Conclusive …..

Conclusive …

In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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It’s Rio Or Bust Baby ………….

So a decision has been made by the IOC (Int’l Olympic Committee) and the 2016 Olympic Summer Games has been awarded to the city of Rio De Janeiro , Brazil. And for all of ballyhooing , with regard to both the attendance of President Obama and that of the First Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark for the formal announcement. No amount of persuasion could be made in order for the games to be awarded to the city of Chicago, and the state of Illinois. When it was all said and done , the choice was made and the South American country was awarded the games. This will be the first games held in the country and only the second time that the Summer Olympics has been held in Central or a South American country. The first time being, that of the Mexico Olympics of 1968.

President  Obama  and   First  Lady  Michelle Obama  in  attendance  in  Copenhagen ,  Denmark   ,  awaiting  the   acceptance  of   Chicago's  bid  to  host  the  2016  Summer  Olympics.    The   games   were   however  awarded to  Rio  De  Janeiro  ,  Brazil.    The  US  bid   failed to  make  it   beyond  the  first   round   of balloting  for  the  votes.   picture appears   courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Charles   Dharapak  ...........................
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance in Copenhagen , Denmark , awaiting the acceptance of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The games were however awarded to Rio De Janeiro , Brazil. The US bid failed to make it beyond the first round of balloting for the votes. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Charles Dharapak ...........................

At a time when the US is in a deep economic recession , I felt it somewhat absurd that the President should deem this one particular event fit, that it required his presence. One would’ve thought that with the presence of the First Lady and members of the USOC (U S Olympic Committee) in attendance , that this would have been more than enough. Given the fact that a presentation had been made and various members of the IOC had previously visited the city of Chicago to see the proposed venue for themselves. Albeit, that the two alleged front runners were said to be Chicago and Rio De Janeiro . They were not the only choices that the IOC had to mull over. The other choices were Cairo , Egypt, Tokyo , Japan and Madrid , Spain. The final two cities however, at the final voting were in-fact Rio and that of Madrid. And with the 2012 Summer Games being held in London . It was abundantly clear to see that IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge and the board members of empaneled committee would choose the South American city. It made sense and was politically expedient.

IOC Chairman  Jacques  Rogge   makes  the   formal  announcement  that  Rio  De  Janeiro   has  won the  final   vote and  has  been  awarded  the   2016   Olympic ( Summer )  Games  .   picture  appears  courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Bjorn    Rijjs  ...................
IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge makes the formal announcement that Rio De Janeiro has won the final vote and has been awarded the 2016 Olympic ( Summer ) Games . picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Bjorn Rijjs ...................

Now comes the hard part of persuading others that the ‘ fix wasn’t in’. Celebrities and personalities from every known walk of life who eschewed the city of Chicago as the perfect choice for the games were said to be bitterly disappointed. But this may well have been a blessing in disguise. When one considers what has gone one within the state of Illinois over the past two years . It does make the choice of Rio De Janeiro seem all that more relevant. You had, the then embattled governor , Rod Blagojevich seemingly willing to offer a senate seat to the highest bidder. And the epicenter of the troubled ACORN organization rooted within the city. One doubts that the IOC would wants its name further tarnished. Oh yes, I did state the IOC wouldn’t want its ‘name tarnished’ . This being the very same organization that has essentially sold its soul to the highest bidder and has in many ways made the ‘Olympic ideals’ and what it’s said to stand for , now seem irrelevant !

The formal announcement is made by IOC President and Chairman Jacques Rogge that Rio De Janeiro had been awarded the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

As I alluded to earlier , if the President was of the mindset that bringing the games to Chicago was of the utmost importance. Then so be it . But for all sense and purpose those games are 8 years away and the country is facing far more pressing issues than most know how to do deal with. And given the fact, that his administration has no real ready made solutions as to many of the country’s ills and how to alleviate them. Other than it’d appear , to print money , borrow from abroad and wax on lyrically as to how he envisages that the country will climb out of this deep morass. I can only surmise that the Brothers Grimm have been writing many of his speeches as of late ?

The Olympic Games , themselves brings about approximately 196 sovereign nations together in a forum . Where it provides for athletic endeavor in the spirit of competition. But above all it provides for an environment for nations can get together and socially interact. Unfortunately the games have now become a forum wherein political ideologies are espoused for all of the wrong reasons. And if anything it further foments hatred amongst differing groups and nations. Instead of celebrating life and the pursuance and the excellence of spirited competition. It become a celebration of whose political fervor and bent is greater than the others.

The  Brazilian  Olympic  Committe delegation  celebrates  their   triumph  in  winning  the  bid  to   host  the   2016  Olympics  in  Rio  De  Janeiro  ,  Brazil  .     To  the  right   is  Brazilian   soccer   legend  Pele  who   was  at  the    forefront  of  his    country's  bid.    To  the  left  is   Brazilian   President  Luiz  Inacio    Lula  De  Silva .     It   was  a  monumental   triumph  for  the   South  American  country.      picture  appears  courtesy   of  ap/photo/  Roberto  Garcia  ..........................
The Brazilian Olympic Committe delegation celebrates their triumph in winning the bid to host the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro , Brazil . To the right is Brazilian soccer legend Pele who was at the forefront of his country's bid. To the left is Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula De Silva . It was a monumental triumph for the South American country. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Roberto Garcia ..........................

The country of Brazil and in particular the residents of Rio De Janeiro can very much feel pleased for themselves and the efforts of their national Olympic committee and that of their President Luiz Inacio Lula De Silva and his administration in bringing the games to the country. With its burgeoning economic and political influence on the international stage. It would seem only right that the country with the world’s tenth largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) be the beneficiary of hosting the Summer Olympics. It further adds to the country’s luster, profile and places it amongst those countries viewed as a vibrant democracy.

What this may also say about the USOC‘s failure in putting together an orchestrated and winning proposal, says much also about the country’s belief that all it had to do was to wield a list of high powered celebrities with little else to show besides that. It was if they were treating the whole electoral process as a foregone conclusion . But what might be even more asinine is the assertion that the games themselves would be financed through private financing by way of corporate donations. With naming rights being sold for various edifices that would be built. That quite possibly could well have been the case. But there weren’t that many US Fortune 500 companies stepping up to the plate to make their voices be heard when it came to this bid process from the outset. Especially those within the city of Chicago , itself.

With the games still some seven years away. We now await to see what the city of London will have to offer the world by way of the festivities and the athletic achievements as they unfold. Chances are the majority of us will the games . Much as we do any other major international sporting event. Or will we ?