Tag Archives: Sports

South Shore Ave’s NBA Season Preview: The East

Welcome to Part Deux of our South Shore Ave’s NBA Preview where we tackle the improving Eastern conference. Click here if you missed Part 1. Please enjoy…..

Does Derrick Rose need to drink Holy Water before the season officially starts?

Not only do I think he needs to guzzle it by the litre, but I would nominate Rose for a Holy Water Bucket Challenge if said challenge existed. I won’t even rehash the knee troubles that Rose has gone endured.  You already know he’s missed the last two seasons due to his injuries. It’s robbed him of some of his prime years, & as a basketball fan, it’s disheartening. As it stands, coming off his participation at the World Championships this summer, this is the healthiest that Rose has been in a few years. With that said, it once again vaults Chicago to championship contending status, which for Bulls fans must scare you enough to stunt your breathing. I think Chicago management knows that the future isn’t promised because between Rose’s injury history, and with LeBron heading back to Cleveland with Kevin Love & company in tow, boy did it load this summer to win. They added Paul Gasol, along with rookies Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott, to last year’s Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, and 6th Man runner up Taj Gibson to form the best frontcourt in the NBA. Between Gasol & Noah, they also have the two best passing big men in the league, and honestly, the offensive sets need to go through those two guys as much, or even a little more so than through Rose.

Chicago’s biggest problem since 2011, is they don’t score easily. Having two big men that can pass from both the low block and high post, and you can run screens & cuts off of them open things up for a team more than people think. They need to score easier, & for now, they have to lessen the load for Rose & get his legs ready for the second half of the season. If they can do this on offense, coupled with the defensive intensity they usually bring every night, they will be the best team in the East, no matter what Cleveland has in store. They have to take advantage now because in 2016, Cleveland may also be ready to take over the East once Kyrie Irving & Kevin Love pop their playoff cherries. The Bulls can’t wait for the future.  They have to go for it all now.  Sometimes ‘later’ can become ‘never’.

LeCavs

For the second time in four years, LeBron James completely dominated the offseason like no NBA player ever. His move to Cleveland not only shocked the NBA, and all its fans alike, but its ripple effect set off change across the league. Except for San Antonio who probably looked at LeBron’s move and laughed amongst themselves.

Let’s break it down in a few ways:

By returning to Cleveland, LeBron gained as much control as any NBA player has wielded since Michael Jordan during his 1st retirement comeback. The way his contract is laid out, he will be receiving max money for the foreseeable future. By signing a 2-year deal, he not only gave himself flexibility, with the new TV deal set to begin in 2016, but he ensured that he is no longer leaving any money on the table. Quite frankly, he shouldn’t due to the salary cap almost tripling in two years, LeBron can, & will make much more per year than the $21M he’ll be making in the next two years. Going into his 12th season, this will only be the 4th time he is actually the highest paid player on his own team, which quite frankly is ridiculous considering he is only the 4th player in NBA history (Russell, Abdul-Jabbar, & Jordan) to win 4 MVPs. Let’s face it, LeBron is still far and away the best player in the world.  He is still in his prime, and will probably win at least one more MVP if not two. The value of the Cavalier franchise in itself has been raised at least by $100M with his return & the regular season camp hasn’t started yet. He probably sees that he’s sacrificed enough financially given what he is worth for the NBA as a whole, & will get his Carmelo on* from here on out. He reaped the benefits of coming home by appearing humbled, & more endearing than ever before. Now everyone will root for Cleveland if and when they finally get to have a championship. Taking Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, along with incumbent Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Anderson Varajeo, the likelihood of that happening will be very high. Basically, LeBron left the wife he was with (“Heat”) for the younger, hotter version of her (“Cavs”). Speaking of which…..

Was the Miami move really THAT successful? It’s not a crazy question to ask, right? Yes, LeBron joining Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh four years ago at the peak of their prime was viewed as almost unfair in some eyes. No matter how people looked at LeBron with disdain for leaving his home and joining a super team, he wanted to be in a position to win titles every single year, and he had a chance to do that in Miami. He went against the conventional ways, took over the power of player free agency, in ways that had never been done before or experienced by the NBA, & set his destiny. And for that, I give him a lot of respect…… but here’s the thing: With that move, the Big 3 set the bar extremely high for themselves, the organization & everyone watching (& I’m not talking about their infamous “Not one, not two, not three…” rally). After four years, didn’t you expect them to win more than two titles? Weren’t you expecting at least three by 2014? In the annals of the NBA’s greatest champions, would you even put this Heat run in the Top 5? Think about this for a second: If Ray Allen clangs his three off the rim instead of swishing it at the end of Game 6, the Heat literally walk away with ONE title after everything’s said and done. I mean, it’s literally that close. They don’t come close to the MJ Bulls run, Magic’s Lakers or Bird’s Celtics. Shit, they don’t even reach the Shaq/Kobe Lakers (3-peated, 4 Finals in 5 years). This run, in retrospect, falls in the tier with the Bad Boy Pistons of the late 80s (Back-To-Back titles, 3 straight Finals appearances) which isn’t fine when you put together three Hall of Famers (yes, Bosh is one too. Face the facts people!) entering their prime years together. This was something that was supposed to last until the latter part of the decade, not end before Year 5. We will remember the run as probably the most polarizing sports team of the digital/social media era. LeBron/Wade/Bosh all became more popular (especially Bosh), made more money, & raised their brand profiles higher than it would have reached if they remained carrying a team by themselves, but the collaboration wasn’t fully completed. The run was similar to the Watch The Throne collaboration from Kanye & Hova: Good, but not great.

* The term “Carmelo On” means that under no circumstances do you leave any money on the table when signing an NBA contract, no matter how much it might hurt your team from being able to afford to build a championship team around you.  Unless of course you leave $4M short of the $129M contract you sign to show everyone publicly that you can in actuality sacrifice money for the good of the team.

Who should be the happiest player in the NBA right now?

Who else can it be but Chris Bosh? Think of where he was as a player four months ago. He was perfecting his role as the 3rd option of the Miami Heat. Once the Heat got demolished by the Spurs in the Finals, and the Big 3 all opted out of their contracts, Bosh was hoping that the ride would continue as normal. Once LeBron decided he was heading back home, Bosh figured he would head back to his home state of Texas, fall into the 3rd option role behind James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston, while getting paid max money of course. At the last minute, Pat Riley rides the waves on his desperation surfboard and throws the max contract for Bosh to stay. Now he gets to wear the real superhero costume? He can now sit in the cabin of the Bat-mobile and not hop in the trunk like he’s been used to doing since 2010? I mean, how can he not sign that deal?? He got a max deal to be at worst the #2 option most nights, and didn’t even have to leave his beachfront mansion. He should have been sending LeBron roses, boxes of After Eight chocolate mints, and Twerk-a-grams on a weekly basis as an appropriate thank you this summer.

Instead, we find out that he didn’t even talk to LeBron this whole summer outside of Wade’s wedding. He’s giving advice to Kevin Love stating that he’s going to have trouble sacrificing his game to LeBron & more or less sticking his chest out. Is that the way you say thank you??? LeBron saved him from 3rd wheel status forever with this move, and with Wade’s health over the last couple of years, he gets to be the man on South Beach! Does he not understand this?!?! And now he seem like he don’t even care if LeBron is gone. The audacity….

With that said, the Heat are still a playoff team, scooping up Luol Deng in free agency this summer, adding Josh McRoberts, and signing Danny Granger (ok, pretend I didn’t type that last name) to a team that has championship pride and pedigree. In addition, Wade looks pretty loose and limber this preseason, cutting his weight down from last year, we’ll get to see how good of a coach Erik Spoelstra is, which was taken for granted these last few years, and we also really can’t count out a team led by Riley, can we? They will still play hard, tenacious, and efficient every night. If there’s one thing we can count on, those fairweather Heat fans will be showing up by halftime to these games if at all now. If they showed up late when LeBron was there, what are they gonna do when he only comes once a year?

We The North!! (Hollup Hollup Hollup) #WizKhalifavoice

I have to say, I have been wrong about the direction of where the Raptors needed to be in. About this time last year, I had them pegged to win around 35 games, not make the playoffs & secure a high draft pick. After they traded off Rudy Gay, I celebrated like they won the championship, figuring that they were headed to #TankCity for Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker. However, the way the Raps played from that point on was what basketball fans want to see: hard working, intelligent, efficient play where the team leaves everything they have out on the floor. This is exactly what they accomplished right until the last second of their Game 7 loss vs. Brooklyn. Going forward, I believe that not only can they get better this season, but I feel most people are sleeping on Toronto.

It all starts with the resigning of Kyle Lowry. With him coming back & teaming up with DeMar DeRozan to form one of the best backcourts in the NBA, they give the Raps stability at both spots that they haven’t had since Alvin Williams and Vince Carter were on the floor together 10+ years ago. DeRozan is the team’s best player and their hardest worker, but Lowry is the heart and soul. My only concern that I have is that last year was a contract year, & you hope that he doesn’t start the process of shutting things down now that he’s got his money. While I don’t believe that this will happen, I thought the same thing when Antonio Davis signed his $60M deal after making the All-Star team & helping the Raps come within one win of the Eastern Conference Finals back in 2001. He was the team’s heart and soul too. By 2003, he was falling into the “Thanks guys, it’s been fun…but I’m gonna shut this things down….nnnnnnow” mode & was never the same player. Contract year runs are funny to predict with players sometimes. It can wake a player up, & help him reach his potential from that point on, or that player can rest on his laurels once he gets his cash. Again, I don’t think that will be Lowry in this case, but stranger things has happened, especially with this franchise.  Which leads me to my next point….

We know Toronto is a hockey town, and most likely will never change. But the way Tim Lieweke came in bringing energy and light to this franchise as part of running MLSE is so important. This is why I feel losing him, is a huge & underrated story moving forward this season. He made basketball a priority for the corporation and even for this city in 2014, and with him scheduled to leave at the end of the season (or possibly before that), I’m afraid that his successor will be a hockey guy that will throw the Raps on the backburner again like in years past. Lieweke is a basketball guy at heart, and having him run MLSE I felt gave the feeling like the Raptors won’t be ignored anymore. They can start setting championship goals and not be laughed out of the room for saying it. From getting the All-Star game here next season (finally!!), getting Drake as the Global Ambassador (& let’s face it, secret recruiter), upgrading its practice facility, getting Masai Ujiri as a GM, the possibility of an MLSE nightclub, he’s put steps in place to be recognized as a prominent franchise in the sports world. Will the next person that steps in keep that train moving and take things further? It remains to be seen. Another year of improvement from Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, a deep bench (resiging Grevis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, trading for Lou Williams, picking up former Raptor James Johnson from the Grizzlies), another year under the belt for Dwayne Casey, the confidence that both DeMar and Jonas bring back from their respective World Championship teams is all very important going into this season. In fact, I believe they will win 50+ games for the first time in the franchise’s history. The short term views look promising to show everyone in the NBA that last season was not a fluke. But the long term vision of where this franchise will be headed post-Lieweke & if the goals will remain high, is what worries me more than anything else. I’ll tell you one thing: if the new MLSE head honcho doesn’t get along with Ujiri and forces him to explore his options (which happens sometimes when the new guy wants to bring in his own people), I think the “We The North” mantra will change to “We Be Done” in Raps Nation. Stay tuned…

Biggest Sleeper

I’m very tempted to say Charlotte will make some moves up the standings (and they will), but don’t sleep on the Atlanta Hawks. Even if there’s a possibility that Hawks GM Danny Ferry has a little passive-aggressive racism in him, getting back Al Horford from injury, picking up Thabo Sefolosha, and drafting rookie Adreian Payne to this team will hopefully continue to mask the uncertainty in the front office. For Ferry’s sake, he better hope I’m right and that the on-court production masks his unresolved problems. This team has a chance to still make some noise in what will be the toughest division in the conference. With Washington finally tasting some playoff success, Charlotte adding Lance Stephenson, and having a great draft in grabbing Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston, and all the chipped shoulders residing in Miami, this division will be really tough to deal with most nights. With that said, Atlanta can possibly be that team people don’t want to deal with come playoff time.

Regular Season Standings

  1. Chicago – As long as Rose, Gasol, and Noah (offseason knee surgery this summer) stay healthy, this is the best team in the conference. Built to win now.
  2. Cleveland – If the Bulls falter in any way, Team LeBron will take advantage in what will be a two-team race all season.
  3. Toronto – Surprised??? You shouldn’t be. I’m going to predict 53 wins this season. #WeTheNorth
  4. Charlotte – Surprised??? Hornets coach Steve Clifford had them playing hard last season, now Stephenson brings more attitude to a team that needs it.
  5. Atlanta – Sefelosha signing is underrated.  What he brings on defense will be needed for the SGs he’ll have to go against in the division (Wade, Beal, Stephenson….Oladipo???)
  6. Washington – Beat a depleted Bulls roster in Round 1, then got wiped out by a Pacer team who decided to flick it’s “On” switch halfway through Round 2. With Nene and Bradley Beal’s health, Randy Wittman on the sidelines, old Paul Pierce….I need to see more.
  7. Brooklyn – I love the signing of Lionel Hollins. Don’t love that Nets GM Billy King is still making decisions in the front office. Also, I like my franchise center Brook Lopez to average more than 7 boards for his career. Is that too much to ask?
  8. Miami – Too much pride for them to miss the playoffs. Would be great if they can meet Team LeBron in Round 1.
  9. Detroit – Stan Van Gundy will have to move a couple of contracts around before this team gets better. Which players (Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith) will remain to be seen. Will have them playing better.
  10. New York – Carmelo Anthony will have the most efficient season he’ll ever have in this offense. But still, no playoffs here.
  11. Milwaukee – Now THIS is the kind of team Jason Kidd should be coaching to start off his career. Let him have fun and experiment with Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
  12. Indiana – “We take any and all applications here at #TankCity. Fill out these forms please…”
  13. Boston – Just counting down the days until Rajon Rondo is traded. The question is, “Where”?
  14. Orlando – Still 2 years away from making any kind of noise. Good thing they have Nikola Vucevic locked up for the next four years.
  15. Philadelphia – I won’t watch a game of theirs until Embiid steps on the court. See you in 2016.

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s NBA Season Preview: The West

Welcome to South Shore Ave’s NBA Season Preview. Today on Part 1 we are going to tackle the Western Conference, while tomorrow we’ll discuss the Eastern Conference. Simple enough right? Well, let’s get  into it then…

Can The Spurs 3-Peat this season?

I know, I know, they didn’t repeat last year, but if not for Ray Allen at the end of Game 6 in 2013, you wouldn’t have been looking at this question like it had a typo in it. Honestly though, we should be talking about a 3-Peat scenario & not a repeat one. This has been the best team in the NBA the last two years regardless of Miami basically stealing a title from them two seasons ago, & nothing has changed now. The Spurs came into the season with the best chance to repeat in comparison to the other four titles. In Gregg Popovich, they have the best culture in the NBA (& possibly team sports in North America) that gets the very best out of its young players & veterans. Like Manu Ginobli & Tony Parker before him, I expect Kawhi Leonard to officially take the mantle as the best player on the Spurs. After the performance he put on during the last three Finals games last season which ended with him being one of the youngest players in NBA history to win Finals MVP, you can say he’s ready. Let’s hope he can bring it on a consistent basis every night, because if he does, it’ll be even harder to bring the Spurs down. Add rookie Kyle Anderson to the mix with his skill level & IQ (as well as his young legs), I can see the Spurs winning yet another 60+ games in the regular season. It almost isn’t fair.

As far as Tim Duncan is concerned, I can actually see him playing for two more seasons. The fire that he played with in the playoffs the last two years is one reason, but here’s another. He has never won back-to-back titles in his career. I mean, who’s he to complain? He’s got 5! Between 2003 – 2007 he won 3 of those titles, but Derek Fisher’s “0.4 jumper” in the 2nd round of the 2004 playoffs & Dirk Nowitzi’s “And-1” in the same round two years later, halted a legitimate chance for him & the Spurs to 3-peat. It would be sweet to close the chapter on his career with a chance to repeat or possibly 3-peat by 2016; and the way the team is set up barring injuries, he has a real chance. We haven’t seen the last of Duncan yet.

“Pass It to Russ”

No one loves that classic episode of Will Smith leading Bel Air Prep to glory more than me, especially when the coach keeps telling the players, “Pass it to Smith. You know what to do” & doling out laps & push ups to any of his players questioning his method of said success. I can’t even say that this offense without Kevin Durant is going to be in the same scenario with Russell Westbrook, because who’s going to pass the ball to Westbrook when he’s the point guard handling the ball 80% of the time anyway??? He’ll only be passing to the basket. Potentially, Westbrook could be the first 6’3″ & under guard to lead the league in field goal attempts since Allen Iverson. My only question is at what point in the season will Serge Ibaka pull a Carlton & literally rip the ball out of Westbrook’s hands to get off his own shot? Nov 8th? 15th?

Seriously though, without Durant, it’s gonna be some bumpy times on Oklahoma City trusting Westbrook to make others better until KD gets back. I still expect them to get around the neighborhood of 55 wins but in the West, that could result in a 4th or 5th seed. I’m actually on the side that they will not win a title before Durant becomes a free agent for two reasons:

  1. The Thunder has not done a good enough job developing the young talent surrounding Durant & Westbrook since they traded James Harden. The pieces that they have picked up in Perry Jones III & Jeremy Lamb haven’t done anything up to par. Yeah, they might be young, but watching them in the pre-season thus far, it still looks like not much has changed. On the flip side, Steven Adams needs to start immediately. Kendrick Perkins got brought in for his veteran presence & championship know-how at a time that OKC needed it, but that was almost 4 years ago. That KD/Russ/Ibaka core are becoming vets now, it’s not as needed. He can still provide guidance without, you know, actually being on the floor. Outside of his size, he’s starting to hold the team back. Give him 10-15 mins/night, let him use his 6 fouls, and teach Adams how to be more asshole-y in practice. Enough already!
  1. The Thunder can’t win a title with Scott Brooks coaching any more. I don’t think he sucks, in fact, I feel he is a good coach. But my complaint with the Thunder is that against the elite teams, they work too hard to score baskets. It gets masked a lot of times by Durant’s scoring talents but they do most of their damage on the perimeter. They don’t have plays to get them easier baskets or have anyone with a post up game that can either collapse the paint (by drawing double teams or getting fouled) or get an easy basket. The playoffs is all about controlling the paint on both sides of the ball. Because of Ibaka, they do a wonderful job of doing that on the defensive end, but on offense at the end of games, it always bogs down to tough 20-footers. That can work against Sacramento in February, but that’s a small margin for error to work with in June. Three years after losing to the Heat in the Finals, Scott Brooks still hasn’t quite worked that out yet. I’d keep someone like George Karl on speed dial if Brooks can’t get over that hump. Too much at stake with Durant being a UFA in 2016, you can’t keep waiting for him to figure that out past this season.

Are James Harden & Dwight Howard the new Stockton and Malone?

If that means that they are destined to be ringless, then yes. I’m sorry, I will never be sold on this duo contending for titles as long as they don’t have a proper point guard that gets them into their sweet spots to take advantage of teams. I’ve said this before about Dwight, offensively he is what he is at this point. He’s a physical specimen, an athletic freak, someone who’s built to dominate on defense, but also one who’s game isn’t built to dominate the paint offensively. He’s strong as hell, can & will bully other bigs at times, but he doesn’t have that extra gear to go nuts scoring-wise like LaMarcus Aldridge did to his team last spring, dropping 40 pts at will. He doesn’t have that kind of feel or scoring touch, & he’s now in Year 12. That ship has sailed.

As far as Harden goes, he is one of the best one-on-one players in the NBA, & he’s young enough where he can still make his teammates better, but there’s something about when a player gets the green light to score or to shoot three’s, they just follow the glow of the basket. No different than a Moth to a porch light. You start leaving things behind (like defense). For example, I used to love Dan Marjele back in the day, tough two-guard with an all around game. Once he started getting the knack for shooting threes, the three point line might as well have became a cliff because he rarely went past it. Even when Tracy McGrady was with the Raptors, he was becoming a really good all-around player who took pride in locking dudes up on defense. Once he left the T-dot & started winning scoring titles, the defensive intensity dropped considerably. A similar thing has happened to Harden, where he was actually one of the better defenders in OKC, & now in Houston he plays defense like he’s intentionally point shaving. Apparently, he played better on defense in the World Championships this summer so let’s see if it translates over now. Something tells me he’s going to need Rosetta Stone to re-learn this concept.

As far as the offseason moves, I know having three superstars to play on a team is supposed to give you a better chance to win. I agree…..but it has to be the right three superstars/stars, it can’t just be any collection. Chasing down Carmelo Anthony was a foolish move because he doesn’t share the ball, it’ll be three players jacking shots & mostly likely Dwight Howard would be the one bitching & complaining because he’s getting the least out of the pie. As my friend Luugi would say, it’s a trainwreck waiting to happen. The big move that makes the most sense is acquiring Rajon Rondo. He’s a star guard who plays on both ends of the ball, has championship pedigree, & unlike most stars, he lives to make others better with his passing. Someone will have to sacrifice or be  the one to share the basketball. If he ends up on the Rockets somehow, then they’ll truly be a threat to win it all. Until then, they’ll have to keep playing the field.

Did Steve Ballmer overpay to purchase the Clippers?

I will say yes and no. Yes, obviously because paying TWO BILLION dollars in a league where maybe one team was worth $1B is ridiculous. But then you start to think of all the opportunities you get when you wipe the slate clean from the Donald T. Sterling era if you’re Ballmer. You can come in on a horse like a hero and provide stability to a franchise that never had it before. You have Doc Rivers here for the next 5+ years on the bench and running your front office. You have exciting assets in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin that are not only among the best players in the league, but also among the most marketable, especially Griffin who’s on TV way more these days than any player with maybe the exception of LeBron James. The Clippers lost some sponsors during the Sterling/V.Stiviano fiasco, not only will you get those ones back, but with the new energy that’s provided, you’ll get even more sponsors. I’m not just talking locally, but nationally & possibly globally. With the new TV Deal the NBA signed with Turner Sports & ESPN/ABC, which almost tripled the current deal, you just guaranteed a rapid increase in profits, while your team hasn’t even played a real NBA game yet.

Looking at the decline of the Lakers with management that’s losing credibility points with every major free agent that shoots them down; Kobe Bryant on his last legs & no one in sight to take the mantle of being the next great Laker; the Clippers can make a real dent as the kings of L.A. sports scene for the foreseeable future. It’ll never truly be a Clippers town just like New York can never truly be a Mets town as long as the Yankees reside in the Bronx. But in the 2nd largest TV market in America, making a dent in popularity here holds real value and weight. Now, say you continue to make deep playoff runs (which the team is currently built to do for the short and long term) that ends in the conference finals, or better yet a championship or two, & you look over at the Lakers situation which is floundering in comparison to yours but have their own lucrative local TV deal…..well……. then why can’t you get your own television network? There’s a reason why there was a crazy bidding war for this franchise, because the wealth groups & bidders like Ballmer see the same things I just laid out for you, plus other scenarios down the line that we don’t even see coming. So for now, yes, Ballmer did overpay, but considering what the possibilities are, the franchise will be worth that $2B price tag much sooner than you & I think.

As far as basketball side of things, the Clippers will be the Western Conference’s best answer this season to stop the Spurs from getting back to the Finals for a third straight season. I don’t think it will happen, as long as the Spurs stay healthy. If not, the Clippers will head to their first NBA Finals ever with great chance to win it, whoever they meet on the other side of the bracket.

Biggest Sleeper

Hard to predict any of the playoff teams creeping up on anyone, as all of them are determined to beat their brains in every night, so I’ll pick a non-playoff team…..and it’s not Phoenix. I can see the Denver Nuggets flirting with 50 wins this season & fighting for that 8th seed all season long. This team was deep last year, but also unhealthy. Getting back Danilo Gallinari to fill that SF spot is beyond huge. They basically stole Aaron Afflalo from the Orlando Magic. Getting back Nate Robinson & JaVale McGee from their injuries, & having Kenneth Faried fresh off his impact he had on Team USA during the World Championships this summer (& his freshly-minted 4 year/$50M deal), don’t be surprised if by January you see all the “Nuggets on the Rise!” & “Where did this team come from?!?!” stories popping out from everywhere.

Regular Season Power Rankings

1. San Antonio – Best team in the NBA, signed all their free agents back, & is working on Kawhi Leonard’s extension. Best chance to repeat out of all their title defenses.

2. L.A Clippers – It feels like it was so long ago that V. Stiviano was a part of our lives, huh?

3. Oklahoma City – “That’ll be 20 laps chowderhead! Pass it to Will Russ!”

4. Portland – I feel a monster season from Damian Lillard coming. And a mixtape.

5. Dallas – Quietly had a solid off-season. Getting back Tyson Chandler & grabbing Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson from free agency.

6. Golden St. – If Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green can step their games up this offseason, this team will be really dangerous.

7. Houston – Will feel the loss of “that role player” Parsons more than they think. When I say “they”, I meant James Harden & Dwight Howard. Smh.

8. Memphis – Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like the signing of Vincent Lamar Carter to the team. Gonna go take a shower now, I felt really dirty typing that.

9. Denver – Will be the best non-playoff team in the NBA this season. Will probably win 50 games too.

10. Phoenix – Like that they resigned Eric Bledsoe. Don’t understand why they have four PGs on the roster (Blesdoe, Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas & Tyler Ennis). I smell a trade package coming.

11. New Orleans – The Unibrow will take one step further to superstardom. It won’t mean anything in the West, but still.

12. Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins wanted to limit his technicals this season. He has 4 techs in the preseason so far. Sigh. Another long season coming.

13. L.A. Lakers – Remember when Kobe carried that shitty Laker team in 2006 & 2007 to playoff seeds? Well that Kobe was in his prime & he had Phil Jackson on the bench. Old Kobe & Byron Scott? 30 wins max.

14. Minnesota – Potentially the most exciting team in the NBA. Will lose plenty. Also, I predict Andrew Wiggins & Zach LaVine will combine to own the dunk contest this year like VC & TMac did in 2000. Without the earth-shattering impact of course.

15. Utah – The Western Conference version of a dumpster fire.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PART TWO: THE EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s Four Down Journey

Welcome to the Week 6 version of the Four Down Journey, where we still don’t know if Gronk is available, where we know for sure Julio Jones & the Falcons are done, where Eli Manning & I are tied for NFL victories this season, where Andrew Luck plays in his 1st Monday night game, & whether or not this is the week my 49ers take back the division (or at least tie it with the Seagulls Seahawks). Lets start things off by getting into the hottest team in the league right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars!

First Down: Jacksonville. Smh

Has anyone been keeping watch on Maurice Jones-Drew? Seriously, because he can’t be of sound mind right now. I’m stunned that he hasn’t maimed or shanked anyone of his teammates yet. Before I bring up the debacle/train wreck that is this season (0-5 as of this post), let’s take a quick look at MJD since 2007, when the best QB’s he’s ever played with was when Byron Leftwich and David Gerrard were on the team.

2007: 11-5, lost in divisional playoff to New England 31-20

2008: 5-11, missed the playoffs

2009: 7-9, missed the playoffs

2010: 8-8, missed the playoffs

2011: 5-11, missed the playoffs

2012: 2-14, do I have to say it again?

Not exactly positive is it?  He’s one of the best RB’s in the league (even winning the rushing title in 2011) playing with one of the worst teams on offense the league may ever see.  They just traded their best O-Linemen, Eugene Munroe for basically nothing, then lost their top draft pick OL Luke Joeckel for the season.  Then they have two QB’s in Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, neither of who strike fear into a BCS team, much less an NFL one.  Fans don’t come to the games & the Jaguars’ management started trying “Semi-Pro” tactics to get fans to come and fill the seats; and they have played so reprehensibly that their own local TV station issued out an apology to its viewers for showing the game on TV.  In my previous post, I thought there was no question in my mind that the Raiders would be the worst team the NFL would have, but I owe them an apology.  This Jaguar team may not even win a game this season. Look at the remaining schedule:

Oct 13 vs Broncos (we’ll get to this one later)

Oct 20 vs Chargers

Oct 27 vs 49ers

Nov 3 Bye week

Nov 17 vs Cardinals

Nov 24 vs Texans

Dec 1 vs Browns

Dec 5 vs Texans

Dec 15 vs Bills

Dec 22 vs Titans

Dece 29 vs Colts

Outside of possibly the Chargers who always seem to choke and blow winnable games at the right time, I honestly don’t see a game these guys can win.  I can’t see the addition of Justin Blackman, fresh off his 4-game suspension adding a win to this roster, except for his Fantasy Owners (#garbagetimepoints).  The only way they’ll become more successful on offensive is through their QB play, which wasn’t happening for these three reasons:

  • The O-line which wasn’t good to begin with, just got worse through trade and injury.
  • The Starting QB, Gabbert, is horrendous.  His stats this season, 42-86 for 481 yards, 1TD/7INT’s, Win-Loss ratio for his career (including this season)? 5-22. 5 AND 22. You’re telling me they couldn’t put in a bid to sign Josh Freeman???
  • Their QB’s name is Blaine Gabbert.  Does that name sound like a name that would win games for you?  Can you see a fanbase take in a game with their team down by a touchdown saying, “Don’t worry, Gabbert will lead us!”  Or “Aight man, Blaine’s got this one in the bag”? Don’t wanna come off as an asshole or anything, but let’s face it, his name sounds closer to someone who should be managing an Auto Parts warehouse or selling sorcery and wizard sticks at the Annual Comic Con convention, not winning playoff games and Super Bowls.  No disrespect to the good people who do manage an Auto Parts warehouse and sell sorcery and wizard sticks at Comic Con Events.  Okay, maybe a little disrespect to the sorcery guy.

Now if you were Jones Drew, would you sign back with this team, even with the threat that they may possibly move to his hometown of Los Angeles?  I wouldn’t sign with Jacksonville, and I wouldn’t even want to know someone with the name “Jackson”, and/or “Ville” in it, and if I already do, I’d cut them off immediately.

Second Down: What About Schaub???

Man, has things flipped quickly for Matt Schaub. Just 10 months ago, he was leading a Super Bowl contender with an 11-2 record. Since then, he has gone 4-7. The last two games, he has clearly hit rock bottom. Week 4 vs. the Seahawks, he threw one of the worst INTs that we’ve seen in a long time, throwing a fadeaway fade route in triple coverage to Garrett Graham & with Richard Sherman waiting. By the time Sherman crossed the goal line (with one shoe on no less) Schaub had thrown his third Pick-6 in as many games, ending in a 23-20 loss. Then this past Sunday vs. the Niners, he follows it up by throwing another Pick-6 on his first pass on the game, setting an NFL record for most games in a row with an INT/TD. This team is built to win now & it can ill afford to take these losses that they’re taking if they’re trying to get to New York in February. Judging by the look on Schaub’s face, as well as the rest of the team since halfway through the 4th quarter of that Seahawks game (especially J.J. Watt) this team looks dejected. Schaub has a lot of work to do, & quickly if he wants to restore his teammates confidence in him.

Meanwhile, the team that they didn’t think would be competing with them, the Indianapolis Colts, are now 4-1 & are starting to run away with the division. The Coach-QB combo is rock solid for now & the future with Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck, they got solid WR core led by Reggie Wayne & T.Y. Hilton, a good if not great running game led by Trent Richardson (although he may be slightly overrated but still), & a shockingly strong defense. Outside of Denver, I can easily see this team getting out of the conference, they are legit. Shit, they beat the 49ers & Seahawks in back-to-back weeks. If Houston comes back in this division and in the playoff hunt, they will have to go back to basics and lean heavily on Arian Foster & their defense, and make Schaub shift to full-time game manager mode. He’s gonna have to be coached up again, cuz at this stage, they’ve invested too much time & years into him. If they turn to T.J. Yates, they will lose Schaub I think mentally & psychologically for good. Gonna be an interesting few weeks in Houston.

Third Down: QB’s get paid

As discussed previously, with the situations regarding Greg Schiano, Josh Freeman, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as Matt Flynn, both of these troubled QB’s have one thing in common: they continue to get that money! After the news leaked about Freeman being in Stage One of the NFL Drug Program (Freeman had to clarify that HE voluntarily entered the program due to the medication he takes for Attention Deficit Disorder) not only did we know that this marriage was going to end horribly, but Tampa Bay for some foolish reason, tried to severely undercut his value. This is on top of not allowing Freeman to be on the sidelines during their 13-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, barring him from the team facilities & then alluding to his teammates that he decided not to show for practice the following week. (I’ll say it again, this is something a coach or organization does when you’re coaching college kids & not grown men. I’m starting to really believe Schiano won’t make it past Week 8, if they’re still winless by then.) How does that story end for Freeman & the Bucs? Instead of trying to get a late round draft pick or a player for him, they end up waiving Freeman, still having to pay him his $5.9M to sit on the waiver wire for four days before the Minnesota Vikings pick him up and signed him for $3M for 12 games of work. If you’re counting, he has translated that fiasco into $8.9M, and as hard as it is to believe, he might be in a better situation than the one he’s left. Meanwhile, the Raiders cut Matt Flynn after his disastrous performances vs. Washington’s football team during Week 4, when Terrell Pryor was out with a concussion. This was followed up by being demoted to the 3rd string QB spot last week vs. San Diego. So for leaving Green Bay two years ago, he started all of one game, was pushed to the side by two younger QB’s, & walked away $14M richer. I mean….wow. There is no one this year in football that has gotten paid more for doing less this season like these two dudes. Congratulations.

Fourth Down: Awards List

After Week 5, this is how my awards list is looking so far:

MVP: Peyton Manning

Offensive Player of the Year: Peyton Manning 

Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Haden 

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Giovanni Bernard 

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Kiko Alonso 

Coach of the Year: Peyton Manning Andy Ried 

Most Surprising Team: Cleveland Browns 

Most Disappointing Team: New York Giants

Game of the Week

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) vs. Denver Broncos (5-0)

Are there better games on schedule this week? Of course! But when do you normally get a chance to watch history? Look at this fact: The Jags have scored 4 TD’s all season. The Broncos have not scored less than 4 TD’s in each game. This may end up like one of those NCAA games where you Alabama plays Maine in Week One of the season and beats them like 55-3, & they end the game 5 minutes early. When will you see a predetermined blowout like this again in the NFL? Also, to all fantasy owners, start all your Broncos for this one! Including John Fox & John Elway.

Sideline Notes

There are three things in life that you can depend on: Death, taxes, and the Atlanta Braves losing in the 1st round of the playoffs. Outside of the success they have had since 1991, they only have one World Series ring to show for it. Aren’t they a little overrated at this stage now? For Braves fans, this is like having sex for 22 years straight & only having one orgasm….. Andrew Wiggins hasn’t played a minute yet in an NCAA game and he’s already on the cover of Sports Illustrated being passed the KU torch from the legacies of Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. Man, I really hope this kid pans out….. I know it’s almost been a week, but Derrick Rose looks real good out there on the floor, even with the rust. In watching that pre-season game vs. Indiana, I really forgot how fast he is. On two consecutive fast breaks, he took the outlet pass & just outran everyone else down the floor for back-to-back layups. I don’t care how stacked Indiana is, Chicago will be the 2nd best team in the East for this simple fact: As good as Paul George is & his new $90M deal that pays him like a superstar, Derrick Rose IS a real superstar. Even in that preseason game, no one can match his skillset, mentality, & killer instinct on Indiana. You’ll see….. Hol’ up, hold my phone! Maw*****s never loved us (Dun know)! Remember???….. Sorry, where was I….. Ok MJ, we know you’re the best ever. Can you stop talking now & just settle on being an average owner please & thank you…. Kanye may think he’s a genius, and people may think he’s crazy, but no one should ever question his passion and drive for life, and that is what makes him great at his craft….. To all my Canadian peoples, have a safe & Happy Thanksgiving. Until the next post…..

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s Four Down Journey

Week 4 is upon us ya’ll, so here’s my quick rundown leading up to Week 4… you know, just before you sit down on the couch for the next 11 hours watching every game under the sun & managing your multiple fantasy teams with your smartphones & laptops attached to you like a kidney…..

FIRST DOWN: Is Kansas City for real?

They could be actually. With Andy Reid & Alex Smith manning the two most important positions, it was a significant upgrade for a team that had to go through the Scott Pioli regime. He in turn had the excellent hires of Todd Haley (who by the end of his term, had players turning on him left and right); and Romeo Cronnel (who in one game last year, forgot to get touches to his best player Jamaal Charles & couldn’t explain why). There was also their run of QBs: Matt Cassel, Tyler Thigpen, Some backup QB with the last name Zlasko, Brady Quinn, etc. I mean, take a look at the lineup again. Can you imagine being a fan of this team? It’s no surprise they only won 2 games, but even with that they still sent 5 defensive players to the Pro Bowl. Which leads me to this: it’s on this side of the ball where they have made their greatest impact during their 3-0 start, not on offense. They’ve been averaging just over 11 points per game for the season. They kept Dallas in Week 2 to only 1 TD & made the fastest, most explosive offense in the league last week to turn over the ball to them 5 times. Thus far, they are a top 5 defense, & judging by their schedule, it may stay that way. Outside  of playing Denver twice, they have one of the easiest schedules in the league. I thought going into the season, they would win 8 games, but now, I can see that number going as high as 11. We all know Smith has a ceiling as a game manager, but he’s probably the best game manager in the league. This team has NO turnovers since the season started. He may not throw deep passes and get explosive plays (I feel sorry for you Dwayne Bowe) but he moves the chains & protects the football. Since 2011, he has gone 22-5-1 in games he has started. Between Smith & Reid, they provided stability that hasn’t been seen in Kansas City since Priest Holmes was running wild out of the backfield. For the past 10 years, watching the Chiefs has been like watching a girl who’s been dating nothing but thugs, drug dealers, drug users, & chronic fornicators who cheat on her relentlessly. Now she found a man with a good job, a good home, has a good head on his shoulders, has no outside kids as far as she knows, and who wants to have a family with her one day down the line. She finally has something stable, and right now, that’s all she needs. She doesn’t need to focus on getting married, but just enjoying the first positive relationship she’s had in years. Chiefs fans don’t need to worry about anything else other than the playoffs, which is where they seemed headed this season. We’ll talk about making the Super Bowl (marriage) later.

SECOND DOWN: Is New Orleans the best team in the NFC?

New Orleans you say? But what about Seattle??? Well for starters, I’m still slightly annoyed about  Week 2 drubbing the Seahawks dealt my 49ers in Seattle (just remember Seahawk fans, you come to our house Dec 8th), but I really believe now that the Saints will finish with the best record in the conference. Their defense has been more than getting it done. They have allowed 38 points in 3 games & is fourth overall in total defense. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan’s 4-3 defense is getting everything out of its young defensive roster, particularly Cameron Jordan. According to Peter King on his MMQB website, Jordan has 17 QB disruptions (sacks, knockdowns & pressures) which is 3 more that J.J. Watt. It’s a small sample size, but it speaks to the 180-degree changes of mentality  it’s made on this side of the ball. It doesn’t need to be on Seattle’s defensive level, but if it can stay in the top 10 and still keep its explosive nature on offense (the Saints haven’t kicked it into 3rd gear yet & Jimmy Graham has already had a monster start to the year), they will be extremely hard to beat. The remaining playoff contenders on the schedule (Chicago, New England, San Fran, & Seattle) are slightly easier than what Seattle will go through (Houston & Indy the next 2 weeks, solid Tennessee team, then 5 more games vs. their division including the aforementioned San Fran game) so it sets them up to get home field advantage. However, they’re flying under the radar in comparison to Seattle & San Fran, & I’d never thought I’d see that happen to a team with Drew Brees on it.

THIRD DOWN: Upside Down & Round & Round…….

Kansas City is undefeated. So is Miami who’s tied with New England for the division lead. The Jets trail them by one game. Chicago has a 2-game lead on Green Bay, & until Thursday night, so did Seattle on the rest of the NFC West.. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Washington, & Giants are a combined 0-12. Pittsburgh and Minnesota play in London on Sunday so someone has to come back across the Atlantic a winner I guess. The teams I’m looking at that I’m not sure can bounce back from their start are both Washington & the New York Giants.  Robert Griffin III brought much hype to his team and had everyone thinking he will have another Adrian Peterson-type production coming off of knee surgery, but not only has that not happened, but the defense are giving up points & yards like it’s an album leak. They are 30th or worse in almost every major defensive category, they can’t stop the run (turning Joique Bell into a fantasy stud last week) or the pass, but the positive is that their offense sucks too. They can’t seem to get any momentum until the second half of games. The Read option is useless unless Griffin gets full confidence back in his legs, which I don’t think will happen until closer to midway point of the season. The good thing though, is that Mike Shanahan did the right thing this time and protected Griffin for the future. They mortgaged their first round picks for him, so they will continue to build around their talents. However, the same cannot be said about the Giants. With all the mistakes that the defense has made & the disastrous play of their O-Line (providing Carolina with 6 sacks in the first 17 mins of the game & only had 25 combined yards at halftime), here’s when I knew this may be a lost season. In preparing for the Panthers last week, Tom Coughlin’s brother passed away. Normally when an important person on the team loses someone close to them, the team usually rallies behind that person & will play hard for their grieving teammate or coach. In fact, I would have bet anything that they would have beat up the Panthers. So for them to get blown out the way they did tells me this team isn’t as tight-knit as years past for whatever reason. Now they head to Kansas City. If they get blown out again this week, Couglin’s job this time may be on shaky ground for fear that he may be getting tuned out.

FOURTH DOWN: Greg Schiano vs. Josh Freeman

Well, looks like Schiano won this round. By benching Freeman & starting the rookie Mike Glennon, it looks like the Freeman era is over before it got rolling. By all accounts, it looks like Freeman has lost the locker room by his lack of work ethics, being late to meetings, etc., which is a no-no if you’re supposed to be a QB and leader of an NFL team. So I’m in no way excusing Freeman for his transgressions, but Schiano shouldn’t get a pass either for how he’s handled this situation.  The reports of him fixing the captaincy process (which he’s denied), to throwing Freeman under the bus to the media for being late to the team photo shoot, to bum-rushing the V-formations last season that pissed off many teams alike.  He resembles a coach who should still be coaching in the NCAAs, not the men in this league. I can’t see him lasting longer than next season presuming he’s not canned before this one. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t see that locker room supporting his style & ways while they continue to collect Ls.

PERSON TO WATCH: Leslie Frazier; Coach, Minnesota Vikings

There’s a few coaches on the hot seat for sure early this season, but don’t underestimate Frazier’s ground on the team. A defensive coach whose team can’t defend (they gave up 33 points to the Cleveland Browns for goodness sakes!), their QB Christian Ponder is inconsistent at best (kiss those endorsement deals goodbye Greg Jennings!), and teams are loading up on Adrian Peterson.  They made the playoffs just sneaking in on the back of Peterson, but I believe if not for his exploits, that team would have won 7 games at best and he’s be out of a job now. If they come back from London 0-4 which is a strong possibility, I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he’s at home on the couch watching Family Feud, and The Young & the Restless past the bye week. Even if that doesn’t happen, he’s not making it to next season if they win 5 games or less. (Note: Now it looks like Matt Cassell will start vs Pittsburgh. Yup, the smell of desperation has come. Get the pink slips ready.)

Sideline Notes

OK, can we put the “San Francisco is in trouble and their season is over” viewpoint to rest now??? They’ll be fine….. you wanna know what’s the most underrated factor of this whole Ravens party with Jacoby Jones getting his head busted open by a hostess/stripper Sweet Pea? The involvement of Bryan McKinnie. Seems like every time he’s involved with a big gathering after midnight, the police are eventually involved. If you remember the last time anything like this happened with his named attached, the words “party”, “boat”, “Lake Minnetoka”, “Cunnilingus”, & “Boat captain mortified beyond belief” were involved….. Also, if this situation doesn’t drum even more business and street credibility for Sweet Pea and the good wholesome people of the King of Diamonds establishment, I don’t know what will. Her request should go up anywhere between 50% to 175% I would think….. Why hasn’t Jacksonville traded for Josh Freeman yet? Like what they have behind center is any better??? Give up two 5th round picks & get this over with already….. Am I the only one who likes the Calvin & Johnson commercials?….. Looks like Drake put himself in the mega-superstar level now with his new album “Nothing Was The Same”. Where Kanye & Jay-Z missed out on in terms of capitalizing on the Best Album of the year title, it looks like Drake will clean up. Not 100% sure what his numbers will be once Soundscan calculates it up on Tuesday, but I’m expecting at least north of 600K sold for 1st week sales. He’s the best and the biggest artist that the Cash Money/Young Money team has on their roster. Lil’ Wayne included….. finally, Tim Lieweke has already started showing you the impact that he will have in Toronto as he has secured the NBA All Star Weekend. I think it’s waaaaay overdue, but in 2016, this city will be the Winterized version of Caribana weekend on HGH & the Clear. In the illustrious words of my friend Headley: “To all American groupies, get your passports ready”.

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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South Shore Ave’s NFL Week 1 Questions

The NFL season as usual, began with a bang in Week 1. Peyton Manning throws for 7 TDs, Reggie Bush puts on his best Marshall Faulk impersonation, the Eagles play their first game of the season like their fast forward button was stuck, Colin Kaepernick found another way to stick it to the Packers, the Steelers & the Jaguars forget how to score, and the San Diego Chargers find yet another way to choke a late game lead. Throughout the season,  I’ll be given you a rundown of the week’s games in question form. For this session, it’ll be less of a recap and more of the questions that I had before the season started that I still feel needed to be answered even after week one was done. Let’s start first with the biggest star from Week 1….. 

Is Peyton Manning the best regular season QB ever?

I had this debate with my friend during last week’s game vs. Baltimore, but I do believe Peyton is the best QB in NFL history…..during the regular season. Think about it for a second: He’s won 68% of his games for his career; his stats per season over his career, 4000 yds/30 TDs/13 INTs; 4 MVPs which is the most in NFL history (almost won 5 if not for Adrian Peterson last year); 12-time Pro Bowler, 6-time All-Pro. Plus having him under center is a guaranteed 11 wins, a spot in the playoffs, & in most cases, a Super Bowl contender. He dominates teams during the season like some sort of android. I’ll never say the best ever because, well, he is 9-11 in the playoffs, so even though he won a Super Bowl, you can make the argument that his teams sometimes plays playoff games with two hands around their necks. Also, I’m biased because I’m a 49er fan since I was little so I’ll always say Joe Montana is the greatest ever. Dominated the 80s, won 4 Super Bowls, never lost a Super Bowl game he played in, & unlike another 4x Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw, he was THE MAN for all four of those championships teams. Basing this strictly off regular seasons, it’s hard to argue against Manning who’s been playing at this elite lever for 14 of 16 seasons (omitting his rookie year and the 2011 season he missed from his four neck surgeries). On the other side of the spectrum…

Will Tim Tebow Play in the NFL Again???

God I hope not. As much as the NFL want to hitch their star to this wagon, the dude simply can’t throw.  He can’t make accurate passes, which is kind of important for a QB in the NFL.  It’s absolutely astounding that he’s lasted this long.  What makes me laugh is hearing everyone pushing him towards the CFL.  Yes, the league is a minor league in comparison the NFL, but the CFL is a passing league too.  Have they seen the size of the field?  The end zone itself is like 30 yards long, and it’s a 3-down league. If he has problems with accuracy, Tebow’s not going to survive there either.  He should probably take a year off and just work on his mechanics.  He can start by throwing the ball in the ocean at first, then get down to smaller targets; like throwing the ball between two trees; then hitting only one of the trees; then through a hula hoop; then an archery board, while backing up the distances to throw from.  Then, and only then, should he get a shot at the NFL again, and not a moment sooner. 

Will AP Run for 2000 Yards in back-to-back seasons?

Can’t say that will happen. He had possibly the most amazing season a running back can ever have considering the injury he had just 9 months before last season started. Once he got his groove going, it was nothing to watch him break off 70-yard runs, while receiving a text from one of your friends saying, “Are you watching AP??? He’s got 160 yards & the 3rd Q just started!!!” By the time the season ended — he had 2,097 yards, just 8 yards shy of breaking Dickerson’s all time record – and all the awards and accolades were won, you can almost understand in this day & age why you heard rumblings of testing for HGH when his name was mentioned (which I’ll mention I don’t think he’s on by the way…or hope). But out of all the RB’s that ran for more than 2,000 yards in a season, no one has even come close the following season to that number. Only Barry Sanders came the closest & he finished just shy of 1,500 yards (1,497) the next year in 1998, before abruptly retiring after that season. Think about this, we’ve been calling Chris Johnson CJ2K since 2009 when he ran for 2,006 yards, & he’s never been the same since. I almost feel like it takes something out of you physically, like it’s the ultimate sacrifice an RB can make in his career. Only Dickerson still had enough tread on his tires to kick out 1,821 in 1986 with the L.A. Rams & 1,659 in 1988, his first full season with the Indianapolis Colts. Look at the list of the 5 RB’s here who ran for 2,000 yards, followed by their stats the next season:

O. Simpson – 1973, 14G, 332/2,003/12 TDS; next season: 14G, 270/1125/3

E. Dickerson – 1984, 16G, 379/2,105/14; next season: 14G, 292/1,234/12

B. Sanders – 1997, 16G, 335/2,053/11; next season: 16G, 343/1,491/4

T. Davis – 1998, 16G, 392/2,008/21; next season: 4G, 67/211/2

C. Johnson – 2009, 16G, 358/2,006/14; next season: 16G, 316/1,364/11

A. Peterson – 2012, 16G, 348/2,097/12: next season: ???

I think Peterson is a freak of nature, but between the wear and tear, defences loading up 8 in a box every time until J.P. Losman Rob Johnson Casey Printers Christian Ponder proves he can be a consistent threat in the pocket or to at least keep defences honest enough, I can see him surpassing Barry’s total & coming closest to 2,000 on that list above this season: 16G, 302/1650/12. Still a successful season, but still not close enough. Judging from Week 1, he only had 15 yards on 17 carries after breaking that 78 yard TD run on his 1st carry, I’m thinking teams will contain him better than they did last year. Now, if he runs for 200+ this weekend vs. the Bears… we may have to revisit this section.

Will Buffalo make the playoffs this season?

Lol… come on now. Stop it. I will say this: they do have some good pieces in place. Between C.J. Spiller, Stevie Johnson, rookie QB, E.J. Manuel, a solid O-Line, and guys like Leonis McKelvin, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore, Jarius Byrd (if he ends his contract holdout) on defence, they’re about a year away from sniffing a playoff spot. They should finish the season as the 2nd best team in the AFC East, which may mean nothing as this is THE worst division in the NFL, but still, you gotta strive for something Bills fans!

How bad will the Raiders be?

Terrell Pyror’s admission that up until this season, he didn’t know how to throw a football, I mean….what more is there to say? The funny thing is, he actually gives them the best chance to win. Mind you, he didn’t have a bad game vs. the Colts last week (19-29, 217 yards, 112 yards rushing, 70.6 QBR) & will have to depend on his legs as much as his arm to move the chains down the field, but he is pretty raw. This isn’t even Cam Newton-lite, this is a extremely poor man’s Cam. Even if Darren McFadden can stay healthy for 16 games (unlikely, but still), teams will ultimately stick 8 & 9 guys in the box & force them to depend on Pryor. And with no weapons to speak of on both sides of the ball, I just can’t see this team winning more than two games. They will stink so bad they’ll be eligible for both the JaDaveon Clowney sweepstakes and the Andrew Wiggins lottery. Yes, their stench will cross into other sports. Speaking of stinking….

Should Matt Flynn have just stayed in Green Bay as a backup QB?

Since he left Green Bay to try to run his own team, he lost his starting spot in training camp to a 3rd rounder in last year’s draft that may very well be one of the top 5 QBs in the next 2 years (Russell Wilson), to then get traded to a new situation in Oakland where he couldn’t beat out a guy who was drafted in the 3rd round….of the 2011 Supplemental draft. When given a chance to legitimately run your own team as a QB, you have to take it if you have any competitive spirit as an athlete, but considering that he no longer has a shot at the starting QB spot for the Raiders (at least right now), maybe holding a clipboard for Aaron Rodgers might be a better situation at this point. At least you’re holding it for a superstar, at least there’s some pride in that….right???

Will the Saints reincarnate the spirit of the 2007 Patriots?

After last year’s Bountygate fiasco & disappointing 8-8 finish, the Saints got back their head coach Sean Payton, after taking the fall and being suspended for the full season. They may not have protested it publicly (not including Johnathan Vilma of course), but they felt like the punishment was excessive, and it definitely affected their play calling on the field, giving up the most yards for a defence (7,092) in NFL history. I sense a very strong revenge factor this season playing with a massive chip on their shoulders (already beating their rivals Atlanta Falcons in Week 1) and then running up the score every chance they get, especially in their division. Now if Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan can get the defence to be at least the middle of the pack in comparison with the rest of the league, they will win 13 games this season & reclaim their spot not only at the top of the NFC South, but will be right there with San Francisco and Seattle as the elite SB Contenders from this conference. With that in place, it will allow Drew Brees to win his 1st NFL MVP. I’m predicting his 3rd straight 5,000+ yd season, with 49 TDs and 10 INT’s max. Am I saying this because I have him on my fantasy team? Absolutely! But I also think he’s about due for one. Out of the super elite QB group we have in the league right now (Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees), only Brees hasn’t won one MVP yet. This year, it’ll be his turn.

Can Larry Fitzgerald have a bounce-back season?

Considering his O-Line has improved a bit, finally getting a competent QB (Carson Palmer) throwing him the ball again, and looking at the stats that he is coming off of from last season, the worst since his rookie year I might add (71/798/4 TDs), he’s going to bounce back in a major way. He’s slowly coming out of the back end of his prime years as a WR, but he will float back into the discussion with the top 3 receivers in this game again. I see him putting up somewhere around 97/1305/11 in 2013. Whoever has him on their fantasy team, rejoice!

Over/Under: Danny Amendola plays 12 games this year.

UNDER!! Not only was he already hurt going into the regular season, but now he’s not even playing tonight. Including Sunday’s game, Amendola has played a combined 13 games in two years and has a combined 7 TD for his entire career. Now he’s just supposed to replace Wes Welker as if that job can be done by just about anyone??? Listen, say what you want about the Patriots Way and their systems, but Welker has been the best slot WR since 2007, and not only that, but he’s been incredibly durable too, missing 3 out of a possible 96 games during that period. I don’t care if Welker’s in Denver, he’s going to put up similar stats on that team. New England took him for granted, and they will miss his steady presence this season. They will still win the division because as I mentioned, it’s the shittiest division in the NFL, but unless Amendola stays healthy and as productive as Welker; and Rob Gronkowski plays like he did in 2011, they don’t win a playoff game.

Predictions:

MVP – QB Drew Brees, New Orleans

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Peyton Manning, Denver

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Richard Sherman, Seattle

Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Manti T’eo LB Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland

Coach of the Year: Sean Payton, New Orleans

Comeback Player of the Year: WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

AFC Playoff Teams: 1. Denver 2. Houston 3. Cincinnati 4. New England 5. Indianapolis 6. Baltimore

NFC Playoff Teams: 1. New Orleans 2. San Francisco 3. Chicago 4. Washington 5. Seattle 6. Green Bay

Conference Championships – AFC: Denver over Houston; NFC: San Francisco over New Orleans

Super Bowl Prediction: San Francisco over Denver

Game of the Week

San Francisco @ Seattle. Sun 8:15PM

This could turn out to be the game of the year, even this early in the season. Two Super Bowl contending teams out of the NFC West who can’t stand each other, two coaches who have had beef since they were both coaching in college a few years ago, both teams are led by young, franchise changing QB’s, supported by dynamic running games with smash-mouth defences to match. I may be biased, but I think the 49ers take this one in a very, very, VERY close game that goes down to the last two minutes. I’m anticipating lots of hitting, lots of trash talking, lots of skirmishes & possibly one player to be carried off to the locker room. Most importantly, I can’t wait to see the match-up between Colin Kaepernick & Russell Wilson again, who I think will be the two best QB’s in the league by 2015. My runner up game of the week is tonight’s game with the Jets @ Patriots. Ok, I don’t really believe that, but I just wanted an excuse to show these…..

God Bless the Jets.

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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#TheOffseason

The Offseason.

A time when the future of fresh rookies and free agents are up in the air.  A time when GMs make boneheaded moves that sets the franchise back (i.e. Philly with Bynum Debacle 2012), and the GM’s whose genius-like decisions sets the team up for the next decade (i.e. The Heat in 2010).  Where players use the time to improve their craft to better themselves for the following season.  Me?  I like all the drama that comes with the players falling and rising in the draft, the blockbuster trades, and the discussions of rumors of different free agents, and to see who will make an owner fall all over themselves recruiting them like they‘re High School All-Americans.  With a draft expected to be one of the weakest in years, maybe ever, and a free agency period that took a big hit once Chris Paul took his name out of the running for free agency, it was entertaining enough that we had to do a wrap up of my favorite moves of the offseason thus far.

Anthony Bennett #1

The Cleveland Cavaliers went with the perceived unconventional choice and selected Andrew Bennett with the #1 overall pick in the draft.  Unconventional in the sense that most mock drafts and talking heads had a big man (Nerlens Noel or Alex Len) being selected to the Cavs in that spot. The Cavs GM, Chris Grant’s track record with the past drafts, shows he isn’t afraid to go against the grain from what most people would think.  Picking up PF Tristan Thompson 4th overall (and fellow Brampton native) in 2011, then selecting Dion Waiters at 4th overall again when most mock drafts had him pegged later in the lottery.  In following this pattern once again, he helped to make history by making Bennett the 1st Canadian player to be selected #1.  I’m fine with this & not just because of the historical significance. The fact that there was no surefire player to pick means you can take a chance on a need or potential.  In this case, they chose both. Bennett has the upside to be the best player out of this draft with the strength/post game to play the 4 yet the skillset/shooting/scoring touch to play the 3.  As Greg Anthony put it after the draft, “he’s not a tweener, he’s a hybrid, and there’s a difference between the two.” Unlike Ben McLemore, you don’t have to question if he’s going to be invisible on the floor, he brings that dog mentality on the offensive side of the floor, which is something the Cavs have been missing from their frontcourt position since LeBron left.  In addition, the beauty of him going to this team is that he’ll develop at the right pace with Kyrie Irving, being the face of the franchise and can also lean on Mike Brown & his coaching staff who has routinely cultivated one of the best defensive units in the league when he’s coaching. He can play on that rugged frontline with Thompson, Anderson Varajaeo, & now Andrew Bynum (if he can stay healthy during his short-term incentive-laden contract).  I like this team moving forward. With two Torontonian players on the roster, what are the chances they can get Irving to incorporate “Guy”, “Doggy”, and “Arms” into his slang vernacular?  25% – 30%?  I guess we’ll find out in the near future. Stay tuned……still.

Mike George

How good is his life right now? After enjoying success with his CIA Bounce AAU program in Toronto (starring Bennett and consensus #1 pick of 2014 NBA Draft Andrew Wiggins), he becomes an NBA agent to one of the most successful NBA Agency Firms, and then his client gets the #1 overall pick in his first draft???  I’d say that’s not a bad starting point to have on your résumé.

Brooklyn Nets/Boston Celtics Blockbuster Trade

Remember when I said that the Brooklyn Nets are missing some of that swagger? Problem solved with that trade! So many positives to this trade…

–  Adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, & Jason Terry to this team that was viewed as soft, has heavily infused the Nets with mental toughness.  More importantly, it will rub off on Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, & Joe Johnson, especially in close games and playoff encounters.

–  Between the new vets on the team, they’ll also help everyone fall in line with Jason Kidd’s coaching philosophy.  KG/Pierce/Jet have history with him through the All Star games, Olympic runs (KG/Kidd in 2000 Sydney Olympics) & NBA Titles (Kidd/Terry with Mavs in 2011), and they will do all that they can to help him succeed as much as possible.

–  Moves them into the Indiana Pacers/Chicago Bulls category of the Eastern Conference contending teams, just one tier below Miami. Arguably having a starting five of future Hall of Famers and current All Stars could give Miami fits, especially given that 2/5ths of the lineup already have bad blood for the Heat.  A new rivalry can possibly emerge here.  I still don’t think they’ll beat Miami in a 7-game series, but if they were to meet in the playoffs, it would be an entertaining 6 or 7-game series at the very least.

–  Intensifies local rivalry that much more. The Nets have pushed past the New York Knicks as the best team in the city, and it didn’t help that the Knicks traded for Andrea Bargnani, a player who at one point in the season was available for two $50 Wal-Mart gift cards and a medium Cherry Slushie from 7-Eleven, and still no one took. Just wait Knick fans for when he goes into those spells where he’ll have 6 pts, 2 rebs, and guys blowing past him like they came off the starting blocks.  On the bright side, you might see Spike Lee on the sidelines do this every time Bargs hits a three:

I won’t even get into the Honey Nut Cheerio scandal that might now add more chapters to the story if KG is riled up enough.

–  Falls in line with Mikhail Prokorov’s five year plan that he set in 2010 to win an NBA Title.  Clearly he’s going all in with this move, not only feeling that this move will put him over the top, but is willing to eat up to $82M in luxury taxes to make it happen. Read that again. $82M! When you’re worth $13B, $82M is small change….but damn, that’s still $82M!!! To the players and other owners (outside of Paul Allen), paying this luxury tax with no regard, I’m telling you, this is the sports owner’s equivalent of a penis enhancer. The same way it is when a guy has a shiny big body Benz & pulls up in front of the club when everyone’s leaving with the windows down and a smirk that says, “Yes baby, it is that expensive….. and my dick is that big.  You coming?”  If he’s still making it rain when their cap space clears in a few years, players will be running to him like strip….um…..yeah, there’s no good way to finish that joke. Let’s just say that players will try to get caught in that rainstorm.

–  The idea of Kris Humphries and Rajon Rondo having that first conversation during the preseason. That may be awkward and priceless at the same time.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Part I. Smh.

Probably my second favorite moment of the offseason.  A franchise with the stature of the Lakers having to beg & plead approach Dwight Howard like an 80s R&B singer.  Watching them stoop to this level for a player that more than likely didn’t want to even be there in the first place was comical.  Hanging billboards across the city, and hanging a building size jersey covering a condo, to the whole #StayD12 thing. This was almost a disservice to how they do business over their franchise’s existence.  I mean, these are the Lakers!  They don’t go this route begging their free agents to stay, they expect them to stay & carry themselves in accordance to this. It was like watching someone you know who’s married and never shows any affection to his wife all of a sudden, on the threat that she might leave, starts buying her flowers, singing to her in restaurants, and posts only pictures of themselves on Facebook….. But you know it’s probably too late and he’s wasting his energy trying to keep her.  Just a sad, desperate state of affairs. Let’s come back to the Lakers in a moment.

Clipper Nation

The Los Angeles Clippers foundation got a lot stronger by adding Doc Rivers as head coach and in exchange for a 2015 first round pick, marking the first time in the team’s history that they actually paid top dollar for a head coach, while at the same time further stabilizing their culture, locking in Chris Paul to a long-term max contract, using Eric Bledsoe’s trade asset to fill some needs, and acquire, JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, & then signing/resigning Darren Collison, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins respectively.  It’s probably the 1st time since the first two years after Magic retired, where the Clippers have a better team on paper and on the floor than the Lakers. It now becomes a potential haven where veteran free agents and buyout guys land to make a run to the title.  Now as long as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can get something out of their post games & add some consistent, go-to low post moves, this team will be set up to challenge for the NBA title for the next decade easily. Paul & Griffin now have the shooters and playmakers around them to give them even more room to operate, and with Rivers now at the helm, they will get a higher level of play calling that never took place with Vinny Del Negro there. If they can add another big man to their roster depth, it will make them that much better prepared for the postseason. With their past history, I can’t even believe I typed out this last paragraph about the Los Angeles Clippers, even if I’m sitting in the VIP Section of the Clipper Bandwagon. Every time they seemed like they were going to build off their success (Danny Manning led teams from 1991-1993, Elton Brand – Lamar Odom – Darius Miles teams from 2001-2003, and later Brand – Sam Cassell team from 2005-06 season), management would find a way to completely screw things up. Now they look like they’re going to be a factor for the foreseeable future. Will they be able to take over Los Angeles for real in the next few years? Depending on what Laker do in the next season or two, it’s actually possible.

Los Angeles Lakers, Part 2

My favorite part of the offseason so far: the official meeting between themselves and Howard, where Kobe Bryant advised Howard that if he stays, “he will be able to teach him to win championships.” Extending my marriage analogy even further, if the Lakers’ courting him was the, “I love you, let’s stay together….” stage, the Kobe Challenge was the equivalent of saying, “….but just so you know, I’m still drinking with the fellas every Saturday night. I’m not changing that for shit!” I don’t care how indecisive, clownish & immature Howard has been these last two years, if you were him, would you wanna stay after hearing that?!  It was understood that if Howard stayed, the goal is championship or bust every season. It goes without saying….but no superstar in their prime years wants to be told they will be an apprentice to winning. Shoot, even Kobe himself nine years before, didn’t want to be a sidekick anymore to Shaq during his free agency situation, and he came fresh off his 4th Finals appearance and 3 titles in a 5 year span. Now he expects Howard, who by all accounts, wasn’t crazy about playing with Kobe in the first place – during a phone conversation before the 2012 trade deadline, and there was talk of Orlando trading Howard to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum, Kobe told him he would only be the third option on offense, which of course, turned Dwight right off – to now fall in line to learn how to win titles for possibly as long as the next three years (according to Kobe’s desire to now play 3 more years)? It’s almost as if he wanted him gone & tried to scare him off with that comment. The funny thing is, I don’t even blame Kobe for doing this.

All year long he’s had courtside seats into Howard’s psyche, & judging from what he’s seen he has to know that Dwight cannot handle the media pressures, and handle the responsibility that comes with being the face of a franchise in a major media market. This may have been his way of testing him, to see how bad he really wanted to stay with the Lakers, but he had to know at the same time, by him offering up that challenge, Howard was not coming back. Even he himself would have walked away if someone told him that a few years ago, even if he never won anything. At the end of it all, Dwight going to Houston was the right move for all parties involved. Dwight ends up playing with a younger foundation of talent and a younger superstar in James Harden, and the Lakers don’t commit close to $120M to a guy that is more than likely isn’t improving more than what he already is at this point. Laker fans can take shots at him all he wants but trust me, you were not coming close to winning a title next year with this roster and Howard as your leading man.  Even next year as well with the whole roster cleared outside of Steve Nash’s contract in 2014, unless LeBron decides to leave Miami, which I can’t see him doing regardless if they Three-Peat next season, or not.

The good thing is, it does force the Lakers management to look at themselves in the mirror a little bit, and wonder why did they lose the first free agent superstar on their roster in their team’s history. They have to clean up their situation in house and figure out if someone like Jim Buss should really be running the franchise.  Dr. Jerry Buss did the right thing in passing the team off to his child, but you really have to wonder again if he gave it to the right one.  Jeannie Buss could have been the first female CEO in league history, and with her resume of working so closely with this team, I would like to think that she would not have screwed this up. Laker fans may have to wait a while for Jimmy to grow into this role as it stands right now, but in doing so, a few years might be wasted in the process than can set the franchise back for years to come.

Sideline Notes

First N.W.A., then Common, and now D12?  Ice Cube takes an intermission break during the Kings of the Mic Tour last week to share his thoughts here (warning: explicit content). Also, Kareem had some parting shots as well on the subject….. I understand the Kevin McHale perspective, he’s one of the best low post players who has ever lived as well as Dwight’s head coach who will be around him 24/7, but all of this Hakeem-Olajuwon-will-guide-his post-game talk, will he be doing this pro bono or something?  Or will he give Howard the hometown discount?  Last I checked, he wasn’t doing this these low post clinics for free…..

Last point on D12: I feel like this legendary big man mentoring thing is a little overblown for Howard. I think they can definitely share tips that will benefit him on both sides of the ball. Offensively, I’m not sold that McHale and Olajuwon will make his offensive game jump by leaps and bounds.  Here why: Both of these former players had something that Dwight never had, which is superior footwork AND a soft touch around and away from the basket that opened up so much areas for their offensive games. That’s very hard to teach. I’d be comfortable if he was getting these lessons heading into year 2, 3 and/or 4, not heading into year 10.  Is Howard going to add that touch now after playing more than 730+ games in the league? I’m going to say no….. Right now in the City of Toronto, there is no hotter region right now in the GTA than Brampton for world class talent.  First, the NBA showed love by drafting Thompson & Bennett in the top five in two of the last three drafts, and now Hov blesses Brampton???  On his new LP “Magna Carta Holy Grail” (which was expected to sell upwards of 525K in 1st week sales, not including the Samsung Deal that netted Jay-Z $5M), the song “Crown” was produced by Ebony “Wundergirl” Oshunrinde, the first female producer to be listed on a Jay-Z album.  In hip hop, Jigga has that golden touch almost similar to Oprah Winfrey, so I say from now congrats to her as her life will forever be changed….  It’s July, basketball/hockey season is over & we are about to get into the dog days of baseball. It can only mean one thing: Fantasy Football Prepwork season!  I’m sure it has already started in the league that I’m in.  Here’s my question: After losing 5 receivers from last season, one TE to multiple surgeries in the offseason and another TE who apparently has been living his life like Bishop from Juice off the field, where the hell do you draft Tom Brady? 5th? 6th??? Let me know your thoughts….. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Trayvon Martin.  For almost 17 months they have waited for some sort of justice in regards to their son being killed by neighborhood watchdog George Zimmerman.  To see that not only did Zimmerman – the only one with a weapon during the confrontation – become free of this crime, and also awarded his gun back, is not only disheartening to the Martin family and anyone who believes in the law, but says everything about the gun culture that resides in the USA. This situation might be worse that the Rodney King beatings because as heinous as that was, at least Rodney (an adult) lived to see another day.  Meanwhile someone killed an unarmed child and walks with no time served. It’s another chilling reminder to show just how far we still have to go as a society. #TrayvonMartin

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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The Tunnel & The Light

Wow!

Incredible!

My stomach’s queasy.

My head hurts.

I need a drink…..

These are the things that were rattling through my mind after watching the epic Game 6 nail biter between the Miami Heat & the San Antonio Spurs, the first truly great game of a weirdly played series. This is probably the weirdest NBA Finals that I can remember watching.  This NBA Finals resembles one of the Rocky boxing scenes where Rocky throws continuous flurries of jabs, and haymakers that all land because the boxer during the exchange forgets to try to defend any of the punches coming his way.  Only to then have it happen to him minutes later in the scene when it’s his turn to drop the gloves, and his opponent starts wailing on him.  The only thing that’s missing right now is Adrianne crying uncontrollably on Miami’s courtside seats beside the white haired woman.  The repeated blowouts, the lapses of concentration from both teams, the flurries of runs from both teams from game to game, if you didn’t know any better, you would think this pattern of win one-lose one is as choreographed and staged as those Rocky scenes before the director says cut.  Outside of Game 1, this has been an odd series to follow and watch… until Tuesday night.  With the stakes being high and everything on the line for both teams: from the way San Antonio controlled the game for three quarters, to the frantic Miami comeback and finish, it will go down as the best game of the year as well as one of the best NBA Finals game ever, as it’s destined to be replayed over and over again on NBA TV.  As we go into Game 7, here are a few things to recap:

THE SPURS BLEW A WASTED OPPORTUNITY.   More importantly, they wasted an absolute throwback game from Tim Duncan.  Back in his prime, around the time when he was collecting back to back MVPs & winning titles every other year, he would drop the hammer down during elimination games when his team needed it most.  As he gets older, there are only so many games like this that this 37-year old great has left in the reserves.  Sensing that he was so close to winning his 5th ring in his career, he came out and put on a clinic on the Heat as if he were going after his 1st, scoring 25 points in the first half alone.  The most he has scored in any half in his whole playoff career.  He raised the energy of his teammates, while killing the spirit of the Heat players and sucking the life out of the arena.  By the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked as if Miami was dazed and defeated.  Then in the 4th, Miami turned up the defence, and the Spurs were giving them back the ball like an undercooked Rib Eye to a waiter at a steakhouse. Before you knew it, the game was tied and it became a dogfight until the final buzzer of OT.  This was the time where the Spurs players were supposed to help Duncan out.  If they even took care of the ball half as bad as they did and made their free throws, we would be talking about how incredible Timmy’s Game 6 performance was, and trying to figure out where to rank it in historical context of the NBA Finals history.  If San Antonio loses this game tonight, this throwback game gets tossed on the closet floor like an old T-shirt & no one will remember it, which is a damn shame.  Duncan was supposed to leave American Airlines Arena early Wednesday morning with the Larry O’Brien trophy and possibly his 4th NBA Finals MVP.  Instead, they face the task of being the first team since the 1978 Washington Bullets to win a Game 7 NBA Finals on the road.  I’m still shaking my head here….

LEBRON’S BAD/GREAT GAME.   Years from now we’ll look at the stats of the game & say, “Wow, LeBron really came through with that triple double”, or “King James really owned that game”, but anyone watching that game was wondering if he was slowly becoming undone by the pressure of having their backs against the wall.  Taking bad shots and still looking to distribute the ball even when the Spurs had their foot on his team’s throat, it took his headband getting knocked off for him to unleash all of his athletic talents on the floor.  Taking over the 4th quarter with 18 points and imposing his effort and will on the game, the Heat completed their maniacal comeback and had a 3 point lead with less than 90 seconds to play……then Tony Parker drained that 3 in his face to tie the game.  All of a sudden, LeBron made two critical mistakes, Parker capitalized, & the Spurs were up by five.  Had it not been for Ray Allen’s beautiful 3 of his own to tie the game at 95, this would have haunted LeBron’s offseason as much as when he lost to the Mavericks two years ago.  If you compared him to Duncan through three quarters, Duncan was leaving everything on the floor while LeBron looked like he was coasting through a game vs. the Bobcats in January.  When someone is as good as he is, shouldn’t we know it at all times?  This is the 3rd time in 4 years that he looked as if his brain was subconsciously checking out during an elimination game where his team was down in the series.  Call me spoiled by the Bird/Magic/Jordan era that I grew up in, but I’d like to never question the mindset of the best player in the league during one of his biggest moments.  Once you enter those prime years as the best player in the league, those moments cannot be wasted by these things.  Not when you’re staking your claim alongside the all-time greats.  Even if he’s missing shots, we should be leaving the game saying, “Man, he was really off tonight”, instead of thinking, “Is he checking out again”???  Having a conversation with my friend Les last night, he said it best:  “It’s almost as if LeBron needs the perfect circumstances around him to get the optimal performance out of himself”.  Right opponent, right situation depending on where they are in the series, he will dominate & almost eclipse that game itself like the sun.  If his team is down in an elimination game and the supreme pressure is on him, you can see that weary signature look on his face. When the pressure hits like it did late in Game 6, you can almost see the wires frying in his head.   It’s a harsh reality for him (almost unfair), but when you win 4 MVP’s and you’re in the prime of your career surrounded by two All Stars in Wade & Bosh, that expectation comes with the territory.

WHY CRAWFORD?  The NBA for years have been fighting the image of them fixing games or having conspiracy-like overtones surrounding their playoff games, with everything coming to an apex when the Tim Donahy scandal happened.  So why would the NBA assign Joey Crawford, the NBA referee with the most negative personal history against the Spurs to ref such a pivotal game?  Why even entertain the thought of putting him out there?  I mean, it’s not exactly a secret that the Spurs have past issues with Crawford.  I don’t care if he’s in the Finals rotation, I’m almost positive they could have gotten another competent referee to ref Game 6.  I’m not saying he affected the outcome of the game & I don’t blame him for the Spurs giving up the victory Tuesday night, but by doing this, you understand why the conspiracy theorists continue to come out the woodworks.  Anyhow he refs Game 7…..

SIDELINE NOTES

The funny thing about this series is that after the excitement of Game 6, and the generating buzz of a Finals Game 7, it might not even match the buzz created by Jay-Z & Samsung during Game 5, taking over the whole commercial block between the end of the 2nd Quarter and the Halftime show.  The announcement of his new LP, Magna Carta Holy Grailwas in short, an incredible marketing ploy for both parties.  Samsung found an innovative way to promote their phones, tablets, and apps, while Hov started an innovative buzz on his new LP, while at the same time going platinum before his LP touched a shelf or an online store.  Between this & his simmering takeover of the Sports Agency world, he is redefining the game on how to do business in music and sports.  You can read about the Samsung deal here…..  8 game winning streak huh?  Can the Blue Jays come back to take one of the wild card spots?  It’s June, it’s not too late, but they have to continue to play as well on the field as they apparently did in the offseason…..  I like the move of Jason Kidd becoming a head coach.  I think he has a great basketball mind as one of the best point guards to ever play in the NBA.  As long as he has the right assistant coaches surrounding him, he can definitely make this work to his favor…. if he was coaching The Raptors.  For a playoff team with title aspirations in the next two to three years in Brooklyn, this was the wrong move.  Lionel Hollins or George Karl gets hired to coach this team?  I’m fine with this. I feel like this was a splashy move to appease the owner as well as the media, but they should only be worried about getting wins, not making publicity wins in the New York market…..

My Game 7 prediction I’ll stick with my original prediction & say the Heat win tonight, and by 10+ points.  I don’t see how the Spurs come back & take Game 7 after what happened on Tuesday, no matter how much it bucks the trend that no team has won 2 straight games. It’s extremely hard to win a Finals Game 7 on the road. IF by miracle or prayer Tim Duncan repeats his Game 6 performance, then it will be a much closer game. The crowd’s energy & the calls will be on the Heat’s side, & by midnight, they should be popping bottles. Hopefully, we don’t get another version of this.

 

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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