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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poor in quality and basketball

Throughout this years NBA playoffs, the level of play has been mediocre. Thus far, we’ve witnessed LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers ousted by the Boston Celtics earlier than expected and despite losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder announced to the world that he is the future of basketball.

What we haven’t seen is the fire and passion. Growing up in the ‘90s, I had the privilege of watching incredible basketball. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen always had a target on their backs, as they won an unprecedented six championships. But what those Chicago Bulls teams had to go through to earn those rings is all but history.

Today’s “stars” are so pampered and spoiled with unearned accolades, it’s sickening. James hasn’t won anything, and is referred to as, “King James.” Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic is featured in every Gatorade commercial and recently starred in a movie, yet he can’t seem to stay on the court because of fouls.

These guys as well as most of the NBA couldn’t make it in the league back then. The tough New York Knicks would have bullied them till they cried off the court. Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers would have stuck daggers through their hearts on a nightly basis. Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz would and probably still would push you down and then tell you that you weren’t going to do anything about it.

But there are a couple current players that are throwbacks from the 90’s. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers is the closest there is and has been to Jordan; and for the record, he is the best basketball player in the NBA. Bryant’s currently playing with a bad back, a couple broken fingers, a sprained ankle and a knee that has to be drained regularly; these are the only injuries that we know of because “The Black-Mamba” wouldn’t cry to the media or his team with excuses.

Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns gets his ass kicked every night, but he keeps playing no matter what. He realizes that his team has no chance without him on the court. Nash’s eye was cut so bad in a playoff game, it closed up on him, forcing him to play with one eye. In the most recent series versus’ the Lakers, he took an elbow to the nose, breaking it once again. Come out of the game? Nah, he just broke it back into place and kept playing.

You might say, “But LeBron played through an injured elbow.” No he did not. If he wasn’t rubbing it during the game, he was out of the game physically or mentally. He probably “hurt” his elbow by executing his pre-game ritual of throwing powder in the air. Oh wait, he stole that from Jordan too.

Maybe the NBA as a whole is not as fierce as it once was because of the officiating. A hard foul then, is now a flagrant foul with a possible suspension and fine. The personal fouls being called are ridiculous. Players cannot touch another player, preventing any kind of defense to be played. Commissioner David Stern needs to figure out what the problem is, because the brand of basketball he’s currently selling is unappealing and poor in quality.

How can the league fix this? You can't bring back the players of yester-year, but you can let the current guys play. We'd much rather see Kevin Garnett battle with Dwight Howard rather than Glenn Davis versus' Marcin Gortat because of foul trouble. I understand that the league is trying to clean up its image and prevent conflict on the court, but this is a sport of competitive drive and will. These guys may not have as much as the players fromt he past, but lets mustard as much as we can out of the prima donnas. Things happen, but the league and officiating must relax and let the players play.

Although, the league did announce yesterday that they will be embarking on a new endeavor: the pizza business. Among the items that will be available are edible team logos for your pizza and toaster snacks. I take back what I said regarding the job Stern is doing…

As seen in the ESPN 30 for 30 film, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. New York Knicks, the battles that took place during this time were epic. These guys weren’t playing for the name on the back of their jerseys; they went to war, literally fighting (as seen above with Charles Oakley of the Knicks and Alonzo Mourning of the Miami Heat) for their city, the fans, their teammates, but most importantly to accomplish the ultimate glory of becoming a champion. No matter if it was a superstar or a role player, they were leaving it all on the court, doing whatever was necessary to win. The will and desire to win was everything.

Where has the fire and passion gone? Will it ever return? Doubtful. The cause of this are a result of several issues, but hopefully after a dreadful postseason, the league will take a hard look at what they're selling (basketball, not pizza). The players from that time are long gone and so is quality NBA basketball. As a basketball fan, I really hope that this changes soon, because it's truly disappointing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Empire State of Mind

LeBron James will finally be saved from Cleveland, Ohio. Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, concluding the series, 4-2. Throughout the series, Cleveland didn’t belong on the same court as Boston, as it was obvious which team was better. Going forward, despite the NBA Playoffs continuing, the basketball world will be waiting for James’ announcement:

In 47 days, LeBron James will become a New York Knick.

While James has developed into one of the best players in the world winning back-to-back MVP awards, the Cavaliers are regressing. After being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals in 2007, they have yet to return to the championship, losing in the conference finals to the Orlando Magic last year and now the semi-finals this year.

Yes, Cleveland has tried their best to assemble a viable supporting cast for its superstar, but what they have now is simply not good enough. The players on this team are sloppy seconds that nobody wanted. If James wasn’t on this team, they would be bad basketball team preparing to pick in the draft lottery. Even with James on the roster, they can’t compete against teams such as the Magic, Celtics, or the entire Western Conference, where each team has two or three great players with tremendous support from their role players.

Well if this is the case, why would James go to the Knicks? The power of James will have an immediate impact on any team he chooses to play for going forward, especially in the Eastern Conference. Some say, “Why would he go to the Knicks or the Nets? They are terrible.” Well, what do you have when you take James off the Cavaliers? The current Knicks or the Nets.

The New Jersey Nets are an interesting player in this free agent sweepstakes. The Nets have recently been purchased by the a Russian billionaire who has made it very clear and public that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win. The Nets will also be relocating to Brooklyn, home of minority owner and close friend of James, Jay Z. “Hova” understands that James will make the best business decision for he and his family, but count on his friend inquiring regarding the possibility of joining forces in an effort to take over New York City and the world.

This is a special year of free-agency. The players available are established stars looking for a big pay day and a chance to unite with other free agents to accomplish the ultimate goal of becoming a champion. Will Dwayne Wade stay in Miami? Is Dirk going to make it work in Dallas? Or will the Phoenix Suns use its team option on Amare Stoudemire? Many questions loom, as the NBA landscape could be drastically different next season.

Chris Bosh will play a pivotal role in the upcoming decision making for James. Once he decides where he will play, it will have a domino effect on the rest of the free agent class. Being hidden away, playing in Toronto for the past seven years, Bosh has become one of the most underrated players in the NBA. James and Bosh have developed a strong friendship off the court while also having experience playing with one another on the USA team. If these two superstar friends/players communicate to each other that they want to build a dynasty together, watch out league.

Cleveland fans will be outraged and angered about what will be said about their city and team. Accept it, your city is comparable to a third-world country and your teams don’t belong in any of the major sports. Trust me, I’ve been to Cleveland. I immediately needed a tetanus shot following my visit.

By the way, James is from Akron, Ohio, not Cleveland. Get over it. Any kind of allegiance to Cleveland or its fans is a joke. James will do what is in the best interest of his family and future.

Regardless if James signs with the Knicks or the Nets, New York is where James belongs. The biggest star must be featured in the biggest city on the biggest stage. Not only will basketball be important in his decision making process, but the marketing/business aspect of New York is critical. Following the loss last night, he stated that he and his team (business partners and advisors) will evaluate all options and execute their game plan. James has made it known that he wants to be the first billionaire athlete. To accomplish that goal as well as win championships, Cleveland is not in that plan.

Cleveland is not good enough for James. He deserves better. The NBA and its fans deserve better. LeBron James will have his choice of bologna or filet mignon. The choice is obvious. He knows exactly what he will be doing, and that is making a home in the Mecca of Basketball in the greatest city in the world.

Congratulations New York and Spike Lee, you have just won the lottery. Welcome to New York, LeBron.

Friday, May 7, 2010

To run, or not to run...

Typically we go to our dad for advice regarding different situations and scenarios throughout our lives. Sometimes we may rebel, shying away from his words of wisdom because of immaturity or utter stupidity. On Monday night, Steve Consalvi called his dad for advice and ran with it, literally.

During the eighth inning of the Phillies home game, Consalvi asked his dad, “Dad, can I run on the field?” His dad responded, “I don't think you should, son.” Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that he did provide his son with the correct response, considering they are from Philly. Regardless, Consalvi stood from his seat, jumped the barrier, and ran on to the playing field of Citizens Bank Park (home stadium of the Phillies).

Relishing in the moment, Consalvi ran wild, waving his Phillies towel in joy. As he sprinted through the outfield, Consalvi dodged and juked in an OJ Simpson-esque manner (with tacklers and law enforcement). As was with OJ, Consalvi couldn’t escape the inevitable ending.

But the tactic of how Consalvi was captured was the most intriguing aspect. Consalvi was shot with a taser-gun, laying him out in shock on the field. Security quickly stood him up and walked him off the field in handcuffs.

Consalvi, 17, was not intoxicated leading up to or during the escapade. He was not injured from the fall or the shock of the taser.

He will be charged with criminal trespassing and other related offenses.

In our world today, we must be prepared for anything. In 2002, two fans ran onto the field and attacked the Kansas Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. The Royals, not security, were first to come to their coach’s defense. They quickly detained the two men till security was present.

What if these guys had a weapon? What if they seriously hurt or even killed Gamboa? This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. To prevent this from happening, leagues and teams must do whatever is necessary protect the players and coaches on the field.

Before every game at every stadium and arena, regardless of the sport, the public addressor provides a team policy along the lines of the following, “Please do not come on to the playing field for any reason. If any fan(s) does not abide by team policy, the fan(s) will be prosecuted to the extent of the law.” And in case you didn’t hear the announcement, the following statement is made known on the gigantic video-screen to be read.

So should tasing be permitted in future instances? The answer is YES. By running on the field, you know what will happen. Usually you’re tackled by a security guard and charged immediately. But if tasing is necessary to stop the stupidity, then so be it. I haven’t been nor do I plan on being tased under any circumstance, but I’ve heard they hurt, a whole lot. They’ll know better next time to even think about acting in such stupidity. And if not, well, they’re idiots. Light ‘em up!

As for Consalvi, what do you expect? He’s from Philadelphia...