Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Hits , misses and what the hell was that about ?

Well appreciative of the fact, for the first time in twenty-one years , a congratulatory note of applause must be displayed towards the Pittsburgh Pirates and their making the MLB post-season for the first time in that time-span. For Clint Hurdle , his staff , the players and front office , this will be a time to celebrate. Having finished second to the St Louis Cardinals in the NL Central , within that division , the Pirates will be joined by the Cincinnati Reds , for the second of the two wild-card berths within the National League (NL). The celebrations began in earnest after Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory on Monday evening over the competitively challenged Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field , in Chicago , Illinois. Far be it for to me suggest, but both the Cubs and Chicago White Sox have been two woefully inept teams and an absolute abomination to watch over the course of this season , who have performed with such ineptitude. As to this asinine notion, that Cubs general manager Theo Epstein will be looking towards making the ball-club competitive by no later than 2015 , now seems to be in question after the failure of the team this season.

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Slideshow .

Dale Sveum , manager of the Cubs has not been guaranteed that he will be given a contract extension, and it is unlikely that the manager will now return to the organization for the 2014 season , along with a number of members of his current managerial staff . There have been few pluses of note for the Chicago Cubs over the course of their season and for that I believe a great deal of the blame has to fall squarely upon the shoulders of Theo Epstein and what appears to be a clear lack of commitment from the Ricketts’ family , the team’s owners. There has been more money spent on the refurbishing and upgrading of Wrigley Field in recent seasons than one would like to believe. Meanwhile, Tom Ricketts’ commitment seems to be more of treating this ball-club as a bauble, rather to parade it to members of his social circle , than create a competitive professional sports’ franchise and bring back some semblance of respectability to this once esteemed baseball franchise.

For the Pirates, as they wind down their regular season schedule with five games left to play. All eyes, are likely to be placed upon their wild card round game on 1st October against the Cincinnati Reds. Now one could place a great deal of emphasis on the season series between these two teams , but to my mind, a single elimination game will be more about , which is the best prepared to deal with the added pressure .

The race within the AL for the two wild-card berths , now appears to the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians for the losing, as the two teams hold the top two spots in those standings . Yet for all of the drama to be had , this race still seems to be far from over , with the Texas Rangers , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees , all within four games of a wild-card berth . Of the three teams now vying for that spot, I do believe that the Yankees have essentially played themselves out of contention , albeit , with Joe Girardi and his team due to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a pivotal three game series at Yankee Stadium beginning on Tuesday. It would be fair to suggest that neither team in this series, can afford a slip-up at this juncture.

. Girardi will become a manager without a contract at the end of this season , with their being no guarantee that a contract extension will be forthcoming from GM Brian Cashman or directly from senior managing partner , Hal Steinbrenner . There is the common belief that Girardi is likely to viewed as a managerial candidate for the possible vacant Cubs’ position, if the decision is made fire Dale Sveum. This off-season could be a dramatic one for the franchise, with the retirements of Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera . Compounding this even further, may well be the uncertainty concerning the immediate future of Derek Jeter , whose season was shuttered by the front office , with the short-stop placed on the disabled list . With his skills declining, Jeter only provides leadership and little else, beyond that , albeit, that at times, he can still offer momentary flashes of brilliance in the field .

Three weeks into the NFL season and we already seeing a plethora of really bad performances from a number of teams . Far be it for me to suggest , but those seeking parity in the NFL , are looking for something to hang their hats on . In reality , it is not about parity , but more to do with the caliber of the coaching of the NFL and the quality of the players drafted . Poor performances asides, having witnessed the Denver Broncos’ complete annihilation of the Oakland Raiders on Monday night , to go alongside the Seattle Seahawks’ utter surgical dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars , has me believing that this NFL season is likely to be filled with more lows than highs , in comparison to last season.

As Peyton Manning continues to rewrite the record books, with the player already having thrown twelve touchdown passes in the first three weeks of the season. It will be interesting to see whether or not the quarterback can surpass the single season record of fifty touchdowns , a feat managed by Manning’s contemporary , Tom Brady during the 2007 NFL season. Besides the superlatives one could use to describe Peyton Manning’s performances this early in the season , it should be noted that this Broncos’ team seems to have gotten a great deal better on both sides of the ball in comparison to last season. As to where the challenge might well come from within the AFC West and the AFC as a whole , I do believe that there is not a team at present good enough to throw down the gauntlet of meeting that challenge .

Week four , will grant the Philadelphia Eagles the privilege of trying to stop the Broncos’ unbeaten run, when the two teams meet this Sunday at the Sports Authority Stadium , in Denver , Colorado,. The Eagles’ alleged high-octane offense and rather anemic defense , are likely to meet the same fate as the Broncos three previous predecessors . Chip Kelly may well have been an offensive genius at the collegiate level , while coaching the Oregon program , but his introduction to the NFL has been painful to watch , with his ego having been deflated by the team’s two successive defeats. Whether or not, this will be a bounce back game for the Eagles or them simply being bounced all over Mile High, remains to be seen. Yet , given the ineptitude of the Eagles on defense, I am do believe that it will be the latter !

Not one for appearing naive, but I do believe that the NFL’s punishment of Vonn Miller was merely slap on the wrist , being a two-time offender of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The player sought to appeal his original four-game suspension which was upheld , but the league tacked on an additional two games , after it was revealed that Miller compromised his test samples by colluding with a lab technician to substitute another sample , as his own . Miller’s actions not only showed his disdain for the league’s rules, but also for the NFL and bringing a great deal of unwanted attention to the Denver Broncos’ organization , after a successful start to their season. Vonn Miller’s return will not take place until week seven, when the Broncos are hosts of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium , in Indianapolis , Indiana ,. Surely, if a player is willing to go those lengths and be dishonest as well as committing an act of fraud , then should it not be within the league’s right to punish that player with impunity , rather than being soft and appearing soft on that issue ? My question for Commissioner Roger Goodell , who is he really afraid of in such an instance , the union (Players’ Union) or is it, the fans themselves ? Your thoughts , on this all ?

Three months before the NBA regular season kicks off and the biggest story of the off-season , beyond the marriage of LeBron James to his high-school sweetheart Savannah Brinson and the Miami Heat’s re-signing of Michael Beasley . That story, is the fact former NBA center and All Star, Shaquille O’Neal has become a minority stakeholder in the Sacramento Kings. O’Neil , in association , with a business associate, Mark Mastrov , founder of the health-club gym chain, 24 Hour Fitness, have purchased a 5% stake in the NBA franchise . The deal was with the full approval of team owner Vivek Ranadive , who seems to be of the belief , that the best way to bring back some pizzazz to the downtrodden franchise, would be to add some “star power ” to the ownership makeup of the organization. Perplexing as this may seem, it was not that long ago, that O’Neal described the Sacramento Kings as the “Sacramento Queens” . Unless I am mistaken, not much has changed in the subsequent seasons , since the former player made that infamous statement. The Kings have fallen on hard times, being uncompetitive, being financially mismanaged by former owners Joe and Gavin Maloof , and their siblings. Add to this whole menagerie of stupidity, was the over-inflated price paid ($535 million) for a franchise that is amongst the most poorly supported in the NBA. Yet, it has been under this sort of misleading and often surreptitious model that David Stern continues to paint the facade that the league and its teams are in the healthiest of conditions. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap.

Consider the fact, that a number of the teams within the NBA , repeatedly each season , seek to go over the league’s soft salary cap ($58.044 million) . At the same time, when posed the question , as to why a number of teams remain unprofitable , the commissioner has been quick to deflect those questions, by simply pointing to the fact of growing revenues for the NBA and an increasing presence in the global market , in terms the growing popularity of the game in Europe and the Far East. All well and good, but it simply does not answer the question , as to the continued struggles of a number of small market teams and the financial imbalance created, with the unwillingness of the NBA hierarchy to adopt a hard salary cap. I would like to think that the reason behind this , is the fact that the league believes that their current business template this all works to their advantage . Yet , I am more inclined to believe , that the union (NBPA) dictates and has the power to simply make the team owners and powers that be , simply cower in a corner , like a mouse about to be devoured by a hungry feline.

It is hard to imagine how a Kings’ team from this past season that finished with a 28-54 record within the Western Conference . A mark which was good enough for thirteenth place within the conference and only fourth place within the Pacific Division , can be considered remotely good enough to compete in the talent and offensive minded environment of the conference in question and where the King themselves were far from efficient in terms of defense . This is a team built around the somewhat mercurial talents and immature behavior of DeMarcus Cousins . Yet, the biggest issue for the Sacramento Kings is the very fact their head coach Michael Malone will be a first-year rookie , whose previous stop was the coach of Loyola Marymount University . Then you can add in the fact, that on the team’s roster itself , beyond Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw and John Salmons , no other member on this squad has more than six years’ experience of playing in the NBA as a professional . as an NBA player d with the Sacramento Kings, A fact which was also mirrored during the 2011-2012 NBA season. This upcoming season , what should fans of this franchise, really expect from a roster with such minimal experience?

A great deal is being asked of Michael Malone and his coaching staff for the upcoming season, something I do not believe that they are likely to fulfill , even with the added experience of Chris Mullin as a consultant to the front office led by GM Pete D’Alesandro . His experience alongside that of Mullin and even with the additional input of Shaquille O’Neal , is unlikely to prove fortuitous , immediately. The returns sought , may well come about in two to three years , if the fans can be patient enough, as the front office assesses the entire roster. To my mind , the Sacramento Kings is unlikely to become one of the first places a prized marquee free agent, is likely to seek out, to further their NBA ambitions. That was never the case over the past five seasons, and it is unlikely to be the case now . Destinations, such as, either one of the Los Angeles franchises ( Clippers , Lakers) , Oklahoma City , Miami , Houston , Chicago , Brooklyn , San Antonio , New York or Indiana would prove to be a far more appealing a destination , than the California state capitol to further one’s NBA career. Success has proven to be fleeting for the Sacramento Kings , and will prove to just as elusive now , even with the experience now gathered within the front office and the ownership group .

The NBA regular season will begin on October 29th, 2013 , with a slew of games . Yet for the vast array of fans, the season does not really get started until the Christmas week schedule comes into focus . The Kings will begin their schedule , with a home game against the Denver Nuggets at the Sleep Train Arena , in Sacramento , California. All eyes, will be focused on the Kings , as they embark upon a new chapter and era in their history. As to what the outcome is likely to , that remains to be seen , but for now , the real challenge is simply to savor the moment .

The death of former heavyweight champion boxer , Ken Norton at the age of seventy, brought back a deepening perspective of a bygone age within the sport . There are few champions , let alone great fighters from that era still alive today. Norton’s untimely passing, reminds us what is sorely lacking in the sport of boxing at present , and that is great fighters , willing to take on all-comers, simply to prove their greatness in the ring. Sadly, today’s fight game, it has become about the “ me mentality” and how much money , a fighter can now gross from one mega-title fight and with no respect for the sport itself , never-mind the ongoing incompetence of the ringside officials .

True fight fans can cling to their memories of the great world heavyweight title fights of seventies , eighties and early nineties. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Ken Norton , who some years ago suffered a near fatal crash, which brought severe head trauma and respiratory problems and a speech impediment for this once great fighter. A CAT scan of Norton’s brain , showed atrophy and severe damage to his brain tissue , brought on from years of pounding, taken to his head , undoubtedly brought on from his fight career . An illustrious career , that also saw three classic bouts with Muhammad Ali . Norton went toe to toe with some of the very best during the prime of his career, but his trilogy of bouts with Ali , are what he is best remembered for , and perhaps his now infamous love scene with British actress Susan George in the movie ‘ Mandingo ‘ . Let’s just say, Norton’s best years were definitely in the ring and not on celluloid, in a tawdry tale of slavery and masochistic sex .

Memories , fading over time for both Leon and Michael Spinks , with a rarely seen in public, Muhammad Ali. It is sad , that even with such legends as Larry Holmes and George Foreman still visible within our midst , the sport of boxing is still sinking into a morass of ambiguity and incompetence . Any suggestion that the likes of Oscar de La Hoya and his company, Golden Boy Promotions Inc , has brought back some semblance of dignity to the sport , has to be met with a great deal of ridicule and suspicion. De La Hoya has his own personal issues to deal with, beyond the fact that his company , has been a litigant in several cases , where the accusation of fraud and larceny, have been leveled against the former boxer and his promotion’s company. Needless to say, the promoter pleads innocent, to all of the allegations made against him and scoffs at the suggestion that his company has acted unprofessional.

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Picture gallery .

There were a number of interesting sports’ stories within the sports’ world this past weekend, but which event to your mind proved to be the most interesting in terms of its relevance ? Do leave a comment, as you see fit on this and anything else you believe relevant to the subject matter .

Picture and slideshow gallery details .
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(1) Gaby Sanchez , Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen celebrate the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in a game played on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 ,2 at Wrigley Field in Chicago , Illinois . For the first time in just over two decades the Pirates will make their first post-season appearance , having gained one of the two available NL wild-card berths . AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast ….

(2) The Pirates’ Gerrit Cole heads to first , after hitting a two-run single off Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Chris Rusin , which in turn scored Gaby Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez during the second inning of the game played between the two NL Central teams on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo / Rex Arbogast …..

(3) Chicago Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein , foreground , is seen here with the team’s owner Tom Ricketts . Epstein who became the general manager of the Cubs in October 2011 , has presided over two years of mediocrity of an organization , that has not made a post-season appearance since 2008 , when the team went do the NLDS. This season the Chicago Cubs underperformed and will finish once again with a sub .500 record for the second consecutive season , of which the last time the ball-club had a winning season came in 2009. Getty Images / Jonathan Greene ……

(4) Players from the Tampa Bay Rays celebrate their shutout of their AL East rivals the New York Yankees , in a game played at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday 24th September , 2013. The victory inched the Rays closer to obtaining one of the two available wild-card berths within the American League (AL) . This victory has in essence placed New York pout of the wild-card race and whatever chance the team had of making the post-season but there remains two more games to be played of the current series between the two teams . In 2013 it has been the Tampa Rays who have had the upper hand in the regular season series between the two teams . It also casts doubt on the strength of this current Yankees’ lineup and heightens their vulnerabilities , showing them now to be a team on the decline. AP Photo / Kathy Willens ………

(5) Eric Decker (87) of the Denver Broncos tries to break the tackle of Brandian Ross (29) of the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High , in a game played on the September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. Getty Images ? Doug Pensinger ….

(6) Left guard Zane Beadles (68) of the Denver Broncos and left tackle Chris Clark (75) of the Denver Broncos prepare to defend the blind side of quarterback Peyton Manning (18) of the Denver Broncos as they face the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-21 . Doug Pensinger /Getty Images …

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Shaquille O’Neal holds up a shirt with “Shaqramento” printed on it as he poses with Sacramento Kings majority owners Vivek Ranadive, left, and Mark Mastrov, in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. O’Neal was welcomed as a new minority owner of the Kings and promised to help restore the franchise to its winning ways and mentor to Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli …

(8) Ken Norton , left, seen here facing Muhammad Ali in the third and final fight of their trilogy , which was fought at Yankee Stadium , in the Bronx , New York of September 1976. Norton felt he won the fight but it was given to Ali in a unanimous decision . AP Photo / archives …

(9) Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton exchange blows during their 1973 fight in San Diego, the first of their three bouts against one another. Ali would wind up losing a 12-round decision after Norton broke his jaw early in the fight. Neil Leifer/SI ….

(10) LAS VEGAS, NV – FEBRUARY 18: Former boxer Ken Norton arrives at the Keep Memory Alive foundation’s ‘Power of Love Gala’ celebrating Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena February 18, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event benefits the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and the Muhammad Ali Center. The former title-holder died earlier this month complications from heart failure and a respiratory condition . AP Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive …..

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tophatal ………. 09/24/2013

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Make It So ………………

Make It So …………..

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

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Slide show for your perusal .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

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

Picture and slide show details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Cramer’s Mad Money …………Buys, Sells And Holds ………..NBA Style …..

Former hedge fund manager and now CNBC stock tipster and analyst Jim Cramer has always had his own style and presentation on television. That being said, he’d be the last person I’d be taking advice from on anything to do with the indices of the stock market. Or anything else when it comes to financial analysis or any information involving the companies listed on the NSYE.This is the same guy, who was dishing out advice to his avid viewers that they ought to invest their savings in the now disreputable companies, AIGand Bear Stearns. Now, to say that Cramer isn’t deserving of having his testicles removed and served up to him in the form of a meal wouldn’t be doing the people who lost money from his advice any justice whatsoever ! But such are the benefits to those who choose not to seek due diligence when taking advice from an individual , who despite his immense knowledge , comes across as nothing more than a charlatan.

You’ve got to hand it toComedy Central’s Jon Stewart for pointing out something that not even the so called knowledgeable pundits at Fox Business Channelwould’ve thought newsworthy.But then again when have Fox ever been known to be informative to begin with in terms of being a news channel ? And for those of you still seeking out the advice of Jim Cramer ? I wish you well , well about as well as leper who’s now beginning to realize that what the doctor prescribed just isn’t working. And Cramer’s own asinine assertion and suggestions as to what he did or didn’t say, shows you what a complete asshole he really is to begin with !

The NBA at present is filled with teams whose very prowess on the court can at present be measured by the volatility shown by the Dow Jones Index (DJIA). And were a number of the franchises of the NBA placed within the DJIA. I wonder what price and recommendations there’d be forthcoming from those covering the game ? Again I’d preface this by saying that the likes of Stephen A. Smith,Tim Legler,Ric Bucher and Skip Baylesswouldn’t be the guys I’d be looking to for comfort , advice or any form of solace when it comes to the NBA or otherwise. Whatever insight they’re liable to provide is about as welcoming as be told by your proctologist that he’d like to give you that customary finger wave of your rectum,merely to elicit having some fun on his part. Pretty safe to say that one finger wave too many a year is one finger less welcomed.

New Jersey Nets team members from left, interim coach Tom Barrise, assitant coach Doug Overton, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Devin Harris, Josh Boone and Trenton Hassell look on during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in Los Angeles. The Nets matched the worst start to an NBA season with their 17th straight loss Sunday night in the Lakers' 106-87 victory.picture appears  courtesy  of AP/Photo/Mark J. Terrill ..........
New Jersey Nets team members from left, interim coach Tom Barrise, assitant coach Doug Overton, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Devin Harris, Josh Boone and Trenton Hassell look on during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in Los Angeles. The Nets matched the worst start to an NBA season with their 17th straight loss Sunday night in the Lakers' 106-87 victory.picture appears courtesy of AP/Photo/Mark J. Terrill ..........

Straight out of the gate, some of the teams have performed exceptionally badly. And for beleaguered Lawrence Frank and the hapless, New Jersey Nets. At this juncture there’s absolutely no chance of a do-over whatsoever ! What may well have started out as a season of promise has slowly fallen apart and become an absolute nightmare for Frank, his players,ownership and no doubt the fans, in particular. I’d hate to think what’s now going through the mind of principal partner,Bruce A Ratner ? Especially as he sees this team sink into the abyss of sheer ineptitude. Any thoughts that they might’ve had of luring LeBron James to Brooklyn in 2010 , has to be shelved at this time. Not with this team in need of a backbone and so much more ! At 0-16 and on the cusp of NBA infamy in terms of successive games lost to start a NBA regular season schedule the Nets seem to be just one loss away of equalling that dubious record. My recommendation : Sell !

Can someone explain to me what fate the basketball gods has in store for the New York Knicks ? Needless to say, after the abrupt departure of former coach and executive Isiah Thomas. It was felt that the organization was stepping in the right direction with the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, as their coach. Also,the bringing in of Donnie Walsh, to oversee the basketball operations,in terms being the general manager of the Knicks. Needless to say, the Knicks are no further along in their progression, as the coalition forces are in finding Osama bin Laden. And for those of you who’d rather be up in the Tora Bora mountain range on the Pakistani , Afghani border ,rather than watching the Knicks play. Reserve me a seat , as I’d no doubt would want to join you in that particular exercise. Not only have the Knicks become worse under D’Antoni, they’re a complete embarrassment to the NBA ,as a whole ! Commissioner,David Stern, is there no chance that we can have some contraction within the NBA ? As there are now one or two teams that are making a mockery of the game and how it ought to be played. And the New York Knicks is undoubtedly one of those very teams ! My recommendation : Sell ! Not to hold, just damn well , sell !

Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace (6) takes a shot over Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Wallace scored 10 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in the Pistons' 94-88 win. picture appears courtesy of  AP/photo/ Duane Burleson  ..............
Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace (6) takes a shot over Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in Auburn Hills, Mich. Wallace scored 10 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in the Pistons' 94-88 win. picture appears courtesy of AP/photo/ Duane Burleson ..............

I not saying that the Detroit Pistons have fallen on hard times. But their fall from grace , makes the demise of Michael Jackson seem like an act of overt kindness. OK , so we can dispute the facts that’ve led to the untimely death to the one time ‘King of Pop’. What no one can doubt however, is that Jackson apart from being a mild neurotic was enabled by family members and others amongst his entourage to keep up his absurd behavior. And along with that came an assortment of medical professionals who proffered up whatever medication of the day was the norm for Jackson. What of the ‘hippocratic oath’ for these doctors ? First do no harm ? Somewhere along the lines it must’ve been blurred for them from the sight of the money that Jackson was needlessly spending on their services !

As to what Pistons’ GM Joe Dumars, was seeking to do,when he traded All Star point guard Chauncey Billups to the Denver Nuggets,in exchange for Allen Iverson. Well, let’s just say that experiment was about as worthwhile as sticking your arm into the mouth of a hungry crocodile waiting and then waiting to see what the outcome will be.And with Iverson, now said to be mulling retirement , after not being able to find a franchise willing to take him. One might clearly think that at the time Dumars was merely flying by the seat of his pants in thinking that Iverson could provide the team with a much needed spark. In essence, the Pistons had become an old team spoilt on its earlier success and who weren’t willing to make the necessary changes need at the time, in order to build for the future.

Now with the departure of Rasheed Wallace to the Boston Celtics, the team is nowhere nearer to being one of the once dominant franchises with the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Dumars and the team’s coach, John Kuester, now have their work cut out for them, if they’re to turn things around make this team be one with a presence, not just within their division but throughout the NBA as a whole. The window of opportunity for the Pistons has closed and they’re not about to scale back to the heights of prominence ,which they once held. It’s now far too late for that , despite the appearance of youth on the tea’s roster. They now lack a true leader and a proven and consistent scorer on their roster. And it is something that will become their undoing. My recommendation : Sell !

In the Western Conference where it’s presumed the star talent of the NBA is reserved and perhaps the better of the teams throughout the league on the whole are domiciled. We all know that at the end of the day it’s very competitive within the conference. With the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Lakers looking to successfully defend their crown. The bullseye is now comfortably placed upon their back. And with the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz , Houston Rockets and a newly revitalized Oklahoma City Thunder all looking to take them down. One would suspect that the Lakers and in particular Kobe Bryant and the team’s coach ,Phil Jackson are relishing the challenge of defending their NBA title.

You’ll know doubt get some criticism from those in the Eastern Conference who’ll state that the play and talent there is somewhat better than their counterparts in the West. But I’d view that as something of an anathema at this juncture. Teams in the Eastern Conference tend to play a much more conservative type of basketball and where defense is their mainstay. Whereas, in the West much of the play there is most definitely predicated upon offense. Although the likes of the Spurs and Jazz would beg to differ in that context.

Los Angeles , California , November 29th,. Jordan Farmar (1) of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot against the New Jersey Nets at Staples Center on November 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  picture appears  courtesy  of NBAE/Getty Images/ Noah Graham ..........
Los Angeles , California , November 29th,. Jordan Farmar (1) of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for a shot against the New Jersey Nets at Staples Center on November 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. picture appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Noah Graham ..........

Of the three pre-eminent teams in the Eastern Conference ,in no discerning order, we have the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic. The most well balanced and deepest in terms of their roster , may well be Stan Van Gundy’s Magic team. Of the three teams also, I do believe that the Magic by their play as of late, is the most improved. The additions of Brandon Bass, Vince Carter and Jason Williams has proven to be fortuitous.And General Manager,Otis Smith, might just be one of the least celebrated if not the most astute front office executives in the NBA at present. If nothing else it gives the Magic’s center, Dwight Howard, room to do what he does best and that’s to pound the boards and show off his defensive and offensive prowess. My recommendation : Buy and buy strong.

Besides the Magic in the Eastern Conference , the really only other noteworthy teams one ought to look at, are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers for their part, with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal to complement with the undoubted talents of LeBron James , might just well give the team its best chance of making another appearance in the NBA Finals. But here’s the caveat with regard to the team , when they face real adversity they’re not always able to handle it well. And that could once again become their undoing.That’s in light of having the experienced veteran presence of O’Neal on this roster. My recommendation: Hold . If things fall their way,they could just go out and finally achieve the winning of that elusive ring for James.

Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups, left, drives for the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson defends in the fourth quarter of the Timberwolves' 106-100 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009. The victory broke Minnesota's 15-game losing streak. picture  appears courtesy of  AP/photo/David Zalubowski ............
Denver Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups, left, drives for the basket as Minnesota Timberwolves center Al Jefferson defends in the fourth quarter of the Timberwolves' 106-100 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009. The victory broke Minnesota's 15-game losing streak. picture appears courtesy of AP/photo/David Zalubowski ............

The Boston Celtics for their part has the experience and with seasoned veterans , such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Piece,Ray Allen and now Rasheed Wallace. This is a roster, whose coach Doc Rivers, knows how to win games and how to motivate his team. Added to the fact that they now have a point guard of note in, Rajon Rondo, they would be viewed as the presumptive favorites in the conference to win it all. My only concern with the Celtics however, is their health, especially when it comes to the question of their main quartet of players. That issue alone may well be enough to make on hedge their bets as to the overall chances of the team winning a second title for the organization with Rivers at the helm as their coach.
My recommendation here : Again a Hold. Down the stretch run of the regular season if the quartet is healthy , then there could be everything to play for with the Boston Celtics being added into the mix.

As the reigning champions ,the Los Angeles Lakers have added by subtraction. In losing Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets and obtaining free agent,Ron Artest. One could say, that they’ve become a much better team ? They’ve added a defensive presence in Artest and an additional scoring option behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. And that’s with no disrespect to either,Lamar Odom or Andrew Bynum. But the addition of Artest does make a great deal of sense , if one takes away the baggage that he brings along with him. Here’s a player that brings along with him mental toughness and a willingness to do the dirty work required on either end of the floor. The same can’t be said of certain players on this Lakers’ roster. My recommendation on the Lakers : Buy, a very strong buy ! They’re the team to beat in the Western Conference. As defending champions and with Bryant as the ever present catalyst . How can you bet against them ?

San Antonio, Tx, November  29th. Richard Jefferson (24) of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against Samuel Dalembert (1) of the Philadelphia 76ers on November 29, 2009 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: picture appears courtewsy  of  NBAE/Getty mages/D. Clarke Evans .........
San Antonio, Tx, November 29th. Richard Jefferson (24) of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against Samuel Dalembert (1) of the Philadelphia 76ers on November 29, 2009 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: picture appears courtewsy of NBAE/Getty mages/D. Clarke Evans .........

Besides the Lakers in the Western Conference , if anyone is to challenge their supremacy within the conference. Then, the challenge well come from the San Antonio Spurs,Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and the up and coming Portland Trailblazers. Now where would should one start ?

First off , the four time NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs seem finally to began to have realized that they can’t simply rely on the aging triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker to lead this team. As great as they’ve been over the years , last year was a telling one for the franchise . They simply plugged away but with recurring injuries to each of the triumvirate, you knew it was only a matter of time before the wheels on the bus would continually happen to go flat.

Coach,Gregg Popovich, and the team’s GM, R. C. Buford, sought to bring in Richard Jefferson from the Milwaukee Bucks via a trade. Added to that they’d re-signed veteran Antonio McDyess to a three year deal and they’ve now got another creative play-maker in Roger Mason on the roster. This could prove to be a resurgent year for the Spurs. But much of that will no doubt be predicated upon the fitness of their triumvirate throughout the season and of course into an extended playoff run. And no doubt with the added depth of the team. Coach Popovich will make sure that his players are well rested and free of those worrisome and niggling injuries. My recommendation on the Spurs: Buy !

As good as the Denver Nuggets have looked this season, I can’t help but wonder if their heartbreaking loss of a series in the conference finals of last year wasn’t their one and only opportunity that they’ll have with George Karl, leading the charge as their coach ? The team is resplendent with stars such as Carmelo Anthony,Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups,J. R. Smith and Nene’. Built primarily around speed, athleticism and a great deal offensive prowess, the team has now seen that offense alone can’t be their only virtue. And with All Star point guard , Chauncey Billups providing much of that much needed efensive grit and presence. The team has now found a new sense of urgency and acceptance of the task at hand. As to whether or not they can usurp the Los Angeles Lakers remains to be seen. But if there’s one thing that we’re no doubt sure of , it is that the Nuggets are not prepared to lie down and be walked all over. My recommendation : A buy.

If there’s a team that I’ve come to admire in the Western Conference . Then that would have to be the Portland Trailblazers. For so long, they were often seen as a the pariahs of the NBA. In some respects they were more noted for their off the field problems, far more than they were known for anything that they were trying to achieve on it. And it took a turnaround in the mindset of owner, Paul Allen and that of the Trailblazers’ front office in making the drastic changes needed to right this listed ship. General Manager, Kevin Pritchard and Head Coach, Nate McMillan, saw fit to build from the ground up, uprooting the roster of the malcontents and ill fitting parts to a team that had continually underachieved.

Now in its place the Trailblazers have a young, competitive and desirable team that is the envy of the NBA. They’re led by such aspiring stars as Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez, Steve Blake and now it’d appear to be fully fit and resurgent center,Greg Oden. The latter of whom, has begun to justify the team’s faith in him, having missed his first season in the league ,due to a sever knee injury and then surgery.

You’d be highly mistaken in thinking that because the Trailblazers on the face of it are very much a young and inexperienced team, that they wouldn’t have what it takes to pull of an upset. But this is very much a team that knows how to play to its strengths and negates much of the weaknesses that others think that they often see. And in their coach, Nate McMillan , they have someone whose coaching philosophy is being listened to by his players and being heeded all too well. My recommendation on the Portland Trailblazers : Hold !

For me , I very much placed both the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns in the same boat. As time goes by, their window of opportunity to win an NBA championship continues to close ever so rapidly. And if they’re unable to do it now, then they’re not going to be able to do it at any time in the near future. On both counts they’ve something of an aging roster and though in essence neither team can ever be viewed as being out of the picture. The fact of the matter is, that each time when they’re called upon to take that final step forward. They appear to be only all too willing to fall flat on their proverbial behinds,when trying to take that step to the next evel. One wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t for the fact that their front offices, in terms of the respective general managers have continued to make considerable mistakes concerning personnel decisions.

And in both,Steve Kerr of the Suns and Donnie Nelson of the Mavericks, you may well have two of the worst GM’s in all of the NBA. But then again I may well be overlooking the once terrific job that was done by then GM, Elgin Baylor for the Los Angeles Clippers ? Let’s just say that Baylor’s knowledge of player personnel as it regards the NBA game of today,ranks up there alongside the intelligence quotient of both Paris Hilton and Tara Reid, combined. And in this case both Kerr and Nelson aren’t that far behind him in that dubious distinction !

As good on paper as both teams might appear to be what they both lack in mental toughness and leadership. Dirk Nowitzki and his cast of teammates of the Dallas Mavericks are about as scary,as Clay Aiken trying to show his masculine side by claiming to be an all-out action star. The thought of which makes you wonder what it is that Aiken does in his down time ? Please no salacious answers to the question ? How else can one explain the Mavericks’ recent 111-103 loss to an undermanned Golden State Warriors’ team, that could only field eight fully fit players for the game ? Needless to say the answers forthcoming will as diverse as usual ! My recommendation for the Mavericks: Sell ! They’re just simply not worth it at this juncture !

The Phoenix Suns for their part can only go as far as the ageless wonder, Steve Nash can take them. With the ‘Shaquille O’Neal experiment’ now long gone. It’s back to the up-tempo basketball that they were once known for. That being said one doubts that their game that’s very much predicated upon primarily offense , will stand them in good stead come playoff time. Especially when given light to the fact for the Suns to play defense is like asking a crack addict to give up his crack pipe for 72 hours. It simply can’t be done without them going ‘cold turkey’. And that in essence is what one simply sees,when viewing this team. My recommendation with regard to the Phoenix Suns : Sell !

Now comes the easy part as to the bottom feeders at present in the Western Conference. The Golden State Warriors. My recommendation : Sell !
The Los Angeles Clippers my recommendation : Sell . The Minnesota Timberwolves,what more can I say, but sell !
The New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies sell !

Bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference ? Well, the New Jersey Nets have seen fit to get rid of Lawrence Frank and that still hasn’t stop the losses. Enough said ! Sell ! As with the sentiment concerning the Buffalo Bills. No one knows of better ways of losing, than the New York Knicks. Sell the whole damn lot of your allotted stake in this sorry ass team ! You’ll thank me in the long run for suggesting that !
Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers ? Someone suggested to me that there’s optimism there concerning the Wizards ? Well , I’ve got a suggestion for that certain individual, look at their damn record at present and tell me where you see them progressing to ? The Indiana Pacers and their GM , Larry Bird are simply now treading water, awaiting some sort of divine intervention. The sad part to this all, is that the Pacers’ Danny Granger is now languishing on a team, whereby the talent he’s surrounded by is no better than that of a D-affiliate of an NBA franchise. My recommendation: Sell both !

NBA Standings By Conference click here ……….

Eastern

Team Record

New Jeresy Nets 0-16

New York Knicks 3-13

Indiana Pacers 6-8

Detroit Pistons 5-11

Washington Wizards 5-10

Western Conference

Team Record

Minnesota T’wolves 1-15

Los Angeles Clippers 7-10

Golden State Warriors 5-10

New Orleans Hornets 7-9

Memphis Grizzlies 6-10

NB: Financial Services company, AIG, was bailed out by the government to the tune of $150 billion of taxpayers’ monies. And at present they’re still on the edge of a financial precipice. Bear Stearns was taken over by investment bank J P Morgan & Co.. This was done after the company had racked up in excess of $81.6 billion worth of debt, for which it had less than $8 billion of liquid assets. J P Morgan was in receipt of $25 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) monies, courtesy of the Federal Government. Of which part has been repaid, the remaining outstanding balance due is less than $ 6 billion.

Mr Fundamental …… Tim Duncan

Mr Fundamental ……Tim Duncan

He’s been called boring , he’s been called one of the alltime best to play the position of power forward and center. But quite simply put, when one uses the moniker Mr Fundamental to describe him . One simply knows who you’re talking about one of best players to have graced the basketball court of the last fifteen years. Tim Duncan is essentially that ‘Mr Fundamental’. Need one say anymore ?

Duncan  drives  the  lane  while  being  defended by the  Toronto  Raptors'  Chris  Bosh .    picture  appears courtesy of  nbae/getty images/  Clarke Patterson  .............

Duncan drives the lane while being defended by the Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh . picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Clarke Patterson ……

Long considered amongst the elite players in the NBA. Duncan alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are the elder statesmen of the league. Their legacies are now etched in the annals of NBA history. And that essentially places this triumvirate amongst the very best of the best to have played in the NBA in pre and post modern era of the game. Each has four NBA rings and has been regular a season MVP and NBA Finals’ MVP. Accolades come to Duncan, much like applause comes to an opera singer after a great performance at La Scala or the New York Metropolitan Opera . Duncan consistently performs at a high level that leaves one aghast at his consistency.

The moniker of Mr Fundamental doesn’t seem to bother him at all. Other less focused players might consider it an insult or a sleight. Duncan simply lets it slide off his broad shoulders without a worry . And why not ? There are few players of his caliber to have graced the NBA stage and show the poise displayed by Duncan. The San Antonio Spurs are a better team for having him !

Often thought of  as a  cerebral  player,  Duncan  is  seen  here  alongside   the Portland  Trailblazers' LaMarcus  Aldridge   during  a  recent  NBA regular  season  game  played at the Rose  Garden  Arena  in  Portland  Oregon.     picture appears  courtesy  of  nbae getty images/  Sam  Forencich .................

Often thought of as a cerebral player, Duncan is seen here alongside LaMarculs Alridge of the Portland Trailblazers in a recent NBA game played at the Rose Garden Area in Portland Oregon. The Trailblazers would go on to defeat the Spurs 94-86 in the game between the two Western Conference teams.picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Ross Coleman ….

He learned and honed his craft initially playing alongside ‘The Admiral’, David Robinson. And what better way for Robinson to exit stage left from the NBA courts than with an NBA championship and ring in his final season ? The torch was passed from Robinson to Duncan as a new era was set to begin in the history of the San Antonio Spurs. And throughout the next dozen or so years, Duncan and this team have been amongst the perennial contenders in the NBA. Such consistency is rarely seen in sports nowadays. Even less so in the NBA. But Duncan and the Spurs have been able to deliver that with their model of consistency under their legendary coach, Gregg Popovich. And the coach alongside General Manager R . C. Burford have been the main architects behind the Spurs’ success. During their era of their tenure with the San Antonio Spurs, 4 NBA titles in four appearances in the NBA Finals. And all four championships with Duncan in tow, have come in the past fourteen years.

Duncan having now reached the pinnacle of his career . He’s now set to see the curtain call, as the stage is being set for him to bow out gracefully with perhaps at least one more run at a championship ? In doing so they’ll have to get past the reigning NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason of the Western Conference playoffs. But it’d be remiss to think that the Lakers are their only threat in the postseason within the conference. Such stalwarts, as the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks are looking to usurp the current champions. And this season we’re likely to have an enthralling year throughout the NBA but even more so in a contentious and competitive Western Conference. And all this sets up for a thrilling year in the NBA for the fans and in particular those of the San Antonio Spurs, with Tim Duncan in tow as their spiritual and vocal leader.

So over the course of the season, admirer or not ,watch this team and Duncan at play. It may well be the last time, perhaps that you’ll get to see this great player and an ambassador for the game at play. As the stage is being set for another pursuit of an NBA title.Few players of note, have been equally admired by his peers and fans of the NBA, alike. And that if anything, is something admirable in this day and age of the ego driven athlete . Duncan who if anything is as level headed as they come and shows little signs of being such an individual. He’s merely just a player whose graced us with his play and presence without the hint of being capricious and overbearing. He’s just simply, Mr Fundamental . He comes in and gets the job done without asking for anything in return. And that’s all, we as fans can ask of a player. Nothing more, nothing less ,wouldn’t you agree ?

The game of basketball being what it is , it’s not often appreciated by many who fail to understand many of the pleasures that it brings. When played with heightened skills and with the true essence of teamwork on display.It is one of the very few team sports that has the fans jumping out of their seats in praise. There are those who’ll look at the San Antonio Spurs and simply …” so what if they’ve won 4 NBA titles ” ? ” They’re so boring “! . But I’d ask of them what has your team done lately ? And better yet, on your team is there a player of Duncan’s caliber who has maintained the consistency that he’s shown over the past fifteen years ?

Tim Duncan’s bio :
Born 25th April 1976 College Wake Forest
Height 6′ 11″/ 2.11m Place of birth St Croix , USVI ,.
Years Pro 12

Chronological bio in part

1998-99: Named to both the All-NBA First Team and the All-Defensive First Team … appeared in all 50 games, averaging 21.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.52 blocks in 39.3 minutes per contest … shot .495 (418-845) from the fi eld and .690 (247-358) from the line … was 1-for-7 (.143) from three-point land … the only player in the NBA to rank among the top 10 in scoring (sixth), rebounding (fifth), blocks (seventh) and FG percentage (10th) … finished third in MVP voting … led the NBA in double-doubles for the second straight season with 37 … scored in double-figures 48 times, with 20 or more 31 times … scored over 30 fi ve times, with a season-high 39 points – along with 13 boards and 6 blocks – vs. Vancouver on 4/1 … during the Spurs 31-5 run, averaged 22.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.72 blocks while shooting .512 from the field … named the NBA Player of the Month in March … named the Player of the Week for the period ending 3/8 … led the Spurs in scoring 35 times, in rebounds 31 times and in blocks 30 times … hit a pair of free throws with 3.7 seconds left to give the Spurs an 81-80 win over Portland on 4/16 … in the playoffs averaged 23.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.65 blocks in 43.1 minutes … named the 1999 Finals MVP after averaging 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds and 2.20 blocks in 45.8 minutes in five games vs. the Knicks … logged at least 44 minutes and had at least 20 points in all five games … had 33 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1 vs. the Knicks on 6/16 … in Game 4, in New York on 6/23, had 28 points and 18 rebounds in 47 minutes … in 17 postseason games, had 10 double-doubles, including four in the Finals … scored 20-plus 12 times and had 30-or-more four times, including 37 points in Game 3 at Los Angeles on 5/22.

Personal ……..

He and wife, Amy, were married in the summer of 2001 … the couple has two children … created the Tim Duncan Foundation in November of 2001 … Amy serves as the executive vice president of the organization which is set up to serve “the areas of health awareness and research, education and youth sports and recreation” in San Antonio, Winston-Salem and the U.S. Virgin Islands … since its creation the Foundation has raised approximately $1 million … through the Tim Duncan Character Champions program donates 50 tickets to each game to students who demonstrate integrity, respect, dependability, fairness, caring or civic responsibility … member of the NBA All-Star Reading Team … the winner of the 2001 Home Team Community Service Award given by the Fannie Mae Foundation and the NBA … named one of the “Good Guys” in sports by The Sporting News in both 2001 and 2002 … also supports the Children’s Bereavement Center, the Children’s Center of San Antonio and the Cancer Therapy and Research Center … received his degree in psychology from Wake Forest … didn’t play organized basketball until ninth grade … concentrated on swimming as a youngster – at one point was a top U.S. competitor in his age group in the 400 freestyle – before his local pool was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 … known for wearing his practice shorts backwards, a trend he started while in college … has two sisters, Cheryl and Tricia … admits to being afraid of heights and sharks … favorite movie is The Crow … a video game junkie.

Career Season Averages

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
97-98 SAS 82 82 39.1 0.549 0.000 0.662 3.3 8.6 11.9 2.7 0.7 2.5 3.40 3.10 21.1
98-99 SAS 50 50 39.3 0.495 0.143 0.690 3.2 8.2 11.4 2.4 0.9 2.5 2.92 2.90 21.7
99-00 SAS 74 74 38.9 0.490 0.091 0.761 3.5 8.9 12.4 3.2 0.9 2.2 3.27 2.80 23.2
00-01 SAS 82 82 38.7 0.499 0.259 0.618 3.2 9.0 12.2 3.0 0.9 2.3 2.95 3.00 22.2
01-02 SAS 82 82 40.6 0.508 0.100 0.799 3.3 9.4 12.7 3.7 0.7 2.5 3.21 2.60 25.5
02-03 SAS 81 81 39.3 0.513 0.273 0.710 3.2 9.7 12.9 3.9 0.7 2.9 3.06 2.90 23.3
03-04 SAS 69 68 36.6 0.501 0.167 0.599 3.3 9.2 12.4 3.1 0.9 2.7 2.65 2.40 22.3
04-05 SAS 66 66 33.4 0.496 0.333 0.670 3.1 8.0 11.1 2.7 0.7 2.6 1.92 2.20 20.3
05-06 SAS 80 80 34.8 0.484 0.400 0.629 2.9 8.1 11.0 3.2 0.9 2.0 2.48 2.70 18.6
06-07 SAS 80 80 34.1 0.546 0.111 0.637 2.7 7.9 10.6 3.4 0.8 2.4 2.80 2.50 20.0
07-08 SAS 78 78 34.0 0.497 0.000 0.730 3.0 8.3 11.3 2.8 0.7 2.0 2.28 2.40 19.3
08-09 SAS 75 75 33.6 0.504 0.000 0.692 2.7 8.0 10.7 3.5 0.5 1.7 2.20 2.30 19.3
09-10 SAS 5 5 29.0 0.536 0.000 0.565 2.8 9.0 11.8 2.2 0.8 1.6 1.60 2.00 14.6
Career — 904 903 36.8 0.507 0.186 0.684 3.1 8.6 11.7 3.2 0.8 2.3 2.77 2.70 21.4

All Star Appearances

All-Star — 11 10 23.8 0.584 0.333 0.800 3.1 7.5 10.6 2.5 0.8 0.7 2.45 1.30 11.9

Career bio and playoff stats’ totals ……click here to view ……

Skip Bayless Says He’ll Get A Life Once LeBron James Wins An NBA Title

I don’t know which is worse – on air tv personalities covering sports by way of being so called sports journalists, politicians , lawyers or perhaps your local unwashed pan handler on the streets ? To my mind it may well be far too close a call between the aforementioned pan handler and a sports journalist. Especially the type we tend to see pop up on television , merely because the program director of the station thinks that they might have something interesting to say. Well, that appears to be the case with noted writer and sport’s journalist Skip Bayless of ESPN .

Bayless and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Chad Ocho Cinco discuss the player’s talent within the NFL on the ESPN program ‘ 1st And 10’ . Certainly a conversation between self absorbed individuals who’d rather listen to their own voice ,rather than what the other has to say.

Now don’t get me wrong, ESPN are entirely able to do as they please , with regard to their on air talent and how they proceed to use them in subjecting the viewer to a specific sport’s format for a television program. I mean, after-all, isn’t that why we watch some of their programming ? To be informed and to be entertained ? However, there has to be a point where the hype and insults have to stop and we’re given something more informative. Rather than the constant barb we tend to get from talk radio and that of the political diatribe served up there. And that’s continually served up for the public’s daily consumption. How did it ever get this bad or god-damn awful to begin with ? It’s not as if they , themselves provide any real political insight to begin with ? And the same can be sometimes said for the squawk boxes at ESPN and also at Fox , with regard to their coverage of sports on an undue basis ! In reality though, all of the major broadcast networks are in the same proverbial boat with regard to this particular subject.

Jarret Jack  of the  Toronto  Raptors   goes  up for the  layup while under  the  defensive  presence  of the  Cavaliers'   Shaquille  O'Neal  in  a  game  played  at  the  Air Canada Arena  in  Toronto , Canada.    picture  appears  courtesy  of  nbae/getty images/   Ron  Turenne  ................

Jarret Jack (1) of the Toronto Raptors goes for the layup while under the defensive presence of the Cavaliers’ Shaquille O’Neal (33) in a game played at the Air Canada Arena in Toronto , Canada. The Raptors would go on to defeat the Cavaliers 101-91 , despite the fact of a triple double by LeBron James during the game. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Ron Turenne ……

Skip Bayless , he of the coiffed hair-do, seems to think that whatever he says tends to be gospel. Whether or not he’s just being conceited , I’ll leave that up for you to decide ! And he plays his part with a great deal of aplomb. Never let it be said he doesn’t know how to play up to the camera and always show his best side, as the case maybe. Of late Bayless to whine and wax on lyrically as to how over-rated LeBron James of the NBA really is. What Bayless tends to all too often forget is , ” …… one man doesn’t a team make ” ! I’m now beginning to wonder whether or not Bayless was ever a college athlete or merely just a geek ? But then again, I may well be wrong as he could have been neither. And his main focus of this, is because James has yet to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title .

While Bayless is entitled to his opinions valid or invalid as the case maybe. His constant need to bring up this subject and whine on about LeBron James now borders on being ridiculous. James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still growing as a team . And Bayless continues to make comparisons of James to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, makes the case that he’s becoming something of an idiot to begin with ! It took Jordan a number of years to assimilate into the league, hone his skills and then to become a complete and great player. Am I missing something here ? But it wasn’t until Jordan had Scottie Pippen at his side with a platoon of role players who knew their roles,that things began to click for Jordan and the Bulls.And the rest as they say is history. Something that it appears that Skip Bayless seems to be forgetting at this juncture How soon one forgets !

Bayless and his fellow co-conspirators on ‘1st And 10’ , discuss the episode about LeBron James, after he was dunked on by a college player in an indoor gymnasium , not under game condition. This was essentially much ado about nothing. But this was essentially , considered to be newsworthy ? What the hell ?

And while Bayless still continues to pay homage to Jordan , to this day. It casts doubt as to the veracity of the case that he’s trying to make . Bearing in mind that the talent that James had around when the Cavaliers first went to the NBA Finals was little more than average at best. And there wasn’t a ‘ Pippen type player’ there to begin with. Nevertheless, they made it there, even if it was at the expense of being swept by by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2006-07 NBA Finals (4-0). Where the NBA Finals’ MVP was Tony Parker , who had a stellar series en route to winning the championship.

Cavaliers'   point guard  Mo  Williams (2)  drives  the  lane  as  he  makes  his   way  to  the  basket  against the  Toronto  Raptors  .  Attempting  to  supply  the  defensive   presence  is the  Raptors'  Jarrett  Jack .    picture appears  courtesy of  nbae/getty  images/  Ron  Turenne  ..................

Cavaliers’ point guard Mo Williams (2) drives the lane as he makes his way to the basket against the Toronto Raptors. Attempting to apply the defensive presence and stop, is the Raptors’ Jarrett Jack . picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Ron Turenne ……….

Now with the 2009-10 season having just opened and with the recently acquired ,Shaquille O’Neal at his side, for what will be a very interesting season for James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans. For the further progression of LeBron James as a player,it’ll no doubt be interesting to see what Bayless now has up his sleeves by way of a commentary as to this new situation within the Cavaliers’ organization. Certainly one doesn’t expect him to as such downplay his remarks or the sentiment. But I’d like to think that the ongoing analysis that he’ll provide will be fair. Rather than the bloviated and rather inane commentary that far too often he has been known for. It’s as if he bears LeBron James ill will and a grudge for some past misdeed. Or perhaps it’s because as a boy , he (Bayless ) was overlooked by others when they went about picking a team for a pickup game. He no doubt may well have been the last boy chosen to play on a team ? Whereas ,there was always someone there who may well have reminded him of James because of the talent shown. Hard not to view it that way, isn’t it ?

The  Cavaliers'   Shaquille O'Neal  (left) and  teammate  LeBron  James  oncourt   against the  Toronto  Raptors   in an   NBA  game  played   at  the  Air  Canada  Arena in  Toronto , Ontario,  Canada.      picture  appears  courtesy of  nbae /getty  images/  Ron Turenne  ...............

The Cavaliers’ Shaquille O’Neal (left) and teammate LeBron James (right) oncourt together against the Toronto Raptors in game played at the Air Canada Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Ron Turenne ….

Understandably, there are those who fully support the claims being made by Bayless , as is their right to do so. But I’d ask of them this question. Can they seriously think that LeBron James is that over-rated a player based on his career thus far ? His stats alone show that he’s far exceeded what was expected of this young phenom, when he first entered the league as a high school sensation and the first round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers , chosen number one overall , in 2003 . Amongst the entrants in the draft of that year, were players such as Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, David West , Kirk Hinrich and Mickael Pietrus. All of whom, seem to have made a name for themselves within the NBA with regard to their careers, thus far. That 2003 NBA Draft, may well have been one of the most talent laden rich drafts in recent memory. And many of those players mentioned are still productive within the NBA today. Which is far less than can be said for the likes others who fell short of the plaudits that were first thrown at them. Think Sam Bowie, Kwame Brown and Michael Olowokandi . I’d certainly like to think that somewhere along the way the general managers who went out of the way to make the decision to take each of this particular triumvirate. Are somewhere , in a place where they’re not left to make a decision that could do irretrievable damage to an organization.

The eternal  triumvirate  of  the  Chicago  Bulls' dynasty . From  left to right   Scottie Pippen ,  Michael Jordan  and  the  team's  coach  Phil  Jackson.  Through  the  early to  mid  nineties  the  team  was  the  dominant  force in the  NBA  having  won  6  NBA championships  in an  eight year  span.   picture  appears courtesy of  Sports Illustratred  si.com/  Manny  Millan  ...............

The eternal triumvirate of the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty . From left to right , Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and the team’s coach, Phil Jackson. Through the early to mid nineties, the team was the dominant force in the NBA ,having won 6 NBA championships in an 8 year span (1991-98). picture appears courtesy of Sports Illustrated si.com/ Manny Millan. ………………

And while Bayless will have his platform to make his rather incendiary statements. For James and the Cavaliers , this could very well be a make or break season for the organization and their fans. After the disappointment of last season, having lost to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. The thought is that they’ll have to retrench and reassess where they went wrong, if they’re to improve upon last year. The loss and James’ unsportsman like conduct afterwards left a great deal to be desired. It created the impression that LeBron was immature and unable to deal with defeat in a sportsman like manner. It sent the wrong message across the NBA but more so, to his young adoring fans. Now he and his new teammate Shaquille O’Neal will look to make amends for last season. And for Cavaliers’ coach, Mike Brown, this will prove to be a severe test as to his capabilities as a coach. Failure now, and he’ll be questioned by not only the Cavaliers’ fans but also fans of the NBA in general , who’ll say that he can’t get it done – with two superstars on his team surrounded with a contingent of the customary role players in tow.

As for James , in my mind this is but a part of a well traveled journey that he’ll have to take. Success will inevitably find its way to him , if it is ultimately what he seeks. For moment however, it appears to be that the hype in essence has overshadowed in some ways his undoubted talents. But wasn’t it the same way too , for Michael Jordan ? And look at what he aspired to become .

Cleveland Cavaliers 2009-10 Roster:

Players:

NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
1 Daniel Gibson G 6-2 200 02/27/1986 Texas 3
14 Daniel Green F 6-6 210 06/22/1987 North Carolina R
21 J.J. Hickson F 6-9 242 09/04/1988 North Carolina State 1
11 Zydrunas Ilgauskas C 7-3 260 06/05/1975 Kaunas, Lithuania 11
00 Darnell Jackson F 6-9 253 11/07/1985 Kansas 1
23 LeBron James F 6-8 250 12/30/1984 St. Vincent-St. Mary HS (OH) 6
5 Coby Karl G 6-5 215 03/06/1983 Boise State 1
15 Jamario Moon F 6-8 200 06/13/1980 Meridian CC (MS) 2
33 Shaquille O’Neal C 7-1 325 03/06/1972 Louisiana State 17
18 Anthony Parker G-F 6-6 215 06/19/1975 Bradley 6
44 Leon Powe F 6-8 240 01/22/1984 California 3
17 Anderson Varejao C-F 6-11 260 09/28/1982 Santa Teresa, Brazil 5
13 Delonte West G 6-3 180 07/26/1983 Saint Joseph’s 5
31 Jawad Williams F 6-9 218 02/19/1983 North Carolina 1
2 Mo Williams G 6-1 190 12/19/1982 Alabama 6

HEAD COACH
Mike Brown (College – San Diego)

ASSISTANT COACHES
Hank Egan (College – Navy)
Melvin Hunt (College – Baylor)
Chris Jent (College – Ohio State)
Michael Malone (College – Loyola (MD))

STRENGTH-AND-CONDITIONING COACH
Stan Kellers (College – Cleveland State)

ATHLETIC TRAINER
Max Benton (College – Colorado)

Divisional Standings: Central Division

Central W L PCT GB CONF DIV HOME ROAD L 10 STREAK
Chicago3 1 0 1.000 0.0 0-0 0-0 1-0 0-0 1-0 W 1
Detroit7 1 0 1.000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 1-0 1-0 W 1
Indiana 0 1 0.000 1.0 0-1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0-1 L 1
Cleveland 0 2 0.000 1.5 0-2 0-0 0-1 0-1 0-2 L 2