of the New York Knicks’ franchise.

With their recent lopsided victory over a dour Philadelphia 76rs’ team, the Knicks’ next contest will pit them against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night at the TD Banknorth Gardens in Boston , Massachusetts , against Brad Stevens’ young and inexperienced roster . If New York Knicks are seeking to make a serious run at a playoff berth at this juncture , then this will be a game that they simply cannot afford to lose. As to what the rest of the season now holds for the franchise, remains to be seen , and that of the intent of Phil Jackson , also .

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Picture gallery .

As the NBA season winds down , what are you expecting to see from the teams vying for a playoff berth ? Also, do you believe the hiring of Phil Jackson to head up franchise’s basketball operations will be in their best interests or do you believe that it will add a great deal of uncertainty around the organization?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona , Spain honoring St Fermin. A seven-day event, that takes place during the month of July . It has become a worldwide event , which has also its detractors , especially amongst animal rights’ group around the globe. REUTERS/UPI …

(2) Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls is seen here centering the arena at the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois, prior to the game before the Chicago Bulls played the San Antonio Spurs at their home venue . Chicago would end up losing the game 104-96 . AP Photo / Keith Kirkpatrick ……….

(3) Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs looks to make the pass during an offensive play during the game against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night , 11th March , during the contest played at the United Center . Also in picture are Jimmy Butler of the Bulls , Kawhi Leonard (21) of the Spurs and defending Duncan , Joakim Noah . AP Photo Keith Kirkpatrick …

(4) Tom Thibodeau converses with Derrick Rose (1) of the Chicago Bulls during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Phillips Arena on May 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. This season Rose has been lost to Bulls for their entire schedule but amazingly enough the team now seems likely to make the postseason without their All Star point guard . Getty Images North America / Kevin C. Cox …..

(5) Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman , seen here in the foreground, alongside the franchise’s Head of Basketball Operations , former Bulls’ player John Paxson . Forman and Paxson have worked studiously over the past four years in acquiring the talent and then with the hiring of Tom Thibodeau to make franchise a championship contender . Team owner , Jerry Reinsdorf has continued to heap praises upon the franchise’s two lead front office executives . Chicago Sun Times / Eric Moffitt ………

(6) A lost and forlorn season for Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant , who , having been declared done for the year , will now watch from the sidelines as the team embattled the rest of the season , seeking something positive out of it all . In recent months Bryant has been critical of the front office questioning the ambition of Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak and their wanting to make the roster competitive . With no chance of making the playoffs , this could end up being one of the franchise’s worst seasons in recent years in terms their year-end record. Another vocal critic of the Los Angeles Lakers’ has been former player and Hall of Fame great Magic Johnson , currently a senior managing partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group. UPI/ Anthony Hughes …..

(7) NEW YORK, NY – April 5: Phil Jackson , a member of the 1973 Championship New York Knicks team during a press conference before a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks on April 5, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Jackson has agreed in principle to head up the Knicks’ front office operations and will be an EVP & Head of Basketball Operations . GM Steve Mills will have Jackson as his immediate superior , with new executive reporting directly to owner James Dolan , concerning all matters with regard to the player personnel . It is unclear what sort of impression this will make on the pending status of Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony , who can opt out of his existing contract at the end of this season. Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images ………

(8) New York Knicks’ center . Tyson Chandler (6) is seen here alongside teammate Carmelo Anthony (7) during a game . Both are said to be tired of the team’s losing and the apparent lack of direction coming from the front office and that of the coaching of Mike Woodson. With their season floundering both players are now said to be discussing their futures with the Knicks and it is likely , one , if not both players may well seek to leave the organization . Getty Images/ Martin Stewart ……. …….

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tophatal ……………….

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NBA news and archived news

NBA standings (divisional) and by conference

NBA Playoff picture (projected)

NBA schedule 12th March

This month in NBA history

12th March

NBA milestones points

Cease and desist ………..

Cease and desist

David Stern enters his last season and the NBA commissioner looking for the year to be an eventful and a fully entertaining one. He has found some cordiality and a somewhat uneven truce with the NPBA (union) , who themselves will be going through a tumultuous stage of non-stop litigious to and fro , with former Executive Director Billy Hunter . The former union leader has brought about a multi-million lawsuit against the union , Derek Fisher , who until June of this year was the union’s President . With the Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul having won a unanimous vote to Fisher , the union will now to forge head in seeking a calmer environment , while looking to throw out the civil suit for wrongful dismissal , slander and libel action brought by Billy Hunter . From my own perspective , I believe that the union has been acting under a veil of secrecy with regard to its actions and that was most certainly true of the former executive director . At the same time, why there seemed to be no oversight in place to monitor Hunter’s alleged actions and activities has to come into question. Yet this all will be left in the hands of a jury and a federal judge to decide what will be deemed a justified outcome. One way or another, whatever the decision made, the losing party is likely to appeal the verdict .

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Slideshow .

As to the season itself , LeBron James and the Miami Heat will seek to add to their current legacy as the organizations seeks to win its third consecutive NBA title . Having won in 2012 and 2013 , this season the team is likely to be viewed as the prohibitive favorites to win it all. Will there be a worthy opponent and challengers coming from within the Eastern Conference ? Well that remains to the seen , but most certainly the Chicago Bulls , Brooklyn Nets , Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks , are the four teams thought to have the best chance of derailing the Heat’s hopes at this juncture. I believe a great deal of that will now come down to the coaching acumen shown by Tom Thibodeau , Jason Kidd , a first time head coach in the league, Frank Vogel and Mike Woodson .

Far too often I have read pieces, some of which have been written quite articulately , that tend to simply gloss over the importance of the coach and simply delving into which player or players matter the most in order to bring about a victory for the team . Last I looked , if a head coach did not have the strategy of a game-plan in place, more often than not, the victory being sought actually ended up in defeat. Which brings me to the conclusion , are Kidd , Vogel, Woodson and Thibodeau on the same level as Erik Spoelstra as a head coach ? After a difficult first season , the Miami Heat head coach has now come into his own and given his managerial style , a few more title wins and he could very well surpass his mentor and current Team President Pat Riley as perhaps an even better coach and motivator of players. Clearly , Spoelstra has been able to get his trio of superstars to buy into his philosophy , while at the same time, he has been able to get the supporting to come along for the ride, while contributing greatly to the success of the team . Two titles, says a great deal about the young coach, a third , fourth and may be a fifth , would raise the decibel levels even higher and place on the same plane, as perhaps the likes of Gregg Popovich , or dare one say it, Phil Jackson ? Now detractors could make the argument, that when you coaching two or even three superstars on the same team, you are supposed to win. Spoelstra, like Jackson have suffered the slings and arrows of misfortune of have lost to teams in the Finals , where the roster of players they were coaching at the time were highly favored. Yet complacency and immaturity on the part of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 led to their ultimate downfall against the Detroit Pistons . In 2011 , once again, we saw those same familiar traits with the Miami Heat , as Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks laid waste to the Heat’s ambitions that season.

In the Western Conference , we could be on the cusp of seeing the all too quick descent of the Los Angeles Lakers into a deep abyss of mediocrity. Clearly, their fans, are either that naïve or simply not educated enough to now realize that this team in its present guise , is simply not good enough to now challenge even their own neighbors at the Staples Center the Los Angeles Clippers , never mind the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder , San Antonio Spurs , Houston Rockets and dare I say it either the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets ? No amount of suggestion, that while Kobe Bryant remains a Los Angeles Lakers’ player, then just about anything is possible. Unfortunately, Bryant is now on the downside of an illustrious career and cannot be asked to continually do it all by himself . The five-time NBA champion may well have been able to do it on his own three or four years ago , but not now , on aging legs and what is in all honesty an injury riddled body, when there has been little if any support coming from his surrounding teammates . It begs the question , why does he put his body through such torture when his legacy has already been assured as one of the top-fifteen players ever to have played the game and graced an NBA basketball court ? It certainly cannot be for the money !

Lakers’ fans remain delusional, while Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss seem to be intent on ruining the legacy built by Jerry Buss and the great Lakers’ players of the past, even if that is not their original intent. My question for the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans, did you ever at any time, have any implicit faith in Mike Brown ? Do you now have, any faith in the coaching style of Mike D’Antoni ? It is not as if, he has made the practice of defense a policy of or much less an aspect of the Los Angeles’ Lakers’ game since he succeeded his predecessor. Instead, all I continue to hear is a great deal of bitching and whining from the Lakers’ fans still living in the past, who are just not willing to accept the inevitable and that this team in its present guise just is not good enough to win an NBA title, and that is in spite of the false bravado coming from Kobe Bryant. That may well prove to be a motivating factor for Bryant, but he even must now realize the truth and accept it for what it is, the window of opportunity has already been shut for this team. Can we please stop it also, with this ludicrous obsession also that in 2014 , either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony will come in riding on a white steed to rescue the damsel in distress, known as the Los Angeles Lakers ? Idiots such as Chris Broussard , Stephen A Smith , Skip Bayless and Tim Legler are paid for their stupidity and their combined knowledge of the NBA even with their breaking stories , pose just about as much of an attraction, as a group of individuals during an act of flatulence , each of whom, have eaten several plates of baked beans . They simply begin to stink up the joint .

While Miami opens up the defense of their title , starting their season with a home game against the Chicago Bulls at the AA Arena in Miami , Florida on the 29th October , when the league opens its regular season schedule . The Bulls and Tom Thibodeau will welcome back point guard Derrick Rose who missed much of the 2011-12 postseason when in the opening round the top seeded Bulls lost their opening series to the Philadelphia 76ers . The injury shook the young point guard mentally more than it seemed to have done from a physical standpoint. Rose’s seventeen-month delay seems like an eternity to the franchise’s fans , but now that long delay will come to an end when the get to see the player and his teammates return to the court in the first of several preseason opening games in the lead-up to the Bulls’ regular season opener. . The first of those preseason games will be on , Saturday , 5th October against last season’s .. Eastern Conference Finalists the Indiana Pacers. A team that many believe will be amongst the most serious challengers to the Miami Heat this upcoming season.

The Orlando Magic this past season ended the year with a league worst mark of 20-62 , with a team that was simply out of its natural environment . First year head coach, Jacque Vaughn struggled to get any semblance of consistency out of the team throughout much of last season. Never able to maintain a lead during a game , not being able to defend with any zeal , pretty much summed up the woes of the franchise. A shake up within the front office was meant to bring about changes that would be of benefit to the franchise , but yet things remain bleak for the Orlando Magic , who now have to contend with a declining attendance and a major drop-off in its overall fan-base , as well as major corporate endorsers no longer prepared to sponsor the success starved organization . As to what this will now mean to Dan De Vos , Team President Alex Martins , GM Rob Hennigan , Charles Freeman and Jim Fritz , may well mean a concerted effort on their part to try something new. The on-court product, remains the main issue, along with the lack of veteran leadership on the roster. That team will now be placed in the hands of Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu , as the presumed leaders of the Orlando Magic. A great deal also will be asked of Jacque Vaughn and his coaching staff as they embark on their reason . Orlando will begin their schedule against the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Field House in Indianapolis , Indiana.

In a division (Southeast) where the Orlando Magic will have to contend with the Charlotte Bobcats , Atlanta Hawks , Washington Wizards and the defending NBA champions the Miami Heat. It remains to be seen how this team will be able to contend not only within their division but within the Eastern Conference never-mind the rest of the NBA as a whole . David Stern profligates the charade that the league remains competitive , but like Major League Baseball (MLB) , it now has now become a league of the ” haves ” and ” have not’s” . A ” soft ” salary cap that no one seems to be interested in abiding by , but yet we have a group of idiots still trying to create the perception that the NBA has no real underlying issues concerning its business template .

I have never been a great admirer of Mark Cuban , who apart from being a constant thorn in the side of David Stern , he has proven to be an egotistical and narcissistic asshole . Not content with those traits, it now appears that the Dallas Mavericks’ owner is about to have his day in US Federal Court , as he seeks to prove his innocence against the charges of insider trading , and profiting to the tune of $750,000 . All of this, for an individual whose net worth is estimated to be in excess of $ 2.5 billion . It makes me wonder how the mega-rich can now survive in this day and age if three-quarters of a million dollars will prove to be that much of a loss . Not content with having mocked the US Justice Department with preceding the charges against him , but Cuban has taken upon himself to suggest that the motives behind the case has been the fact that he has been politically outspoken and critical of the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) . That last statement might well be the most ludicrous of the claims being made by self-aggrandizing and always publicity seeking owner of the Mavericks . If he wishes to prove his innocence , then do so by appearing in court , rather than continuing to make a complete ass of himself , because he is not being judged in the court of public opinion in this case. That will ultimately take place in a Federal Court , where he will be judged by a jury of twelve of his peers , with those individuals adjudicating his guilt or innocence. After-all, is that not what the Justice System is meant to be about ?

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Picture gallery

Though the season has yet to begin within the NBA , what if anything do you believe will be the most interesting or thrilling event that is likely to take place over the course the schedule ?

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Former NBPA Executive President Director Derek Fisher , left is seen here at the dais, alongside Billy Hunter . The union’s former Executive Director is seeking punitive damages from the union for wrongful dismissal , libel , slander and damage to his reputation . Fisher and the union state that Hunter acted outside his parameters in establishing deals and the hiring of certain family members to maintain certain entities within the NBPA’s structure including its pension fund . There also allegations of misappropriation of union funds exceeding $250,000. All of the allegations in question have been vehemently denied Billy Hunter’s lawyers , who state that this essentially a character assassination attempt by the union . AP Photo / Brandon Jones ………

(2) Four-time league and two-time Finals MVP LeBron James will be seeking to guide the Miami Heat to the franchise’s third straight NBA title . In 2014 the player can opt out of his existing contract to become a free agent but it seems highly unlikely he is like to leave the franchise to play elsewhere . Getty Images / Robert Woods …

(3) Miami Heat President Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra are seen here celebrating the team’s 2013 NBA title series’ victory over the San Antonio Spurs . In a series that went to a seventh game , the Heat were pressed throughout the Finals by the Western Conference representatives . Spoelstra will seek join Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson as the only coaches in NBA history to have won three consecutive NBA titles . Getty Images North America / Paul Hanson …

(4) Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni is seen here talking with players Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol during the interval of a game played at the Staples Center last season . Throughout much of the year the team struggled and with the departure of center Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets as a free agent , questions arise as to how good the team is likely to be in its present format . AP Photo / Chris Marshall ……

(5) From left to right Orlando Magic executive Alex Martins , head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Rob Hennigan . AP Photo / Phil Coulter ….

(6) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban seen here polishing the Larry O’Brien Trophy after the team’s triumph over the Miami Heat . The often outspoken owner will face insider trading charges having sought to manipulate the stock price of a small tech-firm while seeking to make a profit of $750,000 from the trade . All charges which Cuban and his attorneys deny . AP Photo / Kelly Myles ….

(7) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls . The young point guard, after a seventeen-month layoff makes a welcome return for the team hoping to contribute to Bulls’ success this upcoming season . AP Photo / Paul Mayhew ….

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tophatal ……………… 09/30/2013

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NBA news and archived stories

NBA regular season begins 29th October 2013 and 30th October 2013

NBA head coaches

NBA team payrolls ( salary cap $58.044 million) —– Top player salaries

2012-13 NBA standings (division) and conference standings

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Idle hands make for light work , so let’s get those hands doing something worthwhile .

Now that’s what I call keeping the assets perky !

This isn’t a Buss thing, as it’s about winning …. something that the Lakers aren’t accustomed to at present

This isn’t a Buss thing, as it’s about winning …. something that the Lakers aren’t accustomed to at present

By Tophatal

It is extremely difficult to focus on a starting point , let alone a finishing point , as it relates to the travails of the Los Angeles Lakers this season . The franchise’s woes, have been well chronicled in the print and television media, and with the team’s best player , Kobe Bryant , now voicing his displeasure, as to the recent lackluster efforts of his teammates , you simply know that it will be only a matter of time before Bryant rails against the management and senior executives within the organization. Mike DAntoni was brought in to replace the abruptly fired Mike Brown , after GM Mitch Kupchak and Senior Vice President , Jim Buss, son of the team’s owner , Dr Jerry Buss felt that an immediate change was needed .

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Slideshow.

If five games into the season (1-4) , the is way, in which the NBA’s front office executives can attest to judging the playing form of their teams , then quietly possible several other of Mike Brown’s peers should have met the same fate , even if those might well have had a slightly superior record at the time . Yeah , but look , this is the Los Angeles Lakers we are discussing and anything remotely concerning common sense being shown , was thrown out the window , after the retirement of Phil Jackson , with both Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak , seeking to not offer the then vacant head coaching position to Jackson’s most trusted of his subordinates, Brian Shaw . This was even done, at the behest of Kobe Bryant, who voiced his wish both privately and publicly , for Brian Shaw to succeed Phil Jackson. Somehow , this all fell on deaf ears , as it relates to the aforementioned front office executives of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Entering into Tuesday, 22nd January , the Lakers bore a record of 17-24, within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference , wherein the team sits third place within their division , 14 ½ games behind the division leading Los Angeles Clippers (32-10) and 8 ½ games behind the second placed , and some might say the now surprisingly resilient , Golden State Warriors (25-15) , who are coached by former NBA point guard, Mark Jackson . Upon reflection , it was only a matter of time before the Lakers’ season simply resembled a train wreck , with the debris simply spread all over the place , with players simply out of gas , or feigning injury or as we are now being led to believe a number of the team’s acquisitions came into camp out of shape or with slight niggling injuries . The idiocy of this all, was that the print and television media were prepared to anoint this team as the best in the conference even before the season had tipped off . The Lakers are 2-8 in their last ten games albeit, that they are currently on three game losing streak , which does not augur well , for the franchise’s hope for a postseason berth , as they currently reside in twelfth place of the Western Conference’s fifteen teams .

The acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash , were meant to bolster the front court of this Lakers’ offense , complementing the skill-set of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant . Gasol is now lost to the team for what is said to be an indeterminate period , and the play of Howard has been remarkably inconsistent , since starting for the Los Angeles Lakers . Another of the more troubling features of the team has been the lack defensive prowess from the players on the team , and it remains all the more asinine with claims of Mike DAntoni , that there is room for growth and toughness from his players . He and his coaching staff have “ clearly missed the boat” , as to how poor this team has been playing , and the sheer lack of determination from this entire roster . D’Antoni coached teams, have never been known for their proficiency as a defensive stalwart , and this asinine notion from the likes of current NBA analysts, Skip Bay less and Jon Barry , that the team can turn things around , as the season has now reached it’s midway point has become a cause for ridicule . I guess that both, Jon Barry and Skip Bayless are like to remain apologists for the Lakers , even when omnipresent signs of disaster are within their midst ?

Coming off a twelve-point loss to the Chicago Bulls at the United Center , in Chicago , Illinois ,. It has to be said , that seeing the team go down in an 95-83 defeat , where the effort from the Lakers’ players , was simply odious and thought-provoking. There is an increasing awareness and concern that if Mike DAntoni is not able to get this team with some semblance of cohesion and authority , then the now beleaguered coach could become the third coaching the fourth coaching casualty of the season , following Avery Johnson’s firing by the Brooklyn Nets , Mike Brown , with the Lakers , and Alvin Gentry with the Phoenix Suns . It is becoming all too clear that the hiring of the Lakers’ incumbent head coach could very well be joining his contemporaries on the tracks. Would it be too much to ask for either Jim Buss and Mitch Kolchak to now come forward and simply admit to the fact they erred in their decision to hire Mike DAntoni.

The Lakers’ draft classes in recent years have been non too impressive, and at the heart of the present roster Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol , Metta World Peace , Steve Nash and Dwight Howard , were all players acquired in a trade through free agency or in the case of Bryant , whose acquisition came by way of a trade during the 1996 NBA Draft in obtaining Kobe Bryant’s rights from the Charlotte Bobcats. The 2012 NBA Draft , saw the franchise draft , Robert Sacre , and from 2011 , Darius Morris , Andrew Goudeock and Ater Mojak . On paper alone , is there anyone who was of the belief that this team would be able to compete with any of the top teams within the conference , much less the rest of the NBA ? What the hell, are these, idiot analysts and fans actually looking at , by way of a comparison ? And should it come to a seven game series playoffs’ match-up, who amongst you, is of the belief that the Lakers , can take down the Oklahoma City Thunder , San Antonio Spurs , Los Angeles Clippers or the Memphis Grizzlies , in a seven game series during the postseason, never mind , an ultimate Finals’ meeting with the Miami Heat ?

The Lakers’ next game will be a scheduled match-up against conference rivals the Memphis Grizzlies at the Fedex Forum , in Memphis , Tennessee. The Grizzlies, who are coached by Lionel Hollins , with a team of high-caliber players , Rudy Gay , Zach Randolph , Tony Allen and Marc Gasol leading the charge for the for the franchise. And with the recent change of ownership from Michael Heisley to Memphis Basketball LLC , ownership group led by managing partner & Chairman Robert Pera and Vice-Chairman Steve Kaplan, a new era in the franchise ‘s history is now underway. Kobe Bryant and his teammates will undoubtedly be in for a stern test in tonight’s game , where another loss would hinder any progress that Mike D’Antoni and his coaching staff believes his team has. At this juncture , I would preface things by saying, I have never been convinced that D’Antoni was that great a coach to begin with , even during his reign with the Phoenix Suns , or that he was the right candidate to succeed Mike Brown !

Though, it is a growing trend amongst many of the big market franchises in all realms of professional sports , teams are beginning to exact their financial muscle , either by starting their own regional sports’ programming outlet or have a commercial tie-in with a major broadcast or cable outlet. The Los Angeles Lakers are not averse to seeking out a partner, who would be in a position to aid the franchise to maximize their exposure beyond the locale and beyond the nation , but towards a global market. Jim Buss and his sister , EVP, Jeanie Buss in conjunction with their father , team owner, Jerry Buss, have negotiated such a deal that will see the Lakers’ net an estimated $ 4 billion ($4,000,000,000) over the next two decades in a regional broadcast deal that is so financially beneficial for the organization, that , it leaves all other deals within the NBA , seemingly , trailing in the wind . Not even the mighty New York Knicks with the financial backing of parent company MSG Inc. , or team owner, James Dolan’s , patriarchy of familial holdings in Cablevision Inc could ever seek to usurp a deal of this magnitude . It now begs the question , will this be the way that the small market teams around the NBA not only seek to raise their profile but also their profitability ?

Courtesy of Forbes Inc.

Time Warner Cable Launches Two Regional Sports Networks, Lakers Reap $4 Billion

By Maury Brown , Forbes Contributor

In a continuation of the massive growth of sports programming options, the Southern California area will see the launch of not one, but two new regional sports networks through Time Warner Cable beginning today. Time Warner Cable will launch Time Warner Cable SportsNet, as well as the first-ever all Spanish language RSN, Time Warner Cable Deportes. The networks will be the new exclusive local homes of the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Sparks, as well as cover Mountain West football and basketball, in addition to soccer and boxing programming on Time Warner Cable Deportes.
The launch of the two RSNs highlights the explosion in media rights for sports over the last several years. The reported 20-year, $4 billion deal is wide-ranging and covers the rights to distribute all locally available pre-season, regular season, and post-season Lakers games, beginning with the 2012-2013 season. All Lakers games will be produced in high-definition in English & Spanish.

On-air talent for the TWC SportsNet includes former Laker great and Hall of Famer James Worthy, Chris McGee who was the Lakers’ sideline reporter at FOX SportsNet, as well as Dave Miller and Mike Trudell. That team joins Stu Lantz and Bill Macdonald who will call all Lakers games on Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Andy Adler, who joined the network in May, will serve as a studio anchor. On TWC Deportes, on-air personalities will include Ricardo Celis, Martin “El Pulpo” Zúñiga, Elmur Souza, Enrique Gutierrez and Hipolito Gamboa. Time Warner Cable Deportes will broadcast all local Lakers and Galaxy games entirely in Spanish.
Outside of basketball, TWC SportsNet will are 12 live Mountain West Conference football games and more than 24 Mountain West basketball games, making Time Warner Cable SportsNet the exclusive regional home for Aztecs, Rebels and Bulldogs.

The launch of the two regional sports networks sits against the backdrop of either new RSNs in the Southern California area cropping up, or lucrative rights extensions for the sports teams that are inking them. In mid-August, Time Warner Cable added the PAC-12 Network to their channel listing. According to the SportsBusiness Journal, PAC-12 Network has been seeking 80-cents per subscriber, which ranks higher than CNN, USA and FX. And, TWC could be positioning to land the Los Angeles Dodgers to a new deal, as well that could hit between $4-$5 billion over 20-years. Already, TWC prime competitor FOX Sports has reached a $3 billion, 20-year agreement with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
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Over the ensuing months leading up up to the NBA playoffs, which begin on the 20th April ,2013, there is no doubt that Kobe Bryant and his teammates will be under a great deal of pressure to succeed . However, I am of the opinion that Mitch Kupchak will seek to shake things up in terms of the makeup of the team’s roster , if things for the franchise are still in a quandary. The trade deadline this season falls on 21st February , which is barely a month away, so it is now incumbent upon the head coach , Mike D’Antoni and the general manager to have some intent, as to the direction that the franchise , is said to be heading . In terms of trade bait , the only viable options on the roster are, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. Beyond that, there are no enticing pieces on the team , beyond its three preeminent stars , Bryant , Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

After years of seemingly being in the wilderness , this season has seen a remarkable turn of events , as it relates to the Golden State Warriors (25-15) . Head coach , Mark Jackson , has this team playing an up-tempo form of basketball , that plays into the strengths of his core players , and when in transition , the Warriors just seem to be just as comfortable. The Warriors will get a further chance to assess their progress tonight, when they play hosts the Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder . In what is sure to be a high-scoring game , given the previous meeting between these two teams earlier this season, when there was a prolific output from the players on both rosters.

Leading the way for the Warriors this season , are Seth Curry and David Lee , but that would be to downplay the efforts of the duo’s teammates . And the fact that the Warriors have played themselves into a playoff berth at this point of the season , can only point to the optimism being shown not only by the coaching staff , but also by the front office led by managing partner , Joe Lacob , and indeed the franchise’s long-suffering fans. . There is a great deal that the franchise can indeed can perhaps feel contented with for the moment , they obviously have been playing in the background of gigantic shadow cast by the Los Angeles Lakers , and as of late, with the ascent of the Los Angeles Clippers , the Warriors can no longer be seen as one of the more inept franchises in NBA history. If they can simply maintain their present consistency of the remainder of their schedule , then there is every reason to believe that the franchise could very well make the postseason for the first time since the 2007 NBA Playoffs, which culminated their conference semi-finals’ loss to the Utah Jazz , after a sensational season by the franchise’s standards .

Currently, holding down the fifth spot in the Western Conference . With standings as they are currently , a first round match-up would elicit a series against the Memphis Grizzlies , the fourth seed. Again , this would be predicated upon the teams in question maintaining their consistency . So at this juncture as the remainder of the regular season schedule plays itself out .

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

In light of the ongoing issues with the Los Angeles Lakers , do you believe that the team can muster up enough wins , enabling the franchise to make the postseason ? If they fail to guarantees themselves a playoff berth , are you of the opinion that Mike D’Antoni well be retained by the front office for next season ? Chime in on this , and anything else you believe pertinent to the subject matter and the NBA as a whole .

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Picture and slide show details below .
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(1)FILE – In this April 26, 2012 file photo, the Maloof brothers, Phil, left, George, center and Gavin , co-owners of the Sacramento Kings, watch their team against the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif. The only thing stopping the Kings from a sale and move to Seattle is approval by NBA owners.The Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen and Microsoft, Chairman , Steve Ballmer , the league confirmed in a statement Monday morning, Jan. 21, 2013.. The deal is still pending a vote by the NBA Board of Governors. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(2) Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) pressures Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-83 . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …

(3) Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant walks off the court during a break in the action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-83 . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …

(4) Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni looks up at the scoreboard during a break in the action in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls  on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Chicago. The Bulls won 95-83. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …

(5) From left to right , Lakers GM , Mitch Kupchak, SVP, Jim Buss , and team owner Dr Jerry Buss . With the team have reached a crisis point in their season having eight of their last ten games , it would appear that changes are in the offing for franchise amongst the player personnel , and if the rumors are to be believed , then head coach Mike DAntoni will be assessed on the team’s success between now and until the end of the season, which will be incumbent upon the Los Angeles Lakers making the playoffs. Currently laying as the twelfth seed in the Western Conference , the team is currently 3 1/2 games out of the eighth spot , held by the Houston Rockets (22-21) and are 15 1/2 games behind the conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder (33-9) . AP Photo /Martin Hill …

(6) Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) reaches for the ball held by Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Golden State won 106-99 . Curry would go on to score 28 points in the Warriors’ surprisingly easy victory over their divisional rivals . AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez …

(7) Golden State Warriors’   David Lee , center, tries to keep a loose ball from Los Angeles Clippers’ <u> Lamar Odom </u> , left, and  <u> Eric Bledsoe</u>  during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Oakland, Calif., Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.   AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez  ..  ….

(8) Head Coach  Mark Jackson   of the Golden State Warriors speaks as (L-R)   David Stern  ,   Rick Welts ,    Peter Guber ,    Joe Lacob  , Mayor   Edwin M. Lee  ,   Ahmad Rashad Jerry West   , and Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom     looks on at a press conference with the Golden State Warriors announcing plans to build a new sport and entertainment arena on the waterfront in San Francisco in time for the 2017-18 NBA Season on May 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  Getty  Images  North  America  / Thearon  W  Henderson  …..

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NBA related pieces within this site : Tophatal’s Blog /NBA

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NBA news & archived stories

NBA calendar key dates

NBA transactions

NBA standings by division

NBA standings by conference

NBA schedule 23rd January 2013 & results for 22nd February and 21st January

NBA statistics Team & player stats

NBA free agents (2012-13)

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Los Angeles Lakers’ news & team history

Los Angeles Lakers overview & profile —- Lakers’ market capitalization /value & profitability

Los Angeles Lakers’ roster & team stats

Los Angeles Lakers’ schedule

Mike D’Antoni head coach’s bio & coaching staff

Los Angeles Lakers’ payroll ($100,190,168) & cap-hit

Los Angeles Lakers’ free agents

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Golden State Warriors & —— team market capitalization/value & profitability

Golden State Warriors news

Golden State Warriors roster & team stats

Mark Jackson & coaching staff bios

Golden State Warriors’ team payroll & cap-hit

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NBA team salaries & NBA “soft salary cap ” $58.044 million

NBA team valuations’ list

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Mos Def —– “Ms Fat Booty “

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Sean Paul — feat’g Sasha …… ” I’m Still In Love “

And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

And So It Begins ……….. The NBA Playoffs Are Here …….

The NBA postseason is almost upon us and the first round of games beginning this upcoming Saturday the 16th April . But on a side note it cannot have escaped the latest incident whereby NBA Commissioner David Stern had to impose a severe $100,000 fine on the Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant for using a derogatory homophobic term towards a referee during the Lakers’ game against the San Antonio Spurs . I’ve always felt that far too many of today’s athletes are nothing more than a bunch of entitled primadona self absorbed idiots who think themselves above the law and above the rules that govern their game ! Bryant seems to be no different and his less than contrite apology speaks volumes as to the player’s immaturity at this juncture .

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Slide show for your perusal .

The Lakers’ season has now become all the more tenuous when it was announced that their center Andrew Bynum has a recurring knee injury that could very well sideline him for initial part of the first round of these playoffs. A match-up against the New Orleand Hornets has all the semblance of a potential upset if the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t fully prepared for their task against the Chris Paul and David West led Hornets . This will be a match-up of styles and though many feel that the Lakers are the more athletic of the two teams I personally believe that the Lakers’ Achilles’ heel is that their bench lacks real depth ! The likes of Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff on paper may well look impressive but in actuality , do they actually strike fear into anyone much less you as a fan ? Admittedly , the Lakers may well this season’s potential Sixth Man of the Year in Lamar Odom but beyond that the roster in terms of its bench has nothing . The team’s greatest strength is that of their duo Pau Gasol and Bryant himself who leads the team in scoring .

Courtesy of NBA.com

NBA fines Kobe $100,000 for apparent slur toward ref

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 on Wednesday for using a derogatory gay term in frustration over a referee’s call.

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a swift disciplinary ruling after the Los Angeles Lakers’ five-time NBA champion guard cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him Tuesday night in the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

“Kobe Bryant’s comment during last night’s game was offensive and inexcusable,” Stern said. “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated. … Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

Stern’s action drew praise from gay-rights organizations that had demanded a fuller apology from Bryant and condemnation of his words by the Lakers. Bryant, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, issued a statement earlier Wednesday saying his words came strictly out of anger and shouldn’t be taken literally.

“We applaud Commissioner Stern and the NBA for not only fining Bryant but for recognizing that slurs and derogatory comments have no place on the basketball court or in society at large,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. “We hope such swift and decisive action will send a strong and universal message that this kind of hateful outburst is simply inexcusable no matter what the context.”

Bryant’s words and actions were captured by TNT’s cameras during the network’s national broadcast of the Lakers’ regular-season home finale.

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A patron (JW aka Dubs) of my site had posed the question to me who amongst the teams in the Western Conference would simply be good enough to derail the hopes of the Lakers in the off-season ? My response to him ___ was , that should the Lakers and Spurs meet in the conference finals it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see the Lakers succumb to Gregg Popovich coached Spurs . The equalizing factor may well be the two head coaches in Phil Jackson and Popovich who between them have won nine of the last fifteen NBA titles since 1996 . If that’s not accounting for the dominance of these two coaches and their respective teams , someone needs to explain to me what is.

The seedings within the Western Conference has worked itself out coming into the last week of the regular season schedule with the San Antonio Spurs sewing up the number one seed followed by the Lakers , Dallas Mavericks , Oklahoma City Thunder , Denver Nuggets , Portland Trailblazers , New Orleans Hornets and finally the Memphis Grizzlies .

The Eastern Conference played itself out with the Chicago Bulls taking the number one overall seed much to the surprise of many who may well have felt that Tom Thibodeau’s young team led by MVP candidate Derrick Rose weren’t yet ready to be viewed amongst the elite teams within the conference. Instead we had the inconsistency shown by the Celtics , Heat and Magic all thought to be potential leading candidates for the conference’s number one seed. But the inconsistency shown by those trio of teams over the course of the season opened the door for the Chicago Bulls their successful regular season.

Rose for his part ably abetted by Luol Deng , Joakim Noah , Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer have all played their part resurrecting the fortunes of the ball-club from those lofty days when Phil Jackson was the coach and Michael Jordan was leading the organization to their numerous triumphs . The question now being asked by the faithful Bulls’ fans who’ve attended the home games at the United Center is whether or not this team is actually capable of winning this season’s NBA title. This postseason may well go a long way in answering those questions and a great deal more not only about the Chicago Bulls also as to the aspirations of several other teams within the Eastern Conference. Undoubtedly the coaching acumen of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Bulls has to be admired and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him being rewarded with the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award as he’d be thoroughly deserving of the award !

It goes without saying that while the Miami Heat were obviously viewed as the prohibitive favorites within the Eastern Conference merely because of the Pat Riley off-season engineered moves amongst the free agents on the market _____ many felt that the Heat would walk away with the conference. You even had the asinine notion being raised by none other than former coach Jeff Van Gundy and former Knicks’ point guard Mark Jackson that this incarnation of the Miami Heat would be able to challenge the Bulls’ single season record of 72 wins . In essence both Jackson and Van Gundy were enamored with style over substance rather than what was tangible and in front of their very eyes. And hence ,it’s one of the primary reasons why I tend not to take anything that they have to say about the NBA with any sense of intelligence. Because it’s as if duo had a man crush on LeBron James and this team rather than looking at their body of work over the course of the season . Gullible and unintelligent would simply sum up their knowledge and the asinine prognostications that they’ve made about this team and what they thought was actually possible.

Now while I believe that the Heat stands as good a chance as any of the deemed favorites within the Eastern Conference , I firmly believe that if they’re to prevail then the play of their main trio of James , Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will have to be at a heightened level with the role players on this roster also stepping up their game . If they’re able to do that then it’s my belief that they can prevail within the conference but given the relative postseason inexperience of the team’s coach Erik Spoelstra it could well be that in part that they will struggle along the way as the team’s postseason efforts evolve. My firm opinion is that the top four seeds within the Eastern Conference will be the conference semi finalists and that the match-ups there will go along way in suggesting who we are likely to see in the conference finals .

If there is to be a surprise to be had in the first round of this season’s playoffs I do believe that it could come at the hands if the New York Knicks pushing the Boston Celtics for all their worth. And though this Knicks’ team leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of their defensive efforts there’s no denying that offensively they can stand toe to toe with just about any high scoring team left in these playoffs. GM Donnie Walsh in acquring Amar’e Stoudemire , Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups made sure that the team was at least capable of competing but there’s little to suggest that there’s now that consistency sought to actually make that one big push in the postseason. But herein lies the caveat once the postseason comes around everything indeed appears to be on a level playing home field advantage or not , and I do believe that both Anthony and Stoudemire wish to prove the team’s doubters wrong.

The Boston Celtics with a mix of some youth and veteran experience seem to relish the postseason and in Doc Rivers they have a coach who knows how to coax the best out of his players. But as I’ve repeatedly said to a number of patrons who’ve proffered an opinion on the team , it’s my belief that GM Danny Ainge made a profound mistake trading both Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson and getting very little in return. The duo of Perkins and Robinson were two of the unsung heroes on this roster . Unfortunately, they have an aging pair of seemingly unproductive players in Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal whom I believe will offer very little beyond their experience in the league. I know Shaq has five rings to his name but in reality after his decade and a half in the NBA, he’s no longer the once potent offsensive player he once was. And to my mind Jermaine O’Neal is literally robbing the Celtics blind while offering little in return !

Now while I’m really looking forward to the postseason it goes without saying that what I truly do hope to see are some very competitive series that are adjudicated by the officials with a great deal of impartiality and sound judgment rather than the usual quantity of blown calls and rather insidious wish of theirs to place themselves in the midst of a series, as if they’re indeed part of an ensemble cast. I’ve always felt that a great game is one where you see very little of the officials and more of the players exhibiting their skills and athleticism ! More often than not once the NBA postseason comes around you tend to see little of the latter and more of the referees interjecting themselves into a game or series for all of the wrong reasons that in the end tends to create more controversy than there really needs to be.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on this upcoming postseason and what if any are you really looking forward to seeing in terms of the teams playing ? Simply chime in with a comment on your thoughts on the NBA postseason . As a bye note are you also in agreement with the fine imposed on Kobe Bryant after his display , pointed and heated comments at a referee during the Lakers’ game against the Spurs ? Once again do leave a comment concerning that incident also.

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Sacramento Kings fan Ralph Miller IV, 9, holds a sign conveying his sentiments during the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The Maloof family, majority owners of the Kings, are expected to go to New York later this week to ask the NBA permission to move the team to Anaheim. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli ………………

(2) (L-R) Tiago Splitter(22), George Hill (3) , Chris Quinn (11) , Steve Novak(23) , and Gary Neal(14) of the San Antonio Spurs look on against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein ….

(3) Andrew Bynum (17) of the Los Angeles Lakers grimaces after an injury against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images / Harry How ……….

(4) 12: Kobe Bryant(24) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots as he is defended by Tiago Splitter(22) and Richard Jefferson(24) of the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on April 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California . Getty Images/ Harry How …….

(5) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 13: of the Chicago Bulls of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Nets 97-92 . Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……

(6) Carlos Boozer(5) of the Chicago Bulls is called for charging as he hits Dan Gadzuric(50) of the New Jersey Nets at the United Center on April 13, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois . Getty Images/ Johnathan Daniels ……..

(7) ‘The Three Stooges’ Jeff Van Gundy, right, appears comfortable with his broadcast partners Mark Jackson, left, and Mike Breen. Breen says of Van Gundy, “He’s even smiling sometimes.” . I’m not so sure that the trio mightn’t be the worse on air analysts covering the NBA either on broadcast or cable network today ! What they believe they provide in , insight , is simply dulled by their ineptitude and stupidity with the belief that they’re also funny ! Courtesy of ESPN / Scott Clarke …….

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Eastern Conference

(1) Chicago Bulls …. vs …. (8) Indiana Pacers

(2) Miami Heat …. vs ….. (7) Philadelphia 76ers

(3) Boston Celtics ……vs …… (6) New York Knicks

(4) Orlando Magic ….. vs ….. (5) Atlanta Hawks

Western Conference

(1) San Antonio Spurs ….. vs …… (8) Memphis Grizzlies

(2) Los Angeles Lakers ….. vs ….. (7) New Orleans Hornets

(3) Dallas Mavericks ….. vs ….. (6) Portland Trailblazers

(4) Oklahoma City Thunder ….. vs ….. (5) Denver Nuggets

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Twice In A Lifetime ………………..

Coming off a high having beaten the Miami Heat at the AT& T Center in San Antnio ,Texas the conference leading San Antonio Spurs now had to gauge themselves against the reigning NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers hosting them
at their home venue.

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That display against the Heat so clinical , decisive in its execution that the 30 point margin of victory shocked many who witnessed the game in its entirety. They say you can tell a great deal about a team by the way they can handle adversity and after this debacle it was extremely clear that the Miami Heat players , coaching staff and front office weren’t at all happy with the outcome. Hoisted on their own petard (backside) the team was completely embarrassed by their Western Conference rivals . What might be even more improbable was seeing Matt Bonner shoot the lights out having hit 8 of the team’s seventeen three pointers on the way to the Spurs’ 125-95 defeat of the Miami Heat.

I’m not about to use this one game as a precursor to an envisioned NBA Final as there’s still a great deal left to be played for either team as we now hit not quite the closing stretch of the NBA season . But it does give us some insight as to where both teams are respectively as it relates to their respective seasons. On the one hand you have the Miami Heat who with the litany of All Stars and the adoring fans of South Beach and within the locale it has to be said that for Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dwyane Wade the expectations are extremely high. All their protracted discussions that their reason for getting together is to win an NBA title , multiple titles in fact . Failure to win this season and there’s going to be a great many questions asked of the triumvirate as well both Pat Riley , team owner Micky Arison and the team’s coach Eric Spoelstra . It may well have been the fact that the Heat were being viewed as clear cut favorites to win this season’s NBA title but let’s simply anoint this team before they’ve actually done anything as of yet.

The same proclamation was made with regard to the Los Angeleles in 2004 when that team had future Hall of Famers Gary Payton , Karl Malone , Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Byrant . And as well know that this team was completely embarrassed by the Detroit Pistons in one of the most lopsided series in NBA history with the Pistons subduing and shellacking the Lakers 4-1 in the 2004 NBA Finals . That one series spoke highly as to what can be expected when a unit becomes complacent and simply believes that they can essentially sleep walk their way through a season as well as the postseason.

The Spurs after their exhilarating victory as I alluded to earlier had to deal with the Lakers and if anything these games tend to be highly competitive and a true test for both teams. A match of wits also between two highly respected coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich who between them have won fifteen NBA titles over their illustrious coaching careers. Popovich seeks his fifth title as the Spurs’ coach , and all have been won during a fifteen year span with Gregg Popovich at the helm.

The game itself in front of a soldout crowd once again at the AT& T Center and a nationally televised audience it slipped out the Spurs’ hand right away as it appeared that Phil Jackson’s team simply wanted to be no part of another embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Spurs whereby it was a collective effort by team and where Matt Bonner stood out as “the hero” from Friday night’s victory with his long range sharp shooting. Kobe Bryant essentially made sure that any thought of a repeat victory in a similar vein. The perennial All Star and former league MVP who simply is perhaps the most single minded individual in terms of psyche and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to win. That’s something that hasn’t been seen within the league since Michael Jordan was at the height of his fame with the Chicago Bulls and leading them to six world championships as well as having won multiple league and Finals MVP awards . Bryant is now seeking to emulate his idol by winning his sixth NBA title and further enhance his legacy as one of the all-time greats of the game.

By contrast the Spurs have their future Hall of Famer in Tim Duncan and although his stats are down somewhat this year he’s viewed as the heart and soul of this team . Along with Duncan you have also the able duo of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker who’ve been able to allow Duncan to be more of a make shift player as Popovich has sought more productivity from the younger players on the roster as well as veterans such as Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess . Each have played their role this season in the Spurs’ exceptional display this year contributing in all aspects of the game . And Sunday afternoon wasn’t to be the Spurs’ day as the Lakers held San Antonio in check on their way to a 99-86 victory narrowing the Spurs’ lead within the Western Conference .

There’s a great deal that one could as such take away from this game in terms of the way it was played and the resultant victory but I’d preface this by saying it’s merely the regular season and what really will count is the inevitability of each team’s performance as the postseason commences . Then we’ll be able to ascertain for ourselves which of the two teams has the greater chance of ultimately making their way to the NBA Finals . The two could very well meet in the latter stages of the playoffs and that event could make for an exceptional and highly competitive series . So make of it what you will.

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What thoughts if any do you have as to the aspirations of both teams and which of them to your mind at this juncture do you view as the favorite to win the conference title and quite possibly the NBA championship itself predicated upon their play ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the matter anything else you feel of relevance to the NBA .

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(1) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich argues a call as the Spurs play the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani

(2) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant gestures to teammates after making a basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Lakers defeated the Spurs 99-83 . AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …….

(3) San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill (3) drives past Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani ………….

(4) San Antonio Spurs players Manu Ginobili (20), of Argentina, and Tony Parker (9), of France, walk up court after a turnover against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani ……

San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter , left, of Brazil, is defended by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Matt Barnes (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Lakers defeated the Spurs, 99-83. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …………

(6)San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, center, of Argentina, passes the ball after driving between the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol , of Spain, and Andrew Bynum during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Sunday, March 6, 2011. AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani …………..

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Alan aka tophatal ………………………

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Eye candy ………………… Not everything out of Jamaica tends to be violent ….. aka Jamaican Coolie . Show her some love .

Oh my !
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Nelly Furtado ………………….. “Say It Right”
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There’s No Fool Like An Old Fool ………. And There’s Now One Born Every Minute ……

There’s No Fool Like An Old Fool ………. And There’s Now One Born Every Minute ……

Well it now appears as the Los Angeles Lakers’ —- season has been somewhat derailed by their uneven play there’s rumblings in ‘ La-La Land’ that the Lakers are prepared to trigger a deal that would bring the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers in exchange for Andrew Bynum and either Lamar Odom or Ron Artest that would bring the prized All Star to the “City of Angels” . There are already preliminary talks that have taken place as was being reported by ESPN’s —- Chris Broussard the station’s widely respected NBA analyst.

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As we all know the New York Knicks and in particular GM Donnie Walsh , owner James Dolan and coach Mike DAntoni have expressed a desire to bring the Anthony to his native New York. The player himself has made it his desire to go to New York but herein lies the problem the Knicks aren’t any closer to being a contender in their present guise . And if anything the Knicks and the pieces that they would have on offer to the Nuggets would not be in any way as desirable as Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak would be able to offer the Denver Nuggets. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri has to do what’s best for the organization and clearly he’s now caught between a rock and hard place.

Courtesy of ESPN Los Angeles

Andrew Bynum dismisses trade talk

By Dave McMenamin

All The Pros and Cons of Melo in LA ….

Boston — The basketball world might have been set aflame overnight considering a scenario where the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers would acquire four-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets for center Andrew Bynum, but you wouldn’t know it from looking in on Lakers practice Wednesday.

As the team made its way off the practice court at Emerson College, Bynum joked with Lamar Odom, and Kobe Bryant bristled when asked if he had to comfort Bynum.

“If he can’t deal with that, forget about a Game 7,” Bryant said of the trade talk that was first reported by ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard on Tuesday. “I don’t need to talk to him about that. He’s a big boy, he can handle himself.”

Coach Phil Jackson barely batted an eyelash as he was approached by a throng of media that included reporters from national news outlets.

“I haven’t given it a second thought,” Jackson said. “I haven’t really entertained it.”

If Jackson hasn’t given it a second thought, then what was his first thought about the Lakers moving their 7-foot, 285-pound big man to pick up a wing player in Anthony?

“My first thought was, ‘Why are these people interrupting my life with these kind of rumors?’ ” Jackson said.

Bynum said his agent, David Lee , called him at 4 p.m. Tuesday to tell him about the report. It was a familiar refrain for Bynum, whose name has popped up in rumors linked to a laundry list of players — Jason Kidd , Jermaine O’Neal , Kevin Garnett , Chris Paul and Pau Gasol among them — in his six-year career.

“It’s just another rumor as far as I’m concerned,” a nonchalant Bynum said Wednesday. “I was caught up in [Chris] Bosh and Pau [trade speculation], so it’s nothing new to me. I’m just going to keep playing basketball.

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The NBA trade deadline is on the 24th February and there’s bound to be a flurry of trades around the league as a number of teams will look to bolster their rosters in order to make a playoff push. And it goes without saying that Carmelo Anthony is the most prized asset of the lucrative restricted and unrestricted free agents that are about to come on the market.

Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson clearly sees that there’s a flaw in his team and the way in which they’ve been playing recently . Statistically the load being carried on this team is being done predominantly as always by Kobe Bryant , who at times is being ably assisted by Pau Gasol when he’s completely free of injury. And it has been clear for all to see that this Lakers’ team has systematically limped along the way to their current position in the standings. The team’s 35-16 mark places places them third in the Western Conference Standings behind the conference leading San Antonio Spurs (42-8) and the Dallas Mavericks .

Now it’d be a surprise to many to see the Spurs be so dominant in the NBA this season but those who’d taken note of the Spurs’ team would have realized that this has been a collective effort , and not totally reliant on the team’s triumvirate of stars Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker . And one ought to take into account also that in Gregg Popovich the Spurs might possess the best coach in the NBA outside of the Lakers ‘ Phil Jackson .

Should the Lakers pull off this deal then clearly it would place them amongst the mainstay within the conference and even though they are the reigning NBA champions . This team was meant was built with the intent of making a successful defense and based upon the changes made by Jackson and Kupchak over the last season it’s very clear that the Lakers have fallen short of those desires . Ron Artest has been increasingly inconsistent and it’s clear that the likes of Odom , Bynum , Shannon Brown , Steve Blake and the Lakers’ bench haven’t met the expectations of the coaching staff or the fans in attendance at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. aren’t gense

Carmelo Anthony for his part gets to play on a team alongside a perennial All Star in Kobe Bryant and that can’t at all be bad for a player whose desire to win an NBA title at this stage of his career the desire is to win. The Nuggets aren’t any closer to doing that and their window of opportunity has already come to a close . They’re still a very good regular season team and that is in spite of last season’s playoff performances and the heroics by the team. Unfortunately with the illness of coach George Karl even with the experience shown by Adrian Dantley as he took over from Karl while he underwent chemotherapy and then the long drawn out process of recuperation . The problems for Nuggets stem from the fact that they contend in the always competitive and cuthroat atmosphere of the Western Conference .

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A chance to see Carmel Anthony in the Lakers’ purple and gold could be the biggest thing to hit LA since the arrival of Shaquille O’Neal and from there the team’s unprecedented success of a trio of NBA titles under Phil Jackson . At this juncture when there’s more entertainment to be had from watching the Lakers’ co-resident at the Staples Center , the Los Angeles Clippers then you simply know that things aren’t all right with this Lakers’ team. It’s now gotten to the stage where Blake Griffin is now getting collectively more exposure on both ABC/ESPN and TNT than the reigning NBA champions. And when that happens then clearly one could surmise that all isn’t right in the basketball world and the fact that basketball gods are now said to be smiling.

The New York Knicks could well be on the outside looking in as the ones left out. The fans at Madison Square Gardens aren’t entirely happy that as of late that their team has suddenly been slipping and their recent displays can be best described as being erratic. With the excellent play of Amar’e Stoudemire , Landry Fields , Raymond Felton it has been the Knicks’ bench that has continued to let them down in the most untimely of situation when they’ve had games within their grasp. There’s no denying that the addition of Carmelo Anthony would be a tremendous boost to the organization from a number of standpoints not the least from a financial standpoint of the league’s most valuable NBA franchise. The most recent estimates have the Knicks valued at approximately $655 million with the league average being $370 million .

The cat and mouse games will now begin as quite possibly Donnie Walsh and James Dolan may well look to make a last ditch attempt to bring Carmelo to New York. You have the glamor of Hollywood being thrown up against the 24 hour none stop mayhem that we know to be the “The Big Apple” and it will all come down to which organization can use its wiles to lure the Nuggets’ player to be a part of their immediate and long term future. As of now either these two organizations could start to play a very interesting game of chicken with the loser quite possibly end up looking the fool. And as of now there’s no clear indicator as to who that might be.

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the potential trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Lakers rather than quite possibly ending up with the New York Knicks ? Chime on in with a comment as to your thoughts on this topic or any other as it relates to the NBA. Thanks as always for the continued support !

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(1) Denver , Co,. : Carmelo Anthony (15) of the Denver Nuggets looks on during a break in the action against the New York Knicks at the Pepsi Center on November 16, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. According to reports, the Denver Nuggets are in preliminary talks with the Los Angeles Lakers for a trade that would send Anthony to the Lakers for a package built around Andrew Bynum . Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …….

(2) Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom goes to the hoop in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, against the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, Tenn. Odom scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a 93-84 win. AP Photo/Alan Spearman ……….

(3) Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) handles the ball away from the Memphis Grizzlies defenders in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. AP Photo/Alan Spearman ……….

(4) Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) defends Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, left, of Spain, in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. AP Photo/Alan Spearman …………………..

(5) Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl hangs his head during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Denver. AP Photo/Jack Dempsey ………

(6) New York Knicks owner James Dolan (right) listens as newly hired president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh speaks during a news conference in New York, April 2, 2008. The organization are still said to be pursuing all venues possible to bring Carmelo Anthony to Madison Square Gardens home to the New York Knicks. But with the now rising interest of the Los Angeles Lakers the team will be matched in a battle of wits with the West Coast rival. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

(7) ESPN’s NBA analyst Chris Broussard who first broke the story of the Lakers’ interest and pursuit of the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony. The two teams have met privately to discuss a possible deal looking to finalize it before the NBA’s trade deadline of the 24th February . AP Photo / Steve Pearson ……….

(8) Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri formerly a mid-level executive with the Toronto Raptors . Ujiri who reports directly to owner Stanley Kroenke and his son Josh Kroenke the President & COO of the Nuggets organization . It will be on their say so whether or not the player will be traded to either the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks . AP Photo / Richard Todd ………..

(9) Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson (left ) left is seen here with the team’s GM Mitch Kupchak on a private jet discussing team business . The two obviously not happy with the current state of affairs concerning the team are said to be eagerly in pursuit of the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony in a trade that might possibly have the team’s center Andrew Bynum heading out of Los Angeles to Denver. NBAE/ Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein ……..

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Eye candy …………. Sasha Delvalle

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Tony – Toni – Tone …………”It Never Rains” (In Southern California)
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It’s Now Phil’s World And The Rest of The NBA Are Simply Just Living In It ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Alan aka tophatal ………………. 🙂

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Miss-Issa

Eye candy vocalist Miss Issa courtesy of Lowridermagazine.com

Stupid Is As Stupid Does ………… Another Dumb Ass Athlete Who Simply Has No Brains

Stupid Is As Stupid Does ……. Another Dumb Ass Athlete Who Simply Has No Brains

So at one point did it occur to the Los Angeles Lakers’ __ Andrew Bynum that’d it be better to forgo having surgery in the offseason and attend the World Cup in South Africa ? The player whose participation in the NBA Finals was somewhat limited albeit that the team ended up defeating the Boston Celtics in what turned out to be somewhat of a lackluster series. Finals’ MVP Kobe Bryant was ably abetted by Pau Gasol and able cast of teammates but the series itself could’ve been far more enthralling had Bynum been at full strength.

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As I stated earlier in the piece the Lakers’ center sought to visit to visit the African continent for the FIFA World Cup. The player rather than having surgery in the offseason now has chosen to undergo surgery on his right knee just as the preseason and opening training camp is set to get underway. Questions must abound as to why now would the player seek to have this surgery when he had the whole offseason to have the surgery and then fully recuperate and rehabilitate his knee ? Now in having the surgery it’s said that with rest and therapy he’d miss the greater part of the preseason and quite possibly miss the first dozen or so games of the Lakers’ regular season schedule. Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson and team GM Mitch Kupchak can’t be entirely happy with these set of circumstances but in all probability they may well have already voiced their displeasure with the player.

Now in the midst of this all, we know as defending champions the Lakers will want to be ready and firing on all cylinders as the season begins. They’re now for all sense and purpose the bulls-eye with all the other 29 teams in the NBA looking to take them down. Bynum for his part has yet to live up to the potential that many believe him to have and this is a player who after five years in the league has yet to play more than 50 games in of the quintet of seasons his career has been established. That in of-itself ought to be of no surprise to anyone who’s seen the player up close and personal. His raw talent is exceptional but his game has yet to be polished where he’d be viewed as one of the top centers in the game. That being said the talent within the NBA at the position isn’t that plentiful or particularly talented. Other than the histrionics of Dwight Howard whose talent is unquestioned we’ve yet to see any other player that could say match the work ethic and talent shown by the likes of Shaquille O’Neal , Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon at the height of their illustrious careers. In the case of Howard we’ve yet to see consistency and the leadership qualities that one would come to expect of a player looking to step into those illustrious shoes.

This upcoming season on the agenda is the triumvirate of Bosh, James and Wade as they seek to lead the Miami Heat back to the summit of the NBA world. Now while I’m under no illusion as to why this was engineered by Heat President Pat Riley and the now idiotic talk that the Heat will be able to surpass the 72-10 win tally of the Michael Jordan led championship winning Chicago Bulls. I do know this from a business standpoint Heat owner Micky Arison needed this type of infusion from an economic outlook if the franchise was to show any type of profit this season. Collectively this NBA lost in excess of $ 350 million and is fore-cast to lose close to $500 million collectively(half a billion dollars) for the 2010-11 season. And one would have thought that the owners around the league would be now crying poverty ? But they are , aren’t they ? I mean why else would Commissioner David Stern see fit to avail a number of teams in excess of b> $250 million in loans which have been made possible a number of retail consumer banks ? Then at the same time Stern and the league’s hierarchy would have us believe that it’s not to be viewed as a bailout. In the last decade alone teams within the NBA have borrowed in excess of $1.65 billion dollars either to facilitate major upheavals of their venues or for an assortment of deals that they’ve been reluctant to make public.

David Stern and the league hierarchy have got to be overly concerned over the league’s financial struggles albeit that their industry is a $ 6 billion a year plus industry. Now there has got to be something missing from the midst of this all when Stern now alleges that the current collective bargaining agreement is an inequitable one between the NBPA (union) and the league. If these teams and the hierarchy can’t find a way to split their revenues wherein they can survive and still eke out a moderate profit then clearly the template that the NBA operates under is askew and is need of some thoughtful consideration as to how best to proceed. Clearly the days where the owners , players and league hierarchy think that they can simply ignore the fans and in particular economic climate and operate in the same manner is now no longer possible.

Well with the Golden State Warriors now under new ownership it appears that the new incoming hierarchy was looking to bring in their own man. And for incumbent coach Don Nelson the writing was on the wall. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Nelson would be fired. The Warriors have been a lackluster franchise who under Nelson consistently underachieved and to my thinking he should have been fired long ago rather than kept on in order to surpass Lenny Wilkens’ wins record. Why keep a coach in place in order to attain a record that simply no one cares about when that franchise isn’t winning on a consistent basis much less in with a chance of winning an NBA title ? Pardon me for saying this but Chris Cohan, the team’s former owner is either an ass or he clearly has no idea how to run a professional sport’s franchise despite the millions in his bank account. I liken many of the owners of a professional sports franchise as simply egotistical maniacs who simply use these teams as mere baubles to entertain their peers and acquaintances. Doubt my word, then simply take into account owners such as Dr John York and his wife Denise DeBartolo York ( San Francisco 49ers), Frank and Jamie McCourt (Los Angeles Dodgers), Bob Nutting ( Pittsburgh Pirates), Al Davis (Oakland Raiders) and formerly Oren Koules and his partners (Tampa Bay Lightning). Here you had owners whose excesses simply haven’t amounted to much . OK one can say that amongst the owners listed Al Davis has won multiple Superbowls but since those wins , success has been rare even though the elderly owner is still admired around the league(NFL). If there’s a chance that we could have some semblance of common sense from these owners and their executives who are their subordinates then quite possibly some of these franchise would actually achieve some success.

Though I’ve come to love the NBA , I personally don’t get totally enamored with the season until the season gets over its Christmas schedule. By then the NFL season though it hasn’t yet reached its climax we’re almost pretty sure which teams will be in the midst of making it to the postseason. From thereon in the fans ought to be simply gearing themselves up for all of the intrigue of the NBA season. Well for me that’s most definitely the case and I have to admit while I’m not about to be watching the Miami Heat and the circus that’s about to be created as the noted trio’s showcase goes on the road. Now undoubtedly for teams scheduling the Heat this will be a boon for their gates and the homes games to be played at the AAArena in Miami will see a boost in attendance. And for Heat President Pat Riley and team owner Micky Arison this exactly what they wanted for the franchise. The franchise will reap a harvest but the biggest bonus would be if the team is able to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June of 2011. But much of that will be predicated on the form of Chris Bosh , LeBron James and Dywane Wade as that could well be the deciding factor as to how this team will fare throughout the season.

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

Given what we’ve seen happen over the postseason within the NBA how do you see the upcoming season panning out ? And if anything can see this present Heat team matching the feat of the Chicago Bulls and their history making season of 72 wins ? And is Pat Riley justified in now criticizing those whom he sees as being vocal as to how he engineered the signings of both James and Bosh ? Chime on in with your thoughts on the topic and any other thoughts on this upcoming NBA season ?

Alan aka tophatal ………… 🙂

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Eye candy courtesy of XXL magazine Sasha Del Valle

Sex Shouldn’t Be Less Important Than Sports …………. Confessions of A Sports Junkie And Couch Potato


Sex Shouldn’t Be Less Important Than Sports …………. Confessions of A Sports Junkie And Couch Potato


Well the NBA Finals for this season has reached its last hurdle and at the end of tonight’s game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. We will either be crowning a new NBA champion or the the Los Angeles Lakers will have successfully defended their title in defeating Boston Celtics . Momentum is with the Lakers and in all likelihood should they prevail then Kobe Bryant will have won his second successive finals’ MVP award . This much we do know however, as good as these finals have been in terms of the Nielsens’ ratings . The series itself, can’t exactly be described as having been exciting and especially not in the mould of the old Celtics , Lakers finals’ series of old that you watching Bird and Magic go at each other with it all on the line .

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The series is now tied at (3-3) three games apiece and both coaches Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers will be looking to add to their own legacies as well as that of their respective teams . And the feeling now being purveyed around the league is that this just might be the last hurrah for Jackson after an astonishing coaching career. Rivers has widely expressed the fact that he’d like to take a year’s Sabbatical away from the game to be with his family , given the undue pressures of the game . And in many respects that is more than understandable.



What we do know concerning both of these coaches each different in so many ways . It is that they both have a healthy respect for the game and that their players have a healthy respect and an unbounded loyalty to both Jackson and Rivers. Both men are also respected by their peers around the league and no doubt by the vast majority of NBA fans.


At this juncture I’m sure that it’s safe to say that there’s bound to be a bi-coastal bias as well as that “East Coast” “West Coast” supremacy thing in terms of who we’d like to see win this series. Well thankfully , this isn’t wrapped around the inane stupidity shown between the rival coasts when it comes to rap music. But then again I’m sure that there are a few Celtics and Lakers’ fans who’d like to bust “a cap” in each others’ ass ! And given the degree of animosity that there’s said to be between the two sets of fans. I’m wondering why it is that we’ve never seen any violence between the two groups ?


If tonight’s game is expected to go as I deem it might , then I do feel that the Celtics will come gunning right out of the gates expecting to take the Lakers off-guard ! If they are able to do that solidly throughout four thoroughly competitive quarters. Then I would expect the Celtics to prevail ! If not then look for Kobe Bryant to put on an offensive display like only he can in the game today. Don’t get me wrong I do feel that Bryant is the best all-round player in the game today ! And though LeBron James has been anointed by the NBA writers as the league’s MVP . It’s not even close between the two when it comes to showing leadership qualities and that zeal to win. LeBron plays to his public whereas, Bryant is a cold blooded assassin ! His mantra is , fu_k you get out of my way or I’ll run your ass over. LeBron hasn’t even learned how to spell those words as of yet. Plus he’s still probably psychologically damaged from knowing that his mother has been having sex with one of his teammates.


At the culmination of tonight’s series a lot questions will be answered about both of these teams and the ultimate directions that they’re said to be going in. A triumph for the Lakers and another storied chapter will have been written concerning one of the teams most beloved franchises. A triumph for the Celtics and in all probability comparisons will have begun to be made about Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to Bird , McHale and Parish . The latter triumvirate who had unparalleled in winning multiple championships for the Boston Celtics.


It’s the height of summer and thankfully the chatter concerning Brett Favre continues to be light. However, the NSA in conjunction ESPN have been monitoring the player’s every move. If he so much as takes a sh_t outside his abode then you can expect the cable outlet to report it. What would the life of Mark Schlereth and Chris Mortensen be like without them regaling us with the latest snippet there is on the player , bowel movements included ? Chris Mortensen reports that Brett Favre was seen leaving an I-Hop where he was seen having the lunch special before leaving for the men’s room and then returning to finish his meal. Upon inspection of the cubicle used Mortensen was able to ascertain that his fecal matter stank and that his urine was indeed yellow. These things and more will be brought to you courtesy of ESPN and Mortensen. They go after these type of stories with a real zeal and fervor. After all that is what good journalism is meant to be about isn’t it ? Well in the eyes of ESPN this is purportedly good journalism. Only marginally better than that of the other noted news gathering agencies CNN and Fox News . But that’s a story for another day .


And that same zeal is now being used to report Tiger Woods’ every move this week, as he embarks upon trying to win his fourth US Open (17th_20th June) which this week is being held at Pebble Golf & CC in Pebble Beach , California. Woods’ sternest and staunchest test will come in the guise of his closest competitor in the world rankings ,__ Phil Mickelson . And having won The Masters at Augusta National , Mickelson will be looking to win his second major of the season . In doing so he’d edge closer if not supplant Woods at the top of the world rankings. And given Woods’ poor play this season there’s every reason to believe that the player will struggle to recapture the form that vaulted him the top of world golf rankings. Woods’ off the course problems have provided more news for the sports pages and news in general than anything that he’s strived to achieve on a golf course this season. And when you know that something like that is happening to a player Woods’ stature then you can be sure that there is indeed something seriously wrong.



As to whether Woods can pull himself out of this rut, wherein not only are the fans now questioning his abilities as to his return to form. But some are even wondering whether or not we’ll ever see him win another major tournament not only for this year but also as a way to ease the stress and burden which he now finds himself. Many of you are already aware as to what brought about Tiger Woods’ amazing fall from grace. Now the player is trying to reinvent himself and repair that tattered image. One way of actually getting many of the fans back on his side would be to have a very good showing at Pebble Beach and quite possibly winning the tournament. But his struggles mirror that of his unwillingness to be held accountable for his actions and speak openly as to his underlying issues. And until he’s that open then his struggles will continue manifest itself with continually poor play on the course and in the tournaments entered. Sunday’s culmination of the event shoul be enough to tell us a great deal about what’s now still happening with Tiger Woods.


As an expat Brit now residing here in Central Florida , I’ve got to admit that I’ve looked forward to and relished the start of the World Cup in South Africa. As an avid fan of the sport and a staunch supporter of England . I was expecting a great deal more than I’ve now witnessed from the team in their opening game in Group C against the USA . Suffice to say that this may well be the poorest team ever sent to represent the nation at the World Cup. Coach Fabio Capello looks as if he’d assembled the team by using a pin and merely sticking the said instrument down a list of names offered to him by a blind man !


About the only thing that one can say about the team’s performance in eking out a 1-1 tie against the USA , was that the performance was about an inept a showing as one would expect from a team that played without any pride or passion. A loss or another poor showing and this team might as well pack their bags and take the first flight home back to the UK. And it certainly hasn’t helped their situation in knowing that Slovenia the sole winners within the group were able to defeat Algeria in their first opening match 1-0 . Goals, a victory , productivity and team cohesion are certainly things that the England team is finding it hard to come by. And most certainly a lack of leadership from an authoritative figure on the team.


And where we to ask Capello who in fact is meant to be the leader on this team I seriously doubt that he could point to one player and unequivocally say that this player was in fact the the leader on the team. One would be hard pressed to believe him and anything he’d be saying. He knows that the press and fans alike are extremely unhappy with the team’s play. And it hasn’t helped that he’s stuck steadfastly by the poor performance of goalkeeper Robert Green after his inexplicable “gaffe” in the game against the USA. What’s even more asinine is to read the explanation of bloggers who are supporters of England writing within this forum , explain this all away as an unfortunate mistake by the keeper in letting Clint Dempsey’s shot completely evade him. Let’s put it this way, the velocity of the shot from Dempsey was so innocuous that a child on a tricycle could’ve sped past it !


Now with the impending Group C games set to resume as of the 18th June with England meeting Algeria and the USA meeting Slovenia . The outcome of both games could have a bearing as to which of the two teams could quite possibly face elimination in the first round of the World Cup. So high have the stakes now become for both England and the USA that it simply doesn’t bear thinking about should either team be eliminated at such an an early juncture when so much more had been expected.

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Well these were the mere scribblings of an avid sport’s fan who loves his sports passionately but most certainly loves sex a great deal more. Couch potato or not when duty call this one hombre` who drops the remote and answers the call of the carnal pleasures most avidly and passionately. So what’s your excuse then ? Chime on in with a comment as usual . And as of now I’m chiming out . Boom shack-a-lacka homies !

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


Dre Dre ….. feat’g Snoop Dogg …………….Ain’t Nuthin’ But G Thang

Takes And Sporting Takes ……………..

Takes And Sporting Takes ……………..

There’s not much else that can be said about the life of John Wooden that hasn’t been said. His life is an open book and his achievements are legendary . But if anything what may well have been this coach’s greatest achievement was the fact that not did he turn out so many outstanding players but also so many outstanding human beings who turned out to be productive citizens . If that isn’t enough of an indictment as to Wooden’s stature and greatness then simply put I don’t know what is !

Well the NBA Finals have started and based on the evidence that we’ve all witnessed so far it looks as if the Boston Celtics may not be around all that long. The perception that this would be a very entertaining series doesn’t seem to be materializing at all. The defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers have all but made the Boston Celtics look like an aging quartet of geriatrics . And for Ray Allen , Kevin Garnett , Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace this all seems to be coming to fruition. The more athletic Lakers have simply taken it to the Celtics and put them in their place. And it could well be that the Phil Jackson coached Lakers are looking to avenge their defeat at the hands of the Celtics from the 2008 NBA Finals .

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Should the Lakers prevail in the series then it would garner the team its sixteenth NBA title and gain Jackson his eleventh NBA title as a coach. In doing so it would place the illustrious coach in the same stratosphere as the “Wizard of Westwood”, John Wooden, as the two most successful coaches in team sports. Wooden won ten NCAA basketball titles as a coach and one as a player.

Now call me naïve but much has been made as to the travails of Tiger Woods as of late and his poor showing in The Players’ Championship (Ponte` Vedra Beach,Fl) was about as bad a performance as we’ve seen from Woods in years. With his private life awry it appears that Woods’ world is now upside down. And with Phil Mickelson’s win at The Masters , we now might have a rivalry worth following in the world of golf. But then again I may well be wrong. Woods for his own part hasn’t necessarily made things easier for himself as of late having parted ways with his swing instructor Hank Haney .

With the US Open (Pebble Beach Golf Club, Pebble Beach, California ) now but a few weeks away, it appears that Woods is at a crossroads in his career. And things are now spiraling out of control and it appears that Tiger Woods has no real answer as to his dilemma.

Whatever your take on the baseball season it has to be said that the surprises and disappointments have been profound for a number of teams . The Baltimore Orioles are mired in a mediocre season have fired their manager Dave Trembley and replaced him with Juan Samuel . And for all sense and purpose based on the team’s first display under their new manager , things aren’t likely to take a turn for the better. This is still a poorly performing team that is lacking confidence and whose owner might just be in a situation where he has all but given up hope of having anything approaching what one might deem a successful season. Owner Peter Angelos and GM Andy MacPhail have shown a preponderance of simply turning from one disaster to the next , as the Orioles continue not only to disappoint their long suffering fans. But the idiocy of the announcement being made by the executives that they’re about to turn the corner, shows about as much hope as trying to ascend Mount Everest with but a pocket knife and string. Things are continuing to get worse for the Orioles and there’s no sign that they’re about to get any better anytime soon.

With Ken Griffey Jr’s announcement that he has retired from the game that he’s graced for two decades, seems to have brought us to a moment where we are still in awe as to the player’s abilities. To my mind , Griffey was simply the greatest player” of his generation !. That’s with due respect to the now infamous steroid enhanced Alex Rodriguez. Multiple All Star and Golden Glove winner as well as the AL MVP in 1997 . Ken Griffey Jr has given us moments to savor. Watching Griffey’s swing of the bat was and still is one of the sweetest in the game and his prowess in the outfield was second to none. With Jr’s retirement, it now leaves us with perhaps only Albert Pujols , Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki as the three players from this past decade whom we might look at and say ……….”well they’re clean” . But then again in this day and age in the era where under Bud Selig’s custody the game of baseball has been a complete fraud in terms of many of the players’ performances. You simply can no longer look at a player’s achievements without questioning those accomplishments.

The biggest joke may well the less than honest observations on the game made by so called journalists covering the game. I personally have no respect for the likes of Buster Olney or Peter Gammons . They’re self serving lap dogs who’ve done the sport a great disservice but this is merely my opinion on the matter. As they’ve never shown the perspicacity to even cover the “steroid era” in depth and state their own thoughts with the readers or fans as to the shame and dishonor that certain players have brought to the game. But then again what would you expect from two individuals who are about as superfluous as they come . While Gammons and Olney come across as insightful and as authoritative a duo on the sport as one would hope to find. It appears that both of these writers would prefer not to bite the hand that feeds them in terms of the hierarchy of MLB . And when you observe signs such as this , then for all sense and purpose you can take it to the bank that their thoughts on the sport are about as worthwhile as a piece of fecal matter found on a sidewalk.

Well it appears that the NFL season though just months away. It appears that free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens has yet to find a home. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Owens’ agent Drew Rosenhaus will be doing his level best to find his high profiled client a home. And for Owens, whose best years are now behind him rather than ahead of him. It’s becoming increasingly clear that there might not be many takers for the now declining skills of Owens . But yet somehow the player still believes that he can contribute to a team given the right environment.

Now as you know the closer we get to the start of the NFL preseason the more ramped up the stories will become concerning ESPN’s fodder and staple over the entire preseason. If Brett Favre has a problem with flatulence , you can be sure that ESPN will be reporting it. OK , so I might be going a bit overboard concerning that the cable network might be reporting on Favre’s flatulence. But then again, when hasn’t the network known to sank to lowest common denominator ? The network’s lust for the former league MVP borders on being idolatry . But then again, what’s a bit of idolatry when at any given moment at your choosing you can afford to take down that deity should you choose to ? But that would be the last thing on ESPN’s mind at any juncture ?

Now don’t get me wrong Brett Favre in his glory years was a player of extraordinary gifts and a passion for the game. But Favre’s passion while unabated , his gifts have declined. Doubt my word , then simply look at his performance in the waning moments of last season’s NFC championship game against the eventual Superbowl champions the New Orleans Saints . And while it has to be said that Favre is clearly a better option than that of Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson of the Minnesota Vikings . One now gets the impression that if Favre can’t take the Vikings to the “promised land” this upcoming season , then more likely than not this will be the last time that we’ll see the player helming a team as its quarterback. That being said Favre’s preponderance for playing the fool and holding a team ransom as he ponders his future is about well intentioned as the Taliban’s wish to commit to a peace deal with the United States.

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Well these are but a few of my takes and sporting takes as it relates to the world of sports. Has there been anything of late that has you wondering what’s happening in the world of sports that quite possibly is for the betterment of the game as you see it ? By all means do chime on in with a comment as always thanks for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated !

NB: At the original time of my writing this piece the result of game two of the finals was not yet known. But in light of the Celtics attaining a 103-94 victory in game two the series is now leveled at 1-1 .

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………..

Santana ………………. “Samba pa ti”

Classics And Then There Are Classics …………..

Classics And Then There Are Classics …………

Well with the NBA Conference Finals culminating in “two rather lopsided series” that ended with both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers prevailing 4-2 over the respective conference opponents. We’ll now have the two most storied franchises in the NBA tussling out for the Larry O’Brien trophy and quite possibly supremacy of the NBA.

This match-up now gives us the chance to see if the Lakers can avenge their series defeat from the 2008 NBA Finals when the Celtics prevailed over the Lakers. In Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson we are seeing two of the most successful coaches in the NBA in recent years. Jackson will be seeking his 11th NBA title as a coach and his twelfth overall. Rivers will be seeking his second NBA title in the last two years . And with these two former players matching wits and squaring off against each other. This series could very well be one of the more intriguing and interesting finals series of recent times.


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Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen , Paul Pierce , Rasheed Wallace and Kobe Bryant are all potential future “Hall of Fame” candidates. And their legacies though etched already with regard to the game. The outcome of this series could very well be the define how that legacy will become a fact. Either way in all like this quintet of players will one day make their way into the Naismith Hall of Fame .

In all likelihood the Lakers will be looked at as the presumptive favorites once the series gets underway. But it’d take a foolish person to underestimate the resolve of this Boston Celtics’ team . Anyone who witnessed their dismantling of the Orlando Magic in the Easter Conference Finals will know full well that Doc Rivers’ team has if anything shown everyone that rumors of the being old and uncreative as merely just that . The Celtics have proven that they can outplay a team who was thought of as being more athletic and offensive minded. What has made their appearance all the finals more surprising , was seeing the team steadfastly defending with such zeal. The Celtics made sure that the Magic were never able to gain any traction against the Doc Rivers’ coached team. Much of this came down to stoutness of the Celtics’ defense and the presence shown in the leadership qualities shown by Celtics’ Rajon Rondo . And the Celtics’ point guard may well the best performer in these playoffs.

The Los Angeles Lakers make a successful return to the finals looking to defend their title and further add to the franchise’s and Phil Jackson’s legacy. And though there has been wide speculation that this might be Jackson’s last season with the organization . It’s clear to see that Jackson has no intention of going out from the game without a bang and big send off . As a coach Jackson has made his presence felt within the game. And the coach’s presence has been made and felt across the game and the entire “NBA fraternity”.

As Jackson looks to add his name to the annals of NBA history . Lakers’ players such as Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher will be looking to add their names to that legacy as well . Though there have been a number of players that’ve won multiple NBA titles . There are but a handful of players who’ve won five NBA titles with the same team. Normally the case has been where those players amass that many titles with just one team. That has been the case with the all-time greats such as Pippen , Russell , Jordan , Johnson and quite possibly the names of Bryant and Fisher will be added to that illustrious list. But that last scenario is one that will be played out in this upcoming series . Ultimately, whomever the victors are, will be will be played out in front of a world wide audience of tens of millions of viewers. The global visibility of the game and its popularity grows greater each year as the names such as Bryant , LeBron James , Dywane Wade become more widely popular and recognized. The game at present has never been as popular as it is now.

And for those of us who are supporters of both teams playing out our allegiances . It is going to be a great deal of fun watching this series play out between the NBA’s two most storied franchises. The rivalry between “these two teams” would rival that of say Ali vs. Frazier, McEnroe vs. Borg , Federer vs. Nadal and the Chicago Bulls versus the rest of the NBA at the height of their unprecedented success. A Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers finals’ match-up tends to bring out the best that the two teams has to offer as well as serving up the crème-de-la crème of the NBA . Doubt that, then consider this, how enthralled or interested would you have been, were the proposed finals were that of a series of seven games between the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns ? Would you still be showing the same anticipated eagerness ?

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So what if anything will you be looking forward to during this NBA finals match-up between the Celtics and Lakers ? Will it be Kobe Bryant seeking to show why he’s viewed as the best player in the NBA ? Or could it be Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo stepping up to the plate to show why he could be the next player to be considered amongst the elite players in the NBA ? This and a great deal more will be answered in this upcoming series . Will you be tuning to see what the outcome will be ? And if so where might your allegiance lay and why ? I’ll look forward to reading your comments in this regard and as usual thanks for the continued support . It’s greatly appreciated !

Alan Parkins aka tophatal ………………….

Jay-Z ……….“Show Me What You Got”