Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Brief But Not Breaking Sports Stories …………..

Well I’m not about to bore you all with my thoughts on the ongoing NFL labor dispute because I think for the most part the majority of us are fed up with the lack of any form of compromise having not been met or agreed upon as of yet. Inasmuch as with each passing second ESPN and Foxsports tries to keep us all abreast of the latest developments as if it’s going to be breaking news , merely the mention of either Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith’s name in essence simply makes me want to puke ! Suffice to say , even with the NFL coming out with a 2011-12 schedule and wherein they’ve essentially leaked the fact that they’ve a contingency plan in place that would have the season start at Week 3 and all teams playing that week would then have a bye-week later on in the calendar of the season’s schedule . Of what comfort that will be to the fans in question I can’t at present tell you . My bone of contention is that the NFL in spite of itself , in terms of PR, they continue to make the situation worse knowing full well each snippet information leaked won’t in fact undo the damage that has already been done. At the same all of the hoopla that one would come to expect has been created with the hyperbole surrounding the upcoming NFL Draft . What, the fact that a season as the fans had hoped for but yet the NFL wants to lure us all into that false sense of security with three days of the dumb diatribe and where the likes of John Clayton , Mel Kiper and Chris Mortensen will induce us all into wanting to throw something at our tv sets because of their self absorbed overblown analysis ! Simply inform the viewer that’s all we want , nothing more nothing less , it’s as simple as that .

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Three weeks into the MLB season and it seems the fans are abuzz with the play of the teams and the very fact that the divisions are playing themselves out rather nicely . And while the talk of now seems to be the fact that the MLB hierarchy has seen fit to take over the day to day running of the Los Angeles Dodgers , wherein team owner Frank McCourt has been forced to relinquish control of his debt laden organization. I can’t help but wonder why it has taken Bud Selig so long to come to making this decision . I can only surmise that he sought counsel not only from the league’s legal representative but also in large part many of the most prominent team owners within the game . I surely cannot believe that they would have agreed to this action unless they felt that it was imperative that something needed to be done. With the facts being laid bare that McCourt had sought a loan from the local Fox tv affiliate of some $30 million merely to pay primarily the players’ salaries and meet other budgetary expenses for the month of April . I can’t see how Frank McCourt can still believe that the organization isn’t in dire financial straits . Good God almighty we’re barely a month into the Dodgers’ season and the Dodgers couldn’t afford to pay the salaries of its employees ? If you don’t think that’s strange then tell me what is ?

The further we delve into this sordid mess the more murky it becomes because it’s becoming abundantly clear that many of the Dodgers’ front office executives were either simply powerless to stop McCourt in his tracks or they completely suborned his actions without taking into account what could go wrong should things begin to fall apart . Certainly GM Ned Colletti now seems perplexed because in giving a public statement when asked if he was in control of the organization as its senior most executive outside of the owner , Frank McCourt , his reply was ‘ …… I’m not so sure what I can really tell you at the moment ‘ . If you’re an ardent Los Angeles Dodgers’ fan how must you feel at the moment ?

The Dodgers’ as a team hasn’t really let the off the field problems get in the way of their on field efforts . And in their game against the Atlanta Braves we saw them give a heroic effort defeating the Braves 5-3 at Dodgers’ Stadium with walk off 2 run home run from Matt Kemp in extra innings . If that didn’t lift the spirits of the players and the fans in attendance then nothing else may well have done , other than knowing that McCourt is no longer in charge of the team for the time being. Frank McCourt has however said that he is quite prepared to challenge the league’s authority by legal means , in filing a restraining order in the US Federal Court in Los Angeles , California . That legal recourse could either be swift or it could well be a battle of wills between the embattled owner and that of the league hierarchy. Either way, no one actually wins because the damage has already been done to the game’s credibility and that of the Dodgers themselves .

With that in mind I can’t help but wonder if Bud Selig will now challenge the authority of New York Mets’ ownership group and their financial situation as it now stands . One can’t but help notice that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz as lead managing partner and team president are carefully trying to portray themselves as victims of the Bernard Madoff ‘Ponzi’ scheme and scandal. Suffice to say, with the duo and their company Sterling Equities as well as the Mets’ organization being named as defendants in a civil lawsuit claiming that they profited greatly from the scheme which defrauded clients of an alleged $59 billion ($59,000,000,000 ) . The plaintiffs represented by lawyer Irving Picard are seeking the return of a sum believed to be anywhere between $450 – $750 million that the duo is said to have received over the years by the defendants and their business entities, while Madoff’s scheme was said to be ongoing . What that says about the claims of both Katz and Wilpon that they unaware that the monies received was in fact due to fraud , has to be questioned , given the exorbitant rates of return at the time on their own then alleged investment in the scheme . Both as co-founders of Sterling Equities either had to be completely naive and ignorant or they in fact weren’t duped into believing that their gains were legal _____ they knew all along that something was awry and just simply didn’t care how they derived of this monetary gain.

Personally , I’m of the opinion that Katz and Wilpon knew exactly what was going on but thought that they were never in any danger of being seen as crooked should the scenario play itself out for the press’ and public’s consumption. The fact of the matter may well have been they viewed themselves as bastions of ownership hierarchy within baseball , where as such , the owners there are viewed as captains of industry or self made multi millionaires and not white collar criminals . My feeling is , if you’re involved within the inner workings of Wall St you’re a crook because who else but high ranking executives have profited so greatly from this economic blight wrought upon the nation ?

As the NBA postseason plays itself out we’re beginning to see a number of players come into their own during the playoffs . Dwight Howard has been playing at a high caliber and if anything has been the primary force on the Orlando Magic as they’ve leveled their series (1-1) against the Atlanta Hawks . That being said watching the Altanta Hawks waste a golden opportunity in this series only further emphasizes what I’ve always thought about this team , they’re gunshy and literally scared of their own shadow . If Larry Drew and his coaching staff can’t get this team to play any better than they’re now said to be doing then this series will be closed out on its return to the Amway Center in Orlando , Florida . This much I am certain off , teams cannot afford to waste opportunities when given to them in the playoffs because there’s no looking back and saying ……’ what might have happened if only we’d done that ‘ ?

If the Hawks are to stand any chance of actually winning this series then Joe Johnson will have to step up to the plate and show that he’s indeed the leader of this team rather than an overpaid and less than compelling athlete . How he was able persuade the Hawks’ front office into offering him a 6 year $96 million contract for his less than stellar figures is way beyond anything that I for one can imagine ! I can only surmise that because there weren’t any serious takers for his talents during the trade deadline he saw fit to dupe the Hawks’ management into thinking he as their primary role player on this team would be their best chance of success and a shot at the NBA title .

As the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference the Hawks are a vastly different team from last season if anything they’ve tailed off somewhat but then again this in essence is the same team that was so convincingly swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic last season in the of the NBA Playoffs . That 4-0 series drubbing had to have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the players and the Hawks’ fans . Are we about to see history repeat itself once again this series with only a slight change somewhat in the outcome ? It remains to be seen whether or not the Atlanta Hawks can acquit themselves and redeem some honor as the rest of this series unfolds .

Is a team as good as the coach they’re playing under or does it happen to be , the players or a marquee player that in essence makes the coach’s name ? Could one as such affix that moniker to the likes of Phil Jackson , Gregg Popovich or Red Auerbach for that matter in terms of their unprecedented success ? The reason I say this is because there are those who believe that the Chicago Bulls aren’t genuinely a legitimate contender because of their youth , inexperience and the fact that they’ve a first time coach in Tom Thibodeau . But there has to be a reason why this team was so successful this season and easily ran away with their division and in becoming the number one seed in the Eastern Conference . It solely wasn’t down to the heroics of Derrick Rose and his sensational season because he was ably assisted by his teammates who all bought into Thibodeau’s coaching philosophy , strategies and the lessons of his coaching staff .

The Bulls in the first round have had their struggles against the Frank Vogel coached Indiana Pacers . But in essence if the Bulls are being viewed as inexperienced then how should one judge the Pacers as a team overall …………… over achievers having made it into the playoffs with a 41-41 record ? Last night’s victory by the Bulls in game three essentially sowed up the series with a hard fought victory and all but insurmountable 3-0 series lead . The Pacers’ best player Danny Granger had a chance of winning the game in the dying moments but his three point attempt was a belated and off target effort . TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley was succinct as ever in describing the effort as ‘ garbage’. But if anything Granger wasn’t at all to blame because on close inspection were it not for the harassing defensive play and effort by the Bulls’ Luol Deng the shot may well have been a game ending winner for the Pacers. Instead they now face a series saving game four on Saturday against their conference rivals . Staving off defeat, elimination and living to fight another day is what both Vogel and his team are looking to achieve. But given the effort that has been put forth by this team and the fact that they seem to be their own undoing at the most inopportune of moments I for one can’t see them having the wherewithal or temerity to pull off the win and then trying to win the series outright ! They simply haven’t played consistently enough to convince me that they’re anywhere near the equal of the Chicago Bulls as a team.

As to the chances of Tom Thibodeau as a first year coach taking his team to the NBA Finals , well those chances seem to have improved greatly based upon his team’s efforts so far. One more win and the Bulls make the Eastern Conference Semi Finals where they would meet the winners of the series between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks . And that series at the moment favors the Celtics with Doc Rivers’ team now up 2-0 in the best of seven series . Game two at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston , Massachusetts , saw the Celtics eke out a hard fought 96-93 victory over the Knicks . But for the heroic efforts of Carmelo Anthony and his 40 plus points in the game the Knicks would surely now be looking even demoralized . But instead they may well be even more galvanized knowing that the the next three games of the series are to be played at their home venue of Madison Square Garden in New York City , New York.

Though Tom Thibodeau may well be viewed as a first year coach, his coaching background and pedigree has proven to be invaluable. If anything the experience of having been assistant to both Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers gives him something of an advantage over the other coaches left in the Eastern Conference playoffs other than Rivers and the Magic’s Stan Van Gundy. His presence having been an assistant to a duo of coaches (Rivers and Popovich) who have won 5 NBA titles between has to be an asset rather than a disadvantage but yet I hear the naysayers out there stating that the Bulls simply aren’t good enough. If they’ve been good enough to essentially stroll their way to the conference’s best record with a series of notable team highs in terms of season success then why are they not good enough to win it all ? If their record isn’t an indictment of how good they are and that of their coach and his resume’ then what is ? It may well be the one thing that could stop the Bulls is simply that they don’t believe that they’re capable of winning it all which would be a given but would you really be willing to bet against a team who’ve proven to be hard to beat on their homecourt at the United Center and are just as difficult to beat away from home as their season schedule has undoubtedly shown us ?

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have on the topics raised within this piece and as such as the NBA Playoffs unfold what if anything so far has been of great interest you ? Simply chime in with your own comments and anything else that you may well feel pertinent to this piece .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………

https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) Indianapolis Colts Vice President and General Manager Chris Polian responds to a question during a news conference in Indianapolis, Friday, April 22, 2011. Polian talked about the 2011 NFL Draft that will be held next week in New York. AP Photo Darron Cummings ……

(2) NFL lawyer Jeff Pash speaks to members of the media after leaving court ordered mediation presided over by Judge Arthur Boylan at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images ……

(3) NFL lawyer Bob Batterman and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leave court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 20, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was order after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down last month. Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images …….

(4) Catcher Brian McCann(16) of the Atlanta Braves drops the ball as Jamey Carroll(14) of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides safely into home to tie the game in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images ……..

(5) Matt Kemp(27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a game winning two-run home run in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 5-3 in twelve innings. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(6) Matt Kemp, center , (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers is mobbed by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run to win the game in the 12th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on April 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images …….

(7) Dwight Howard(12) of the Orlando Magic shoots over Zaza Pachulia(27) of the Atlanta Hawks during game two Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images …..

(8) Joe Johnson(2) of the Atlanta Hawks rebounds against the Orlando Magic during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2011 at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Magic would defeat the Hawks 88-82 to level the series at one game (1-1) apiece . Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ….

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball while defended by Jeff Foster (50) of the Indiana Pacers in Game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2011 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Bulls won 88-84 to take a 3-0 lead in their best of seven series . Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images ……

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Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks

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Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans Hornets

NBA scheduled games Saturday 23rd April

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Winners Are Often Made But The Again They Can Be Born

Winners Are Often Made But Then Again They Can
Be Born

All of a sudden it appears that Joe Maddon and his coaching staff has a winning team on his hands with the Tampa Bays Rays having won five straight games and now making their presence felt in the AL East . Now I’m not about to pronounce the Rays as the surprise team of the season as of yet because we’re but a few weeks into an arduous 162 game regular season schedule , where as we know anything can happen.

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As some of you may know I’m fan without a team to support having abandoned the Florida Marlins at the end of last season . I felt I could no longer support an organization where the team owner Jeffrey Loria was simply more about himself , his needs and wants rather than what was in the best interests of the team and the fans in general . It goes without saying that Loria like many of his peers within the game are of the same mindset and that is especially applicable to the owners amongst the small market teams around MLB . They’ll do whatever it takes to make money even if it’s to be done illegally !

The Rays this season having lost Manny Ramirez with his abrupt retirement rather than face the league mandated 100 game suspension after a second failed consecutive drug test thereby breaking the league’s steroid policy , essentially showed himself to be nothing more than a coward ! The heroes of the moment for the Tampa Bay Rays has to be Johnny Damon and Sam Fulds who has proven to be just the impetus needed to turn things around for the team and now make themselves the talk of the town at present as it regards their play. That being said it would be naive to even suggest or think that because of the team’s play they’re ready to contend within their division once again and make a successful defense of their AL East divisional title . Stranger things are known to have happened but then again who know as it concerns the vagaries of this team ?

I’m sorry but anyone of the belief that the New York Mets with their payroll of over bloated stars can contend within the NL East much less the rest of baseball has to be either delirious or still on some form of prescriptive medication . This team much less the organization has no idea what it takes to win much how to go about it with any degree of certainty or authority. I know that manager Terry Collins , his coaching staff will have the assist wherewithal of GM’s Sandy Alderson and assistant general manager J P Ricciardi providing their input as it relates to the personnel decisions but simply put the Mets’ window of opportunity to even be viewed as contenders much less win a World Series title has long gone !

The New York Mets has become a comical caricature of all that is wrong with the game of baseball ! Team President Saul Katz , team owner , senior general partner Fred Wilpon have plunged the team into an abyss of mediocrity and now it also appears the team’s immediate future could very well be at stake . Both Katz and Wilpon as well as the organization has been named as defendants in a civil suit that looks to reclaim $500 million that Wilpon and Katz were in receipt of as part of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Both defendants claim that they were unaware that the sums they’d been in receipt of was from fraudulent means . But yet somehow both Katz and Wilpon divested much of the $ 500 million into various entities including a company that both had co- founded —– Sterling Equities . What now awaits both defendants as well as the team remains to be seen .

Well the NBA postseaon has begun and we’ve already seen that what the expectations are meant to be about . Those doubters of the Chicago Bulls after their unexpected 60 plus win season shows why it is that you simply don’t gloss over the achievements of this team and its coach Tom Thibodeau . I’ve read it where some have said because of the inexperience of this team they could very well struggle throughout these the playoffs and that because Tom Thibodeau doesn’t have much of a coaching pedigree it could prove to be an impediment for this team. I simply wish when people make such asinine claims that they simply did a little research than simply speaking out their rear end ! Thibodeau has been the assistant coach on two NBA title winning organizations that collectively have won 5 titles in the last decade and a half . A fact that simply has been overlooked by individuals who’ve chosen not to look at the coach’s resume’ . Being an assistant to such noted coaches as Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich may seem slight but consider this , Thibodeau was the architect of the defensive strategies that has molded the face we see of both the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs .

Game one of the Bulls’ opening round series against Doug Collins’ Philadelphia 76ers . The United Center was packed to the rafters to see the Chicago Bulls play their first postseason game and series at the venue since the heyday of Jordan , Pippen and Phil Jackson . And though I didn’t think that series would be a cakewalk for the Bulls I knew that game one would be a stern test for the team and in particular the leadership qualities of Derrick Rose a potential league MVP candidate . And if anyone is in any doubt why Rose shouldn’t be the league MVP then yesterday’s play in which he blocked Darren Collison’s shot , then in transition dribbled the ball upcourt and then carved his way through the Sixers’ defense for the layup score . Need I anymore on the matter ?

For the better part of three quarters the Sixers had the Bulls on the rack but somehow you simply knew that this team wasn’t about to disappoint their fans and in particular a national tv audience watching. Rose for his part has led this team with authority throughout the season and in doing so we’ve seen both the maturation of Luol Deng , Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah as players . And with the team having acquired Carlos Boozer in the offseason as a free agent we saw the Chicago Bulls rise to the occasion surprising many of their contemporaries within the Eastern Conference .

The Bulls eked out a comfortable victory and will look to resume the series and increase their lead have a 2-0 margin before the resumption of the series in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center ( formerly the Comcast/ Spectrum Arena) . If anything Doug Collins would like nothing more than to even this series at one game apiece before his team’s return its home venue. I know that the Sixers’ coach had to have been disappointed to see his team give up a lead and then see it completely erased with less than 3 and a half minutes to go in the game . From being on the cusp of a surprise upset win the Bulls simply placed a dagger in the hearts of their first round opponents . That’s the way a game ought to be closed out , with complete authority and the mind of a cold boodied assassin !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

As a sport’s fan how do you define winning and what it means to you as a fan and no I’m not talking about the ‘term’ now being coined by actor Charlie Sheen ! If anything over this sport’s weekend what result if anything either came as a surprise or met with your expectation ? Simply leave a comment as to your thoughts on the topics raised within this piece . .

Alan aka tophatal ………………………………………..

https://tophatal.wordpress.com ……..

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(1) Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Minnesota Twins Sunday, April 17, 2011, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rays would go on to lose 4-2 to the Twins . AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……

(2) ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 17: of the Tampa Bay Rays of the Minnesota Twins during the game at Tropicana Field on April 17, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………..

(3) New York Mets’ Josh Thole is caught stealing second base as Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, left, makes the tag for an out in the fifth inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. The Mets won 3-2 . AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(4) New York Mets’ Josh Thole, left, beats the tag of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann to score on an Ike Davis single in the first inning of a major league baseball game Sunday, April 17, 2011 in Atlanta. AP Photo/David Goldman ………….

(5) Fred Wilpon, General Manager Sandy Alderson, New York Mets new manager Terry Collins, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz pose for pictures during a press conference at Citi Field on November 23, 2010 in New York, New York. Getty Images North America / Chris McGrath ……….

(6) Carlos Boozer (5) of the Chicago Bulls and Tyler Hansbrough (50) of the Indiana Pacers battle for position on a free-throw in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99 . Johnathan Daniels /Getty Images …….

(7) Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images . ……..

(8) CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 16: Joakim Noah (13) of the Chicago Bulls celebrates two blocked shots in the final seconds against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images ……..

(9) Derrick Rose(1) of the Chicago Bulls leaps to pass the ball around Paul George (24) of the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 104-99. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images ……

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of NBA.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

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

Alan aka tophatal …………….

https://tophatal.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NBA News

NBA Officials …… (Referees)

NBA Hierarchy

NBA Team Statistics (Team by Team Stats)

NBA Standings Season Finale (Conference)

Standings by Division

NBA Team Statistics Defense

NBA Team Statistics Offense

NBA Playoff Matchups

Eastern Conference

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

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

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

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

Western Conference

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

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

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

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

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Please do take the time to participate in the following polls as listed above .

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N. W.A ………………. “Express Yourself”

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David Stern Proves Why He’s An Ass !

David Stern Proves Why He’s An Ass !

It seems unusual that NBA Commissioner David Stern would seek to punish with impunity through a fine any mention of LeBron James with regard to his impending free agency. By perception alone if any team or team executive should make a statement regarding the player’s status it would be viewed as tampering by the NBA hierarchy . This same edict also applies in the NFL , NHL and MLB .

It would appear that Stern sees fit to show his autocratic power in a number of ways that would give cause for concern. Far too often Stern much like his NFL counterpart , Roger Goodell , tends to fight the battles he presumably can win.

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It is now being widely reported that the Chicago Bulls are in the midst of hiring the Boston Celtics’ assistant coach Tom Thibodeaux. Now pardon me for saying this but with the Celtics being in the NBA Finals where they’re undertaking a highly anticipated contest against the Los Angeles Lakers . Now from where I sit the Bulls are tampering in making overtures in looking to hire Tom Thibodeau while his team are still in the playoffs , which by the NBA’s own mandate would be viewed as tampering. Somehow the league and in particular Stern seems to have overlooked or chooses to overlook this matter. In light of that it would seem somewhat strange that Stern would seek to fine Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban with impunity, $100,000 for the owner merely expressing an opinion as to where he thought that LeBron James might end up concerning his impending free agency status. At no point did the owner expressly make a statement that he’d be seeking to lure the player to his franchise. But yet somehow he gets punished for this ?

Courtesy of Washington Post

Report: Boston Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau to coach Chicago Bulls next season

By Michael Lee , Washington Post

El Segundo , Calif. Boston Celtics assistant and defensive coordinator Tom Thibodeau accepted a three-year deal to become coach of the Chicago Bulls, according to multiple reports on Saturday.

Thibodeau was also a candidate for the vacancy in New Jersey and was offered the New Orleans head coaching job, which was reportedly filled by Monty Williams. The Bulls don’t plan to consummate the deal or make a formal announcement until after the NBA Finals.

Celtics Coach Doc Rivers was unable to confirm the reports, but said that he “hopes it’s true” because “I think he’s the best candidate out there. I’ve said that for three years now.”

Thibodeau joined the Celtics’ staff in 2007-08 after first accepting and leaving a similar job with the Washington Wizards. He devised the defensive strategies that led to the Celtics claiming the franchise’s 17th NBA championship in 2008.

“Tibs brings a passion for defense, I think,” said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who won the defensive player of the year award in his first season with Thibodeau.

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Now if Stern purports to be the person he believes and claims to be, as being a dutiful custodian of the game. Then he had better begin to show some semblance of intelligence and stop spewing up this asinine notion that the game of basketball is above reproach. Because if this matter goes down wherein, Thibodeau is hired by the Bulls and there’s no investigation as to how this potential hiring came about . The Bulls front office if it is believed that they approached Thibodeau while his team still remain in the playoffs. Then that act alone by the Bulls can be viewed as an act of tampering.

With its showcase event now in full motion and the world watching . This is the last thing that Stern would want to address. But then again as I alluded to earlier the perception is and has always been about what makes David Stern looks good in the eyes of the fans and public alike !. And one thought that politicians were the only “pompous narcissists” out there ? Meet David Stern perhaps the most pompous of all the four major sports‘ commissioners .

David Stern for all of his supposed business acumen is now facing a situation where the NBA this year alone will lose in excess of $400 million . That averages out at $12,500,000 per team . With declining gates, in terms of attendance at all games and declining viewer-ship in North America. But globally the game has seen a spike in its popularity, in particular in Europe and the Far East. The worrying thing is that Stern and the NBA hierarchy are oblivious to the fact but the real problem is that they appear to have no notion as to how deal with the situation and address it in the appropriate manner.

Courtesy of NY Daily News

Rejection! David Stern sings financial blues but NBA players not listening

By Mitch Lawrence , NY Daily News

NBA players are planning to respond within the next few weeks to the league’s last contract proposal, which calls for a major overhaul to the current economic system and would drastically reduces salaries.

When the players respond, they are expected to reject David Stern’s contention that the league is going to lose $400 million this season. Since Stern brought up that figure — around twice what the league has lost annually over the last few seasons — at the All-Star Game last month in Dallas, the players union has not officially responded. Union officials say they are still conducting their own financial analysis, but more than a few players think that the commissioner has engaged in a negotiating ploy, with the current collective bargaining agreement entering its final season in 2010-11.

“I’m sure there are some owners who are not doing great these days,” said Denver’s Chauncey Billups. “But we’re not totally buying that figure. It’s a negotiating tactic, absolutely. Through our own investigations and due diligence, we have found that not to be 100% true.”

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The commissioner for all of his bombastic attitude you just can’t help to dislike his demeanor and presence as a person. Could he the most despised person in all of sports amongst the executives ? We know that the athletes themselves are continually in awe of the pedestal that they’re placed upon by the fans and press alike. But rarely are they prepared to reciprocate by showing themselves in being supportive of the fans. Moreover, they’re prepared to just sell that their wares rather than showing the fans the respect that they’re undoubtedly due. Similarly the same can be said of David Stern and his attitude towards the fans and press alike.

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Picture gallery for your perusal.

What thoughts if any do you have on the situation and how do you feel that Stern should address the matter concerning the potential hiring of Tom Thibodeau ? Chime on in with a comment on this matter and any other observations that you may have on the world of sports.

Alan Parkins aka tophatal …………………

TI ………………..”Rubber Band Man”